Friday, March 24, 2017

Finding Healing and Life in LOVE

This morning's selection from the Prophet Hosea is very consoling, especially if we read it in the context of Lent. Hosea tells Israel (us) that it has :"collapsed" through its guilt.  It is "flat out" and has no recourse except to turn to God for forgiveness and receive healing through his love, a love given freely and without limit. Such love brings us the sweetness of dew on the lilies and the strength of a Lebanon cedar. (Cf. Hos 14:2-10).
When one of the Scribes asks Jesus "which is the first of all commandments?" (Mk 12:28). Jesus answers with the Schema, the daily prayer of the Hebrews: to love  God with all one's being, and to love one's neighbor as one's self. Love of God, self and neighbor.  Simply said, but demanding of the "turn" proposed by Hosea. The work of a lifetime, yes, but each day of Lent provides the arena for that "extra effort" to accept and love self where we are today; the same with out neighbor, even the "difficult ones" and God, above all, as we spend time in prayer to discover more about him and allow him to draw our hearts toward him in love. All work together to bring healing to our wounded, weakened nature.
Bro. Rene
(Note:  I will be attending a Symposium on the Brotherhood at the University of Notre Dame on Saturday and will not be able to post another slice of bread until Monday.) 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

For Or Against

In our daily conversations or dealings with others, do we show our loyalty and allegiance to Jesus, or do we compromise and find ourselves on that slippery, wishy-washy, gray area on top of the fence, neither for nor against? Jesus says clearly, "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters."  (Lk 11:23).  Not an easy saying, for it demands courage to stand up and OWN the teachings and principles Jesus laid down for us, e.g. love your enemies, forgive those who have wronged you, open your hearts and minds to others, even when you don't agree.  Be willing to listen,  be willing to reach out to those in need,  feed the hungry, shelter the homeless...It takes courage and strength to do what the current mindset of society deems foolish or a waste of time.  Our Lenten "housecleaning" is a time to reflect on our stance.  Are we on that slippery fence, or are we standing firm on the side where Jesus is?  He will help us decide; He will help us take a stand; we merely need to ask him.
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Teaching The Law

Jesus speaks up in defense of his teachings in today's Gospel, Mt 5:17-19.  He affirms the necessity of the commandments, by saying he has not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. Those "laws" are there to protect and guide, not hinder or stymie our "freedoms".  On the contrary, they make us freer and keep us from unnecessary harm to ourselves and others.  As we know, the great summary of these commands rests in the two great commandments:  love of God and love of neighbor.  Jesus urges us to be teachers of this law, especially by our example.  This is how most, of us, not being teachers in a classroom, teach others, by living a life based on this Great Commandment of love.  May we never tire of repeating this "lesson" on the commandments, for we will indeed by "called greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven." (Mt 5:19).
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Forgiveness Is Not Easy

St. Peter faced the same gnawing dilemma we often find ourselves in when it comes to forgiveness.  "How often must I forgive?" (Mt 18:21).  Jesus says "not seven times, but seventy times seven." (Mt 18:22).  Seven meant indefinitely, so seventy times seven stresses the Always and Forever of indefinitely.  Easier said than done.  We find ourselves holding on to the hurt, imprisoned by the memory that won't evaporate, sometimes even hardened and cold toward the offender.  It takes prayer and a decision to "let go" and let God do the healing.  This prayer, often entitled ANYWAY might help:
People are often unreasonable and self-centered—forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives—be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you—be honest anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow—do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough—give your best anyway. In the end, it is between you and God—it was never between you and them, anyway.
Bro. Rene

Monday, March 20, 2017

St. Joseph, Husband, Foster Father, Guardian and Model of Faith

St. Joseph is venerated world-wide as Patron of the Universal Church, of laborers, husbands, fathers, and, yes, even those who are looking to sell or buy a house, but amazingly enough, Scripture records not one word of his. He is definitely "the strong, silent type" and thus, notably attractive. In the midst of the confusion surrounding Mary 's unexplained pregnancy, he agonizes over "what to do."  We too often find ourselves in a similar predicament and seek guidance for our next step.  He, evidently, was ready to move at the drop of a hat...to Bethlehem to fulfill the census requirement; to Egypt to protect the infant Jesus from harm; back to Nazareth when it was safe to return; to Jerusalem for the annual visit to the Temple. We neither see nor hear any evidence of complaining, but like Mary, we see evidence of that same attitude of "Be it done to me according to YOUR will."  In this repeated act of faith  and trust is his strength and his inspiration.
 "Joe" is a popular name, and certainly St. Joseph is "not your average Joe."  How blessed and happy are they who bear his name.  I asked a young man I met recently what his name was, and he answered, "Joseph."  Not Joe, but Joseph.  There was a special power in that full name, and it showed in his Joseph-like faith and behavior.
Here is a prayer to St. Joseph for Fathers...but suits all of us at the end of the day. Happy St. Joseph Day to all!
Bro. Rene
Saint Joseph look at how I am tired tonight,
But somehow I think that you care;
For being a father and one who works
Are things that both of us share.
It tires a man, yet the heart is high,
For, Patron Saint, it’s all worthwhile.
Its rich reward is a loving wife,
And joyous light in a child’s smile.
O, father, worker, bear with me,
Help me, Saint Joseph, to do my best,
To love and protect my family
‘Til work shall cease and heaven is rest.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Why Do I Believe?

After her enlightening and inspiring conversation with Jesus, the Samaritan Woman from Sychar runs into town to tell her friends about this man she supposes to the the Messiah.  She explains that he told her everything about her life, although he was a complete stranger.  Curious, the people go out to the well to see for themselves. So taken with him are they, that they invite him to stay for two days and "many more began to believe in him because of HIS word," not HERS. cf. Jn 4: 41-42) Their faith came from meeting him directly and listening to him.  Can I say the same?
Bro. Rene

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Need For God

Admitting our weakness is difficult, when being in charge of our lives, being self-motivated, "having it all together" are the proposed norms and goals of a mature adult.  Where does weakness fit in to this?
Despite our best efforts, we seem to come up with a shortfall or often find ourselves in a "desert".  A desert of fatigue, when ugly behaviors surface; a desert of overwork and over-extension, which blur our vision or cause us to be more forgetful than normal; a desert of dislike or rash judgment of others, which makes us isolate ourselves from them.  The desert could be as wide and expansive as the universe, it we look at it through the telescope of honest eyes.
Rather than be discouraged by what we find, we might look upon our desert as a call to throw ourselves into the merciful arms of God, facing, admitting our need for him, as did the youngest son in today's parable of The Prodigal Son.  He had reached the limit of his self-sufficiency, finding that it only left him eating the pods which were the fodder of the pigs he was tending.  Hie decline and fall from the independence he thought would bring him happiness led him to the arms of his loving, forgiving father, who embraced him with the love and forgiveness that alone would give him true peace and happiness.  May we not fear or shy away from our weakness, but see it as an invitation to let God counterbalance it with his love and mercy.  "Only in God will my soul be a rest, from him alone comes my salvation." (cf. Ps 62:5)
Bro. Rene