Feb 062005

Your Daily Tripod

"Your Daily Tripod" reflects the personal Fourth Day journeys of its authors and editors. We are happy to have companions like you share in this project. Our prayer is that these reflections will invite and inspire your Fourth Day journey of Piety, Study and Action as much as writing or editing them inspires our journey and brings us all close moments with Jesus and our neighbors.

When (Eleazar) was about to die under the blows, he groaned and said: "The Lord in his holy knowledge knows full well that, although I could have escaped death, I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging but also suffering it with joy in my soul because of my devotion to him." (2 Maccabees 6:30)

Zacchaeus by James Tissot [Public domain], via
Wikimedia Commons.
The Lord upholds me. (Psalm 3:6b)

At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So, he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, "Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house." And he came down quickly and received him with joy.  (Luke 19:7)


Lord, help me to make You visible to those who are searching.


In late August or early September 2005, I went to the 7:30 a.m. Mass at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Arlington, Va. It was my second Mass at St. Charles, and probably my fifth or sixth Mass, not counting weddings and funerals, since 1972. I was in the process of a divorce and on the edge of financial survival.  The priest had an Irish brogue and gave a homily about social justice. I decided I would rock his safe little world.

“Hi, my name is Melanie,” I more or less snarled on my way out of St. Charles. “I’ve been away from the Church for a long time, and I’m thinking about coming back.”

“Welcome home,” he said, smiling a little, seemingly unfazed, as he shook my hand. “Welcome home.”

A few months later, I received communion from him at my first-ever Christmas Day Mass and my first reception of the Eucharist in thirty-three years.

His name was Gerry Creedon, and today at Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria, Va., a whole lot of people—Catholic, Protestant, probably more than one atheist, rich, poor, Anglo, Latino, African-American, Asian, and so on—will gather for his funeral.

People knew Gerry for many reasons: his passion for social justice, his political connections, and acumen, his mandolin playing, his storytelling. They’ll remember him for those things, and for conferring sacraments on them and those they love. I’ll remember him for some of those things too. But mostly, I’ll remember Gerry for recognizing on that long-ago morning my fumbling yet intense desire to return and welcoming me in the Lord’s name, much as Jesus recognized Zacchaeus’ desire to know Him, regardless of how tired Jesus might have been, regardless of His plan to simply pass through Jericho. May we all be as attentive when others approach us, combatively or otherwise, with their thirst to know Him.

Put your life on hold for ten minutes today to listen to someone you would otherwise rush by.

Whoever was found with a scroll of the covenant, and whoever observed the law, was condemned to death by royal decree. But many in Israel were determined and resolved in their hearts not to eat anything unclean; they preferred to die rather than to be defiled with unclean food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. 1 Maccabees 1:62-63

"What do you want me to do for you?" He replied, "Lord, please let me see." Jesus told him, "Have sight; your faith has saved you." He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God. When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God. Luke 18:41-43


"The persecution of Christians and others is a source of great grief," Archbishop William E. Lori, the leader of the Baltimore archdiocese's half-million Catholics, said in an interview. "We really need to pray for those people affected."

"The joy of Easter is not meant to mask suffering. It's meant to give hope to those who suffer, to bring hope to the hopeless," he added. "We can all be agents of the Resurrection."


During my college years, I was active in the Encounter with Christ retreats (a shorter version of Cursillo with talks targeted to the generation of Catholics in college).  On the Friday night section about Know Thyself, the talk asked us to imagine someone has been making a movie of your life.  One of the questions to ponder is whether or not you could be convicted of being a Christian if someone watches the movie. 

Some of the people in 1 Maccabees did not have to worry about that cinematic feat.  They already “resolved in their hearts” to eat kosher and to respect the covenant. Many paid the ultimate price for their fidelity. They had such faith without being witness to the miracles of the New Testament when Jesus restored sight to the man born blind based solely upon his faith.

If you had your faith or health restored, it might be easy to praise God like the blind man. If you witnessed Jesus heal a blind man or person with leprosy, it might be easy for you to praise God like the people who witnessed the miracle in today’s Gospel reading. How much more faith did the people in the Hebrew Bible have that they laid down their lives without being witness to such miracles?


Religious persecution of Christians is not some ancient Biblical concern.  It remains an issue today. Christians and other religious minorities are facing systematic and horrendous persecution at the hands of the so-called “Islamic State” or ISIL.  

“Upon learning of the death of 21 Coptic Christians at the hands of ISIL terrorists [in 2015], Pope Francis called their murder a ‘testimony which cries out to be heard.’ 

