But Who Do You Say That I Am? / Y Ustedes, ¿Quién Dicen Que Soy Yo?

Jesus was “praying in solitude” but the “disciples were with him.” This draws an interesting picture and an insight into Jesus’ Heart. He is alone but not alone. He needs to pray to the Father in solitude. It is this connection with the Father that keeps him focused on his mission. It is this lifting up of his human heart to the Father that allows him to know and do the Father’s will, which is his very “bread,” as he says elsewhere (Jn 4:34).

But he cannot always get away from everyone in order to be physically alone, so sometimes the disciples were able to observe him praying (which is why we know it happened). What must this have looked like? And what must the Apostles have thought when he looks at them immediately after this prayer and asks them two questions that he asks us as well: Who do others say that I am? But who do YOU say that I am?

Much has been said about Jesus in the 2000 years since he was crucified and rose from the dead. Some of it has drawn us to appreciate the magnificence of his preaching, the generosity of his life, the humility of his demeanor, or the prodigal love of his Heart. Some of it has focused on chipping away at the veracity of the Gospels, suggesting they are mythologized tales intended simply to encapsulate a universal truth. Some of it has been written to draw us into greater devotion to aspects of Jesus’ life and mission and to surrender our own lives to him.

These are things that others say about who Jesus is.

The pivotal question is: What is TRUE about Jesus? The next immediate question is whether we profess that truth about Jesus fully in our hearts and minds and lives.

We can take the answer of Peter – “the Christ of God” – but we must make sure we also accept all that the answer implies. If Jesus IS the Anointed One of God, then we must also profess Him to be the Master, the Light of the world, the Good Shepherd and the Gate, the True Vine, the Way and the Truth and the Life, the Lord of the Universe, the Source of all Holiness, the Redeemer of all Mankind, Incarnate Love, God the Son, the Living Bread come down from Heaven, Fulfillment of every prophesy, the One by Whose stripes we are healed, the Crucified One, the Pierced One, the Risen One, the Bridegroom of the Church, the Eternal High Priest, the Just Judge, the One Who Makes All Things New, and more.  

And if Jesus is all these things and more (and he is, and you surely believe it to be true because you are reading this), then what is our right and just response?

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Jesús estaba “orando en soledad” pero los “discípulos estaban con él”. Esto dibuja una imagen interesante y una visión del Corazón de Jesús. Está solo pero no solo. Necesita orar al Padre en soledad. Esta conexión con el Padre es lo que lo mantiene enfocado en su misión. Esta elevación de su corazón humano al Padre es lo que le permite conocer y hacer la voluntad del Padre, que es su mismo “pan”, como dice en otro lugar (Jn 4,34).

Pero no siempre puede alejarse de todos para estar físicamente solo, por lo que a veces los discípulos pudieron observarlo orar (por eso sabemos que sucedió). ¿Cómo debe haber sido esto? Y qué habrán pensado los Apóstoles cuando les mira inmediatamente después de esta oración y les hace dos preguntas que también nos hace a nosotros: ¿Quién dice la gente que soy yo? Y USTEDES, ¿quién dicen que soy yo?

Mucho se ha dicho acerca de Jesús durante los 2000 años desde que fue crucificado y resucitó de entre los muertos. Algo de ello nos ha llevado a apreciar la magnificencia de su predicación, la generosidad de su vida, la humildad de su conducta o el amor pródigo de su Corazón. Parte de él se ha centrado en socavar la veracidad de los Evangelios, lo que sugiere que son cuentos mitificados destinados simplemente a encapsular una verdad universal. Parte de él ha sido escrito para llevarnos a una mayor devoción a aspectos de la vida y misión de Jesús y para entregarle nuestras propias vidas.

Estas son cosas que otros dicen acerca de quién es Jesús.

La pregunta fundamental es: ¿Qué es VERDADERO acerca de Jesús? La siguiente pregunta inmediata es si profesamos esa verdad acerca de Jesús plenamente en nuestros corazones, mentes y vidas.

Podemos tomar la respuesta de Pedro – “el Cristo de Dios” – pero debemos asegurarnos de que también aceptamos todo lo que implica la respuesta. Si Jesús ES el Ungido de Dios, entonces también debemos profesarlo como el Maestro, la Luz del mundo, el Buen Pastor y la Puerta, la Vid Verdadera, el Camino y la Verdad y la Vida, el Señor del Universo, Fuente de toda Santidad, Redentor de toda la Humanidad, Amor Encarnado, Dios Hijo, Pan Vivo bajado del Cielo, Cumplimiento de todas las profecías, Aquel por cuyas llagas somos curados, el Crucificado, el Traspasado, el Resucitado, el Esposo de la Iglesia, el Eterno Sumo Sacerdote, el Juez Justo, el que hace nueva todas las cosas, y más.

Y si Jesús es todas estas cosas y más (y lo es, y seguramente crees que es verdad porque estás leyendo esto), entonces, ¿cuál es nuestra respuesta correcta y justa?

Comunicarse con la autora

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: Cande Sosa, cathopic.com/photo/15304-invocacion-de-los-santos

Mary Stood – Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows / María se Paró – Memoria de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores

“Standing by the cross of Jesus (was) his mother…”

Mary stood. She remained and did not flee. She did not turn away from the most heartbreaking moment of her life (and she had experienced many heartbreaking moments), but stood near her Son, united with her Son, offering her Son. Mary at the foot of the Cross is all pain and prayer.

