Wednesday, August 24, 2016

From Doubt to Faith to Zeal

We honor St. Bartholomew today who appears in St. John's Gospel as Nathaniel, the friend of of Philip. When Philip tells Nathaniel that he, Peter, James and John have found "the one" Moses and the prophets foretold, Nathaniel queries, "Can anything good come our of Nazareth?", such was the reputation of this poor village.  Yet, when he meets Jesus who describes him as a true child of Israel in whom there is no duplicity and says he saw him under a fig tree before Philip called him, Nathaniel bursts out a a confession of faith rivaling Peter's:  "Rabbi, you are the Son of god; you are the King of Israel." (Jn 1: 47).  Later traditions have Bartholomew carrying the Gospel to India and Armenia, and giving his life in martyrdom, being flayed alive and beheaded.  This is what his encounter with Jesus did to him, a total transformation.
Each day in prayer, reflection on Scripture, or participation in the Eucharist, we encounter Jesus. May we be transformed into zealous witnesses like Bartholomew and carry the Good News of Jesus to our families, our workplaces, our communities.  St. Bartholomew, please give me just some of your zeal, if not all of it!
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hypocrisy

We all say we hate hypocrites...something insulting and disrespectful as they pawn themselves off as something they are not.  Jesus certainly spoke strongly against this vice and called out the Pharisees about their hypocrisy in no uncertain terms as we read in today's Gospel, Mt 23:23-26.
In startling contrast to these deceivers, St. Rose of Lima stands out as a model of authenticity and simplicity, having led a life of prayer and service to others.  She hid her physical beauty but the beauty of her life shone forth to the people of Lima and still shines to us today.  May we, like she, strive to "die to self" and put Jesus first, emptying from our lives anything that stands in the way. May we strive to be genuine and eliminate any traces of hypocrisy we find within ourselves.
Bro. Rene

Monday, August 22, 2016

Mary's Queenship

Pope Pius XII instated the Memorial of The Queenship of Mary during the Marian Year of 1954, and as Marists. though it is not a major feast, it is the occasion for us the celebrate again the place of Mary in our lives.  As Mother of Christ the King, she not only deserves the tile of Queen, but also works side by side with him for the building of the Kingdom and the salvation of souls, as evidenced by her place in the early Church and in her dozens of apparitions since her Assumption into heaven.  Indeed, every time we pray the Glorious Mysteries of the rosary, we reflect on her as Queen of Heaven and earth.  May we, as her disciples and disciples of Jesus, reflect her virtues of compassion and tenderness as we too work for the establishment of he Kingdom of God.  Let us recall her love and presence as we go about our Monday labors and those of the rest of the week.  Mary, our Queen and the Queen of Peace, help us to be instruments of peace and justice and witnesses of God's tenderness.
Bro. Rene

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Narrow Gate

On his way to Jerusalem for the final act of his visit on earth, his death and resurrection, Jesus does not saunter like a tourist, but makes it a point to teach along the way. In responding to a question about the number who will be saved, Jesus doesn't answer the question directly, but insists that laxity will not bring about salvation.  Rather, it is the "the narrow gate", the demanding life of: "Be compassionate s your Father is compassionate;  Do not judge and you will not be judged; Forgive seventy times seven as your Father does; Seek first the kingdom of God and its justice."  This slim, trim and demanding life-style is THE WAY through the gate. Can we do it?
Sundays are a built-in reminder that such a life is possible:  Jesus rose from the dead on this day, guaranteeing the truth of what he taught and lived and assuring us with unbounded hope that the victory is already won.  If we take Sundays seriously, we will receive the weekly boost we need to continue pursuing the way that will lead us through the narrow gate.
Bro. Rene

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Actions, Not Words

Jesus, in today's Gospel passage from Matthew, 23: 1-12, is very clear on actions over words, as he tells his disciples to follow their teachings, but not their actions, which are  evidently in opposition to each other.  He would have his followers be DOERS of the Word, and let these actions speak loudly the message their words might convey.  Most telling is his teaching: "The greatest among you must be your servant" and "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Mt 23: 11-12).
How fitting a Gospel for the Memorial of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot, Doctor of the Church and model, especially for Marists.  He was known as "Mary's faithful chaplain" as well as renowned for putting his faith and theological insights into ACTION.  He resolved disputes in a schismatic Church, founded several monasteries in addition to his own at Clarivaux, and at the behest of Pope Eugene III, preached what turned out to be the disastrous Second Crusade.  His life might be summed up in his own teaching and special advice for us:  "What we love, we shall grow to resemble."
Bro. Rene

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dry Bones

Today, the prophet Ezekiel presents us with the striking image of a plain filled with dry bones, symbolizing the state of the house of Israel. (Cf, Ez 37:1-14)  The symbolism could easily apply to our world today.  It also could apply to the state of our own soul or spiritual life.  Frightening at first, but Ezekiel assures us that God will send his Spirit which will put flesh and sinew on these bones and raise them to life.
Jesus teaches in today's Gospel passage, the very foundation of the spiritual life: the two great commandments, love of God and love of neighbor,  (Cf, Mt 22: 34-40) These are what bring life to the dry bones, for God's Spirit is Love. 
St. Marcellin sent his followers to be teachers of the Word, of the Truth and to do so through loving those we teach.  We are the instruments to bring life to the dry bones around us, in front of us.  Let us do so with confidence, with the assurance that God will work through us to raise up a vast throng on living, loving citizens of his Kingdom.
Bro. Rene

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Clean Hearts and Missing Wedding Garments

Consolation and Desolation are major themes in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises and can be found in today's readings.  Ezekiel speaks of the cleansing water that purifies the heart and changes it from stone to "natural" with a dose of God's own spirit. Ah...how good it feels to have this inner transformation! (cf. Ez36: 23-28) The parable of the wedding garment, on the other hand, speaks of the expulsion of the guest from the wedding feast because he lacks the proper clothing.  He is cast, bound hand and foot, into darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. (cf. Mt 22: 1-14).  What a fate!
We don't know what state his heart was in, but can guess that it might have been at the stoney stage. The garment might symbolize mercy, compassion, love, and that too was missing, hence this guest was certainly in a bad state of desolation.  It would seem that the ideal stance in the Kingdom, is to have that pure heart and proper "garment", that is a life of mercy,, compassion and love.  These we can strive for, but the utter consolation is that the clean heart and good works come from God...his gifts to us.  Let us open our hearts and lives to receive and live them.
Bro. Rene