Category Archives: Choice

Offering and Living Each Day

[My wise spiritual director pointed out that I have the intellectual prayer down pat, but need a lot of work on the “Prayer of the Heart,” the friendship, union and companionship with God that comes from a deepening of love.  Therefore, he has suggested a couple of texts, and set me to keeping a journal as I wander through them.  These are the fourteenth day’s thoughts.]

Devotional practices renders all my daily actions please to You, God. I am not where AL* was in his spiritual journey when he wrote this. Nor am I a 17th cent. priest. However, Jesus, help me glean what works for me and leave the rest right now, perhaps to be returned to later.

One of the most obvious things that he mentions that I, not surprisingly, neglect, is that while I offer to God my day when I rise, instead of “asking Him to help me by His grace” as AL suggests and my own sullied experience would commend, I go blithely on, thinking that I can do it all myself. Duh! Only with Your help can I do anything! So how would I have the chutzpah to think that in this monumental task of making sure that all my actions, words and thoughts this day are in conformity with Your will as well as being directed to You, I would be able to pull it off myself. Quite the epitome of pride, control and foolishness! Help me, God, to remember to get with the program and follow up such a wonderfully naive childlike offering with a hearty dose of humble pie, acknowledging from the get-go that I am totally and unequivocally incapable of doing this on my own and must always and continuously ask for and rely on Your help. Take my hand and show me how to do what You want me to do, just as You would a little child, so that I don’t hurt myself [through sin] and am able to do it at all.

The other thing that AL brings up which is timeless in its relevance is to resolve to live during this day as if it were the last day of my life. Not only could it be, if, in Your Divine Providence, You call me home today, but also in the general scheme of things, this is not only “the first day of the rest of my life,” it is also the only eternal Now that I have. As the saying goes, the past is no more, the future is yet to be, all I have is the Now. So in that sense, it not only should be lived “as if” it were the last day of my life, it is also the first as well as the only day of my life which is real, factual, and not a memory or imagination.It would and does therefore behoove me to live it as if it were the only day of my life.

But again, while I can resolve such, without Your constant help and direction, Your hand in mine, I am inevitably going to blow it in some form or other. Therefore, help me take a cue from You and Your mother and ask, seek, knock so that You may do unto me today according to Your will,…and then I will have achieved my resolve and offered a good day, in the same way a little child has “built” his own sandcastle or “put together” his truck. Amen. Alleluia!!!


*Alphonsus Liguori, How to Converse with God,Translated by Fr. L. X. Aubin, C.S.S.R. [Charlotte, Tan Books, 2005/13]

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Cana Update[1]

I am always brought up short by the strange encounter between Jesus and his mother at Cana. Jesus has already begun His public ministry, He’s been baptized, been to the desert, and is traveling around the country preaching with an entourage of His first disciples. He and his followers arrive at the wedding of friends and as the party is getting going, one of those “Opps” of life happens to the groom, the guests have imbibed all his wine. Mary gets wind of the embarrassment via the guest grape vine and informs Jesus.

Perhaps that all she intended to do, inform Him. Perhaps she hadn’t thought beyond that except that something needed to be done to help her friends. If this is the case, then Jesus enigmatic reply could be interpreted as an invitation to greater belief, to faith: “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come. [2] [Jn 2:4] In other words, “Does your concern about the embarrassing situation of our friends affect the Kingdom which I have come to establish? Does it pertain to the Father’s will? There is a time and a place Providence has assigned for all things. The hour of my revelation of myself as the Messiah is not now.”

The response He invites from Mary is one of complete faith in God and trust in His guidance of Her. Perhaps this is a Mother-Son moment when He is sincerely asking for Her guidance. Her lesson to Him is that this concern does actually affect Him, as Elizabeth’s need affected her and as the concerns of all affect each of us. She may realize, though perhaps only peripherally, that all concerns need to be His concerns, all needs His needs, not just on a human level, but on His Savior level, His Kingship level, His Divine level. Perhaps this is the “Ah-Ha” moment when she knows He must realize the full import of His being connected with every other human being by virtue of His very Incarnation. Perhaps this is what He later would formulate in His parable on the Last Judgment: whatever you…[do] for one of these least brothers of mine, you…[do] for me. [Mt 25:40] Perhaps He needed to grok the depth and the encompassing reality of the 2nd Great Commandment: Do to others as you would have them do to you, [Lk 6:31] and that this included Him on the Divine level as well as the human level.

Mary’s answer: “Yes, this does affect You both as my Son, a fellow human being, one who is truly empathetic to all the vagaries and vicissitudes of live, the manifestations of the effect of sin in the world, of which lack and need, deprivation, running out of things, is always a sign. Your Father so loved this crazy, mixed up world with all its foibles that He gave us You so that we might believe in You and not perish but have eternal life, [Jn 3:16] Of Him, You will tell us do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’… Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. [Mt 6:31-33] You and the Father are one. [Jn 10:30] Show us the Father’s love here and now. You will talk the talk later, now walk the walk.”

How does she join Him in bringing about His first miracle? This is same way every believer who has ever “preformed” a miracle joins Him. No human actually “performs” a miracle. God does the performing; humans only express their explicit faith and trust in God to do so and thus are instruments through which God chooses to work. Every miracle not performed directly by Jesus is performed through the faith and instrumentality of a person requesting Jesus intercession and believing absolutely that He will intercede. The human person gives him/herself up to God and invites God to work through him/her; she/he transforms her/his self into God’s instrument.

