Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Our faith calls us to always hope, but of late, I struggle to stay hopeful while listening to news reports. I’m filled with a deep sense of foreboding sadness as I perceive a global trend in which leaders, (and those vying to become leaders) propose the building of social, economic and even physical “walls” as they promote a fuzzy notion of “others.” Yet, as children of God, we believe that all humanity is created in the image of God and our baptism calls us to seek out and connect to the risen Christ in all. Jesus taught that this is the way to peace and salvation. Let us never give up on the hope and the work of your kingdom, Lord. MJ
Tues., June 13 | 2 Cor 1:18-22; Mt 5:13-16
Anthony of Padua, priest, doctor of the church
[They do not] light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket. Children sing with confidence, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!” With time, however, we can become less confident in the nature or quality of our God-given light. It often takes another person to point out our gifts and to draw it out from where it has been hidden under baskets of doubt or fear of criticism. Sometimes the purpose of our light is to validate and enable others to confidently shine their own light of Christ. New lights can infuse fresh life and new perspectives into the work of a faith community. May the power of your light in us, nurture the discovery and confidence of your light in others. MJ
Wed., June 14 | 2 Cor 3:4-11; Mt 5:17-19
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Anyone who has ever worked with independent-minded teenagers soon discovers that there is a big difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Rules meant to guide and protect them can be followed with technical precision, but there is no guarantee that the sentiment behind the rule will be observed. Similarly, I can no more judge a person’s faith in God based on their observances of church rules, than rote practice of rituals and prayer can be judged to be proof of a deep understanding of God in me. Only God sees the heart and a person’s willingness to be transformed. May your words enliven and strengthen the Spirit within us, Lord. MJ
… the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so that they may not see the light … of the glory of Christ. Our diocese of Moncton, Canada offers many workshops on spiritual topics. Often, it is the same people who attend them yet, so many more could benefit from their richness. It is the dilemma of evangelization. As one parishioner said, “How do we reach people who don’t know that they don’t know?” I can describe in detail the benefits I have gained from faith and prayer life, but I cannot give others this inner experience. I can only live my baptism as authentically as possible and hope that others desire and seek out what they see in me, knowing God can satisfy their deepest needs and desires. Near indeed is salvation to those who seek God. MJ
Fri., June 16 | 2 Cor 4:7-15; Mt 5:27-32
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels. It is wonderful to observe how many newly pregnant women watch carefully what they eat and drink. Regardless of their habits before this wonderful event, they now take every precaution to ensure the well-being of the treasure they carry within. Regardless of age or gender we, too, are “pregnant” with the risen Christ. We are earthen vessels called to give birth to the light and love of Christ within us. Our words, actions and attitudes influence the integrity of this treasure and influence the perception of those who encounter our attempts to bring God’s gift of love to life. Lord, may we live our lives with the consciousness that we carry the treasure of Jesus’ life and love within us. MJ
Sat., June 17 | 2 Cor 5:14-21; Mt 5:33-37
We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. Much debate has arisen of late concerning the reliability of news provided by social media. Providers are being called to task to check the validity of their sources, yet we also carry a responsibility to refrain from repeating information if we are uncertain of its truth; to put effort into discerning what is true and what is rumor. Within our own lives intertwined within families and communities, gossip has the power to damage and ruin reputations and relationships. If we believe that Christ dwells in us all, then we owe it to each other to consider whether we would repeat the rumor if the subject or the receiver of its consequences, were Jesus himself. Put my mouth on pause, Lord, while I engage the brain you gave me. MJ
Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Mon., Jun. 19 | 2 Cor 6:1-10; Mt 5:38-42
