Tag Archives: gospel

Morning Thoughts: Over Easy

by Howard Hain

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A run-of-the-mill bakery.

A hand truck full of eggs.

A handful of women from Latin America.

Neither load is fragile.

A woman’s strength may appear as a delicate shell, and if poorly handled she too may break.

But strength is not a matter of not breaking.

It’s a matter of showing up, chipped, broken, sometimes even shattered.

It’s a matter of overcoming.

Of producing.

Of providing.

Of letting go.

One buttered roll at a time.

Preparing the day “café con leche” by “café con leche”.

The eggs slowly disappear.

The ladies change names.

Mary, the Mother of God, remains.

———

“Holy Mother, pierce me through, in my heart each wound renew, of my Savior crucified.”

———

It’s a matter of believing. Of dreaming. Of seeing what can’t be seen. Of loving who can’t be loved.

It’s a matter of hope that never ends, of hope that sustains the very faith from which it came.

It’s a matter of saying “yes” to each and every hour—for someone must be present to serve God’s promise of daily bread.

———

She who stands closest to the foot of the cross most resembles the man being crucified. She must embody Compassion, she still hears His breath, expanding and contracting deep within. Suffering is not be feared. Being without the source of all consolation and peace is just too terrifying.

The “fear of the Lord” keeps us within the grasp of Jesus’ hand.

It “is the beginning of wisdom.” Mary is there to begin. She remains till the end.

Wisdom begets Wisdom.

And she most often looks like a little unpresuming lady working behind a busy breakfast counter.

She is a lady nonetheless.

She is the mother of all I hope for.

———

“Pray for us, O holy Mother of God; that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”

———

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The Dance of Life

    In this Wednesday’s Gospel (Jn 5: 17-30), my Lord invites me to enter into the mystery of the Holy Trinity.  The way to do this is through faith, and the wonderful reward is the gift of Love that is eternal life.

    At the Pool of Bethesda, Jesus has just healed a man who had been suffering for 38 years of his life.  Our compassionate Lord had decided not to let this man wait for another day to find relief, even if this day happened to be the sabbath.  And so:

 Jesus answered the Jews: “My father is at work until now, so I am at work.”  For this reason they tried all the more to kill him, because He not only broke the sabbath but He also called God His own father, making Himself equal to God. Jesus answered and said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what He sees the Father doing; for what He does, the Son will do also.  For the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything that He Himself does, and He will show Him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed.For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever He wishes.”

    And our Lord goes on to say: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.” Jesus goes on to talk about the resurrection of the dead and the final Judgement, of which both He and the Father are to be the authors.

    One of the things that the Lord says calls out to me:  “For just as the Father has life in Himself, so also He gave the Son the possession of life in Himself.”

This is Divine Life that Jesus is talking about. God is alive with it!

    In his book, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Pope Benedict XVI explains how the Gospel of John uses the Greek word “zoe” to name this supernatural “fullness of life,” different from “bios,” which is our biological life. Pope Benedict writes:  “Eternal life(zoe) is not – as the the modern reader might immediately assume – life after death in contrast to this present life, which is transient and not eternal. ‘Eternal life’ is life itself, real life, which can be lived in the present age and is no longer challenged by physical death. This is the point: to seize  ‘life’ here and now, real life that can no longer be destroyed by anything or anyone.”   The disciple of Jesus “lives beyond the mere fact of existing, he has found the REAL life that everyone is seeking…..life itself, full and, hence, indestructible life.” (Part II, p. 82)

    Wow, this is how I want to live! But how? Providing this life for us is the “work” that Jesus shares with His Father, all week long, even in the sabbath.  How is it given to us? Is it like the water we need to live? Jesus tells the Samaritan woman,,”The water I shall give will become [in you] like a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  Is it like His Breath, the wind, the Spirit that renews the face of the earth,  that gave life to Adam and Eve? Like his last, dying breath, saving all of us?  This life(zoe) given to us freely, seems to be God Himself: the Holy Spirit.

    Richard Rohr offers the image of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, giving of themselves fully to each other, in constant unity, relationship, and movement in a circular dance, to which we are invited, all of us. In my prayer, I imagine this Holy Dance, not as a flat circle,but as a sideways figure-eight: infinity, eternity, eternal life.

    How could I try to become part of this dance? First, by believing in Jesus, the Inviter…..In today’s Gospel He says, “Whoever hears my word and believes  in the One who sent Me has eternal life.”  Then by knowing(recognizing). In His High-Priestly prayer Jesus says, “This is Eternal Life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”  Then, by loving.  Pope Benedict goes on to say,”It is clear that the recognition of Him who is Himself Love leads in turn to love, with all that it gives and all that it demands.”

    Every sensation of joyful or painful love that I have felt in my life, for my parents, wife, son, grandchildren, friends, strangers, the beauty of creation, of art…..it all comes from that Circle of Eternal Love…..This is the source and end of the best possible life that I can live, and surrender to, and invite others to, with every act of self-giving. So come, come dance with us! This feast is forever.

