Monthly Archives: July 2017

Friday Thoughts: Out Of This World

by Howard Hain

 

Vncent van Gogh 1887 Sunflowers Met Museum

Vincent van Gogh, “Sunflowers”, 1887, The Met

 

If only we lived our lives in sanity.

In ability.

In equality.

In justice.

In security.

In compatibility.

In fidelity.

In experience.

In sensitivity.

In vulnerability.

In stability.

In decency.

In fertility.

In gratitude.

In sincerity.

In humanely.

In the world.

In the Word.

In Christ.

In Love.


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“[Holy Father]…I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.”

—from the “High Priestly Prayer” of Jesus
(Prayer for the Disciples)
The Gospel According to John, Chapter 17 (verse 15)

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http://www.usccb.org/bible/john/17

http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436524

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A Gift from the Holy Spirit

By Orlando Hernandez

In this Wednesday’s Gospel (Mt 11: 25-27 ) Jesus prays to His Father:

AT THAT TIME JESUS EXCLAIMED: “ I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him. “

It is lovely to hear Jesus pray. Lately, in Scripture reading and in prayer, I have come to truly relish those moments when I find myself witnessing the relationship between the Father and the Son. I almost feel invited to be part of this Divine love-dance. The requirement to participate seems to be to become as small, humble, accepting, trusting, and carefree as a child.

I used to think of the Person of the Father as the tough, judgmental, aloof one, as opposed to my Lord Jesus, the loving, forgiving, understanding “older brother”. But Christ, from the beginning of my conversion, has come to “reveal” our Father in a special way for me.

I must have been about five years old when I got very sick after emigrating to Venezuela from Cuba. It seems I had a respiratory infection that kept me out of school for a long time. My parents told me even my liver was affected, and I was jaundiced and very thin. I remember very little, but I truly believe that my Lord placed this vivid memory from that time into my heart :
At the end of a long, hot day at work, my father, Orlando Sr., had just come into our one-room apartment and sat me on his lap. I idolized the man. He had a faint “ aroma” of sweat, cigarettes, and cologne. The stubble of his beard tickled my cheek as I hugged him tightly crying “Pappy!”. He felt so refreshing against my feverish skin. I looked into his shining eyes, and the bright blue color seemed to flow like rivers and waterfalls over all that was me. I just knew that everything was going to be all right. I was delighted to be in his arms. Now I wonder, was he weeping over me?
Sixty-two years later, every time I

quietly, privately, slowly say the Lord’s Prayer, the image of this memory colors my perception of my Heavenly Father, loving, forgiving, adopting me, holding me in his powerful arms, accepting me within His blissful immensity. I truly feel like a kid. At some point during that prayer I always remember to say “ Thank you Jesus, for showing me how your Father really is.” I don’t ever want to leave this
“heaven”, this “kingdom”, this child-like trust in this Will that only wills the best for me, and for all of humanity.
“I give praise to you,Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” I love You so much! Thank You!

Orlando Hernandez

Morning Thoughts: To All Gathered in Thought and Prayer

by Howard Hain

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Jesus Christ is Real.

He is not made of wood or ink or paint. He is not a distant figure from a distant past. He is here. We gather in His name—He is here. He is as real as each one of us. He is what makes each one of us real.

The message is simple:

He is the Son of God. He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. He is Love. He is Forgiveness. He is Humility. He is Boldness and Obedience.

He is Lord. He is God. He is Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.

He is Christ Jesus, and He is Real.

I see Him now in each of you. I say to Him, I say to you: “I love You, my Lord and my God.”

Now, let us go and tell others…

 

egon schiele conversion

Egon Schiele, “Conversion” (1912)

 

“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

— Matthew 28:20

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Parables of the Kingdom

Net cast into the Sea

The 11th and 12th chapters of Matthew’s gospel, which we’re reading these days at Mass, describe the growing opposition to Jesus as he preaches and performs miracles in Galilee.

Not only do the Pharisees begin to oppose him and plot to put him to death, but the towns where he’s been–Capernaum, Corazin–seem to forget him. Those chapters end with another source of opposition that may surpise us. His own family from Nazareth seems to misunderstand him. It’s a dark part of Matthew’s gospel.

Jesus answers this opposition in chapter 13 in a series of parables. He begins with the parable of the sower sowing his seed. The seed doesn’t always fall on good ground, he reminds his disciples. Sometimes it falls on the path where it quickly dries up– like the  towns that welcome him enthusiastically and soon forget him.

The parable of the weeds and the wheat points to enemies who want to poison the power and beauty of his words and deeds because of their  own claims.  The Pharisees did that.

The kingdom of God comes in smallness. It’s like the mustard seed, not a full grown tree. You can miss it if  you’re looking for something fully grown and done. The treasure is hidden in a field; you may discover  almost accidentally. Maybe Jesus’ own extended family in Nazareth still saw him as just the little boy they knew before and could not appreciate him now. We underestimate small things and  what they can grow to be.

But the kingdom of heaven is also like a merchant in search of fine pearls. You have to keep searching for it all your life. You can’t give up that search. Keep looking, hoping searching.

Jesus concludes his teaching with the parable of the net cast into the sea that catches fish of every kind, good and bad. At the end of time, the net will be dragged to shore and the good will be separated from the bad.

His parables are about the real world, the world Jesus experienced. They also give us a good  template to look at the world we live in, which is not far from his.

Joseph and his Brothers

For the next few days we read at Mass from Genesis about Joseph, the son of Jacob, who’s betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt. He becomes one of Pharaoh’s chief advisors. When drought and famine strike the whole land,  Egypt is ready because Joseph has stored food to last through seven years of want.

When his brothers come looking for food, Joseph gives them food and saves them and their families from starvation. Eventually, Joseph brings Jacob, his father, and all his brothers and their families to ride out the famine in the safety of Egypt.

Like other Old Testament stories, the story of Joseph offers lessons simple and profound.  God saves his people, we’re reminded, even in a world of betrayals and natural disasters.  It’s also a story of forgiveness: Joseph forgives his brothers for betraying him and shows them God’s mercy.

It’s also a story to reflect on immigration and global solidarity. The Egyptians obviously let outsiders like Joseph’s brothers, nomads living beyond its borders, into their country. Why not build a wall around Egypt and keep strangers out?

Maybe an act of practical politics, some think. The nomads living on the borders of Egypt and on its trade routes were important allies to have in place with powerful empires to the north. You need to have good neighbors. One reason the Byzantine empire fell so quickly to Moslem invaders later on, historians say, was because it lost the support of Bedouin tribes on its borders.

These days, Pope Francis is stressing the “interconnectedness” of all life on our planet. The human family and nature are connected, for good or for ill. A story from Egypt has its lessons for today.