June 24, 2018 – Solemnity of St. John the Baptist (12th Sunday of Ordinary Time)
 
LUKE 1:57-66, 80
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?”
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.
=====================
Scripture challenge –Numbers, chapters 10-12.
 
Saturday morning, we had a 6:15am wake-up call so that we could leave the hotel by 7:30am. We boarded the bus for 8am Mass at Gethsemane, the garden outside the walls where Jesus prayed with Peter, James and John before He was arrested. I presided and Deacon Tom Thiltgen preached this Mass. His homily was inspiring, calling us surrender and to do the Father’s will. In front of the altar is the rock on which it is believed that Jesus prayed that night he sweated blood and asked that this “cup might pass from my lips, but not my will, but yours be done.”
 
We then left to head east into the desert on our way to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. The desert is barren, hilly and rocky. The Jordan River runs all the way from north of the Sea of Galilee until the Sea and then south all the way to the Dead Sea. Our guide Yair, explained that the Sea of Galilee receives from the Jordan River and then gives back to the Jordan River on the other side. The Dead Sea only receives from the Jordan, but gives nothing in return. That is why it is called dead, because it takes and doesn’t give. That is true in our spiritual life, when we take and then give, we are fully alive. When we only take and consume, we die.
 
At the Jordan River, we renewed our baptismal vows. This was very meaningful for me, because at a silent retreat many years ago I prayed with this image of Jesus’s baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. My spiritual director asked me to imagine that I was Jesus during my baptism and I could hear the voice of God the Father say, “You are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” As our pilgrims entered the Jordan River, we told them, “You are God’s beloved son/daughter, and I renew your baptism in the name of the Father, son and Holy Spirit.” There were many tears on my part and those in our group as we reflected on the immensity of God’s love for us and our desire to be faithful disciples.
We then drove south along the edge of the Dead Sea to Masada. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should watch it. Herod the Great built a large palace on the top of Masada, a high mountain that was rather flat on top. Jewish zealots had fled from Jerusalem to the top of this mountain and were defeated in battle by the Roman army shortly after the sacking of Jerusalem. We took a cable car up the mountain, after lunch there, to see the ancient ruins and see the stunning view over the Dead Sea.
 
We left Masada and stopped the bus to look at the where they found the “Dead Sea Scrolls” in 1947. The Essenes copied the Scriptures and hid them in jars in these remote caves. They were written between 100 BC and 200AD. Then we boarded the bus again to swim in the Dead Sea.
 
We then had the opportunity to “swim” or “float” in the Dead Sea. It was such an amazing experience to lay in the water and float without any real effort. We also rubbed some of the black mud on our bodies that has great effect on our skin. If you ever come to the Holy Land, do not miss his opportunity. It was warmer this year at 104 degrees, so the water felt great!
 
We prayed a rosary on the bus on our way back to the hotel. We had dinner and socialized, reflecting on the many blessings of the pilgrimage so far. Tomorrow we will have Mass at the Church of the Visitation and then we have time for optional touring.
 
Have a blessed weekend!
Fr. Burke
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Saturday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time (June 23, 2018)
 
MATTHEW 6:24-34
Jesus said to his disciples:
“No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.
 
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’
All these things the pagans seek.
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.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”
========================
Scripture challenge –Numbers, chapters 7-9.
 
Today we started at 5:45am with a wake-up call because we had Mass at 7:30am at the tomb of Jesus, called the Holy Sepulcher. Our hotel, the Grand Court, is outside the city walls of Jerusalem. We drove a few minutes to the city and then entered on foot through the Joffa Gate, one of the seven active gates in Jerusalem. As we entered the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, we first visited the Rock of Unction, upon which they laid the lifeless body of Jesus to prepare Him for burial. Then we climbed very steep steps to the right to get to Calvary, where Jesus was crucified. Then we made our way to the tomb of Jesus for Mass.
 
We are given 30 minutes to celebrate Mass and allow each member of the group to spend a few seconds venerating the tomb. A priest from Poland joined us for the celebration. What a powerful opportunity for our group to visit the place where Jesus rose from the dead twice in the same trip! I think this impacted everyone in the group in a powerful way, as I know it did for me. Visiting the tomb has been the highlight for me both times I have come to the Holy Land. To be in the place where Jesus conquered death and opened the possibility of heaven for all of us is something that is difficult to describe. Words like overwhelming, joyful, emotional and thankful come to mind.
 
We returned to the hotel for breakfast and time to rest after Mass, and then we boarded our bus again at 10:45am for Mount Olivet, where Jesus ascended into heaven. Sometimes, this feast day is overlooked by many people, but it was through the ascension that human flesh first entered heaven in the person of Jesus. The Church of the Ascension has gone through many changes through the years of the Muslim invasion and Crusades.
 
We walked down from the Mount of Olives, following the path Jesus took when He was going to enter Jerusalem on a donkey. We sang, “Hosanna!” as we walked this steep downhill road. Before entering the city, we stopped at the church entitled Dominus Flevit, which means “Tears of the Lord.” This is where Jesus looked over Jerusalem and their lack of faith, and “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) There is a great view of Jerusalem from this site. I could imagine Jesus crying over the response He received from the men and women He created.
 
We then entered through Herod’s Gate and had the opportunity to walk the Via Dolorosa and do the Stations of the Cross through Jerusalem. The timing of our stations coincided with thousands of Muslims finishing their prayer at midday at the Dome of the Rock, the third most-visited Muslim site in the world after Mecca and Medina. As we walked through the busy streets of Jerusalem with two crosses for our group, we encountered congestion, obstacles and commercialism. There was no hostility, but it was difficult to make the walk, much more difficult than last year. I encourage the group to imagine the obstacles Jesus faced on the road to Calvary and encouraged them to keep their eyes focused on the Father. There are many crosses we carry to follow Jesus, but we trust that the Father will help us through anything. It was hot, crowded, and full of grace.
 
We then had a nice lunch, followed by some shopping. Then we went to the Western Wall to offer our prayers for all those people who have asked for our prayers. The Western Wall is the holiest site for Jews to pray. Behind it is the Temple Mount, which now is the site of the Dome of the Rock. It is fascinating how this place is so important to Christians, Muslims and Jews alike.
 
After the Wall, we visited the Church of Peter Gallincantu, the place where Peter denied Christ three times by the charcoal fire outside the praetorium. It is also the place where Jesus spent Holy Thursday night as a prisoner. We found it very interesting that a cock crowed early during our stations in the afternoon.
 
