Ordinary Time, 6th Sunday. Leprosy was contagious, disfiguring, incurable, and caused a person to be separated from the community. In other words, leprosy is like sin. The Lord shares the effects of our sin and sacrifices himself to make us clean again. You love Jesus, but are you in love with Jesus? This Lent, let’s try to grow in love. Here’s how to do it:

First: Quality time with God for 10-25 minutes every day (prayer).
Second: Reach out in love to others (almsgiving).
Third: Give up something that’s getting in the way of love (fasting).

Let’s make this Lent a ‘love-ly’ Lent.

(15 Feb 2015)

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“The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. It is not surprising, then, that in Him all the aforementioned truths find their root and attain their crown.

He Who is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled, by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin.

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Ordinary Time, 4th Sunday. Moses promised that God will not leave His people but will raise up, “A prophet like me… from among your own kin.” This prophet is Jesus, who teaches with authority even greater than Moses. Our scripture gives a specific place and a specific time for discovering Jesus: in the synagogue (a place of worship) on the Sabbath (the Lord’s Day). The Lord is with every Christian community worshipping on Sunday. Christ speaks with authority in the scriptures. He works in and through the priest to consecrate the Eucharist, which is His Real Presence. You receive Jesus, and Jesus is present in you, His mystical body.

Why do we not recognize Him? There is active opposition to the word of God: the world (distraction and anxiety), the flesh (laziness and backsliding), and the Devil. The opposition enslaves us. But God has raised up a prophet to lead us out of slavery into freedom. He speaks with authority and he is present right now and right here in this place.

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“It is in the face of death that the riddle a human existence grows most acute. Not only is man tormented by pain and by the advancing deterioration of his body, but even more so by a dread of perpetual extinction. He rightly follows the intuition of his heart when he abhors and repudiates the utter ruin and total disappearance of his own person. He rebels against death because he bears in himself an eternal seed which cannot be reduced to sheer matter. All the endeavors of technology, though useful in the extreme, cannot calm his anxiety; for prolongation of biological life is unable to satisfy that desire for higher life which is inescapably lodged in his breast.

“Although the mystery of death utterly beggars the imagination, the Church has been taught by divine revelation and firmly teaches that man has been created by God for a blissful purpose beyond the reach of earthly misery. In addition, that bodily death from which man would have been immune had he not sinned will be vanquished, according to the Christian faith, when man who was ruined by his own doing is restored to wholeness by an almighty and merciful Saviour. For God has called man and still calls him so that with his entire being he might be joined to Him in an endless sharing of a divine life beyond all corruption. Christ won this victory when He rose to life, for by His death He freed man from death. Hence to every thoughtful man a solidly established faith provides the answer to his anxiety about what the future holds for him. At the same time faith gives him the power to be united in Christ with his loved ones who have already been snatched away by death; faith arouses the hope that they have found true life with God.”

Document of the Second Vatican Council, “Gaudium et Spes” (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World), paragraph 18

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So you’ve had a good retreat or wonderful experience of God — how do you keep it going? We need a handy guide to keep us on the right track. It just so happens that the five fingers on our hand can remind us of five things that will keep our faith going.

  1. Daily Prayer
    We use the thumb to give a “thumbs up” or a “pick me up.” So daily prayer is an opportunity to thank God and ask for help. Just like the thumb holds everything together, so our daily prayer holds our life together.
  2. Sunday Mass
    The pointer finger points us in the right direction, and says, “You’re #1!” Sunday Mass helps point us in the right direction. By coming to Mass on Sunday we tell God, “You’re #1 in my life.”
  3. Regular Confession
    When you have given the “middle finger” to God or your neighbor, go to confession. I recommend monthly confession. But at least once a year, dump your garbage and experience the merciful love of God in a powerful way.
  4. Community
    Our “ring finger” shows our connection with other people. We need a few good Christian friends to challenge and encourage us, and we need to support others in living their faith.
  5. Keep Growing
    The “pinky” still has some growing to do. There are areas in our life where we are “coming up short.” We need to keep growing in our faith – giving up things that get in the way, and learning more as we go along.

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Ordinary Time, 3rd Sunday. Jonah is a fascinating story of second chances – a second chance for the prophet, and a second chance for the people of Nineveh. It’s the same message that Jesus proclaims: Repent and believe in the Merciful Love of God. Our second reading reminds us that time is running out.

The people on the Titanic were enjoying themselves as they sailed to New York — but time was running out for all of them. They didn’t heed the warnings, and they didn’t have enough lifeboats. They could have been ready but they weren’t. Life is more than food, celebration, and having a good time. The world as we know it is passing away.

Jesus calls his disciples to learn first-hand about the merciful love of God. It was easier for the people of Nineveh to believe in God’s merciful love than it was for Jonah. Is it hard for you? Don’t stand with one foot in the world and one foot on the Gospel. Abandon ship! God’s merciful love will catch you.

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All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (14th Amendment to the US Constitution, Section 1)

On 22 January 1973 the Supreme Court argued that the above paragraph explicitly forbid the state from protecting the lives of unborn children. Voluntary abortion became legal in America. Children younger than 9 months lost “equal protection under the law” and could be deprived of life without due process. Since that time approximately 57 million children have been killed by legal abortion in the United States. That’s 114 million mothers and fathers affected by abortion, and 228 million grandparents who have lost a child to abortion in 42 years. To put that in perspective, the US population was 317 million in 2014. In her recent post, Healing in Public, Abby Johnson describes the human cost those numbers represent.

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Ordinary Time, 2nd Sunday. We love this cute story and we would all love to hear God call our name. The context of this story is very enlightening and very appropriate for our day. Samuel is a gift to a mother who cannot have children. She thanks God by giving him back to her. Samuel grows up in the temple ministering at the altar and serving the old priest, Eli.

Eli is a good man, but he’s old and has lost his. His sons are no good and they blaspheme God by embezzling from the sacrifices and chasing after women. It seems as though God is ignoring their crimes, but this isn’t true. He has been sending hints and nothing has changed. The Bible introduces today’s readings with these lines:

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