Mary is not trying to override His or the Father’s timing of His hour, but, as with the Finding so many years before, she has explicit faith that, given her explanation, Jesus will do “the right thing.” She doesn’t press Him. She doesn’t define what He is to do, but she has an explicit faith that He will know what to do. Thus, when she says to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you,”[Jn 2:5] she lets go and lets God. Her statement is another way of saying what she says with her whole life, in her dormition, her assumption and even as she is crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth: May it be done to me according to your word. [Lk 1:38]

Obedience, then, comes back to its root meaning, “to listen to.” It’s not so much doing as being, as listening, as following, as joining in the yolk next to Jesus. To hear and let it be done to me, to have faith and trust in God, in whatever His eternal Now brings for my next step. It is to pick up one’s cross daily and to follow the Word, strap on His burden, take on His yolk and walk the world’s roads to the Calvaries of today with Him. It is to listen and hear the Spirit’s whispers of guidance and inspiration, to follow the promptings of one’s true heart, to the love of God and our fellow man to which we are called by our very nature as familial members, not just of the human family but of the very familial Body of Christ. We would not be here if it were not for God’s creation and we would not be human without accepting our place in the family of humankind and thus our relationship to all others.

Jesus obeys, Mary obeys, we obey, I obey. Listen, listen, listen and allow it to be done onto me. This is our calling, this is our “vocation,” this is our purpose in life. Amen. Alleluia!!!


[1] As with all my writings, I explain things in the way they make sense to me. In doing so, I often blindly wander into minefields of explanation into which scholars, saints and angels wisely do not venture. Therefore, take all I write not just with a grain of salt but with a whole mine of it. Please, please, please consider that I am just me, one very finite, very myopic, often very confused and mistaken man. I am often wrong. However, God guarantees the infallibility of the Catholic Church. Thus, if anything that I write contradicts or in any way conflicts with what the One, Holy, Apostolic Catholic Church has stated or defined, I profoundly apologize to my readers for misleading them, to the Church for contradicting our infallible Faith, Scripture and Tradition, and I beg God to have mercy on me, forgive me and write straight the crooked lines your wayward servant has written. I beg the forgiveness of all and ask for your prayers that I might have the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit to see aright once again.

[2] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Hereafter, NABRE.

Patience: Constrained Obedience

A time between the Finding in the Temple and the Baptism of Jesus demonstrates the amazing importance God puts on Patience. We are given the Finding as a Divine hint [some hints need to be a lot more heavy handed than others or we don’t seem to get the point] that Jesus was well aware of his mission way back when He was twelve. But to the Father, awareness and readiness were not the same thing. After his confrontation with his parents, Jesus gets the message. This is not what His Father wants Him to do at this time. At this time, he is to be subject to his earthly father and mother. He is under the supervision of guardians and administrators until the date set by his father. [1] [Gal 4:2]

So he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.[Lk 2:51] This was to be his boot camp in obedience. It may not have seemed that way, but think about it. If you knew you were the Son of God and were sent here to do one thing and one thing only, save humankind, don’t you think you would be chafing at the bit to get to it. Ok, maybe not when you’re a teen, but at least when you’re 20. How slowly those hidden years would have seemed to drag by. And His boot camp training wasn’t just a couple of weeks or months. It wasn’t even a couple of years. Think 18 years in the backwaters of Galilee.

And given his propensity for knowing exactly what was going to happen to him at the end and his constant references to His “Hour,” Jesus understanding of His ultimate mission was not limited by His human perception nor even by time itself. Consider what you would be like if you were literally, not just figuratively, “waiting an eternity” for something to happen. They have to put me in a padded room before the first week was up. While we are wont to compare good patience to that of Job, it was a grain of sand when compared with what Jesus had to endure.

This was ultimate Obedience, Jesus total giving of control of his life over to His Father, total subordination of His will to that of His Father. And not to His Father directly. That would have been much easier. When one in confronted with the Almighty, the LORD Jehovah, the Creator of the Universe, even Jesus, now the God-Man would be able to humanly rationalize the efficacy of letting His Father run the show. But remember, this was obedience to His human parents, to creatures of His Father, if considered from a scientific perspective, so vastly inferior to Jesus that only on the human level could there be any comparison whatsoever, and even there, major inequalities. However, this is precisely the point. This obedience to Joseph and Mary is a true demonstration of His obedience to His Father.

Think of it, 18 years out of the only earthly life of the God-Man he’ll ever have. We are tempted to think of it as such a waste; would not more years in the public ministry been a better use of Jesus time, Jesus talents, than spending them schlepping boards and bricks for His father, building houses and repairing furniture in the backwater, hick town of Nazareth, helping his mother around the house?

For the majority of Jesus life, we have no record of what He did, Salvation History gone blank…or is it? We are told that, like his cousin, John, and his ancestor, Samuel [See 1Sam 2:26], Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man. [Lk 2:51-52] Good wine needs time to age. Good people do also. We know He was not yet truly wise at twelve; though He was listening to them and asking them questions and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers, [Lk 2:46-47] the teachers thought they had a prodigy, not a Messiah, on their hands. Knowledge, even understanding and wisdom are not the same thing. With wisdom comes empathy, tact, insight not immediately evident in the facts and figures of knowledge. He may have been a Bar Mitzvah, a “Son of the Commandments,” a “man” in the Jewish community, but, in their eyes, the eyes of his family and the world, He was also still a boy, and his learning, his knowledge, needed the seasoning of life to become wisdom.

