Posted by: frburke23 | March 13, 2017

Thought for Tuesday, 2nd Week of Lent (March 14, 2017)

Thought for Tuesday, 2nd Week of Lent (March 14, 2017)
 
MATTHEW 23:1-12
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
=======================
The Church invites us to practice integrity today as our fundamental for our spiritual spring. There are many definitions of integrity, but I would define it as a quality of practicing what you preach. A person of integrity is honest, has strong moral principles and keeps his/her word. Another definition is “a state of being whole and undivided”. Do I say one thing and do another or do my actions and words match? Does my public image and life match with what I do privately?
 
Jesus respects the position of the scribes and Pharisees. He encouraged the people to observe their teachings because they held places of religious authority. But Jesus also taught His disciples not to follow the poor example of the religious leaders because they didn’t practice what they preached. They did everything to be seen, but their hearts were empty. These leaders were not people of integrity.
 
It was interesting on our pilgrimage to the Holy Land, we saw faithful Jews praying with phylacteries (little boxes with Scripture quotes in them) and tassels (reminder of their religious obligations and the Exodus from Egypt). Jesus warned the religious leaders not to widen their phylacteries or lengthen the tassels to be seen. It is not about external observance. We must be careful about this as well. Do I go through the external practices of my faith while my heart is far from the Lord?
 
There is much that we can learn from this reading. As a religious leader in the Church, this reading calls me to deeper holiness, humility and integrity. I pray to God that I am not a leader who teaches one thing and practices another. Certainly, I am a sinner, but this reading calls me to fall to my knees and beg for God’s grace and mercy to be a faithful follower before I can be an effective leader. The best leaders have first learned how to be faithful followers. In the same way, the best fathers/mothers have learned how to be faithful sons/daughters.
 
I find it funny that Jesus tells them not to call anyone “father” or “Master”. My name is Father Masters. My dear grandmother, who was not Catholic, pointed this Scripture out to me when I was feeling the call to priesthood. I think what Jesus is saying is that all leaders are called to be humble servants. If we allow our position of authority and our titles to lord our power over others, we are mistaken. Our authority must come from the cross, the greatest sign of humility, and our complete trust in Christ. We are called to serve and not to be served.
 
Am I living a life of integrity?
Do I lead a double life – one in the public eye and another in my private life?
Do I ask others to do things that I am unwilling to do?
 
Jesus calls us to humble service and to lay down our lives for others. He showed us the way. The King of the Universe washed the feet of His followers. The Creator of the World willingly laid down His life on the cross for you and for me. God will exalt all who humble themselves before His majesty.
 
Lord, help us to be people of integrity. If I am leading a double life or if my heart is divided, help me to change. Transform my life so completely that all my words and actions give you alone honor and glory.
 
God bless,
Fr. Burke
 
Here is the Spanish translation:
 
MATEO 23:1-12
En aquel tiempo, Jesús dijo a las multitudes y a sus discípulos:
“En la cátedra de Moisés se han sentado los escribas y fariseos. Hagan, pues, todo lo que les digan, pero no imiten sus obras, porque dicen una cosa y hacen otra. Hacen fardos muy pesados y difíciles de llevar y los echan sobre las espaldas de los hombres, pero ellos ni con el dedo los quieren mover. Todo lo hacen para que los vea la gente. Ensanchan las filacterias y las franjas del manto; les agrada ocupar los primeros lugares en los banquetes y los asientos de honor en las sinagogas; les gusta que los saluden en las plazas y que la gente los llame ‘maestros’.
Ustedes, en cambio, no dejen que los llamen ‘maestros’, porque no tienen más que un Maestro y todos ustedes son hermanos. A ningún hombre sobre la tierra lo llamen ‘padre’, porque el Padre de ustedes es sólo el Padre celestial. No se dejen llamar ‘guías’, porque el guía de ustedes es solamente Cristo. Que el mayor de entre ustedes sea su servidor, porque el que se enaltece será humillado y el que se humilla será enaltecido”.
======================
La Iglesia hoy nos invita a practicar la integridad como nuestro fundamento para nuestra primavera espiritual. Hay muchas definiciones de integridad, pero yo lo definiría como una cualidad de practicar lo que predicas. Una persona íntegra es honesta, tiene fuertes principios morales y mantiene su palabra. Otra definición es “un estado de ser completo e íntegro”. ¿Digo una cosa y hago otra, o mis palabras y acciones coinciden? ¿Mi vida y mi imagen pública coinciden con lo que hago en privado?
 
Jesús respeta la posición de los escribas y fariseos. Él animó a la gente a observar sus enseñanzas porque tenían lugares de autoridad religiosa. Pero Jesús también les enseñó a Sus discípulos a no seguir el mal ejemplo de los líderes religiosos porque ellos no practicaban lo que predicaban. Ellos hacían todo para ser vistos, pero sus corazones estaban vacíos. Estos líderes no eran personas de integridad.
 
Fue interesante en nuestro peregrinaje a la Tierra Santa, vimos a fieles judíos orando con filacterias (pequeñas cajas con citas bíblicas en ellas) y borlas (recordatorio de sus obligaciones religiosas y el Éxodo de Egipto). Jesús advirtió a los líderes religiosos que no ensancharan sus filacterias ni alargaran las borlas para ser vistas. No se trata de observancia externa. Debemos tener cuidado con esto también. ¿Paso por las prácticas externas de mi fe mientras mi corazón está lejos del Señor?
 
Hay mucho que podemos aprender de esta lectura. Como un líder religioso en la Iglesia, esta lectura me llama a una santidad, humildad e integridad más profunda. Ruego a Dios para que yo no sea un líder que enseña una cosa y practica otra. Ciertamente soy un pecador, pero esta lectura me llama a que caiga de rodillas y ruegue por la gracia y la misericordia de Dios para ser un seguidor fiel antes de ser un líder eficaz. Los mejores líderes primero han aprendido a ser seguidores fieles. De la misma manera, los mejores padres / madres han aprendido a ser hijos / hijas fieles.
 
Me parece gracioso que Jesús les diga que no llamen a nadie “padre” o “Maestro”. Mi nombre es Padre Masters (Padre Maestro). Mi querida abuela, que no era católica, me señaló esta Escritura cuando estaba sintiendo el llamado al sacerdocio. Creo que lo que Jesús está diciendo es que todos los líderes son llamados a ser siervos humildes. Si permitimos que nuestra posición de autoridad y nuestros títulos dominen nuestro poder sobre los demás, estamos equivocados. Nuestra autoridad debe venir de la cruz, el mayor signo de humildad, y nuestra plena confianza en Cristo. Estamos llamados a servir y no a ser servidos.
 
¿Estoy viviendo una vida íntegra?
¿Dirijo una doble vida – una al ojo público y otra en mi vida privada?
¿Le pido a otros a hacer cosas que yo no estoy dispuesto a hacer?
 
Jesús nos llama al servicio humilde y a dar la vida por los demás. Él nos mostró el camino. El Rey del Universo lavó los pies de Sus seguidores. El Creador del Mundo voluntariamente dio Su vida en la cruz por mí y por ti. Dios exaltará a todos los que se humillen ante Su majestad.
 
Señor, ayúdanos a ser personas íntegras. Si estoy dirigiendo una doble vida o si mi corazón está dividido, ayúdame a cambiar. Transforma mi vida tan completamente que todas mis palabras y acciones te den solo a ti honor y gloria.
 
Dios te bendiga,
Padre Burke
Posted by: frburke23 | March 13, 2017

Thought for Tuesday, 2nd Week of Lent (March 14, 2017)

Thought for Tuesday, 2nd Week of Lent (March 14, 2017)
 
MATTHEW 23:1-12
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
=======================
The Church invites us to practice integrity today as our fundamental for our spiritual spring. There are many definitions of integrity, but I would define it as a quality of practicing what you preach. A person of integrity is honest, has strong moral principles and keeps his/her word. Another definition is “a state of being whole and undivided”. Do I say one thing and do another or do my actions and words match? Does my public image and life match with what I do privately?
 
Jesus respects the position of the scribes and Pharisees. He encouraged the people to observe their teachings because they held places of religious authority. But Jesus also taught His disciples not to follow the poor example of the religious leaders because they didn’t practice what they preached. They did everything to be seen, but their hearts were empty. These leaders were not people of integrity.
 
It was interesting on our pilgrimage to the Holy Land, we saw faithful Jews praying with phylacteries (little boxes with Scripture quotes in them) and tassels (reminder of their religious obligations and the Exodus from Egypt). Jesus warned the religious leaders not to widen their phylacteries or lengthen the tassels to be seen. It is not about external observance. We must be careful about this as well. Do I go through the external practices of my faith while my heart is far from the Lord?
 
