January 20

Friday of the Second Week of the Year



1 Samuel 24.3-21. Psalm 57.2, 3-4, 6 & 11; Have mercy on me, God, have mercy. Mark 3.13-19.

USCCB Readings

Being and Serving with Jesus

I was enrolled in a preparatory seminary during high school in the late Sixties, a time of social and ecclesial crisis. The rector of the college seminary came to give us seniors a recruitment talk. He told us that there we would develop a “prayer life” with the help of a spiritual director. This sounded dumb and unattractive. Why waste time with empty words? Why not do the reign of justice and peace rather than merely talk about it? I decided not to enroll.

When I was 21, a priest told a group that God desired a personal relationship with each of us. I thought that this was preposterous. We weren’t evangelicals; we were Catholics!

I continued to ponder it, though. I eventually re-entered the seminary and served on its Justice and Peace Committee. I remember asking our adviser how she was able to cope with the many injustices, especially toward women. She spoke of her faith, her life of prayer.

Since then I have been in and out of belief/trust in Jesus, mainly on theological grounds concerning the universal truth claims of Christianity. I have learned, however, that theology itself can sometimes be an obstacle to faith. I decided to be led by my heart rather than my head. I now unabashedly embrace Jesus the Christ in whatever form s/he takes flesh. I am confident that God has called me to Jesus and through him to a life of preaching and liberation from “the demons of death.” I hope you are, too.

What brought you to the CW?

How important is prayer in your ministry and your community?

Does your ministry of hospitality inform your spirituality?

What keeps you from “being with” Jesus more fully?


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January 19

Thursday of the Second Week of the Year

1 Samuel 18.6-9; 19.1-7. Psalm 56.2-3, 9-10a, 10b-11, 13-14; In God I trust; I shall not fear. Mark 3.7-12.

USCCB Readings

I did not restrain my lips

Let’s not kid ourselves; the “unclean spirits” of the Empire are ruthless. They executed Jesus; they have done so since and they will do so again.

Jim Douglass, longtime CW and author of JFK and the Unspeakable, (Orbis Books, 2008), argues persuasively that president Kennedy was assassinated by members of the US government becasuse JFK was abandoning his stance as a “Cold Warrior” and seeking reconciliation with Kruschev and Castro. In a provocative interview that appears in the October 2010 issue of The Catholic Agitator, he claims government responsibility for other high-profile assasinations. “I include especially the other three assassinations of the Sixties: Malcolm X; Martin Luther King; and Robert Kennedy. If you can assassinate the president of the United States with impunity, and I am speaking of his national security state doing just that, you can do anything.”

Today’s Gospel speaks of Jesus’ popularity in Galilee, but by the end of the chapter his family will call him crazy and scribes will claim that he is possessed (Mark 3.20-35). It seems that the demons who named him did have his number.

“When we feed the hungry, we are saints,” Dorothy Day said; “when we ask why they are hungry, they call us communists.”

I suspect that CWs, for the most part, have chosen the peace movement for social action because it’s relatively harmless to resist the violence of war. Peace activists are no threat to the Empire as long as the elite are able to dupe the majority of citizens with lies and engender in them a fear of an enemy or their own coercive power.

If, however, CWs began to clearly identify the evils of the Empire, to name them, and to actively resist them as they are manifest in their community, I would wager that we would experience a huge erosion of support – perhaps even antipathy — from those whose bourgeois lifestyles are supported by the violence and oppression of the Empire’s machine.

Perhaps “fleeing the world” is a more effective form of resistance. It’s also nonthreatening . . . and safe.

What inspiration did you receive from today’s readings?

Do you think that current resistance movements pose a real threat to the Empire?

What outcomes do you foresee for Occupy?

How important is reconciliation among social opponents? How and when, for instance, might the 1% and the 99% be reconciled?


Posted in Scripture Reflection

January 17

Tuesday of the Second Week of the Year

Anthony, Abbot

1 Samuel 16.1-13. Psalm 89.20, 21-22, 27-28; Antiphon: I have found David, my servant. Mark 2.23-28.

USCCB Readings

Enjoying Rest

Rest is the end and goal of human existence. Being, resting in God, is our vocation, our fundamental sacred calling. It is both the “source and summit” of our participation in God’s creation.