We then came back to the hotel for dinner and rest for another great day tomorrow, which will include Mass at Gethsemane, Masada, Jordan River and the Dead Sea. Please pray for us and we will pray for you.
 
God bless,
Fr. Burke
Posted by: frburke23 | June 21, 2018

Friday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time (June 22, 2018)

Friday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time (June 22, 2018)
 
Matthew 6:19-23
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.
But store up treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
“The lamp of the body is the eye.
If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;
but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.
And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”
===================
Scripture challenge –Numbers, chapters 7-9.
 
We began today with a 6:15am wake-up call and breakfast. We then left at 7:45am for Bethlehem, which is part of Palestine, a different state than Jerusalem. I always thought that Bethlehem was far from Jerusalem, but it is only about 10 minutes away. We went through a check-point entering Bethlehem and a different guide came on board because our guide, who is Jewish, cannot work in Palestine. The Christian (Catholic, orthodox, Protestant) population in Bethlehem has dropped from 80% to 20% in the last 25 years. We spent an hour shopping in one of the Christian stores that sells icons, olive wood products and other religious articles. This family that owns the business is Catholic and our purchases helps support the few Catholic families that remain in Bethlehem. They were telling us how difficult it is to be Catholic and live in Palestine. They could move to other places in the world, but feel called by God to protect the Catholic presence in the Holy Land.
 
Our Palestinian guide, George, joined us on the bus and took us to the church of St. Catherine, the place where Christmas Eve Mass is televised all over the world. We celebrated Mass at 10am and sang Christmas carols, because it is always Christmas in Bethlehem. After Mass, since there was a long line of pilgrims present to pray at the place where Jesus was born, underneath the church, we altered our plans a little.
 
We walked a few minutes to the Milk Grotto in Bethlehem, which has been a place of pilgrimage since ancient times. The story says that the Holy Family took refuge in this home as they were fleeing for Egypt during the slaughter of the Holy Innocents. They say Mary was breast feeding Jesus and a small drop of milk fell on the ground and changed the red brick into white. This white stone can still be seen today. Many couples, who have struggled with infertility, have come to this place hoping for a miracle.
 
We then returned to the church of St. Catherine for a 12pm solemn procession with the Franciscan friars down to the site of the manger below the Church. It was a wonderful opportunity for our group to experience the liturgy that included chanting, candles and incense. Our group could get close to the manger site and we didn’t have to wait in the long line.
 
Right down the hall from manger is a room that St. Jerome lived in for 33 years as he translated the Bible into Latin, called the Vulgate. Whenever he needed inspiration, he would pray in front of this inspirational site. Jerome is famous for saying, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
 
We then drove a little distance to the place to the shepherd’s field where they heard the angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will.” (Luke 2:14) George, our guide, led us in an impassioned reflection on the shepherd’s lifestyle and their journey to pay homage to see the Christ child. We sang “Gloria in excelsis Deo” acapella in a chapel there that had great acoustics.
 
We then ate lunch at Ruth’s, where we ate lunch last year. We had the options of falafel or chicken gyro. After lunch we made our way over to Jerusalem, where we started by visiting the Upper Room. This room can be uninspiring because it is not kept well and there have been many changes through the years of the location, including it being a mosque at one point. We talked about how in that place Jesus instituted the priesthood, Eucharist and Pentecost happened there.
 
Then we made our way downstairs to visit David’s tomb. I had never connected David’s body with the location of the Upper Room, but Peter says in Acts 2:29, “My brothers, one can confidently say to you about the patriarch David that he died and was buried, and his tomb is in our midst to this day.” There are men that pray in the presence of David’s tomb constantly.
 
We then walked to the church in honor of the Dormition of Mary, or the Assumption of Mary. The Church proclaimed in 1950 the dogma of faith that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven, without declaring if she died or fall asleep. We sang a couple of songs there and once again were on our way through the town of Jerusalem to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
 
Our guide arranged a very special surprise for us. The Franciscan Friars at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher invited our group to participate in the Solemn Entry, in which they welcomed our group at the door of the church, led us in procession to the tomb of Jesus, offered some prayers and a brief, joyful homily, before inviting us to spend a short time of prayer in the tomb, four persons at a time. Our guide said this was a rare occasion and we all felt blessed to participate. Many of us were touched deep in the core to be in the tomb where they placed the lifeless body of Jesus AND where He rose from the dead.
 
We returned to the hotel for dinner and Yair, our guide, offered an optional tour of the Wailing Wall after dinner. The overall sense of the group tonight is that we are all very joy-filled, even to the point of being overwhelmed by the love and mercy of God. Tomorrow we look forward to Mass in the tomb at 7:30am!
 
Have a blessed day. Thanks for your prayers for us and be assured of my prayers for you.
 
Peace,
Fr. Burke
Thursday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time (June 21, 2018)
 
Matthew 6:7-15
Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This is how you are to pray:
‘Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.’
“If you forgive others their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
====================
Scripture challenge –Numbers, chapters 4-6.
 
Today we had a wake-up call at 6am to be ready for our 7am Mass at the Basilica of the Annunciation. We had the privilege of celebrating Mass at the altar right in front of Mary’s house where the Angel Gabriel appeared to her. Deacon Tom Thiltgen challenged us in the homily, “What are you afraid of? What keeps you from being the person God created you to be?” Mary accepted her role in salvation history, without knowing the future. She was perplexed by the call, but quickly responded YES to the will of God.
 
We then saw the workshop of Joseph next door. Then we made our way down the street to the synagogue in which Jesus proclaimed Isaiah 62 and then said, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) Imagine what it was like for those hearing Jesus proclaim that He was the Messiah. They knew Him to be the carpenter’s son, not the Son of God. It was from this synagogue that they tried to throw Jesus off the cliff that we visited yesterday.
 
We visited a Greek church next door to the synagogue and then returned to the hotel for breakfast. We packed our bags and then left Nazareth at 10:45am to make our way for Jerusalem. We took the route southwest of Nazareth toward the Mediterranean Sea.
 
We stopped at Caesarea Maritima on the sea to see the ancient Roman ruins. First, we saw the aqueduct made by Herod the Great in the first century B.C. Amazingly, this aqueduct ran 11 miles and water traveled purely by gravity. The engineering needed for this fete was amazing. Later, Hadrian added another aqueduct the same size as the one of Herod to double the capacity to distribute water. We took time to dip our feet in the Mediterranean Sea on this beautiful day.
 
We then walked down the beach to see more ruins of this ancient city. We saw the hippodrome, used for horse races, as well as the palace that was huge. There was a stone that listed Pontius Pilate, which means that Pontius existed, and this was an important site. This was a key city between Egypt and Syria. We then saw the theater, and I couldn’t help but think about the slaves that built these amazing places, all for the pleasure of Herod and the people. Many people probably died in service of making these places of entertainment.
 
