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The Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time- November 18, 2018 The Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time- November 18, 2018
In our second reading from Hebrews, we see that when Jesus allowed himself to be crucified he was actually being a priest, offering himself for the sins of the world. After giving his life for us, he takes his place as God's equal. He is now the eternal Priest, so all clergy since the time of Jesus are visible signs of that priesthood.
When we celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus' sacrifice is there. We are present at his death and resurrection, without needing a flux capacitor or a time warp. His sacrifice is an eternal one, redeeming all past and future sins. So if you have come back to church after being absent for years, God has already offered you forgiveness.
The Eucharist also reminds us that Jesus is present in glory, with us always, sharing his priesthood with all the baptized. We can show God's mercy by forgiving each other. Since Jesus lives in us, we offer our lives as sacrifice for sins. Does that mean we are supposed to seek ways to suffer? No, it means the suffering we cannot avoid can become our offering to God, a way to take up our cross as Jesus did, and a way to experience God's power in our weakness.
At the Eucharist, we pray with the priest, "that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God. . ." All the sacrifices we make, from accepting serious illness, to giving up something for Lent, are ways we take part in the priesthood of Christ.  Read more...
The Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time- November 11, 2018 The Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time- November 11, 2018
I always thought it took a lot of nerve for Elijah to beg that poor woman for a meal. . It would be easier to understand if we heard the verse before this reading begins: God tells the prophet that he has "commanded a widow. . .to feed you." (1Kgs 17:9)
Now the widow was not aware of this command. But she does as Elijah asked. That took even more faith than Elijah showed. She shows us that we are obeying God's commands when we trust him. Most of those commands come not from a vision, but from someone's cry for help.
I wonder how many good people have passed up a chance to do God's will because they didn't hear directly from God what to do. When you hear that a tornado destroyed a nearby neighborhood, do you hear God asking you to help? Do you hear God's voice when you read in the bulletin that the food pantry is running low?
And if you do hear God calling in these examples, how do you respond? Do you have the faith of the woman whose few cents were all that she had. It takes a lot of courage to trust God completely. Do you have what it takes?  Read more...
The Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time- November 4, 2018 The Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time- November 4, 2018
According to Jesus, the first commandment is to love God with heart, mind, soul, and strength. This is usually taken to mean loving God with your whole being. But it wouldn't hurt to look at the modern meanings of those words to see how we can apply them.
The heart is the symbol of our desires and love. So to love God with all your heart can mean that you recognize God as the one source of your life. That means you love God above everything and everyone. How many of us can say we would rather spend time with God, than with our friends, family, or loved ones?
To love God with all your mind can mean that you never stop thinking of God. You can ask God to help you any time you make a decision, whether it is what to watch next on TV, or what to do for a living. The better you know God, the more likely you are to hear God in your decisions. You can get to know God through the scriptures and other spiritual reading.
If the soul is the center of your spiritual life, then loving God with all your soul can remind you to listen to God when you pray. You might remember how annoying it can be to converse with someone who does all the talking. At first it is easy, but eventually you find yourself getting nervous because you have things you would like to say also. Think of that when you pray; give God a chance to put in a few words, too.
Finally, to love God with all your strength can mean you put as much energy into loving God as you do with exercising, doing your day-job, cleaning the house, or mowing the lawn. Just remember that no matter how hard you work for the Lord, God loves you even more than you love Him.  Read more...
The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time- October 28, 2018 The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time- October 28, 2018
When you think of Jesus, what do you think was his job? Healer of the sick, the lame and the blind, as in today's gospel? The second reading from Hebrews reminds us of his main duty: It calls him a High Priest. He would offer the most important sacrifices and so appeal to God for forgiveness of the peoples' sins.
The high priest offered sacrifice for his own sins, as well as the peoples'. While Jesus did not sin, he experienced temptations just as we do and so can intercede for us as one who knows what it is like to be tempted. If you ever wonder if you deserve to be forgiven, remember that Jesus died for all sinners, deserving or not. Like the high priest, Jesus also brings our prayers to his Father and shows us the Father's love.
Our baptism gives us a share in that priesthood. You don't have to be ordained to pray for your friends and family. When you listen to a friend who is hurting, or forgive someone who hurts you, you are blessing them with God's love. When you encourage them to have faith and trust in the Lord, you are bringing them to God. You are sharing in the priesthood of Christ.  Read more...
The Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time- October 21, 2018 The Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time- October 21, 2018
Though Mark's gospel does not have the washing of the disciples' feet found in the gospel of John, today's passage has a similar message. While James and John seem to be close friends of Jesus, they obviously have not learned what it means to follow him. Jesus doesn't make any promises of worldly glory, but he does promise a share in his suffering. Imagine their surprise when he told them that the greatest of them would be the ones who served the rest.