There is much that we can learn from this reading. As a religious leader in the Church, this reading calls me to deeper holiness, humility and integrity. I pray to God that I am not a leader who teaches one thing and practices another. Certainly, I am a sinner, but this reading calls me to fall to my knees and beg for God’s grace and mercy to be a faithful follower before I can be an effective leader. The best leaders have first learned how to be faithful followers. In the same way, the best fathers/mothers have learned how to be faithful sons/daughters.
 
I find it funny that Jesus tells them not to call anyone “father” or “Master”. My name is Father Masters. My dear grandmother, who was not Catholic, pointed this Scripture out to me when I was feeling the call to priesthood. I think what Jesus is saying is that all leaders are called to be humble servants. If we allow our position of authority and our titles to lord our power over others, we are mistaken. Our authority must come from the cross, the greatest sign of humility, and our complete trust in Christ. We are called to serve and not to be served.
 
Am I living a life of integrity?
Do I lead a double life – one in the public eye and another in my private life?
Do I ask others to do things that I am unwilling to do?
 
Jesus calls us to humble service and to lay down our lives for others. He showed us the way. The King of the Universe washed the feet of His followers. The Creator of the World willingly laid down His life on the cross for you and for me. God will exalt all who humble themselves before His majesty.
 
Lord, help us to be people of integrity. If I am leading a double life or if my heart is divided, help me to change. Transform my life so completely that all my words and actions give you alone honor and glory.
 
God bless,
Fr. Burke
 
Here is the Spanish translation:
 
MATEO 23:1-12
En aquel tiempo, Jesús dijo a las multitudes y a sus discípulos:
“En la cátedra de Moisés se han sentado los escribas y fariseos. Hagan, pues, todo lo que les digan, pero no imiten sus obras, porque dicen una cosa y hacen otra. Hacen fardos muy pesados y difíciles de llevar y los echan sobre las espaldas de los hombres, pero ellos ni con el dedo los quieren mover. Todo lo hacen para que los vea la gente. Ensanchan las filacterias y las franjas del manto; les agrada ocupar los primeros lugares en los banquetes y los asientos de honor en las sinagogas; les gusta que los saluden en las plazas y que la gente los llame ‘maestros’.
Ustedes, en cambio, no dejen que los llamen ‘maestros’, porque no tienen más que un Maestro y todos ustedes son hermanos. A ningún hombre sobre la tierra lo llamen ‘padre’, porque el Padre de ustedes es sólo el Padre celestial. No se dejen llamar ‘guías’, porque el guía de ustedes es solamente Cristo. Que el mayor de entre ustedes sea su servidor, porque el que se enaltece será humillado y el que se humilla será enaltecido”.
======================
La Iglesia hoy nos invita a practicar la integridad como nuestro fundamento para nuestra primavera espiritual. Hay muchas definiciones de integridad, pero yo lo definiría como una cualidad de practicar lo que predicas. Una persona íntegra es honesta, tiene fuertes principios morales y mantiene su palabra. Otra definición es “un estado de ser completo e íntegro”. ¿Digo una cosa y hago otra, o mis palabras y acciones coinciden? ¿Mi vida y mi imagen pública coinciden con lo que hago en privado?
 
Jesús respeta la posición de los escribas y fariseos. Él animó a la gente a observar sus enseñanzas porque tenían lugares de autoridad religiosa. Pero Jesús también les enseñó a Sus discípulos a no seguir el mal ejemplo de los líderes religiosos porque ellos no practicaban lo que predicaban. Ellos hacían todo para ser vistos, pero sus corazones estaban vacíos. Estos líderes no eran personas de integridad.
 
Fue interesante en nuestro peregrinaje a la Tierra Santa, vimos a fieles judíos orando con filacterias (pequeñas cajas con citas bíblicas en ellas) y borlas (recordatorio de sus obligaciones religiosas y el Éxodo de Egipto). Jesús advirtió a los líderes religiosos que no ensancharan sus filacterias ni alargaran las borlas para ser vistas. No se trata de observancia externa. Debemos tener cuidado con esto también. ¿Paso por las prácticas externas de mi fe mientras mi corazón está lejos del Señor?
 
Hay mucho que podemos aprender de esta lectura. Como un líder religioso en la Iglesia, esta lectura me llama a una santidad, humildad e integridad más profunda. Ruego a Dios para que yo no sea un líder que enseña una cosa y practica otra. Ciertamente soy un pecador, pero esta lectura me llama a que caiga de rodillas y ruegue por la gracia y la misericordia de Dios para ser un seguidor fiel antes de ser un líder eficaz. Los mejores líderes primero han aprendido a ser seguidores fieles. De la misma manera, los mejores padres / madres han aprendido a ser hijos / hijas fieles.
 
Me parece gracioso que Jesús les diga que no llamen a nadie “padre” o “Maestro”. Mi nombre es Padre Masters (Padre Maestro). Mi querida abuela, que no era católica, me señaló esta Escritura cuando estaba sintiendo el llamado al sacerdocio. Creo que lo que Jesús está diciendo es que todos los líderes son llamados a ser siervos humildes. Si permitimos que nuestra posición de autoridad y nuestros títulos dominen nuestro poder sobre los demás, estamos equivocados. Nuestra autoridad debe venir de la cruz, el mayor signo de humildad, y nuestra plena confianza en Cristo. Estamos llamados a servir y no a ser servidos.
 
¿Estoy viviendo una vida íntegra?
¿Dirijo una doble vida – una al ojo público y otra en mi vida privada?
¿Le pido a otros a hacer cosas que yo no estoy dispuesto a hacer?
 
Jesús nos llama al servicio humilde y a dar la vida por los demás. Él nos mostró el camino. El Rey del Universo lavó los pies de Sus seguidores. El Creador del Mundo voluntariamente dio Su vida en la cruz por mí y por ti. Dios exaltará a todos los que se humillen ante Su majestad.
 
Señor, ayúdanos a ser personas íntegras. Si estoy dirigiendo una doble vida o si mi corazón está dividido, ayúdame a cambiar. Transforma mi vida tan completamente que todas mis palabras y acciones te den solo a ti honor y gloria.
 
Dios te bendiga,
Padre Burke
Posted by: frburke23 | March 12, 2017

Thought for Monday, 2nd Week of Lent (March 13, 2017)

Thought for Monday, 2nd Week of Lent (March 13, 2017)
 
Luke 6:36-38
 
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
 
“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”
========================
As we continue our spiritual spring training, today the Lord invites to look at mercy. Am I a merciful person? Do I judge and condemn others easily? Do I forgive freely?
 
Jesus asks us to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful. How merciful is the Father? Infinite – there are no bounds to His mercy. Jesus is the perfect reflection of the Father. And Jesus showed the depth of His mercy while on the cross when he said, “Forgive them Father for they know now what they do.” After being beaten, mocked, spat upon, and tortured, Jesus forgave His persecutors. How would I react if I were Jesus? How do I react when I am hurt in much smaller ways? How do I learn to forgive?
 
I believe the more we experience the mercy of God in our own lives, the more merciful we can be with others. If I see myself as perfect and without need of mercy, I tend to be more judgmental of others. Or sometimes we are afraid to be vulnerable with God and others. However, if I have experienced the infinite mercy of God for my own transgressions, I am more likely to be merciful with those who have hurt me. I remember Fr. Hennessy told us in seminary, “The best confessors are those who are intimately in touch with their own sinfulness.”
 
This has been an important journey for me recently. Someone recently opened up to me about past sins that touched something in my own soul. As I was reminded of my own sinfulness, I was faced with a choice. I could simply say, “That was a long time ago”, and act like I did not need God’s mercy and healing. Or I could go back to that time, be vulnerable and seek God’s mercy and healing. I opted for the latter. I opened up to a friend and to God in a very vulnerable way. It was scary and I feared rejection. However, what I experienced was some of the deepest healing and freedom of my life.
 
I know this experience will make me a better priest and friend because I have experienced God’s mercy at a new depth. I now understand why people like the woman caught in adultery became such fervent disciples of Jesus. They experienced His mercy and their lives were never the same. I pray that I can be the instrument of this type of mercy and healing to all the people God places in my path.
 
Why do we judge and condemn others? Usually it is because we want to feel better about ourselves. When I put someone else down, I feel more important or self-righteous. This happens all around us every day. We react out of our woundedness by judging and condemning others. We are afraid to be vulnerable and admit our human weakness. The evil one tries to keep us from going to God’s mercy and healing because God’s love unifies us. The devil wants to keep us isolated and at odds with one another.
 
