Scales

January 25, 2023 – Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. (Acts 9:1-22)

SCALES: The conversion of Saul is a dramatic example of God turning around a life headed in the wrong direction. A flash of light knocked Saul to the ground, and he found himself blind. He was without sight for three days until the Holy Spirit entered him and “things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained sight.”

Perhaps God has “converted” you  at some point in your life. Maybe it has happened multiple times. I know it has for me. Nothing as dramatic as flashes of light causing physical blindness, but I have found myself blind in other ways – spiritually blind, blind to my faith, and blind to the many blessings in my life.

Thank goodness God did not give up on me. He put people in my life who helped me see again – people who loved me, tolerated me, and gave witness to how to live a faith-filled Christian life.

He put me in situations that removed the scales from my eyes and allowed me to see again, to feel compassion for the world around me, and to respond.

Heavenly Father,

Like Saul, there are times in my life that I cannot see the beauty of the world around me. I am spiritually dry and my faith is weak. I pray that You do not give up on me. Continue to put people in my life who will help me see again. Continue to give me opportunities to see the world clearly. Remove the scales from my eyes so that I can see the path You want me to take. I am weak, but with Your help I know anything is possible.

Amen 

“Be at peace” Birthday Wishes

January 24, 2023 – Memorial of St. Francis de Sales

On his feast day, a few words of wisdom from St. Francis de Sales:

Have no fear for what tomorrow may bring, 
The same loving God who cares for you today 
Will take care of you tomorrow and everyday. 
God will either shield you from suffering or 
give you unfailing strength to bear it. 
Be at peace, then, and put aside all 
Anxious thoughts and imaginations.

Special “be at peace” wishes for my wife, Carol, on her birthday today!

An Adoption Story

January 23, 2023 – Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

Today the Church celebrates a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. I thought it would be fitting to present this beautiful adoption story. I thank BCHS teacher Amanda Horan, who shared her story at a pro-life prayer service at Bishop Chatard back in 2016.   

There is not much better than the perfection of a brand new baby.

My husband and I had been married for more than 6 years when we decided that it was time to start a family. We assumed that it would be easy. After all, people have been having babies for thousands of years. We were perfectly healthy. There was no reason to believe we would have trouble.

Yet, weeks, months and years passed without progress. I struggled through some of the worst times of my life as I watched jealously while everyone around me got pregnant, had their baby, and in some cases, even got pregnant a second time without any change in my own situation. News stories about a baby abandoned in Eagle Creek Park or a trash can brought me to tears, as did each new pregnancy announcement. I even remember crying silently in the back of these bleachers during another pro-life week, as topics like abortion are difficult to understand when all that you want is the chance to be a mother.

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Homily: Story Worth Repeating

January 22, 2023 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

I am not preaching this weekend, but the following is a homily I delivered on these same readings BACK IN 2018:

As the kids were growing up, I missed out on many things while I was at work. When I came home in the evening, I looked forward to being filled in on the events of the day – both the good and the bad.

The kids shared details of the fun events I missed out on, bubbling over with excitement as each shared his or her version of the activities of the day. More often than not, I would hear multiple versions of the same basic story. The characters in the story and the general timeline of events were the same. However, each version of the story, told from a unique perspective, offered slightly different details and focus.

Or perhaps there was a disagreement of some kind. Such disagreements were usually centered around personal property, invasion of space, or some other issue critically important to children.

I would hear both sides of the disagreement – both children were victims of course, no one was ever at fault. Then Carol would weigh in with her take on the squabble. No one’s version was wrong or dishonest, each was simply telling the story from his or her own perspective.

This idea of multiple versions of the same story came to mind as I read today’s gospel.

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Memorial of St. Agnes

January 21, 2023 – Memorial of St. Agnes

Saint Agnes’ Story

Almost nothing is known of this saint except that she was very young—12 or 13—when she was martyred in the last half of the third century. Various modes of death have been suggested—beheading, burning, strangling.

Legend has it that Agnes was a beautiful girl whom many young men wanted to marry. Among those she refused, one reported her to the authorities for being a Christian. She was arrested and confined to a house of prostitution. The legend continues that a man who looked upon her lustfully lost his sight and had it restored by her prayer. Agnes was condemned, executed, and buried near Rome in a catacomb that eventually was named after her. The daughter of Constantine built a basilica in her honor.


Reflection

Like that of Maria Goretti in the 20th century, the martyrdom of a virginal young girl made a deep impression on a society enslaved to a materialistic outlook. Also like Agatha, who died in similar circumstances, Agnes is a symbol that holiness does not depend on length of years, experience, or human effort. It is a gift God offers to all.

Source: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-agnes/

Regular People

January 20, 2023

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

He appointed the Twelve: Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. (Mark 3:13-19)

REGULAR PEOPLE: The twelve men Jesus ultimately called to be His apostles were not the best and the brightest. The Rabbis leading the religious communities were surrounded by scholarly disciples. These disciples studied and trained for years before being sent out as learned leaders. Only the best were called. Only the best survived.

Jesus, on the other hand, called fisherman and farmers, even a tax collector. He taught them through parables, but even those they had difficulty understanding at times. Once they had been called, their faith surged and faded. Doubt was always looming.

