A time for us to be charitable enough.


26 - Luke 16.19-31           Luke16v19to31_2004

Jesus’ parable in today’s Gospel gives us an example of what it means to trust in God and to trust in the “strength of the flesh.” We hear of a rich man who did not recognize the poor man lying at his door. After the rich man died, he began to understand that ignoring the suffering of his contemporaries is contrary to God’s will. He realized that he had not trusted God, who is the champion of the marginalized, and that he had not used his strength, skills, and resources to do what God wanted him to do.
What was the sin of the rich man? What did he do that put him in the torment of hell after he died? The point of the parable was that he did nothing wrong. He simply did nothing! His sin was one that is especially dangerous to those of us who are religiously observant, but fail to act when we see others in need. When we come together, individually and collectively, to help our fellows in time of need, we are aware of our Christian duty. But, what happens when the crisis is over? What does it take to get us to act daily on behalf of the poor, not only to take notice of them at times of crisis?
We, today, are in the same situation as the rich man in the parable. Many of our contemporaries are suffering, “lying at our doors.” Do we trust the Lord who is the defender of the poor, who calls us to do our best to improve their condition using our resources and skills? If someone is struggling now, we need to give immediate assistance and at the same time we need to use all our talents, wisdom, and professional skills to prevent suffering from happening. In other words, we are asked to be charitable and to simultaneously work towards social justice. When we do so, we trust in the Lord and are “like a tree planted beside the waters: it fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.”

During Lent, let us pray for trust in the Lord, for charity with the poor, and for inspiration to use our skills, knowledge and expertise to change social realities that cause suffering for many in our society and our world.

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The Lord is calling us not to be preoccupied with our own needs, but to reach out and serve one another.


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In today’s gospel, the mother of James and John becomes a focused advocate for them to sit at the right and left hand of Jesus in the kingdom.  Naturally this request causes a stir among the disciples. Then Jesus asks James, John, and their mother: ” ‘Can you drink of the cup I am to drink of?‘ ‘We can,’ they said”.

They did not understand what cup Jesus was referring to, but they assumed they could drink it. James did eventually drink of the cup of martyrdom (Acts 12:2) and John the cup of being persecuted (Rv 1:9). However, they refused this cup at first. James and John were chosen by Jesus to be with Him in His agony in the garden of Gethsemane, but as Jesus suffered and prayed to His Father about “the cup,” James and John fell asleep. Later that evening, James, John, and the other apostles refused to drink of the cup of suffering by abandoning Jesus as he was arrested.

Jesus gently reminds the disciples and us that “whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.”  “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  What a gift and an inspiration! We must understand greatness the way Jesus does. Our greatness is not the greatness of the world but the greatness of the cross. Once we become convinced of our call to true greatness, we look at life much differently. Only those who know their call to greatness see the need to immerse themselves in God’s word. So many Christians live lukewarm, mediocre lives. How can Christians settle for less than giving the Lord their best? They must not realize their call to greatness

The Lord is calling us not to be preoccupied with our own needs, but to reach out and serve one another. Jesus did this when He washed the feet of the apostles shortly before His brutal death. He had compassion on the weeping women of Jerusalem while He was carrying the cross up Calvary. Even while hanging on the cross, suffering, and breathing His last, Jesus looked beyond His own pain and promised paradise to the repentant thief.

We too are called to love others when we feel unloved ourselves, to meet others’ needs when our needs go unmet. This is impossible to do by human power, but “nothing is impossible with God”. By His grace, we can break the spell of self and serve one another with unselfish love.

This Lent, Jesus is asking us: “Can you drink of the cup?”  We know that by the grace of our Baptisms we can and must drink of the cup of suffering and of crucified love. Yet will we decide and are we deciding to drink of the cup? Naturally, no one wants to suffer. Supernaturally, however, love is more important than avoiding pain. May the love of Christ impel us to live no longer for ourselves but to suffer and die for Him. “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life” for Jesus.

God exalts the humble


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“When you are as great as I am, it is hard to be humble” Muhammad Ali said. Jesus had a very different view. Jesus was God in human form….the word made flesh! But, God’s will was that Jesus humbles himself and dies as a sacrifice for the sins of all humankind. Jesus was God, but chose not to act like God, not to take advantage of who he was. Instead he humbled himself unto death, because of our sins. And because he was humble, he is now exalted at the right hand of God.

