Posted by: livingscripture | September 15, 2014


From the Word of the Day

He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’  And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.”

 (John 19: 37)    

How should we live this Wordpieta

At the foot of the Cross, as Jesus was dying there remained Mary, and John, the disciple who had rested his head on the heart of Christ at the Last Supper.  Being together, near Jesus when everyone else had gone, certainly united them in a profound spirituality that is reached through purification by great love and great suffering.

Behold, Jesus had recognized the sign.  He involved both of them in the supreme gift of this supreme hour that had made them a gift for each other as well.  Mary became the Mother of John, and the beloved apostle became the son of such a Mother.

Rooted in these depths, the gift was amplified almost to infinity.  Generations and generations of Christians have received Mary as a gift, just as John did.  She is the Mother of their belonging to Jesus.  An untold number of believers throughout the centuries have been able to introduce Mary into the home of their heart.  She is the Mother and Teacher of a lived Christianity.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I will turn to Mary with love and trust. 

Lord Jesus, I thank You for giving me Mary as my Mother in the profoundest hour of Your Passion.  It makes me aware that I will not be alone in the hour of suffering.  Keep alive in my heart the memory of Your Mother, Mary.  May she be a precious help in living with You all that makes me grow and mature in love, especially when I cry out in suffering.


The voice of Don Bosco, Saint of the Young


Entrust everything to Jesus in the Eucharist and to Mary Help of Christians, and you will see what miracles are!


Posted by: livingscripture | September 14, 2014


From the Word of the Day

God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

 (John 3: 17)      

How should we live this Word light

We take up the Word of the Day once again with this powerful affirmation from John’s Gospel, which replenishes the soul, heart, and life with oxygen.  Many people have cast aside their Christian identity because they have never made a real and deep contact with what is being said here.

In fact, what dominates human beings today is fear.  Whether it nests in their unconscious or assails them after errors committed, cannot always be determined.  Fear is destructive precisely because it is like the black smoke of confusion from which comes a serious problem, a false image of God.

Having listened to many people, I know that many think of a ‘punishing’ God, ready to strike sinners with lightning.  This is not God’s way of saving us.  How do we know this?  Let us listen to John’s words, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish, but might have eternal life”.  (John 3: 16)

Yes, the Father has given His Son Jesus, not on a bed of roses, but through the opprobrium of crucifixion.  Jesus took upon Himself all the grime of sin, all the evil of the world.  This was His concrete way of saying to each one of us, “I love you so much that I die for you.  I want you saved.  I free you from fear”.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I will relish these words of Jesus that assure me of His unchanging love. 

Jesus, cast all fear from my heart.  I trust in You!

The voice of Sr. Ivana Marchetti, FMA (1944-2009)

Lord, I believe in You and thus I entrust myself to You.  Abandonment is not expressed by pretending to decode the future, to control it, to know the results.  I feel You in the centre of my heart.  I am at peace.


Posted by: livingscripture | September 12, 2014




Psalm 84

Today we commemorate the most holy name of Mary, she who bore Jesus, the Son of God!  Indeed, Jesus’ dwelling place in her womb was lovely due 2MAry,[1]to her purity, her faith, her openness to God’s will. Throughout her life, she was this dwelling place, living in God’s presence, listening to His Word, totally available to God’s plan for the salvation of all humanity.

From the Cross, Jesus gave His dear Mother to us as our Mother.   She cares for each of us as her own dear son or daughter and is ever ready to help us in all our needs.  As St. Bernard says, “In dangers, in difficulties, in perplexity, call upon Mary.  Let her name be always in your mouth and in your heart”.  Jesus is pleased when we pray to His Mother, and Mary always leads us to a closer relationship with her Son.

Let us celebrate her today, thanking her for her love and seeking to imitate her in her docility, her gentleness, her joy!

This is a prayer written by Don Bosco to ask for Mary’s help and protection.

“O Mary, most powerful Virgin, great and illustrious defender of the Church, wonderful Help of Christians, formidable as an army in battle array, you who alone have overcome every heresy in the world, in our anguish,  in our combats, in our difficulties, defend us from the enemy, and at the hour of our death receive our souls into heaven. Amen.”

Posted by: livingscripture | September 10, 2014

Twenty-third Wednesday in Ordinary Time

1 Corintians 7:25-31
Psalm 45:11-12, 14-15, 16-17
Luke 6:20-26

“It is a good thing for a person to remain as he is”  The first reading references the married life and the single life, indicating that both are a good way image037-praiseto live – if one is true to and becomes aware of “their Calling”. As a marriage preparation facilitator, I always ask my couples to reflect upon their call to the married life and discern why they have been called to leave the single life and commit to marriage with another person.  To consider  the realities that will be a part of the married life – the good times and the bad.

