Third Sunday of Lent – Moses

Since that moment, after God gave His name to Moses, began one continuing dialogue between God and Moses.  This one left and walked through-out the desert with the shepherd’s crook of God.

Along this itinerary, with such marvelous things and difficulties that will lead him to the Sinai, Moses went, each time, more and more into God’s intimacy, wishing that presence never quit himself.  He won’t cease praying, imploring and even insisting as the importunate friend we meet in the Gospel and all his prayer, as well as the one of Abraham will rely on since this moment, only on the same word of God: You told me…

“Moses said to the Lord: ‘See, thou sayest to me,’ “Bring up this people;” But thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me.  Yet thou hast said, “I know you by name and you have also found favor in my sight.”’”     (Ex 33, 12)

The highness of Moses doesn’t consist in the power given by God to defeat the Pharaoh or to guide the people among so many difficulties no more than to be a prophet.

His highness has its roots in the deepest love for his Lord, above all other gifts received from God; he was willingly and cordially the true servant of God, and not to have been chosen for the special mission he received.

The highness of Moses has been revealed to us by God himself.

“If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream.  Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house.  With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in dark speech; and he beholds the form of the Lord.”     (Nm 12, 6)

The highness of Moses is in his intimacy with the Lord.

“He was faithful in all God’s house as a servant but Christ was faithful over God’s house as a son.  And we are his house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope.”     (Heb 3, 2-5)

(Extract of En la escuela de los grandes orantes, by Jacques Loew.)

Andrew the Brother of Peter

Below is a short reflection I wrote after reading and reflecting on chapter 2, “The Brother of Peter.”

Father Menard’s reflections about Andrew point to two significant truths about discipleship on the interior and exterior human levels.  The “brother of Peter” not only listens, but interiorizes the lessons of his teacher, John the Baptist and lives it.  Jesus’ kinsman the Baptizer declares, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29) and, “He must increase; I must decrease,” (John 3:30).

Andrew could have at this point asked a lot of questions of John the Baptist or demanded proof and evidence.  And yet, the silent truth of God rings out loudly in the heart of man and compels action, either to follow Him or follow the whims of the fallen world.  Andrew made the wise decision.  Even Andrew’s question, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” seems almost sophomoric (John 1:38).  After all, Andrew was mentored and taught by John the Baptist- the “voice crying out in the wilderness.”  Wouldn’t John, like Eli mentoring Samuel, have taught Andrew to ask specific questions of Jesus and have this Nazorean carpenter demonstrate deeper proofs of His divinity?

This is precisely what John taught Andrew because the proof is in the question itself- a question that undergirds Andrew’s openness to God and willingness to allow God in the person of Jesus Christ to completely transform his heart and his life  By asking basically, “Where’s your place Jesus?” showed Andrew that He, the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, came to teach His disciples (Andrew first) why He came- not to abolish the law but to fulfill it in love that all of us who profess to be Christ’s follower’s are called to live in love each day, each moment of our lives.

So the first truth of discipleship is we need to be transformed interiorly like Andrew was before we can evangelize others; thus, Andrew received a hands on apprenticeship from Jesus, albeit for a short time, before he evangelized his brother Simon Peter.  Then, Andrew goes out to act on behalf of God.

The truth is I do not want to be transformed by God.  Why desire metanoia when I can demand of the Lord to fix problems # 1, 2, 3, and life will be marvelous, right?  Lord, you see these people and problems I gotta deal with down here, send some help will ya?  I know best God, so I am going to demand you fix things the way things I think they ought to be fixed.  C’mon God, you who split the Red Sea and raised Jesus from the dead, just do (fill in the blank) and I will be happy and follow you more- I’ll even slip in an extra Andrew Jackson in the collection this week, okay let’s be real, maybe a Secretary Hamilton or President Lincoln.

Andrew simply allows Jesus to be with him and show him, no demands, no pretense, no ego, no willfulness, just openness.  Funny, at this point Andrew is still a Galilean fisherman, still Peter’s brother.  And this is where the second truth of discipleship comes in.  When we’re open to being transformed by God’s grace we can act to be the people God created and intended us to be on both the human and spiritual level.  We can be our most authentic selves, true to who we are as sons and daughters of God, as brothers and sisters in the Lord.  This takes transformation, the new way of living Christ showed Andrew, and what Andrew showed Simon Peter.  Strange how we humans can crave God, transformation, and holiness and our own sinfulness and pride can poison the stew.  I sure want to help the church by joining the K. of C., but you better make me an officer in the group or you’ll get my sword- literally!  I’d love to be part of the prayer shawl ministry, but I will be President and what I say goes or you’ll get the end of my crocheting needle- literally.  Or far worse, I want to be pastor or deacon at the parish, but you will listen and obey to my dictates, I don’t have to listen to you mere parishioners.  What do you folks possibly know?  How much of that kind of sinful pride is in me where I always have to be the proverbial maraschino atop the hot fudge sundae?  Do I dominate conversations or try to manically control all decisions when it comes to family, friends, coworkers, etc.?

