Monday, February 22, 2016

Bound in heaven

Minute Meditations Longing For God We are not mere beasts. We are rational creatures in the image of God who long for union with him. The spiritual

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Minute Meditations

Longing For God

We are not mere beasts. We are rational creatures in the image of God who long for union with him. The spiritual works of mercy are founded on the knowledge that man does not live "by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).
— from The Work of Mercy


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Chair of St. Peter


This feast commemorates Christ's choosing Peter to sit in his place as the servant-authority of the whole Church (see June 29).

After the "lost weekend" of pain, doubt and self-torment, Peter hears the Good News. Angels at the tomb say to Magdalene, "The Lord has risen! Go, tell his disciples and Peter." John relates that when he and Peter ran to the tomb, the younger outraced the older, then waited for him. Peter entered, saw the wrappings on the ground, the headpiece rolled up in a place by itself. John saw and believed. But he adds a reminder: "...[T]hey did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead" (John 20:9). They went home. There the slowly exploding, impossible idea became reality. Jesus appeared to them as they waited fearfully behind locked doors. "Peace be with you," he said (John 20:21b), and they rejoiced.

The Pentecost event completed Peter's experience of the risen Christ. "...[T]hey were all filled with the holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4a) and began to express themselves in foreign tongues and make bold proclamation as the Spirit prompted them.

Only then can Peter fulfill the task Jesus had given him: "... [O]nce you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:32). He at once becomes the spokesman for the Twelve about their experience of the Holy Spirit—before the civil authorities who wished to quash their preaching, before the council of Jerusalem, for the community in the problem of Ananias and Sapphira. He is the first to preach the Good News to the Gentiles. The healing power of Jesus in him is well attested: the raising of Tabitha from the dead, the cure of the crippled beggar. People carry the sick into the streets so that when Peter passed his shadow might fall on them.

Even a saint experiences difficulty in Christian living. When Peter stopped eating with Gentile converts because he did not want to wound the sensibilities of Jewish Christians, Paul says, "...I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.... [T]hey were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel..." (Galatians 2:11b, 14a).

At the end of John's Gospel, Jesus says to Peter, "Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go" (John 21:18). What Jesus said indicated the sort of death by which Peter was to glorify God. On Vatican Hill, in Rome, during the reign of Nero, Peter did glorify his Lord with a martyr's death, probably in the company of many Christians.

Second-century Christians built a small memorial over his burial spot. In the fourth century, the Emperor Constantine built a basilica, which was replaced in the 16th century.


This saintly man's life is perhaps best summed up at his meeting with Jesus after the resurrection in the presence of the men Peter was to lead. In imitation of Peter's triple denial, Jesus asked him three times, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" (John 21:16b). Peter answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. . . . Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you (John 21:16c, 17b).


Like the committee chair, this chair refers to the occupant, not the furniture. Its first occupant stumbled a bit, denying Jesus three times and hesitating to welcome gentiles into the new Church. Some of its later occupants have also stumbled a bit, sometimes even failed scandalously. As individuals, we may sometimes think a particular pope has let us down. Still, the office endures as a sign of the long tradition we cherish and as a focus for the universal Church.


Peter described our Christian calling in the opening of his First Letter, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..." (1 Peter 1:3a).


Sacred Space

Daily Prayer - 2016-02-22


As I begin this prayer, God is present,
breathing life into me and into everything around me.
For a few moments, I remain silent,
and become aware of God's loving presence.


By God's grace I was born to live in freedom.
Free to enjoy the pleasures He created for me.
Dear Lord, grant that I may live as You intended,
with complete confidence in Your Loving care.


Where do I sense hope, encouragement, and growth areas in my life?
By looking back over the last few months, I may be able to see which activities and occasions have produced rich fruit.
If I do notice such areas, I will determine to give those areas both time and space in the future.

The Word of God

Matthew 16:13-19

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle

Reading 1 1 Pt 5:1-4

I exhort the presbyters among you,
as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ
and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.
Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Responsorial Psalm PS 23:1-3a, 4, 5, 6

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Verse Before the Gospel Mt 16:18

You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church;
the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

Gospel Mt 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Some thoughts on today's scripture

No Gospel text has been scrutinised more carefully than this, because it describes Jesus founding a church, and giving primacy to Peter. Let me imagine myself in that setting, under the cliff-face in Caesarea Philippi, as Jesus asks his momentous question: 'Who do you say that I am?' Suddenly the dimensions of his mission expand. He is handing over to us (the ecclesia, or people of God) the task of continuing his mission. We are not, as is sometimes phrased, 'followers of the church'. We are the church, served by bishops and others, but with our own wisdom.
Lord, you did not leave us orphans. We are the people of God, with a leader, and the support of the Holy Spirit. I am not alone.


Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person Lord.
I think I might say "Thank You Lord" for always being there for me.
I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord.
When it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.


Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning,
is now and ever shall be,
world without end.


