Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I Am Not Cheating

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Minute Meditations

Flow of Forgiveness Minute Meditations
We can only live inside the flow of forgiveness if we have stood under the constant waterfall of needed forgiveness ourselves. Only hour-by-hour gratitude is strong enough to overcome all temptations to resentment.
— from Breathing Under Water

St. John Eudes

How little we know where God's grace will lead. Born on a farm in northern France, John died at 79 in the next "county" or department. In that time he was a religious, a parish missionary, founder of two religious communities and a great promoter of the devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

He joined the religious community of the Oratorians and was ordained a priest at 24. During severe plagues in 1627 and 1631, he volunteered to care for the stricken in his own diocese. Lest he infect his fellow religious, he lived in a huge cask in the middle of a field during the plague.

At age 32, John became a parish missionary. His gifts as preacher and confessor won him great popularity. He preached over 100 parish missions, some lasting from several weeks to several months.

In his concern with the spiritual improvement of the clergy, he realized that the greatest need was for seminaries. He had permission from his general superior, the bishop and even Cardinal Richelieu to begin this work, but the succeeding general superior disapproved. After prayer and counsel, John decided it was best to leave the religious community. The same year he founded a new one, ultimately called the Eudists (Congregation of Jesus and Mary), devoted to the formation of the clergy by conducting diocesan seminaries. The new venture, while approved by individual bishops, met with immediate opposition, especially from Jansenists and some of his former associates. John founded several seminaries in Normandy, but was unable to get approval from Rome (partly, it was said, because he did not use the most tactful approach).

In his parish mission work, John was disturbed by the sad condition of prostitutes who sought to escape their miserable life. Temporary shelters were found but arrangements were not satisfactory. A certain Madeleine Lamy, who had cared for several of the women, one day said to him, "Where are you off to now? To some church, I suppose, where you'll gaze at the images and think yourself pious. And all the time what is really wanted of you is a decent house for these poor creatures." The words, and the laughter of those present, struck deeply within him. The result was another new religious community, called the Sisters of Charity of the Refuge.

He is probably best known for the central theme of his writings: Jesus as the source of holiness, Mary as the model of the Christian life. John's devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary led Pius XI to declare him the father of the liturgical cult of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.


Holiness is the wholehearted openness to the love of God. It is visibly expressed in many ways, but the variety of expression has one common quality: concern for the needs of others. In John's case, those who were in need were plague-stricken people, ordinary parishioners, those preparing for the priesthood, prostitutes and all Christians called to imitate the love of Jesus and his mother.


"Our wish, our object, our chief preoccupation must be to form Jesus in ourselves, to make his spirit, his devotion, his affections, his desires and his disposition live and reign there. All our religious exercises should be directed to this end. It is the work which God has given us to do unceasingly" (St. John Eudes, The Life and Reign of Jesus in Christian Souls).


Daily Prayer - 2015-08-19


Dear Lord as I come to you today
Fill my heart and my whole being
with the wonder of Your presence


It is so easy to get caught up
with the trappings of wealth in this life.
Grant, O Lord, that I may be free
from greed and selfishness.
Remind me that the best things in life are free.
Love, laughter, caring and sharing.


I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God.
I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them.
Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment.
I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness.

The Word of God

Reading 1 Jgs 9:6-15

All the citizens of Shechem and all Beth-millo came together
and proceeded to make Abimelech king
by the terebinth at the memorial pillar in Shechem.

When this was reported to him,
Jotham went to the top of Mount Gerizim and, standing there,
cried out to them in a loud voice:
"Hear me, citizens of Shechem, that God may then hear you!
Once the trees went to anoint a king over themselves.
So they said to the olive tree, 'Reign over us.'
But the olive tree answered them, 'Must I give up my rich oil,
whereby men and gods are honored,
and go to wave over the trees?'
Then the trees said to the fig tree, 'Come; you reign over us!'
But the fig tree answered them,
'Must I give up my sweetness and my good fruit,
and go to wave over the trees?'
Then the trees said to the vine, 'Come you, and reign over us.'
But the vine answered them,
'Must I give up my wine that cheers gods and men,
and go to wave over the trees?'
Then all the trees said to the buckthorn, 'Come; you reign over us!'
But the buckthorn replied to the trees,
'If you wish to anoint me king over you in good faith,
come and take refuge in my shadow.
Otherwise, let fire come from the buckthorn
and devour the cedars of Lebanon.'"

Responsorial Psalm PS 21:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (2a) Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
O LORD, in your strength the king is glad;
in your victory how greatly he rejoices!
You have granted him his heart's desire;
you refused not the wish of his lips.
R. Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
For you welcomed him with goodly blessings,
you placed on his head a crown of pure gold.
He asked life of you: you gave him
length of days forever and ever.
R. Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
Great is his glory in your victory;
majesty and splendor you conferred upon him.
You made him a blessing forever,
you gladdened him with the joy of your face.
R. Lord, in your strength the king is glad.

Alleluia Heb 4:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern the reflections and thoughts of the heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 20:1-16

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o'clock,
he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.'
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o'clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o'clock,
he found others standing around, and said to them,
'Why do you stand here idle all day?'
They answered, 'Because no one has hired us.'
He said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard.'
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
'Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.'
When those who had started about five o'clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
'These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day's burden and the heat.'
He said to one of them in reply,
'My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?'
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Some thoughts on today's scripture

  • Envy is arguably the most poisonous of the deadly sins. Not only do the envious loathe others for what they have, but they loathe themselves for not having it. We are all co-workers in God's vineyard. We can each be confident that he will deal not only justly but generously with us.
  • The vineyard owner, in his mercy, rewarded all equally. Are there times when I selfishly consider myself more deserving than others?



