Thursday, September 13, 2018

⛪To The Ungrateful

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We Are Pilgrims in the World

We are pilgrims in the world. We will never have it "all together" until the end of time, when we meet God face-to-face and experience the power of the resurrection. In the meantime, our inner peace depends on how we forgive and accept forgiveness. Only in this way can we truly experience the freedom that the sons and daughters of a loving God are invited to accept. Only by forgiving others and accepting forgiveness can we live in harmony.

—from the book Your [Imperfect] Holy Family


"A friend is more to be longed for than the light; I speak of a genuine one. And wonder not: for it were better for us that the sun should be extinguished, than that we should be deprived of friends; better to live in darkness, than to be without friends."
— St. John Chrysostom

"Perhaps we do not know what love is, nor does this greatly surprise me. Love does not consist in great sweetness of devotion, but in a fervent determination to strive to please God in all things, in avoiding, as far as possible, all that would offend Him, and in praying for the increase of the glory and honor of His Son and for the growth of the Catholic Church."
— St. Teresa of Avila, p. 54-5
Interior Castle

"For many are called, but few are chosen."
Matthew 22:14


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Saint John Chrysostom

(c. 349 – September 14, 407)

The ambiguity and intrigue surrounding John, the great preacher (his name means "golden-mouthed") from Antioch, are characteristic of the life of any great man in a capital city. Brought to Constantinople after a dozen years of priestly service in Syria, John found himself the reluctant victim of an imperial ruse to make him bishop in the greatest city of the empire. Ascetic, unimposing but dignified, and troubled by stomach ailments from his desert days as a monk, John became a bishop under the cloud of imperial politics.

If his body was weak, his tongue was powerful. The content of his sermons, his exegesis of Scripture, were never without a point. Sometimes the point stung the high and mighty. Some sermons lasted up to two hours.

His lifestyle at the imperial court was not appreciated by many courtiers. He offered a modest table to episcopal sycophants hanging around for imperial and ecclesiastical favors. John deplored the court protocol that accorded him precedence before the highest state officials. He would not be a kept man.

His zeal led him to decisive action. Bishops who bribed their way into office were deposed. Many of his sermons called for concrete steps to share wealth with the poor. The rich did not appreciate hearing from John that private property existed because of Adam's fall from grace any more than married men liked to hear that they were bound to marital fidelity just as much as their wives were. When it came to justice and charity, John acknowledged no double standards.

Aloof, energetic, outspoken, especially when he became excited in the pulpit, John was a sure target for criticism and personal trouble. He was accused of gorging himself secretly on rich wines and fine foods. His faithfulness as spiritual director to the rich widow, Olympia, provoked much gossip attempting to prove him a hypocrite where wealth and chastity were concerned. His actions taken against unworthy bishops in Asia Minor were viewed by other ecclesiastics as a greedy, uncanonical extension of his authority.

Theophilus, archbishop of Alexandria, and Empress Eudoxia were determined to discredit John. Theophilus feared the growth in importance of the Bishop of Constantinople and took occasion to charge John with fostering heresy. Theophilus and other angered bishops were supported by Eudoxia. The empress resented his sermons contrasting gospel values with the excesses of imperial court life. Whether intended or not, sermons mentioning the lurid Jezebel and impious Herodias were associated with the empress, who finally did manage to have John exiled. He died in exile in 407.

John Chrysostom's preaching, by word and example, exemplifies the role of the prophet to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. For his honesty and courage, he paid the price of a turbulent ministry as bishop, personal vilification, and exile.

Saint John Chrysostom is the Patron Saint of:


Thursday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 1 Cor 8:1b-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:
Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up.
If anyone supposes he knows something,
he does not yet know as he ought to know.
But if one loves God, one is known by him.

So about the eating of meat sacrificed to idols:
we know that there is no idol in the world,
and that there is no God but one.
Indeed, even though there are so-called gods in heaven and on earth
(there are, to be sure, many "gods" and many "lords"),
yet for us there is

one God, the Father,
from whom all things are and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom all things are and through whom we exist.

But not all have this knowledge.
There are some who have been so used to idolatry up until now
that, when they eat meat sacrificed to idols,
their conscience, which is weak, is defiled.

Thus, through your knowledge, the weak person is brought to destruction,
the brother for whom Christ died.
When you sin in this way against your brothers
and wound their consciences, weak as they are,
you are sinning against Christ.
Therefore, if food causes my brother to sin,
I will never eat meat again,
so that I may not cause my brother to sin.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 23-24
R. (24b) Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother's womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
Probe me, O God, and know my heart;
try me, and know my thoughts;
See if my way is crooked,
and lead me in the way of old.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

Alleluia 1 Jn 4:12
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If we love one another,
God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
"To you who hear I say, love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.

"Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you."


Meditation: Luke 6:27-38

Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)

Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36)

One of the reasons Jesus' teaching on mercy is so challenging is that we face many opportunities to practice it each day. Like many other challenges, our best defense is a good offense. We are better able to rise to these challenges if we prepare ourselves for them in advance. So what can we do? What attitudes come before mercy?

First there's love. When Jesus commands us to be merciful, he is essentially telling us to follow the way of love. Love doesn't seek retribution or "brood over injury"

(1 Corinthians 13:5). That's why Jesus tells his followers to "bless those who curse you" and "pray for those who mistreat you" (Luke 6:28). So out of love, when a family member says something hurtful, try to hold your tongue instead of lashing out. When someone cuts you off while you're driving, pray for that person instead of reacting with anger.