I believe this all comes down to knowing our identity as God’s beloved children. If I know that I am loved and I have experienced God’s loving mercy in a very personal way, I will give to others what I have received. And this becomes a wonderful cycle because Jesus says that we will receive in the same measure that we give. We first receive God’s love and mercy and then we give it away. And since we give it away, it will be poured back to us in abundance so that we can keep giving it away. This is the economy of God.
 
The opposite is true also. If I do not know that I am a beloved child of God, I have a very difficult time giving love away because I have never experienced it personally. We cannot give what we do not have. The divine life dies within us if we do not allow God to love and heal us. We build walls around our wounds and become prisoners of our own jail. If you are in this situation, seek out a priest or trusted friend who knows God’s mercy. Open up and let God love and heal you.
 
Do I know that God loves me?
Have I been vulnerable with God and maybe a trusted friend with my sins and my need for healing?
Have I experienced the infinite love and mercy of the Father?
Do I give away freely what I have first received from God?
 
Have a blessed day!
Fr. Burke
Posted by: frburke23 | March 9, 2017

Thought for Friday, 1st Week of Lent (March 10, 2017)

Thought for Friday, 1st Week of Lent (March 10, 2017)
 
EZEKIEL 18:21-28
Thus says the Lord GOD:
If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed,
if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him;
he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced.
Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked?
says the Lord GOD.
Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way
that he may live?
 
And if the virtuous man turns from the path of virtue to do evil,
the same kind of abominable things that the wicked man does,
can he do this and still live?
None of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered,
because he has broken faith and committed sin;
because of this, he shall die.
You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!”
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed,
does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
=============================
Today in our spiritual spring training we are going to return to the basics of forming good habits. Just like baseball players try to form good habits with their swings or pitches, we Christians can grow in holiness by forming good, holy habits with our choices. This is the process of growing in virtue. It is easy to fall into bad habits, but much more difficult to develop good habits.
 
This Scripture passage from Ezekiel is very interesting. You may find yourself saying, “The Lord’s way is not fair!” If a sinful person turns away from their sinful ways and follows the commandments of God, he shall live. However, if a virtuous person leaves the path of virtue to do evil, he shall die. Why would God reward someone who lived a sinful life if they call upon God at the last minute? This recalls the story of the prodigal son. The older brother was always with God and felt slighted when the Father threw a party for his wayward son.
 
What is God trying to teach us in this passage?
1) It is important to live a virtuous life. Holiness comes from making good decisions and forming good habits on a regular basis. Do I choose God all the time? With virtue, we may have to deny ourselves, sacrifice and wait, but peace and joy follow. Sin is easy, immediate and temporary, but misery always follows. Am I practicing virtues like charity, patience, humility, temperance, mercy, etc.? Or am I living a life of sin – pride, envy, greed, anger, lust, gluttony and sloth?
 
2) It is important to persevere. It does not suffice just to claim Jesus as our savior one time and then do whatever we want. Truly following Jesus means that we say “yes” every day to Him. He calls us to rededicate ourselves daily to pursuing holiness, making good choices, and living a life of virtue. We must demonstrate our faith in Jesus Christ through the love that we share with others. Remember Jesus said he will separate the sheep and the goats by our actions. The sheep were the people who clothed the naked, fed the hungry, visited the sick and imprisoned, etc.
 
3) God’s mercy and love are powerful. God’s mercy is greater than our sins. He not only wipes away our sins when we confess them, but He makes them white as snow. God does not delight in our death. God is not waiting for us to sin and then punish us. God delights in our return like the prodigal son. God wants us to live in His grace, a life of abundant joy. Do you realize how much God delights in you?
 
Do I always make conscious decisions to choose the Good?
Do I rededicate myself daily to following Jesus?
Do I realize how much Jesus desires to have a personal relationship with me?
How is God calling me to change my life this Lent?
 
God bless,
Fr. Burke
 
Here is the Spanish translation:
 
EZEQUIEL 18:21-28
Esto dice el Señor: “Si el pecador se arrepiente de los pecados cometidos, guarda mis preceptos y practica la rectitud y la justicia, ciertamente vivirá y no morirá; no me acordaré de los delitos que cometió; vivirá a causa de la justicia que practicó. ¿Acaso quiero yo la muerte del pecador, dice el Señor, y no más bien que enmiende su conducta y viva?
 
Si el justo se aparta de su justicia y comete maldad, no se recordará la justicia que hizo. Por la iniquidad que perpetró, por el pecado que cometió, morirá. Y si dice: ‘No es justo el proceder del Señor’, escucha, casa de Israel: ¿Conque es injusto mi proceder? ¿No es más bien el proceder de ustedes el injusto?
 
Cuando el justo se aparta de su justicia, comete la maldad y muere; muere por la maldad que cometió. Cuando el pecador se arrepiente del mal que hizo y practica la rectitud y la justicia, él mismo salva su vida. Si recapacita y se aparta de los delitos cometidos, ciertamente vivirá y no morirá”.
===================
Hoy en nuestro entrenamiento espiritual de primavera volveremos a los conceptos básicos de formar buenos hábitos. Así como los jugadores de béisbol tratan de formar buenos hábitos con sus cambios o lanzamientos, nosotros los cristianos podemos crecer en santidad formando buenos hábitos sagrados, con cada una de nuestras elecciones. Este es el proceso de crecer en virtud. Es fácil caer en malos hábitos, pero es mucho más difícil desarrollar buenos hábitos.
 
Este pasaje de la Escritura de Ezequiel es muy interesante. Puede que te encuentres diciendo: “¡El camino del Señor no es justo!” Si una persona pecadora se aparta de sus caminos pecaminosos y sigue los mandamientos de Dios, vivirá. Sin embargo, si una persona virtuosa deja el camino de la virtud para hacer el mal, morirá. ¿Por qué Dios recompensaría a alguien que vivió una vida de pecado si llaman a Dios en el último minuto? Esto recuerda la historia del hijo pródigo. El hermano mayor siempre estaba con Dios y se sintió menospreciado cuando el Padre lanzó una fiesta para su hijo rebelde.
 
¿Qué está tratando de enseñarnos Dios en este pasaje?
 
1) Es importante vivir una vida virtuosa. La santidad viene de tomar buenas decisiones y formar buenos hábitos regularmente. ¿Elijo a Dios todo el tiempo? Con la virtud, puede que tengamos que negarnos a nosotros mismos, sacrificarnos y esperar, pero sigue la paz y la alegría. El pecado es fácil, inmediato y temporal, pero siempre sigue la miseria. ¿Estoy practicando virtudes como la caridad, paciencia, humildad, templanza, misericordia, etc.? O ¿estoy viviendo una vida de pecado – orgullo, envidia, codicia, ira, lujuria, gula y pereza?
 
2) Es importante perseverar. No basta con simplemente reclamar a Jesús como nuestro salvador una vez y luego hacer lo que yo quiera. Verdaderamente seguir a Jesús significa que le decimos “si” todos los días. Él nos llama a re dedicarnos diariamente a perseguir la santidad, tomar buenas decisiones y vivir una vida de virtud. Debemos demostrar nuestra fe en Jesucristo a través del amor que compartimos con los demás. Recuerda que Jesús dijo que Él separará a las ovejas y las cabras por nuestras acciones. Las ovejas fueron las personas que vistieron al desnudo, alimentaron al hambriento, visitaron al enfermo y preso, etc.
 
3) El amor y la misericordia de Dios son poderosos. La misericordia de Dios es más grande que nuestros pecados. Él no sólo borra nuestros pecados cuando los confesamos, sino que los hace blancos como la nieve. Dios no se deleita en nuestra muerte. Dios no está esperando que pequemos y luego castigarnos. Dios se deleita en nuestro regreso como el hijo pródigo. Dios quiere que vivamos en Su gracia, una vida de gozo abundante. ¿Te das cuenta de lo mucho que Dios se deleita en ti?
 
¿Siempre tomo decisiones conscientes para elegir el Bien?
¿Me re dedico diariamente para seguir a Jesús?
¿Me doy cuenta de lo mucho que Jesús desea tener una relación personal conmigo?
¿Cómo me está llamando Dios para cambiar mi vida esta Cuaresma?
 