We ate lunch at a Jewish kibbutz, next to the ruins, and then we continued on our journey to Jerusalem. We stopped at Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) to visit the place they think Jesus encountered Cleopas and the other disciple as they left Jerusalem. This was one of the first Masses as Jesus explained the Scriptures and then broke bread with them. They recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Do I recognize the presence of Jesus around me, in my spouse, best friend, co-worker, and even my enemy?
 
We arrived in Jerusalem around 5:30pm, stopping at Mount Scopus to enjoy an amazing view over the city. The group was very excited to be in this holy city, the place where Jesus gave His live for the salvation of the world. Today we saw where it all began in Nazareth. Tomorrow we will celebrate Mass in Bethlehem. Friday, we will be at Calvary. It is so powerful to be at these sites as the Scriptures come alive before our eyes.
 
We finished the day with dinner at the Grand Court Hotel in Jerusalem and retired to our rooms for a big day tomorrow. Know that you are being lifted in prayer at each of these Masses.
 
Have a blessed night!
Fr. Burke
Wednesday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time (June 20, 2018)
 
2 KINGS 2:1, 6-14
When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind,
he and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.
Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here;
the LORD has sent me on to the Jordan.”
“As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live,
I will not leave you,” Elisha replied.
And so the two went on together.
Fifty of the guild prophets followed and
when the two stopped at the Jordan,
they stood facing them at a distance.
Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up
and struck the water, which divided,
and both crossed over on dry ground.
 
When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha,
“Ask for whatever I may do for you, before I am taken from you.”
Elisha answered, “May I receive a double portion of your spirit.”
“You have asked something that is not easy,” Elijah replied.
“Still, if you see me taken up from you,
your wish will be granted; otherwise not.”
As they walked on conversing,
a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them,
and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
When Elisha saw it happen he cried out,
“My father! my father! Israel’s chariots and drivers!”
But when he could no longer see him,
Elisha gripped his own garment and tore it in two.
 
Then he picked up Elijah’s mantle that had fallen from him,
and went back and stood at the bank of the Jordan.
Wielding the mantle that had fallen from Elijah,
Elisha struck the water in his turn and said,
“Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?”
When Elisha struck the water it divided and he crossed over.
================================
Scripture challenge –Numbers, chapters 1-3.
 
At the end of our big day on Monday, we gathered in a room and everyone shared why they were here on this pilgrimage. Some people admitted later that they were tired and didn’t want to be in the meeting. However, after everyone shared for about one minute, the group bonded together as they listened to the stories of one another. Connections were made, bonds were formed and walls came tumbling down. It was beautiful to see how everyone stayed up for a while talking, laughing and sharing stories after this meeting. Some of us made a quick visit to the Basilica of the Annunciation before calling it a day.
 
We began our second full day with a 7:30am wake-up call. We ate breakfast in the hotel and then left at 9:00am for Mount Precipice, or the “brow on the hill” mentioned in Luke 4:29. Jesus had returned to Nazareth and read from Isaiah in the synagogue. After reading about the Messiah, Jesus proclaimed, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) The people were furious with Him, thinking that He was blaspheming, so they took him the “brow of the hill” to kill Him, but “He went straight through their midst and walked away.” (Luke 4: 30) What a beautiful view of the valleys around Nazareth from this place!
 
We then made the short trip to Cana, where Jesus’s first public miracle happened as He changed the water into wine. I witnessed the renewal of vows of the fourteen couples who are with us. It was beautiful to see their emotion as they renewed their vows. I could only imagine what the words “for better and for worse, in sickness and in health” mean to them after 15, 25, 40, and 57 years. We also blessed those whose spouse could not make the trip with us, those who are widows and widowers, and those who are single. It was something that many of us will never forget to renew vows in such a sacred place.
 
Following Cana, we drove to Mount Carmel, where we read the story from 1 Kings 18:22-40, in which the prophet Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal to a duel. The 450 prophets prepared a holocaust and called on Baal to answer and consume the holocaust. They danced around the alter, cut themselves and were in a frenzy. There was no response from Baal, so Elijah taunted them and then invited everyone around his altar. As soon as Elijah called on God, He responded and consumed the sacrifice on the altar. Everyone came to believe in the God of Israel after seeing this miracle performed on Mt. Carmel. Bishop Barron gives a great homily on the gods that we serve – honor, power, pleasure and wealth. We dance around these altars like the prophets of Baal, but these things will never satisfy us. Only the one, true God will satisfy our deepest longings of our heart.
 
Interestingly, the story today from 2 Kings talks about Elijah going up to heaven and hands on his mantle to Elisha. In the Old Testament, the prophets were cloaked with the mantle representing God’s call and authority. Elijah was handing on this call and authority to Elisha. Some even say that the “mantle that had fallen from” Elijah represents how the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles in the New Testament. Elisha then “wielding the mantle that had fallen from Elijah,” was able to part the waters with the power given to him through the mantle.
 
This is a reminder that all of us who are baptized have received the Holy Spirit along with our vocation, or calling in life. We also receive the authority of God through the Holy Spirit to do things that seem humanly impossible, like Elisha parting the waters. It is a call for each of us to stir up the Holy Spirit within us through our prayer, study and acts of charity.
 
We descended from Mount Carmel’s panoramic view to have lunch at a restaurant run by Druze, which is a unique religious and ethnic minority among Arab citizens in Israel. You can learn more about them on the internet. We ate falafel or schnitzel.
 
After lunch, we made our way toward Mount Tabor. On the way, we stopped to look at a tomb along the side of the rode that had a round, stone that rolled to cover the tomb. Although this was not His tomb, this would be like the tomb in which Jesus was laid in Jerusalem.
 
We arrived at Mount Tabor to celebrate a 5pm Mass at the main altar of the Basilica of the Transfiguration, the location in which the transfigured Jesus, Moses and Elijah appeared to Peter, James and John. Jesus was trying to prepare them for the impending crucifixion, and He was preparing us for the heavy crosses that we must bear in life. Never give up or turn your backs on God when times get difficult, because Jesus is the only One that can get us through the tough times.
 
One member of our group shared last night how the Lord had called her on this trip, specifically to Mount Tabor and the Transfiguration. She read the first reading and we all felt the power of the moment with her as she received abundant graces from the Holy Spirit.
 
