Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Who is Yeast?


Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like?
To what can I compare it?
It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden.
When it was fully grown, it became a large bush
the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.”

Again he said, “To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God?
It is like yeast that a woman took
and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch of dough was leavened.”

-Luke 13:18-21

You know for the longest time I thought that the Parable of the Yeast was about us. That it was about the effect of Christians in the world. Well, I really thought it was about my effects as a "Christian" in the world. How can I inspire, and how can I bring people to God, and how can I convert people, and how can I make the world a better place for the children; because they really are our future.

If I was honest about it I'd say that God was the vehicle I used for my own personal glorification. In prayer yesterday Our Lord laid some truth on me. He didn't start with the words, "You Hypocrite" thankfully, but He could have. Our Lord said to me, "Louis, I am the yeast not you. You are the three measures, your body, mind and heart. I make you grow."

It was a revelation to me to remember that this is all about Jesus. He is King, He is Lord, He is God.

Pray well!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus


(I wrote this throughout the day)

I watched some movies yesterday. Here they are:

Iron Man 2

X-Men: Wolverine Origin

A Serious Man

And the The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. (Please see first picture)

That is a lot of movies for one day. At first I woke up late because it takes forever to get home now from the city. Then I planned to go to mass at night and I didn't go. No big excuses, no big emergency preventing me from going, just the lack of will to go give praise and worship to God. So now I am on my way to confession and mass. I need to be right with God again.

(right before confession)

Lord, how do you have so much mercy? How have you not annihilated me yet? You don't ask for much and I can't even give you that? Lord, thank you for not smiting me, thank you for your patience. Your love knows no boundaries. Help me not to despair for my own soul.

(after confession)

Thank you Lord for your forgiveness!

Lord you call me out of the world and you call me to live in the Kingdom of God.

The Gospel today makes more sense when you are the person with whose back is bent because of the weight of sin. When you feel like you can't web pray because your sin is so heavy that it causes you to forget that you are in the presence of God. Then Jesus comes and heals you by releasing you of your burden. At that moment you are able to stand up and look at God and pray to him with a clean heart.

The sacrament of confession is such a beautiful sacrament because Jesus makes us whole again and clean again. I absolutely encourage you to go if you have not gone in a while and get right with God.

Pray well!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Great Divider


"Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division."
-Luke 12:51

Jesus, the Great Divider... Sometimes the Lord says things like this and you don't know what to make it it.

"Why would the Prince of Peace say this?" we might think. Most people are comfortable where they are, in the sense that they are not going out of their way to change their current situation. Everyone, whether they know it or not, wants stability. For example, if you have iTunes on your computer, you dread seeing this:

All I think is, "Oh great, now what have they changed!"

I know for me I associate peace with being comfortable, at least that is the message the world tells us. People buy little Zen Gardens for a desk at work or a Bonsai tree because they see a monk use this to get some "peace." We want this look-at-the-ground, pour-water-slowly, no-one-yelling, no-one-making-demands-on us, everything-is-great peace; that is one way we define earthly peace.

But Christ offers us something different. He offers us a peace that no matter what happens to us, the world can't touch it. This peace comes from remembering something that people never want to mention. We do not mention it outside, or sometimes even inside churches. Its a secret.

Shhhhhhhhhhh!!!! I will tell you. No one is looking right?!?!

You are ALWAYS in the Presence of God.
You just don't realize it.

Do you really think Our Lord's Presence ends when we put him in a pretty golden box?
Do you think Our Lord is limited by cement blocks and wooden doors?
Do you really believe that Our Lord's Presence is limited by a certain number of feet or yards? or by time? or by space?

You are always in the Presence of God. Once you believe this, and you start thinking, "wait, if I wouldn't do these sins in the church then why would I do them outside of the Church?" It is difficult to undo a lifetime of sinful habits but leave that to God, He will do that, you, just remember you are in His Presence.

When a person upsets the world's understanding of peace, they have to be prepared for the division it will awaken in others no matter how close they might be now. People don't like boat rockers sometimes they might even crucify them...

