Reflection - June 17, 2018

“Brothers and sisters:
We are always courageous,
although we know that while we are at home in the body
we are away from the Lord,
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yet we are courageous,
and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.
Therefore, we aspire to please him, 
whether we are at home or away.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,
so that each may receive recompense,
according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.”

I have often heard integrity defined as doing the right thing when no one is watching (one attribution is to C. S. Lewis). It is not a bad definition, but there can be another way to look at it. Integrity comes from the word integer, which itself comes from the Latin prefix in- (not) and verb tangere (to touch). Therefore, it is untouched, entire, whole, or complete. All of the various parts form a whole, single unit. Everything in our personalities is integrated and integral to each part. Consistency and continuity between our beliefs, thoughts, and actions characterize us as persons when we have integrity. We end up doing the right thing when no one is watching because that is who we are, that is our true self. 

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Reflection - June 10, 2018

“Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
‘Because you have done this, you shall be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
on your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he (they) (she) will strike at your head,
while you strike at his (their) (her) heel.’”

In the judgement God makes against the serpent, we get an explanatory reason for why snakes slither on the ground. This is called an etiological myth, a story that explains why things exist the way they do, usually in the physical world. Taken literally, these are scientifically untenable and theologically unimportant. If taken metaphorically, they can sometimes offer worthy theological insights, but not always. We may be able to see a parallel here with the fall of Lucifer from heaven and the slithering snake banned from other creatures. It is limited, however, in value. 

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Reflection - May 13, 2018

“In the first book, Theophilus,
I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day he was taken up,
after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit
to the apostles whom he had chosen.”

The author of the Acts of the Apostles addresses his writing to Theophilus, but just who is this? The word itself can mean “loved by God” or “loving God,” but it was both a name and an honorary title in Luke’s time meaning “lover of God” or “friend of God” from theos (god) and philos (friend), originally in Greek.

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Reflection - April 22, 2018

“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep...
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.”

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Easter. All of the readings from scripture on Sundays follow a three year cycle. Typically, Year A uses mostly the Gospel of Matthew, Year B uses the Gospel of Mark and the sixth chapter of John, and Year C uses the Gospel of Luke. In the Easter Season for all three years, most of the gospel readings are from the Gospel of John, although there are some exceptions. 

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Reflection - May 27, 2018

“For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a Spirit of adoption,
through whom we cry, "Abba, Father!"
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ...”

Each of us was baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We remind ourselves of this sacramental reality every time we pray the Sign of the Cross: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, liturgically commemorating this great mystery of our faith, that there is one God in three Persons. 

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Reflection - May 6, 2018

“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you...”

When I was young, I remember asking a lot of people, but especially my mom, “What should I be when I grow up?” Her answer was always the same, “You can be whatever you want to be.” Even as a kid, I felt that was something of a non-answer. I wanted her to tell me what I should do. When pressed, over and over, she would eventually say with exasperation, “I don’t know, whatever you want!” 

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Reflection - April 15, 2018

“While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’
They gave him a piece of baked fish; 
he took it and ate it in front of them.”

Before anyone can remember, my dad’s side of the family has been consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. While last week I was able to share a sketch history of the devotion to Divine Mercy, the history of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is too complex to present here.

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Reflection - June 20, 2018

On major feast days, and today we celebrate one of the biggest-Pentecost, we have what is called a sequence before the alleluia before the reading of the Gospel. Usually sung, it is a chant or work of poetry connected theologically and biblically to the feast being celebrated. While not all were used liturgically, the sequence became a popular Catholic literary genre in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries with nearly 5000 examples. Most of the sequences were removed, however, after the Council of Trent in the Missal of Pius V in 1570. On Easter and Pentecost the singing or reciting of the sequence is mandatory, while the few other sequences are always optional.

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Reflection - April 29, 2018

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.”

So, it seems that a fruitless branch will be removed by the vine grower. Likewise, a branch that does not remain on the vine cannot bear fruit. Connection to Jesus Christ and fruitfulness are interdependent. What came first, the chicken or the egg? The evolutionary answer is the egg, but it wasn’t laid by a chicken. The theological answer here is both/and: to stay on the vine, we must bear fruit and to bear fruit, we must stay on the vine. “Remain in me, as I remain in you,” Jesus says.

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