After Mass, we stopped on the way back to the hotel to read a passage from Luke 7:11-18, in which Jesus was in Naim/Nain and raised from the dead the only son of a widow. We did not enter Naim/Nain, but we read the passage along the highway by the city. We can only imagine the pity and compassion of Jesus for this widow who had lost her only son, as Jesus may have been thinking about His own mother at His crucifixion.
 
We returned home for the buffet dinner at the hotel. We finished the day with a multi-lingual rosary at the Church of the Annunciation, which was beautiful. Three people in our group led parts of the rosary in English and Spanish.
 
Have a blessed day!
Fr. Burke
Posted by: frburke23 | June 18, 2018

Tuesday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time (June 19, 2018)

Tuesday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time (June 19, 2018)
 
Matthew 5:43-48
 
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your 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.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
==========================
Scripture challenge –Exodus, chapters 38-40.
 
Today was our first full day in Nazareth and we spent the day around the Sea of Galilee. We began the day at the Mount of the Beatitudes, where Jesus gave His sermon on the mount (Matthew, chapter 5-7). It was a very hot day, but a beautiful one to see the glory of the day. The flowers were in full bloom and our pictures should be amazing with the contrast of the blue sky, green trees and shrubs, and the colorful flowers. We read the Beatitudes outside the chapel. We also discussed how Moses went up Mt. Sinai and came down with the Ten Commandments. Jesus went up the Mount and said, “You are have heard it said…,” meaning He was greater that Moses and He came to fulfill the Commandments, not abolish them.
 
We then went to the church of the Primacy of Peter where we read John 21:1-19, where Jesus invited Peter back to the charcoal fire. Peter denied Jesus at a charcoal fire outside the praetorium. After the resurrection, Jesus made a charcoal fire on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He invited Peter back to the wound of his denial, not to condemn him, but to heal him. I shared how the Lord invited me back to the night my mom died, not to make me relive that night, but to heal me and show me that He was with us that night. Jesus also commissioned Peter, the first among the apostles, to “Feed my sheep.”
 
We then went to Capernaum where Jesus centered much of His public ministry. We saw the ruins of the house of Peter’s mother-in-law and the two synagogues that were built next to this house. A church was built above the ruins of Peter’s mother-in-law’s house. We celebrated Mass there and read John, chapter 6. It was in the synagogue that Jesus taught His disciples, “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” This is always very emotional for me because the Eucharist brought me into the Catholic Church, drew me into the priesthood through Eucharistic adoration, and sustains me as a priest.
 
We moved down the coast of the Sea of Galilee and visited the basilica that commemorates the place where Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish to feed thousands. I remember kneeling in this church, asking the Lord to increase my faith that He can do anything in and through me. “Lord, please do not let my lack of faith be a limiting factor, but let me be your instrument of big and small things in this world.
 
We drove down the coast on the west side to have lunch. We had the choice of eating a typical fish dinner from the sea, which is tilapia. We could also order chicken or kabob (beef and lamb). After lunch, we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. We talked about the several Scripture passages that dealt with Jesus on this sea (Peter walking on water, Jesus calming the sea, and Jesus asking them to cast their nets on the other side). The themes include trusting in God and not depending on ourselves.
 
Next. we drove down to Magdala, which continues to be excavated. It is believed that Magdala was a town of about 3,000-4,000 people during the time of Jesus. Mary Magdalene would be one of these citizens and she became a faithful follower of Jesus. A beautiful church dedicated to women was built in this place. We had a prayer service, thanking God for the amazing women of faith in our Church history and our family history. One of the highlights for me is a stunning painting of the woman who was hemorrhaging reaching out and touching the cloak of Jesus. As we know, her faith healed her as she touched Jesus. I now have a print of this painting in my office and have used it in healing retreats.
 
We returned to the hotel and had a meeting among the 56 pilgrims and two guides. We shared who we are as well as what brought us to this pilgrimage. I was humbled as this blog has brought many people on this pilgrimage. Ultimately, it was beautiful as people shared from the heart as to why they came on this pilgrimage. It was obvious that the Holy Spirt has a plan for each one of us.
 
We then ate dinner and some of us visited the Church of the Annunciation, which is right across the street. Most the pilgrims feel overwhelmed by the graces of the first day. We can’t wait to visit Mt. Tabor and the Church of the Annunciation tomorrow, along with renewing marriage vows at Cana.
 
Blessings,
Fr Burke
Posted by: frburke23 | June 17, 2018

Monday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time (June 18, 2018)

Monday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time (June 18, 2018)
 
Matthew 5:38-42
 
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one to him as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand him your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go with him for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”
=======================
Scripture challenge –Exodus, chapters 35-37.
 
I am writing this from our bus as we travel from the airport in Tel Aviv to our hotel in Nazareth, where will be spending three nights. We began the pilgrimage from Chicago O’Hare on Saturday with a flight at 9:30pm. All but three of our 56 pilgrims flew out of Chicago and the other three will meet us in Israel.
 
Because we were going to be traveling all day on Sunday, we celebrated Mass at gate M15 in the international terminal in Chicago. Several people who were not part of our group joined us for Mass, which was wonderful. We battled the constant interruptions of the intercom system at the airport, which reminded me of the Masses at Wrigley Field. At the airport, we also ran into Archbishop Listecki and Fr. Simon of Relevant Radio, who were leading a group to Greece and Turkey.
 
We flew from Chicago to Warsaw, Poland on Lot Airlines. It was an uneventful flight overnight in which many of us slept much of the way. We landed in Warsaw at 1:30pm local time on Sunday and two hours later were on the plane for Tel Aviv. I was happy to find out when we landed that the Mississippi State Bulldog baseball team won their first game in the College World Series last night! Except for one lost suitcase and one pilgrim being questioned for a while by immigration, everything has gone very well. Please continue to pray for us as we will be visiting the Sea of Galilee tomorrow. We will pray for you.
 
How difficult it is to follow Jesus’ instruction at times… Our natural reaction when we are hurt or offended is to strike back and make the other person feel what we have felt. But Jesus tells us to “offer no resistance”, “turn the other [cheek]”, go the extra mile, give until it hurts…
 
In these sixteen years as a priest I have not always lived up to these teachings by the Lord. I have failed many times. However, I have found that when I practice these difficult teachings there is so much grace and peace that comes with it. We must learn to discipline our will and intellect. We cannot simply react to others, but we must be people of prayer and prudence.
 
How do we learn to forgive? I always try to sit in front of a crucifix and call to mind the Lord’s words from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” It also helps me to realize that few people wake up and think, “How can I make your life miserable today?” One of my best friends taught me that if someone offends me, seek to understand where they are coming from. Often there is miscommunication, a lack of understanding, or they are dealing with a difficult personal situation.
 