“…The testimony of those 21 brave and courageous martyrs does not stand alone as thousands of families – Christian and other religions – find themselves fleeing from horrific violence. …We urge all people of goodwill to work toward protection of the marginalized and persecuted.” 

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urges the U.S. government to adopt five key policies in response to the rise of ISIL and religious persecution in the Middle East:

  1. Confront the reality of religious persecution in the Middle East, where Christians are beheaded “for the mere fact of being Christians” and other religious minorities suffer similarly at the hands of extremists;

  2. Recognize that it may be necessary for the international community to use proportionate and discriminate force to stop these unjust aggressors and to protect religious minorities and civilians within the framework of “international and humanitarian law;”

  3. Acknowledge that the problem cannot be resolved solely through a military response and that it is critical to address political exclusion and economic desperation that are being manipulated by ISIL in its recruitment efforts, especially in Syria and Iraq;

  4. Scale up humanitarian and development assistance to host countries and trusted NGOs, including our own Catholic Relief Services, that are struggling to aid displaced persons; and

  5. Accept for resettlement a fair share of some of the most vulnerable people where return is impossible.[i]

In testimony before the House committee dealing with this topic, the USCCB concluded:

Religious persecution in the Middle East must be confronted directly and strongly with comprehensive and far reaching strategies: encouraging intercultural education and interreligious exchanges and rejection of extremist ideologies;  strengthening the rule of law; using proportionate and discriminate force to protect religious minorities and civilians within the framework of “international and humanitarian law; addressing political exclusion and economic desperation that are exploited by extremists; scaling up humanitarian and development assistance to host countries and trusted NGOs; and accepting for resettlement a fair share of some of the most vulnerable people where return is impossible.

According to an article in The Baltimore Sun, "Catholic Relief Services, the international relief arm of the U.S. Catholic Church, has supported more than one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt the past five years, Hartigan said, spending $40 million in 2015 alone to provide medical help, counseling for trauma victims and hygiene kits... It can take refugees years to accept that they won't be going home anytime soon, Hartigan said, but as that awareness has taken hold, CRS has begun a pivot to longer-term initiatives, most notably working to expand educational opportunities for children."[ii]

You can support these efforts by writing or calling your Congressional delegation and supporting CRS with your charitable giving.

When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.  Proverbs 31:10-12

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief. For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6

“The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.'" Matthew 25:20-21


The soul would have no rainbow had the eye no tear. (Native American Proverb)


Another reading that is NOT about the literal money that is the focus of the parable. The talents, a coin of the day, is only used metaphorically.  This is more about how we use our God-given talents to build the Kingdom. Faithful use of our gifts will lead to participation in the building and the fullness of the kingdom; lazy inactivity will lead to our exclusion from the Kingdom.

As we approach the last two weeks in Ordinary Time for 2017, our readings turn to the year-end admonitions to be prepared. We can be going along all nice and happy until something unexpected happens.  As “children of the light,” our faith helps us be prepared for whatever the future holds. “When people are saying, "Peace and security," then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:3)

“Who among us has not had moments of great loss in life?  The job is gone, the loved one dies, the life I expected to inherit is rudely snatched away.  One minute things were normal and going according to plan. The next moment, life is mercilessly altered,” wrote Sr. Joan about when Mary and Joseph lost Jesus.[i] They experienced loss just like we do when they lost their special Son. Sr. Joan interprets the Fifth Joyous Mystery by reminding us that what is difficult, is not necessarily bad.  The third servant was afraid of failure and what it might mean to his master. He reacted to disaster without the hope of faith. However, he learned that failure to try to make the most of the situation was more of an offense than was the failure to try to succeed.
The Presentation: A Model of Strength

After the Annunciation, the nativity, and the Presentation, life apparently became routine for Mary and Joseph.  They were, after all, a normal Jewish family in a normal Jewish town with normal Jewish routines and normal Jewish expectations in life.

“All of the signs of difference and uniqueness and chosen-ness had long since dimmed. Then, on one of the holy days, at the time of a regular Jewish festival, when people were returning to their homes together from the Temple in Jerusalem, the normalcy of life is suddenly shattered for them again. The child is missing.  No one searches for a lost child in a casual manner.”[ii]

Mary and Joseph had to leave the caravan home to Bethlehem and go back – alone – to Jerusalem to find him.  They had the typical knots in their stomachs felt by any parent looking for a lost child. Then…they find Jesus, seated in the middle of the rabbis and teaching the teachers.