At the Annunciation, she had said YES to the Lord, even though she could not see all the details that assent included. She said YES, she meant it, and she never drew back from it, even when it was difficult and confusing and heartbreaking. She remained always the woman of faith and hope and love, who encountered the Word, accepted it, assented to it, and never wavered, all the way to Calvary and beyond.

She remained firm in every difficult circumstance: the cold poverty into which she first welcomed the Infant Word into the world, the unexpected flight into a foreign and pagan land to save his life, the daily dust and toil of life, the loss of her son for three days when he was 12, the hidden pains and prayers of motherhood, the separation from him as he left the home she had made for him to embrace the mission the Father had given him, the enemies who plotted to trap him and have him killed, his agony and death at their hands, preparing his lifeless body for the tomb.

Her whole life of joy and sorrow is summed up in her words at the Annunciation: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). From the Cross, Jesus speaks these words to her: “Woman, behold your son.” According to that word, we are all her children.

Mary surrendered all to the Lord, even her beloved Son, because she understood that this was the will of God, and being sinless, her whole being was uniquely open and responsive to the will of God. As a mother to each of us, her motherly Heart desires to lead us to the Heart of her Son, the Source of all that is good and true and beautiful, the Source of salvation and eternal joy. Her heart’s sorrow is that not all respond to the love of her Son. Let us allow her to mother us into the arms of Jesus, and into eternity with Him.

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“…junto a la cruz de Jesús [estaba] su madre…”

María se puso de pie. Ella se quedó y no huyó. No se alejó del momento más desgarrador de su vida (y había vivido muchos momentos desgarradores), sino que estuvo cerca de su Hijo, unida a su Hijo, ofreciéndo a su Hijo. María al pie de la Cruz es todo dolor y oración.

En la Anunciación, ella había dicho SÍ al Señor, aunque no podía ver todos los detalles que incluía ese asentimiento. Ella dijo SÍ, lo decía en serio, y nunca retrocedió, incluso cuando era difícil, confuso y desgarrador. Ella permaneció siempre como una mujer de fe, esperanza y amor, que encontró la Palabra, la aceptó, la asintió y nunca vaciló, hasta el Calvario y más allá.

Ella se mantuvo firme en cada circunstancia difícil: la fría pobreza en la que acogió por primera vez al mundo al Niño Verbo, la huida inesperada a una tierra extraña y pagana para salvar su vida, el polvo y el trabajo cotidianos de la vida, la pérdida de su hijo durante tres días cuando tenía 12 años, los dolores ocultos y las oraciones de la maternidad, la separación de él al dejar el hogar que ella le había hecho para acoger la misión que el Padre le había encomendado, los enemigos que conspiraban para atraparlo y matarlo, su agonía y muerte a manos de ellos, preparando su cuerpo sin vida para el sepulcro.

Toda su vida de alegrías y tristezas se resume en sus palabras en la Anunciación: “Soy la esclava del Señor. Hágase en mí según tu palabra” (Lucas 1:38). Desde la Cruz, Jesús le dirige estas palabras: “Mujer, ahí está tu hijo”. Según esa palabra, todos somos sus hijos.

María entregó todo al Señor, incluso a su amado Hijo, porque entendió que eso era la voluntad de Dios y, al estar sin pecado, todo su ser estaba excepcionalmente abierto y receptivo a la voluntad de Dios. Como una madre para cada uno de nosotros, su Corazón materno desea conducirnos al Corazón de su Hijo, la Fuente de todo lo que es bueno, verdadero y hermoso, la Fuente de la salvación y la alegría eterna. El dolor de su corazón es que no todos responden al amor de su Hijo. Permitámosle que nos lleve a los brazos de Jesús y a la eternidad con Él.

Comunicarse con la autora

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: Christian Gutiérrez, LC, www.cathopic.com/photo/11315-pietagrave;-michelangelo-

Strong Enough? / ¿Suficientemente Fuerte?

What do you think will happen to you when you die? What do others think will happen? As we are all human, we can be sure that after this life, we all face the same options, no matter what we currently think or believe. If you are reading this, you probably believe that you are created by a loving God Who awaits your arrival after death, and you are working to know Him better so that you are properly prepared.

What can we do to prepare ourselves for this moment, this crossing-over from this life to the next (because our souls are never “dead” – our memories, wills, and understanding are ever alive and ever ours, in this life and the next!)? What can we do to “be saved”?

When someone asks him if only a small number of people will be saved, Jesus has a clear opportunity to assure everyone: It’s easy. Everyone can do it. Just be nice and share!

But this is not what is true. Jesus instead gives us an indication of the effort we must exert when he says, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter, but will not be strong enough.” What kind of “strength” do we need? Our Second Reading today (Heb 12) tells us we need to be reproved and disciplined by the Lord through patient endurance of trials; it is this kind of suffering that strengthens our “drooping hands and weak knees” so that “what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.” God Himself is a good Father Who sees where our weakness is, and Who will teach us what we need to know to be strong and whole, without breaking us. The difficulties and pain and confusion of this life are allowed by God because this is what will finally make us strong enough to enter through the narrow gate.

