Thursday, March 5, 2015

Poor Lazarus

We are all faced with a poor Lazarus at our door at sometime or another.  Which ones are "legit" and which are not?...always a question...  Some make it their "business" to beg, others usually suffer as long as they can endure, and only when there is no other recourse, ask for help.  These we don't mind helping to get on their feet.  We pray that we may not become so self-absorbed, as was Dives in today's Gospel, that we are blind to the needs of others, and ask for the grace to deal with the fear, threat, of being exploited by the "pro's"  the con-men. God, help us to be as merciful and as compassionate as you.
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Faithful God

Every once in awhile, we need to be reminded of just how faithful God is.  We tend to get caught up in our own world, which is full of deadlines and dealings, stressing us to the point of numbness.  We forget the birthday of a friend, we neglect to pass on good news, or send a thank you or sympathy card. So if our lives are so muddled. is it no wonder that God is put (or just left) in the back seat, and on we go trying to make it on our own, until we either crash or something pops up to nudge us back on track.  God frees us from the snares we create for ourselves because God is faithful to us, so much more than we to him.  To keep this in mind, we need to repeat often, "You, Lord, are a faithful God, your love is everlasting; I put my trust in you.  Rescue me from the clutches of my self-sufficiency and overextension.  Calm me, take me by my hand and help me to walk slowly and peacefully with you."
Bro. Rene

Setting Things Right

This morning,  Isaiah calls us to "set things right." (Is 1: 18) Lent is a time to take a good look at how we are living our life of faith:   the time we are giving God in prayer, the quality of that prayer, our fidelity to the sacrament of reconciliation, the need to mend relationships with others, and our inner or verbalized judgments of family members or co-workers.  We might also consider the motives behind our actions. Are we seeking praise?  Are we "takers", or are we ones who "serves the rest"?  Jesus says these are "the greatest among you,"  (Mt 23:11).  May Jesus open our eyes and hearts, even shake us up a bit, and help us to learn humility, admit our shortcomings and "set things right."
Bro, Rene

Monday, March 2, 2015

Being Merciful

Jesus is always setting the bar high for his followers:  "Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48); "Be merciful just as your Father is merciful." (Lk 6: 36).  He admonishes directly, "Stop judging,....stop condemning, give..." (cf.  Lk 6: 37).  It boils down to this:  love without measure, and not just some...friends....good people...but ALL.   Fr. Ted Hesburgh, who speaks with the same clarity and directness as Jesus in this passage,  put it this way        “All human beings are our brothers and sisters, all are our neighbors especially when in need. It matters not whether they are black or white, red or yellow, men or women, Eastern or Western, Northern or Southern, young or old, intelligent or dull, good or bad, attractive or repulsive. I believe that since we are all created in the image of God, I cannot love God without loving and serving them as best I can.”—Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C.
May we  show mercy and love with such directness, holding nothing back.
Bro. Rene

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Listen To Him

We begin the second week of Lent with the scene of the Transfiguration: a resplendent Jesus in dazzling white garments, Moses, Elijah, three confused apostles, the Father's voice affirming, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." and a warning to the three to speak nothing of what they had seen till Jesus had risen from the dead. (Mk 9: 2-10). Jesus is the central figure, singled out by the Father, and surpassing the great lawgiver and prophet.  As candidates for Baptism prepare for their own transformation, they are reminded of this hierarchy:  Jesus first, then the law and the prophets.   The lesson hold for us as well.  No substitutes for Jesus.  To him only must we listen.  We might not always understand his words, his call, as did the apostles who could not fathom what this "rising form the dead" meant.  Not at that time, but later it became clear.  If our own transformation is to continue, especially during Lent, we must listen and follow, even without full and clear understanding.  Why, do things go wrong and spoil our mapped out plan?  Later we might see why.  Even our sins can be lessons that have a fruitful side:  more compassion to other sinners, more understanding of our vulnerability, deeper appreciation for the grace of forgiveness, and a stronger resolve to avoid those same sins in the future.  Jesus, help me to listen better, trust more completely, and follow more lovingly.
Bro. Rene

Saturday, February 28, 2015

On Guard

St. Paul gives us some tips that, although not so intended, are good advice for us as we make our way through Lent.  "Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong.  Your every act should be done with love." (1 Cor 13-14). Our lives are so taken up with our usual activities, that Lent falls into the shadows or into the broom closet.  We need to remind ourselves and each other that this is a special time.  At least our meatless Fridays are one tangible reminder.  I happily overheard some teens talking about the things they have given up, and was both surprised and happy that they were conscious of this season.  One girl had given up candy and as candy was passed to her, she pushed it right by her.  Another had given up "texting", something for a teen is a real sacrifice. In their conversation they asked each other what they were doing for Lent.  A good way to keep our guard up, stand firm, and be courageous....sharing our Lenten activities with others,  a reminder to ourselves, and perhaps an inspiration to others.  No matter what we've chosen for our Lenten observance, St. Paul is on the money when he says it should be done with love...a love that will bring us closer to Jesus and to one another.
Bro. Rene

Friday, February 27, 2015

One Man Can Make A Difference

News of the death of Fr. Theodore M. Hesburgh, former and well-known president of the University of Notre Dame, who entered eternal life late last night, will make headlines for days, weeks, ahead.  His 35 year tenure made him synonymous with Notre Dame, but his involvements outside the university with Civil Rights in the sixties and world affairs made him a national and global figure of great renown.  He left office as president graciously but remained an icon of inspiration and continued to reach as many as who approached him. He personally answered the letters he received (mine included) and saw all who wished to visit with him.  When his eyesight was failing, he would ask others to read the Gospel for him at Mass, humbling accepting his limitations.  I had the privilege of doing so at a Mass in his office after a Saturday football game.  My debt to him is not the great university he expanded and which gave me a Master's degree in English, but a line from his autobiography, God, Country, Notre Dame.
I was reading it while coming to the end of my second year in Rwanda, feeling a bit despondent as I reviewed those two years and felt I had accomplished nothing. The chapter, One Man Can Make A Difference, turned up one evening when I was feeling most useless.  He reviewed his life to that point and indicated how much one person can make a difference if he continues to chip away, even though it seems like no progress was being gained.   That chapter reversed my whole "poor me" thinking and I found a new vitality that has given me energy and purpose since.  The last two years in Rwanda were very "productive" and so has every year been since then.  Thank you, Fr. Ted, for this insight and for all you have done to inspire so many for so long all over the world.  You were Notre Dame's beloved president, but truly you belonged to the world.  May you now rest in peace at last!
Bro. Rene