Posts tagged: gift

Jesus Loves His Friends

By , April 5, 2014 4:48 am

April 6th, Fifth Sunday of Lent

Oh, today’s Gospel! This is one of my favorite texts in the entire bible whether you are talking about Old or New Testaments. Today’s Gospel excerpt is drawn from the 11th chapter of St. John’s Gospel and for me it is wonderfully meaningful. The whole thrust of this Gospel is John, communicating to the first generation of the life of the Church, his memory what Jesus revealed about himself.

Sometimes our Lord communicated with words and other times just extraordinary actions. Today I am making reference to what I consider a wonderful extraordinary aspect of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. That is the fact that he was a MAN.
Members of the Christian community always recognize that Jesus is God dealing with us through a human nature. We know that. We believe that. But can we get our arms around it? Can our limited brains really grasp the awesome reality that within this Jewish carpenter from Nazareth the Godhead dwelt?

Well, today’s text really helps us to go in that direction. You know the story so well. Jesus goes to visit his friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus but on arriving, he is told that Lazarus died several days before. The text says that he was “troubled in spirit, moved by the deepest emotions” and then listen to this, he began to WEEP!

Did we all catch that? Jesus of Nazareth is weeping. This Divine Presence is torn by emotions, saddened and filled with a sense of loss. Can we really grasp that? I think the principle underlying the scene is that Lazarus was a friend of Jesus. Jesus liked him. Jesus was crushed on learning of Lazarus’ death. I like to transfer that concept to the rest of us. Yes, we are followers of Jesus, yes, we believe in him, but do we really see him as our friend? What a gift.

If we live a good life and if we do the things I just mentioned, we are his friends. Would your acquaintances be impressed if you were at a meeting and they announced that the president of the United States has called for you and has asked you to return the call? Would it seem important to you if it were only the governor or the mayor? My friends, if we are living a good life, we are the friends of Jesus. There is nothing better than that.

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The Reality of Christmas

By , December 18, 2013 5:56 am


As we prepare to once again celebrate the magnificent feast of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, our minds and hearts instinctively go out to those who are closest to us. But because faith in Jesus generates generosity, most people reach far beyond the confines of their own personal interests and endeavor to bring aid, help, encouragement and, most of all, hope to those who are vulnerable and lacking in necessities.

Since we should not limit ourselves simply to material gifts, I think we should look deeply into the great mystery of the Nativity and see far more than we usually do. This central event in human history is God coming to us, giving us Himself, joining us and lifting us through Jesus to God the Father.
In my opinion, Christmas should make us more conscious of wanting to share our faith. We have the faith. It gives us hope and joy. Now those are really wonderful gifts to be shared. Shouldn’t we try to do that?

I think that I am naturally optimistic but I try to live in the real world and occasionally I see things about the Church that really saddens me. I have been saddened by the tragic decline in missionary interest in our beloved Church over the last 30 or 40 years. I am very hopeful that the leadership of Pope Francis is going to change that. He infuses joy in every direction and I think that this joy will transfer in the rest of our lives to wanting to rekindle the missionary fire that needs to burn within us.

Those words, “Go out into the whole world and preach the Gospel in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria and even to the ends of the earth and beyond…I will be with you always,” should be a challenge ringing in our ears.

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My Baptism – I Don’t Think About It Enough!

By , September 17, 2013 5:36 am

Americans love to celebrate birthdays. It certainly provides opportunities for parties for small children although some of the older of us would just as soon skip the date for another year. But for the followers of Jesus is the date of our physical birth the most important in our story? I think not. My thoughts immediately turn to baptism, that date in time in which little baby John received the extraordinary honor of being made the adopted brother of Jesus of Nazareth. By that same act I was bonded far more with my siblings than by the awesome tie of blood. We are one in the Lord.
Actually, as I got to thinking about it the date back in July of 1930 that baptism would unite me with Pope Francis. He came along a few years after I did and about 8,000 miles to the southeast.