That’s where the the advancing in age, the blessing of time, the revelation of experience comes into play. Being fully man as well as God, like every other person who ever lived, only with maturation through the practical, everyday experience of family and community life, of business encounters and festival gatherings, in the drudgery of the day-to-day routine of work and life and play and prayer and friendships and love and heartaches and death and anger and sadness and acceptance and carrying on in spite of it all would wisdom and maturity be achieved.

Why favor before God and men. As his encounter with his parents in the Temple demonstrates, Jesus needed the maturity of adulthood to hone of his people skills from the abrasiveness of adolescence to the tact, temperance and perceptiveness of manhood. Only through the experience of living would He gain the human empathy and understanding needed to know them all, and…not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well. [Jn 2:24-25]

By using this knowledge as His Father directed Him, He did His Father’s will…always and everywhere in His “hidden life” until the day of his manifestation to Israel. [Lk 1:80]

Although we call it the “hidden life,” all that means is it didn’t rate minute by minute tweets, photo ops, headlines. He was not holding press conferences, nor issuing releases. He had no paparazzi, no followers. He was just the local carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon…and…his sisters. [Mk 6:3] His cloak of anonymity was so complete, His hidden identity so engrained in His neighbors, that when He later revealed His preaching and His power, He lacked so much credibility in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house,… he was not able to perform any mighty deed. [Mk 6:4-5]

But finally, His patience was rewarded: “In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. [Is 49:8; 2Cor 6:2] And, just as the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert [Lk 3:2], when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son [Gal 4:4] to be baptized. It was there His patience was rewarded. It was there the Father and Holy Spirit manifested their love of Him and their recognition and commendation of the perfect humble obedience He had shown throughout His hidden life: the heavens…[were] torn open and the Spirit, like a dove,….[descended] upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” [Mk 1:10-11] The Spirit pins on the medal while the Father gives the speech.

Even then, They knew He was not quite ready. He needed his own personalized Camp Lejeune combat readiness training for the upcoming battles, and so at once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. [Mk 1:12-13]

Much of the rest of His life would be filled with this constant tension. On the one hand, He would cry out in frustration: I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! [Lk 12:49-50] On the other, even to His mother who, of all people, knew Him best, He would try to thwart her request for pity on the wedding party: “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” [Jn 2:4] Of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. [Mk 13:32]

This tension between wanting it over and waiting for His Father’s Hour haunts Him throughout his public ministry. Finally, on the occasion when Greek believers wish to speak to Jesus, He finally says: The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…though he immediately clarifies that He recognizes that this glorification will have the appearance of exactly the opposite of what the world expects: unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit….Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” [Jn 12:23-25, 27-28a] The glorification would be of His Father, for He would demonstrate with His life that love of and obedience to His Father are the most important things in the universe, more important than life itself.[2]

There are more than one “hour” occurring simultaneously, Jesus Hour of His Father’s Glory and the hour, the time for the power of darkness. [Lk 22:53] These converge and culminate as Jesus hangs on the cross between heaven and earth. It is only, after gifting His own mother to John and to us and knowing that…from that hour the disciple took her into his home.[Jn 19:27]…, only then, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” [Jn 19:28] For what did Jesus thirst: “the fourth cup which for all practical purposes is the climax of the Passover.”[3] He needed to conclude the Passover Meal, for he said: I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God. Now was the Kingdom of God established on earth for all eternity….When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished. And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.” [Jn 19:30]

The patience obedience had been completed, His Father’s will had been fulfilled, His Father was glorified by His ultimate sacrifice of Jesus of Himself, His life, of everything as testimony to His Father as His God, His all, His Everything.

Et tu, Brute? And what of me? To what part of this magnificent panorama of divinely human patience can I aspire to, hope to emulate. Me, in my timidity, my weakness, my humanness, my drive to control, my intolerance of expectation, my demand for immediacy, my today-and-now impatience. On the contrary, I am the poster child of impatient disobedience. Can I change? Indeed, I am the most pitiable…of all. [1 Cor 15:19] ““Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them [and me and you] and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” [Mt 19:25-26]

Patience! We’ll get there, with God’s help. Amen. Alleluia!!!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] A truth revalidated again and again over the centuries by the blood of martyrs, the life long vows of religious, the lives of the saints.

[3] Scott Hahn, The Fourth Cup, The Sacrament of the Eucharist, http://zuserver2.star.ucl.ac.uk/~vgg/rc/aplgtc/hahn/m4/4cp.html

Learning from Judas…and Jesus…

Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you twelve? Yet is not one of you a devil?” He was referring to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot; it was he who would betray him, one of the Twelve.[1] [Jn 6:70-71] What must it have been like for Jesus to know throughout His entire ministry that Judas, one of the Twelve, would betray Him? What was it like when Jesus first met Judas, perhaps a young idealist who dreamed of the restoration of Israel to its former glory, of freedom from the tyranny of all the oppressors who had taken away their freedom, from Rome, the last and subtlest, whose iron fist in a velvet glove type of rule by proxy through pseudo-Jewish puppets who lulled the masses into somnambulant acquiescence or at least compliance. Jesus read his heart; He did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well. [Jn 2:25] He knew from the beginning that His attempt to enable Judas to see what type of Messiah He intended to be, what type of Savior His Father sent Him to be, was for the whole of humanity, not just Israel, would be futile. Though He would enter Jerusalem hailed as the Messiah, he came, humble, and riding on a donkey, [Zach 9:9] Judas wanted a conquering hero on a rampant, defiant, charging war horse.