Orlando Hernandez

Friday Thoughts: “Prophesy!”

saint-peter-being-freed-from-prison-gerard-van-honthorst-1616-18

Gerard van Honthorst, “Saint Peter Being Freed from Prison”, 1616-18


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“What further need have we of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as deserving to die.

Some began to spit on him.

They blindfolded him and struck him and said to him, “Prophesy!”

And the guards greeted him with blows.

While Peter was below in the courtyard…

—Mark 14:63-66


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I don’t want to hear myself.

I want to hear from You.

My thoughts, my concerns, my feelings, bore me terribly.

I think You are silent but I know it isn’t true.

The moon is so very full this night and so are You.

The coffee I sip is bitter.

Your Word hangs on every tree.

If only Lord we could see.

Drama. Tragedy. Puppet show. Divine Comedy.

Me, me, me, look at me!

But it is You raised up high.

For all to see.

Forgive us, Father, for we still haven’t a clue.


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The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.”

With him they crucified two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left.

Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross.”

Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves and said, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.”

Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.

—Mark 15:26-32


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—Howard Hain

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Peaceful Thoughts: A Quiet Nap


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A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”

—Mark 4:37-40
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Lord,

Teach me to be kind

Show me how to be gentle

May I always bring peace to each and every situation

May I never do harm

Let me always be merciful

Let me never judge and never condemn

I need you to teach me, to show me, to encourage me to be more like You

With Your help it is possible.

———

I believe in You, Father

I trust in You, Jesus

You, Holy Spirit, I know are always loving me

Please let there be peace

Please let all the world be still

Please let all children hope and dream and know that You are God

The God of Kindness, of Gentleness, of Peace, of Mercy, of Forgiveness…

The God of Absolute and Perfect Love

The God who will never forsake us, whose promises are certain and real…

God, You are Love.

———

Let Your presence calm the waters

For the waves rock and the boat fills

And Noah has already come ashore

You, Lord Jesus, pray upon the mountain, You walk on water, You rest within the storm…

You still all

You question our faith

You tell us to simply ask

You promise that we shall receive more.


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And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

—Luke 17:5


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—Howard Hain

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Friday Thoughts: A Room Full of Toys

An Old Man and his Grandson ca 1490 by Domenico Ghirlandaio

Domenico Ghirlandaio, “An Old Man and his Grandson”, ca. 1490

 


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Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.

—John 14:1


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awoken by the night

the good father makes his rounds

peeking into rooms to make sure all is where it should be

a silent prayer

a midnight blessing

a distant siren

a room full of toys

a smile

a memory

giving life to his own father’s watchfulness many years before

the needy cat cries

he better attend to her needs

before she awakes the rest of the house

but before returning to bed

he’ll lovingly recall

once more

a great promise

a great hope

a room full of toys

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In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?

—John 14:2


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—Howard Hain

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The Feast of St. Barnabas

We believe in the communion of saints. One way of sharing life with the saints in heaven and on earth is by recognizing their gifts. That’s what St. Barnabas did. He recognized the gift of Saul of Tarsus.

After his dramatic conversion on the way to Damascus, Paul preached the gospel in Damascus and then in Jerusalem, according to the Acts of the Apostles, but because of his past as a persecutor of Christians, they were suspicious of him. “They were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.” “Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles, and he reported to them how on the way he had seen the Lord and that he had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 9, 25-27) Barnabas recognized the grace of God in Saul.

As gentiles became increasingly interested in the gospel, especially in Antioch, the leaders of the Jerusalem church sent Barnabas there to see what to do. “When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord. Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.” (Acts 11,23-26)

Once again, Barnabas recognized Saul, who would become Paul, and sought him out to bring the gospel to the gentiles. Previously, in the Acts of the Apostles the Apostle Peter encountered the gentile Cornelius in Ceasaria Maritima, whom he baptized with his household. But Barnabas knew Paul was better able to preach to the gentiles than Peter, so he brought him to Antioch. The two embarked on a mission to the gentiles. The Acts of the Apostles refer first to “Barnabas and Saul” then gradually it becomes “Paul and Barnabas.” Paul emerged as the gifted apostle.

It was Barnabas who first recognized his gift.

How Bad Can It Get

The gospel is supposed to be life at its best, but it also presents life at its worst. What’s worse than being a lamb among wolves? Than living with people who don’t support you and in fact hate you? Than having people beat you with whips? Than having your own brothers and sisters turn against you? Than having people throw you out of town?

Can it get worse than that? You’ll experience all these things, Jesus says in today’s gospel to the Twelve and those who go out with them.

Today’s gospel from Matthew is part of the commissioning of disciples whom Jesus sends as heralds of the kingdom of heaven. They have power to “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and drive out demons.” Great powers. But that’s not all. They must exercise these powers in the real world.

We can’t forget we live in the real world that Jesus describes in today’s gospel. His way of living in this world is unique. He doesn’t send out armed divisions or powerful super salespeople, but vulnerable lambs. Yet, his lambs are stronger than wolves. Don’t be awed by governors and kings or crushed by adversity or rejection, Jesus says. Just listen to the “Spirit of your Father speaking in you,” and you’ll have wisdom enough.

Even if you’re thrown out of one town, another town waits for the coming of the Son of Man. The real world is not as strong as it seems.