Pray well!

Jesus, the Great Divider, have mercy on us.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How much has God entrusted to you?


Here are the readings for today.

(The end of the parable Jesus was telling.)

"That servant who knew his master’s will
but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
shall be beaten severely;
and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will
but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
shall be beaten only lightly.
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Are we a people entrusted with more? How much have we've been given and how much do we do with what we've been given? In NYC we have access to hundreds of parishes, different churches with adoration available, confessions are heard daily and yet do we use them to deepen our relationship with Jesus?

I know for myself I tend to hoard what I have been given. I tend not to lend them out either because of fear that I won't get them back at all. Whether it is video games, movies, or books I am fearful that the little that I have will be taken away.

I see this hoarding in my relationships with others and God. The gifts that God has given me, I try to keep and protect so I never lose them. I became the servant that buries the talent instead of trying to find ways to multiply it for my Master. A couple of years ago I was hurt pretty bad by some friends and I found myself being closed off to everyone. This was until very recently. I kept thinking I was living out my Catholic faith by "not throwing pearls before swines;" and I kept ignoring the voice of the Lord calling me to reconcile this part of my life. This was my attitude towards God:

And this was His respond towards me:

But because I was able to let go of that past anger and hurt, I have found much deeper friendships with more people. People who I can share my heart with and they can share theirs with me.

Thank you God for calling us to healing and to point our to us that we are not using what you have given us to better the Kingdom!

Pray well!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

That's a lot of Peaces


Here are the readings for today.

"Brothers and sisters:
You were at that time without Christ,
alienated from the community of Israel
and strangers to the covenants of promise,
without hope and without God in the world.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off
have become near by the Blood of Christ.

For he is our peace..." - Ephesians 2:11-14

I remember that to long ago that was me. I had no idea of the beautiful faith I was given. I had no idea of my ancestors in the faith, no idea of the covenant that God made with us, I had no hope, and just about the only thing I had was a world without God.

"But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have become near by the Blood of Christ."

And also for me by his Body. The Eucharist and adoration helped to bring me back to God. It is a place that I don't want to leave. This quote I read today from Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection summed it up, "Let us often reflect, my dear Mother, that our only concern in this life is to please God: What can anything else be but folly and vanity?"

This is the book I go the quote from.

The other thought that came to mind during the readings was the word "peace."

The word peace is said today in the readings 10 times including the Psalms. That is a lot. I think today I realized something that I never really thought about before. I think peace is the absence of conflict. I think it is something that I can achieve when I have everything under control. Like when I have my anger under control then I am peaceful. But peace is a gift from God, it is not something that I do but something I receive. When I go to the dentist to get "my teeth fixed" it is the dentist that fixes them, I just sit in the chair and let him work.

Lord continue to give me the gift of Your peace and help me open your gift.

Pray well!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lord teach us to pray


Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”

-Luke 11:1-4

It is interesting to think of Jesus praying. I mean He is God, who did He pray to? Did He ask the Holy Spirit to help Him pray to the Father? Did he get distracted when He prayed? Did He "pray the distractions?" Did He start every prayer with the Our Father or did He say the Psalms? Did He have ecstasies or mystical visions? Did he speak in tongues or prophesy?

In St. Luke's Gospel, he mentions Jesus praying a lot. Why did St. Luke feel the need to mention this so often? When Our Lord did pray was He the Publican in the front or the repentant sinner in the back? Or was He somewhere in the middle?

How did He who knew the hearts of all calm Bis own Sacred Heart to hear the whisper of His own Father, His own Daddy? We know Jesus prays for us to His Father, in St. Luke's Gospel before his agony in the garden he tells Simon Peter:

"Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift you all like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turn back, you must strengthen your brothers."- Luke 22:31-32

Jesus prayed for St. Peter... I don't think I have ever asked Jesus to pray for me, but I have longed to hear, "Louis, Louis, behold Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat."

