Sunday, April 30, 2006

Jesus, My Companion on the Journey

I can't see the road ahead, the twists and turns it may take. I can't see what's at the end of it all. The road called Life is filled with paths that are well worn, yet some are rarely taken. The road has beautiful sites along its route, but some of it is under construction. I can't see far ahead, but I can look back and remember where I've been. And I can look beside me to see who is walking the journey with me. Sometimes the other walkers change. They take different paths. And sometimes I'm the one who walks in a different direction. But as long as I follow the road signs along the way (and even if I don't) there is always One other person on the road with me. Jesus is my Companion on the Journey.

There have been times when my sight is clouded by the fog of confusion or the rain of despair, but my steady companion remains by my side. Sometimes I've gotten caught up by staring at the distractions along the path and don't watch where I'm going. But Jesus, my Companion, clears away the stubble from my feet to keep me from falling or from tripping over them.

Sometimes people call me away from the path I've chosen saying, "This road is easier; it's clearer. Come over here." Jesus, my Companion, may let me walk that way for a while. And on that other path -when I've followed other people instead of Jesus- I get lost. The great thing about my Companion on the Journey of Life is that He never loses sight of me. He may wait for me on the right path until I find my own way back, or he may call my name and bring me back. He may even send other walkers on the journey to rescue me from the alternate route. Once I see Him again and take His hand, I feel peaceful and calm. I know He was right all along.

The main clearing, the widest route in front of me is not always the route I should be choosing. As a matter of fact, most times of my life are NOT along the well worn route. Jesus leads me along the route that He knows is the best one for me.

Sometimes it feels like He and I are the only ones on that route, but it isn't true. If I stop concentrating on myself I can see the other walkers who accompany me. He already knows who these people are. Jesus has carefully placed some of his friends along side me. He knows who I'll meet on the path He has chosen for me. Sometimes I strengthen them and many times they strengthen me. Sometimes I bring others back to the Jesus route and sometimes others call me back to the right path. It's funny. I've noticed how you can never immediately recognize these Jesus friends. They don't all look the same and they don't all act the same. But once the Son rises and the clouds leave my eyes, I can see their hearts. I see their faith and then I see Jesus in them. They all have "Jesus" hearts. When you've spent a lot of time together with someone, you begin to act and think like that person. I am very grateful for all the friends in whose lives Jesus has allowed me to share. They've brought clarity, enthusiasm and direction to my own.

I'm not much of a hiker by nature, so I need a lot of help to stay on the journey with Jesus and the friends He has placed there with me. Jesus gives me these gifts when I need them and not before. At times it is the gift of enlightenment. I may be able to see the stubble in another person's path and help them to clear it away for themselves. It may be stubble I've already been through myself that someone else has helped me through.

Sometimes Jesus gives me the gift of strong faith. I use it like a walking cane to give me support and strength. Once in a while, unfortunately not often enough, I use my hands to reach out for help and guidance when I feel weak. I have a tendency not to do that too much. The problem then becomes that no one else knows I'm feeling weak and they look to me for strength I don't feel I have. I'm learning to speak out and ask for help from Jesus and others more.

I've learned some things along this journey called life. One is that you can't really see too far ahead. I have to remind myself of this. I cannot predict the future; I need to trust. The road isn't safe and secure, it's full of surprises. But if I spend too much time looking backwards with nostalgia at what has been, I won't be able to see the gifts and new experiences in store for me. I have a tendency to want security and to know the path ahead. I have a tendency to seek sure footing. Jesus doesn't seem to want that for me. He likes roller coasters. I usually prefer something safe like a merry go round. Both rides are fun. In the long run, I guess I'd rather be on a roller coaster with Jesus than on a merry go round by myself.

Another thing I've learned on this journey called life is that I am very, very blessed. Some people call it lucky, I call myself blessed. When I look around I see people searching, empty and lonely. It's not that I don't experience periods of that myself, but they don't last a whole lifetime. So many people are looking for whatever will fill the emptiness that this life holds. I never look.
People are hurrying; they scurry around searching and running for fulfillment. I know where mine is. I'm hungry for Jesus. But all I have to do is to stop and look into His eyes. They are always there right in front of me. There isn't any greater gift than that.

