July 31, 2020

All Our Utensils and Goods as Sacred Vessels of the Altar

Matthew 13:54-58 for Friday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time


For nearly all of Christ’s earthly lifespan, he kept his secret from the townsfolk of Nazareth.

From boyhood he had joined them in the synagogue every Sabbath.

He had kept the holy days with them year after year.

They seem not to have known him as one of a kind with the untold wisdom and wonderworking might of the greatest of prophets until he began to preach and work throughout the land when he was about thirty.

And then Nazareth only disbelieved and spurned him.

So, as the Gospel says, he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.

Not many mighty deeds— perhaps only a few— not enough to stir Nazareth to awe.

Anyway, he did not use miracles to that end.

Nazareth turned its back on the prophetic wisdom and might of Christ, just because he was too familiar and too ordinary until now.

Nazareth was blind, thickheaded and stubborn.

We risk being the same whenever we turn away from God in ordinary and familiar things.

Saint Benedict wanted monks to stay mindful of holiness in the most ordinary work and familiar things of daily life.

He wrote [Rule 31:10-11] that a monk is to:

regard all utensils and goods of the monastery as sacred vessels of the altar.

Nothing is to be neglected.

Monks are to seek and serve God in the ordinariness, familiarity and routine of the monastery.

Similarly, God chose to be really present in the ordinariness, familiarity and routine of Nazareth for at least nine tenths of his earthly lifespan.

In a similar way, here at Mass in the ordinariness of eating and drinking, God is really present.

God, his wisdom and mighty works are really present in his Eucharistic Body and Blood, not hitting us over the head with showy miracles, but nonetheless expecting our faith, both here and in the ordinary things of our daily lives.

With Saint Benedict [Rule 57:9] we must say and seek that God be glorified in all things— all things great and small.


Turn. Love. Repeat.


July 25, 2020

God Sees Us as Buried Treasure and Pearls of Great Price

For the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today in his Gospel, Christ gives four short teaching parables about the kingdom of heaven.

Altogether, these teachings uphold paradoxically that the kingdom of heaven is hidden, personal, stored away and intimate, but also public and worldwide.

Throughout the paradox, Christ makes clear the kingdom of heaven is worth more for us than anything else, but we could lose it.

He says a stark, ugly thing: that at the end of time the angels are to separate the wicked from the righteous, and What is bad they THROW AWAY, they throw them into the fiery furnace.

None of us wants to end up a THROWAWAY for burning.

So then, what is it to seek the pearl of great price, how do we get into the kingdom of heaven, and what will we find there?

God gives answers in today’s second reading.

We know that all things WORK for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also GLORIFIED.
to be conformed to the image of his Son.

GLORIFIED: overtaken and overfilled with beauty, truth, joy, peace, life, fulfillment, unity, goodness!

Glorified without end in the kingdom of heaven!

That is what God wants for us.

We settle for less if we never get around to what God wants for us.

Even though the Word of the Lord says all things WORK for good for those who love God, we must ask ourselves if WE WORK with all things for our own good, for the glory of heaven, for love of God.

Today in his Gospel he tells us to work for the kingdom of heaven like one who happily sells all he has so he can buy a field that holds a buried treasure.

Selling all to buy a field with a secret buried treasure— that’s just what God did in Christ.

God the Son sold his life unto the cross, so that he could buy the field of the resurrection and dig out of it a buried treasure:  the buried treasure of OUR humanity that in Christ rose again ... ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

For God, EACH OF US is a buried treasure and a pearl of great price.

From the tomb, God in Christ has called, justified and glorified our humanity:  our joy, our mind, our will, our body and blood.

The Lord gives us the choice to work by his side.

The Lord God calls us to the work, and leaves it to us to answer or not.

those he CALLED he also justified; and ... also glorified.

He also CALLED King Solomon, as we heard in the first reading.

God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”
Solomon answered:
“.... Give your servant ... understanding ...
to judge ... and to distinguish right from wrong.”

So God gave him a heart so wise and understanding to know what is right.

That is the virtue— including the natural, human virtue— of prudence.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church [par. 1835] upholds that prudence is using even our natural practical reason to discern, in every circumstance, our true good and to choose the right means for achieving it.