The “scribes and the Pharisees” are the group in the gospels that everybody loves to hate.  By that I mean that we identify them as a group of people who often seem to be at odds with Jesus—and we seem to know why.  The word most often associated with them is “hypocrite.”  That is, we listen to a gospel passage such as today’s in which the scribes and Pharisees are depicted as being “fond of places of honor at banquets and the front seats in synagogues.”  We hear them described as those who “bind up heavy loads . . . while they themselves will not lift a finger to budge them.”  “Hypocrites!” we say.  Saying one thing while doing another.

The indictment which Jesus makes is this:  “Their words are bold but their deeds are few.”  They have a lot of the right words; it’s just that the words never penetrate deeply enough to affect their actions. Once we are seen to be Christians, our lives are measured against Christ’s life. We become deeply aware of our shortcomings and inadequacies. We can fall into the way of those Pharisees. We can work too hard at the externals of our faith, so that we appear to be good people. We don’t want to let the team down; we want to witness well, and that is, in a way, good. But we need to work on the hidden areas of our life, our inner walk with Jesus.

God exalts the humble. He did it to Bethlehem. He did it to Mary. He did it to Jesus. All were humble. All were exalted. It is true that we can be exalted in this world by power, wealth, and status. But there is one problem with worldly exaltation: it’s temporary, just as Muhammad Ali discovered. So it is with all worldly exaltation and greatness. But the exaltation that God gives lasts forever. Indeed, on the day of the resurrection, those who have humbled themselves before God as well as before their fellows, will share in the exaltation of Jesus Christ. God exalts the humble. That’s a promise you can count on!

Lent is an opportunity to let the Lord take us into deep water.  To let the Word penetrate deeply into our hearts so that it truly changes them.  To let the Word, not just inform, but transform us, so that our actions are affected.  Today’s Lenten prayer might be:  “Lord, make me a person of depth in you.”

We will be judged by the measure with which we are measuring others!


March 5, 2012 Daily Gospel

The subject of today’s Gospel is one that touches many people. It’s the tendency to judge those around us. We are reminded to “stop judging and you will not be judged” and also to “forgive and you will be forgiven.” The Gospel goes on to remind us that we will be judged by the measure with which we are measuring others.  That would be pretty harsh for some of us.

We are not really capable of knowing the motives of another person, but more important on a day to day basis, it is not our role to judge the actions of others. We have enough to worry about in keeping our own intentions pure and worthy of a Christian. Let our energy instead be directed toward forgiveness and toward a loving, giving spirit. God will take care of the rest. We are enjoined to strive towards treating others, both friends and enemies, without judgment or condemnation.

Jesus promised that those who give will receive in “good measure pressed down, shaken together, running over…[poured] into the fold of” their garment . This means that you who give to Jesus will receive even more work to do. However, you will be given more resources with which to serve Him, and your work will result in a great harvest, even a hundredfold one.

Jesus challenges each of us this Lent to work for Him more than ever before. His heart yearns for all to be saved and know the truth. He longs to gather His estranged children under His wings. Jesus says to all His disciples: “Listen to what I say: Open your eyes and see! The fields are shining for harvest!”.”Do whatever He tells you”.

When we give, we open the door to let the Lord lavish His love on us. The Lord desires to bless us “good measure pressed down, shaken together, running over”. Yet He does not force His love on us. We must open up to His love. By giving, we tell God how open we are to receiving. “For the measure you measure with will be measured back to you.

Most people think of themselves as “generous,” but this is often not completely accurate. The financial problems of churches, the lack of religious vocations, and our perfunctory “celebrations” of Mass are signs that we have trouble giving. This is to be expected because God’s kind of giving goes against our selfish human nature. When we admit our problems in giving, we can ask God to help us.

Giving is not primarily a matter of finances but often of forgiveness. That’s why the Lord commands us to pardon one another before commanding us to give. In the verse recited just before pardoning, Jesus commands us not to judge or condemn others (Lk 6:37). The keys to giving are forgiving and not judging or condemning.

Ask and it will be given to you. (Matthew 7:7)


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Taken together, the theme of today’s readings is well summarized by the Psalm response: Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.

In the first reading we enter into an emotionally-gripping drama as we find Esther “seized with mortal anguish” lying on the floor “from morning until evening” pleading with God for help. Fear, desperation, and loneliness fill her voice as she implores God to “turn our mourning into gladness and our sorrows into wholeness.”