Satan demanding to sift us!

I know Satan doesn't want me to know God or to follow Him or to pray or to love God or to know God's Love for me, that isn't something new. "But Louis I have prayed for you that your own faith won't fail; and once you turn back, you must strengthen you brothers." Jesus doesn't pray for our strength not to give out or our perseverance to fail but for our faith not fail. That we may NEVER lose our faith in the Father.

He wants us to trust that God can do anything in our lives no matter how horrible the situation is. "Louis I pray for you that never stop trusting Dad. He's going to take care of you always just stay faithful."

Jesus wants us to not lose our faith not only for us but to strengthen or brothers and sisters.

This brings a new dimension to confession. It is obviously a sacrament between us and God but also we should strengthen others to go back to God who have turned their backs on Him.

The Christian Life has never been about me, myself and I; but about God, others, and me (or is it I? I have never been good with grammar). This has been a constant challenge for me the last couple of months. How have I been giving of myself to others the way Jesus wants me to? If I say I have been trying keeping my faith then have I been using it to strengthen my brothers and sisters in Christ? Or have I really just kept the faith to myself? Maybe I should ask Jesus to pray for me to so that He can help me keep my faith to strengthen my brothers and sisters...

Lord, pray that I may keep faith so that I may share it with others!

Pray well!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

On Trial


Here are the readings for today.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you,
everyone who acknowledges me before others
the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.
But whoever denies me before others
will be denied before the angels of God."
- Luke 12:8-9

Today's reading goes very well with this one:

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?' Then I will declare to them solemnly, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.' - Matthew 7:21-23

I don't think our denial of Him is a verbal one but an interior one. It is a denial by our hearts. I remember an old shirt from the 80's that said:

If you were on trial for being a Christian
would they have enough evidence to convict you?

"Your honor look how this person loves! They have given everything for their brethren! You can't tell me this person is not a Christian!"

What beautiful words to hear one day. "My child by the way you lived your life you have not denied Me, now I will not deny you."

Pray well!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

You Bear Witness and Give Consent


Here are the readings today.

Consequently, you bear witness and give consent
to the deeds of your ancestors,
for they killed them and you do the building.
Therefore, the wisdom of God said,
‘I will send to them prophets and Apostles;
some of them they will kill and persecute’
in order that this generation might be charged
with the blood of all the prophets
shed since the foundation of the world,
from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah
who died between the altar and the temple building.
Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!
- Luke11:47-54

Our Lord's words can be harsh at times but they are true nonethless. This line in particular:

‘I will send to them prophets and Apostles;
some of them they will kill and persecute...’

reminds me of abortion. How many saints have we not given the chance to live in our world?

Many times we are very quick to point the finger at God and say, 'Why does God let this happen?' We say the same thing about world hunger, mass murder, genocide, the suffering of children all of which are so difficult to deal with. But do many of us ever ask, "Why am I letting this happen?" Do we try to ease the suffering in the world cause other human beings? Do we believe that we are all members of one human family, and that when one member is hurting ALL the members are hurting?

When my mom gets sick at home, everyone feels it. We try to make her day better and take care of her. We just do it because we love her. We don't sit in a room and say, "Why did God let this happen to her?" or "What can I do, I am not a doctor? How can I help?" So many times just being with the person suffering does wonders. Because we are so connected to God our hearts pour out love on others when we allow it. We open up and become a source of life for the other person so that they realize they are not alone in their suffering.

If this works for my mother, a member of my biological family, why shouldn't it work for a homeless person or someone who is hungry in our human family?

If we are charged with the suffering of others, whether directly or indirectly, then what are we doing to alleviate that suffering and to make amends for the damage we have wrought. Our Lord challenges us today and reminds us that the question isn't, "Where is God in all this?" The Psalms 34:18 tells us,

"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit."
God is right there with suffering. When we are suffering the Lord is right there with us.

But the question that Jesus asks us is,

"Where are you in all of this?"

Pray well!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Woe to you!