Sabbath rest is what we offer cold, hungry, anxious people, what we proclaim with those who are unfairly treated. It is the satisfaction of any and all human need.

Contemplation, “resting in God,” is important, especially in a world corrupted by self-idolatry and the glorification of human work. It is good that we set aside time daily and weekly to cease “business as usual” in order to enjoy the already-present perfection of God’s creation.

Sabbath, however, is not a gift to be hoarded against others, in neglect of the common good. The Son of Man is not served by neglecting the needs of people, to whom he is intimately joined.

What is revealed for you in today’s readings?

Do you find inspiration in St Anthony’s life for your life?

Do you observe Sabbath? In what ways?

Would you regard contemplation as a form of societal resistance?

How does the Benedictine motto to “work and pray” find expression in your life?


Posted in Scripture Reflection

January 16

Monday of the Second Week of the Year

Martin Luther King, Jr

1 Samuel 15.16-23. Psalm 50.8-9, 16bc,-17, 21 & 23; To the upright I will show the saving power of God. Mark 2:18-22.

USCCB Readings

No Longer Two, but One Flesh

Imago Therapy pioneer Harville Hendrix believes that what a person subconsciously wants from an intimate partner is the original bliss, security, and Oneness that s/he experienced in her/his mother’s womb. Of course, this desire can never be satisfied by a human being. Dorothy Day titled the account of her largely partner-less life The Long Loneliness, borrowing the term from St Augustine, famous for his prayer, “Lord, . . . our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.”

Today’s gospel is the “meat” of a five-layered literary “sandwich,” or chiasm, of five conflict stories (Mark 2.1-3.6). Jesus refers to himself as the bridegroom in order to explain why his disciples didn’t fast. Brief as it is, this reference to marriage is hugely important! Just as Hosea the prophet had foretold that Yahweh had espoused Israel, Mark succinctly reveals that in and through Jesus, God wed Godself to us. We are “no longer two, but one flesh” (Mark 10.8).

Being a “bride of Christ” might be a difficult mystery to – ahem – embrace, especially for men, given its sentimentalism and gender-specific connotation (“Now you know what it feels like, guys!”). In such circumstances, I employ a feminine image for God, such as Lady Wisdom.

Our life with Christ calls for both feasting and fasting. We celebrate because our world is charged with God’s goodness; we mourn because Christ yet suffers so terribly and unjustly with those to whom he is intimately joined.

Tell us about a time when you rejoiced in the life of a guest.

How important is celebration in the life of your community?

Why do you fast? For what do you mourn?

How does your sexuality inform your spirituality?

What is your House of Hospitality doing to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr?


Posted in Scripture Reflection

January 15

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Samuel 3.3b-10, 19. Psalm 40.2 & 4ab, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10; Here am I, [Yahweh], I come to do your will. 1 Corinthians 6.13c-15a, 17-20. John 1.35-42.

USCCB Readings

Where are you staying?

My childhood home was not a place for the casual entertaining of friends. There wasn’t enough room, nor psychic space. Thirteen of us shared what would normally be thought of as a three-bedroom house. The second-floor sun porch was furnished with a bunk bed, as was the girls’ room (I had four sisters and six brothers) and the attic renovated to accommodate my older, young adult brothers. Rarely were my playmates allowed in the house. We played board games on the front porch if it was raining.

The physical boundary connoted a psychosocial one as well. Our house was a sanctuary of sorts, the skin for the everyday-yet-sacred activities of my large family into which precious few were invited. Dinner guests and visitors were for that very reason honored to be inside. I remember my mother hurriedly closing the drapes, shutting off the TV, silencing and sequestering us kids in our rooms when she got word that the parish gossip was walking the neighborhood.

The Gospel of John is deep, a highly developed theological understanding of Jesus. Often John’s narration is multivalent, i.e., there are several layers of meaning to the events and dialogues, the deeper meaning only understood by means of faith.

