Friday, August 1, 2014

Requiring Guts

The message of Jesus is not an easy one.  It's not an invitation to a comfortable life or to a sweet feeling after having helped someone.  Not, Jesus invites us to take up the cross and follow him.  Can we do it?  Today's Gospel tells the story of how his neighbors in Nazareth, his synagogue compatriots  "took offense"   at his teaching and questioned his "authority" to teach as he did.  (See Mt 13: 54-58).
We remember St. Alphonsus Ligouri today as well, who, after losing a case as a lawyer, took a good look at where his life was going and decided to change direction.  He became a priest, the Founder of the Redemptorists, a noted moral theologian, spiritual writer and Doctor.  We still use his Way of the Cross in many parishes during Lent.  Yet he was rejected by the Order he founded and suffered from the alienation during the last few years of his life.  He obviously chose the cross and stuck to it.
May our prayer today give us such courage and may our reflection on the Gospels lead us to a true understanding of the radical, life-changing demands they make on us.
Bro. Rene

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What Are We Looiing For?

The Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola causes us to pause for a moment to look at our lives and see what is the best way we serve God and others for the greater glory of God.  Lost in the world of a chivalrous and amorous life, the young Ignatius was wounded in the leg by a cannon ball and forced into months of recovery during which he read lives of the saints and a life of Christ.  Moved by what he read and realizing that the saints were people made of the same "stuff" as he, he determined to imitate them and turn his life around to the service of God.  He wasn't sure what that meant and after many years of prayer, study and discernment, he arrived at the conclusion that living a simple life and educating others was the plan of God for him.  Others followed his example and before he died there were 1,000 Companions in the Society of Jesus, which is now still the largest Order of priests and brothers. Ignatius found great peace and contentment in God's way rather than his way.
As we begin this day, what will strike us as "the way to go" to follow the plan of God for us?  Even in the most simple choices we make today, may we ask God to help us make the choice he would make.
"What Would Jesus Do?", a popular question these days. Indeed it is and a very helpful one..   How will we answer it?
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Finding the Treasure

Today's brief Gospel speaks of the treasure found in a field and the famous pearl of great price. (See Mt 12:44-46).  Jesus compared these to the Kingdom of God, and indeed this is the meaning that has been passed on since then.  However, we can also look upon these treasures as the wealth of goodness we unexpectedly find in people.  Only God knows the heart, but sometimes we get enough of a glimpse to see what he knows.  We can unlock the treasure by a smile, by listening carefully and taking honest interest in the other person...as if he or she were all that mattered at the moment.  They open up to such attention and reveal the treasure within.  St. Marcellin, evidently had this gift, and hence children would flock to him, and his young brothers loved and revered him for allowing them to "show off" the gifts with which God had blessed them.  Let's make this a day of "treasure hunting"
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Martha

Martha, the sister of Lazarus and Mary, is often given a "bum shot" because of her bustling activity to prepare for the family meal, as she reminds Mary that "there's work to be done."  Jesus in turn reminds Martha that Mary has chosen the "better part", that is, to be present to him.  Later after Lazarus' death, Martha expresses her faith in Jesus in a direct and strong way, leading us to conclude that both work and faith can go together.  If we are present to Jesus in all that we do, as Mary was, we can perhaps perform even better than our busy Martha!   Why not give it a try?
Bro. Rene

Monday, July 28, 2014

From the Mustard Seed

Yesterday while making an appeal for the Marist Missions, I did a quick review of the growth of the Marist Brothers.  From the two seeds sown in Lavalla on January 2, 1817, our first two brothers,  the Little Brothers of Mary have grown to 3,330 in 80 countries with 760,000 students in our care and 73,000 lay collaborators (Lay Marists).  The faith of St. Marcellin and his reliance on Jesus and Mary enabled those seeds to bear such astounding and widespread fruit.  Jesus was not kidding when he said about the mustard seed, "It is the smallest of seeds yet when full grown, it is the largest of plants." (Matt 13: 32)
If we look at ourselves as a "mustard seed," we might at first be discouraged:  "what can I do that will make any difference to anyone?"  Not so, with faith and trust in God, we can contribute to the growth of the kingdom by simple acts of kindness, by a smile, a thank you or a promise of prayers.
After one of the Masses yesterday, I met two young men who initially appeared to be at two opposite ends of the spectrum:  One, tall, in excellent physical condition, indeed he is a senior at The Citadel and will be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the army next June; the other, a very heavy man with a long beard, tattoos all over and a pierced nostril.  The tall man told me his faith is the most important thing in his life. and I told him I would add him to my prayer list so that his faith may remain strong in what he'll be facing in the future.  The other man is searching, being stripped down by God but believes God is calling him to prepare for ministry to youth. His appearance should give him a ready welcome among them, and then, whamo, what a surprise they'll find behind the cover of this book. We bonded instantly and with a hug and promise of prayers, I left him.  I know in my heart that those two simple encounters helped to fortify these  young men as they pursue God's plan for them.  It's not rocket science...it's simply responding to God's grace.  Just Do It.
Bro. Rene

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Are We Teachable?

In today's first reading, (1 Kings 3:5, 7-12), the young King Solomon is given the option to ask God for anything.  He chooses wisdom and it pleases God.  Solomon was humble enough to know that his kingship did not provide him with all the answers and he would continually need to learn over the years so as to rule justly, prudently and with the good of the people as a priority. 
As we go our merry ways, do we develop a kind of smugness that leads us to think that we "know it all" and do not need to be taught?   Usually there are enough humbling experiences to remind us that we don't, but we balk at them because they have intruded on our entitled self-sufficiency. 
May we humbly ask today, as did Solomon, for the Lord to teach us wisdom and to grant us the humility to remain teachable in the days ahead.
Bro. Rene

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Parents and Grandarents

Today's Memorial of Sts. Joachim and Anne is making me very aware of the debt we owe to our grandparents who, for the most part, had a more difficult struggle in some ways than we do, even if they lived "in the good old days". They stood fast in their faith, made sacrifices for their children and set the tone for the their families. In many instances they are doing the same for their grandchildren, walking the narrow bridge of non-interference and gentle hints while watching a different set of values emerge among their offspring.
Visiting a family with two young children has made me aware of the huge sacrifices of sleep and personal time parents go through seven days a week. Marvelous expressions of love and embracing of their roles as parents. feeding and forming patterns of good behavior in very strong-minded and independent children. The need for prayer, love, support, encouragement and offers to help with baby sitting has become very apparent to me. Let us all offer a prayer for families, parents and grandparents today.
Bro. Rene