When you have faith, baptism is awesome. It binds us together in Jesus and invites us to a life of goodness and generosity. In our baptism we are joined to Jesus of Nazareth and invited to share in the Church’s commitment to a good life and a better world. But if the truth were known I don’t think about baptism nearly enough. Maybe on the basis of writing these words I will improve on that situation. Sitting at my desk in Austin, Texas, I realize more clearly now than I did 15 minutes ago that Jesus really is my brother.

I had three brothers originally but they have all gone ahead of me to God. I do not experience any sense of aloneness or isolation because Jesus is with me as I write this and he is truly my brother. What a wonderful thing to be able to say.
On June 21, 1930, my baptism was an important event but it is an event that should be affecting me today. Today is September 17th. Have I treated the people I have been dealing with today any better because Jesus is my brother and theirs? When I am attacked or criticized for something of which I am accused am I able to be buoyed up because despite their opinions Jesus loves me for what I am? It is fascinating that beautiful ceremony nearly 84 years ago is still active in my life, is still a force for good and challenges me to be more clearly conscious of it and allow its force to draw me on towards an eternity with God and his people.

Baptism is an awesome gift. How blessed are we who have received it.

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June 2nd, The Feast of Corpus Christi

By , June 1, 2013 4:29 am

Today is a beautiful, joyous and important day in the liturgical life of the Church. Today we celebrate the gift of the Eucharist itself. Of course, every time we go to Mass we celebrate the reality of the Eucharist, but today the Church turns a very bright light on this awesome gift and urges us to think clearly about the reality before us, to not have our faith blurred by habit, but rather to concentrate on what Jesus did and is doing to his followers.
The theme that runs through the three texts is bread. Bread in one form or another is the most common staple food utilized across the world and throughout history. Bread is the very symbol of sustenance and life. The first reading presents us with that intriguing picture of the King of Salem coming out to meet Abraham and offering bread and wine as a gift to the Most High God. Christian tradition has utilized this text as some type of prefiguring the Christian celebration of the Eucharist and that leads us to the second reading.
The second reading is absolutely one of the most important texts for Christians in the entire Bible. It is from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians where he clearly describes the institution of the Eucharist, the Body of Christ, Corpus Christi. Let’s look at the words again.
Brothers and sisters:
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
Does he love us? Infinitely. Is he with us? Eternally.

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Happy Mother’s Day (the Celebration Continues)

By , May 13, 2013 4:21 am

Bene Grimes with her granddaughters

What did you do for her? What did you give to her? A better question is, are each of us conscious of what she has given to us and done for us? I am, of course, referring to that wonderful celebration that took place yesterday in the majority of homes in our country, when children and grandchildren and extended families turned our thoughts and attentions to our mothers. The answer to the first two questions are not too important, but that we have a clear and complete understanding of the second part makes all the difference in the world. She has given us LIFE. Just a four letter word, isn’t it? But it means everything.
Every aspect of your existence is completely meaningless if separated from the fact that you, a distinct individual, have been given the gift of life by that all important woman.
Most of us have received blessings beyond measure as we have lived out our years, but nothing compares to that single blessing: our being, our existence, our presence, our future happiness- all are wrapped up in that gift!
What did she give to us? Well, it has changed over the years. She had an awesome presence in our childhood. She was there when we were most vulnerable, and she guided us through those incredible early chapters of human development. The three year old afraid of the barking dog. The five year old who ultimately walked alone into a strange and threatening world called kindergarten. The exuberance and tension that marked all our lives as we entered puberty. Finally, she did what a wonderful mother has to do ultimately, she let us go! Those of us who are adults have been on our own for awhile. If we had any degree of developing a full, good and generous life, we can thank HER- our mother!
It’s may seem obvious that I have been speaking about our natural mothers, but we have also been so blessed to have within our midst countless mothers who emptied themselves with love for adopted children that they have raised.
May God bless your mother and all mothers across the planet. Happy Mothers Day!

