Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Beatitudes of Holiness

From the Catholic Liturgy for the 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, January 29, 2017. Matthew 5:1-12 – The Beatitudes.  The Beatitudes, which open Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, are the signs and fruit of a holy Christian life. But what IS holiness? For many holiness conjures up images of impeccable human behavior, monks and nuns, missionaries and martyrs. Holy people, aka Saints, are often pictured as a kind of unreal display of Catholic super-heroes, something beyond the reach of ordinary men and women. But this notion is quite mistaken. Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes and preached the Gospel of the Kingdom to and for EVERYONE.  His audience at the Sermon on the Mount was not an assembly of monks and nuns, it was not a congregation of a “Saintly Justice League”. Holiness is for everyone!  Perhaps it helps if we keep in mind that holiness is a name we give to our relationship with God when this relationship is cherished and lived as primary in our lives.  Holiness is loving God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength and then expressing this love in our interactions with others, in our love for neighbor. Holiness means living this relationship every day, one day at a time. It is a relationship centered on the Eucharist, strengthened by Confession, maintained by daily prayer, inspired by meditation on the Gospel, and lived out concretely in our service to others. Blessed are we who seek it!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Church Unity - Remembering Our Roots

From the Catholic Liturgy for the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Jan. 22, 2017 – Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. 1 Cor. 1:10-17. St. Paul bemoans the divisions that have crept up among the early Christians and begs them to remember who and what they are: members of the one Body of Christ, which is the Church. In similar fashion on the secular level, our nation is experiencing division and we need to cease and desist; to remember who we are as Americans and why we exist as a People.  We must look to our roots: a united people gathered together from various places to embrace, defend and live in freedom, guarding the inalienable rights given to us by our Creator. Along this same theme of unity found in today’s second reading, we realize that we are in the midst of the 101st Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan. 18-25). We each need to look at our baptismal roots and remember who we are and Whose we are. We must embrace what it means to be a Christian in general and more specifically, what it means to be a Catholic Christian. The Body of Christ on earth is fractured and cannot give effective witness to the One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism proclaimed by the New Testament until this woundedness is healed. Each of us has a part to play in the healing of this wound.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

What is My Response to the Newborn King?

From the Catholic Liturgy for Epiphany Sunday, January 8, 2017. Matthew 2:1-12. Today’s liturgy celebrates the Epiphany (manifestation or revelation) of Jesus Christ to the Magi. An epiphany is an experience we have of WHO Jesus really is and WHAT this means (or should mean) in our lives. An encounter with Jesus always demands a response from those who experience it. In today’s Gospel, we see three different types of responses to Jesus: Herod (who rejects Him as a threat); the chief priests and scribes (who are unmoved by news of His long-awaited arrival); and the magi (who invest all of themselves in order to see Him).  The million dollar question for us today who read this Gospel is this: what is my response to Jesus, the God-King? Do I have a mix of all three within me? How can I chase the “Herod” and the “scribes” out of my response to Jesus, and be filled with the praise, adoration and gift-giving of the Magi?