The virtue of prudence STEERS all other virtues.

So, Solomon as a KING— a STEERSMAN of a kingdom— did most well to ask God for understanding, wisdom or prudence.

God gave it to him.

However, in Christ, God gives us much greater than Solomon [Mt. 12:42].

God gives us his own wisdom and glory to eat and drink in the Body and Blood of Christ so that his wisdom and glory become ours.

To choose this treasure is to choose responsibility for it.

What shall we do with it?

Each of us— inside the kingdom of one’s own life— needs to do what the angels will do for the kingdom of heaven at the end of time as Christ tells it in today’s Gospel.

Each one of us needs to throw a net deeply into the sea of one’s life and collect everything.

One needs to haul ashore the net of one’s life, sit down, and pick through it.

With understanding, wisdom, prudence, one needs to work to find out what is good and keep it.

One needs to work to find out also what is bad and throw it away.

If we do not begin any of that work, then we are already throwing away the powerful treasure of glory we receive in the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ.

Then, in the end, OUR OWN CHOICES make us into THROWAWAYS.

As we choose to treat the kingdom of heaven, so we choose to treat ourselves.

Heaven and its king want you and me.

He wants to glorify you.

He wants to justify you.

God calls you.

What is your answer, and does it show up in the way you choose to live?

Turn. Love. Repeat.

July 23, 2020

The Conversion and Healing of Our Ears, Eyes and Hearts

Matthew 13:10-17 for Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

In saying why he spoke to the crowds in parables Christ told of those who shall indeed hear but not understand, and who shall indeed look but never see.

Christ would rather that they hear, see and that they understand with their hearts.

For the Biblical Hebrew, the heart is the home of all feeling, thinking and willing— the whole of the interior life.

Some who heard Christ had shut their feelings, thoughts and wills to what his parables held and offered.

St. Benedict wrote that our feeling, thinking and willing hearts must be schooled and learn to stay open, so that we may always hear and understand, look and see, not only now but also in the life to come.

St. Benedict called the school of the Lord’s service a school for the heart.

Listen carefully to the master’s instructions,
and attend to them with the ear of your heart.
Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God,
and our ears to the voice from heaven
that every day calls out this charge:
“If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.”

St. Benedict said the road leading to salvation is bound to be narrow at the outset.

But he promised that as we progress in a holy way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, with our hearts OVERFLOWING with the unspeakable delight of love.

We have a living, life-giving parable of a heart OVERFLOWING in the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ.

In the sacramental parable of the altar our eyes look upon bread and wine.

But faith lets us see and understand that the Lord’s Body and Blood are really present— given up and poured out, overflowing with the unspeakable delight of love for his Father and for us.

Christ makes himself into our communion and our share in the life to come.

He blesses us in giving his Eucharistic Body and Blood.

Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

In the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ, blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.

We see, hear, eat and drink the new and eternal covenant ... for the forgiveness of sins, as we hear Christ say at every Mass.

And so his Eucharist challenges his disciples, just as his parables challenged the crowd: that they understand with their hearts and be converted and I heal them.

Turn. Love. Repeat.

July 18, 2020

I Am the Wheat of Christ

Pixabay / Public Domain.

Matthew 13:24-43 for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Inside each of us are seeds and weeds of sin.

However, God tells us, the Church tells us and our faith tells us that in baptism God with his own almighty hand and eternal Spirit has planted within each of us the seeds of righteousness, holiness and much more.

By baptism and the Holy Spirit, God has planted his own Son within us and has planted us in his Son.

God has planted deep within our being his own power, divinity, light, truth, life and glory.

Each of us is a field of God.

Each of us an offspring of our heavenly Father.

We may trust that God himself will dig and plant, water us and weed out the causes of sin, whether now or in a future purgation.

Here at Mass, at this moment, we are inside God’s house where right now God is busy at work.

The Greek word liturgy refers to WORK for PEOPLE.

Liturgy is God’s work for his people.

Here in the Eucharistic Liturgy, God is at work planting and gathering among his sons and daughters.

Its words come from parts of an ancient writing [the Didache] from less than one hundred years after the Son of God fell like a grain of wheat into the earth, died and then sprouted from the earth in his everlasting resurrection.