“…they realize with terrible awareness that life has something new in store for them.  Something which, like us, they do not understand. Mary of the Finding in the Temple is a model of trust for those of us who find the unexplainable and uninvited elements of life impossible to bear.”[iii]


Is life routine for you?  Are you leading a normal Catholic life in a normal American suburb with normal routines and expectations?  The bus comes at 7:10 a.m. The lunch of tuna fish and yogurt is packed and ready to eat at your desk. The grocery store is still pretty empty at 8 am on a Saturday. The pews are still empty if you get to Mass 20 minutes early and don’t have to frantically find parking and seats together.

St. Paul reminds us to prepare for sudden disaster. Easier said than done when that disaster strike.  Is your disaster named Harvey in Houston, or Marie in Puerto Rico? Or is your disaster named cancer or something else?

As we approach a new liturgical year, are you ready for what it has in store for you?  

[i] “In Pursuit of Peace: Praying the Rosary Through the Psalms” by Joan D. Chittister, OSB. Erie, Pennsylvania. 1992. Pax Christi USA.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

Image credit: From the above pamphlet, by Mary Southard, CSJ, a Sister of St. Joseph of LaGrange, Illinois. Mary's work can be seen at http://www.marysouthardart.org/

When peaceful stillness compassed everything and the night in its swift course was half spent, your all-powerful word, from heaven's royal throne bounded, a fierce warrior, into the doomed land, bearing the sharp sword of your inexorable decree. And as he alighted, he filled every place with death; he still reached to heaven, while he stood upon the earth. Wisdom 18:14-16

The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Luke 18:6-8


Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. (1 Thessalonian 5:19-21)


Who else needed the footnotes today to fully understand the wisdom served up today via the Book of Wisdom?  Reading the first sentence of the reading initially had me place this as a description of the Nativity.  Think of how that first line might be describing that scene that came upon a midnight clear in the silent night at a little town called Bethlehem.

When peaceful stillness compassed everything and the night in its swift course was half spent, Your all-powerful word, from heaven's royal throne bounded, a fierce warrior, into the doomed land…

However, the incarnation did not bring death.  And the little baby did not stand on earth reaching to heaven until his adult arms were stretched to the ends of the cross.

Only by reading onward does the scene of Passover emerge. Yet, perhaps my mind can be forgiven for the confusion in the Feast of the Holy Innocents calls to mind the fate of the Egyptian baby boys borne under rooftops when there was no blood smear on the lintel. They felt the sting of death from the sharp sword of God’s inexorable decree.

It was faith-in-action that saved the boys in Jewish households and faith, too, that saved the nagging widow in the reading about the impatient judge.

Will God find his children calling out to him day and night?  Will he answer those who pray unceasingly?  Will he find faith in Fairfax?


Do we have the persistence to pester our Abba constantly?  St. Paul told the people in Thessalonika (1 THES 5:16-17) to do two things.
  1. Rejoice always.
  2. Pray without ceasing.

What else do you do non-stop?  Talk?  Eat?  Drink? Actually, the correct answer is none of these.

Our hearts beat without ceasing. We breathe without ceasing. Is your prayer as constant as your heart and your breathing?  You might be able to hold your breath for a few seconds – even for a minute – but you can not stop your heart.

Our challenge is that we do not pray without ceasing.  The next time you pray the Confiteor, think about your commitment to pray when you ask for forgiveness for “what I have failed to do.”
Friday, November 17, 2017
For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen.  But yet, for these the blame is less; for they indeed have gone astray perhaps, though they seek God and wish to find him.  For they search busily among his works but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair.  But again, not even these are pardonable.  For if they so succeeded in knowledge that they could speculate about the world, how did they not more quickly find its Lord? (Wisdom 13:5-9)
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.  Day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge.  (Psalm 19:2-3)
Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark; and the flood came and destroyed them all.  (Luke 17:26-27)
O Lord, open my eyes that I may see and, even more, open my mind and heart that I may understand what I see. 
Today’s Scripture readings strike me as being about an inability to discern the deepest truth of what we see around us.  In the reading from the Book of Wisdom, we see how our forebears searched nature for God but missed finding God.  They worshipped the things of creation – the stars, the might of the sea, the sun and the moon, and even some animals.  They idolized the gifts of creation and totally missed the Giver, the Creator God whose power lies behind every bit of it. 

In Luke’s Gospel Jesus portrays the people of Noah’s day as remarkably disinterested in what was going on around them.  No one wondered or asked why Noah was building an ark.  No one thought it was alarming that Noah put all his family on board.  No one questioned the sanity of turning the deck of this ark into a zoo.  There was a reason for all of this, a very good reason.  Too bad no one attempted to find out what it was.  And then suddenly it was too late, even if they had been the least bit curious. 

