Friday, March 28, 2014

2 Samuel 19:5-7: Forgiveness and Unconditional Love

Reading 2 Samuel 19 reminds us of the unconditional love and mercy that Jesus offers us.  King David, after learning of Absalom’s death, mourns for his son. The voice of Joab, however, reflects the voice of the world -- why forgive your enemy when you can hate them? Our task is to reject this voice, as David does, and instead become conduits for God’s love and mercy toward others.

“‘My son Absalom! Absalom! My son, my son!’ So Joab went to the king’s residence and said: “Though they saved your life and your sons’ and daughters’ lives, and the lives of your wives and your concubines, you have put all your servants to shame today by loving those who hate you…” 
2 Samuel 19: 5b-7a

As an accusation, Joab points out David's unconditional love for his wayward son, Absalom. We are called to embrace this level of forgiveness and love, for Jesus teaches us to “love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us” ( Matthew 5:44). David is forced out of Jerusalem and greatly wronged by Absalom, but David still loves and forgives him, not holding Absalom's sin against him. David is even ridiculed by Joab and warned that all of David’s people will abandon him due to the love and forgiveness he extends to Absalom. 
This is the level of forgiveness we see in Jesus, when during his Passion, he forgave those who scourged, mocked, ridiculed, and pinioned Him to the cross: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." We are called to imitate Christ, to whom David is a type, emulating our Lord's unfathomable mercy toward others.

Loving God,
... Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mark 1:40: Prayer, Love, and Mercy: Witnessing Jesus Christ in Others

Have you ever contemplated the ways in which our Lord communicates with us?  For mystics, it is clear and vibrant. He appears and speaks in a very corporeal way. Few are mystics, however. But the Lord does communicate with us in equally clear ways.  We have to pray for His grace, the eyes to see, and the ears to hear His presence. In seeing Christ among us, we have to look at the ordinary in an extraordinary way. Jesus uses the faithful to affect others.  We, too, then can be operatives of God’s love and grace.
            I have the privilege of attending 15 minutes of prayer each morning in front of the tabernacle on my way to work.  This opportunity is a gift from God, and there are many graces that lie within these precious minutes each day. Today, for instance, I had an incredible moment of spiritual consolation.  I met a man who reached out to me in kindness.
            Today, I was compelled to pray the following words from the synoptic gospels (Matthew 8:2; Mark 1:40; Luke 5:12): “Lord if you will, you can make me clean.” This quote comes from the beautiful scene in the gospels where Jesus instantly heals the faithful leper and makes him clean.  Our leprosy is sin, and although I regularly seek Reconciliation and offer true contrition for my sins, I know that I still sin and hurt God. Jesus Christ is mercy and love and infinitely offers His mercy and love to us when we ask in prayer. When we pray for the grace of true contrition and offer ourselves to His will, God always answers.  I am far from perfect and need Christ’s healing touch daily.
After this prayer, I felt peaceful silence and love fill my heart. Consolation abounded.  In the distance of the church behind me, for it was empty besides a few attendants and me, I heard the slow approach of padding footsteps and rhythmic swishing vinyl-on-vinyl.  I was almost irritated that this sound was disturbing my tranquil consolation.  I looked up, however, and saw a man whom I never met before with tears in his eyes.  He said, “Thank you,” turned around, and left.  I responded with the same and a “God bless,” not realizing at first what had happened.
Maybe my simple witness of prayer affected someone else, brought them closer to Jesus.  If I was a conduit of grace to this man, then he was a message of love from our Lord.  After I finished my last few minutes of prayer, I looked for the man in the church, but he was gone.  Jesus uses ordinary people to communicate His grace.  We truly encounter the living Christ in others, for He is truly in and with all of us.  

"Faith Matheny" by Edgar Lee Masters
At first you will know not what they mean,

And you may never know,

And we may never tell you:—

These sudden flashes in your soul,

Like lambent lightning on snowy clouds
At midnight when the moon is full.

They come in solitude, or perhaps

You sit with your friend, and all at once

A silence falls on speech, and his eyes

Without a flicker glow at you:—
You two have seen the secret together,

He sees it in you, and you in him.

And there you sit thrilling lest the Mystery

Stand before you and strike you dead

With a splendor like the sun’s.
Be brave, all souls who have such visions!

As your body’s alive as mine is dead,

You’re catching a little whiff of the ether

Reserved for God Himself.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Walk of Hope: Loving our Neighbor with Catholic Charities

Dear Friends,
   Just recently, my wife and I were discussing paint colors, new lighting, and various home improvements, ways that we could improve our already comfortable home.  After this discussion, we sat down to eat dinner, and looking around the table, I noticed the shining, healthy faces of my family.  We had good food and a warm, safe home to call our own.  Many in our own communities, however, don't even know from where their next meal will come.
  Hunger, homelessness, poverty, and abuse are very real and effect more families than we like to admit.  Many children go to sleep with the hollow pang of hunger in their stomachs.  Many mothers shuffle their children to the nearest shelter to get their kids off the street and out of the freezing rain, hoping there will be one more bed available for their child.  Many families seek to reconcile but, due to an addicted or mentally unstable parent, undergo abuse; their only hope is to safely escape to a shelter.  Although many despair daily, we can do something to help solve the problem.
   Small steps can make the difference. Our family will walk on Saturday, April 5, in Catholic Charities’ Walk of Hope.  Help us to bring hope to the needy, give to those in despair, and be a beacon of joy in an impoverished person's day.  Your contribution will make the difference.
Donating is fast, secure, and tax deductible, for Catholic Charities is a 501(c)3 charity. Catholic Charities works to reduce poverty, promote recovery and strengthen families by offering programs that provide food, financial assistance, counseling, and support. Catholic Charities has been a trusted resource since 1913, making sure no one in crisis is left alone. So, please “walk with us" and pledge at the secure link below.

Thank you.

In Peace,


P.S. If you would be kind enough to forward this letter through your social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc), we would greatly appreciate it.