But Jesus took a chance. He chose him as an Apostle anyway. He knew Judas was a bad apple, his misguided fanaticism might infect the others. But that was exactly what Jesus came to repair, to call His followers to resist, to draw them away from eating the serpent’s apple. And maybe, just maybe, but continually nurturing him, welcoming him, befriending him, keeping him close, maybe Judas might change.

Why did Jesus keep Him on? Why did He promote him to the inner circle? Why did He trust Judas with the group’s funds [Jn 13:29] even though Judas was known to be a thief, [Jn 12:6] at least by some? Perhaps because Jesus shared His Father’s unconditional Love and eternal optimism, the Father who loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life [Jn 3:16]…And His Son agreed to go! Maybe it was because His Father did not send…[Jesus] into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. [Jn 3:17] And that world included Judas…and everybody who was like Judas. Though Judas might condemn himself by his choices, Jesus was there to save him, not condemn him.

At the Last Supper, Jesus made numerous attempts to get Judas to change his mind. Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me, [Jn 13:21] was certainly heard loud and clear by Judas as pointing to himself. Even when Judas tries to cover up his thoughts and plans and asks Jesus in turn: “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He answered, “You have said so.” [Mt 26:25] So Judas knows without a doubt that Jesus knows his plan. Even then, Jesus is implying, “Change your mind, repent, come back to Me,” to transform the subterfuge, Surely, it is not I into a declaration of fidelity.

Even when Peter speaks for all there is again a direct reference to Satan wanting to have his way with all the disciples. Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.[2][Lk 22:31-32] Was this the difference between Peter’s betrayal and Judas’?

In a direct way, Jesus prays for Judas. If prayer is dialogue, a conversation, between God and man, certainly Jesus, the God-Man had much self-initiated dialogue with Judas. So he dipped the morsel and [took it and] handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot.[Jn 13:26] How closely this action parodies Communion, Jesus giving a morsel of bread. But it is the horrible parody of Communion. This is not Jesus Body and Blood but an identification of a betrayer. Jesus reaches out, feeding Judas, symbolically urging him to come back from the brink, to eat His true body and drink His true blood and be saved, [Jn 6:53]. But after Judas took the morsel, he has not received Jesus, but Satan entered him.[Jn 13: 27] Evil and hatred, not goodness and love are the outcome.

But even in Jesus final words during the Last Supper to Judas, “What you are going to do, do quickly,” [Jn 13: 27] with Satan standing there at the door of choice, Jesus forces it to be left open. A “halfhearted commitment to the faith is nauseating to Christ;”[3] indeed, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. [Rev 3:16] Judas still has a sliver of a chance, either ask Jesus for forgiveness and help or go and betray him. Here Jesus is saying, “Time is preciously short. Make a choice. Whatever you are going to do, do it now!”

So he took the morsel and left at once. And it was night. [Jn 13: 30] The word translated here as so can also be translated as “wherefore, consequently, accordingly, these things being so.”[4] In other words, the choice having been set before him, Judas chose to refuse the morsel of repentance and take the morsel of betrayal and leave.

Without commentary, we might think that Jesus did not grasp to its essence the enormity of the betrayal; on the contrary, he understands that non-existence would have been better. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.[Mt 26:24] But, in spite of it all, He still loved him.

The real kicker in this scenario is that all the Apostles would have their faith shaken for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed.” [Mt 26:31; Zech 13:7] And, when push comes to shove: all the disciples left him and fled.[Mt 26:56]

Even after Judas left, Jesus does not condemn him. When Judas betrayed him with a kiss, Jesus once more reaches out to him and calls him “Friend…” [Mt 26:50] Had he repented, if he had wept bitterly [Lk 22:62] like Peter, even then when it was too late to save Jesus from persecution and death, Jesus would have told Him: “Your sins are forgiven you.”[Lk 5:20; 7:48; Mt 9:2] He would have prayed to the Father: “Forgive…[him] for…[he knows] not what…[he is] doing.”[Lk 23:34] Jesus would even have told the others, just as He says to me, reminding us of our betrayal: Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone. [Jn 8:7] And finally, He would have turned to Judas and said: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.” [Jn 8:11]

It is speculated that Judas was frustrated that Jesus had not become the conquering Messiah of his expectations, throwing off the yoke of Rome and returning Israel to its heyday. Judas thought that by having Jesus arrested, he would back Jesus into a corner and force him to finally show His might and power.

Judas was not alone in this hope. When Peter was ready to fight and drew his sword and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels? The way of unbelievable might and power is available to Jesus; if one angel of death can slaughter all the firstborn of Egypt in a single night, what overwhelming odds would 60,000 such heavenly warriors provide. All He has to do is ask. But as Jesus is keenly aware, then how would the scriptures be fulfilled which say that it must come to pass in this way?” How would His Father’s will be fulfilled; how would His perfect obedience make up for the disobedience of Adam, Eve and all of us, their offspring; how would infinite mercy and forgiveness show up vengeance and violence for the evil and distortion they truly are?

Even after the Resurrection, when Jesus had been with the Apostles for forty days and they were now convinced of His reality, the true implications of the crucifixion had not yet penetrated their understanding. They were back to their old way of thinking: Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? [Acts 1:6] They hadn’t quite got the real, the true picture yet. Jesus, however, knows that they do not yet get it and that it will take the Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—…[to] teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you. [Jn 14:26] Concerning their question He replies: It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. [Acts 1:7]

Judas’ plan is underway. He keeps tabs as it evolves. However, things don’t go the way his thought they would. The Sanhedrin condemns Jesus and Judas sees that Jesus does nothing, absolutely nothing. Worse than nothing, He makes things worse by spouting off about His Heavenly coming: The high priest said to him, “I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.’” [Mt 26:63-64] That was the kicker; that put that last nail in the coffin. Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy; what is your opinion?” They said in reply, “He deserves to die!” [Mt 26:65-66]

This is not the way according to Judas that it was suppose to work out. Jesus was suppose to triumph, bursting forth as the military Messiah Judas craved, wielding a flaming sword, striking down the blind Sanhedrin, terrorizing and demolishing the imperious Romans.