Dios te bendiga,
Padre Burke
Posted by: frburke23 | March 8, 2017

Thought for Thursday, 1st Week of Lent (March 9, 2017)

Thought for Thursday, 1st Week of Lent (March 9, 2017)
 
ESTHER C:12, 14-16, 23-25
Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish,
had recourse to the LORD.
She lay prostrate upon the ground, together with her handmaids,
from morning until evening, and said:
“God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you.
Help me, who am alone and have no help but you,
for I am taking my life in my hand.
As a child I used to hear from the books of my forefathers
that you, O LORD, always free those who are pleasing to you.
Now help me, who am alone and have no one but you,
O LORD, my God.
 
“And now, come to help me, an orphan.
Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion
and turn his heart to hatred for our enemy,
so that he and those who are in league with him may perish.
Save us from the hand of our enemies;
turn our mourning into gladness
and our sorrows into wholeness.”
============================
The basic fundamental that we are going to discuss today as we continue our spiritual spring training is intercessory prayer. Do I recognize the power of asking God for something from the depths of our hearts?
 
Today we hear from the book of Esther. This is a great story of Queen Esther begging God to save her people from destruction. She lay prostrate on the ground and asked all her handmaids to storm heaven along with her. She truly believed that God hears those who are pleasing to Him, and of course, He does answer her prayers.
 
She is a great example for us who seek the Lord’s blessings. This goes along with the Gospel today, which tells us to seek, to ask and to knock. The Lord wants us to trust Him completely. He wants us to come to Him with our needs. And He wants us to live in His grace, to be pleasing to Him with the way we live our lives.
 
So I think there are two areas of our lives that we should contemplate:
 
1) Am I living my life according to the Lord’s commandments? Am I living in God’s grace? Queen Esther prays, Lord you “free those who are pleasing to you.” Is my life pleasing to the Lord? Or is there something in my life that I need to turn around?
 
2) Do I go to the Lord with my needs? Do I trust the Lord with every part of my life? Or do I try to do everything on my own? Queen Esther turned to the Lord and trusted Him with her supplication. When was the last time that I begged the Lord from the bottom of my soul for something? Would I be willing to prostrate myself in humility before the Lord?
 
God does not always answer our prayers the way we want them to be answered or in the timing we desire. However, God knows the desires of our hearts. And like a good Father, He gives us what we truly need, not always what we want.
 
Have a blessed day. Be confident in the Lord and ask Him for your needs. And live according to His ways.
 
Peace,
Fr. Burke
 
Here is the Spanish translation:
 
ESTHER C:12, 14-16, 23-25
 
En aquellos días, la reina Ester, ante el mortal peligro que amenazaba a su pueblo, buscó refugio en el Señor y se postró en tierra con sus esclavas, desde la mañana hasta el atardecer. Entonces suplicó al Señor, diciendo:
“Dios de Abraham, Dios de Isaac, Dios de Jacob, ¡bendito seas! Protégeme, porque estoy sola y no tengo más defensor que tú, Señor, y voy a jugarme la vida.
Señor, yo sé, por los libros que nos dejaron nuestros padres, que tú siempre salvas a los que te son fieles. Ayúdame ahora a mí, porque no tengo a nadie más que a ti, Señor y Dios mío.
Ayúdame, Señor, pues estoy desamparada. Pon en mis labios palabras acertadas cuando esté en presencia del león y haz que yo le agrade, para que su corazón se vuelva en contra de nuestro enemigo, para ruina de éste y de sus cómplices.
Con tu poder, Señor, líbranos de nuestros enemigos. Convierte nuestro llanto en alegría y haz que nuestros sufrimientos nos obtengan la vida”.
==============================
Lo básico que hoy vamos a discutir a medida que continuamos nuestro entrenamiento espiritual de primavera es la oración de intercesión. ¿Reconocemos el poder de pedir algo a Dios desde lo profundo de nuestros corazones?
 
Hoy escuchamos del libro de Ester. Esta es una gran historia de la reina Ester rogando a Dios que salve a su pueblo de la destrucción. Ella se postro en el suelo y pidió a todas sus esclavas asaltar el cielo junto con ella. Ella de verdad creía que Dios escucha a aquellos que le agradan a Él, y por supuesto, Él responde a sus oraciones.
 
Ella es un gran ejemplo para nosotros los que buscamos las bendiciones del Señor. Esto va de la mano con el Evangelio de hoy, que nos dice que busquemos, pidamos y llamemos. El Señor quiere que confiemos en Él completamente. Él quiere que vayamos a Él con nuestras necesidades. Y Él quiere que vivamos en Su gracia, para ser agradables a Él con la forma en que vivimos nuestras vidas.
 
Así que creo que hay dos áreas de nuestras vidas que debemos contemplar:
 
1) ¿Estoy viviendo mi vida de acuerdo a los mandamientos del Señor? ¿Estoy viviendo en la gracia de Dios? La Reina Esther ora, Señor “salva a los que te son fieles.” ¿Es mi vida agradable al Señor? ¿O hay algo en mi vida que tengo que darle la vuelta?
 
2) ¿Voy al Señor con mis necesidades? ¿Confío en el Señor con cada parte de mi vida? ¿O trato de hacer todo por mi cuenta? La Reina Esther recurrió al Señor y confió en Él con su súplica. ¿Cuándo fue la última vez que le rogué al Señor por algo desde el fondo de mi alma? ¿Estaría dispuesto a postrarme humildemente ante el Señor?
 
Dios no siempre contesta nuestras oraciones de la forma que queremos que sean contestadas o en el momento que deseamos. Sin embargo, Dios conoce los deseos de nuestros corazones. Y como un buen Padre, Él nos da lo que realmente necesitamos, no siempre lo que queremos.
 
Tengan un día bendecido. Tengan confianza en el Señor y pídanle por sus necesidades. Y vivan de acuerdo a Sus leyes.
 
Paz,
Padre Burke
Posted by: frburke23 | March 7, 2017

Thought for Wednesday, 1st Week of Lent (March 8, 2017)

Thought for Wednesday, 1st Week of Lent (March 8, 2017)
 
JONAH 3:1-10
The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:
“Set out for the great city of Nineveh,
and announce to it the message that I will tell you.”
So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh,
according to the LORD’s bidding.
Now Nineveh was an enormously large city;
it took three days to go through it.
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing,
“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,”
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.
 
When the news reached the king of Nineveh,
he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe,
covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes.
Then he had this proclaimed throughout Nineveh,
by decree of the king and his nobles:
“Neither man nor beast, neither cattle nor sheep,
shall taste anything;
they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water.
Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God;
every man shall turn from his evil way
and from the violence he has in hand.
Who knows, God may relent and forgive, and withhold his blazing wrath,
so that we shall not perish.”
When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them;
he did not carry it out.
======================
God has given each one of us special gifts. The spiritual spring training practice of the day is to offer these gifts back to God, and then watch what He does with them. We have heard the story of Jonah. God called him to preach repentance to the large city of Nineveh. It would be like God asking you to walk through Chicago today asking everyone to repent from their sins.
 
Imagine the magnitude of what God was asking Jonah. And it took three days to walk through the large city of Ninevah. This could represent the three days Jesus was in the tomb when He “descended into hell”. I think it also represents the magnitude of how far we have fallen away from God today. Have you experienced a truly secular or evil situation and sensed the absence of God around you?
 
Jonah ran from God’s call much like we probably would run from the call. He ends up in the belly of a big fish, which brings him back to where he started. We can run from God’s call, but ultimately, we need to pray that His will be done in our lives. God has a way to bring us back to our starting point so that we will do His will. However, God never forces us to do anything. He invites us and is often persistent with His call, but our free will remains.
 
Jonah finally relented and began walking through Nineveh calling everyone to repent from their sins. I’m sure he felt foolish doing this mission, but it was God’s will. This simple man had a profound effect on the entire city. In only one day, everyone including the king turned from their evil ways and worshiped God.
 
What can we learn from this story and how can we grow during this spiritual spring training?
 
1) Give to God all your gifts. We often feel that our gifts are insignificant. Jesus fed 5000 with a few loaves and fish. Jonah converted a whole city offering to God his simple gifts. What can God do through you if you give Him everything?
 
2) It is wise to follow God’s plan for your life. We can fight with God and tell Him “no” all that we want, but ultimately His plan is better than ours. When we follow His plan, it will lead to joy, fulfillment and a better world. Seek His will and trust Him completely.
 
3) Don’t be surprised by what God can do through you. Jonah was probably surprised by the reaction of the Ninevites. Peter and the other disciples could heal people through the power of the Holy Spirit. All things are possible with God!
 
Practice today going beyond your comfort level, offering your gifts to the service of the Lord. Ask God to show you where to use your gifts and then listen with your heart to the Spirit’s promptings. Be generous. Do not hold anything back from God. And watch what He does with your offerings.
 
