Archive for July, 2010

Our Relentless God

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Feast of St. Martha

Jer 18: 1-6; Jn 11: 19-27

Dc. Larry Brockman

God is relentless!  And how fortunate that is for us, because no matter how many times we turn away from him, no matter how many times we fight Him, he is right back with us immediately trying to reshape us, relentless and patient in the process, just as He described in the parable of the potter in today’s first reading.  It is inescapable- we can’t get away from Him no matter how hard we try.   

It isn’t just the parable that tells us this either. There are a number of ways we know the truth of this in our hearts- our emotions and feelings give it away.  When we feel guilt over something we’ve done, or we experience frustration over the way things are going, or even when we are bewildered over burdens that seem to confront us- all of these are signs that we need to be reshaped, that a change is needed in our lives to put us back on track.  It is then that we can open ourselves in prayer to the patient, relentless, quiet calm that comes from God as he guides us to recovery, whatever that might be.   

Martha experienced this process.  Burdened and frustrated over the loss of her brother Lazarus, she appealed to Jesus for help.  And while Jesus worked the miracle she so desperately desired, he did so only after ministering to Martha’s inner needs, refocusing her on what was really important.  He said: “I am the Resurrection and Life, whoever believes in me, even if he die, will live; and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die”.  We all need to hear that in the midst of our burdens and frustrations and bewilderments of this life,  that if we believe, and live as God intends us to live, we will never die.   

Sometimes the potter’s hand can seem awfully harsh and contrary to our desires.  But that is only a short term phenomena.  Because those who hold to the potter’s shape, they will live forever.

Turning Over Our Burden

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

 Thursday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time

Is 26: 7-9, 12, 16-19; Mt 11: 28-30

Dc. Larry Brockman

Can it be that simple?  That the secret for all of us who labor and are burdened, is to learn from Jesus and live our lives patterned after Him.   

Perhaps life seems so complicated to us because we make it complicated- the world makes it complicated.  After all, our labor and burdens are seemingly so manifold- we have responsibilities- children to take care of; jobs to do; school to attend; property to maintain; and financial duties.  And we have burdens- sicknesses, limitations, and other peoples problems somehow laid at our feet.  We even have things to do and see that we hope to spice up our lives- places to go to and see; sporting and cultural events to attend.  The list of things we feel compelled to do in our lives- all of our labor and burdens- seems so endless and overwhelming at times. 

And yet, in the midst of all our worldly responsibilities and wants, in the midst of the clutter that is life in our world, only one thing stands out as really, really, really important-  our relationship with God, because that is what we take to the Kingdom of God.     

If we could look at life in another way, that is, that the most important thing is our relationship with God, then today’s Gospel makes so much more sense, because, turning over our burdens and labors to God by adopting Jesus approach to life, simply means that we put our relationship with God first.  We trust Him in all things that happen as we let His will guide us in our path through the manifold activities and burdens of life.  It isn’t that we have to offload our lives of our responsibilities and work; or even that we abandon our wants and pleasures; but rather, it is that we realize that in all things we do, we recognize and accept His will for us and not fight it; and we let go of the emotional and stressful baggage that these burdens and labors cause because we trust in the justice and providence of God, just as Jesus did.   

He has promised salvation to those of us who believe and trust in Him, and that salvation includes justice for all- God’s justice, the kind of justice that Isaiah speaks about in today’s first reading.  And indeed, we will sometimes feel like Isaiah describes- like a woman about to give birth who is writhing in pain.  But then again, as Isaiah says- “But your dead shall live, awake and sing, you who lie in the dust”. Why?  Because the way of the just is smooth. 

Sharing God’s Gifts to Us

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Thursday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time

Hosea 11: 1-4, 8e-9; Mt 10: 7-15

Dc. Larry Brockman

“Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give”.  Have you ever thought about it that way- that whatever it is that you have, your talents, your home, your family, even your limitations- they are yours, given to you by God, for free; and so, you are being commissioned to give them to others freely. 

First of all, they are without cost.  Because whatever you think you did to “earn them” counts for nothing compared to the fact that God gifted them to you.  Without God, you could not have anything.  It is only by the grace of God that we exist and have anything.   

Imagine how God feels when we don’t recognize His free gifts to us.  Our reading from Hosea today kind of describes God’s feelings in such a case.  Listen again to God’s words from Hosea; first he says:  “I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks.”  Wow, what kind of love is that!  But then, he says:  “Yet, though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer.  My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred”.  Now this doesn’t just apply to the people of Israel. Many of God’s people of today don’t seem to have a clue, not a clue that they have their gifts by virtue of God.   

So, what are we supposed to do with our God given gifts once they are recognized as such?  Well, in the Gospel Jesus sends His apostles out to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand.  And that is not all, because He asks them to do His work in a certain way:  First, he tells them they are not to take money- rather they are to depend on the people they visit to provide food and shelter for them.  In other words, he asks the Apostles to trust in His providence.  Likewise, we are asked to trust in God’s providence when we respond to his gifts.  And second, Jesus says they are to proclaim their message, and offer peace to all.  Whoever accepts them, God’s peace will also rest on them; but whoever rejects them and their message,  God’s peace will remain with the apostle.  In other words, when you recognize and use your God given gifts in the way God intended them, no matter what the world says or does or thinks of you, no matter what the reaction from those you try to give to,  you can be certain that God’s peace will be with you throughout.  That is God’s promise to us who try.   

These two elements of our mission to give freely of our talents- trust in God and confidence in the peace of God, are keys to a very difficult part of being a Christian- giving freely of ourselves. 

The Truth Will Set Us Free

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Thursday of the 13th Week in Ordinary Time

Amos 7: 10-17; Mt 9: 1-8

Dc. Larry Brockman

“The truth will set you free”, that is, unless, you are an Israeli prophet in Amos’ time; or John the Baptist in Jesus time, or even a Christian voice in today’s secular world, in which case you will be slandered and people will scheme against you, fomenting all kinds of evil against you.   

But consider this.  Amos was sent into exile, but not before he told Jeroboam the absolute truth.  And over time, everything that Amos predicted came true.  John the Baptist was beheaded, but not before he had accomplished his mission, proclaiming a Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and announcing the coming of Christ and his kingdom.  The establishment hated both prophets, preferring not to listen to the Word of God, because it would mean an end to their secular power.   

Even Jesus himself, who dealt with the paralytic in good faith and out of kindness, was berated by the Jewish establishment because he was not up to their standards of training,  and because of an inconvenient truth-  that a simple carpenter had miraculous power to heal not only the body, but the soul as well.  The Jewish establishment was jealous of the truth.     Hopefully, the voices of God’s truth today will get the Word out, the truth, even as they are shouted down, and many of them will be and are being persecuted by the establishment today.  It is an establishment that no longer encourages a national day of prayer; an establishment that allows our taxpayer dollars to fund abortions; and an establishment that is spending way, way, way beyond the means to pay for it.   

Where are you and I in all of this?  Are we like the people of Israel under Jereboam, who hear the truth through Amos the prophet, but stand on the side just listening, waiting, biding time; hoping that their leaders, corrupt and godless as they were, would come to their rescue,  only to be crushed as the words of the prophet came true?  Or will you and I rise to the occasion; put God and His word first; put aside special interests; and seek out and find the truth, the truth that only comes from God, truths like:  I am the Lord your God, do not have strange Gods before me; thou shall not kill; and thou shall not steal.

Indeed, the truth is really the only thing that can set us free, and God’s Word is the truth.