Finally realizing that Jesus was not going to rise up a conquering hero, that he was not even going to defend himself, that he was a totally different type of Messiah, a innocent Messiah, a just Messiah, an obedient Messiah, Judas deeply regretted what he had done. He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood. They said, “What is that to us? Look to it yourself.” Flinging the money into the temple, he departed and went off [Mt 27:3-5a][5] But Pandora’s box could not be closed; history could not be rewritten. Judas’ betrayal scene was over, the Sanhedrin’s condemnation had begun. Try as he might, Judas could not put Satan’s evil genii back in the bottle. The fate of Jesus was out of his hands.

Unlike Peter, he did not weep for his sins, did not realize the love bond he had with Jesus was still there from Jesus side, did not accept the mercy of the Father even then, but he seems to have despaired of being forgiven and hanged himself.” [Mt 27:5b][6] I say “seems” because no one knows what demons, literal and figurative, drove him to do what he did. And no one on earth has plumed the depths of the love and mercy of God who is patient with…[us] , not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. [2Pet 3:9]

What can I learn from Judas? What can I learn from Jesus? First, I can learn to love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. [Mt 5:44] Jesus was serious about this with Judas as with the chief priests with the scribes and elders who mocked him [Mt 27:41] on the cross, I must echo Jesus plea: Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. [Lk 23: 34] If I really want to follow Jesus, if I am totally committed to patterning my life after His, if I am given the strength and the courage to pick up my cross day after day after day, then I have to reach out in love to the Judases in my life, not just those who are overtly hostile to me, but to those who are betrayers among my friends and family, then I can and must do this. Then, like Jesus, I need to continually offer love and forgiveness, even though the traitor be my other self, my comrade and friend, you, whose company I enjoyed, at whose side I walked in the house of God. [Ps 55:14-15] Only then will I be a child of my heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. [Mt 5:45]

Second, when I face the depths of despair like Judas, no matter what I have done, no matter what evil I have committed, Jesus is always there, reaching out, giving me another chance to grab onto Him, to accept His love, to recognize Him as the only one who can restore me to sanity, to look at Him and see the face of the mercy of God. I have the same choice as Judas, falling headlong [Acts 1:18] into despair and killing myself, spiritually if not physically, or looking up and crying out: “Lord, save me!” If I do, I know in my heart of hearts, that each and every time, without fail immediately Jesus [will stretch] out his hand and catch me. [Mt 14:30b-31a] Amen. Alleluia!!!


[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] Robert J. Karris, OFM, commented on this passage in TNJBC, p. 716: “31: Satan…Luke contrasts the effects of Satan’s attacks have on Judas and Peter. Jesus’ efficacious prayer saves Peter from the fate of Judas (see Acts 1:15-19). you all: The Greek here is pl. whereas in v 32 it is sg. Peter is representative of Satan’s sifting (see Amos 9:9) of all. 32. The implicit Christology is deep, and the church is consoled that its Lord can save it too from the power of Satan. turned back, converted: The Gk espitrepsas does not mean locomotion, but moral conversion (see 17:4; Acts 3:19; 9:35; etc.). your fellow Christians As Acts 15:23,32, show, this is the translation of aldelphous, I lit., “brethren.” Examples of Peter’s strengthening of the church can readily be seen in Acts 1-11,15.

[3] NABRE note on Rev. 3:15-16.

[4] Lexicon :: Strong’s G3767 – oun; Blue Letter Bible, http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/ lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3767

[5] According to Benedict Vivlano, O.P., commentator on Matthew in TNJBC, the story about Judas’ death “probably began as an etiological legend to explain how the potter’s field came to be called ‘the field of blood.’” P. 671.

[6] According to Benedict Vivlano, O.P., commentator on Matthew in TNJBC, the story about Judas’ death “probably began as an etiological legend to explain how the potter’s field came to be called ‘the field of blood.’” P. 671.

“But what can I do?” : Subversive Tactics for a Committed Christian

“But what can I do? I’m just one insignificant person.” When stacked up against “everybody does it,” “they can’t all be wrong,” “majority rules,” “you have to go along with the crowd,” “you can’t fight city hall,” “Corporations are people too!”, “this is an international problem,” etc., etc., etc., this flimsy excuse may seem to be a logical conclusion, a rational course of action. “It just makes common sense.”

Or does it? Just because bad guys carry guns and we can all carry guns, we should do so? Jesus said: Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.[1] [Mt 26:52] Just because abortion is possible, the Supreme Court of our land has declared it legal, and many, if not most women, line up behind the battle cry: “Freedom of Choice,” should I suck it up and follow them. What about the “Freedom of Choice” of the unborn child? He/she did not have any say in being conceived. Shouldn’t she/he have a say in whether to live or die? And where is God in this picture? Isn’t He the one who breathed life into the child? Don’t I think that He has a major stake in whether His daughter or son lives or dies?

But I digress. The point is that I have a judgment to make whether the crowd around me is right or wrong, whether I choose to adhere by the moral or immoral way.

