Beatitude #2 – Blessed are those who mourn

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

If we suffer because of our faith, God will comfort us when we unite with him. This news should bring joy to our hearts. The grace of suffering is a gift from God. This is hard for us to understand but it is a truth that Saints have understood well; it has guided their actions despite the suffering brought about by those actions. It is the cross Christ carried for us.

Today, we will have opportunities to suffer. We will have the opportunity to soothe despite our own sorrows; to forgive despite our hurt; to give alms despite scarcity; to give of our time despite all our desire for solitude; to be compassionate despite our impatience; to love despite our disappointments. These are all occasions for suffering; opportunities to be saint-like; not for the rewards offered by this world, but for the comfort we will receive from God.

© hectorortiz 2013. All rights reserved.

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Painted in the year 2000 by the Monastic Fraternity at St. Peter Church, Tilden, Wisconsin, USA
Painted in the year 2000 by the Monastic Fraternity at St. Peter Church, Tilden, Wisconsin, USA

‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ (Luke 15:6)

Today we celebrate the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. There is not much I can say to express the meaning of today’s solemnity other than Jesus’ love is infinite and merciful. His love is such that he sacrificed his life so we could be saved from evil, redeemed from sin, and be resurrected.

Jesus’ heart is our model to selfless compassion. Jesus is the shepherd I can trust. I know that when lost, Jesus will leave all his sheep in the desert to look for me and he will rejoice when he rescues me. That should be a consolation of mercy for all of us.

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus radiate his light on us this day.

Father, we honor the heart of your son, broken by our cruelty, yet symbol of love’s triumph, pledge of all that we are called to be. Teach us the see Christ in the lives we touch and to offer him living worship by love-filled service to our brothers and sisters. We ask through Christ our Lord.

Alternative Opening Prayer, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart (Sacramentary, 1973)

© hectorortiz 2013. All rights reserved.

Which is the first of all the commandments?

“Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 28b:30)

In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us our roadmap to salvation. His teaching is not new (see Deut 6:4-5 and Lev 18:18) but as son of God, he once and for all confirms the most important commandments. There should be no doubt in our minds of what we must do for Christ to live in us.

There are three virtues that are related directly from God: Faith, Hope, and Love. These gifts, which we acquire beginning with baptism, are the foundation of our Christian moral life. As Paul so beautifully expresses in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, “the greatest of these is love.” That is today’s Gospel message: Love God; Love your neighbor.

Let’s pray this day that we continue to grow in love for God and each other:

“O Lord God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me and ask pardon of all whom I have injured. Amen (Act of Love)

© hectorortiz 2013. All rights reserved.

Tragedy and Death

“Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12: 8-9a, 10

This week’s Boston Marathon attack and last night’s blast at a Texas fertilizer plant are public reminders of how fragile our existence in this life really is. Death is ever present; it always has been; it will always be. During these tragic moments some may ask “why would God let this happened?”

We live in a world where evil does exist. There are bad people in this world and tragic events are part of life. Evil and death have been among us since the fall of Adam and Eve. God does not create death; the Bible tells us so “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world.” ~ Wisdom 1: 13; 2: 23-24

These tragic events are also reminders of the mercy and love God has for us. Some may ask “where was God during these events?” He was in all the people whose first action was to kneel to pray for the souls of those who lost their lives; he was in the first responders’ skillful actions to save lives; he was in all the people who provided aid, comfort, condolence, and empathy for those suffering pain. Moreover, he was in His son Jesus Christ whom he sent to die for us on a cross so that we may be freed from death and evil and enjoy everlasting life.

My heart and prayers go to the victims and their families of these tragic events.

“Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.” ~ Romans 12: 9-10, 12

© hectorortiz 2013. All rights reserved.