The hymn voices a rightful sense of hope and confidence that we dare to call our own, as well as a sense of thankfulness that can enliven our faith.

Father, we thank thee who hast planted
Thy holy Name within our hearts.
Knowledge and faith and life immortal
Jesus thy Son to us imparts.
Thou, Lord, didst make all for thy pleasure,
Didst give man food for all his days.
Giving in Christ the Bread eternal,
Thine is the power, be thine the praise.
Watch o’er thy Church, O Lord, in mercy,
Save it from evil, guard it still,
Perfect it in thy love, unite it,
Cleansed and conformed unto thy will.
As grain, once scattered on the hillsides,
Was in this broken bread made one,
So from all lands thy Church be gathered
Into thy kingdom by thy Son.

Turn. Love. Repeat.

July 15, 2020

Christlike Maturity in Childlike Openness

Pixabay / Public Domain.

Matthew 11:25-27 for Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 15, the Memorial of Saint Bonaventure

Today’s Gospel shows Christ giving thanks to his Father that the childlike have received knowledge of the Father and of the Son who shows the Father to them.

The childlike of the Gospel are open for and keen on what God offers.

God chooses to let them know him.

He shapes them into living signs of himself.

The Son of God became a man of flesh and blood who HAS the deepest and truest KNOWLEDGE of the Father, and IS the deepest and truest living SIGN of the Father.

Christ is the man fully open to the Father, and he truly shows us the Father.

From Christ we can receive all the depth, reality and knowledge of God.

He says it in his Gospel today: ALL THINGS have been handed over to ME by my FATHER.

Christ is OPEN ALL THE WAY to everything his Father gives him.

You and I, because we are sinners, are not yet fully open to the Father.

Christ the Son of God, Christ a man of flesh and blood, Christ the sinless one, is the only man who HAS all knowledge of the Father, and IS all knowledge of the Father: no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.

God gives all of himself to us by way of his Son in his Body and Blood.

In the Body and Blood of Christ, God gives himself to us, and opens himself to us.

 Through the Body and Blood of Christ, God the Spirit pours upon us, into us, cleanses, saves, restores, fulfills, hallows and glorifies us as signs, images and likenesses of God.

To do this for us God gives his all.

To take in that gift, we need to turn our backs on sin, turn our faces to God, becoming childlike before him, opening and offering ourselves to him in lowliness and truth.

That childlike openness comes through in the teachings of Saint Bonaventure.

In writing his “Journey of the Mind to God,” Bonaventure told the ways of those whom today’s Gospel calls childlike.

Calling to mind some of Saint Bonaventure’s words about childlike openness to God, let us take these words to heart, namely: full attention... surrender... longing of the will... prayer.

Turn. Love. Repeat.

July 11, 2020

God’s Lips and Your Ears

“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

A twist on that saying today could be, “Read my lips!”

In his parables about the kingdom of heaven, Christ tells us how the kingdom comes about among us now and how it shall come in its fullness at the end of time.

Today in his Gospel he tells a parable about seed that is the word of the kingdom sown upon the soil of our human hearts.

Each of us does best to make ready a heart of deep, rich soil, clearing it of weeds and rocks, so that the word of the kingdom can bear fruit in us “a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold” as he says.

Let us note that the sowing of the seed that is the word of the kingdom is a work God in his graciousness does for us.

However, we can and must do the work of readying the soil of our hearts so that it is deep, rich, and free of weeds and rocks.

The work of getting ready is something anyone, even a pagan, can do without the grace of God.

The Church calls that the work of the natural or human virtues. [See 1804 in the Catechism of the CatholicChurch.]

Without working these natural, human virtues, we fail to be ready to work with the supernatural virtues that come from God in his graciousness; we are not doing our part wholeheartedly, even though God does his.

We might take part regularly in Mass and the sacrament of Penance, we might pray regularly, and daily read Scripture and our lives alongside each other, but find ourselves in a spiritual rut.

If that is the lay of the land for us, then we do well to look at the nature of our land, the soil of our lives.

Do we know what the natural, human virtues are that clear out the weeds, the rocks, and ready us to be deep rich soil?