But even if I condemn the evil in the world, I still am faced with the same question: “What can I do?” Little, insignificant, ineffectual me? These are monoliths against which I am pitted. This isn’t just David and Goliath, this is Frodo alone against Sauron, the Necromancer, the Dark Lord, the avatar of Evil, plus all his minions. The Enemy indeed controls all this power and…glory; for it has been handed over to…[him], and…[he] may give it to whomever he wishes. [Lk 4:6]

But if we all cop out, if we all buckle to peer pressure, we are doomed not only to hell in eternity, but to hell on earth.

I may not be able to do much. But God needs the little I can do. God needs my hands, my heart, my feet to carry Him to those places where people have shut Him out. I am a Trojan Horse carrying the salvation of the world inside me, the world which laughs, ridicules and derides even the belief in God. I am Frodo already in Mordor, pretending to be an Orc, carrying the ring to destroy it in the Mountain of Doom.

Jesus is poised, ready to make Himself known through me. In the most unlikely spots. At the most unlikely times. In the most unlikely company. That’s where He needs to be. That’s where He is needed most. That’s where He cannot come unless invited. And He definitely wasn’t invited…but I was. He slips in under their radar in me.

Be a double agent for God. He guarantees the Father will be with you every step of the way; I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. [Jn 17:15] Instead of a license to kill, I have a license to preach Life everlasting. Instead of a Walther PPK, I carry a much more effective weapon, one that ultimately brought down empires and conquers even death, the cross.

Subversive tactics. You bet: Instead of hating the enemy, I bewilder them, confuse them, frustrate them by loving them. This is totally unexpected. Guns blazing, that they can handle. Scorn and defiance, that they are use to. Anger and violence, no problem. But love, that doesn’t fit, that’s not fair, that isn’t in The Art of War, that throws them for a loop and stokes their ire. But, instead of revenge, I offer forgiveness. That’s really non-violent. That’s the ultimate peaceful protest.

The nice thing about these weapons of mass salvation is that they cannot be stopped. I can be stopped. My body can be killed, but that just makes God more effective. My witness, my martyrdom will sow the seeds of saints.

Another tactic in our Spiritual Manual is Pebble Pushing. Huge avalanches can be started by as little as a single dislodged pebble striking a couple of others on its way down the hill. Pretty soon the whole side of the mountain comes cascading down, huge boulders crashing into one another and carrying everything in their path with them.

I don’t have to do a lot. I don’t have to be Hercules fighting Alkyoneus and the Giants. I can start with one thought, one word, one smile, send one random act of kindness cascading down the hill of life. You never know what might become of that one gesture, who might be its recipient…the next Mother Teresa, the next Gandhi, the next Desmond Tutu. Or better, it might have been a lost soul who suddenly found hope, saw goodness, felt love. It may have started someone on the way back from alcoholism, addiction, despair. It may have challenged a tepid Christian to look at himself and wonder why he couldn’t be like you, like Jesus. These are the pebbles at the top of our mountain.   Push a pebble today. Start an avalanche for God.

So Ite, Missa est. Go, our Offering has been accepted, our Thanksgiving had been made, we have eaten Jesus and drunk His Blood, our strength has been restored to full power. Jesus marches forth in me, hidden, ready, always ready to spring forth and catch the other unawares. Have I practiced my Spiritual Tai-Chi today?

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Reciprocal Faithfulness

I don’t know about you, but the last line of this snippet from Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy always bothered me: This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere, we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself. [2Tim 2:11-13] [1]

The first part reads like Contract 101; we do this, God does that. We have two positives with Him: if we die, we live and, if we persevere, we reign. These are followed by a negative, but still within the realm of reciprocal logic: if we deny Him, He denies us…all this Jesus had said Himself. [See Mt 24:9,13; 10:33] So far, so good. I mean, I have to die, persevere to the end and not deny Him but the reward is life eternal and reigning with Him in heaven. Tit for tat, right….?

But then we come to the final phrase in which God throws us a curve ball. Contractually, poetically and linguistically, it does not follow the nice pattern set by the others: If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself. [2Tim 2:13] God just doesn’t want to fit into our nice mold!   He is what He is and that’s that…and we can like it or lump it, it ain’t gonna change.

So what are we dealing with here? What is this faithfulness and why is it so intrinsic, so essential, to God that He cannot deny it, cannot separate His very nature from it. I mean, when we are dealing with God, we are dealing with He who is all-powerful, all-knowing, who created everything from absolutely nothing, simply by thinking and willing. I mean, He’s God, after all; “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” [Gen 18:14] We assume the phrase: “I can’t” doesn’t exist in God’s vocabulary.

Yet, in spite of fact that most mysteries with which God confronts us are resolved by being both/and, by folding one opposite into the other, by making a circle of the spectrum, e.g. Divine and human, died and lives, bread and body, there are the opposites to God’s very essence as God which, though they can be stated, like a round square, cannot be true. For example, God cannot have an end, either dimensionally or temporally. Other examples, fortunately for us, God cannot be un-loving, unjust or un-merciful; it is against his nature as God. He cannot be what He is not.

So, according to St. Paul, we have to throw faithfulness into that impossible list. According to him, God would have to deny, go against His very nature to be unfaithful. His very Being demands that He is ever faithful, that He is His Word. He not only stands by the Truth, He is Truth itself. He is unchangeable, immutable. Truth is truth, what is, what was, what will be, always and forever; you neither change nor have an end. [Ps 102:27] Thus, like it or not, it is He who keeps faith forever. [Ps 146:6]

Paul expands on this in Romans: What if some were unfaithful? Will their infidelity nullify the fidelity of God? Of course not! God must be true, though every human being is a liar, as it is written: “That you may be justified in your words, and conquer when you are judged.”[2] [Rom 3:3-4] Again, he ties it into Truth, truth in His judgment of you and me. We will judge Him, evaluate whether or not He is a God of His Word, and, in the end, we will have to concede that He always abides by the Truth, is the Truth, judges by the Truth. There is no getting around it.