This is a hard saying in a world where we generally avoid difficult and painful things and seek ways to rest in security and comfort. But the Gospel is always the place where worldly understanding is turned upside down so that we learn to reject the priorities of the culture and even of our own weaker nature and to embrace the challenge to do hard things for the greater good, our own good, and love of God. The Gospel is always reminding us that we need saving, that by ourselves we can do nothing, but if we continually open ourselves fully to God, HE can do all things. We are weak, but in Christ we are made strong enough to enter through the narrow gate of LIFE.

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¿Qué crees que te pasará cuando te mueres? ¿Qué piensan los demás que pasará? Como todos somos humanos, podemos estar seguros de que después de esta vida, todos enfrentamos las mismas opciones, sin importar lo que pensemos o creamos actualmente. Si estás leyendo esto, probablemente creas que fuiste creado por un Dios amoroso que espera tu llegada después de la muerte, y estás trabajando para conocerlo mejor para que estés debidamente preparado.

¿Qué podemos hacer para prepararnos para este momento, este cruce de esta vida a la siguiente (porque nuestras almas nunca están “muertas” – nuestros recuerdos, voluntades y entendimiento están siempre vivos y son siempre nuestros, en esta vida y en la siguiente)? ¿Qué podemos hacer para “ser salvados”?

Cuando alguien le pregunta si solo un pequeño número de personas se salvará, Jesús tiene una oportunidad clara para asegurarles a todos que es fácil, que todo el mundo puede hacerlo. ¡Solo sé amable y comparte con los demás!

Pero esto no es cierto. Jesús en cambio nos da una indicación del esfuerzo que debemos hacer cuando dice: “Esfuércense en entrar por la puerta, que es angosta, pues yo les aseguro que muchos tratarán de entrar y no podrán.”. ¿Qué tipo de “fuerza” necesitamos? Nuestra segunda lectura de hoy (Hebreos 12) nos dice que necesitamos ser reprendidos y disciplinados por el Señor a través de la paciencia en las pruebas; es este tipo de sufrimiento el que fortalece nuestras “manos cansadas y sus rodillas vacilantes” para que “el cojo ya no se tropiece, sino más bien se alivie”. Dios mismo es un buen Padre que ve dónde está nuestra debilidad y que nos enseñará lo que necesitamos saber para ser fuertes y completos, sin quebrarnos. Dios permite las dificultades, el dolor y la confusión de esta vida porque esto es lo que finalmente nos hará lo suficientemente fuertes para entrar por la puerta estrecha.

Este es un dicho difícil en un mundo donde generalmente evitamos las cosas difíciles y dolorosas y buscamos formas de descansar en seguridad y comodidad. Pero el Evangelio es siempre el lugar donde la comprensión mundana se pone patas arriba para que aprendamos a rechazar las prioridades de la cultura e incluso de nuestra propia naturaleza más débil y a aceptar el desafío de hacer cosas difíciles por el bien mayor, nuestro propio bien y amor de Dios. El Evangelio siempre nos está recordando que necesitamos la salvación, que solos no podemos hacer nada, pero si continuamente nos abrimos completamente a Dios, ÉL puede hacer todas las cosas. Somos débiles, pero en Cristo somos lo suficientemente fuertes para entrar por la puerta estrecha de la VIDA.

Comunicarse con la autora

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: sasint, pixabay.com/photos/sunset-men-silhouettes-helping-1807524/

Am I One Of The Greatest? / ¿Soy Yo Uno de los Mejores?

“Who is the greatest?” Who is the richest? Who is the fastest? Who is the thinnest? Who has the most followers? Who is the most beautiful? Who has the most “likes”? Who is the best?

These are very human questions, which the world tries to keep us focused on – being better, stronger, richer, happier, more attractive, MORE EVERYTHING, GREATER. And Jesus is repeatedly turning these worldly ideas upside down, just like he overturned the tables of the moneychangers. He keeps saying: YOU’VE GOT IT ALL WRONG. YOU’VE GOT IT ALL BACKWARDS. LOOK AT ME.

The disciples are still trying to understand the realities of the Kingdom Jesus came to establish, but they are still looking at it through very human lenses. They are still looking at what “greatest” means in human terms, making comparisons with the leaders of human kingdoms. And Jesus keeps turning their human ideas upside down. He keeps saying: You still don’t get it. Let me show you.

When they ask him who is the greatest in the Kingdom, Jesus points to the very last person they would have had in their minds, calling a child over as an example to them (and to us). We must become like trusting children who know they are loved, who rely on their Father for everything, respond promptly when called, and expect to be protected because they can do nothing on their own! This is what it should be like to walk with Jesus in His Kingdom.

The humblest are the greatest in this Kingdom, because they have not put any of their own ego, desires, belongings, resources, abilities, social pretenses, or achievements in the way of what GOD wants to do in them. We are all called into the Kingdom, we do not enter it by our own initiative. We cannot take one step forward without God’s grace and support. And we certainly cannot get into Heaven by our own efforts. We must be saved, and being saved demands malleability, gentleness of character, profound loving trust, spontaneous obedience, and availability to whatever God is asking of us in the moment.