In today’s gospel we listen to a didactic lesson from Jesus as he teaches his disciples—in a certain and matter-of-fact tone—“For everyone who asks, receives.” He promises that God will answer our prayers if we but only ask. In Jesus’s analogies, God’s attentive care for his children seems commonsense and unquestionable. If our child is hungry, why would we give them an inedible stone?

Intimate relationships need to be built on the sure foundation of love and trust. If either of these elements is missing, we will have a crumbling edifice. This is especially true of our relationship with God. If it rests on fear or self-interest or any other motive it will never flourish.

Jesus had a hard time convincing us that God loves us and that his love can be trusted. He frequently used examples of how parent-child relationships work, and then would say, ‘Would you expect less from your heavenly Father?’ How many pious stories of divine retribution, punishment, hell and purgatory would be dashed to pieces if given this rocky test! Let us always treat others as we would have them treat us.

As we work our way through the first week of Lent this year, thinking how through prayer, fasting and almsgiving we can truly change, we are told today that we should ask, seek and knock. This was a wonderful opportunity for both Queen Esther and the psalmist in Psalm 138 — and they both received the help they needed. Through prayer, ask!

Our Lord Jesus is always waiting for us to ask, seek and knock. He wants us basically to stop being obsessed with our worldly lives and instead to seek the Holy Spirit to do God’s will.

Whenever you did this, you were doing it to me!


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It is interesting that, so soon after Ash Wednesday, the Church reminds us through the liturgy that Christ will come as our Judge. Those who have lived a virtuous life will go to one side, and those who have freely chosen not to do so, will be cast aside. It is frightening even to think about it!
Christ gives us some guidelines as to how we will be judged. Much centers on our kindnesses to others, our role in the Corporal Works of Mercy. Christ reminds us that when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the imprisoned, that we are doing those actions for Him.

Jesus’ description of Judgement Day is quite startling. It turns out that those who are judged to have acted rightly in this life didn’t even realize they were doing so. The righteous acted not out of a sense of reward but because they were responding to immediate need—to the sick and the hungry. They acted only with ‘the other’ in mind.

The second startling point is that Jesus says, ‘Whenever you did this, you were doing it to me.’ Jesus didn’t say that they were acting justly on his behalf or because the poor are like Jesus. Jesus said that they were him. Jesus is always stretching our understanding of justice and mercy and this parable stretches us to take a closer look at ourselves and our attitude to those most vulnerable and in immediate need.

As we set up our plans for Lent, we should look again at our role in helping others. Surely, visiting a friend might take on much more significance than “giving up a cookie.” All of us have to think it through for ourselves. We also recall that being a Christian is our role EVERY day — not just for Lent!

There may be an opportunity for each of us in our day, to look at how we are doing justice today, to all our neighbors. We may also be able to ask “how am I sharing God’s love today?” This focus may help us to love God more deeply and follow God’s ways more closely. May we seek Christ today in all our encounters and love Christ as we find the Presence there.

This Sunday, we celebrate the victory of Jesus over Satan. What were His weapons? Prayer, fasting, and the truths of Scripture.


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Jesus was led by the Spirit through the wilderness and was tempted there.

Temptations have been part of human nature since creation. The first story of temptation occurs in the garden of Eden. And we still get tempted by so many things in our daily lives. For those of us who fall into these temptations, the end product is always falling short of God’s grace and God’s plans for us.

Our pursuit of material wealth blinds us as human beings to the glory of God and the external peace which comes with saying no to Satan’s temptations. Jesus, who came to redeem humankind from our sinful nature, leads by example, and shows the true way of dealing with temptation – utter rejection.

Jesus says he is the way, the truth, and the light, and God gives us a free will to choose to follow the right way.

Our world may be full of temptations, but in our steadfast belief and dedication to the Word of God, we will always triumph over them, and stay on the path that leads to the glory of God.

So this Sunday, we celebrate the victory of Jesus over Satan. What were His weapons? Prayer, fasting, and the truths of Scripture. Through humility and recognition of the weakness of being human, Jesus overcame temptations to pleasure, power, and pride. He thus strengthened Himself for His passion and death. Ultimately, He must drink the cup of suffering to secure victory — and so must we, His followers. His weapons against Satan must be our weapons, too, this Lent, as we enter the discipline of believers.

Jesus believed in the Father’s truth and in the Father’s love. He believed in obeying the Father’s Will in all things.

God of eternal mercy, give us the strength to always follow in the example of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Give us the grace to say no to the temptations of our material world, and open our hearts to your true will, so that we may be your true sons and daughters.

Amen.