So, to what is God faithful? He is faithful, He abides by, adheres to everything He ever said to me. We witness this from the beginning, from his first order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die. [Gen 2:16-17]

God does not threaten; He promises. And when He promises, He states facts. When He utters this curse: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; they will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel, [Gen 3:15] this will happen.

When Jesus’ promises: Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life, [Jn 5:24] if we listen to Him and believe in Him, we definitely, positively, will have eternal life, guaranteed. The same with all Jesus’ other statements: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. [Jn 6:54]

It is this hope of eternal life that God, who does not lie, promised before time began. [Titus 1:2] It is this to which The LORD is righteous [just/lawful] in all his ways, and faithful [truthful] in all his works. [Ps 145:17]

I mean, let’s face it: Is God one to speak and not act, to decree and not bring it to pass? [Num 23:19] If He is, then we’re in BIG trouble. But, the testimony of witnesses throughout the whole of Salvation History adamantly shout: “NO WAY!” Even creation itself, by the fact that He brought it into being, sustains it, nourishes it, encourages it to flourish, even creation declares with every wisp of cloud and bellow of bull, “NO WAY!”

God, in Jesus, is not only a “man of His Word,” but the Father is a God of His Word. So You, God, not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Your Word surrounds us with reality. You both tell us in what we are to believe, but also You are Him in whom we are to believe. The author of Hebrews stated: Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen[3]. [Heb 11:1] You are the substance, the Being, the Reality we hope for. You provide creation as Your own proof, though unseen. You say to us: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound, [1Kgs 19:11-12] mysterious, ungraspable, contradictory, a both/and: a silent sound, before whom we, like Elijah must hide our faces in our cloaks and go out and stand at the entrance of the cave of the world before You, LORD. [See 1Kgs 19:13]

In turn, You call me to walk the walk, to walk by faith, not by sight.[2Cor 5:7] But you know me! you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar….with all my ways you are familiar. Even before a word is on my tongue, LORD, you know it all.[Ps 139:2-4] That’s what makes me afraid. You know my vacillating commitment to You, God! On and off…hot and cold…Yes and no. I turn my will and my life over to You because I know that I am addicted to control and that You are in charge and have a plan for me and care for me and love me and want me to be with You and reach my greatest happiness…but in the next breath, I grab control back and go off and do what I want to do, when I want to do it, joining Sinatra in the chorus, belting out to the top of my lungs: “I’ll do it my way!”

That’s, of course, until I, like the Apostles get caught in the storms of life, so that my boat was being swamped by waves. I can’t believe You’re there, just calmly sleeping while I see the world is going to hell in a hand basket. I scream to the top of my lungs: “Lord, save me! I’m perishing!”

And what happens? You save me, and You rebuke me: Why are you terrified, O you of little faith? [Mt 8:24-26] What gives? Can’t You see I was frightened out of my wits? …But perhaps that is the very point. You do see that I was scared and You know, not just believe but know, that it is not necessary. You empathize with the adrenalin rush, the tax on my heart. You want me to know that the Father is always in charge, always knows what He is doing, always has my best interests at heart, always, always, always loves me with an unconditional love, the same love with which He loves the rest of the chaotic world and He would never, ever let anything happen to me or anybody else on the face of the earth, of which he was not aware, not caring, not concerned, not going to bring to a blessed conclusion.

You even tell us later that we can do it all: I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. [Mt 17:20]

Ok, ok, I hear you, unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm. [Is 7:9] You reassure me that You are faithful and will not let…[me] be tried beyond…[my] strength; but with the trial…[You] will also provide a way out, so that…[I] may be able to bear it. [1Cor 10:13] You assure us that we can hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy. [Heb 10:23]

It isn’t easy…we are dealing with evidence of things unseen. [Heb 11:1] The same with hope: in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope….But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.[Rom 8:24-25] However, You know our weakness, our frailty, our finitude. You have given us a reason, proof of why we should believe: since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.[Heb 4:14] You gave us the rock on which the Church is built, and all the storms and violence and evil that Hell itself can throw against it will not budge it. [Mt 16:18] It is on this rock I will build my house, my faith, and I will listen to Your words and act on them and the rains will fall, the floods come, the winds blow and will try to tear my house down But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on the rock.[Mt 7:24-25] For me, the Lord will be my stronghold; my God will be the rock where I take refuge. [Ps 94:22] “Though storms may pound the securities and loves of our lives, we will not be vanquished. We will triumph through a reciprocal faithfulness.[4]

“Lord, we pray for the grace to feel your presence through our thoughts, circumstances, and moments of love that weave in and out of our day. We know that more times than not, the “feeling” is transitory. And that’s okay…Our life meaning is not advanced by a feeling, but it is anchored in the guarantee of your personal care for every aspect of our lives. To this claim we cling..[5]

“We will triumph through you being there for us and we being there for you.”[6]

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] This echoes Ps 51: For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your eyes so that you are just in your word, and without reproach in your judgment. Behold, I was born in guilt, in sin my mother conceived me. [Ps 51:5-7]

[3] Faith is the realization…evidence: the author is not attempting a precise definition. There is dispute about the meaning of the Greek words hypostasis and elenchos, here translated realization and evidence, respectively. Hypostasis usually means “substance,” “being” (as translated in Heb 1:3), or “reality” (as translated in Heb 3:14); here it connotes something more subjective, and so realization has been chosen rather than “assurance” (RSV). Elenchos, usually “proof,” is used here in an objective sense and so translated evidence rather than the transferred sense of “(inner) conviction” (RSV). [NABRE note on Heb 11:1] (inner) conviction” (RSV).