How is the Lord asking you to put these teachings into practice? Is there someone at work or school that tests your patience? Has someone hurt you? Ask the Lord for the grace to love and forgive those who hurt you, to be patient with those who try your patience, to give until it hurts.
 
Have a blessed day,
Fr. Burke
==========================================
Lunes de la 11ª Semana del Tiempo Ordinario (18 de junio 2018)
 
San Mateo 5:38-42
Ustedes han oído que se dijo: Ojo por ojo y diente por diente.
Pero yo les digo que no hagan frente al que les hace mal: al contrario, si alguien te da una bofetada en la mejilla derecha, preséntale también la otra.
Al que quiere hacerte un juicio para quitarte la túnica, déjale también el manto;
y si te exige que lo acompañes un kilómetro, camina dos con él.
Da al que te pide, y no le vuelvas la espalda al que quiere pedirte algo prestado.
===================
Desafío de las Escrituras -Éxodo, capítulos 35-37.
 
Estoy escribiendo esta reflexión desde el autobús que nos lleva del aeropuerto de Tel Aviv hasta nuestro hotel en Nazaret, donde nos vamos a quedar tres noches. Comenzamos el peregrinaje de Chicago O’Hare el sábado con un vuelo a las 9:30pm. Todos los 56 peregrinos, menos 3, volamos desde Chicago y los otros tres nos van a alcanzar en Israel.
 
Porque íbamos a viajar todo el día de domingo, celebramos misa en la puerta M15 en el terminal internacional en Chicago. Varias personas que no son parte de nuestro grupo nos acompañaron en la misa, la cual fue muy hermosa. Habían muchas distracciones con los locutores en el aeropuerto, pero estoy acostumbrado de las interrupciones en las misas en Wrigley Field. En el aeropuerto, vimos al Arzobispo Listecki de Milwaukee y Padre Simon de Relevant Radio. Ellos están llevando un grupo de peregrinos a Grecia y Turquía.
 
Volamas de Chicago a Warsaw, Polonia en la aerolínea Lot. Era un vuelo sin novedad en que muchos de nosotros dormimos la mayoría del camino. Aterrizamos en Warsaw a la 1:30pm tiempo local el domingo y dos horas después estábamos en otro avión saliendo para Tel Aviv. ¡Yo estaba feliz cuando me dijeron que el equipo de beisbol de Mississippi State University ganó su primer juego en el Serie Mundial de las Universidades anoche! Fuera de una maleta perdida y un peregrino que fue investigado por la migra, todo nos fue muy bien. Por favor, sigan rezando por nosotros. Mañana vamos a visitar el Mar de Galilea y rezar por Uds.
 
Qué difícil es seguir la instrucción de Jesús… Nuestra reacción natural cuando estamos heridos o ofendidos es la venganza y hacer que la otra persona sienta lo que hemos sentido. Pero Jesús nos dice que ” no hagan frente al que les hace mal, “preséntale también la otra mejilla”, sigue adelante, da hasta que te duela.
 
En estos dieciséis años que tengo de sacerdote, no siempre he llevado a cabo estas enseñanzas del Señor. Sin embargo, me ha dado cuenta que cuando practico estas enseñanzas difíciles, hay tanta gracia y paz. Tenemos que aprender a disciplinar la voluntad y el intelecto. No podemos simplemente reaccionar a los demás, tenemos que ser personas de oración y de prudencia.
 
¿Cómo aprendemos a perdonar? Siempre trato de sentarme frente a un crucifijo y recordar las palabras del Señor de la cruz: “Padre, perdónalos porque no saben lo que hacen”. También me ayuda a darse cuenta de que pocas personas se despiertan y piensan, “¿Cómo puedo hacerte miserable hoy?” Uno de mis mejores amigos me enseñó que si alguien me ofende, busque entender de dónde vienen. A menudo hay falta de comunicación, falta de entendimiento, o la persona tiene una situación muy difícil en su vida.
 
¿Cómo te esta pidiendo el Señor que pongas estas enseñanzas en práctica? ¿Hay alguien en el trabajo o la escuela que pone a prueba tu paciencia? Pídele al Señor la gracia de poder amar aquellos que te hierren, a ser paciente con aquellos que retan tu paciencia, dar hasta que te duela.
 
Que tengas un buen día,
Fr. Burke
Posted by: frburke23 | June 16, 2018

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (June 17, 2018)

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (June 17, 2018)
 
Mark 4:26-34
 
Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the Kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.”
He said,
“To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.
============================
Scripture challenge –Exodus, chapters 32-34.
 
As you read this, our pilgrimage group is somewhere over the Atlantic on our way to the Holy Land, passing through Warsaw, Poland. I will be journaling each day about our experiences, so please follow along and share with a friend.
 
Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers, step-fathers, adoptive fathers, priests, spiritual fathers, Godfathers and any man who gives and fosters life in others. May God bless you with all the graces you need to help your spouse and children get to heaven. Thank you to my Dad and all the men who have mentored me into the man I have become. I would not be here without you!
 
We live in a world where people expect immediate gratification and results. When we have a headache, we take aspirin to feel better. When we are hungry, we can microwave a quick meal. When we are thirsty, we are blessed to always have something nearby to drink. If we seek pleasure, there are so many possibilities on the internet, TV and in person to satiate our desires. We do not like to wait for anything.
 
Today, Jesus is talking about planting seeds without knowing how they will grow and prosper. I have found this to be true in ministry. I usually have no idea how God uses my words and example to touch the lives of others. They may take 10 years to germinate in someone’s heart before they act on them and through the grace of God, turn their lives over to Christ.
 
The same is true in the role of a father. We spend 18-20 years teaching, mentoring, coaching and investing time in our children, praying that the seeds that we plant will be nurtured and grow into something beautiful. However, we have no control over how they are going to respond to our care. We must entrust our children into the arms of our loving Father, who loves our children more than we do.
 
As we grow in our relationship with God the Father, our identity as His beloved child matures and is solidified. When the time comes, we are then able to give ourselves away to another, whether that be to our spouse, the Church or to Jesus. St. John Paul II once said that the goal of the Christian life is to make total gift of self. This can only happen when we are secure in the Father and know who we are.
 
If God blesses us with biological, adopted, foster or spiritual children, the goal is that they come to know their identity in God the Father as well. We do not want them to put us in the center of their lives. If that is our desire, our ego is getting in the way, and we have lost the meaning of our role. The purpose of raising a child is that they come to know their identity as beloved children of the Father, so that they can mature and one day give their lives away in total self-gift.
 
