Where Your Treasure Is.           July 30, 2016

Today’s gospel tells the story about a man who wants certain security in this life by growing more and more crops and building larger barns to store them. The voice of God…the Voice of reason and truth speaks to the man, “Why are you doing this? Why are you putting so much stock in your possessions and in your futile desire to control your destiny? Your very life will be required of you this very day and to whom will all your possessions go?”

Well, you might say his children will benefit, but don’t “bank” on that transaction: families are torn apart over who gets what and how much. Legal wills are frequently contested. The man in the story was really concerned about his own future…his own 4012K and other IRA’s of investment. There’s that word: investment. His investments focused on what HE could see and control and these investments are fleeting and evaporate in the blink of an eye. Invest your life in sacrifice. 

Where your treasure is…that’s where your heart is. The man in the story grew rich in what is material  and his heart became rooted in these temporal realities. Foolish…plain and simple. He was rich in things and not love. 

The happiest people in the world  root their hearts in giving, forgiving, creating beautiful memories for others, making a difference, being kind and surrendering to the love of God. Their hearts are filled with treasures that they CAN take with them when they breath their last. We don’t need larger barns or more storage lockers to collect things we truly don’t need. We are called to give life away, not store it for our future security. 

The photos are storage “barns”‘in Galicia, Spain on the Camino. 

Nativity. July 25, 2016

When we hear the word “nativity” we usually think of Christmas, a particular feast and season in late December. But the “nativity” has a much deeper and far-reaching mystery that penetrates every moment of every day. The nativity celebrates and remembers the moment the Word was made Flesh in the womb of Mary…”incarnate of the Virgin Mary” as we pray in the Creed. Nativity is not simply the birth of Jesus but the Incarnation, the Word assuming body, blood, and soul united to Divinity. When the Son entered into our history through the humanity of Jesus, ALL of creation, including every human being who lived, is living and will live, is blessed and made holy. 

Many churches, including St Teresa of Avila in Chicago, have a permanent shrine of the Nativity, always visible and venerated, because the Christmas mystery, the Incarnation, is celebrated every day. The nativity celebrates  the very beginning of our Redemption and Transformation….Easter celebrates the fulfillment of this New Life. 

Each one of us conceives Jesus in the womb of our souls when we Love… And when that Love is EXPRESSED in an act of charity or justice, we give birth to  Christ: IN THE FLESH!!!! Yes, Nativity is a living, daily event when the connections are made between our prayer and the expression of prayer. 

A theory of science teaches that creation began with a “Big Bang,” an explosion energy. Out of the womb of Mary…in a tiny village of Bethlehem …with little fanfare… in a smelly stable surrounded by animals… was born Jesus. And in this moment, an explosion of divine love and energy ignited a new humanity, that is slowly and painfully becoming a new creation restored in the very Image of God. In the heat and humidity of July… A Blessed Nativity. After all, five months from today is Christmas!!

Suggestion: have in a visible place in your home, a crèche that is never “boxed” away. 

Visitation. May 22, 2016

Mary wasted no time. After the earth shattering news that she was to be the mother of the messiah, she gets up and leaves to “visit” her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth was considered barren( what an awful word) and too old to conceive. With God, things seem to happen beyond hope and expectation. 

Mary didn’t consume her time worrying or fretting about her future and all its overwhelming potentials. Mary refused to close in on herself and be filled with fear and anxiety. She went “out of herself ” and did something to help someone in need: she “visited” Elizabeth to help her in her pregnancy. When we close in on ourselves, we become trapped listening to those horrible worn our tapes, telling us that we may be in trouble or we won’t make it or stay put where it’s safe. 

The solution: visit someone!!! Leave your home or pick up the phone and contact someone who could use a spiritual lift. Small acts of charity and service can completely change our inner disposition. 

Peace. Fr. Frank

Annunciation July 21, 2016

The annunciation is the moment Mary was visited by Gabriel, the archangel, “announcing” the joyful news of Christ’s birth. This scene has been depicted in so many ways over the centuries, making it one of the most  artistically expressed biblical scenes. One stands out in my estimation by, I believe, an African American artist. Mary is not depicted in the usual way, bowing in submission to Gabriel, surrendering to the message. In this portrait, Mary is sitting on her ruffled up bed, slumped over, looking perplexed. A light is shining through a window-like opening in the wall , symbolizing Gabriel, illuminating a pondering Mary. 

God enters our lives unexpectedly, frequently in the guise of human angels, announcing that we are to give birth to the Kingdom at that very moment. It might be a smile, an act of charity, a prayer for a stranger, speaking the truth in a compassionate manner, seeing Christ in a discarded human being or one who seems “foreign.” 

Mary gave birth to Christ; each one of us is called to do the same. Each and everyday is “pregnant ” with possibilities of birthing Christ. The annunciation is an everyday mystery waiting for you to just notice. Better yet: perhaps God is calling YOU to be a human angel “announcing” Good News to someone who so desperately needs a message from God…through you. 

Peace. Fr. Frank

Making Excuses July 20, 2016

Today’s first reading relates the calling of the fiery prophet Jeremiah. This powerful preacher initially told God to go elsewhere because he felt he was too young and not able to communicate the message. Basically, God told Jeremiah to stop making excuses and accept the challenge. God would give him everything he needed to preach the Truth. All be needed to do was TRUST that God would be his constant companion. 

Jeremiah surrendered and became one if the most powerful prophetic preacher in all of Scripture. He preached a message that was roundly condemned by those in authority, making Jeremiah despised and his life threatened. He is the one who ended up being thrown in a cistern (well), alone, at the bottom of a  dark, danky and muddy well. He had to have wondered where God was as he faced rejection after rejection. But he endured and became stronger and more humble. 

Following God’s calling frequently is not very comfortable because the values coming from the Gospel are not readily supported by our culture. We can always find reasons to delay responding , or simply refuse to say “yes” to God: we’re too young, too old, we have too many obligations, it’s too late, we’re not strong enough, yada…yada…yada…

How is God calling YOU? What needs to change in your life? NOW is the time. One comforting truth: if you take up the challenge, you will NOT end up at the bottom of a water well. 

Peace. Fr. Frank