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. Jesus says the Hebrew Scripture is all about him. So he re-writes it in the Sermon on the Mount! But, can anyone live like this? It’s so “extreme”! Turn the other cheek. They want your tunic, give ‘em your cloak, too. One mile? Go two! Give to anyone who asks. You live like this, your life is basically over. The only excuse for such talk is because the Christian Scripture — which really is all about Jesus — finds all these words fulfilled in him! Our life is in Jesus, and that is all. In the sight of the nations, O Lord, you have revealed your justice! MD
Tues., Jun. 20 | 2 Cor 8:1-9; Mt 5:43-48
Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. As perfect as God? That’s a tall order! But, it’s the very core of our Christian life. For God makes the sun shine on the bad and the good, and causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. So be the sun, be the rain; say hello to everyone. Is that so hard? And, love your enemy, just like God, who loves us. And, what an enemy I have been to my heavenly Father! “Perfect” is not sinlessness; it’s “children” sharing our poor lives together — and praying. We seem to do so little of that, but it matters so much! Jesus will tell us how, on Thursday. O Lord, you raise up those who are bowed down; you love the just; you protect strangers! MD
Wed., Jun. 21 | 2 Cor 9:6-11; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
Aloysius Gonzaga, religious
When you give alms … when you pray … when you fast … do not be like the hypocrites! Is it Lent again already? We just did all this solemn giving and praying and fasting a few months ago! But, such discipline is not seasonal; it’s our daily Christian life. And, if we don’t give spontaneously, pray humbly, sacrifice cheerfully, we’re only fooling ourselves. What amuses me is how “the hypocrites” seems to be a familiar group for Jesus’ listeners, as maybe politicians are for us. What both groups have in common is their total lack of self-awareness. Everybody — except them! — knows they’re fakes. Why, then, would Jesus have to warn me so sternly not to be like them? Hmm. Good question! Your light shines through the darkness, O Lord, you are gracious and merciful and just! MD
Thu., Jun. 22 | 2 Cor 11:1-11; Mt 6:7-15
Our Father, who art in heaven…. The only art in any modern translation of the Bible! Just shows how custom marks its territory. And that’s a good thing, when we all know the same words of our most common prayer. On the other hand, we may lose the sense of surprise, even astonishment, when Jesus shares his Father, his Abba, with us. Oh, sure, we have to fall all over ourselves to make the distinction: Jesus is the “natural” Son of God, we are “adoptive” children. That’s a lot to unpack from the single word “our,” and Jesus himself does not do it. Just as “Jesus,” (Yahweh saves), is the one Word of God, so “Our Father” is the whole message of God’s creating, sustaining, guarding love for us. Give us this day our daily bread! MD
Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart. Jesus himself gives us the cue for today’s feast of the Sacred Heart. Moses anticipated it, telling Israel, “The Lord set his heart on you and chose you.” But, Moses could not have imagined that his figure of speech would become a literal fact of God’s own life; at the center of the Trinity beats a human heart. John captures it this way: “God is love, and whoever remains in love, remains in God, and God in them.” In Honduras, the Legion of Mary visits poor families during June, bringing a framed image of the Sacred Heart to remain, or abide, until the next day. So we pray. O Lord, you redeem our life from destruction, you crown us with kindness and compassion! MD
What, then, will this child be? Today’s feast of the birth of John the Baptist is like a Christmas carol in the middle of summer. The story is dramatic enough, with a mute father who finds his voice again when he names his newborn son “John” (Yahweh is gracious). But, the drama will be played out on the stage of the world itself, as Isaiah’s vision revealed: a universal mission, “a light to the nations,” because Israel is just “too little” to contain God’s love. Even Paul, who never met John, knew the game plan: “John heralded Christ’s coming.” But, the feast is for us, too. Become the herald angels of today. Tell all the world of God’s love. I give you thanks, O Lord, that I am fearfully, wonderfully made! MD
Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Mon., June 26 | Gn 12:1-9; Mt 7:1-5