The disciples were wondering in one moment about rank and authority, but in the next moment Jesus is showing them that unless they reject that whole mentality – unless they reject all self-reliance, self-promotion, self-assertion, self-protection, and self-love – they can’t even get IN to the Kingdom, much less earn some kind of “rank” in it. Only the anawim – the poor in spirit, the little ones – are free enough to pass through the eye of the needle. Only those who become humble like Mary understand that He casts down the mighty from their (self-appointed) thrones and sends the rich away empty; it is in bowing low that we are lifted up, because they rely wholly on Him.

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“¿Quién es el mejor?” ¿Quién es el más rico? ¿Quién es el más rápido? ¿Quién es el más delgado? ¿Quién tiene más seguidores? ¿Quién es el más hermoso? ¿Quién tiene más “likes” en las redes sociales? ¿Quien es el mejor?

Estas son preguntas muy humanas, en las que el mundo trata de mantenernos enfocados: ser mejores, más fuertes, más ricos, más felices, más atractivos, MÁS TODO, MEJOR. Y Jesús está repetidamente volteando estas ideas mundanas, al igual que volcó las mesas de los cambistas. Él sigue diciendo: LO TIENES TODO MAL. LO TIENES TODO AL REVÉS. MÍRAME.

Los discípulos todavía están tratando de entender las realidades del Reino que Jesús vino a establecer, pero todavía lo miran a través de lentes muy humanos. Todavía están analizando qué significa “mejor” en términos humanos, haciendo comparaciones con los líderes de los reinos humanos. Y Jesús sigue poniendo patas arriba sus ideas humanas. Sigue diciendo: todavía no lo entiendes. Déjame enseñarte.

Cuando le preguntan quién es el mejor en el Reino, Jesús señala a la última persona que habrían tenido en mente, llamando a un niño como ejemplo para ellos (y para nosotros). ¡Debemos volvernos como niños confiados que se saben amados, que confían en su Padre para todo, responden con prontitud cuando los llaman y esperan ser protegidos porque no pueden hacer nada por sí mismos! Así debería ser caminar con Jesús en Su Reino.

Los más humildes son los mejores en este Reino, porque no han puesto nada de su propio ego, deseos, pertenencias, recursos, habilidades, pretensiones sociales o logros en el camino de lo que DIOS quiere hacer en ellos. Todos estamos llamados al Reino, no entramos por nuestra propia iniciativa. No podemos dar un paso adelante sin la gracia y el apoyo de Dios. Y ciertamente no podemos entrar al Cielo por nuestros propios esfuerzos. Tenemos que ser salvados, y ser salvado exige maleabilidad, mansedumbre de carácter, profunda confianza amorosa, obediencia espontánea y disponibilidad para lo que Dios nos pida en el momento.

Los discípulos se preguntaban en un momento acerca del rango y la autoridad, pero al momento siguiente Jesús les está mostrando que a menos que rechacen toda esa mentalidad, a menos que rechacen toda autosuficiencia, autopromoción, autoafirmación, autoprotección y amor propio – ni siquiera pueden entrar en el Reino, y mucho menos ganar algún tipo de “rango” en él. Sólo los anawim, los pobres de espíritu, los pequeños, son suficientemente libres para pasar por el ojo de la aguja. Sólo quien se vuelve humilde como María comprende que Él derriba a los poderosos de sus (autopropuestos) tronos y despide vacíos a los ricos; es al agacharnos que nos levantamos, al confiarnos totalmente en él.

Comunicarse con la autora

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: www.pexels.com/photo/battle-black-blur-board-game-260024/

Hardened Paths, Rocky Patches, Thorns, and Rich Soil / Caminos Endurecidos, Areas Rocosos, Espinas y Tierra Fértil

Jesus goes down by the sea. And the large crowd is so eager to be near him and hear his words that he is forced to get into a boat and go a little way out to sea. He could say anything right now, command anything– storm some city, revolt against the Romans, start their own community – and most of them would do it! But Jesus does not use his authority to overthrow anything or bully anyone; instead, through the parable of the sower, he invites those who hear him to examine and change their own hearts.

Are our own hearts hardened pathways? Do we show up to hear God’s word, but that word does not resonate in us because our hearts have been allowed to harden in the same old desires and habits that keep beating their way through them? Any seed tossed on this surface just bounces around a bit and is taken away by the enemies of our soul.

Are they filled with rocky patches? Do we hear the word of God and it begins to echo within us, and we even experience the joy of recognizing what is Good and True and Beautiful? But then, because we have not allowed our heart to be softened and furrowed by vulnerability and suffering (but instead, perhaps, hardened by these things), this joy of Truth cannot be sustained within us against the demands of our ego, the culture, or temptation.

Are they strangled by brambles? Do we hear God’s word and experience the desire to conform our lives to it, but only so far? Do we, though called to the better part, give in to the lesser? The word is often welcomed up to the point at which we are called to let go of worldly pleasure, power, popularity, prestige, or prosperity (the “5 P’s,” as I call them); we have then put a limit on God’s action in our lives.

Or are our hearts rich soil? Have we allowed our hearts to be prepared by grace so that, like Mary’s, they are fertile earth in which the Word of God can be planted and come to fruition and yield a great harvest? She heard the word of God, welcomed it, said YES, and never wavered, all the way to the Cross and beyond. This is what Jesus calls us to do!