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Feast of the Epiphany

By , January 6, 2013 6:57 am

Feast of the Epiphany, January 6th
Today is one of the great feast days of the Catholic Church. It is the wonderful feast of the Epiphany. Symbolically, Jesus is presented and unveiled to the entire world. That world is symbolized by these mysterious characters coming from the East. In tradition, they have been called “kings”, “magi”, “soothsayers,” and a half dozen other titles. What is important for us is that strangers from afar were mysteriously directed by God to Bethlehem where Mary and Joseph were taking care of a newborn infant. That infant was no one other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.I think you can be sure that the kings (let’s call them kings for our purposes) were tired. Not only had they come a long way but they were slowed down a little bit by King Herod who was somewhat nonplussed by the idea that they were looking for a newborn king. Herod always considered that one king, himself, was quite enough.
The important symbol of the story is the adoration that these mysterious men present to the newborn child and the fact that they brought the best that they could of their own possessions to present to him, reflecting adoration and homage. For our secular culture, Christmas is long gone. After all, that was last year, wasn’t it? All of us are trying hard to remember the new resolutions that we made, of our commitment to improve this or that aspect of our temperament and personality, but don’t let me forget the kings. Remember, they are presenting two things – adoration and gifts coming from themselves.
The number of kings viewing this blog is rather limited but anybody reading this today is called to adoration and homage. What do we give our Savior that we honored so completely just two weeks ago? The answer is simple. It is the same things that were given at the first Epiphany. We need to recognize the divinity of the second person of the Blessed Trinity, present and working through the human nature of Jesus of Nazareth. We need to worship him, to remind ourselves that he is Lord of all creation and then to give him something that we value ourselves.
What should that be? A little more patience with the difficult people working with us on the job? An extra large check to the retired sisters funds? (National Religious Retirement Office/CW, 3211 Fourth Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194) To make a weekly trip to see a friend who is locked up in long-term illness? Whatever the gift you choose it will be appreciated by the Lord. It will be accepted with divine gratitude.

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By , July 17, 2012 4:42 am


Several times over the last few weeks, I have talked very briefly about the beauty to be seen in the celebration of the Sacraments. Catholics know that the seven Sacraments are the central structure of our faith since each one of them brings us into closer touch with Jesus of Nazareth. However, we don’t necessarily see them as gifts in our lives that really do reflect beauty. I started at the end by touching on the Last Anointing or Extreme Unction. I have also said the same thing about Baptism. When each of these ceremonies are carried out properly, they not only achieve their purpose, they achieve it in a way that is quite pleasing to the eye. Now let’s talk about Confirmation.

Like the other Sacraments, Confirmation is filled with symbolism. We receive it but one time in our lifetime and ordinarily we receive it, not in isolation, but in a communal context celebrating our position within the community of faith. This is seen first when those being confirmed are put together in sizable groups and secondly, the larger community of the parish really comes out to join the celebration. In baptism, our parents and godparents speak for us because usually infants are baptized. However, in Confirmation, the person being confirmed speaks for himself or herself. She has come of age, she has studied her holy faith and she is prepared to solidify or to confirm the commitment made for her in baptism. Now the young people do it for themselves.

Each person being confirmed is already a member of its own proper family, but with baptism and First Communion that person very visibly joins the larger faith community, the essential organizational component of the Universal Church, namely the Diocese. Dioceses have very specific boundaries and are headed by a single shepherd, the bishop. In Confirmation, those being confirmed come to the parish church to meet their shepherd and, after questioning them about the clarity of their thinking and their determination to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, he confirms their faith by a holy anointing. The holy oil that is used for that anointing is itself a symbol of ties to the Diocese. The oil was blessed by the bishop at the Cathedral Church during Holy Week and then was divided among all the parishes of the Diocese. Once again, it symbolizes our unity through the bishop with the whole local Church; in this instance, the Diocese of Austin, the Church in Central Texas.