Begin to talk to Jesus about the piece of scripture you have just read.
What part of it strikes a chord in you?
Perhaps the words of a friend - or some story you have heard recently -
will slowly rise to the surface of your consciousness.
If so, does the story throw light on what the scripture passage may be trying to say to you?


I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.

Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Matthew 20:1-16

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Saint John Eudes, Priest (Optional Memorial)

Are you envious because I am generous? (Matthew 20:15)

Imagine that you have died and find yourself in heaven. You walk through the gates and wonder whom you are going to see there. Certainly you hope to see Jesus, Moses, and the prophets. And perhaps other great saints like Mother Teresa or John Paul II. But imagine your surprise if you see in the midst of all those luminaries some notorious figures as well: maybe brutal dictators like Hitler, Stalin, or Mao Tse-Tung. Would that even be possible?

Granted, this is an extreme scenario. But the point of Jesus' parable is that it is possible. The landowner who paid his workers the same no matter when they showed up is like God. His kindness is available to everyone who will receive it. No exceptions! We don't know the final state of anyone's soul, and even the worst criminal can repent.

Now, to react as these "early birds" did and say, "That's not fair!" would seem perfectly normal. After all, why should someone who has done terrible evil be admitted to the same heaven as we are? We have worked so hard all our lives to please the Lord!

It's a good thing that God doesn't reason the way human beings do. We sometimes think that as long as we've done plenty of good deeds and avoided the bad ones, we're safe. But Scripture reminds us that salvation "depends not upon a person's will or exertion, but upon God, who shows mercy" (Romans 9:16). Although good deeds should follow upon our conversion, they can't get us into heaven. At the same time, our sins can't keep us out of heaven, if we confess them and turn to the Lord.

The lesson of this parable isn't that we can do anything we want and get away with it. It's that God can do anything he wants. And he wants you to be with him forever. He's not interested in dwelling on your sins or making a checklist of what you have or haven't done. He simply wants to give you his mercy so that you can become a citizen of heaven. And he wants you to show that same mercy to everyone you meet—sinner and saint alike!

"Lord, your mercy is unfathomable. Teach me to look on everyone as my brother and sister. May I never judge anyone as being unworthy of your love."


Judges 9:6-15
Psalm 21:2-7


The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, loving and forgiving is He.  Time after time we ask for our own kind of leader, and we get the leader we deserve as a nation, but as King of the Universe, we get more than we deserve, because God is loving and forgiving, slow to anger, kind and merciful.  The hard part of life is a balance.  They say too much of something can be bad for you, and for worldly speakers and terms, they will even say too much "church" or "religion" is not good.  Hmm, sounds like the devil talking right?  How can you have too much good in goodness?  Because in today's 1st holy scripture, the people wanted a leader, rushing, not praying.  Lately, I've found myself catching myself praying for little bitty things, and asking for little helps from saints and even our Christian leader, the Mother of Jesus who shows us how to be a true Christ follower and lover.  For example, this week (since this past Monday), we've gone on a family vacation and we are going home today.  Our family is about 27 of us, my parents kids and the kids' kids.  We went from one hotel to another the first night, and  I realized on the second night that I had lost my scapular that I got (blessed) from the Carmelite Monks back in our Diocese.  If you don't know what a scapular is, it is a brown string necklace with box shaped cloth holders on each end.  It usually irritates me during the day, itches or gets out of place, and I wear it on purpose...for it to do just that, it is like a minor form of self mortification, to keep me on my toes while living day to day life.  I prayed when I realized I lost it, even to our Mother of the Carmelites, and strange thing, it appeared on the floor.  Was it a miracle?  I believe.  I believe in the Word of God.  I believe in what He does, and what He does is good.  Therefore, more often than not, yes, I believe it is a miracle.  Today I will give thanks to the Lord at the shrine of Mother Cabrini, where the Carmelite nuns help run the place in the mountains, and I will remember you in my prayers.
The Psalms pray, "O LORD, in your strength the king is glad; in your victory how greatly he rejoices! You have granted him his heart's desire; you refused not the wish of his lips."  And His desire is mercy.  For you to have mercy.  Have mercy even on....the Lord Himself.  Because some of us act so ruthless with Him, it's not funny.  We say He is not kind, or that He does not even exist!  When will the world have mercy on the Lord and His commands and therefore lay down their lives before Him?  And laying down doesn't mean giving in when the machine gun points at your head, no the conversion is way before that!  Because at the point of life is at the point that the Lord welcomes you, invites you to receive Him in your life with a true and open heart!  And the reward? The same Heaven for all, where they say, we will be amazed at who we will and will not see there.  If I make it there, I am already knowing I will be truly amazed.
And the Lord of amazement is before us today in the Holy Gospel:  "My friend, I am not cheating you" He says to us.  Can He call me friend?  The laborer is a friend?  And He lays down His life for His friend?  Yes.  Be amazed if you find yourself in intimate terms with our Lord.  If you are being amazed, then  you are being drawn by the Holy Spirit.  Because the venture takes you into a realm of reality that does not exist where people know it all! LOL.  That is why we are to be like children at heart.  Loving and forgiving, slow to anger?  And why would you get angry with God?  Because of His mercy?  Because of how He loves?  Because of what He wishes to give and seemingly ... "take away" from you?  As if anything was yours or deserved?  Christ is the King, the owner of the vineyard, and me and you are the subjects, subjected to do as He says, with a cheerful heart, because the Lord loves a cheerful giver.  So Give Him A Break, break your heart open for Him and begin to be amazed.  My friend, we are well on our way to the path of Holiness, to receive even what we didn't ask for...