I trust my Companion. I am sure that He respects me. I know that He knows me better than I know myself. I know that He challenges me to be my best self because He believes in me. I love my Companion, Jesus, and the very best gift He has given me is that He loves me right back..

I've decided that in my own life despite the twists and turns, despite the stubble and distraction, I don't want to be anywhere else with anyone else. I want to be on this road with my Jesus and I invite you to take His hand and let Him travel with you, too. But just because you've chosen the right path, don't expect that life will be easy.

No one's life is easy. But not one of us is going through it alone, even if we think we are. Imagine how difficult life would be without prayer and without Jesus! Where was my companion Jesus when I was going through hard times? He was right there beside me, crying with me or putting his arms around my shoulders to comfort me. He gives me and He gives you the strength to put one foot in front of the other. He feeds us with the Eucharist and speaks to us through the Scriptures. During that difficult time, He surrounded me with other friends like the women's prayer group who prayed over me, for me and with me. He's always gifting me.

Someday I look forward to reaching the end of this journey and being with my companion forever in eternity. For now, I'm happy and proud to have Him by my side every day down every path. He was with me along every part of my journey. Then He went ahead of me to meet me at my new job. I knew when I got there that He was waiting there for me.
I trust Jesus. He has only care for me in His plan. He loves me and it shows. My daily life, whether it is a roller coaster or a merry go round, is a journey He and I are taking together. I encourage you to ask for the strength to take His hand. Walk together with Him along the journey of your own life. It can be a very long and lonely path without Him. Wherever life leads you, remember He goes ahead and waits there for you. Jesus, your companion will prepare the path for you and prepare you for the path. Sometimes He clears it smooth for you and you don't even know He's done that. Sometimes He's standing right beside you as you struggle through your fog of confusion and your rain of despair. But never forget that He is always with you and He wouldn't want to be anywhere else

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Road to Emmaus

The Road to Emmaus

Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he wa sucked in, washed up, and blown over.
The problems began when Chippie's owner decided to clean Chippie's cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She'd barely said "hello" when - "sssoppp!". Chippie got sucked in.
The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie- still alive, but stunned.
Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do...she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air.
Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.
A few days after the trauma, the reporter who'd initially written about the event contacted Chippie's owner to see how the bird was recovering. "Well," she replied, "Chippie doesn't sing much anymore. He just sits and stares."
It's not hard to see why. Sucked in, washed up and blown over...that's enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart.
(from Eye of the Storm by Max Lucado)
Have you ever felt like Chippie? I think there have been times when each person in this room has felt sucked in, washed up and blown over. The question today is how did you handle that disappointment? What do you do with difficulties? with despair?
Let's take a look at today's Gospel reading about the 2 guys from Emmaus.
They grew up thinking a king was going to be their Savior. They had learned that, at their Synagogue. All of their oppression would be lifted when this King/Savior came into the world. Their grandparents waited for it. Their parents dreamed about it. And the 2 men hoped for it. Every day. Every single day they looked with their eyes peeled open. They needed a Savior. Too many years had gone by. Too much oppression. Years of waiting for something more. Years of longing. Have you ever felt like that?

Then Jesus comes. He's not exactly what they expected, but they followed him. They watched his miracles. They saw Jesus cure the lame, give sight to the blind. They saw Jesus bring people back to life. So the men watch Jesus attentively full of hope, full of expectation. Is he the One? Will He be our Savior/King? Will he bring us the peace we've been looking for? Will He make all of this make sense? They hoped so.
They right before their eyes, Jesus is arrested. He's charged with blaspheming. The men must have secretly thought - any minute now Jesus will be surrounded with angels who will save him. Any minute now his Father will come to rescue him from the road to Calvary. Trumpets will blare. There will be shouts of joy. They Jews will be redeemed and take their rightful place as leaders. See, the 2 men just KNEW it would happen that way. They had it all figured out. Jesus will be King - in rich, red robes, sitting on a throne. Yes, that's the way it will happen.