And so the spiritual journey continues. The child is born into its natural family, elevated to membership in the spiritual family, the community of faith which is the Church, and after a certain amount of maturing, that faith is confirmed by the chief shepherd of the local Church, the bishop. No one is isolated in the Church. Through the Sacraments, we are united to Jesus and, through those same Sacraments, united to those who share our faith. These are beautiful milestones on our way to our eternal destiny. Happily, none of us go alone.

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In Memory Of…Our Memories

By , July 5, 2012 5:43 am

Dementia can mean many things, but mainly refers to loss of memory. Do you ever think about the fact that you never hear kids in their twenties complaining about their memory? The reason is easy- their’s works! But get around a group of people in their later decades, and you’ll find a non-stop bemoaning of memory loss, or at least memory weakening. The difference between the two groups is that as long as this gift is working, we take it for granted. Once it ceases to work perfectly, we immediately begin to pay the price.

Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you said Wednesday…

And most of all, where are the car keys?

Memory is an awesome gift that enables us to function day by day with minimum tension and fewer mistakes.        
 Let’s try to remember to thank God for it, and pray for those suffering from memory loss as well as all those who care for them!

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Here They Come Again

By , May 9, 2012 4:12 am

A powerful coalition is trying to undermine both the both the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency. Thanks be to God, there are thoughtful leaders who are fighting for our health and future. Last December, Representative Henry Waxman released a list of 191 anti-environmental votes taken by Congress in 2011. Seventy-seven targeted the Clean Air Act and 114 were aimed at the Environmental Protection Agency.

What is driving these destructive forces? Concern for profits, of course, is on the table and obvious to everyone but many of them are in error about the costs. Just look at the benefits from one environmental regulation, the new Mercury and Air Toxic Standards. This Act is estimated to create 100,000 new jobs by 2015 including 80,500 from investments in pollution abatement and control. We should not be discouraged in this struggle. The opposition have extraordinary resources. They have the money and the lawyers but the laws and the facts are on the side of environment and good health.

All of creation is a gift from God and, of course, for us this most especially concerns this battered planet Earth. It is a free gift from God but we have the responsibility to use its resources as effectively and as generously as possible. Tragic damage has been done to the planet over the last century and a half. The tide turned about 25 years ago and things have been improving rather steadily. Let’s not let the profiteers take us backwards!

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Organ Donations- Catholic?

By , January 27, 2012 4:46 am

When I was a kid in the middle of the last century, Catholics were constantly asking themselves this question: What does the Church say about that? What is the Church’s teaching on that? What does the Church say?

The question might be about a new movie, a best selling book, some unusual conduct or activity present in our society. We had great faith in the Church and looked to her for moral guidance on everything from minute aspects of daily living to profound theological questions.

Because the Church’s moral standing has been so badly damaged by recent scandals, her members, still faithful to the basic teachings, such as about Jesus Christ and the sacramental life of the Church, are, however, somewhat more hesitant to accept the Church’s answer on every aspect of daily living, especially when new situations develop that have not existed in the past.

One example of this would be organ transplants. Remember when that South African doctor, for the first time, successfully transplanted a human heart? Since then, medical science has gone forward at a terrific rate of speed, and awesome things are being accomplished and the donation of organs presents a major aspect on the medical scene. For the most part, organs are donated in one of two ways. When a person dies suddenly one or another of his organs, if removed quickly, can be salvaged to be given to a person who is alive but in need of such a transplant. Another is that friends and family occasionally give one of their own healthy organs to someone they love or care about. For example, this often happens in the case with kidneys.

What does the Church say about that? In this case, it is a positive answer. This development in modern medical science is to be commended and the donors, especially those making a gift from their own body, should be praised for their extraordinary generosity and concern for others. In all of these cases, the intention is not to deform the human body but to stretch its possible accomplishments to a greater extent. Such cases are almost always examples of heroism of generous friends and relatives.

What does the Church say about that? May God bless those who make this possible.

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