Monday, May 23, 2016

"All Things Are Possible For God"

When then rich young man eagerly asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, he was encouraged to hear that keeping the commandments was the required criterion.  For, these he had kept since his youth.  "Aha, I'm in" he must have thought, but then, Jesus added, as he looked at him lovingly, a further requirement: "You are lacking one thing.  Go sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." (Mk 10:21). This knocked the wind from the man's sails, for turned sadly from Jesus, because he was too attached, enamored, imprisoned by his many possessions.
We all might share in this fellow's discouragement and sadness, for in some ways we too are burdened, entangled in our possessions, or our rigid insistence on our opinions or behaviors.  We lack the freedom to let go and turn our lives (material and spiritual) over to God and let him take care of us. Like the disciples we too wonder, "who can be saved?" (Mk 10: 26).  Jesus agreed that "For men it is impossible, but not for God.  All things are possible for God." (Mk 10:27).  Looking back, we see this "possibility" lived out over and over:  an uneducated farm boy becomes a priest, a founder of the Marist Brothers and a saint; a frail woman with a compassionate heart comforts and cares for the sick and dying, founds a religious order of sisters, brothers and priests and will be canonized next September.  A little educated and frail shoemaker becomes a beloved spiritual guide and healer:  St. Crispin of Viterbo.  Why do we hesitate?
Bro. Rene

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Blessed Trinity

"We worship one God in the Trinity and Trinity in Unity." (Athanasian Creed).  We learned a long time ago in our first Catechism that there are Three Persons in one God, and were told it was a Mystery, that is a reality beyond our human logic or ability to comprehend.  Since then, as we grow older and ponder this Mystery, it becomes more invitingly comprehensible, teasing our imagination and filling our hearts with love and joy.  We now can see more of the universe than ever before and its scope seems to have no end.  It makes us feel very small.  We have learned more of the "secrets" of the human body through research in genetics, and there seems to be no limit as we delve deeper and deeper into "how it works", this amazing body of ours.  At graduations we hear wisdom passed on to the young, and we hear their high and noble ideals; we see their clean, bright faces full of hope, expectation and determination.  Their energy, goodness and optimism bode well for and expanding and fertile future despite the shadows and conflicts that have always been part of "the present and the "future." Is not the Presence of God, Creator, manifested in these marvels of creation?
We look to his further manifestation in Jesus, love so overflowing that it took on our human nature and became one with us, and not only that, but endured suffering and death to redeem us from our sins and offered us new life in him.  He feeds us with that Body and Blood and assures us that whoever so eats and drinks it will have Eternal life. 
And as a guarantee that this life will be continually animated, the Holy Spirit fires us, energizes us, draws us to the Father and the Son. Let us praise the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever!
Bro. Rene

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Who Can Enter the Kingdom?

This morning's Gospel presents two sides of Jesus...an indignant Jesus who rebukes the disciples for shooing children away from him, and a tender Jesus who tenderly welcomes and blesses them.  In the end, the children win, for Jesus holds them up as the key to entrance into the Kingdom of God:  "I say to you, however does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." (Mk 10: 16).  What does it mean to accept it like a child?  Look at children:  affectionate, loving, spontaneous, creative, fun-loving, trusting, forgiving, imaginative, filled with wonder and simplicity, sensitive, pure of heart.  Do we adults still have these qualities? Is this how we embrace the teachings and mission of Jesus?   If not, he just might become indignant, rebuke us and insist strongly that we "get with it" and resurrect the child within or else be exiled from the Kingdom.
Bro. Rene

Friday, May 20, 2016

St. Bernadine of Siena

As a devout layman in the late 14th century, Bernadine gathered a group of friends to help him staff the local hospital during an epidemic of the plague.  Some of his followers died, but Bernadine escaped the disease and helped bring comfort to the dying and health to the strongest. When the plague was over, he entered the Friars Minor and became such a noted preacher that he had to preach outside to accommodate the huge crowds.  Based in Milan, he nevertheless walked and preached through the county side, converting thousands.  Three times he refused the offer to be consecrated a bishop, preferring to remain poor and faithful to his Franciscan charism.  He died in 1444 after preaching for fifty consecutive days in his hometown in the Republic of Siena.
When we look at our world today, we might be envious as we see what one man could do in a relatively brief life of 64 years.  What would it be like to have such a powerful preacher on television or at large rallies convincingly addressing the ills of today?  He was noted for reconciling feuding families and parties. How would he deal with the current campaigners, our congressional members, and the major issues dividing us in in our Church?  Can their be at least a little bit of Bernadine in each one of us to help restore sanity and to bring out the good that struggles for survival as did those once plague-stricken men and women?  Let us pray for courage and strength to follow Bernadine's example and step up to address the issues that plague us today.
Bro. Rene

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Detachment

One of the basic factors in spiritual growth is detachment, the stripping of anything that would impede our relationship with others or with God.  It sounds "old fashioned" and it is.  Certainly Jesus was an advocate of it as we read in today's Gospel from Mark 9:41-50.  He uses hyperbole to stress in importance of casting aside whatever causes us to lead others astray, into sin.  His gruesome images of cutting off hands or feet, plucking out eyes, or having millstones dragging us to the bottom of the sea are frightening enough to shock us into taking his teaching seriously. We commonly think of detachment as the shedding of THINGS, material goods, the emptying of closets and shelves, but more fundamentally, we need to ask what behaviors of our hands, feet, and eyes need to be eliminated, what thoughts, what attitudes need to be avoided?  How attached to "my way as the only way" am I?  Detachment covers many bases, material and spiritual; both requiring examination, evaluation,  motivation,  discipline and advice from our spiritual director or  good friend who can be honest with us.  If we feel bogged down and burdened by our attachments, it's time to take this teaching of Jesus to heart and put it into practice.
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Jesus Leads the Way

In this era of toleration, of an almost "Anything Goes" approach to life, these words of Jesus ring true as a reminder that there are limits governed by God's revelation, the "Natural Law" and Tradition: Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, an those who enter though it are many.  How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few. (Mt 7:13-14)  We seem to have forgotten that there are limits and especially that following Jesus, means sacrifice, death to self, self-control and self-discipline, along with joyful love, acceptance of people "where they are", faith and hope.  Time spent with Jesus in prayer and reflection on how he lived in this world, which was filled with the same human flaws and weakness we see today. He spoke out, at times strongly, at others, gently, always guiding, always respecting.  When the disciples were angry that others whom they did not know were expelling demons in the name of Jesus, Jesus told them, There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. (Mk 9: 40)
Jesus leads the way through this narrow gate, through this world of ideas and practices that contradict the Truth; it is our task to follow him, lest we become lost in this maze of error and enter the wide gate.
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Servant of All

In seeking to follow Jesus, as we do always, but especially during Ordinary Time, when we see Jesus in action during his ministry over the years that led up to his arrest and crucifixion, we encounter a person whose simplicity and humility are expressed in action as well as in word.  He is our model of leadership and the inspiration that should penetrate our behavior.  He speaks with authority, confronts evil in the form of demons or hypocrisy, and yet puts leadership in proper perspective:  "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be last of all and the servant of all." (Mk 9: 35).  St. Marcellin lived this way and exhorted his followers to follow in his footsteps.  May we not hesitate to follow his example and directive.
Bro. Rene