Have a blessed day!
Fr. Burke
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Here is the Spanish translation:
 
Jonás 3:1-10
 
En aquellos días, el Señor volvió a hablar a Jonás y le dijo: “Levántate y vete a Nínive, la gran capital, para anunciar ahí el mensaje que te voy a indicar”.
Se levantó Jonás y se fue a Nínive, como le había mandado el Señor. Nínive era una ciudad enorme: hacían falta tres días para recorrerla. Jonás caminó por la ciudad durante un día, pregonando: “Dentro de cuarenta días Nínive será destruida”.
Los ninivitas creyeron en Dios, ordenaron un ayuno y se vistieron de sayal, grandes y pequeños. Llegó la noticia al rey de Nínive, que se levantó del trono, se quitó el manto, se vistió de sayal, se sentó sobre ceniza y en nombre suyo y de sus ministros, mandó proclamar en Nínive el siguiente decreto: “Que hombres y animales, vacas y ovejas, no prueben bocado, que no pasten ni beban; que todos se vistan de sayal e invoquen con fervor a Dios y que cada uno se arrepienta de su mala vida y deje de cometer injusticias. Quizá Dios se arrepienta y nos perdone, aplaque el incendio de su ira y así no moriremos”.
Cuando Dios vio sus obras y cómo se convertían de su mala vida, cambió de parecer y no les mandó el castigo que había determinado imponerles.
=======================
Dios nos ha dado dones especiales a cada uno de nosotros. La práctica del entrenamiento espiritual de primavera del día es ofrecerle de vuelta estos dones Dios y luego ve lo que hace con ellos. Hemos escuchado la historia de Jonás. Dios lo llamó a predicar el arrepentimiento a la gran ciudad de Nínive. Sería como si Dios te pidiera a ti que camines hoy por Chicago pidiéndole a todos que se arrepientan de sus pecados.
 
Imagina la magnitud de lo que Dios le estaba pidiendo a Jonás. Y tomó tres días caminar por la gran ciudad de Nínive. Esto podría representar los tres días que Jesús estuvo en la tumba cuando “descendió al infierno”. Yo creo que también representa la magnitud de hasta qué punto nos hemos alejado de Dios hoy. ¿Has experimentado una situación realmente secular o malvada y sentiste la ausencia de Dios a tu alrededor?
 
Jonás huyo del llamado de Dios al igual que probablemente nosotros hubiéramos huido del llamado. Él termina en el vientre de un gran pez, el cual lo trae de vuelta a donde comenzó. Podemos huir del llamado de Dios, pero al final, tenemos que orar para que se haga Su voluntad en nuestras vidas. Dios tiene una manera de traernos de vuelta a nuestro punto de partida para que hagamos Su voluntad. Sin embargo, Dios nunca nos obliga a hacer nada. Él invita y a menudo es persistente con Su llamado, pero nosotros tenemos nuestro libre albedrío.
 
Jonás finalmente cedió y comenzó a caminar por Nínive, llamando a todos a arrepentirse de sus pecados. Estoy seguro de que él se sintió tonto haciendo esta misión, pero era la voluntad de Dios. Este hombre sencillo tuvo un profundo efecto en toda la ciudad. En sólo un día, todos, incluyendo el rey, se alejaron de su mal camino y adoraron a Dios.
 
¿Qué podemos aprender de esta historia y cómo podemos crecer durante este entrenamiento espiritual de primavera?
 
1) Dale a Dios todos tus dones. A menudo sentimos que nuestros dones son insignificantes. Jesús alimentó a 5000 con unos pocos panes y peces. Jonás convirtió toda una ciudad ofreciéndole a Dios sus simples dones. ¿Qué puede hacer Dios a través de ti si se lo das todo?
 
2) Es sabio seguir el plan de Dios para tu vida. Podemos luchar con Dios y decirle “no” todo lo que queramos, pero al final Su plan es mejor que el nuestro. Cuando seguimos Su plan, conducirá a la alegría, satisfacción y un mundo mejor. Busca Su voluntad y confía en Él completamente.
 
3) No te sorprendas por lo que Dios puede hacer a través de ti. Jonás probablemente estaba sorprendido por la reacción de los Ninivitas. Pedro y los otros discípulos podían sanar a la gente a través del poder del Espíritu Santo. ¡Con Dios todo es posible!
 
Practica hoy día yendo más allá de tu nivel de comodidad, ofreciendo tus dones al servicio del Señor. Pídele a Dios, “Muéstrame dónde usar mis dones” y luego escucha con el corazón las indicaciones del Espíritu. Se generoso/a. No ocultes nada de Dios. Y ve lo que hace con tus ofrendas.
 
¡Que tengas un día bendecido!
Padre Burke
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Posted by: frburke23 | March 6, 2017

Thought for Tuesday, 1st Week of Lent (March 7, 2017)

Thought for Tuesday, 1st Week of Lent (March 7, 2017)
 
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 men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
====================
I am back in Joliet adjusting to the time change after the amazing pilgrimage to the Holy Land. My heart is full of joy from the experiences we had walking in the footsteps of Jesus. Now I will refocus my energies on Lent, our spiritual spring training. I like to think of Lent as the preparation time God gives us to live the rest of the year. It coincides with spring training for baseball, a time that the players prepare for the upcoming season. They usually focus on the basics of baseball, and we can focus on the basics of the spiritual life. As we continue our spiritual spring training, we focus on one of the very basics in the spiritual life – prayer. No one can teach us about prayer better than Jesus, the ultimate spiritual Coach?
 
Jesus teaches that prayer is not about a multiplication of words (“do not babble like the pagans”). Sometimes we think that the more words we say to God, the more we will be heard. This may happen because we have not been taught how to pray. Prayer is about communicating from the heart with the Lord. It is like speaking to your Best Friend and listening at the level of the heart. It is about sharing with the Lord the joys and sorrows, ups and downs of your everyday life. Prayer can also just be quiet time spent with the Lord without any words being exchanged.
 
Jesus teaches us to pray to “Our Father”. This instantly unites us all as brothers and sisters. We most likely pray the Our Father every day, but do we take time to listen to each word or phrase? What jumps out to me today is this:
 
1) Our Father – the word Jesus used for Father is “Abba” or “Daddy”. Jesus has an intimate relationship with His Father and He invites us into this same intimate, loving relationship. God is not some distant entity, but a Father who loves you more than you can imagine. You are His beloved daughter/son.
 
2) Thy will be done – am I really open to God’s will or am I all about doing my will? In my experience, God’s will is always better than mine. I have learned the hard way that seeking my will above all else never works. I now try to do God’s will not only in the big decisions of life (vocation), but also in the small everyday decisions in life. In every moment of every day we are faced with decisions. Ask yourself, “Will this decision or these words bring me closer to God or take me further away?”
 
3) Give us this day our daily bread – Why do I worry about the future so much? Do I trust God enough to provide for me today? He provides for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. How much more will He care for me? As I look back on my life, I realize that God has carried me through the most difficult situations. He is training me to trust Him at all times, no matter what the circumstance may be.
 
4) If you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you – Wow! Against whom am I holding a grudge? Who do I need to forgive? Are there any relationships that need to be healed? Holding a grudge only hurts us. Let it go. Ask for God’s grace to see, to forgive and to love that person like God sees, forgives and loves him/her.
 
We pray this prayer every day, but the words can hit us differently every time. Don’t speed through these words, but contemplate them anew today. Seek God’s will above all else. Trust that He will provide for your every need. And forgive freely. And you will find peace and joy in this life and in the next.
 
Have a blessed day!
Fr. Burke
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Spanish translation:
MATEO 6:7-15
 
En aquel tiempo, Jesús dijo a sus discípulos: “Cuando ustedes hagan oración no hablen mucho, como los paganos, que se imaginan que, a fuerza de mucho hablar, serán escuchados. No los imiten, porque el Padre sabe lo que les hace falta, antes de que se lo pidan. Ustedes, pues, oren así:
 
Padre nuestro, que estás en el cielo,
santificado sea tu nombre,
venga tu Reino,
hágase tu voluntad
en la tierra como en el cielo.
 
Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada día,
perdona nuestras ofensas,
como también nosotros perdonamos a los que nos ofenden;
no nos dejes caer en tentación
y líbranos del mal.
 