There's also understanding. Pope Francis has said that we are all "a complex mixture of light and shadows" (The Joy of Love, 113). So before you take offense or respond in a negative way, ask yourself, "What might be causing this person to act in this way?" If you step back and take the time to understand a person and the complicated factors that might lead people to do what they do, you may find it easier to be compassionate and thus merciful.

Third, there's self-awareness. You too are a mixture of "light and shadows." Yet it's so very easy to see the plank in a brother's or sister's eye but fail to see the beam in your own (Matthew 7:3). When you regularly examine your heart, you are constantly reminded of your own weaknesses. As you become more alert to your own need for God's compassion and forbearance, it becomes easier to forgive other people and show them mercy.

Because we are a work in progress, we will probably always struggle with the call to be merciful. But how blessed we are that God is merciful to us! As we do our part to prepare our hearts, he will pour out his grace upon us day by day. May we become his face of mercy to all we encounter each day!

"Jesus, grant me the grace this day to show mercy, just as your Father has shown me mercy."

1 Corinthians 8:1-7, 11-13
Psalm 139:1-3, 13-14, 23-24



"Brothers and sisters:
Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up....But if one loves God, one is known by him."
If one loves God, everything is different. I read a reflection today that said at the end of its meditation to "say goodbye to Jesus. Tell him what you have experienced, the deepest that has moved in you, during this time." But it struck a chord "say goodbye to Jesus". I don't believe I can say goodbye to a matter of fact, my whole vision and hopes is to be ever tighter and closer with Heaven. If a doubt strikes me, I try to imagine life without Him, and it's like "there's no looking back". You'll turn into a pillar of salt. You'll be thrown like dried branches into bundles by angels and then be good only for burning. What good would it be to say "goodbye to Jesus"? Most would say they are not turning their backs on Him, but they aren't facing Him. Face the truth. Knowledge inflates the pride. To think you know something is wrong. We know nothing when compared to Jesus. We read a story in CCD class last night, it was about the man and the birds. A man skipped out on going to church with his family said "i'm not going". They left to Christmas Eve Mass. Left alone, a flock of birds struck his big window. They were suffering and cold. He thought "i'll put them in my warm barn to save them". He went outside and they were afraid of him. They couldn't understand he was trying to save them. He thought "if only I could become one of them and speak with them, then they would follow me to be saved". Then, he heard the church bells ring.

Jesus came to be one of us creatures.
Does the light turn on now?

Let us pray: "Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way. Probe me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; See if my way is crooked,
and lead me in the way of old." When you seek a spiritual advisor, and when you seek Holy Sacraments, like confession, you realize something about you pointed out by the Holy Spirit, that you would have not noticed yourself. Try to live it alone and you could grow stagnant, non flowing waters are not holy.

In comes our Holy Lord: "Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?" Ahh the golden rule. Do to others. Do what you would like have done to you. Think mercy. Think charity. Think of a one way and true love. True love gives without expecting back. You lent something to a friend? How about to a stranger? Did you get it back? Yes? Sorry, that wasn't giving. Oh, you didn't get nothing back? Great! It means you are giving....right? Are you? Think about when someone offends you. Think about when you apologize and they don't "apologize back"! LOL.

There's 3 things they say we should be giving to our Lord, of our Time, Talent, and Treasure. But none of that will happen if you don't give your God. Everything is different when God is truly in your life...because God is love. He gave something to us we could hardly handle it was so good...His only Son. Handle with care. Or else. Or else it could burn us. Which way would you rather burn? Burning now in love with God, so much that you almost cry every single day out of sheer joy and love? Or burn in hell, feeling an anguish that can not be extinguished? Most in the world I am sad to report, are not burning for love of God. Their lights are not on. Maybe embers. Maybe. How can embers burn? When joined with other embers. We must join together to be a burning light for God.
There's a saying in spanish that says "May God forgive you because I can not!". That is self damnation. Today we heard "for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked." And how many times have I been ungrateful? And wicked? Yet He is merciful, and loving. How can I not be more like Him?

To say you know God is not good. We don't know Him. All we can do is trust Him. We read last night that it's like parents, you just got to listen to them. As for me, I'm busy. This month, I'm going on 3 retreats, one down 2 to go. 2 of them I'm in charge of singing. In the mean time, I'm planning our family community festival, and teaching CCD, choir, ministries, and with 7 kids, and with pressures at work, I got quite a bit going. Most people, whence they see my situation, they tell me to ease up, and the first thing they tell me to do is to start letting go of ministries. Very interesting.

Here's the truth: I'm giving. And God gives back. You know when He says "God loves a cheerful giver"? It means everything. When you do it out of sheer love, boy oh boy, it makes all the difference. With God, everything is different. All that "lost time" at home is more than doubled. Seriously. Strange how it works. And giving of our finances, when me and my wife notice we are starting to run low on money, I ask "have we been giving to the poor and tithing?" Weird, if we don't give...we don't receive! Very weird. Now I've talked about time and treasures. What about talent? Do we give talent to God? Gifts. Do we give gifts to God? We read today "But if one loves God, one is known by him." God will not know people that don't love Him. He will ask "who are you and why are you trying to come into my house?" Would you let a stranger barge into your house?

No. Who are you.
God wants to get to know you, right? What does this mean? He formed my innermost being, how can this be? It means, He wants you to get to know Him. This will only happen with love spent.

Ahh, what a gift



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