The Kingdom requires our freely given yes. Only if our hearts are rich soil and the seed can be nurtured there without limits or conditions can we truly be fruitful branches on the True Vine. Without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). But if we allow ourselves to be prepared by the Sower, if we remain in Him and He remains in us, he can bring forth His fruit in us, “a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” 

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Jesús baja al mar. Y la gran multitud tiene tantas ganas de estar cerca de él y escuchar sus palabras que tiene que subir a un bote y adentrarse un poco al mar. Podía decir cualquier cosa en este momento, ordenar cualquier cosa: asaltar una ciudad, rebelarse contra los romanos, comenzar su propia comunidad, ¡y la mayoría de ellos lo harían! Pero Jesús no utiliza su autoridad para derribar nada o intimidar a nadie; en cambio, a través de la parábola del sembrador, invita a quienes lo escuchan a examinar y cambiar su propio corazón.

¿Nuestros propios corazones son caminos endurecidos? ¿Nos presentamos para escuchar la palabra de Dios, pero esa palabra no resuena dentro de nosotros porque hemos permitido que nuestros corazones se endurezcan en los mismos deseos y hábitos que las siguen derrotando? Cualquier semilla arrojada sobre esta superficie rebota un poco y es arrebatada por los enemigos de nuestra alma.

¿Están llenos de áreas rocosos? ¿Escuchamos la palabra de Dios y comienza a resonar dentro de nosotros, y hasta experimentamos la alegría de reconocer lo que es Bueno y Verdadero y Bello? Pero después, debido a que no hemos permitido que nuestro corazón se ablande y surque por la vulnerabilidad y el sufrimiento (sino, tal vez, endurecido por estas cosas), esta alegría de la Verdad no puede ser sostenida en nosotros contra las exigencias de nuestro ego, la cultura, o la tentación.

¿Están estranguladas por las zarzas? ¿Escuchamos la palabra de Dios y experimentamos el deseo de conformar nuestra vida a ella, pero solo hasta cierto punto? Aunque somos llamados a la mejor parte, ¿nos rendimos a la menor? Con frecuencia la palabra es bienvenida hasta el punto en que somos llamados a dejar de lado el placer, el poder, la popularidad, el prestigio o la prosperidad mundanos (yo las llamo las “5 P’s”); entonces hemos puesto un límite a la acción de Dios en nuestras vidas.

¿O nuestros corazones son tierra fértil? ¿Hemos dejado que nuestros corazones sean preparados por la gracia para que, como el de María, sean tierra fértil en la que la Palabra de Dios pueda ser plantada y fructificar y dar una gran cosecha? Ella escuchó la palabra de Dios, la acogió, dijo SÍ, y nunca vaciló, hasta la Cruz y más allá. ¡Esto es lo que Jesús nos llama a hacer!

El Reino exige nuestro sí dado gratuitamente. Solo si nuestros corazones son tierra fértil y la semilla puede ser nutrido allí sin límites ni condiciones, podemos ser verdaderamente ramas fructíferas en la Vid Verdadera. Sin Él nada podemos hacer (Juan 15:5). Pero si nos dejamos preparar por el Sembrador, si permanecemos en Él y Él permanece en nosotros, Él puede dar en nosotros Su fruto, “al ciento, al sesenta o al treinta por uno”.

Comunicarse con la autora

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: Jan Huber, unsplash.com/photos/FJmgfDvJPyE

Fearless / Audaz

Would you invite someone to a task by saying how terrible it’s going to be for them? “It’s a dangerous and difficult job, and people are going to hate you for doing it. They will do all kinds of hurtful things to you. They will even kill you.” Um. I’ll pass on that.

This is what Jesus has just said to his Apostles as he sent them out “as sheep in the midst of wolves” to preach the Gospel. Full disclosure. But in today’s Gospel he is telling them that, even though it truly is a difficult task and they will be opposed and even killed (things that naturally cause fear!), they need not be afraid. But the reasons Jesus gives are not the reasons we might expect.

Jesus does not say that everything will be alright, or that the Apostles will only be threatened but not suffer, or that they will be saved from death at the last moment and defeat every enemy. Surely, Jesus is capable of those things. But those are the images of myths and superheroes, but not the images of the Gospel.

On the contrary, Jesus points to the full reality of being an intentional Christian: the cross of opposition, humiliation, and suffering. The cross demands courage, perseverance, and faithfulness, which are possible when we see the purpose and the goal. So Jesus draws the Apostles toward the antidote to fear: an “eternal perspective,” helping them to see things in full cosmic scale, reminding them that there is so much MORE to reality than we normally consider. He reminds them that ultimately, the spiritual takes precedence over the physical, we must seek the Kingdom first, knowing that our value is exponentially greater than we understand. We are loved and cared for in every detail (the very hairs of our head are numbered!) by the Creator who is also our tender Father, so we need not fear anything but sin.

There is always evil and stupidity in the world, and often this is the noisiest and loudest and gets the most attention. But all the weakness and darkness that lies below the surface of the flashy noise will be revealed in the end, like the “man behind the curtain” projecting “the great and powerful Oz,” and we will see that it is nothing.