But it doesn't. Jesus finishes the walk to Calvary and is nailed. He doesn't come down off the Cross in a miraculous blaze of light. Jesus bleeds. He is stabbed. He drinks vinegar from a sponge. The 2 men from Emmaus must have been stunned. "No," they thought, "this isn't happening".
But it did happen. And Jesus dies. The 2 men must have waited to see if he'd come down from the Cross. But Jesus doesn't. He dies. Their hoped for King just dies. And it's all over.
How do they feel? Sad. Confused. Disappointed. Maybe angry. They wasted all that time following Jesus. They had all their hopes pinned on him. They just knew that wasn't the way it was supposed to go. Have you ever put your hopes into something or someone? Has that person disappointed you? Has that job consumed your energy? Was that car or house NOT the answer to all your dreams? If so, you might have a taste of what these men felt.

So the 2 men from Emmaus walk away. They leave their dreams behind and take their disappointment with them. And they start toward home. As they walk, they talk with each other about their despair. They say things like, "How could this happen to us? We followed him. We believed in him. We're good people. We did everything we were supposed to do. Jesus was supposed to be King. We would have been in his Army." You see, the 2 men had it all figured out. But I guess they figured wrong. You've been there, haven't you?
You've been gravely hurt by others. Some of you sitting here today are hurting now, or recently have been hurt. I can guarantee all of you will be hurt again someday. You've felt like Chippie the parakeet. Sucked in. Washed up. And blown over. You've stopped singing and just stared.
And like the 2 men, you've walked away licking your wounds. Disappointed beyond belief. You thought you had figured out how it should go... but it didn't go that way. That job didn't come. That friend betrayed you. That spouse wasn't faithful. That person didn't meet up to our expectations.
So where do you go from here? Like the 2 men from Emmaus you may walk away complaining. Maybe not just complaining- crying. You may sink into days of sadness. You may wrap yourself in a blanket of despair. Any you may just walk away. Give up on your friend, on you husband or wife. You may just give up on Jesus. Where was he? Why wasn't he what you expected him to be? Why didn't it all work out the way YOU thought it should?
The answer is -because it works out better! You see, Jesus sometimes say No to what we want and Yes to what we need. Like a good parents he'll say, " No, don't touch that flame on the stove." He sees something we don't see. We see the glow, the dancing movement. God says No because he sees more. But then we feel disappointed.

The 2 men from Emmaus were disappointed and blinded by their sadness. Jesus didn't meet their expectations so they abandoned him. What if Jesus HAD been a ruler on a throne as they had hoped? What if he did start a huge army for these 2 men to join? Just as they wanted. History would be different. We wouldn't have been saved by a King who was born in a stable and died on a Cross.
Sometimes our petitions are limited to what we can imagine to ask for. We piously ask for God's will and then pout. Our eyes are so filled with tears and disappointment that we get distracted and we can't see the person walking beside us. That's the point of this whole Gospel. Jesus was right beside them and they almost missed it. He got off the cross and came to them. Jesus met them at THEIR point of pain and healed their disappointment. Jesus had gone to hell and back to give heaven to earth. Now he was right there beside them. When these 2 men finally realized who they were breaking bread with, they were overcome with joy. It wasn't all over. It was just beginning! and the Gospel says, "They ran out to tell everyone."
Hope isn't hoping for what you expect. It's for what you'd never even dream Christ coming off the Cross to meet you where you are. Hope is zany, unpredictable dependence on a God who loves to surprise us out of our socks and our confident expectation of Him. To hope is to open your eyes and realize that Jesus is walking right beside you. To hope is to trust in the man who was born in a stable and who died on the Cross for you. To hope is not to pout but to pray, not to be sad but to sing, not to despair but to dream.
The next time you're upset, don't give up. Close your eyes, be patient and let God remind you he's still in control. And then open your eyes and look. You'll see him right beside you.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Reflection on the Joyful Mystery of the Rosary

Reflection on the Joyful Mystery of the Rosary

Think about a time when you felt glorious. Describe an exhilarating moment. Think about a time when you felt relief from a terrible burden. Can you identify with Mary?