They probably did not know what Jesus meant about their being baptized in death as Jesus would. But then how many people today know that leadership is a form of service? Whether you are head of a family, or of a nation, you were given that authority by God. And God expects leaders to not only direct those under them, but inspire and encourage them to do better.
This connection of leadership and service is all inclusive. A manager is called to help his employees do their jobs better, not by badgering, but by giving the support they need. Military leaders must support their troops with respect as well as discipline. God calls Church leaders in a special way to service of their flock: to protect the weakest members, to give an example of Jesus' love to all, and to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in both clergy and laity. Anyone who lives a life of loving service can be "greatest" in the Kingdom of God.  Read more...
The Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time- October 14, 2018 The Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time- October 14, 2018
The first reading is supposed to remind us of Solomon, choosing wisdom over wealth or power. In the scriptures wisdom means doing God's will in all things. As Jesus tried to tell the man in the gospel, knowing and doing God's will is more precious than wealth, or even family!
So if wisdom is that good, why do so few seek it? Most of us have no problem doing God's will, as long as it is the same as ours. Or we do God's will if it is painless and convenient. Sometimes we are like that man in the gospel, desiring wisdom but not willing to pay for it.
Maybe our problem is that we don't trust God enough. The first reading, after praising wisdom more than health, wealth, and beauty, ends with a promise of "countless riches" while Jesus promises that the one who gives up everything will receive "a hundred times more." Because the rich man left in sorrow, he missed the punch line.
I can think of two ways to interpret that promise. One is that the more we give up for love of the Lord, the more we get back. The other is finding that what truly makes us happy is knowing we are loved by God and responding with love for others.  Read more...
The Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time- October 7, 2018 The Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time- October 7, 2018
The disciples were trying to be helpful. They knew that children never approached the Rabbis. To show their respect for Jesus, they tried to turn the children away. But Jesus saw this as a chance to teach the disciples about the kingdom.
As they tried to send the children back to their parents, Jesus changes the rules. He invites the kids to come to him and even makes an example of them: "accept the kingdom of God like children" or you won't get in at all. So what do we learn from this?
Children don't make themselves look important. They haven't learned to brag about their accomplishments, or how to offer a bribe to get what they want. They simply accept what is given to them. In a culture where we are expected to make a good impression, where we compete to get scholarships and jobs, we may be more like the disciples than we think. We cannot make ourselves look important to God; we can't bribe Him with good works or change His mind with promises to avoid sin. We can be sorry for our sins, and tell Him we love Him, and ask for help with our weaknesses.
Children also have great faith. . If we can keep that faith in God's goodness, while developing a deeper faith that is not discouraged by sin and evil, we are on the way to the Kingdom.  Read more...
The Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time- September 30, 2018 The Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time- September 30, 2018
The first reading might be what Jesus was talking about when he scolded the disciples. They wanted to stop an exorcist whom they didn't know. In both cases, whether prophesying or driving out demons, someone wanted them to stop. The persons doing those things were not members of the group. In the gospel, the disciples objected simply because they didn't know the ones who were casting out demons. Back in Moses' days, the two "renegades" were actually on the list, they just weren't present with the rest gathered around Moses. Both Joshua and the disciples of Jesus thought they should control who could do God's work and who couldn't.
The temptation to control things is pretty common, but we can't be truly at peace till we allow God to be the one in control. God loves all people, even those who don't know him. So if we see someone who has a spiritual gift, it could be God's way of helping that person to know about His love. There are many non-Christians who are very generous or patient or wise, who could come to faith if they realized that God was acting through them. You don't have to bowl them over with evangelistic fervor. Just the observation that you see God's love in them might get them thinking about their faith.
The Apostles Creed reminds us that the Church is catholic, or universal. All are welcome, because Jesus died for everyone. As Moses said in the first reading, wouldn't it be great if God sent his gifts of the Spirit to them all?  Read more...
The Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time- September 23, 2018 The Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time- September 23, 2018
St. James message of peace is as true now as it was two thousand years ago. Where else do wars and terrorism come from, than people holding on to wealth, power, or hatred? But the message James shares, and that of Jesus in the gospel, is a simple call to be different. Neither of them condemns anyone. They call us to look at what we really want and what truly brings happiness.
Jesus' disciples argued about who was greatest. We are no different today. We have to learn that having the latest gadget, the most expensive cell-phone, or the latest-model car are at best temporary delights. And that being admired by acquaintances is never as lasting as loving someone for themselves. Can we learn to be more excited about what God has done for us than what we did to improve our home? Can we share our faith in God's mercy instead of bragging about our golf or bowling scores?
St. James ends our second reading with a challenging statement: He says we ask but don't receive because we ask wrongly. How often do we desire things that won't really make us happy? Do we pray for things we don't really need? Let us ask God to show us his love and to help those around us to experience it too.  Read more...