Friday, March 14, 2014

That Is Unfair

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Debilitating Guilt Minute Meditations
A sure sign of God's growing life in us is experiencing our sin without the isolating and debilitating guilt that can wind up turning us away from God.
— from Startled By God 

St. Maximilian
(d. 295)

We have an early, precious, almost unembellished account of the martyrdom of St. Maximilian in modern-day Algeria.

Brought before the proconsul Dion, Maximilian refused enlistment in the Roman army saying, "I cannot serve, I cannot do evil. I am a Christian."

Dion replied: "You must serve or die."

Maximilian: "I will never serve. You can cut off my head, but I will not be a soldier of this world, for I am a soldier of Christ. My army is the army of God, and I cannot fight for this world. I tell you I am a Christian."

Dion: "There are Christian soldiers serving our rulers Diocletian and Maximian, Constantius and Galerius."

Maximilian: "That is their business. I also am a Christian, and I cannot serve."

Dion: "But what harm do soldiers do?"

Maximilian: "You know well enough."

Dion: "If you will not do your service I shall condemn you to death for contempt of the army."

Maximilian: "I shall not die. If I go from this earth, my soul will live with Christ my Lord."

Maximilian was 21 years old when he gladly offered his life to God. His father went home from the execution site joyful, thanking God that he had been able to offer heaven such a gift.

Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M. 

Reading 1EZ 18:21-28

Thus says the Lord GOD:
If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, 
if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just,
he shall surely live, he shall not die. 
None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him;
he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced. 
Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked?
says the Lord GOD. 
Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way
that he may live?

And if the virtuous man turns from the path of virtue to do evil,
the same kind of abominable things that the wicked man does,
can he do this and still live?
None of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered,
because he has broken faith and committed sin;
because of this, he shall die. 
You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!" 
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed,
does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed, 
he shall surely live, he shall not die.

Responsorial Psalm PS 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-7A, 7BC-8

R. (3) If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
LORD, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered. 
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the LORD
more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
Let Israel wait for the LORD.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
For with the LORD is kindness
and with him is plenteous redemption;
And he will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?

Gospel MT 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples: 
"I tell you, 
unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother, Raqa
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."

Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Ezekiel 18:21-28

View NAB Reading at

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1st Week of Lent

If a wicked man ... does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life. (Ezekiel 18:27)


In 1976, two brothers, Daniel and Ozzie Silna, signed one of the most lucrative deals in sports history, although they didn't know it at the time. The Silnas owned the Spirits of St. Louis, a team in the American Basketball Association. When executives from the ABA and NBA met to finalize a merger of the two leagues, they offered the brothers $3.3 million to dissolve their team. But the Silnas didn't think that was enough. So they cut a deal for a share of all future NBA television revenues. Since those early days, NBA television revenues have exploded, and the Silnas are still collecting—to date, more than $250 million!

What a deal! But looking at today's reading, we see that God offers an even more staggering deal. He promises that "if the wicked man turns ... and does what is right and just, he shall surely live.

... None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him" (Ezekiel 18:21-22).

It's true that sin is pleasant, but its pleasure lasts only for a short while. And then comes the fruit. Emptiness. Feeling estranged from God. Sometimes, watching a wrecking ball go through a relationship. In the end, sin is an awful deal.

But God's way is different. When we turn from sin, making a shift in his direction, he forgives us and washes us clean. And because that's not enough for God, he also wipes out all condemnation toward us (Romans 8:1). He then goes on to silence the accusing voice of the devil in our consciences (Zechariah 3:2). Then he pours his love and grace into our hearts so that we aren't just relieved of guilt but can actually move forward in our lives (Romans 5:5). Over a lifetime of these directional shifts away from sin and toward God, we find that we are being transformed into the image of Jesus.

God's offer stands for you today. Are there patterns in your life that don't belong? You can run to the Lord, confident that instead of punishment or condemnation, you'll receive mercy, forgiveness, grace, and life.

Now, that is an amazing deal!

"All praise and honor to you, Lord, for your promise of mercy! Thank you for saving me from sin!"


Psalm 130:1-8; Matthew 5:20-26

Yesterday we prayed the rosary on our way to the camping trip.  On the sorrowful mystery of crowning of the thorns I said "remember even our thoughts can hurt our Lord...may we pray for purity of thoughts and words".  This is critical.  Here things start, the thought of the heart.  We need to pray for what the Lord wants.  Today's 1st Holy Scripture spoke of turning from sin to life.  It is the Word of God asking us to do this to be with Him forever, in the Kingdom.  Before going to communion, be reconciled with one another, because my offering is just as if no good if my intention is to continue the sin and hate after receiving communion.  Let us reflect but respect what the Lord is asking of us today and every day of our conversion.  Only now we have a few more tools with our Lenten sacrifices, and what He wants is the rendering and surrendering of our hearts that provoke the thoughts...
March 9 - 15, 2014

O God,my Creator and Redeemer, help me this Lent to grow in awareness and appreciation of Your love for me. Open my eyes to see You in all the joys, disappointments, sorrows, pain and bitter circumstances of my life. Help me recognize Your unending love and abiding presence as I daily meditate on Your passion. I adore You as I give you thanks and praise in Jesus name. Amen.