Si ustedes perdonan las faltas a los hombres, también a ustedes los perdonará el Padre celestial. Pero si ustedes no perdonan a los hombres, tampoco el Padre les perdonará a ustedes sus faltas”.
======================
Estoy de regreso en Joliet ajustándome al cambio de tiempo después de la maravillosa peregrinación a la Tierra Santa. Mi corazón está lleno de alegría por las experiencias que tuvimos al caminar sobre los pasos de Jesús. Ahora reenfocaré mis energías en la Cuaresma, nuestro entrenamiento espiritual de primavera. Me gusta pensar en la Cuaresma como el tiempo de preparación que Dios nos da para vivir el resto del año. Coincide con el entrenamiento de primavera para el béisbol, un tiempo en que los jugadores se preparan para la próxima temporada. Generalmente se enfocan en los fundamentos del béisbol, y nosotros podemos enfocarnos en los fundamentos de la vida espiritual. A medida que continuamos nuestro entrenamiento espiritual de primavera, nos enfocamos en uno de los conceptos básicos en la vida espiritual – la oración. ¿Y quién puede enseñarnos mejor que Jesús, el mejor Entrenador espiritual?
 
Jesús enseña que la oración no se trata de una multiplicación de palabras (“no hablen mucho, como los paganos”). A veces pensamos que cuantas más palabras le decimos a Dios, cuanto más seremos escuchados. Esto puede suceder porque no se nos ha enseñado cómo orar. La oración es acerca de comunicarse con el Señor desde el corazón. Es como hablar con tu Mejor Amigo y escuchar al nivel del corazón. Se trata de compartir con el Señor las alegrías y tristezas, los altibajos de tu vida cotidiana. La oración también puede ser pasando tiempo de oración en silencio con el Señor sin intercambiar palabras.
 
Jesús nos enseña a orar al “Padre Nuestro”. Esto nos une a todos instantáneamente como hermanos y hermanas. Lo más probable es que oremos el Padre Nuestro todos los días, ¿pero tomamos el tiempo para escuchar cada palabra o frase? Esto es lo que hoy me resalta:
 
1) Padre Nuestro – la palabra que Jesús usa para Padre es “Abba” o “Papá”. Jesús tiene una relación íntima con Su Padre y nos invita a esta misma relación íntima y amorosa. Dios no es una entidad distante, sino un Padre que te ama más de lo que puedas imaginar. Tu eres Su hijo / hija amado.
 
2) Hágase tu voluntad – ¿estoy realmente abierto a la voluntad de Dios o sobre hacer mi voluntad? En mi experiencia, la voluntad de Dios siempre es mejor que la mía. He aprendido de manera difícil que buscar mi voluntad por encima de todo nunca funciona. Ahora trato de hacer la voluntad de Dios no sólo en las decisiones grandes de la vida (vocación), sino también en las pequeñas decisiones cotidianas de la vida. En cada momento de cada día nos enfrentamos a decisiones. Pregúntate: “¿Esta decisión o estas palabras me acercarán más a Dios o me alejarán?”
 
3) Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada día – ¿Por qué me preocupa tanto el futuro? ¿Confío en Dios lo suficiente para proveerme hoy? Él provee para las aves del cielo y los lirios del campo. ¿Cuánto más cuidará de mí? Al mirar hacia atrás en mi vida, me doy cuenta de que Dios me ha llevado a través de las situaciones más difíciles. Él me está entrenando para confiar en Él en todo momento, sin importar cuál sea la circunstancia.
 
4) Si no perdonan a los demás, tampoco el Padre los perdonará – ¡Wow! ¿Contra quién estoy guardando resentimiento? ¿A quién tengo que perdonar? ¿Hay algunas relaciones que necesitan ser sanadas? Guardar rencor sólo nos lastima. Déjalo ir. Pide la gracia de Dios para ver, perdonar y amar a esa persona como Dios ve, perdona y ama a él/ella.
 
Oramos esta oración todos los días, pero las palabras pueden golpearnos de manera distinta cada vez. No aceleres estas palabras, sino contémplalas hoy de nuevo. Busca la voluntad de Dios por encima de todo. Confía en que Él proveerá para todas tus necesidades. Y perdona libremente. Y encontrarás paz y alegría en esta vida y en la próxima.
 
¡Que tengas un día bendecido!
Padre Burke
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Posted by: frburke23 | March 5, 2017

Thought for Monday, 1st Week of Lent (March 6, 2017)

Thought for Monday, 1st Week of Lent (March 6, 2017)
 
MATTHEW 25:31-46
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”
Saturday, the last day in the Holy Land, began with a 10am Mass in the Cenacle, a Franciscan chapel near the Upper Room, where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with the disciples. I preached about the institution of the Eucharist, the priesthood and the washing of the feet. After the homily, Deacon Tom and Deacon Steve renewed their diaconal vows, and then Fr. Enrique and I renewed our priestly vows. That was a humbling moment for me to renew my priestly vows in the place that Jesus instituted the priesthood and the Eucharist, two things very close to my heart.
 
We then had a free day to tour Jerusalem, so Fr. Enrique and I took a group of about 30 people to follow Jesus’ steps from Holy Thursday in the Cenacle on the way to Calvary and then finishing essentially at the tomb, where Jesus was raised from the dead. Because the Church of St. Peter Gallincantu (which means ‘the cock crows’) is right across the street from the Upper Room, we started our journey there. It was a little out of order, but would have required an extra hour of walking, which we did not need at this time. We read about Peter’s denial in Scripture and were near the pit in which Jesus was kept the night He was arrested.
 
Then we prayed the rosary as we walked about 30 minutes to the Garden of Gethsemani. We read the story of Jesus praying with the disciples in the garden and their inability to stay awake with Him. Then Judas entered the picture and betrayed Jesus with a kiss. We reflected on how often we betray Jesus through our words and actions like Peter and Judas. The difference between Judas and Peter is that Judas despaired and hung himself while Peter humbly sought God’s mercy and Jesus founded the Church upon him. So, Fr. Enrique and I offered to hear confessions for our group in the Garden, which was a moving experience.
 
After time in the Garden, we made our way back into the walled city of Jerusalem to find some lunch. Many of us were hungry for pizza. We passed by the Western Wall and through the Jewish Quarter. Since it was still the Sabbath, nothing was open in the Jewish Quarter, but we eventually found a restaurant that sold pizza in the Christian Quarter. The restaurant owner, Anwar, is a Palestinian, and full of joy. We had fun at the pizza place and then headed for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to finish our day where Jesus died, was buried and rose from the dead. Unfortunately, the Church was closed for another hour or so. It was getting late and we were tired, so we decided to head back to the hotel. We read the rest of the story of the Passion while we were walking.
 
We were scheduled to join the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel for Mass at 6:30pm at Notre Dame. As we were walking back to the hotel, we stumbled upon Notre Dame and decided to just go there and visit the Museum of the Shroud of Turin there. That was a fascinating exhibit. I did not know that they found two coins to cover Jesus’s eyes after He died. These coins can be traced back to the time of Pontius Pilate!
 
We then joined the community for Mass in English. It was nice to concelebrate Mass with the Apostolic Nunico and another bishop. Our group really joined the Mass. We then headed to the hotel for a farewell dinner. Those who wanted to share the highlight or close moment during the pilgrimage were invited to share. It was obvious that many different experiences touched their hearts and mine as well.
 
We left Tel-Aviv at 6:50am this morning for Munich, Germany and then to Chicago. We arrived safely in Chicago around 2:30pm, tired and happy that God had granted us such a special pilgrimage. I hope that this is not the last time I have the opportunity to walk in Jesus. And if you have a chance to go, do not pass up the opportunity. None of us in the group ever felt uncomfortable or afraid, and that was our biggest concern.
 
Have a blessed Monday,
Fr. Burke
Posted by: frburke23 | March 4, 2017

Thought for Saturday after Ash Wednesday (March 4, 2017)

Thought for Saturday after Ash Wednesday (March 4, 2017)
 
LUKE 5:27-32
Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house,
and a large crowd of tax collectors
and others were at table with them.
The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying,
“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
=====================
We had an optional tour Wednesday evening of the tunnels below the Western Wall. King Herod definitely thought big. There is as much of the Wall below the ground as there is above the ground. They showed us one stone that weighs approximately 600 tons (1,200,000 pounds)! They can only speculate how they moved this stone into place. We arrived back at the hotel around 11pm ready for bed because we had a big day planned on Thursday.
 
Each day seems to get better. Thursday morning we had a 4:50am wake up call so that we could leave the hotel by 5:30am. It was easy to arise because we were going to celebrate Mass at the Holy Sepulchre, the tomb of Jesus, at 6am sharp. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life to celebrate the Mass at that place. I cannot put into words what it felt like. I’ve dedicated my whole life to Jesus and this is the place He was laid to rest, but also the place that He rose from the dead. I was left speechless and in tears.
 