One day that little mustard seed that you sow may turn into one of the largest trees you have ever seen, that will give shelter and shade to many others.
 
Are you generous in sowing the seeds of faith?
Are you willing to patiently walk the faith journey with someone?
How can you help someone else come to know their identity as a beloved child of God?
 
Happy Father’s Day!
Fr. Burke
========================================
XI Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario (17 de junio 2018)
San Marcos 4:26-34
Y decía: “El Reino de Dios es como un hombre que echa la semilla en la tierra:
sea que duerma o se levante, de noche y de día, la semilla germina y va creciendo, sin que él sepa cómo.
La tierra por sí misma produce primero un tallo, luego una espiga, y al fin grano abundante en la espiga.
Cuando el fruto está a punto, él aplica en seguida la hoz, porque ha llegado el tiempo de la cosecha”.
También decía: “¿Con qué podríamos comparar el Reino de Dios? ¿Qué parábola nos servirá para representarlo?
Se parece a un grano de mostaza. Cuando se la siembra, es la más pequeña de todas las semillas de la tierra, pero, una vez sembrada, crece y llega a ser la más grande de todas las hortalizas, y extiende tanto sus ramas que los pájaros del cielo se cobijan a su sombra”.
Y con muchas parábolas como estas les anunciaba la Palabra, en la medida en que ellos podían comprender.
No les hablaba sino en parábolas, pero a sus propios discípulos, en privado, les explicaba todo.
=======================
Desafío de las Escrituras -Éxodo, capítulos 32-34.
Al leer esto, nuestro grupo de peregrinos está en algún lugar sobre el Atlántico en camino a Tierra Santa, pasando por Varsovia, Polonia. Estaré escribiendo un diario sobre nuestras experiencias, así que por favor sigue y comparte con sus amigos.
 
Feliz día del padre para todos los padres, padrastros, padres adoptivos, sacerdotes, padres espirituales, padrinos y cualquier hombre que da y fomenta la vida en los demás. Que Dios te bendiga con todas las gracias que necesitas para ayudar a tu esposa e hijos a llegar al cielo. Gracias a mi padre y a todos los hombres que me han guiado en el hombre en el que me he convertido. ¡Yo no estaría aquí sin ustedes!
Vivimos en un mundo donde la gente espera la gratificación y resultados inmediatos. Cuando tenemos un dolor de cabeza, tomamos aspirinas para sentirnos mejor. Cuando tenemos hambre, podemos poner en el microondas comida rápida. Cuando tenemos sed, tenemos la bendición que siempre hay algo cerca para tomar. Si buscamos placer, hay tantas posibilidades en el Internet, televisión, y en persona para saciar nuestros deseos. No nos gusta esperar por nada.
Hoy, Jesús está hablando de plantar semillas sin saber cómo crecerán y prosperarán. He encontrado que esto es cierto en el ministerio. La mayoría de veces no tengo idea como Dios usa mis palabras y ejemplo para tocar las vidas de los demás. Se puede tardar 10 años para germinar en el corazón de alguien antes de que actúe y entregue su vida a Cristo, con la gracia de Dios.
 
Lo mismo es cierto en el papel de un padre. Pasamos entre 18 y 20 años enseñando, asesorando, entrenando y invirtiendo tiempo en nuestros niños, rezando para que las semillas que plantamos se nutran y se conviertan en algo hermoso. Sin embargo, no tenemos control de cómo van a responder a nuestros cuidados. Debemos confiar a nuestros hijos en los brazos de nuestro amoroso Padre, quien los ama más que nosotros.
A medida que crecemos en nuestra relación con Dios Padre, nuestra identidad como Sus hijos amados madura y se solidifica. Cuando llegue el momento, podremos entregarnos a otro, ya sea nuestro cónyuge, a la Iglesia o a Jesús. San Juan Pablo II dijo una vez que la meta de la vida cristiana es hacer un don total de sí mismo. Esto solo puede suceder cuando estamos seguros en el Padre y sabemos quiénes somos.
Si Dios nos bendice con hijos biológicos, adoptivos, o espirituales, el objetivo es que ellos también conozcan su identidad en Dios Padre. No queremos que nos pongan en el centro de sus vidas. Si ese es nuestro deseo, nuestro ego se interpone en el camino, y hemos perdido el significado de nuestro papel. El propósito de criar a un niño es que lleguen a conocer su identidad como hijos amados del Padre, para que puedan madurar y algún día dar sus vidas en total auto-donación a Dios.
Un día esa pequeña semilla de mostaza que sembraste se puede convertir en uno de los árboles más grandes que jamás has visto, que le dará refugio y sombra a muchos otros.
 
¿Eres generoso en sembrar las semillas de la fe?
¿Estás dispuesto a caminar pacientemente el camino de fe con alguien?
¿Cómo puedes ayudar a alguien a conocer su identidad como un hijo amado de Dios?
¡Feliz Día del Padre!
 
Fr. Burke
Saturday of the 10th Week of Ordinary Time (June 16, 2018)
 
MATTHEW 5:33-37
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.
But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the Evil One.”
================================
Scripture challenge –Exodus, chapters 29-31.
 
I will be traveling to the Holy Land Saturday evening with 57 pilgrims to follow the footsteps of Jesus in Nazareth, Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. I will try to send a daily journal of our travels so that you can feel like you are with us. We arrive late Sunday night in Israel after stopping in Warsaw, Poland for a layover.
 
Today’s reading from the sermon on the mount reminds me of my parents. They always taught us to be men of our word. “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’” When you give someone your word that you will do something, do it. People will know that they can count on you when you say ‘Yes.’
 
I thought of this when I was taking my vows as a deacon and a priest. I promised to pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily for the people of God. Honestly, there are times when I don’t feel like praying, but I gave my word that I would do it for others. I gave my word and that is important to me, so I pray.
 
I took the vow of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom. Has this been easy? No, there are always temptations in life, just like anyone. However, the vow that I took was important to me, and so I joyfully give up marriage for the sake of Jesus and His Kingdom. I used to think of the sacrifices of celibacy, but now I count the blessings that I have received and the abundant intimacy I have experienced through this great gift.
 
Also, I thought I would become a slave when I promised obedience to my bishop and his successors. How can someone in today’s culture vow their obedience to someone else? That is archaic, many have told me. However, I have found so much freedom in this promise of obedience. I don’t have to worry about my next assignment, about climbing the corporate ladder, or about getting my next raise. I trust that the Holy Spirit is working through our bishop and I go where he sends me.
 