The first reading introduces the beatitudes of weeping and not weeping, rejoicing and not rejoicing and buying and not owning.  The reading today brings us to an awareness of the choices we all must make in life and how we come to choose.

Luke’s Gospel gives several of the Beatitudes and encourages us to feel the “blessings” that come with our poverty and reliance on God.  If we feel content and complete with all our earthly wealth and success how can we develop our dependence and reliance on God?   How does one strengthen and enrich a relationship if there is not a need for the other person in your life?  If one is so independent, as to not need another person’s help, council, , ideas, or support, how does a non-relationship with another enrich you?

Luke’s Gospel is suggesting that, if we “hunger” or “weep,”  it implies a need for others and a need for God, in order to experience a fulfilling life,  to give us direction and to lead us to appreciate our need for others and our need for God.  When we experience poverty, sorrow, hunger or insults, and find that we can over come these “trials” in life, through our reliance on God, we then will find true joy, appreciation and satisfaction in life.

Posted by: livingscripture | September 9, 2014

Twenty-third Tuesday in Ordinary Time

Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, Priest
1 Corinthians 6:1-11

Psalm 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

Luke 6:12-19


In today’s gospel Jesus “spends the night in communion with God” on the mountain and then descends to the people awaiting Him below (very similar temptation 2to Moses on Sinai, who descends to the waiting Israelites: Exodus 19-20).  Here, however, Jesus calls others up the mountain first (cf. Exodus 19:21-25) and names them His apostles; His descent with them invests them with some of His authority and power.

Why specifically these men?  It is important to note that Jesus names them only after conferring with the Father and that He chooses them in the Spirit, not selecting them on merely human bases.  I would suggest that these men were what a friend of mine calls the “gentle searchers,” men who were looking for God and trying to attach themselves to Him and His service.  They were seeking God beyond what observance of the Law provided.

Jack Kerouac (On The Road) asserts that “[...] the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”  That would not describe these men, no more than the curse from the Book of Revelation (3:15-16), “Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I shall vomit you out of my mouth.”

These men looked hungrily to Jesus for life, and He chose them as His own in a special way.  As part of their becoming His, He expected a certain service and a certain constant growth from them.  These apostles were neither obsessive action junkies nor inert, they simply sought God — even if it was  sometimes not faithfully or not humbly, almost never really understanding what Jesus asked of them or was teaching them.

Doesn’t this apply to us as well?  Aren’t we also called by name, missioned, and inept — but deeply loved?


Posted by: livingscripture | September 8, 2014

Nativity of Mary

The Nativity of Mary
 Micah 5:1-4a
Romans 8:28-30
Psalm 13:6ab, 6c
Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23

The gospels being basically a catechesis, we should not be surprised if they do not mention Mary’s birth. Instead, today the gospel of Matthew talks 0703md03[1]about Mary’s own experience of carrying Jesus in her womb and the problems it presented both for her and for Joseph. Sometimes God enters our lives in rather unsettling ways.

Reading Matthew’s narrative, we have to try to put ourselves in Joseph’s place, as he realizes that Mary is pregnant and he knows that he is not the father. What happened? He knew Mary well enough to trust her, so what happened? Did someone abuse her during her months away from Nazareth? He may not have known what to do, but, because he truly loved Mary, he knew what not to do. He would not expose her to the charge of infidelity that carried with it as a penalty death by stoning. He would go away and be the one at fault, be the fall guy, be a “deadbeat father”. And then God intervenes to calm him and put him at peace. And Joseph simply trusts.

We also have to try to put ourselves in Mary’s place. She could certainly sense how uneasy, indeed how anxious, Joseph was about the whole thing. Her parents too had noticed her bulging tummy and perhaps suspected Joseph, even if they may have chosen not to confront either Mary or Joseph. And Mary could not explain… who would believe her? What could she do? She did what the gospel tells us later that she did: she pondered in her heart. It was this trusting pondering that led her from not understanding to not needing to understand. It was this that carried her through the moments of darkness in her life, especially at Calvary – how can a mother understand the cruel execution of her innocent Son? But she no longer needed to understand and she held her ground at the foot of the cross.

A very good moment to pray for this trusting pondering in our life’s difficulties, when we find ourselves not understanding what is happening in us and around us, when we wonder how God’s entering our lives can be so unsettling.

Posted by: livingscripture | September 7, 2014

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 33:7-9
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Romans 13:8-10
Matthew 18:15-20


Throughout the world these days, we have experienced the horrors of violence and war and tremendous inhumanity. Some of us who are reading this image029- circle of friendsreflection may be in the midst of this terrible violence. Others of us just read about it, but feel real pain at the suffering we read or see on the news.