We then toured the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I loved walking up the stairs to Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified. There is a stone under the altar that is believed to be the place where Jesus died on the cross. Then at the bottom of the stairs is the stone of the anointing, where they prepared His body for burial. These are surreal moments and it was not only personally inspiring, but I saw tears on the faces of many of our pilgrims. We left to eat breakfast at the hotel around 7:30am and we felt that our day was complete after such a powerful morning.
 
The six Joliet seminarians who are studying in the Holy Land for nine weeks joined us for breakfast. The pilgrims in our group enjoyed meeting them; in fact, some of them knew the seminarians from a Cursillo last year.
 
After breakfast, we went to Mt. Olivet and walked the path Jesus did on that first Palm Sunday as He entered Jerusalem. We stopped at the church that commemorates where Jesus cried over Jerusalem and the seminarians joined us there. The pilgrims and our seminarians were mutually inspired by the encounters they had this day.
 
Our group then prayed the stations of the cross through the streets of Jerusalem. Because our group is 55 people, we had two crosses and we took turns carrying the cross. As we walked through the marketplace, much like Jesus may have done that first Good Friday, some people came to honor the cross we carried, others were indifferent and others looked at us with disdain. These are probably the same reactions Jesus received during His walk to Calvary. The stations finished on the top of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and then we went to lunch.
 
After lunch, we walked through the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem and then visited the Westers (Wailing) Wall. The men had to cover their heads and we prayed and offered our petitions on the left side of the Wall. The women went on the right side of the wall and prayed for the people who sent intentions with the pilgrims. The tradition is to leave a small piece of paper with your intentions in one of the cracks of the Wall.
 
We finished the day with a visit to St. Peter Gallincantu (the cock crows), which commemorates two parts of Jesus’s passion. First of all, we visited a cell in which we believe Jesus was held on that first Holy Thursday night. For me it was very moving to read Psalm 88 in the place where Jesus spent the night in the cell. This psalm, although written long before Christ, could have been written by Christ from this pit. It is also believed that this was the palace of Caiaphas, the High Priest. Secondly, the church honors this as the place where Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed three times. How many times do we deny Christ through our words, actions and inactions?
 
We then went to our hotel for dinner and rosary with our seminarians. After dinner we had to take care of one of our pilgrims who was sick, but she is feeling much better today, thanks be to God.
 
Friday was another grace-filled day. We had a 6am wake-up call, breakfast then 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. Fr. Enrique presided and preached this Mass. His homily was inspiring, calling us to spend time in prayer daily in order to know and 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 pretty 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 with Fr. Enrique, myself, Deacon Tom and Deacon Steve, 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 look into 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 to see the ancient ruins and see the stunning view over the Dead Sea. We ate lunch at this site.
 
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.
 
After leaving the Dead Sea, we stopped in Jericho, the oldest active city in the world. We stopped to see the one and only Sycamore tree in town, which we believe is where Zacchaeus climbed the tree to see Jesus. It is great to have an image of the tree for future opportunities to preach this gospel. We prayed a rosary on the bus on our way back to the hotel and everyone rested for our final full day in Jerusalem – Saturday.
 
Have a blessed weekend!
Fr. Burke
 
Spanish translation:
 
LUCAS 5:27-32
En aquel tiempo, vio Jesús a un publicano, llamado Leví (Mateo), sentado en su despacho de recaudador de impuestos, y le dijo: “Sígueme”. Él, dejándolo todo, se levantó y lo siguió.
 
Leví ofreció en su casa un gran banquete en honor de Jesús, y estaban a la mesa, con ellos, un gran número de publicanos y otras personas. Los fariseos y los escribas criticaban por eso a los discípulos, diciéndoles: “¿Por qué comen y beben con publicanos y pecadores?” Jesús les respondió: “No son los sanos los que necesitan al médico, sino los enfermos. No he venido a llamar a los justos, sino a los pecadores, para que se conviertan”.
====================
Tuvimos un recorrido opcional el miércoles por la noche de los túneles debajo del Muro Occidental. El rey Herodes definitivamente pensó en grande. Hay tanto de la pared debajo de la tierra como sobre la tierra. ¡Nos mostraron una piedra que pesa aproximadamente 600 toneladas (1,200,000 libras)! Sólo pueden especular cómo movieron esta piedra en su lugar. Llegamos al hotel alrededor de las 11:00 pm listos para la cama porque teníamos un gran día planeado el jueves.
 
Cada día parece mejorar. El jueves por la mañana tuvimos una llamada para despertarnos a las 4:50 am para que pudiéramos salir del hotel a las 5:30 am. Fue fácil levantarnos porque íbamos a celebrar Misa en el Santo Sepulcro, la tumba de Jesús, a las 6:00 de la mañana en punto. Fue una de las experiencias más poderosas de mi vida celebrar la Misa en ese lugar. No puedo poner en palabras lo que se sentía. He dedicado toda mi vida a Jesús y este es el lugar donde Él fue puesto a descansar, pero también el lugar que Él resucitó de entre los muertos. Me quedé sin palabras y con lágrimas.
 
Luego nos dieron un paseo en la Iglesia del Santo Sepulcro. Me encanto subir las escaleras hacia el Gólgota, el lugar donde Jesús fue crucificado. Hay una piedra bajo el altar que se cree que es el lugar donde Jesús murió en la cruz. Luego en la parte inferior de las escaleras está la piedra de la unción, donde prepararon Su cuerpo para el entierro. Estos son momentos surrealistas y no sólo fue inspirador personalmente, pero vi lágrimas en los rostros de muchos de nuestros peregrinos. Nos fuimos a desayunar al hotel a las 7:30 am y sentimos que nuestro día estaba completo después de una mañana tan poderosa.
 
Los seis seminaristas de Joliet que están estudiando en la Tierra Santa durante nueve semanas se unieron a nosotros para desayunar. Los peregrinos de nuestro grupo disfrutaron conocerlos; de hecho, algunos de ellos conocían a los seminaristas de un Cursillo el año pasado.
 
Después del desayuno, fuimos al Monte Olivet y caminamos por el camino que Jesús caminó en ese primer Domingo de Ramos cuando entró en Jerusalén. Nos detuvimos en la iglesia que conmemora donde Jesús lloró sobre Jerusalén y los seminaristas se unieron a nosotros allí. Los peregrinos y nuestros seminaristas fueron inspirados mutuamente por los encuentros que tuvieron este día.
 
Nuestro grupo luego oró las estaciones de la cruz por las calles de Jerusalén. Debido a que nuestro grupo es de 55 personas, tuvimos dos cruces y nos turnamos para cargar la cruz. Mientras caminábamos por el mercado, tal como Jesús pudo haber hecho ese primer Viernes Santo, algunas personas vinieron a honrar la cruz que llevábamos, otros eran indiferentes y otros nos miraban con desdén. Estas son probablemente las mismas reacciones que recibió Jesús durante Su caminata al Calvario. Las estaciones terminaron en la parte superior de la Iglesia del Santo Sepulcro y luego fuimos a almorzar.
 
Después del almuerzo, caminamos por el barrio Judío de Jerusalén y luego visitamos el Muro de las Lamentaciones. Los hombres tuvieron que cubrirse la cabeza y oramos y ofrecimos nuestras peticiones en el lado izquierdo del Muro. Las mujeres fueron al lado derecho del muro y oraron por las personas que enviaron intenciones con los peregrinos. La tradición es dejar un pequeño pedazo de papel con tus intenciones en una de las grietas del Muro.
 
Terminamos el día con una visita a San Pedro en Gallincantu (canto del gallo), que conmemora dos partes de la pasión de Jesús. En primer lugar, visitamos una celda en la que creemos que Jesús fue detenido en esa primera noche del Jueves Santo. Para mí fue muy conmovedor leer el Salmo 88 en el lugar donde Jesús pasó la noche en la celda. Este salmo, aunque escrito mucho antes de Cristo, pudo haber sido escrito por Cristo desde este pozo. También se cree que este fue el palacio de Caifás, el Sumo Sacerdote. En segundo lugar, la iglesia honra esto como el lugar donde Pedro negó a Jesús tres veces antes de que el gallo cantara tres veces. ¿Cuántas veces negamos a Cristo a través de nuestras palabras, acciones e inacciones?
 
Luego fuimos a nuestro hotel para cenar y al rosario con nuestros seminaristas. Después de la cena tuvimos que cuidar a uno de nuestros peregrinos que estaba enfermo, pero hoy se siente mucho mejor, gracias a Dios.
 
