Archive for March, 2012

What Legacy Will We Leave?

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Thursday of 4th Week in Lent

Jer 7: 23-28; Lk 11: 14-23

by  Deacon Larry Brockman

Yesterday, I was browsing through the book store.  A quote from Plato caught my eye, and it went something like this:  “Let me control the music that the people listen to, and it won’t matter who makes the laws.”  I thought to myself- “How true that is”.  And then this morning we have the wisdom of God brought to us from Jeremiah:  “Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed; they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers.”  As I see the music and pop culture of our current generation unfold, it is tempting to say, “Amen!” to this statement. 


But then, who is to blame?  Is it the current generation?  Or is it our generations, who gave birth to and raised the current generation?    During Lent, we have a responsibility to not only reflect on our personal sins, but also on our collective sins-  our sins as a people, the evils that we perpetuate collectively as a society.  They include sins of commission and sins of omission.  And it seems to me, that we are just as guilty of listening, but not hearing or acting on the Word of God, as any generation of God’s people, especially when it comes to our collective responsibility.  Because our pop culture and music are a reflection of the environment that we leave in our wake.  And what is the environment that we are leaving behind? 


Now, the Gospel says that the person that Jesus healed from the demon spoke for the first time.  Some of the people were convinced that Jesus was from God.  Other folks who witnessed this miracle had the gall to either accuse Jesus of casting out demons by the devil or ask Jesus to work some miracle as a sign that he was from God.  Can you imagine that- they actually saw a miracle, but they wanted more proof or they sloughed the miracle off as from the devil.  Jesus was right- even those who believed in God were a house divided against itself.


You know, we kind of do the same thing as the people of God.  God’s Word comes to us in many ways:  It comes to us through the Scriptures; it comes to us through the Church’s teaching authority; and it comes to us in our inspirations as we pray.  And yet, much of the time we are not giving it our full attention.  We want more proof that the teaching is inspired and we don’t pay attention to what we are called to do in response to the Word of God.  And so, we put our urgings to do something on the back burner, especially if they have to do with something that must be done collectively to make a change. We rationalize that we can’t do anything as individuals.

We have all heard about the current attack on our religious freedom being perpetrated by the implementation of the new Health Care Act.  Make no mistake- the absence of the religious exception clause for religious based organizations is an attack on the religious liberty of all Americans, not just the Catholics.  It is not the Church hierarchy’s problem either; it is our problem because we collectively are the Church.  So, the attack is on us.  And whatever we do or fail to do will be the legacy we leave behind.  But sadly, we are not fully on board.  We are a house divided against itself.


In the Gospel Jesus makes it clear that  “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”  So, if this generation of American Catholics does not act to correct this problem, the Lord is likely to say to us, as He did to the Israelis:  “This is the nation which does not listen to the voice of the LORD, its God, or take correction”.   

Don’t Get Complacent

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Thursday of 3rd Week in Lent

Jer 17: 5-10; Lk 16: 19-31

Don’t get too comfortable in this world.  Because when you do, you tend to get complacent.  And complacency is the ally of the devil.  When you are complacent, you don’t think about God;it’s as if you are your own master; you are in control; you are self-sufficient; your heart, as Jeremiah says ..”turns away from the Lord”.   

Take the rich man in the Gospel story.  He was certainly complacent in his lifetime.  He was comfortable, dressing in fine clothes and dining on the best foods.  All his earthly needs and desires were met.  He doesn’t seem to even have taken notice of the suffering going on around him.  It’s a surprise that he even knew who Lazarus was.  It wasn’t so much that he was a mean miserly man; but more that he was oblivious to suffering.  He lived in the comfort of his own world, unconcerned about others.  You can bet that he had friends- lots of them.  Because, as a rich man, he was the source for, the benefactor of, others.  Such a person does as the Jeremiah’s reading suggests:  He …“Trusts in human beings and seeks his strength in flesh”.  Why? Because that is where he has found his fulfillment. 


Perhaps that’s why there is such an emphasis on two things during Lent:  First, self-mortification, like fasting and almsgiving; and second, prayer- getting in contact with God. 

First, we need to feel uncomfortable to shake us out of our complacency so that we get in tune with some realities about life as a human.  One reality is that a comfortable life is not what it’s all about. But also, we must realize that we are not at all in control, and in fact, we shouldn’t be in control.  And so, when we fast and abstain from something, that helps us to understand that life’s finer things are just an illusion of happiness.  They are passing, and we will pass away from this life as well.  So, there is something more to plan for and look forward to than this life.  As a result, we really can’t be in control- God controls whether we are going to be happy forever after- not us. 


And so, the self-mortification can help motivate us to pray.  To pray that God will help us to unlock the key to our everlasting happiness.  Just like Jesus, we need to seek and find the Lord’s will for us.  Because  as Jeremiah says:  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord”.

Praying Sincerely

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Thursday of 2nd Week in Lent

Esth C 12, 14-16, 23-25; Mt 7: 7-12


Can you imagine?  Just imagine prostrating yourself on the ground from morning till evening and praying over and over again.  That’s what Esther did, and for a good reason.  She was in mortal anguish because the enemies of her exiled Israeli people had gotten the King to issue a decree to wipe out, exterminate, eliminate, all of her people. 

Now the King was Esther’s husband.  So if anyone could do something, it would fall to her.  But she knew that, above all, the King was a man of his word, and would have to keep his decree.  Thus, the prayer.   

So, just how does Esther’s experience relate to the advice Jesus gives in the Gospel.  Jesus says- “Ask and it will be given to you”.  Ah, yes, all we have to do is ask.  How does Esther ask in her prayer?  There is no question of her Faith as the Book of Esther attests; there is no question of her legitimate concern- the future of the Israeli nation was at stake; and there is no question of her sincerity- her prayer was earnest and from the heart.    Now notice that she doesn’t pray for direct intervention from God.  Rather, she prays that the Lord would work through her words to achieve her end, the saving of her people.   Fortunately, her prayer was answered, and if you read the book of Esther, you will see how clever her solution was-  or should I say, how clever God’s inspired words were.   

Don’t we sometimes find ourselves feeling like Esther- frustrated, in panic, and in mortal anguish, as the roadblocks of life are thrown at us?  We are being tested; and the Lord is looking for our response.  We would do well to pattern our response after Esther’s.  First, she had a relationship with the Lord.   She was righteous and loved the Lord before this trial.  That’s why prayer came to mind- not as a last ditch effort, but because her Lord was always important to her.  In other words, she was a woman of great Faith.  Second, she prayed with sincerity and piety.  That comes out loud and clear in the reading.  Third, she prayed for something that was good in the eyes of the Lord, to save her people.  That can be hard on us, because what we want is not always what God might deem best for us.  And yet, Jesus says that God will not give us a snake when we ask for a fish.  So, whatever the answer to our prayer is- be it “yes” or “no”, we need to be open that it is God’s will for us.  Next, she prayed that God would give her the words for her to move forward.  And that is important- because we need to be involved in the solution.  We need to let God work through us, so that God is walking with us through the thick and thin of it.  And lastly, she was persistent.  She kept after God all day and into the evening.   

When you pray in the face of tragedy, remember the example of Esther.  Because God loves you, and always does the best for you when you pray sincerely.  And your prayer, like Esther’s, will be answered.