God summons Ezekiel to be a prophet – to try to change the behavior of the people. So much does God want Ezekiel to take on this mission of transforming the hearts of the people, God even says God will hold Ezekiel responsible for the people’s behavior.

In the powerful Psalm 95 – used every day in the Liturgy of the Hours – we remind ourselves that if we hear his voice today, we should not harden our hearts.

Paul tells the Romans that all the commandments are summed up in one, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus tells his disciples to be patiently helpful to our brothers and sisters who sin against us. We are to go to work it out – one on one – as opposed to trashing the offender before everyone else. We are to go first to the person himself or herself. If that doesn’t work, Jesus tells us to take two others, to still try to build a bridge of healing. Finally, Jesus says that if that doesn’t work, we should let this be a matter for the community. Only after all this effort at reconciliation has failed, should we say we had done the best we can.

Jesus clearly builds his community of followers on the notion of a community in which we care for one another, even when there is conflict and division. And, at the end of this gospel reading, Jesus assures us that whenever we are gathered together in prayer, he’ll be with us.

Our reflection on these readings and the terrible conflicts in the world can lead us to come together and pray for healing in our world. So much of the violence which is happening is the result of some injustice, some hurt and pain. Violence is never justified, but upon reflection, we can often learn from a terrible chain of circumstances which ignited the violence.

Let us together pray for leaders and ordinary people everywhere, that we can come together to find the path to peace built upon some kind of reconciliation and a just care for the common good, especially for those on the margins of our society.


Posted by: livingscripture | September 6, 2014

Twenty-second Saturday in Ordinary Time

 1 Corinthians 4:6b-15
Psalm 145:17-18, 19-20, 21
Luke 6:1-5

Paul’s letter surely stung the brothers and sisters in Corinth.  When one is a in a condition of being inflated, it is tough to have someone let the air out. 2012100024lonetreehills99zz But it is surely a prerequisite to being filled with something more substantial, perhaps something God-breathed.

I had the misfortune of experiencing a head injury and broken wrist this past summer.  Inflammation is a necessary part of that experience.  Despite healing in my bones, my hand remains swollen and I am now wearing a compression glove to move the fluid out.  Compression is uncomfortable.  But sometimes we need to be squeezed to return to good order.

Paul seems to be focusing on the other things that fill us, which are not always so easily recognized.  When pride or its close cousins which cause us to trust in other things (including riches, power, and pleasure) are filling us, we cannot be filled by God.  In so many ways, the message here tracks the beatitudes.  It also tracks Mary’s prayer, which we read on her feast day.  When we think we are full, we are sent away dissatisfied in the reality of our emptiness.  When we recognize our emptiness, we can be filled.

Lest we think this epiphany is a singular event or activity, think again.  If we are honest with ourselves, we often experience self-satisfaction and emptiness in the same day.  Paul’s words, “when ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently”, remind me that I have a long way to go in achieving this kind of orientation toward others.  I often have a short fuse, probably because my own interests figure heavily in my calculus of what is necessary and proper.  Fortunately, as the Psalmist reminds us, the Lord is near to all who call upon him. When we call in the midst of our need, we can receive.  In the midst of giving snarky responses to those who offend us, perhaps not so much.

But God is still near, even when we miss him.  Can we find the energy to pause and cry out for help?  I had dinner with a friend tonight who shared a miracle in his own life – God granted room in his heart to love someone he found difficult.  That is a good miracle to ask for, no?

The Gospel reminds us that great freedom comes from being with Jesus.  In Luke’s Gospel, the disciples are walking through a wheat field, picking out kernels and eating them.  I have done this many times, and it is a pleasure to taste the new kernels that are maturing.  However, I did not do so out of a need for food; perhaps the disciples were just really hungry and doubly glad for the nourishment.  The Pharisees temporarily disrupted this pleasure by challenging their conduct based on their laws.  Jesus effortlessly defended his disciples, silencing the critics with a powerful claim about his lordship.  I wonder what the disciples thought. It probably felt good to be defended.

Defend us, also, Lord Jesus.  Help us to remain near to you so that we can be free, even if it means experiencing some uncomfortable compression to restore us to the life we need. And bring us room to love, even when our hearts our crowded with our own desires.  Thanks be to God.

Posted by: livingscripture | September 5, 2014

Twenty-second Friday in Ordinary Time

Friday in the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time
 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Psalm 37:3-4, 5-6, 27-28, 39-40
Luke 5:33-39


“It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal.” (1 Cor 4:3)

“The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.” (Psalm 37:39)

I recently had the great honor and joy of witnessing my brother Aaron make his First Vows for the Jesuits,

transitioning him from a Novice image037-praiseto a Jesuit Scholastic. This first major step toward becoming a Jesuit priest includes the words “perpetual” and “forever”, meaning that once vowed, all Jesuits promise to live that way for life; no backing out. The wording of the vows is so incredibly intense and beautiful that I couldn’t help but ponder my own call to live out a version in my own life.