On the other hand, the steady and subtle movements of the Spirit of God within us and around us are where our attention should be, as it is this Spirit Who empowers us with every grace and virtue and adorns us with spiritual gifts, so that we are prepared for the eternal Wedding Feast. When we know the radiance for which we are created, we fear nothing on this earth. When our treasure is in Heaven and our eyes are fixed on the Heart of God, we will persevere through every difficulty until we are finally safe at Home.

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¿Invitarías a alguien a hacer algo presentándolo como algo terrible para ellos? “Es un trabajo peligroso y difícil, y la gente te va a odiar por hacerlo. Te harán todo tipo de cosas hirientes. Incluso te matarán”. Um…. no gracias.

Esto es lo que acaba de decir Jesús a sus Apóstoles cuando los envió “como ovejas en medio de los lobos” a predicar el Evangelio. La divulgación completa. Pero en el Evangelio de hoy les está diciendo que, aunque verdaderamente es una tarea difícil y se les opondrán e incluso los matarán (¡cosas que naturalmente causan miedo!), no deben tener miedo. Pero las razones que da Jesús no son las razones que podríamos esperar.

Jesús no dice que todo va a estar bien, o que los Apóstoles sólo van a ser amenazados pero no van a sufrir, o que van a ser salvados de la muerte en el último momento y vencerán a todos los enemigos. Seguramente, Jesús es capaz de esas cosas. Pero son imágenes de mitos y superhéroes, no del Evangelio.

Por el contrario, Jesús señala la plena realidad de ser un cristiano intencional: la cruz de la oposición, la humillación y el sufrimiento. La cruz exige valor, perseverancia y fidelidad, lo cuales son posibles cuando vemos el propósito y la meta. Así que Jesús atrae a los Apóstoles hacia el antídoto contra el miedo: una “perspectiva eterna”, ayudándoles a ver las cosas en su escala cósmica completa, recordándoles que hay mucho MÁS en la realidad de lo que normalmente consideramos. Les recuerda que en última instancia, lo espiritual tiene prioridad sobre lo físico, debemos buscar primero el Reino, sabiendo que nuestro valor es exponencialmente mayor de lo que entendemos. Somos amados y cuidados en cada detalle (¡los mismos cabellos de nuestra cabeza están contados!) por el Creador, quien también es nuestro  Padre tierno, por lo que no debemos temer nada, menos el pecado.

Siempre hay maldad y estupidez en el mundo y, a menudo, esto es lo más escandaloso y ruidoso y recibe la mayor atención. Pero toda la debilidad y la oscuridad que yace debajo de la superficie de la bulla se revelará al final, como el “hombre detrás de la cortina” que proyecta “el gran y poderoso Oz” , y veremos que no es nada.

Por otro lado, nuestra atención debe estar en los movimientos constantes y sutiles del Espíritu de Dios dentro de nosotros y alrededor de nosotros, ya que es este Espíritu quien nos fortaleza con toda gracia y virtud y nos adorna con dones espirituales, para que podamos ser preparados para la eterna Fiesta de Bodas. Cuando reconozcamos el resplandor para que fuimos creados, no tenemos nada que temer en esta tierra. Cuando nuestro tesoro esté en el Cielo y nuestros ojos estén fijados en el Corazón de Dios, vamos a perseverar a pesar de cualquier dificultad hasta que finalmente estemos seguros en nuestro hogar celestial.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: Joshua Earle, unsplash.com/photos/Dwheufds6kQ

The Spotless Heart

Catholics use a lot of language that is particular to us, for many reasons – it may come from Latin or Greek or theology or the ancient Church, and has been passed on and continually used. Some examples are words like “pope,” “eucharist,” “devotion,” “communion,” “benediction,” etc. These words, like non-Church words, can be used so much that we might forget to think about what they actually mean.

“Immaculate” is one of those words. We use it to describe both Mary’s origin and the state of her being: the Immaculate Conception and the Immaculate Heart. What does this mean? The word literally means “without spot/stain.” She was born without the stain of Original Sin, and she preserved her absolute “spotlessness” throughout her entire life, something 100% of us are not able to do!

In every situation of her life, in every moment, she chose God instead of herself. She understood her absolute dependence on God for everything and she lovingly trusted in God for everything.

Was she tempted? Yes. But she never succumbed to sin.

Did she suffer? Yes. Deeply. But she knew how to suffer fruitfully.

At the Annunciation, the angel calls her “full of grace.” Full, because there was no selfishness or sin taking up space where grace could abide. He says, “the Lord is with you,” because she opened herself fully to Him always and invited Him into every moment of the day, every thought, word, and act. This young girl’s response to the angel’s invitation is the profound response of a soul who knows her position in the universe and in the Heart of God clearly: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me as you have said.” It is the confident response of an immaculate heart that trusts, a free heart that can make a way for the Word to become Flesh, a bold heart that can stand at the pivot of history and change humanity’s course, a generous heart that can say YES to God in a new way and begin to unravel all the NO.

This Immaculate Heart never wavered from that YES, through uncertainty and danger, poverty and loss, maternal bonding and letting go, all the way to the Cross and beyond. And this Immaculate Heart was a steady beacon for the early Church, from the tomb to the ascension, through the prayerful waiting for the Spirit at Pentecost, to the missionary preaching and sacraments. And when her work here was done, God lifted her to Himself, body and soul, to be near her Son eternally.