Meditation: Matthew 16:13-19

The Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle (Feast)

Upon this rock I will build my Church. (Matthew 16:18)

God seems to enjoy choosing the most improbable people to move his purposes forward. The great King David committed adultery and conspired in a murder (2 Samuel 11:2-27). A cowardly Jonah fled from God's commission to preach to the Ninevites (Jonah 1:1-3). A childless Sarah became the mother of all Israel (Genesis 18:1-14). Again and again, God has manifested his power by turning weakness into strength and sinners into saints. And so in keeping with this tradition, he chose a brash fisherman to be the rock upon whom he would build his Church.

Peter was the first to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, and for this insight, Jesus entrusted him with the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16:13-19). Peter was a man of great love and loyalty, but he also had his flaws and failings. He frequently acted impetuously—he once boasted that he was ready to die with Jesus, only to reverse himself under pressure and deny knowing him (Luke 22:34).

Yet Peter also knew that Jesus loved him unconditionally, and his humble knowledge of this love kept him from giving in and giving up. During the final years of his life, this chief apostle led the Christian community in Rome and, true to his Master's call, gave up his life there in the ultimate act of love and devotion. Even with his imperfections, Peter was able to fulfill the commission Jesus had given him.

Like Peter, we, too, have been called to follow Jesus. The call may appear daunting at times, but God wants to give us confidence that we can accomplish much if we try to rely on the Holy Spirit in spite of our weaknesses and imperfections.

When God chose Peter, he had a vision for what this zealous, hotheaded man could become. Jesus didn't give up on him when he fell but kept urging him to put off his old attitudes. God has a beautiful vision for each of us too, and he never loses sight of it. All he asks is that we cooperate with him in his desire to purify us so that this vision can become a reality.

"Jesus, I want nothing more than to love and follow you. Have your way with me, and make me into your faithful servant."

1 Peter 5:1-4
Psalm 23:1-6



"Tend the flock of God in your midst...Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock." Set the example as a shepherd, as a living Christ in the world. , your world, those around you, they are the flock. Yesterday, our Bishop said we were his flock, and He is now to lay his life for us. And just so, we are shepherds under this shepherd, and the ultimate shepherd is Christ our Lord. Where are you leading the flock? And by what example? One of pride and vanity? One of looks? One of trying to be seen as a leader and not a servant? What kind of shepherd are you? The Lord shows the way, the WAY!
"The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want." This Psalm reminds us of the Shepherd, the Lord. "Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side With your rod and your staff
that give me courage." If the Lord tugs at you, and it hurts, it's because the staff has jabbed us to correction. What if the Lord leads through night time? In my world, coming from Mexican areas, a "human trafficker" is the only means of hope, hope for a better life, and all your hopes, you very life are left in this guy's hands. And some travel at night. And you just have to trust. In Mexico they are known as "coyote". People save up all they can for a long time, like $500 up to thousands, depending who you go with. They put their lives at risk for you and you put your life at risk under them. The reason I say this is because we who are living the dream, with no worries, nobody holding a knife to your throat asking if you will give up your faith. You aren't starving to death unless you're just on a diet and sad. No. It's those that live in the shade thinking they have it made that don't worry more than those praying to God every night on their knees for salvation. The Lord uses His staff to prod us in the right direction. We need night to see light, or at least appreciate what is right, and what is right is just and what is just is Holy.
The Lord our Good Shepherd speaks today to our heart "But who do you say that I am?" Nevermind what others say I Am. Who do YOU say that I Am? Don't give me answers that you've heard that I Am, WHO do you say that I am? The Lord prodded every heart. Until the right one with the right answer spoke from his heart...Simon, son of Jonah ""You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." That was his answer. What is yours? Jesus said ' I say to you, you are Peter (which means Rock), and upon this rock I will build my Church" and as Catholics we believe he is our first pope, first Shepherd, imperfect, but chosen. That is all baptized souls, not perfect, YET, but chosen. Who you say that He is matters. Why? How? If you say He is God, how do you treat Him? If you say He is the Savior, what of it? I feel in this world, people have it made, and have no need for God. That is why a calamity is good every once in a while for folks, so that maybe, just maybe they will pray finally, maybe they will remember the Savior. As for a common sinner, me, I need the Savior constantly, not just every day, not just every hour, but it seems at every minute I find myself asking for mercy on me, for my sin is always before me and so I'm always in prayer, at least asking for mercy. This lent, is only week in, and already heavy temptations have set. And the greatest? To lose the grace and joy of the Lord. To lose heart. To test the faith. Are you in? Because the Lord needs serving Shepherds. I am just about giving up on so many people I've been praying for and telling them to go to church. I'm going to give ways. I will now let Jesus work in their lives, for I have prodded them for years. Now Jesus will lead the way this lent. I will love on them, treat them as the Lord. No more strong mean words. No more judgement. No more looking down on them. No more meanness. These are some of the sins I will be trying to give up for lent. All for the Lord to be the Shepherd. You see, when God speaks of salvation, it is a work in progress. The land is a farm field, the souls. Their spirits are the flock. Think about this. Because no matter what I do, nothing will ever defeat the Holy Church. Are you in?

I invite you to, not merely a battle, but a war, and the war is on self to conquer for Christ, with Christ. My mom says "cada cabeza es un mundo" (every head is a world). Then, lent will focus on conquering this world for Christ. My body must obey my sacrifices. It must not have control over me. My mind must be open to the Lord and thus, my heart. Who do you say Jesus is?
And does it show...