Four of the natural, human virtues make up the key, the heart, the kernel, the marrow, or the hinge— crucial, pivotal, cardinal.

The four are Prudence, Justice, Courage or Fortitude, and Self-Control or Temperance.

Those are the “Cardinal Virtues”— natural and human, and anyone can work them, even a pagan who knows nothing of the Word of God, the Church, or baptism.

We who are baptized in Christ can ask ourselves if we do what even a good pagan can do.

If we do not, then we are wasting the graciousness of God, even here in the Eucharist.

Read God’s lips!

“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Turn. Love. Repeat.

July 09, 2020

Christians Can Be Losers Needing to Pray “Thy Kingdom Come ... Deliver Us from Evil”

Pixabay / Public Domain.

Christ commanded his Apostles to go and proclaim: The Kingdom of heaven is AT HAND.

He commanded them also to work the SIGNS of the Kingdom: Cure the sick, raise the dead ... drive out demons.

The Kingdom of heaven is AT HAND and is to hold winning, healing, saving sway over the world of both flesh and spirit.

And yet Christ also told his Apostles NOT to expect to win.

He told them today:

Whoever will NOT receive you or listen to your words—
GO OUTSIDE that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.

By the measure of mere men, Christ died a lawbreaking LOSER on a cross, despite his proclaiming that the Kingdom of heaven is AT HAND, despite his curing the sick, raising the dead and driving out demons.

And then when he rose from the dead, he did NOT go and show off in his killers’ faces that he was The Real Winner.

Furthermore, he would not let his Apostles think that they would see the Kingdom of heaven win at last on earth even though they saw him raised from the dead.

When the hour came for him to ascend into heaven in their sight, they asked him if it was THEIR turn to be winners now: Lord, are you at THIS time going to restore the kingdom to ISRAEL? [Acts 1:6]

No, for he answered: It is NOT for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. [Acts 1:7]

Then he said his last words before going into heaven in their sight: you will be my witnesses ... to the ends of the earth. [Acts 1:8]

They would be witnesses OF and LIKE Christ, all but one of them DYING as LOSERS in the eyes of the men of the kingdoms of EARTH.

And so, as for the Kingdom of HEAVEN, we will not see our own full and everlasting WIN over all sickness, death and demons until Christ the King returns on the day of judgment.

Here in his Eucharistic Body and Blood, we are to eat and drink a share of oneness not only with his Resurrection, Ascension and Return, but also a share of oneness with his SUFFERING AND DEATH.

So we pray our Father in heaven: thy Kingdom come ... lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

We pray also as the Roman Missal has the priest pray quietly moments before he consumes the Eucharist:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God,
who by the will of the Father
and the work of the Holy Spirit,
through your Death gave life to the world,
free me by this, your most holy Body and Blood,
from all my sins and from every evil;
keep me always faithful to your commandments,
and never let me be parted from you.

Turn. Love. Repeat.

July 04, 2020

The Yoke of Being Free, Brave and Always Faithful

Pixabay / Public Domain.

For the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today in the Gospel we hear that the Father and the Son choose to reveal themselves to the little, but choose to hide themselves from those who are great merely in worldly wisdom and learning.

Then we hear Jesus offer rest and ease to all who labor and are burdened.

However, the Gospel opened today with the words, “AT THAT TIME Jesus exclaimed....

At that time”— at the time he had just finished bewailing and boding unbearable, deadly woe on those who saw his mighty miracles but chose not to turn to God.

So, today’s Gospel of rest and ease is half of a picture.

In the end the whole picture is that Jesus sorely wants and warns us to make a free choice between the black and white either of living or of dying.

For more than two hundred years, our nation has chosen to be free.

Freedom and its choices have consequences, and the consequences are everlasting.

In today’s second reading God tells us the everlasting end of all freedoms and choices.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will DIE, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will LIVE.

The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his SPIRIT that dwells in you.

By the power of the Spirit dwelling in us, we have a choice to make either to be raised body and soul from the dead or to be lost because of sin.

The Spirit is the Lord and Giver of Life, as we profess every Sunday in the Creed at Mass.