The Church situates this Memorial the day after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to help us see the closeness – the communion – of these Two Hearts, of Mother and Son. In Heaven, there are two human hearts beating as one before the Father, and they beat with love for you and for me.

Mary, help us to love as you love, and to give a ready YES to God!

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: Grant Whitty, unsplash.com/photos/5lzWL1tmpgs

Grabbing or Giving

Jesus always calls us to MORE – more joy, more peace, more love. And he tells us how to receive this: he calls us to more love, more trust, more generous self-sacrifice, more letting go.

The Chosen People were called to live in ways that were counter-cultural in order to be a sign to the nations that there is one God, a Supreme God, Creator of all, and we must love that God with our whole heart and soul and strength (the Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4-5). In order to make sure they lived within the parameters of chosen people, God gave them rules (the 10 Commandments) and prophetic wisdom (the Wisdom books) and an understanding of history with an eternal perspective (the Pentateuch). And the elders of the chosen people pondered all this and worked out ways to live within those parameters in a world that did not observe the rules, and they wrote down their understandings and insights and instituted laws about everything from working to washing to worshipping. Many laws. Hundreds of laws. More laws than any regular person could keep track of or observe faithfully.

And Jesus tells his disciples that actually, these hundreds of laws don’t go far enough! Why? Because they don’t go deep enough. The laws were intended to guide people to correct behavior, but they were unable to change anyone’s heart. The laws led some people to strict observance in order to keep a firm grip of themselves and keep them from straying from the path of righteousness. But Jesus tells them that the actual observance of the law must happen deep within us, at the very place where we let go of ourselves in order to embrace the other.

So the Law remains (Jesus “did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it”!), but its full meaning is revealed in the life of Christ. We certainly should not kill, as we have no right to take another’s life. But the full meaning of respecting the life of another is to refrain from unrighteous anger, or name-calling, or holding grudges and withholding forgiveness! In tomorrow’s Gospel, we will hear the same kind of unfolding of another law: we certainly should not commit adultery, but the full meaning of the covenant of marriage is to control any distracting or lustful looking or thinking, and to direct our energy toward our commitment to full, faithful, and fruitful family life.

What Jesus came to reveal is that the full meaning of the law is LOVE – love of God, and love of others. We must learn to let go of our “grabbing” so that we can learn to GIVE lovingly and generously, from the heart, respecting others and trusting in the gift of grace. We must learn to love others as Jesus loves us! Only then do we begin to understand the full meaning of the laws of God, and then, at last, we can receive more peace, more love, and the fullness of joy.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: James Healy, unsplash.com/photos/0NFvQFbJ6kI

One-ing and Joy

Prayer is an opening – and therefore a kind of revelation – of the heart. So in today’s Gospel, as we hear Jesus pray to the Father, we glimpse the sentiments of his holy Heart. And what do we see? His loving trust in the Father, and his intense love for us.

Jesus is about to enter his agony, and his final concerns are for his disciples. He asks the Father to “keep” them, as he had protected and guarded them. He is entrusting them now to the Father.

And he reveals also a deep theological Truth: that we are all ONE in Christ, just as he is one with the Father! This was something entirely new. The Chosen People knew they were chosen by God, but they had no aspirations of being ONE with God! Here Jesus points to the goal of all creation, the goal of his Incarnation, the goal of the Paschal Mystery into which he is entering: “that they may be one just as we are one… even as You, Father, are in me, and I in You, that they also may be in us… that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and You in me, that they may become perfectly one” (Jn 19-23).

Perfectly one with each other, one with Christ, united in the heart of the Trinity, “so that they may share my joy completely.” In unity is JOY. This is the goal of all that God has done and is doing: to share His JOY, which springs from love, which brings union.

Jesus came with this mission, and it is our mission too: “As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.”

This is why we say we are “in the world, but not of the world” – we are made by Love, to Love, for Love. We are journeying through this world, fighting the enemies of love, finding ways to love, bringing love to others, so that we establish real communion with others in Christ. In journeying, fighting, and serving in love in this world, we find joy. And at the end of our worldly work, we will enjoy endless joy in the Arms of Love.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: Submitted By Author

The Gift of the Spirit

What has Jesus left his disciples? He has not written a book, or established a political entity, or given the Jews control over the earth, or crushed the Romans (as so many believed and hoped he would). It seems he has left them nothing tangible, and now he is leaving. Surely, the disciples are grieved and confused about the future as Jesus tells them he is going.

Jesus is going to the one who sent him: the Father, Whose Heart is our Home forever.

He is going. But his work is surely not done. His mission certainly does not end with his death, or with his return to the Father. In fact, returning to the Father is part of his mission, because he tells us that it is only if he goes that he can SEND the Advocate. “If I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”

And what is the importance of this Advocate, this Holy Spirit? What does he bring to the world, and to the disciples? Jesus has left nothing tangible, but he has established a Kingdom – THE Kingdom, GOD’S Kingdom – through his life, death, and resurrection, and he will spend the rest of human history expanding that Kingdom, one heart at a time. And he left on earth the instrument through which he will expand this Kingdom: the Church. He left no writing or political game plan. He left a living Church, animated and enlivened, guided “to all truth,” and guaranteed infallible by the Holy Spirit.

