Thursday, April 16, 2015

Feeding the Multitudes

Jesus paid such attention to details that he took care of feeding those who came to hear him and/or be cured.  He knew that without action indicating an understanding of the ordinary needs of his listeners, his words would ring shallow. Too often we can get lost in ideas or words while our audience is "dying of hunger."  Not so Jesus...cures, preaching, but above all, feeding!  Then how much more his lessons would make sense.  He used this technique when explaining the gift of his body and blood becoming the food and drink so necessary for our spiritual growth and nourishment.   The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes became a preview of a very difficult lesson to comprehend:  that his flesh would be our food under the appearance of bread and his blood, our drink under the appearance of wine.  This would not have gone over on empty stomachs.  Even with the miracle, there were some who scoffed and withdrew their allegiance to him. 
In our daily dealings with one another, attention to detail, to the needs of others, to what is real and concrete can make more of an impact than the best of b lofty intellectual arguments.   Lord, keep me real, keep me simple, help me to be sensitive to the people I serve so that I may feed them effectively.
Bro. Rene

Witnesses For Chist

We are familiar with the advice of St. Francis of Assisi, "Preach always, but if necessary use words."  St. Marcellin Champagnat subscribed to the same idea, when he stressed the notion of "Presence of God", that is, remembering that God is always present to us, and that we in turn should relay that Presence to others, and we could add, "using words if necessary."  Over these past weeks the media in Massachusetts has been filled daily with stories of two high-profile trials, and the word, witness,  has appeared over and over again.
Jesus speaks of his own role as witness:  "But the one who comes from heaven is above all.  He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but on one accepts his testimony..  Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.  for the one whom God sent speaks the words of God." (Jn 3: 31-34).  As Jesus bears witness and testifies to the truth of God, so too does that role fall upon us.  Deacon Mel Tardy, academic advisor at the University of Notre Dame sums up our role succinctly and convincingly:  Let us pray during this 50-day season of Easter to be more open to receiving the testimony of Christ as witnessed to us through his apostles, the evangelists, and his Holy Church. Finally, let us pray that, through grace, we ourselves can serve as more faithful witnesses to the truth of Christ; for when WE become witnesses to Christ—when WE begin taking up crosses out of love—we allow Christ to use our own hearts to reveal his true light to a world sorely in need of love.
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Doing "The Work" of LIght, In Light

The city of Boston has named this day, the second anniversary of the marathon bombings, "Boston One Day" and Mayor Marty Walsh  is encouraging Bostonians to spend the day doing simple good deeds for others, based on the awesome reaction of those who stood innocently watching the Marathon and responded to the tragedy with spontaneous acts of kindness, care, risk and compassion, helping strangers in panic or in need of medical aid.  There was a oneness of purpose that afternoon; all pitched in without being asked to help the helpless.  Love and goodness flowed as abundantly as the blood from the victims. So, today there will be an attempt to imitate that healing flow of love and goodness.
In today's reading from the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks of works of evil and work of light. Yes, evil doers prefer the darkness to hide their deeds, while those who believe do the works of light and goodness in the light, so that others make see and do likewise.  "But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God."  (Jn 3:21).  That day two years ago was a day of darkness and light; today it will be all light and an example for us to do "the work" of light in the Light.
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"Born From Above"

In the nighttime conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus tell him, "You must be born from above." (Jn 3:7b).  Nicodemus, as do we, struggled to understand this, for he took the verb "born" literally.  In our own day, we frequently hear the phrase, "born again Christian" and are sometimes repulsed by it, as we conjure up in our minds large congregations swinging and swaying with hands erect and huge smiles on faces. We fear that these gestures are fraught with emotion and lack depth of conviction.  That may be true or not true, but at least there is the joy, energy, and enthusiasm  that many Christians lack.
Being "born from above" means taking to heart and integrating the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and being transformed, as were the apostles from timid, fearful people into dynamic disciples who literally put their lives on the line in standing up for their faith and convictions.  It's a power that builds on our talents and gifts, and directs them to approach others fearlessly and invite them to come follow Jesus.
Pope Francis in his Easter message put it this way: "And the Spirit of the risen Christ drove our fear from the Apostles' hearts and impelled them to leave the Upper Room in order to spread the Gospel.  Let us too have greater courage in witnessing to our faith in the Risen Christ!  We must not be afraid of being Christian and living as Christians!  We must have this courage to go and proclaim the Risen Christ, for he is our peace, he made peace with his love, with his forgiveness, with his Blood and with his mercy."
Come, Holy Spirit, birth me  from above.
Bro. Rene

Monday, April 13, 2015

To The Humble Comes the Prize

As you digest this slice of Daily Bread, know that it is the 60,001st slice receiving a "hit" since we began sending them in 2009.  172 of them yesterday in Russia, far surpassing the "hits" in the United States!  A friend told me yesterday that there is a religious awakening in Russia, so much so that Easter Services were televised live from the Cathedral in Moscow, a first! 
Another friend who preached in his church on Sunday reported that a parishioner thanked him for brining her " closer to Jesus"...  The preacher is only 18!!!
Jordan Spieth, 21, not only won the Masters in Augusta, but has won the hearts of fans and viewers worldwide with his skill tempered with simplicity and humility. He is Jesuit educated and devoted to his family.   A good man!
It is no surprise that humble things, humble people win hearts.  for didn't Jesus say, "Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth, and blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."?  (Mt 5: 5,7). 
There are marvels in the world outside of Marvel Comics that inspire, encourage, and reassure us that the violence taking place in the mid-East, in Aleppo, for example, will not prevail...but if the followers of Jesus live as he described in the Beatitudes, there would be peace, love, and joy in our world.
Bro. Rene

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Endless Mercy

"Low Sunday", now "Mercy Sunday" unravels another dimension of the Resurrection:  Forgiveness, Trust, Peace, several aspects of the endless Mercy of Jesus.  During the evening of the day of resurrection, Jesus appears to the disciples who ran from his suffering and death with the greeting of "Peace."  He does not chide nor rebuke them for their fears and disappointing disappearance from the scenario when he needed them the most.  He also confronts "Doubting Thomas" on his next visit, and with gestures addressing his disbelief, evokes a full confession of faith:  "My Lord and my God." Mercy radiates like light, flows like a Spring Stream emptying the mountains of snow above, washing clean, begetting new life.  This is the message of Mercy Sunday.  We come to Jesus, in great need of mercy, and it is there, overflowing, spilling over thrice-fold, endlessly.  If we are to rise with Christ, we must bend like Thomas, confess our weakness, acknowledge our need, and press ourselves into a belief which manifests itself in "Jesus gestures" and "Jesus actions."  Jesus, your mercy, please; cure my unbelief, push me into greater trust, love and service to you and others.  Amen.
Bro. Rene