This has nothing to do with the reading I just thought it was funny.

Here is the reading for today.

Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply,
“Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.”
And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law!
You impose on people burdens hard to carry,
but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”

Jesus does not pull punches. How many times throughout my day to I do this to people? Sure in this context Jesus is referring to people who knew the Law of Moses or the Torah, and they were experts in that. They knew it so well that few people would question their interpretation except other scholars. They were the experts.

Many times I feel that way. That I am the expert, that I know best. So when I see someone doing something different than the way I would do it, I judge them. Sometimes I would even say, "Why are you doing that? You should do it like this." Its even worse when pride sets in because you might have received training or education in something and you do not help others learn. You just tell them what to do.

"Well when I was at (insert fancy name here) you know we did it like this."

"No, you can do it like that if you want, but I wouldn't."

"I don't know what's wrong with them, they should just do it like this."

"I don't know why that homeless person doesn't just try to find a job already."

"I just don't get my (insert family member here) why do they keep doing that?"

"I don't know why that priest can't just say the mass like this already, its not that difficult."

"Why is the President doing that?! He should be focusing on this instead, then everything would be much better."

Not once do we lift a hand to help. All of this complaining or casting judgments aren't help anyone. If we imagine all this negative "criticism" as actual baggage we have placed on people, how much have we put on them? How much more difficult have we made life for other people to live? Think of all the dirty looks, the teeth sucking, the insults, the name calling, the grumbling and mumbling under our breath ALL because WE are the expert. Because we know best.

Then one of the people who knew best, said to him in reply,
“Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.”
And he said, “Woe also to you 'experts'!
You impose on people burdens hard to carry,
but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”

It is almost like sin has wired us to be negative and despairing. All because WE now have the knowledge of good and evil, of right and wrong, of what is best to do and what others shouldn't do. Try to be a life affirming and life giving person today (you might have to go to confession and mass first) and do it when it is difficult like on the train, with coworkers, with your family, by calling the friend who always pushes your buttons, then you can see how much of an expert we think we truly are.

"Why does he have to stand in front of the subway door like that? Why won't he just..."

Woe to you so called "expert!"

Pray well!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Just put it in the sink


After Jesus had spoken,
a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home.
He entered and reclined at table to eat.
The Pharisee was amazed to see
that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.
The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees!
Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish,
inside you are filled with plunder and evil.
You fools!
Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you.”

Jesus Christ is Lord!

God is really incredible. He calls us to be faithful to Him. I have been praying the Jesus Prayer recently and trying to pray the rosary in the morning as well and I feel a change happening in my life. Simply put, I am willing to give more. I don't know how to describe the change that is taking place inside my heart. It kind of feels like a plant, I have all these different components that are there for the plant to grow; but until I put them together and in the right order nothing will happen. God has given me the water and the light for my growth and the world has given me the manure. And God tells me, "Even though you are given what might seem like waste to everyone else, I will make something beautiful come out of it." For it is God's Love that causes our growth. Even our very conversion is a gift from God.

"Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you."

When listening to this Gospel passage the message to me is very simple: Give to others and God will do the rest.

In giving of ourselves, our time, our money, or anything that we hold as valuable to others we begin to make more room for God's grace to change us. God is all about unity, oneness, purity. That is why Our Lord gives us His very Body so we can have all these things. He gives us the Eucharist, His Body, so we can have communion with one another and Jesus. He made us members of the One Church, His Body, so that we can always be one with him even when we don't "feel" connected to Him. He has also given us the sacraments which cleanse us of our sins, to help us have that purity of heart which will see God.

The best part of all of this is that God wants to do this for us and all we have to do is let Him.

"Everything will be clean FOR YOU." All we have to do is give alms, is give of ourselves to others and the Lord will work on us and in us. He will clean us. So the question is will we let God love us enough to clean us? Or a cheesy way of putting it: Will we let God do our dirty dishes for us?

"There's the sink, hop to it Lord! Those dishes ain't gonna do themselves!"

Pray well!