Friday, July 31, 2015

Mass at Santa Marta

(Vatican Radio) 
Pope: Christians must get hands dirty and touch the excluded

The Church can only become a true community if its members are willing to get their hands dirty and include the excluded. That was Pope Francis’ message during his homily at the Santa Marta Mass on Friday morning, as he reflected on the Gospel passage about Jesus healing the man with leprosy.

Pope Francis noted that the miracle, in St Matthew’s Gospel, of Jesus touching and healing the leper takes place in front of the doctors of the law who considered the man to be ‘unclean’. Leprosy, the Pope said, was like a life sentence, since curing a leper was thought to be as hard as raising someone from the dead. Lepers were excluded from society, yet Jesus stretches out his hand and shows us what it means to be close to such people.

We can’t be a community, we can’t make peace, and we can’t do good without being close to people, the Pope stressed. Jesus could have just said to the leper, ‘You are healed’, but instead he reaches out his hand and touches him, becoming ‘unclean’ himself. This is the mystery of Jesus, the Pope continued, that he takes upon himself our uncleanliness, our sin, our exclusion to become close to us.

The Gospel passage also notes that Jesus asks the cured man not to tell anyone, but to show himself to the priest and ‘offer the gift that Moses prescribed’ in the law as proof for them. Pope Francis explained that Jesus not only gets his hands dirty but he also instructs the man to go to the priest so that he could be included in the Church and in society again. Jesus never excludes anyone, the Pope said, but rather he excludes himself in order to include us sinners.

Finally Pope Francis noted the reactions of the people around Jesus, many of whom are amazed at his words and follow him. Others, he said, watch from a distance with hardened hearts to criticize and condemn him, while others would like to draw close to Jesus but lack the courage to do so. To these people, Jesus holds out his hand, as he holds it out to all of us, taking on our sins to become one of us. Do we know how to draw near to people, the Pope asked? Do we have the strength and courage to reach out and touch those who are excluded? This is the meaning of a Christian community and this is the question each one of us – priests, bishops, religious, all of us - must ask ourselves.

(from Vatican Radio)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Summer Prayer

Creator of all, thank You for summer!

Thank You for the warmth of the sun
and the increased daylight.

Thank You for the beauty I see all around me
and for the opportunity to be outside and enjoy Your creation.

Thank You for the increased time
I have to be with my friends and family,
and for the more casual pace of the summer season.

Draw me closer to You this summer.

Teach me how I can pray
no matter where I am or what I am doing.
Warm my soul with the awareness of Your presence,
and light my path with Your Word and Counsel.

As I enjoy Your creation,
create in me a pure heart
and a hunger and a thirst for You.


© Source unknown

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mary' Fiat

The Annunciation 

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lecturn, a book; always
the tall lily.

Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whome she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent. God waited.

She was free
to accept or refuse, choice
integral to humanness.

Aren't there annunciations
of one sort or another in most lives?
Some unwillingly undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,

More often those moments
when roads of light and storm
open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.

God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes..

She had been a child who played, ate, spelt
like any other child - but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumpf.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
only asked

a simple, "How can this be?"
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel's reply,
perceiving instantly
the astounding ministry she was offered:

to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power -
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.

Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love -

but who was God.

Denise Levertov

Monday, July 27, 2015

Marianist Monday

From Nazareth Farm ....
Pictured above is this year's Nazareth Farm participants. Marianist Brothers Peter and Patrick yearly take this service trip with students from Chaminade High School.
Nazareth Farm is truly a unique place because you can see God everywhere you go, and in everyone you meet. The week I spent at the Farm helped me to strengthen my faith, and I was influenced by every volunteer, and community member I met during the trip. I saw God in every volunteer that we worked with throughout the course of the week, because they had a strong passion for helping those in need, and they were some of the kindest people I have ever met. Throughout the week, we traveled to various homes in the community where work needed to be done on the houses. During this time, we had a great opportunity to meet and talk to many members of the community. The community of West Virginia is very special, and I mainly saw God through them in my week at Nazareth Farm. Similar to the Bible passage where a poor old woman gives away her last two coins to help others, the people who live in the area of Nazareth Farm don’t have much to give, yet they give anyway. This attitude of giving was personified by one of the community members named Ronny, who did everything he could to help the volunteers at the Farm. Ronny did everything from fixing low hanging electrical wires near the work site, to feeding us lunch, and he did all of this without being asked. My faith was strengthened by the community because we saw how little these people had, yet they were some of the most faithful people I have ever met. Every single community member we met strongly believed in the presence of God in everything they did. That is what I took away from the trip most, even though the people of West Virginia weren’t the most privileged, they were truly thankful for everything they had, and now so am I.

Owen Harte

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Sunday Word

Today's Gospel keys us into the first century, where John’s account of the feeding of the 5,000 takes place. Messianic expectation was running high as the people looked for a hero to unite them and throw off the yoke of Roman oppression. Into this climate of chaos and hope comes Jesus, who does and says things that lead the people to believe that he is the one who will come riding to their rescue. There were lots of pretenders to the throne running around first-century Israel, gathering people in the desert in the manner of Moses, promising liberation from the Roman slave-masters. The people tended to move from one to the other, until their promises dried up like so much desert sand. Jesus seemed spot on, to be the real deal — one who would fill their bellies as well as their national dreams.

John tells us that the people’s response to this massive feeding was to try and make him king “by force.”  But Jesus refuses the crown and slips off by himself into the wilderness. If anyone deserved it and could deliver the goods it was he. But while heroic warrior-kings make for good stories and blockbuster movies, the kind of kingdom Jesus was bringing in would redefine once and for all what true royal power was about.

Bottom line: Jesus believed that power was only truly useful if it was given away.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Ask for a servant's heart

Feast of Saint James, Apostle

Saint James, Saint John, and their mother, from what we heard in today’s Gospel, approached Jesus with a terribly selfish request. They wanted positions of power and prestige in his kingdom- something that would place them head and shoulders over their friends and fellow Apostles.

It’s easy for us to cast stones at James and John. At the same time, however, most of us are probably guilty of having made selfish requests of God ourselves. In a sense, then, it’s kind of nice to know that people who eventually became saints did exactly the same thing.

It’s even nicer to know, however, they with God’s grace they were able to move beyond their selfishness. The lives of James and John show us that as our relationship with God matures, selfishness is replaced by service - a desire to serve Jesus, who himself came not to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many. For his part, St. James - whose feast we celebrate today - did indeed achieve that greatness he desired. But he did so only through service - by drinking the chalice of Jesus, and giving his life for him.

Today is an opportunity for us to assess the state of our relationship with the Lord. Are we selfish, or servants? If all we’re asking for is "What can I get?" perhaps we should ask for one more thing: A servant’s heart.