Conversion is more than an assent to doctrine or accepting Jesus as one’s personal Savior; evangelization is more than convincing another to go to church. Jesus’ invitation to Andrew and the other disciple of John the Baptist to “come and see” where he was “staying” (John 1.38-39) needs to be interpreted in light of the Baptist’s witness that Jesus was “staying” with God, the Father/Creator/Source in the Holy Spirit (John 1.32-34). Jesus was inviting them into a relationship.

Catholic Worker hospitality is all about relationship. We are not merely feeding, lodging, and clothing people in need (as social service agencies do); we are acknowledging the divine life, the Christ, the Spirit, within each guest. Further, we open our individual and communal soul – our very selves – to them. In such an exchange we are both changed. A friend of the House once commented on his volunteering at a soup kitchen: “I don’t do it to serve the poor; I go to visit my friends.” That’s where we “stay” and from which we act.

Please share what you think/believe/ponder about today’s Scriptures.

Tell us about challenges you have had to be truly hospitable with unruly, improper, intoxicated, and/or unappreciative guests.

Do you think the Church as institution practices hospitality? Why or why not?

How would you rekindle an appreciation for poor people as “ambassadors of the gods”?


Posted in Scripture Reflection

January 14

Saturday of the First Week of the Year

1 Samuel 9.1-4, 17-19; 10.1. Psalm 21.2-3, 4-5, 6-7; [Yahweh], in your strength the king is glad. Mark 2.13-17.

USCCB Readings

Brothers, Sisters All

Does the dinner described in today’s reading remind you of a community meal at your house? Do you identify with Levi?

Mark uses the same location and the same words to describe Levi’s call that he used for Simon, Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee in Mark 1.16-20. He likely became one of the Twelve (James? Matthew?). Mark describes Jesus eating with social outcasts, “tax collectors and sinners,” thus inviting criticism from the Pharisees also present. Ironically, Mark describes them as doing the very thing for which they denounce Jesus. It’s like one man condemning another whom he meets in a brothel.

Let’s be realistic. Let’s not judge ourselves or others too harshly. You’re probably well aware of your failings. Isn’t it awesome – and humbling – to consider all the goodness God is nevertheless accomplishing through you? Moreover, let’s not pretend that all poor people are saints or excuse their “sins” just because they’re poor and alienated from polite society. There are some real and nasty “weeds among the wheat.” We all are, this side of the life to come, both saint and sinner and in need of a “physician.”

Instead of condemning others, let’s “tend our own garden” (Voltaire, Candide). Let us heed God’s Word of Life, which sounds within our hearts (Heb 4.12) and encourage others to do the same.

A Communitarian
is a [person]
who refuses to be
what the other [person] is
and tries to be
what [s/he] wants [her/him] to be.
Peter Maurin, (EE, 105)

What do you see in today’s readings?

Tell us – and yourself – about the good things God is doing through you.

Have you lost supporters because of the behavior of guests?

How do you deal with the hypocrisy of religious authorities?


Posted in Scripture Reflection

January 13

Friday of the First Week of the Year

Hilary, Bishop, Doctor of the Church*

1 Samuel 8.4-7, 10-22a. Psalm 89.16-17, 18-19; For ever I will sing of the goodness of [Yahweh]. Mark 2.1-12.

USCCB Readings

There is none so blind . . .

How many items have I permanently lost because I knew for sure that they couldn’t possibly be in such-and-such a place? How much wisdom have I rejected because I had shut my mind to the speaker? How many miracles overlooked? How commonly do the lenses of Material Progress filter out the light of God’s grace? How frequently do religious authorities fail to acknowledge the Spirit’s voice in that of the faithful?

The scribes in today’s Gospel didn’t see – as everyone else plainly did –the miracle of a once-paralyzed man now walking. They did not perceive the faith of the crowd at the door and the four who lowered him through the roof. They failed to appreciate the people’s reverence for Jesus’ divine authority. They did not/would not recognize that salvation from sin involved liberation from any kind of oppression. They only saw and heard a blasphemer. There was no room in their closed, arrogant minds to hold anything other than their theological preconceptions.

Have you ever heard the voice of God coming from a guest?

How do you respond when someone challenges you?

To whom do you listen uncritically? Why?

Do you refuse to listen to certain people? Why?


Posted in Scripture Reflection