For the Spirit to dwell in us, we must turn away from sin and its deadliness, and we must open up to God.

That is what Jesus commands three times and three ways in his Gospel today:

COME to me

TAKE my yoke upon you

LEARN from me

COME, TAKE, LEARN— three times and three ways he commands us to turn and open up with the same willing Spirit of meekness and humility that he, Jesus, has towards the Father.

If we freely choose to do and be as Jesus, then gradually— but one day fully and forever— we will share the inheritance of Jesus, and we will be able to say of ourselves what Jesus says of himself today in his Gospel: ALL THINGS HAVE BEEN HANDED OVER TO ME BY MY FATHER.

The promise of our inheritance— with its down payment and foretaste— gives itself up for us and pours itself out for us in Christ, in the meekness and humility of his Eucharistic Body and Blood.

The New, Everlasting Covenant in the Blood of Christ promises, gives and is our ransom from sin.

We must COME, TAKE, and LEARN to receive the Eucharist with the Spirit of Christ’s own meekness and humility: learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.

Honesty about ourselves as we stand before the Spirit of God will open our hearts to meekness and humility.

As the word of God puts it today in the second reading: Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Before turning to the Eucharist, we must turn away from sin and open ourselves in the Spirit, as Christ is open in the Spirit.

COME to me

TAKE my yoke upon you

LEARN from me

COME, TAKE, and LEARN that, in the power of the Spirit, Christ freely chose to open, to give up himself bodily, and to shed his lifeblood both to atone for sinners and to glorify the Father.

The many sinners who repent and believe are rejoined to the Father in the death and resurrection of Christ.

By the cost and glory of his death and resurrection, Christ makes E PLURIBUS UNUM— “one out of the many” who were estranged in sin.

Jesus is service in person— service of the Father, service of humanity— service in person.

As service in person, in his Eucharist, he tells us to do and be the same in memory of him.

If we FREELY CHOOSE to come to the Eucharist, if we FREELY CHOOSE to take its yoke upon us, if we FREELY CHOOSE to learn from its meekness and humility, then by God’s FREE CHOICE we will rest, by God’s FREE CHOICE we will rise, and by God’s FREE CHOICE even our bodies shall rejoice forever.

When a priest is about to show and consume the Eucharist, he first quietly says the following prayer.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God,
who, by the will of the Father and the work of the Holy Spirit,
through your Death gave life to the world,
free me by this, your most holy Body and Blood,
from all my sins and from every evil;
and never let me be parted from you.


With our free choice to turn away from sin, with our free choice to open up to God in meekness and humility, with our free choice to remain always faithful, God chooses to take us into the joy of the new heavens and the new earth, the true land of the free, the true home of the brave.

Turn. Love. Repeat.

One Nation Under God? Maybe Not. There Is a Test.

Truer Than the Red, White and Blue

“When the Son of man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
then he will sit on his glorious throne.
Before him will be gathered all the NATIONS,
and he will separate them one from another
as a shepherd separates the SHEEP from the GOATS,
and he will place the SHEEP at his right hand,
but the GOATS at the left.
Then the King will say to those at his right hand,
‘Come, O BLESSED of my FATHER,
inherit the KINGDOM prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
for I was hungry and YOU GAVE ME FOOD,
I was thirsty and YOU GAVE ME DRINK,
I was a stranger and YOU WELCOMED ME,
I was naked and YOU CLOTHED ME,
I was sick and YOU VISITED ME,
I was in prison and YOU CAME TO ME.
Truly, I say to you,
Then he will say to those at his left hand,
‘Depart from me, you CURSED,
into the ETERNAL FIRE prepared for the DEVIL and his angels;
for I was hungry and YOU GAVE ME NO FOOD,
I was thirsty and YOU GAVE ME NO DRINK,
I was a stranger and YOU DID NOT WELCOME ME,
sick and in prison and YOU DID NOT VISIT ME.’
Truly, I say to you,
And they will go away into ETERNAL PUNISHMENT,
but the righteous into ETERNAL LIFE.”

Let your deeds show that you pledge allegiance to those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, in prison and to the King for whom they stand, one Christ Jesus, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Turn. Love. Repeat.
Turn. Love. Repeat.