Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sunday Gospel Reflection, October 2, 2016: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed...

 If you have faith the size of a mustard seed… 
What does it mean to have faith? 

   In Luke’s Gospel, when the apostles say to Jesus, Lord, increase our faith, Jesus responds by encouraging them them to remain open, to trust, to be confident that no matter what comes, God will help them to find a way through, even if that way isn’t what they have planned for.  If we are open, Jesus says, faith the size of a mustard seed will suffice for our every need.  But hearts open are not hearts hardened, as Psalm 95 describes them:  If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.  Like the people at Massah and Meribah, we can easily lose sight of God’s plan and so our hearts are hardened; we need confidence in the one who leads us, the one who calls us to faith and to trust, the one who calls us to remain open to his action in our lives.

   Moreover, as the Lord tells Habakkuk, God acts on God’s own schedule; the Lord’s time frame is not our own:  if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.  The Lord calls us to have patience, enough patience to wait for God’s plan to unfold.  Circumstances can seem dire, as they did to the people of Habakkuk’s time, and as they do to Timothy many years after Jesus’ death. But, as with God and Habakkuk, Paul instructs Timothy to remain open, to have trust in Jesus Christ who is behind the words that Timothy heard from Paul.  Timothy is experiencing a moment of difficulty; he is called to faith in the Lord, who has offered him as gift the spirit of love and self-control

   We all experience moments of doubt, moments when we wish that the Lord would increase our faith.  But faith is ours if we simply open ourselves to it, if we have trust in God and confidence in his love, if we live as servants from that love.  Each day God gives us strength, and the opportunity to expand upon the gifts that are ours, to allow them to grow… if only we are open to receive those gifts, open to receive the faith that allows them to flourish.

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Heal the World (Maati Baani)

  There’s a place in your heart 
And I know that it is love 
And this place could be much 
Brighter than tomorrow 
And if you really try 
You’ll find there’s no need to cry 
In this place you’ll feel  
There’s no hurt or sorrow
There are ways to get there 
If you care enough for the living 
Make a little space 
Make a better place 
Heal the world, make it a better place 
For you and for me and the entire human race 
There are people dying 
If you care enough for the living 
Make a better place for you and for me 

If you want to know why 
There’s a love that cannot lie 
Love is strong 
It only cares for joyful giving 
If we try, we shall see 
In this bliss we cannot feel fear or dread 
We stop existing and start living 
Then it feels that always 
Love’s enough for us growing 
So make a better world… 


And the dream we were conceived in 
Will reveal a joyful face 
And the world we once believed in 
Will shine again in grace 
Then why do we keep strangling life 
Wound this earth, crucify its soul 
Though it’s plain to see this world is heavenly 
Be God’s glow 
We could fly so high 
Let our spirits never die 
In my heart I feel you are all my brothers 
Create a world with no fear 
Together we’ll cry happy tears 
See the nations turn their swords into plowshares 
We could really get there 
If you cared enough for the living 
Make a little space, make a better place 


Make a better place for you and for me 
Heal the world that we live in 
Save it for our children 

To hear children from around the world 
performing this song together,  
click on the video below: 

Image source
Video source

Monday, September 26, 2016

To give without counting the cost (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

 O my God, teach me to be generous, 
teach me to serve you as I should, 
to give without counting the cost, 
to fight without fear of being wounded, 
to work without seeking rest, 
to labour without expecting any reward 
but the knowledge that I am doing your most holy will.  
--St. Ignatius of Loyola 

Image source:   
Lazarus at the Rich Man's Gate, 
Fyodor Bronnikov (1886)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Acts of comfort (Marilynne Robinson)

   At a certain level housekeeping is a regime of small kindnesses, which, taken together, make the world salubrious, savory, and warm.  I think of the acts of comfort offered and received within a household as precisely sacramental.
--Marilynne Robinson, 
When I Was a Child I Read Books 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sunday Gospel Reflection, September 25, 2016: He would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps...

   Have we lost touch with the world around us?  

   The prophet Amos certainly seems to think his community has!  In the message Amos delivers to the northern kingdom, God calls the Israelites complacent and suggests they are so self-consumed that they are dead to covenant – they don’t see the need of their brothers and sisters, but delight instead in beds of ivory, eating and drinking and living lavishly.  Their attention is not on other, but on self; they live in their own little world rather than sharing in a life created for and by all.  They represent the wicked of Psalm 146, the antithesis of all God’s goodness:  justice for the oppressed, food for the hungry, sight to the blind, protection of strangers, the fatherless, and widows.  Those who follow God’s ways, keeping faith forever, are blessed; this is what Amos’ audience must strive for:  metanoia, a return to covenant, and a renewed relationship with the world around them.

   The rich man in Luke’s Gospel has similarly rejected covenant, doing nothing to ameliorate the suffering of the poor man named Lazarus; in Jesus’ story, this division is cause for a reversal after the mens’ deaths.  While Lazarus was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham, the rich man is in torment in the netherworld, and the chasm between them is now too great to traverse.  Like the rich man, Jesus’ audience – the Pharisees – believe they have no responsibility to reach out to those around them, when in fact they should keep faith, pursuing all those values Paul speaks of to Timothyrighteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness, virtues, all, that help us to live our baptismal call in a life dedicated to neighbor, to other, gifts, in other words, that keep us firmly in touch with the world around us, ready to compete well for the faith

   To see a picture of the kind of bed of ivory Amos mentions, click here.

This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle
Sleep history website

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Novena to St. Thérèse de Lisieux

   Join the Carmelite nuns of the Carmelite Monastery of the Mother of God in San Rafael for a Novena to Saint Thérèse de Lisieux beginning this Friday, September 23, and convening every evening for Mass and prayer at 6pm until October 1st.   

   All are welcome! The Monastery is located at 530 Blackstone Drive in San Rafael.

Image source

Monday, September 19, 2016

The longed for tidal wave of justice (Seamus Heaney)

   Human beings suffer, 
they torture one another 
they get hurt and get hard. 
No poem or play or song 
can fully right the wrong 
inflicted and endured. 
The innocent in gaols  
beat on their bars together. 
A hunger-striker’s father 
stands in the graveyard dumb. 
The police widow in veils 
faints at the funeral home. 
History says, Don’t hope 
on this side of the grave. 
But then, once in a lifetime 
the longed for tidal wave 
of justice can rise up, 
and hope and history rhyme. 
So hope for a great sea-change 
on the far side of revenge. 
Believe that a further shore 
is reachable from here. 
Believe in miracles 
and cures and healing wells. 
Call the miracle self-healing: 
The utter self-revealing 
double-take of feeling, 
if there’s fire on the mountain 
or lightning and a storm 
and a god speaks from the sky. 
That means someone is hearing 
the outcry and the birth-cry 
of new life at its term. 
            It means once in a lifetime 
            That justice can rise up 
            And hope and history rhyme. 

                                         --Seamus Heaney, 
                                         Doubletake in The Cure at Troy,
his translation of Sophocles' Philoctetes         

To hear 1995 Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney 
reading this piece, click here.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Justice in the land (Pope Francis)

   Disregard for the duty to cultivate and maintain a proper relationship with my neighbor, for whose care and custody I am responsible, ruins my relationship with my own self, with others, with God and with the earth.  When all these relationships are neglected, when justice no longer dwells in the land, the Bible tells us that life itself is endangered.
--Pope Francis, Laudato Si (70)
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