None of these stereotypes typify the archetype of Christian discipleship Andrew  models.  He was open, he was willing, and in sharp contrast to Cain as Fr. Menard pointed out, he brings his brother to God.  Openness to transformation and allowing God to work in the me He created to bring others to Him.  That’s what Andrew is all about.  The church now more than ever needs more Andrews and I’ve got a long way to go to emulate the saintly “brother of Peter.”

Lord, grant me the grace and wisdom to keep my mouth shut, to listen to You, and like the fisherman Saint Andrew, listen to You when and where to cast the nets as a fisher of men for the kingdom.  Amen.

Written by Dan Valente – MSA Lay Associate

First Sunday of Lent – Temptation of Christ

The demon tempter whispered to him: “If you are really the loved one of God, you should change these rocks, these pebbles, into loaves of bread.” Which was in fact to say something like: “You should guarantee people the material well-being which they’re striving for: comfort and pleasure. With money and technical know-how we can change these deserts into fertile oases. Then you’ll be sure to succeed.”

But God’s work is not done this way. Even though it is important to transform the earth, it is still more necessary to act upon the heart of man. As long as this remains unchanged and unaltered, material abundance will only grow on man’s spirit like a cancer. “Man does not only live by bread,” Jesus responded to this temptation, “but by the word of God as well.” What is important is to understand God’s vision for man and to know what conforms to his plans for the world.

The demon tempter whispered again: “If you are the loved one of God, you should be able to accomplish marvelous deeds without fear of failure. Say, for instance, jumping from the highest tower of the temple to soar gracefully into the center of the stupefied crowd below.” What an excellent way to seem to have come down from heaven itself, to take up the role of Messiah, to seduce the masses. Which was in fact to say something like: “Everybody loves stars, actors, winners, games and demonstrations of skill. Bread and circuses, that’s what attracts crowds! It’s a sure thing, a great way to be carried off in triumph!”

But God’s work isn’t done this way. For when someone gets the spotlight like this, it’s his personal success which becomes important. He tries all sorts of fantastic and outrageous feats just to win the approval of an audience. But it’s men’s hearts which must be turned toward God; and this daily cult of idols only turns them further away. “You must not pressure God into action,” Jesus responded to this temptation.

The demon tempter then threw out his ultimate assault. Conjuring up an image of all the riches of the world, the power of nations and the glory of thrones, he whispered this : “There’s an easy way to succeed, even if yours is a spiritual mission. Team up with power; ally yourself with the leaders of nations and men in power. To do that, you’ll have to get in their debt, worship them a little, flatter them. You’ll have to pay lip service to their way of seeing and governing the world, not criticizing their techniques of lies, tricks, force and violence.” In short, it boils down to recognizing Satan and adoring him.

But God’s work can’t be done in such a way. And it’s precisely in order to put an end to the domination of evil and sin that Jesus came on earth; in order to establish the reign of God in place of the “Prince of this World.” And its method would thus be radically in opposition: “Get lost, Satan,” Jesus concluded, “only God alone can be adored.”

Father Menard – At All Times

Ash Wednesday – Pray Like Jesus

Jesus often went off by himself to pray, arising in the morning before the disciples or going to some solitary place. This setting for prayer is most conducive to reflecting on the mystery of God’s plan unfolding in our lives – as Mary pondered in her heart the events surrounding the birth of her son Jesus (Lk 2; 51). Jesus likewise made use of prayer in solitude to ponder his mission on earth. Thus, after Jesus heard of the death of his forerunner, John the Baptist, he “withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place” (Mt 14; 13), where he could be by himself, and have the peace to enter into prayerful communion with his Father. The, death of John signaled the end of a pre­paration stage now Jesus wanted to be alone with his Father, so that he could contem­plate that lay before him.

The same type of prayer is necessary for us. Being a Christian is not a matter of following a certain set of rules that we can memorize and follow without need for further direction. Being a Christian means primarily entering into a personal relationship with God. Sustaining and nourishing that relationship requires personal contact with God. We must ponder in our hearts the mystery of his presence lives, and discern his will for us. Such prayer is different from exuberant jubilation or lov­ing intercession. Nonetheless, peaceful reflection on the mysteries of our faith is necessary for our growth in faith.

Jesus taught his followers “when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Mt 6; 6). Jesus was teaching against public ostentation in prayer; he was not teaching that our prayer should be exclusively private. Jesus himself went aside to pray – but he also prayed with the apostles and in their presence. It was because the apostles saw Jesus praying that they asked him to teach them how to pray (Lk 11: 1). And during the last supper, Jesus led the apostles in the prayers and psalms of the Passover (Mk 14; 26), adding his own words to the prayers of thanksgiving over the bread and wine. Thus, for Jesus, prayer was not only to be done in one’s closet in solitude, but also with others.