Did you ever feel the struggle between letting go and wanting to hold on (which is to control and to be selfish)? After Jesus ascended into heaven, Mary had hope. How can you learn to hold on to hope like Mary did?

Descent of the Holy Spirit
Do you feel empowered? When you were confirmed you received the Spirit the same way Mary did on Pentecost. The Apostles and Mary then went out to all the nations and preached the Good News. How motivated are you to act on the gift you’ve already received? What else would it take? Can you name the gift you’ve received? Have you used it?

Your loved ones who have died are with Mary and Jesus in heaven. Mary says they are at peace. Do you believe that? Can you envision the scene? In heaven they are praying for you. They are with God. Have you ever felt their intercession? Are you looking forward to sharing in this joy?

Because Mary listened to God’s instructions all during her life and because she obeyed them, she was rewarded. Have you listened and obeyed well? Mary can be your Queen, your Mother, or your Role Model. Do you relate to her? Do you feel you can turn to her?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Reflection on the empty tomb

Gone. Jesus' body is not only gone but the angel said he is risen. When he stepped out of the cave tomb did he look back at the rolled away stone, throw his head back and laugh? "Father you really did it this time. That will surely get them all worked up." Then Jesus found a hidden place to wait for the women to arrive with the traditional fresh spices. While waiting he examined the holes in his hands and feet. There they were: vivid memories of the pain and torture. But those holes were also clear reminders of the degree of Jesus' love for us. He must have spent as much time as he could then in praise and worship to his Father for seeing him through to the end...and the beginning.
What thoughts did they share?
Did Jesus ask about his mother Mary?
Did the Father express his gratitude to the son for his faithful obedience?
Can you put into words how happy Jesus was?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


what topics, prayers, comments, stories are readers interested in ?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Ancient Easter vigil homily

God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for Adam, as for a lost sheep. He has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve. At the sight of him, Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror. Christ took him by the hand and raised him up, saying, "Awake O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you, but now I make them worship you. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things are open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity!"
Rejoice, all, in the Resurrection!

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Agony of Father and Son

Today is Good Friday 2006. Consider the following reflection on the Agony in the Garden
God, Our Father, you gave us the life of your only child, your Son. You must have been happy at His birth. You didn't want Him to be born in a castle. So you celebrated with angels, drummer boys and kings. We get that part of the message easily because it's a gift for us. We all like receiving special gifts. Your precious Son obeyed His parents and served them until He was finally baptized by John. At this point you HAD to burst forth! You'd been quiet the whole time. "Hey everyone, this is my son!" How fatherly an act. How proud of Him you were at that moment. Then you watched Him go about performing miracles and preaching about you. You two shared hours of prayer together quietly communicating during the middle of the night. I believe you began to show Him how it would all unfold. You both knew what was coming. And too soon, it did. You understood Judas' actions as part of the plan. You watched as Judas went to the authorities and betrayed your Son. You heard Him arrange for 30 silver pieces as payment. Your flesh and blood for 30 silver pieces. Your Son - sold.
Then your Son gathered them together for their Last Supper. Jesus sent Judas on his way. It was all beginning to unfold. Your heart began to ache as you watched your Son memorialize the offering of His body and blood in bread and wine. It would represent Him because His life on earth would be coming to an end. Your Son learned humility from you and his mother and foster father. Your heart must have been moved as He washed His disciples' feet. I guess you memorized His every movement, thinking "We need to spend some time together soon." As the supper neared the end Jesus asked his 3 good friends to go with Him to the olive garden. You knew then that soon you'd be able to comfort your Son whose own heart was beginning to feel very heavy. Jesus told the 3 to pray while He moved to a more solitary place. That's when you heard your Son's struggle. He talked with you for hours. He finally realized the physical pain His human body would have to endure. He knew the torture he'd have to go through and the rejection by His own people. Foreseeing all of that of course He'd go to His Father, his real Father. He'd go to the One who could actually do something about it. He'd go to the One who truly loved Him, who was a part of Him. Your Son went to you God and asked for mercy. "Please don't make me do this. If you say I have to then of course I will. Please tell me is isn't necessary Father." You, the perfect Dad, look at Jesus the perfect Son. You know what will happen. You know how much pain your own flesh and blood will have to endure. It must have been agony for you God. Understanding this had to happen was fairly painless in the planning stage. You both knew what needed to be done for the salvation of the world. Looking at the drops of real blood coming through Jesus' forehead like perspiration you wanted to say, "Let's forget this. No, Son, you don't have to go through this. Stop it right now." You wanted to wipe his face, hug him, pat him on the back and say, "It's ok. We don't have to do this." But, as your only Son begged for help, you remained silent. You did NOT rescue Him. It was your agony, too.
Father and Son both suffered in that garden because of my sins. Because you loved me more than I deserve to be loved. Because you knew it was the only way for sins to be forgiven and eternal happiness to be available to all.
God I cannot fathom that much love. I can only respond by trying to live a more grateful life.

