Sunday, February 26, 2017

What, Me Worry?

Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Newman had us rolling in laughter in the '60's and still does. His "What, me worry?" became a household catch phrase, probably because it hit home to so many who did worry.  As often as we are told not to, and as often as we say we won't, we keep slipping back to it.  Jesus tells us FOUR times in today's Gospel, Mt 6:24-34 not to worry.  We agree, but by the end of the day we'll find ourselves back in our "worry pot."  Even when we are told, "worrying is like making a down payment on problems that might never happen," we worry. In so doing, we cause ourselves needless stress, we blind ourselves to the NOW, to the beauty of "the lilies of the field", the song of the birds of the air, the goodness of others and above all, the providential care of God.  Worrying says to God, "I don't trust you." Is that how we want to treat God who time after time SHOWS us he will take care of us, of everything we need to do, or want to do?  No wonder Jesus cried out, "How long do I have to endure you?"   Best to STOP; this is the Sabbath. Take some time to recall all that God as done...were we ever left adrift without wind or rudder?  It all works out for the best in God's way and time.  Worry not, Fear not.
Bro. Rene

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Keeping It Simple

Often people "intervene" to protect others from what they perceive to be harmful or dangerous as in the case of the Apostles in today's short passage from Mark 10: 13-16).  When people were bringing their children to Jesus so that he could touch them, they shooed them away, intending to save him from these (we surmise) noisy and squirming kids.  But Jesus rebuked the Apostles and encouraged the other adults to bring the children to him, "for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Mk 10: 14) and whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God as a child, will not enter it.  In tenderness, he embraced the children, blessed them and placed his hands upon them...All simple gestures of love and powerful reminders that living the Kingdom of God is not complicated science or math, but as simple as accepting and welcoming one another as children do, or opening a car door for an elderly person, or holding a door for someone. The simpler the better...we can easily muck up things by sticking our noses in where they do not belong.
Bro. Rene

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Kind Mouth

Ben Sirach offers more wise advice today, this time regarding speech and friendship.  "A kind mouth multiplies friends and appeases enemies,/ and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings." (Sir 5:5)  We read an echo of this in the letter of James:  "If a man offends not with his tongue, the same is a perfect man."  (Jas.3:2-)  One of the best things we might say about a person, and we often hear this in eulogies:  "So and So never said an unkind word."  An ideal a goal  for which to strive.  Our mouth, our tongue, can be an instrument of healing and compassion...a kind word, a smile...all based in that lower region of our face.  It can also be a source of venom, division, or violence.  The power of words, the power of the mouth...delightful, dangerous. May the Holy Spirit guide us to use this gift for good rather than for ill, to make friends, not enemies.
Bro. Rene
Note.  I had no internet connection yesterday, hence no slice of bread...I apologize.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Peter's Chair

February 22 is the date assumed to be day when Jesus commissioned Peter as the Rock upon which he would build his Church and gave him the "Power of the Keys," the authority to bind and loose on earth what would be bound and loosed in heaven. (cf. Mt 16:18-19).  Peter's chair, upon which he sat leading the community in prayer and receiving the newly baptized, was a symbol of his authority, even when empty while Peter was preaching elsewhere. The original chair disappeared over the centuries in one of the various pillages of Rome.  However, the feast is kept to commemorate the teaching authority of the Vicar of Christ, and supports the Pope's mission to guide the entire People of God, a huge task, no doubt often causing a sleepless, sweaty nights.  Let us, then, today and every day, offer prayers for Pope Francis, that he might have the courage and strength to push the Church ahead in its mission to be the bark that carries the God's people through the storms of unbelief, doubt, violence, untruth and fear to eternal life.  Jesus, our Good Shepherd, continue to inspire Pope Francis to be a good Shepherd and leader who will keep us on the path of truth and fidelity to you and your teachings.
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Commit Your Life to the Lord

This morning the first reading for today's liturgy from Sirach and supported by the Psalm Response encourages us to turn everything over to God, and he will help us:  "Commit your life to the Lord and he will help you." (Ps 37 5).  Another translation reads: "Commit your way to the Lord and he will act." Ben Sirach writes:  "Trust God and God will help you;/ trust in him and he will direct your way;/ keep his fear (respect) and grow old therein." (Sir 2:6)
Further advice:
You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy,
turn not away lest you fall.
You who fear the Lord, trust him,
and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the Lord, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy.
You who fear the Lord, love him,
and your hearts will be enlightened. (Sir 2: 7-9)
May we all find nourishment in these wise suggestions and live our day in peace, knowing that God cares for us more than we care for ourselves.
Bro. Rene

Monday, February 20, 2017

Help My Unbelief

Hearing of the spate of cures wrought by Jesus, it's no doubt that the father of the mute, devil possessed boy sought help directly from him, especially when his disciples failed to drive the demon out. Exasperated, Jesus replied. "O faithless generation, how long will I be with  you?" (Mk 9:19). As the boy went into further convulsions, Jesus told the father, "Everything is possible to one who has faith." (Mk 9:23). The father replied: "I do believe, help my unbelief." (Mk 9:24) Jesus commanded the spirit to leave the boy, and the ordeal was over. (Mk 9:26-27).
The power of faith is also exemplified in the lives of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto, the two younger children who witnessed the apparitions at Fatima a hundred years ago.  They believed, tand took Mary's instructions to heart, fasting, praying and doing penance for the conversion of sinners.  When struck down by the Spanish flu in 1918, they suffered to the point of death, (Francisco in 1919, at the age of 11 and Jacinta in 1920 at the age of 10). .Even while ill, they went to the place of the apparitions, prayed and offered up their sufferings.  Jacinta  underwent surgery without anesthesia, and offered her pain for sinners.
Reading this, I am humbled and compelled to join the muted boy's father in praying, I do believe, help my unbelief.  How about you?
Bro. Rene

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Strength Of Our Desire

St. Augustine wisely wrote, "The strength of our desires forms the strength of our labors and pains; no one ever freely undertakes what is laborious and painful except to obtain the object of his love."
From our days as students when we "killed ourselves" for that "A" in our toughest class, to the desire to give our children or our students the best preparation for life that we know, we work hard, spend long days, and short nights, willing to sacrifice and do whatever it takes to achieve the BEST.
Jesus gives us the ultimate challenge in today's selection from Matthew's Sermon on the Mount:
"So be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt 5:48).  Seems like an impossible call.  Who can be perfect?  An old adage goes; "Perfection is not of this world," but this is no excuse not to  try with all our might, as Tennyson said in ULYSSES: "to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
A noble ideal, :laborious and painful" but possible if done out of love for our God who is LOVE.
With Ash Wednesday around the corner, it's time to set our desire in the direction of this elusive, but possible "perfection".  What do we need to do to strengthen our relationship with God? What stands in the way?  What must go? What must we add? What will make our love grow?
Bro. Rene