[4] The Jesuit Prayer Team, Daily Inspiration: Mk 6: 30-34, JesuitPrayer.org July 19, 2015bid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

Fear Not!

I have lots of fears…instinctive, hard wired fears are knee-jerk self-preservation fears: against earthquakes, fires, floods, guns, terrorists, cancer, hell itself. Even Jesus seems to have “feared” and asked His Father to remove the cup of suffering and death from Him. I think it is safe to say he would not be fully human if He did not experience some of these hard-wired fears. These may be knee-jerk reaction fears, but they are in response to real things that can hurt, harm, devastate, kill me. Self-preservation kicks in and fear urges me to flee or fight.

Evidence of this type of fear is rampant in the Hebrew text. A good example occurs when God is making His covenant with Israel through Moses. There, He makes it abundantly clear of His power and might: Now as all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the blast of the shofar and the mountain smoking, they became afraid and trembled.[1] [Ex 20: 18a] They were even afraid of Moses face after he had seen God; they insisted that he wear a veil. [Ex 34:30-35]

However, Moses’ explains that this instinctive fear is a test, a reminder of the consequences of not obeying God: “Do not be afraid, for God has come only to test you and put the fear of him upon you so you do not sin.”[Ex 20:20] Here, my temporary, instinctive human fear is given a salutary reason; the fear comes from God for my benefit, because He loves me and knows He needs to get my attention, to strengthen my faith, the increase my trust, to draw me back to His love.

God is with me always, I do not need to truly fear such passing occurrences. Everything that happens to me is within the loving purview of God’s providence for me. Jesus reminds me: do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna, [Mt 10:28] which is precisely what martyrs did and do…terribly frightening prospect in the abstract, but, with faith, I am promised that I will be Spirit reinforced and strengthened in the moment.

“Fear of the Lord” is a constant refrain running through the Hebrew Scripture.[2] This Fear engendered by confrontation with the omnipotence, the overwhelming majesty, the Holiness of the Divine, is a combination of awe and reverence with a realization that this is the God against whom I can and have sinned and before whom I must stand and account for my actions. Such fear is a grace given us so that I am given a constant reminder of God’s presence and a perpetual restraint on my propensity to sin, the omnipresent realization of God’s Justice.

This “Fear of the Lord” is the fear to which God calls Abram before he makes the first covenant with him: Do not fear, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great. [Gen 15:1] God puts Abram’s reaction to the unknown, to a confrontation with God, to the consequences of obeying God in context, in perspective.

This “Fear not!” is a frequent refrain of Jesus.[3] Many of the events prompting his statement combine the “Fear of the Lord” reaction to Jesus’ manifestation of his divinity with instinctive self-preservation reaction to perceived “threats,” e.g. ghost-like appearances of Jesus walking on the water, all of a sudden appearing though locked doors, or Him being transfigured into the Christ with Moses and Elijah.

Though Jesus is constantly telling me to “Fear not,” He can say it all He wants; but sometimes it just doesn’t register…my ongoing fear is that I am constantly being called by Him: “‘Come!’ [Mt 14:29] get up, get out of your boat of complacency, my zone of conformity, of control, of comfort, and start walking on the water, start carrying that cross, start following Me.”

When it comes to God, my relationship with fear is very complicated. Letting go of the familiar is tough enough. But what Jesus, what the Father, what the Holy Spirit ask of me each moment of my life is to leave the past behind, to forget the future and to step off into the Eternal Now, the Kingdom of Divine Providence, to encounter God’s perpetual choice.

Like Indiana Jones when confronted with the unseen bridge to the cave of the Holy Grail, each step seems to be a step into oblivion. Each is a step of faith, a step into the trompe l’oeil that is God, the solid stone upon which my faith must be built, upon which rests all of creation, all of being itself. He hides within, beneath and above the next flag stone, the next blade of grass, the next tread on the stairs to eternity, bearing me up, urging me on, assuring me of His unconditional presence. His unconditional love holds my hand as I, with trepidation, take one step, then another forward.

When I believe, I cross without fear; when I doubt, when I, in fear and trembling, look over the edge into the abyss of nothingness, when I fall prey to the skepticism, the cynicism, the disbelief of the world, I panic, stumble, fall.

Help me, Lord, confront the instinctual fears with which You challenge me daily, knowing these are as much reminders of Your love and care for me as the brilliant sunrise and the flowers of the field. Help me to cling to that salutary “Fear of the Lord” which helps me to remain in awe and reverence when the splendors of Your creation become too commonplace and my awareness of Your presences is dulled by familiarity. Keep my attention on You and not the roaring clamoring texts of the passing world, the wind of viral opinion nor the waves of climate change, corporate greed and oppression, lone gunmen, and racial and religious violence. Instead, help me to heed You and fear not was I step off the complacency of control, pride, hubris and ignorance onto the invisible but sure footing of Your providential Eternal Now. Amen. Alleluia!!!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] 120 times per listings in the Concordance of the New American Bible, Archive, Vatican, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/_FA7.HTM

[3] 20 times in the Gospels plus 7 additional times in the Letters and Revelation. Ibid.