He vowed poverty: a renouncement of the pursuit of material possessions. In doing so, he freed himself from being owned by his belongings. As a young physician, others frequently ask about my salary or remind me of which fields will collect me the highest pay. Keeping a heart that desires to serve God only how He wants to use the talents He gave me is a substantial challenge in this field.

He vowed chastity: a continued promise to consummate only his marriage with the Lord as his only Spouse. As a young man choosing to save myself for marriage, my celibacy will end at my wedding, however I must choose daily to practice the chaste lifestyle that I will continue to live one day as a married man. Offering my bodily temptations to the Lord and nailing them to His Cross lets me begin to learn the self-sacrificial role that I will play as a husband and father. Needless to say, this path is neither popular nor easy.

He vowed obedience: a gift of his freedom given to God and his superiors in agreeing to serve wherever he is sent. In residency I have many bosses and I have the duty to frequently fight the desire to be independent or self-sufficient. Outside residency, I crave the ability to choose where I travel and eventually live. My brother’s vow of obedience helps me remember that my anxieties about future jobs are fruitless. I seek a heart that will rejoice in serving wherever my Superior sends me.

Living out these three vows, in whichever vocation, will inevitably set us on a crash course with contemporary cultural thought. When we do start drawing that ridicule (it doesn’t take long), our First Reading is there to support us. St. Paul reminds us that the Lord is the only one to judge us. He, through Scripture and the Church, has given us His desires for how He wants us to live our lives. We will be ridiculed for living them out, however. This realization begs the question of what value worldly comforts should have on our lives.

Where do I seek my salvation, my comfort? In a luxurious house, exciting travel, food in nice restaurants, fine whiskeys, and other material pursuits bought with my money? Or rather in pleasing my body sexually? Or perhaps in a sense of authority with control over other people? Each of these examples stands in stark contrast to the three vows my brother just took.

Our Psalm states so simply, “The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.” Still further, the first stanza addresses the vast majority of those worldly pursuits that I am tricked into thinking will bring me comfort: a beautiful home, being well-fed, and having the desires of my heart fulfilled. “Trust in the LORD and do good, that you may dwell in the land and be fed in security. Take delight in the Lord and he will grant you your heart’s requests.” What more could I want?

While these three vows will undoubtedly garner scorn and worldly isolation, they are part of what Scripture explains will bring us closer to God and the salvation He offers us. Let us together seek ways that we can more intentionally live out a focus on poverty, chastity, and obedience in our own vocations.

Posted by: livingscripture | September 4, 2014

Twenty-second Thursday in Ordinary Time

 1 Corinthians 3:18-23
Psalm 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6
Luke 5:1-11

All this talk about the wise being foolish sort of has me down.

Probably because I’m one of the wise guys they’re talking about in Corinthians. creationI am educated. I am smart. I’m a college professor. I’m in Mensa. And people like me tend to rely pretty heavily on our intelligence. We think we’re so smart. But what do we really know? I saw a t-shirt the other day that said, “I’m a college professor: to save time, let’s just assume I’m right”. I know a lot of stuff. I’m well read. I’m a whiz at trivia. But what do I know, really? Seriously, I don’t know anything. I don’t know how we got here. I don’t know what all this means. I can’t see the big picture, because I’m human. I’m not God. And that’s the point. We humans are naturally restricted. We don’t know how everything happens. We don’t know how the earth got here. We don’t know what happens when we die. We are human. We live, then we die. We couldn’t do this. We couldn’t make a world or make people from scratch or understand how it happened or where it’s going. We have to have faith. And we have to accept that we don’t know everything. We call ourselves wise and think we know so much, and we think we have all the answers, but in fact, we know very little, and we do not have all the answers. Even those who know a lot, in the bigger scheme of things know very little. We think we have everything, but everything we have and our very selves belong to God. Nothing is really ours, not our possessions, not our environment, not our experiences. It is all from God, and it is all God’s.

When Peter is having a bad day fishing, Jesus tells him to put out his nets one last time. Peter says that they’ve been fishing all day and have nothing to show for it, but he puts out his nets on Jesus’ word. And the haul is so great he can’t get them all in the boat. And Peter says, in effect, I’m not worthy. He doesn’t know how this could happen. There were no fish, then there were so many fish he can’t contain them. That’s not possible. But it happened. Peter thinks he knows about fishing, but what does he know? He knows enough to put his faith and trust in Jesus and to follow him. Jesus says he will be a fisher of men now, able to share his faith and his experience.

We don’t know anything, but we should know enough to put our faith and trust in the Lord and follow him. We don’t know it all. We can’t know it all. But we can accept this and trust in God.

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