“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’” Making vows and promises are not easy, especially for the rest of your life. That is why many people are choosing not to get married, because they don’t want to commit to “forever”. Marrying someone before God requires you to make the vows of faithfulness and forever. Priesthood and religious life are very similar – poverty, chastity and obedience.
 
Throughout our lives, daily, we are asked to give our word to someone. When it is done with faith that God will give you the grace and strength to persevere, these vows and promises can lead to such joy and freedom.
 
Does my ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and my ‘No’ mean ‘No?’
How well am I living out the vows and promises I have made?
Do I trust in God’s grace to help me in my weakest moments?
 
Have a blessed weekend!
Fr. Burke
 
Sabado de la 10a Semana del Tiempo Ordinario (16 de junio 2018)
 
Mateo 5, 33-37
En aquel tiempo, Jesús dijo a sus discípulos: “Han oído ustedes que se dijo a los antiguos: No jurarás en falso y le cumplirás al Señor lo que le hayas prometido con juramento. Pero yo les digo: No juren de ninguna manera, ni por el cielo, que es el trono de Dios; ni por la tierra, porque es donde él pone los pies; ni por Jerusalén, que es la ciudad del gran Rey.
 
Tampoco jures por tu cabeza, porque no puedes hacer blanco o negro uno solo de tus cabellos. Digan simplemente sí, cuando es sí; y no, cuando es no. Lo que se diga de más, viene del maligno’’.
==========================
Desafío de las Escrituras -Éxodo, capítulos 29-31.
Sabado en la noche viajaré a Tierra Santa con 57 peregrinos para seguir los pasos de Jesús en Nazaret, Jerusalén y las áreas circundantes. Trataré de enviar un diario de nuestros viajes para que pueda sentirse como si estuviera con nosotros. Llegaremos tarde el domingo por la noche a Israel después de parar en Varsovia, Polonia para una escala.
La lectura de hoy del sermón en el monte me recuerda a mis padres. Ellos siempre nos enseñaron a ser hombres de palabra. “Deje que su ‘Sí’ signifique ‘Sí’ y su ‘No’ signifique ‘No'”. Cuando le dé a alguien su palabra de que hará algo, hágalo. La gente sabrá que puede contar con usted cuando diga ‘Sí’.
Pensé en esto cuando estaba tomando mis votos como diácono y sacerdote. Prometí rezar la Liturgia de las Horas diariamente para el pueblo de Dios. Honestamente, hay momentos en los que no tengo ganas de orar, pero di mi palabra de que lo haría por otros. Di mi palabra y eso es importante para mí, entonces oro.
Tomé el voto de celibato por el bien del Reino. ¿Ha sido esto fácil? No, siempre hay tentaciones en la vida, como cualquiera. Sin embargo, el voto que tomé fue importante para mí, por lo que con alegría renuncio al matrimonio por el bien de Jesús y su Reino. Solía pensar en los sacrificios del celibato, pero ahora cuento las bendiciones que he recibido y la abundante intimidad que he experimentado a través de este gran regalo
Además, pensé que sería esclavo cuando prometí obediencia a mi obispo y a sus sucesores. ¿Cómo puede alguien en la cultura de hoy jurar obediencia a otra persona? Eso es arcaico, muchos me lo han dicho. Sin embargo, he encontrado tanta libertad en esta promesa de obediencia. No tengo que preocuparme por mi próxima tarea, por escalar la escalera corporativa o por obtener mi próximo aumento. Confío en que el Espíritu Santo está obrando a través de nuestro obispo y voy donde él me envía.
“Deje que su ‘Sí’ signifique ‘Sí’ y su ‘No’ signifique ‘No.'” Hacer votos y promesas no es fácil, especialmente por el resto de su vida. Es por eso que muchas personas eligen no casarse, porque no quieren comprometerse para siempre. Casarse con alguien delante de Dios requiere que hagas los votos de fidelidad y para siempre. El sacerdocio y la vida religiosa son muy similares: pobreza, castidad y obediencia.
A lo largo de nuestras vidas, diariamente, se nos pide que demos nuestra palabra a alguien. Cuando se hace con fe de que Dios te dará la gracia y la fuerza para perseverar, estos votos y promesas pueden conducir a tanta alegría y libertad.
¿Mi “Sí” significa “Sí” y mi “No” significa “No”?
¿Qué tan bien estoy viviendo los votos y promesas que he hecho?
¿Confío en la gracia de Dios para ayudarme en mis momentos más débiles?
¡Que tengas un bendecido fin de semana!
P. Burke
Posted by: frburke23 | June 14, 2018

Friday of the 10th Week of Ordinary Time (June 15, 2018)

Friday of the 10th Week of Ordinary Time (June 15, 2018)
 
MATTHEW 5:27-32
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.
 
“It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful)
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
———————————————————————–
Scripture challenge –Exodus, chapters 26-28.
 
Today we continue Jesus’s sermon on the mount. The Israelites would have been shocked by His words. Moses went up the mountain and returned with the Ten Commandments, the law of God. Now Jesus went up the mountain and taught them saying, “You have heard it said…”, referring to the Mosaic law, “but I say to you…”, referring to Himself as being greater than the law. This was heretical to the Jews, but Jesus was not abolishing the law, He was fulfilling it and raising the bar for all of us.
 
Today, Jesus challenges us on the sixth commandment, “You shall not commit adultery”. One can say, “I have not committed adultery, so I am fine.” However, Jesus challenges us to look beyond just our physical actions. He knows our thoughts and intentions.
 
He challenges us by saying, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” This may cause us to pause. How often do we allow our minds to wander and justify our thoughts, “I am not hurting anyone.” Jesus wants to purify our thoughts, words and actions.
 
Jesus then uses some hyperboles (exaggerations) to emphasize the severity of sin. Whatever causes us to sin should be cut off or gouged out. Literally, we do not need to gouge our eyes out, but we need to take sin very seriously. When we look at the multi-billion-dollar pornography industry, it is sadly evident that the evil one is tempting and luring many countless souls into sins of the flesh.
 
I would venture to say that 85% of men and 40% of women have struggled with pornography at some point in their lives. Studies show that only 50% of adults and 33% of teens feel that pornography is wrong. However, pornography is destroying our marriages, our relationships, and our spirits. Remember, there is no such thing as a private sin. Sin affects the entire Mystical Body of Christ. Jesus wants to wake us up to the destructive nature of sin. Every time someone views pornography, they are supporting the industry that objectifies human beings, demoralizes human souls, and sometimes involves human trafficking of the most vulnerable persons in our world.
 