Jesus said people haven’t changed in all the years since the days of Noah.  They continue to go about their business as though life in this world stretches on without end or without any kind of reckoning as to how our days have been spent.
I think Jesus pretty much hits the nail on the head.  People haven’t changed much, in fact, don’t generally ever change much.  We still find it difficult to put God before everything and everyone else.  We mistake the gifts of creation for the Giver.  I’m sure, if we’re honest with ourselves, many of us love our spouses, our children, or our best friends more than we love God.  Some of us love our material possessions or our 401(k) balances more than we love the Lord.  We’re just as idolatrous as the people described in the first reading, although the objects of our affections may be different.  And many of us, like the people of Noah’s day or the people in Jesus’ day, don’t interpret the signs of the times or what stares us right in the face very well.
In the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the final contemplation is the Contemplation on Divine Love.  The things we see around us, the gifts God gives us, are true and beautiful but pale in comparison to the Giver of all these gifts.  Take some time today to consider God’s overwhelming love for us and the fact that we owe God way more than the idolatry or indifference which are often our responses to Divine Love.

For (Wisdom) is an aura of the might of God and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty; therefore naught that is sullied enters into her. For she is the refulgence of eternal light, the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of his goodness. And she, who is one, can do all things, and renews everything while herself perduring; And passing into holy souls from age to age, she produces friends of God and prophets.(Wisdom 7:25-27)

Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus said in reply, "The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, 'Look, here it is,' or, 'There it is.' For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you." (Luke 17:20-21)


May all I think, say and do today give you Glory, O God, and increase your Kingdom among us.  Help and sustain me, I cannot alone persevere.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him, nothing came to be.What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;the light shines in the darkness,and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5) Thus begins the Gospel of John.

Divinity chose to break into human history, lighting darkness and standing before evil.  Divinity walked the earth in the person of Jesus and walks within each of us as His brothers and sisters today “passing into holy souls from age to age.”


What an act to follow.  What an example to emulate.  What a supporter, preserver, and joyful inspiration to count on day in, day out.  The command to glorify God, Jesus’ way of holiness is not easy, not always clear-cut, not always agreeable for our lifestyle to choose.  But in the Eucharistic Doxology of the Mass we hear the incredible reality that we are, if we but choose it, soaked, surrounded, immersed, filled and floated in the presence of a dynamic, present God.  Through him and with him and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever.  Amen”


Have you ever stood awed and silent among giant trees deep in a wood, or in front of a mind-blowing sunset or even amid the ancient ruin of a temple where millennia ago people sought God?  Take a minute and “go there” in your mind.  Now realize that we stand, sit, eat, commute, e-mail, prepare our kids’ lunch with such potential as a holy place, God’s Kingdom building on earth.  How will you keep awareness of this awesomeness within your soul today for guidance and joy?  Seek tiny moments of remembering to bring yourself back to God’s presence especially in times of doubt or stress!  And in instants of gratitude!

For the lowly may be pardoned out of mercy but the mighty shall be mightily put to the test. For the Lord of all shows no partiality, nor does he fear greatness, because he himself made the great as well as the small, and he provides for all alike; but for those in power a rigorous scrutiny impends.Wisdom 6:6-8

As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!" And when he saw them, he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests." As they were going they were cleansed. Luke 17:12-14


Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.


This passage from Luke will always be among my favorite readings from Sacred Scripture because it was the Gospel reading at the closing Mass for the Men’s 104th Cursillo on October 14, 2001 at Holy Spirit Parish, Annandale, VA.  Ten freshly minted “babe chicks” sat in the first pew wearing their Sunday best when Deacon Jack Ligon looked out in his homily and saw the coincidence of the ten lepers.

Jesus’ mercy on us began the prior Thursday evening when we showed up at the curbside of Missionhurst and entered the darkness of the “quiet” night.  Jesus was there at the driveway to meet us just as he met the ten lepers while crossing the border of Samaria and Galilee. 

After the healing took place, only one returned to give thanks.  The one who returned was not one of the Jewish lepers (who Luke implies should have better understood the healing that took place).  Instead, the returning healed leper was again a Samaritan who rose above the petty tribal differences like his good countryman who assisted the man mugged, robbed and left for dead in a ditch and the woman who encountered Jesus at the well of living water. 


Do we get it?  No matter if your Cursillo weekend was one month ago with the M135 or seventeen years ago, does the message of the weekend still resonate with you?  We are “put to the test” daily.  Are you getting a passing grade?  Or do you need extra credit?  A Bible study class?  A meeting of your group reunion?  A private tutor?

How well are you living the Christian life in your practices of piety, study and action?  How are you growing in love of God and in love of your neighbor?  How are you growing in gratitude and generosity? 
 Posted by at 8:28 am

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