This Church will work out its governance over time, guided by the Spirit. This Church will safeguard all the treasures poured out by God, with the guarantee of the Spirit. This Church will carry the word of Truth to the ends of the earth, letting this light tear down idols and put an end to human sacrifice, with the blazing Fire of the Spirit. This Church will compile the world’s best-selling Book, with the light of the Spirit. This Church will reach out in love and establish hospitals and universities and orphanages, with the creative love of the Spirit. This Church will stand firm against all political powers and cultural confusions and worldly upheavals, with the steadfastness of the Spirit. This Church will make all the grace of redemption available to all peoples throughout all time, with the infinite mercy of the Spirit. This Church will bring souls into the family of God, and forgive them over and over again, and feed them with the very Body and Blood of the Lord every hour of the day, giving glory and praise to the Father, through and with and in the Son, in the unity of the Spirit.

This is what Jesus left his disciples, and us. This is the Faith we profess, and the Home in which we are nurtured until Christ be fully formed in us, and we are safe in the Heart of the Trinity forever.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: marilopz, www.cathopic.com/photo/15024-llegas-espiritu-dios

The Way To Our Forever Home

Remember your last big trip? Traveling takes a lot of mental and physical energy. There is the journey itself, of course – the map and the means of moving and the money. There is also the “stuff” we have to keep track of constantly to make sure nothing is left behind or dropped along the way or lost in the shuffle – the reservations, payments, passports, toiletries, itinerary, keys, snacks, tickets, exchange rates, souvenirs. For some people, traveling is the greatest and most joyful adventure; for others, it is a cause of anxiety and worry! Some of us are willing to take it as it comes and hope for the best; others are meticulous planners with folders and spreadsheets and timelines; still others of us try to be one or the other, but fall somewhere in the middle.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is going somewhere. He tells the disciples he is going to prepare a dwelling place – a HOME – for them, and that he will come back again and take them there too! Where is this place? The Father’s house. That is our home.

And he reminds the disciples that they already know the way there.

Thomas speaks for all of us when he says, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” The Father’s house? Where is THAT? How can we get THERE? There is a place prepared for us there, but we’ve never seen it, so how can we find it?

Jesus tells us the “insider secret” to traveling to this final Home: HIMSELF. The route and the means and all that we need along the way are found in HIM: “I am the way,” and there is no other way. If we are at last to reach the Father and dwell in the Father’s house, we have to go through HIM.

So, if we know Jesus, we DO know the way, because he himself IS the way. Walking with him, we are walking along the right way. Walking with him, we will make it securely to our destination, and we don’t have to worry about seeing the full map or charting our own trajectory or losing anything important along the way. In fact, if we know Jesus and learn to walk with him in trust, this journey can be joyful and life-giving, even when we are traveling through deserts and briar patches and dark nights, because we know we are moving in the direction of HOME. And home is what all of our hearts long for, because home is where we are completely safe and secure, known for who we truly are, valued and loved wholly, and are able to live and love freely.

If we know Jesus, we can say confidently at the end of our lives, just as Pope St. John Paul II did: “Let me go to the house of the Father,” and enter into our Home, the fullness of God’s embrace, at last.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: stevepb, https://pixabay.com/photos/road-direction-path-destination-1894938/

The Secure Situation Of Sheep

The “powers that be” keep the pressure on Jesus, trying to ensnare him with questions, catch him in an act for which they can condemn him as a fraud or blasphemer, and taunting him. You can hear their exasperation in today’s Gospel: “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly!”

Jesus is always free, always true, and never allows himself to get “sucked into” their drama; he is always able to maintain his separateness and independence and articulate the essential truth from a place above their desperate convolutions. And here, in response to their demands that they tell him plainly, he says plainly, “I told you and you do not believe…because you are not among my sheep.” Whoa. Poking right back with the Truth in response to their demand for an answer. “The Father and I are one.” Moments later (in the very next verse of this Gospel, which we will not hear), they pick up stones to kill him, accusing him of blasphemy because he claimed to be God. They demanded he tell them whether or not he was the Christ, and when he tells them, they move to kill him.

But Jesus was not only speaking truth to those who wanted to trap him and get rid of him. He was also speaking truth to those who DID believe in him, and would continue to believe in him, to you and to me. And what did they hear?

Not blasphemy; words of hope and love: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” This voice which had brought them so much peace and joy, these words that brought comfort and made sense of things that had stopped making sense, were surely those of the Good Shepherd leading them to verdant pastures and rest and overflowing cups! “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.” The security and confidence of being in the hands of the One who has the power to save, to give the ultimate eternal freedom – this is what attracted so many to follow him along the dusty roads even in their physical hunger and thirst, this is what they longed to hear and know, this is the loving spark that had been lost in the labyrinth of laws and rules and political posturing with the powers of this world.

And these are the words he speaks to us, above the spaghetti bowl of our own thinking and the confusions of our world and our personal situations: I know you; I give you eternal life, and you shall never perish. No one can take you out of my hand. Let us all walk in the light of this word of life, from the God who keeps his promises. 

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: buchstabenfabrik, https://pixabay.com/photos/sheep-animals-scotland-lamb-meadow-7117465/