Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Wrestling With.....

The sport of wrestling is an extremely demanding one, physically and mentally, requiring intense concentration, quick judgment, and extraordinary stamina. Three periods of  "only" two minutes each seem like an eternity when the opponent is using all his strength, talent and energy to gain the victory.  The final buzzer is a relief to both athletes, joy for one, and a range of emotions for the other.
Today we hear of Jacob's wrestling match with a stranger, who turns out to be God's unnamed messenger.  They wrestle all night, and Jacob wins, though he receives a blow to his sciatic muscle causing him to limp and  remember that fateful night.  Often, we find ourselves wrestling with God:  his will, his way, over ours;  or with some difficult, "testing" situation that demands all our time and energy...even to the breaking point. Daily, as well, we find ourselves wrestling with our inner shadows, those things we do not wish to do, but do, and those we should be doing, but do not.  We do get tied up in knots...pun intended!   And then there are the needs of others...world wide, or hitting us personally...the poor in need of money to pay bills, or simply to EAT. Phone calls,  daily mail and e-mails plague us with the "cries of the poor."   The buzzer never seems to sound for us, and the match continues endlessly.  Like Jacob, we need to remain and ask for the blessing that comes to us through these apparent "opponents."  It takes time and patience to see them in this light, but they are opportunities for us to "wrestle with God" and come out the victor.
Bro. Rene

Monday, July 6, 2015

Living By Faith

The Gospel passage for today focuses on two healings: the woman with hemorrhages with which she had suffered for 12 years, and the raising of the official's daughter.  Both were "impossible" situations, yet the faith of the woman and the official was the base for the healing. Living by faith
"is to live peacefully, prayerfully,
hopefully, hopelessly, outside myself
At peace with myself
    yet outside myself"  --Father Dominic Thomas Rover, O.P

It is to stop worrying, doubting, giving up, but leaning more and more on Jesus, the healer. We know of cancer and addiction cases that seem impossible and we just want to give up on praying for a cure.
Not the way Jesus operates.  If the woman or the official had given up, their requests would not have been granted and we wouldn't be reading about them today  May they intercede for us when we are ready to give up.
Bro. Rene

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Are We Listening?

Noise, distractions, busyness, and biases block our ears from hearing God's Word, which so often comes to us through the Liturgy, our personal prayer, something we read or hear, the constant summer singing of the birds outside our windows, or the beauty of a garden full of colorful splendor.  Ezekiel was sent to a people "hard of face and obstinate of heart."  (Ez 2: 4). We can be like that with our stubborn prejudices and opinions.  Or worse:  the people in Jesus's own village of Nazareth, who offered him no welcome, but greeted him with skepticism and disbelief might be US when we hear something with which we don't agree from the Bishops or the Pope.  It seems that daily Pope Francis is making a startling statement or doing something people deem "un-Popish",  and causing reactions similar to those of the people of Nazareth when Jesus first returned home to preach. The people thought they knew him...they had him in the "carpenter box", knew his family, and that was it.  They took offense at him, questioning the origin of his "wisdom" and because of their lack of faith, prevented Jesus from performing any mighty miracles there, except for curing a few sick people. (cf. Mk 6: 6a), 
The question for our Sabbath pondering today is: ARE WE LISTENING?   Or do we have preconceived ideas, that block us from learning something new? Lord, open my ears that I may hear clearly what you are trying to teach me.
Bro. Rene

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Gunshots or Fireworks?

Two hundred and thirty-nine years ago, our Founding Fathers signed a declaration of independence,  setting the stage for a revolutionary war, and the birth of a nation now known as The United States of America.  It was a bold move, the cause of much joy, struggle and pain, but based on the inalienable rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", it stands as an ideal that is still worth striving toward, despite the on-going struggle to interpret exactly what that phrase entails.  For many years, this day has been marked by festive parades, music, family gatherings and fireworks, but in some neighborhoods, it's hard to distinguish between the fireworks and gunshots.  Today the nation is on high alert  for fear of rumored terrorist or "lone wolf" attacks on innocent people. We wonder what has happened to "the land of the free and the home of the brave."  For Americans, it is time for some deep soul-searching, not only for ourselves, but for the world, for we still represent an ideal that stems from the very soul of humanity.  For, indeed, we were created in God's image, given free-will to chose to exercise that freedom to become fully human, which in turn means to become as God-like as possible. If we lose our connection to God, the source of life and freedom, indeed the fireworks will be replaced with gunshots and no one will no the difference nor care.
For an uplift, go to You tube and listen to Kate Smith sing God Bless America and make it your prayer for today.
Bro. Rene

Friday, July 3, 2015

"My Lord and My God

Note:  In an effort to avoid heavy traffic, I am leaving Esopus, NY shortly, leaving this one throught for today's slice of bread:

Doubt takes many forms, but as Thomas learned in touching each wound of Jesus, his faith grew stronger and he was able to acclaim witthout doubt:  "My Lord and My God."  Even our doubts provide their redeeming gift.
Bro. Rene

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Mercy and Forgiveness

Jesus again in today's gospel passage shows us the power of forgiveness when he both forgives the sins of the paralytic and heals him:  "Courage, child, your sins are forgiven." (Mt 9: 2).  "Rise and Walk" (Mt 9: 4). In our life-long striving to be like Jesus, this kind of forgiveness is essential.  We must forgive as he did.  Not always easy, but the recent tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina, demonstrates that even in horrific circumstances such as that, forgiveness is possible.  People who lost loved ones, who will grieve the rest of their lives, still found enough strength to forgive the killer.  Their faith and their desire to imitate Jesus enabled them to do so.  It remains to be seen what effect their forgiveness will have on the young man, but at least in their hearts, healing has begun and their example is a model for us to follow. If we were not the beneficiaries of God's mercy and forgiveness, where would we be?  The door to healing is only a step away.  "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What We Need

As we begin the month of July, for some vacation time, for others "the usual", this passage from Isaiah might help puts some pep into this day and the days ahead:  "The Lord will give you the bread you need/ and the water for which you thirst./ No longer will your Teacher hide himself,/ but with your own eyes yo shall see yourTeacher,./ While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears:/ 'This is the way; walk in it.'/ when you would turn to the right or to the left." (Is 30: 20:21).  We all have "things to do", some face continuing illnesses, pain, or stress.  A friend of mine after a six month healing process of a broken ankle, twisted his "good ankle" in a simple turn in his bathroom, and is now back to braces and ice packs. Yet, the Lord sees all of this and continues to provide the "bread we need"...not always the kind we LIKE, but what we need.  He keeps us on the right path, yes, not always the path we would choose, but the RIGHT one for each one of us AT THIS TIME.  It takes faith and trust to switch to HIS plans and paths, but in the end, we learn that indeed it "was all for the best."
Bro. Rene