Yet that is who Jesus chose to call. That is who Jesus later sent out to “preach the gospel to every living creature.”

The apostles were not special because they were called. They were special because they responded. They were special because they left their nets and followed Him.

Jesus is calling you. He chose you. Don’t deny him because you think you’re “not good enough.”

YOUR Will

January 19, 2023

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will. (Psalms 40:8a, 9a)

YOUR WILL: Today, it was the Responsorial Psalm that caught my eye. It made me think about how I begin my day.

How often do I start my daily prayer with a list of things I need? I can picture God sitting at a desk in a small cubicle and me dropping a huge stack of files in front of him, “Good morning, God. This is what I need you to get done for me today.”

What if we began with addressing HIS needs? Today’s Responsorial Psalm captures that sentiment. Re-phrased, it says: “I am at your disposal, God. What do you need from me today?”

Then, to take it either further, what if we actually did it? What if we focused solely on doing his will throughout our day?

More days than not, even if I remember to say, Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will, I very seldom follow through in my actions.

However, on those rare days I both say it AND do it, one of two things occurs:

One – When I do God’s will, my own needs pale in comparison and most often prove to be wants rather than needs.

Or two – My own needs are met in the process of carrying out God’s will for me.

Either way, we can’t go wrong doing God’s will.

Choosing Our Jesus

January 18, 2023

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Looking around at them (the Pharisees) with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart… (Mark 3:1-6)

CHOOSING OUR JESUS: Before we dismiss the Pharisees as unintelligent, radical, or simply anti-Jesus, I think it is important to understand their perspective.

Let’s begin with the recognition that the Pharisees were anything but unintelligent; they were the most learned of Jewish scholars. For hundreds of years, the Jewish people awaited the Messiah, a great Savior that would wipe evil from the face of the earth and take his rightful place as king.

And then along came Jesus. He attracted many followers and those followers believed Jesus may be the long-awaited Messiah. The Pharisees immediately wanted to shut that down – not because of the good things Jesus was doing, but because he didn’t fit the image of what they had in mind.

They believed the Messiah would come into Jerusalem on a white horse and an army of soldiers. They wanted him to defeat their enemies and put sinners to death. They pictured him as a mighty and powerful king that would reward the Pharisees for their faithful adherence to Jewish laws and customs.

However, Jesus did not fit the mold. He was not a warrior king. He was gentle and loving and compassionate. He did not put sinners to death; he ate with them and allowed them to be his followers. He didn’t even follow Jewish customs himself! How could he be the Messiah?

What angered Jesus was not the intelligence of the Pharisees or their strict adherence to Jewish law. He was angered by their hardened hearts. He was angered that they would not allow their hearts to be open to the possibility that their image of the Messiah was faulty.

He was angered that the Pharisees were more concerned with being right than they were in appreciating all that Jesus had to offer.

That’s our takeaway. Do we accept Jesus for what he is and what he offers to us? Do we appreciate the sacrifice he made for us and the many gifts he bestows on us?

Or do we accept only parts of Jesus? We like the kind and loving Jesus, but not the one that challenges us to live a life of holiness. We like the Jesus that forgives our sins, but not the one that challenges us to sin no more. We want to be loved unconditionally, but are not willing to love others in that same way.

Are we like the Pharisees? Do we only accept a Messiah that fits our image of what he should be? Do we just want to be right?

Stay the Course

January 17, 2023

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises. (Hebrews 6:10-20)

STAY THE COURSE: The reading today was intended as a pep talk for the Hebrews: Stay the course, your reward will come later.

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ can be challenging. The secular world offers a broad array of desirable things, tempting us to stray from what we know is right. If we succumb to temptation, we may receive immediate gratification, but it is temporary and does nothing to fill our hearts. Discipleship fills our hearts gradually and leads to eternal happiness. It is short-term empty promises versus a long-term inheritance.

The pep talk letter encouraged the Hebrews to stay the course; don’t allow the lack of immediate gratification to make them sluggish or steal their eagerness for the fulfillment of hope. They were reminded that their reward will come through faith and patience.

We may see others straying from what is right and holy; they may even appear to be enjoying “the good life.” We are encouraged, like the Hebrews, to stay the course – our reward will be great in heaven.

MLK, Jr. Prayer

January 16, 2023 – National Observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

In honoring Dr. King, I post one of his many written prayers:

Thou Eternal God, out of whose absolute power and infinite intelligence the whole universe has come into being, we humbly confess that we have not loved thee with our hearts, souls and minds, and we have not loved our neighbors as Christ loved us. We have all too often lived by our own selfish impulses rather than by the life of sacrificial love as revealed by Christ. We often give in order to receive. We love our friends and hate our enemies. We go the first mile but dare not travel the second. We forgive but dare not forget. And so as we look within ourselves, we are confronted with the appalling fact that the history of our lives is the history of an eternal revolt against you. But thou, O God, have mercy upon us. Forgive us for what we could have been but failed to be. Give us the intelligence to know your will. Give us the courage to do your will. Give us the devotion to love your will. In the name and spirit of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Source: https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/road-peace/prayers-martin-luther-king-jr