...and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Holding others to impossible standards yields the same return. Measuring by earthly standards becomes the final goal. No expectation lies beyond temporal existence, resulting in judgment solely by secular means. Believing that there’s more necessitates holding ourselves to higher expectations. Jesus clearly spells out how we should act. The teachings are direct. Our words, choices and actions matter. A Christ-like capacity for compassion, forgiveness and understanding will be reciprocated — maybe not in this life, but that’s not our endgame. We know there’s more. The fear of harsh judgment disappears because the outcome is entirely our choice, and we’re made to choose love. Help us to be gentle with each other, Lord. PR
Tues., June 27 | Gn 13:2, 5-18; Mt 7:6, 12-14
Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. The Golden Rule, present in all major religions, is one of our earliest lessons and is a prevalent moral and ethical principle. Like many other childhood teachings, it gets pushed aside as life experiences harden us. People reject the rule as naïve. They don’t think that others can be trusted to do the right thing, but that attitude misses the point. The rule doesn’t say to treat others in a way that protects us from fear of being taken advantage of. It says nothing about basing our actions on others’ potential negative behavior. It’s about offering others what we want to receive with no guarantee how they will respond. It’s entirely about our choices and our actions. The rest we cannot control. Merciful God, may our living be rooted in your immeasurable love. PR
Wed., June 28 | Gn 15:1-12, 17-18; Mt 7:15-20
Irenaeus, bishop and martyr
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing. Most people aren’t easily fooled by genuine evil or outright lies. The subtle lure or the “too good to pass up offer” gets us. St. Irenaeus said, “Error never shows itself in its naked reality, in order not to be discovered. On the contrary, it dresses elegantly, so that the unwary may be led to believe that it is more truthful than truth itself.” Fact becomes irrelevant in the haze of perception. Jesus cautions the disciples, and us, that only a good tree yields good fruit. We must look past the clever disguise or the smooth talk and examine the outcome. Otherwise, well-intentioned people will be left starving for the word while feasting on rotten produce. Open our eyes, Lord, to your truth. PR
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. When Christ placed Peter as the head of the apostles, he established his ongoing human representation in the administration of sacraments. Jesus gave the apostles authority to forgive sins; their successors still offer us absolution. When we willfully violate God’s law, we’re separated from him. Reconciliation restores our relationship. Penance demonstrates our gratitude for God’s mercy as a concrete sign of our willingness to repair sin’s damage. Remembering Sts. Peter and Paul today, let’s reflect on the apostles’ ability to offer the sacrament of reconciliation, and how in it Jesus himself offers us spiritual healing. Thank you, Lord, for the gifts of pardon and peace. PR
Fri., June 30 | Gn 17:1, 9-10, 15-22; Mt 8:1-4
Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean. Jesus’ public ministry was marked by his healing of physical and spiritual illness. His desire to heal is an obvious sign of his love and mercy. Jesus touches the leper; this gentle gesture is an integral aspect of the sacrament of anointing of the sick — the laying on of hands — directly imitating Jesus who didn’t shy from genuine human contact despite the sickness and diseases of those who came to him. We daily face pain and brokenness. Whether the affliction before us is of mind, body or spirit, we cannot back away. We must stretch out our hands in compassion. A tender touch may be all someone needs to get back on the road to recovery. Help us, Lord, to bring wholeness to a wounded and suffering world. PR
Daily Bread Authors from Celebration
Paige Byrne Shortal, longtime contributor to Celebration, serves as coordinator and editor for the Daily Bread writers.
Miguel Dulick lives in a mountain village in Honduras, Central America. Originally from St. Louis, he holds degrees from St. Louis University and Weston School of Theology, Boston.
Mary Joshi lives in Moncton, NB, Canada. Raised Catholic and married to a Hindu, Mary helps coordinate the RCIA for her parish unit and is a reflection writer for the parish bulletin. She holds degrees in history, English and deaf education.
Jeanne Lischer grew up in St. Louis and Ghana, West Africa, where her parents were missionaries. She is a graduate of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, was ordained in 1990 in the United Church of Christ, and is currently the pastor for two rural congregations in Missouri.
Patricia Russell graduated from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich., with degrees in English and secondary education
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