El viernes fue otro día lleno de gracia. Tuvimos una llamada para despertarnos a las 6:00 am, desayunamos y abordamos el autobús para la Misa de 8:00 am en Getsemaní, el jardín fuera de las paredes en las que Jesús oró con Pedro, Santiago y Juan antes de que fuera arrestado. Padre. Enrique presidió y predicó esta Misa. Su homilía fue inspiradora, llamándonos a pasar tiempo en oración diariamente para conocer y hacer la voluntad del Padre. Frente al altar está la roca sobre la cual se cree que Jesús oró esa noche sudó sangre y pidió que “si quieres, aparta de mí ese cáliz. Pero que no se haga mi voluntad, sino la tuya”.
 
Luego nos dirigimos hacia el este dentro del desierto en nuestro camino hacia el río Jordán y el Mar Muerto. El desierto es bastante estéril, montañoso y rocoso. El río Jordán corre desde el norte del Mar de Galilea hasta el Mar y hacia el sur hasta el Mar Muerto. Nuestro guía “Yair”, explicó que el Mar de Galilea recibe desde el río Jordán y luego devuelve al río Jordán en el otro lado. El Mar Muerto sólo recibe del Jordán, pero no da nada a cambio. Por eso es llamado muerto, porque toma y no da. Eso es cierto en nuestra vida espiritual, cuando tomamos y luego damos, estamos plenamente vivos. Cuando sólo tomamos y consumimos, morimos.
 
En el río Jordán, renovamos nuestros votos bautismales. Esto fue muy significativo para mí, porque en un retiro silencioso hace muchos años oré con esta imagen del bautismo de Jesús en el río Jordán por Juan el Bautista. Mi director espiritual me pidió que me imaginara que yo era Jesús durante mi bautismo y pude oír la voz de Dios el Padre, diciendo: “Tú eres mi hijo amado, en quien me complazco.” A medida que nuestros peregrinos entraron en el río Jordán con Padre Enrique, yo mismo, el Diácono Tom y el Diácono Steve, les dijimos: “Tú eres el hijo/hija amado de Dios, y renuevo tu bautismo en el nombre del Padre, del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo”. Hubo muchas lágrimas de mi parte y las de nuestro grupo cuando reflexionamos sobre la inmensidad del amor de Dios por nosotros y nuestro deseo de ser discípulos fieles.
 
Luego nos dirigimos hacia el sur a lo largo del borde del Mar Muerto hasta Masada. Si no has visto la película, deberías de verla. Herodes el Grande construyó un gran palacio en la cima de Masada, una montaña alta que era bastante plana en la parte superior. Los fanáticos judíos habían huido de Jerusalén hasta la cima de esta montaña y fueron derrotados en la batalla por el ejército romano poco después del saqueo de Jerusalén. Tomamos un teleférico hasta la montaña para ver las ruinas antiguas y ver la impresionante vista sobre el Mar Muerto. Almorzamos en este sitio.
 
Salimos de Masada y detuvimos el autobús para mirar donde encontraron los “Rollos del Mar Muerto” en 1947. Los Esenios copiaron las Escrituras y las ocultaron en tarros en estas cuevas remotas. Se escribieron entre el año 100 AC y el año 200 DC. Luego nos subimos en el autobús de nuevo para nadar en el Mar Muerto.
 
Luego tuvimos la oportunidad de “nadar” o “flotar” en el Mar Muerto. Fue una experiencia increíble de estar en el agua y flotar sin ningún esfuerzo real. También frotamos algo del barro negro en nuestros cuerpos que tiene gran efecto en nuestra piel. Si alguna vez vienes a la Tierra Santa, no pierdas esta oportunidad.
 
Después de salir del Mar Muerto, nos detuvimos en Jericó, la ciudad activa más antigua del mundo. Nos detuvimos para ver el único árbol de Sycamore en la ciudad, que creemos es donde Zaqueo subió el árbol para ver a Jesús. Es maravilloso tener una imagen del árbol para futuras oportunidades de predicar este evangelio. Rezamos el rosario en el autobús en nuestro camino de vuelta al hotel y todos descansaron para nuestro último día completo en Jerusalén – el sábado.
 
¡Que tengas un fin de semana bendecido!
Padre Burke
Thought for Saturday, 8th Week in Ordinary Time (March 4, 2017)
 
LUKE 5:27-32
Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house,
and a large crowd of tax collectors
and others were at table with them.
The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying,
“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
=====================
We had an optional tour Wednesday evening of the tunnels below the Western Wall. King Herod definitely thought big. There is as much of the Wall below the ground as there is above the ground. They showed us one stone that weighs approximately 600 tons (1,200,000 pounds)! They can only speculate how they moved this stone into place. We arrived back at the hotel around 11pm ready for bed because we had a big day planned on Thursday.
 
Each day seems to get better. Thursday morning we had a 4:50am wake up call so that we could leave the hotel by 5:30am. It was easy to arise because we were going to celebrate Mass at the Holy Sepulchre, the tomb of Jesus, at 6am sharp. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life to celebrate the Mass at that place. I cannot put into words what it felt like it. I’ve dedicated my whole life to Jesus and this is the place He was laid to rest, but also the place that He rose from the dead. I was left speechless and in tears.
 
We then got a tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I loved walking up the stairs to Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified. There is a stone under the altar that is believed to be the place where Jesus died on the cross. Then at the bottom of the stairs is the stone of the anointing, where they prepared His body for burial. These are surreal moments and it was not only personally inspiring, but I saw tears on the faces of many of our pilgrims. We left to eat breakfast at the hotel around 7:30am and we felt that our day was complete after such a powerful morning.
 
The six Joliet seminarians who are studying in the Holy Land for nine weeks joined us for breakfast. The pilgrims in our group enjoyed meeting them; in fact, some of them knew the seminarians from a Cursillo last year.
 
After breakfast, we went to Mt. Olivet and walked the path Jesus did on that first Palm Sunday as He entered Jerusalem. We stopped at the church that commemorates where Jesus cried over Jerusalem and the seminarians joined us there. The pilgrims and our seminarians were mutually inspired by the encounters they had this day.
 
Our group then prayed the stations of the cross through the streets of Jerusalem. Because our group is 55 people, we had two crosses and we took turns carrying the cross. As we walked through the marketplace, much like Jesus may have done that first Good Friday, some people came to honor the cross we carried, others were indifferent and others looked at us with disdain. These are probably the same reactions Jesus received during His walk to Calvary. The stations finished on the top of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and then we went to lunch.
 
After lunch, we walked through the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem and then visited the Westers (Wailing) Wall. The men had to cover their heads and we prayed and offered our petitions on the left side of the Wall. The women went on the right side of the wall and prayed for the people who sent intentions with the pilgrims. The tradition is to leave a small piece of paper with your intentions in one of the cracks of the Wall.
 
We finished the day with a visit to St. Peter Gallincantu (the cock crows), which commemorates two parts of Jesus’s passion. First of all, we visited a cell in which we believe Jesus was held on that first Holy Thursday night. For me it was very moving to read Psalm 88 in the place where Jesus spent the night in the cell. This psalm, although written long before Christ, could have been written by Christ from this pit. It is also believed that this was the palace of Caiaphas, the High Priest. Secondly, the church honors this as the place where Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed three times. How many times do we deny Christ through our words, actions and inactions?
 
We then went to our hotel for dinner and rosary with our seminarians. After dinner we had to take care of one of our pilgrims who was sick, but she is feeling much better today, thanks be to God.
 
Friday was another grace-filled day. We had a 6am wake-up call, breakfast and boarded the bus for 8am Mass at Gethsemane, the garden outside the walls in which Jesus prayed with Peter, James and John before He was arrested. Fr. Enrique presided and preached this Mass. His homily was inspiring, calling us to spend time in prayer daily in order to know and 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 “cup might pass from my lips, but not my will, but yours be done.”
 
We then left to head east into the dessert on our way to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. The dessert is pretty 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 with Fr. Enrique, myself, Deacon Tom and Deacon Steve, 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 look into 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 to see the ancient ruins and see the stunning view over the Dead Sea. We ate lunch at this site.
 
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.
 
After leaving the Dead Sea, we stopped in Jericho, the oldest active city in the world. We stopped to see the one and only Sycamore tree in town, which we believe is where Zacchaeus climbed the tree to see Jesus. It is great to have an image of tree for future opportunities to preach this gospel. We prayed a rosary on the bus on our way back to the hotel and everyone rested for our final full day in Jerusalem – Saturday.
 
Have a blessed weekend!
Fr. Burke

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