Friday, April 07, 2006

letter to you from Jesus

My dear friends,
Before all of you were born, I knew we would be sharing this evening together. I've been waiting for this moment for a long time and I am so happy that it is finally happening. There are so many things I have wanted to tell you about my love for you. I needed this moment to gather you all together so I could have your full attention. Please listen to what I have to say to you. I have asked my Father, the Holy Spirit and many of my angels to be in this room with me to help you understand my message. I want to speak to your heart and to your heart alone. I am waiting at the entrance to your heart. I am at the door. It is up to you to let Me in.
Can you remember the time you took your first two steps? I can because I was with you. Oh, you were scared all right. With your baby way of thinking it was much safer to crawl than to try to walk. It was a lot faster, too. When you crawled, you could visit every room in your house. But trying to get to one place from another on just two could you manage such a stupendous achievement? And what if you fall down and break your nose? And what if your family laughs at your clumsiness? And what if you never learn to do it right? Such was the beginning of your fears, remember? Even so--even with all those anxieties hovering over you--you set your face steadfastly toward the arms that were waiting for you and you mastered the most difficult art of walking on your own two legs. See how well it turned out! You still know how to do it! Aren't you glad you trusted life? Aren't you glad you tried--even though you were frightened at the same time?
Then came other challenges. Can you remember how you met them? Do you remember the people I sent into your life to help you? Think about all of the good things that have happened to you. It is the story of your life at its best.
There were other times too. No one in all of creation has ever said life would be fair. I know and I understand and I still feel what it's like when your world turns against you. In the Garden of Gethsemane, everyone turned against me that night. Everyone. All of my followers left me and ran away. Peter did exactly what he said he wouldn't do. I called Judas, friend, when he approached Me.
That night, I looked to my friends, and my friends did not look back. Where there is opportunity for love, there is opportunity for hurt. I know you have been hurt. That's why I so deeply desire to speak to your heart tonight. I love you more than you will ever understand on this earth. Your mind and your heart cannot contain the depth of my love for you. Please believe me, I love you. I chose to die for you because I love you. I was surrounded by enemies and betrayed by friends, because I love you. I was abandoned on this earth because I love you. Are you slowly beginning to understand when I say to you, I love you? All I ask is that you love me too. I want you to keep your eyes on me when all of earth begins to turn against you. My father's loyalty to me is my Father's loyalty to you. When all of earth turns against you, all of heaven turns toward you. You are not walking alone. I promised you that I would always be with you. Stand on that promise. I have given you myself in the Eucharist. Please allow me to enter your heart. I left you my body and my blood. It is my most precious gift to you. Please do not reject me again. I want to live within you and help you to trust me and have confidence in me. You cannot do that on your own. I am here to help you. I am begging you to love me. There is nothing more that I can do. It is your choice to put me first in your life. And until you make that decision, I will wait and I will wait. And my friend, I will never stop loving you...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Litany of Humility of Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being appreciated, deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of suffering retaliation, deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being ignored, deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being misjudged, deliver me, Jesus

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.