On Prayer by Father Menard pg 67-68

Rule of Life Prayer

Lord Jesus,

I offer You my hands to do Your work

I offer You my feet to follow Your road

I offer You my eyes to see the way You see

I offer You my tongue to speak your own words

I offer You my intelligence so You may think through me

I offer You my spirit so You may pray in me

Most of all,

I offer You my heart so that through me,

You may love the Father and all humanity.

I offer You my whole self so that You may grow in me,

So that You may be, Lord Jesus, He who works, lives and prays in me.

Amen. Ave Maria.

Together

In Christ Jesus,

In Mary, Mother of the Church,

In the Holy Apostles and

In Saint Francis of Assisi

At the service of God’s People.

Your brother priest

Fr. Eusèbe-H. Ménard

Fifth Sunday Ordinary Time – Vocation of Simon Peter

THE VOCATION OF SIMON PETER

With the freshness characteristic of one who transmits it to us, and which he has heard narrated directly from the mouth of Peter, Mark tells us that one day Jesus walking along the Sea of Galilee saw Simon” who was mending his nets. For his part, Simon was so occupied in his activities that he did not know that he was destined, thanks to a loving and profound vision, to go and fish in other seas.

Luke amplifies the scene a little more and introduces things in a dif­ferent manner: Peter had spent the night in his ship trying to catch fish but sadly he didn’t get “anything”… (he caught nothing”). In the morning, tired and oppressed he stopped fishing and he preferred his ship to be transformed into a pulpit so that Jesus could preach from there to “the entire multitude that gathered round him to hear the word of God”. The same ship that for a whole day and night was not capable of catching any fish now, thanks to the words of eter­nal life which are pronounced from it fishes men along the shores of the lake.

Finishing, Jesus said to Peter: “Launch out into the deep. Peter was so accustomed to the Sea of Galilee that he could hope for nothing, but when he least thought the Lord ordered, “Throw out the nets to fish. It seems contradictory that a carpenter would teach an experienced fisherman how and where to fish. If the whole night which had been the most favorable time to catch something had resulted in failure, now, at this time of day, it seemed absurd, apart from something extraordinary happening.

Therefore, Peter, who knew his office, which as was his custom always to reclaim, at the same time he would obey:

“We have caught nothing, but at your word I will cast out the nets.”

Having done this the result was surprising: “they caught a great quan­tity of fish”, so that the nets were breaking. That morning they caught more fish than they expected.

Then they asked help of James and John who were in the other ship, but even though they did they filled so much in the two ships that they nearly sank”. Peter could not believe it. The evangelist tells us that he was full of awe and of surprise.

Seeing this Simon Peter fell at the knees of Jesus saying ‘Depart from me, Lord, because I am a sinner!’”             (Luke 5, 8)

The capitalist mentality could reproach Peter, the Jew at not being able to take advantage of the opportunity to establish a great business career for himself: Why not invite that man who seems to know the deep mysteries of fishing to form together a fishing company which would be the most important in the Sea of Galilee…? Even a powerful international firm could be formed in the whole Mediterranean: FISHERMAN’S COMPANY. But, everything happens the opposite way. While Peter says: Depart from me…” Jesus responds “Come with me…”

Jesus, who also was a Jew, won the game. It was not Simon, the fisherman, who invited Jesus to fish but it was Jesus who invited Peter. He had in mind or in his heart to establish an international society and therefore he invited Peter to go and fish other seas: “Come with me and I will make of you a fisher of men”. Certainly he meant a very different “Company”, and even contrary to the two interests, material and capitalist, of this world.

On the other hand, Jesus would not take his profession from Peter. Simply he would transform it.

Many fear to follow Jesus for fear of losing what they possess. The first thing that Jesus does is to respect. Before everything he begins to transform us, and afterwards little by little, he gives us everything we need and takes what we don’t need.

We note something very interesting: Peter was called by Jesus in the most successful moment of his life, when he was just after being engaged in the greatest fishing success of his career, when he had reached the high point of his profession as fisherman…the best stage of his life. But, that man of 30 years, showed transparently in his look something divine which attracted irresistibly, and his words were “words of eternal life”. Therefore, “immediately, leaving his nets, he followed him.

Jesus did not call any failure, but a man who had experienced triumph. The subtlety of the Evangelist is marvelous. Peter follows Jesus because, without doubt, he presented something much superior to his professional success. That is, comprehend that to follow Jesus values more than the greatest of human triumphs; through no other way would he follow him.

Peter, Disciple and Pastor by Father Menard