Pornography is readily available, free and anonymous. If you have an addiction, seek professional help, or consult a Catholic priest or Catholic Charities. Get an accountability partner. Print a prayer for purity and put it by your computer or bed. Get to the root of the problem and ask for God’s grace to heal you. Are you lonely? Remember loneliness is God’s invitation to intimacy with Him. Pornography is a false sense of intimacy.
 
Jesus is not just referring to pornography. Every impure thought or desire objectifies the other person. I remember a priest told us, “Your thoughts are simply dress rehearsals for the real thing. If you think about something enough, as soon as the opportunity presents itself, you are going to fall to the temptation.” Pay attention to your thought patterns.
 
Do I take seriously the gravity of my sin?
Am I damaging the Mystical Body of Christ (all of us) through viewing pornography or lusting after another person?
Do I realize there is no such thing as a private sin?
 
Lord Jesus, help me to be pure. You tell us that the clean of heart will see God. We want to see you Lord Jesus. Help me to avoid anything that objectifies another person for selfish gain. Help me to love as you love – purely, without attachments and expectations. Help me to lay down my life for a friend today. I know that sin leads to misery and virtuous choices lead me to joy. Help me to leave misery behind. Help me to choose joy!
 
God bless,
Fr. Burke
=======================================
Viernes de la 10ma Semana del Tiempo Ordinario (15 de junio de 2018)
 
MATEO 5:27-32
En aquel tiempo, Jesús dijo a sus discípulos: “Han oído ustedes que se dijo a los antiguos: No cometerás adulterio; pero yo les digo que quien mire con malos deseos a una mujer, ya cometió adulterio con ella en su corazón. Por eso, si tu ojo derecho es para ti ocasión de pecado, arráncatelo y tíralo lejos, porque más te vale perder una parte de tu cuerpo y no que todo él sea arrojado al lugar de castigo. Y si tu mano derecha es para ti ocasión de pecado, córtatela y arrójala lejos de ti, porque más te vale perder una parte de tu cuerpo y no que todo él sea arrojado al lugar de castigo.
 
También se dijo antes: El que se divorcie, que le dé a su mujer un certificado de divorcio; pero yo les digo que el que se divorcia, salvo el caso de que vivan en unión ilegítima, expone a su mujer al adulterio, y el que se casa con una divorciada comete adulterio”.
==================
Desafío de la Escritura –Éxodo, capítulos 26-28.
 
Hoy continuamos el sermón de Jesús en el monte. Los israelitas se habrían sorprendido por sus palabras. Moisés subió a la montaña y regresó con los Diez Mandamientos, la ley de Dios. Ahora Jesús subió a la montaña y les enseñó a decir: “Han oído ustedes que se dijo…”, refiriéndose a la ley mosaica, “pero yo les digo …”, refiriéndose a sí mismo como más grande que la ley. Esto era herético para los judíos, pero Jesús no estaba aboliendo la ley, lo estaba cumpliendo y elevando el listón para todos nosotros.
 
Hoy, Jesús nos desafía en el sexto mandamiento, “No cometerás adulterio”. Uno puede decir: “No he cometido adulterio, entonces estoy bien.” Sin embargo, Jesús nos reta a ver más allá de nuestras acciones físicas. Él conoce nuestros pensamientos e intenciones.
 
Él nos reta diciendo: “Quien mire con malos deseos a una mujer, ya cometió adulterio con ella en su corazón.” Esto puede hacer que nos detengamos.
¿Con qué frecuencia permitimos que nuestras mentes vaguen y justifiquen nuestros pensamientos, “No estoy lastimando a nadie.” Jesús quiere purificar nuestros pensamientos, palabras y acciones.
 
Jesús entonces utiliza algunas hipérboles (exageraciones) para enfatizar la severidad del pecado. Todo lo que nos hace pecar debe ser cortado o arrancado. Literalmente, no necesitamos arrancar a los ojos, pero debemos tomar el pecado muy en serio. Cuando vemos la industria de la pornografía multimillonaria, es tristemente evidente que el maligno es tentador y atrae a muchas almas incontables a los pecados de la carne.
 
Me atrevería a decir que el 85% de los hombres y el 40% de las mujeres han tenido problemas con la pornografía en algún momento de sus vidas. Los estudios demuestran que solo el 50% de los adultos y el 33% de los adolescentes consideran que la pornografía es incorrecta. Sin embargo, la pornografía está destruyendo nuestros matrimonios, nuestras relaciones y nuestros espíritus. Recuerde, no hay tal cosa como un pecado privado. El pecado afecta a todo el Cuerpo Místico de Cristo. Jesús quiere despertarnos a la naturaleza destructiva del pecado. Cada vez que alguien ve pornografía, apoya a la industria que objetiva a los seres humanos, desmoraliza a las almas humanas y, a veces, implica el tráfico humano de las personas más vulnerables de nuestro mundo.
 
La pornografía está disponible fácilmente, gratis y anónima. Si tienes una adicción, busca ayuda profesional, o un sacerdote o Caridades Catolicas. Obtén un socio de rendición de cuentas. Imprime una oración para la pureza y colócala por tu computadora o cama. Llega a la raíz del problema y pide la gracia de Dios para sanarte. ¿Te sientes solo? Recuerda que la soledad es la invitación de Dios a la intimidad con Él. La pornografía es una falsa sensación de intimidad.
 
Jesús no se refiere solamente a la pornografía. Todo pensamiento o deseo impuro objetiviza a la otra persona. Recuerdo que un sacerdote nos dijo, “Tus pensamientos son simplemente ensayos generales para lo real. Si piensas en algo lo suficiente, en cuanto se presente la oportunidad de hacerlo real, vas a caer en la tentación.” Presta atención a tus patrones de pensamientos.
 
¿Tomo en serio la gravedad de mi pecado?
¿Estoy dañando el Cuerpo Místico de Cristo (todos nosotros) a través de ver pornografía o cometer lujuria?
¿Me doy cuenta de que no hay tal cosa como un pecado privado?
 
Señor Jesús, ayúdame a ser puro. Tú nos dices que los de corazón limpio verán a Dios. Queremos verte Señor Jesús. Ayúdame a evitar cualquier cosa que objetivice a otra persona para ganancia egoísta. Ayúdame a amar como tu amas – puramente, sin apegos ni expectativas. Ayúdame a dar mi vida por un amigo hoy. Sé que el pecado conduce a la miseria y las elecciones virtuosas me llevan a la alegría. Ayúdame a dejar atrás la miseria. ¡Ayúdame a elegir la alegría!
 
Dios te bendiga,
Padre Burke

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