What are we living for?

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6

I Corinthians 1: 1-3

John 1:29-34

 

I have been here now for a little over a year and a half, and I am wondering how well you may know me? Who knows that I am the pastor of the parish? Who knows my name? What is my favorite color? What do I enjoy doing as a hobby? What is my favorite food, and where is my favorite place to shop? You know somethings about me, and over the years you will get to know other things about me. The big question is, “Do you know what I am living for?” I believe that is a question for all of us to answer, “What are we living for today?”

 

In our Gospel, we know a few things about John the Baptist. He lived out in the desert, he wore camel hair clothing, and he ate wild locusts and honey. Another thing we know about John the Baptist is he is the last of the prophets. Because he is the last of the prophets, John has a passion for ‘preparing people for the coming of Jesus Christ,’ and this is shown in two ways. John’s passion for Jesus led him to know what he is living for so he baptizes people in the Jordon River for the remission of sin. The other thing that happens because John has such a passion for Christ and he knows what he is living for is he drew others to him as disciples. John knew what he was doing was only the beginning as he openly said, “One is coming after me that ranks ahead of me.”

 

John the Baptists does something highly unusual for someone who had disciples and had so people coming out to see him in the desert. When John the Baptist sees Jesus for the first time after their childhood, he proclaims, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one who is the one of whom I said is coming after me.” John is so convinced of who Jesus is; he is telling his disciples, “Leave me, and go and follow him. Make him what you are living for?”

 

We gather this day, and we are being invited to reflect on, “For whom and what are we living for?” John knew that water was good for his disciples and followers, but his deepest desire was for them to be on fire for the coming of the Messiah. In a few minutes, I will elevate the body and blood of Christ, and I will repeat the very same words of John as I will say, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.” Will we be ready to make Jesus what we are living for?

Are we a good friend?

Friday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

I Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22

Mark 2:1-12

 

Bring my ukulele to church and begin homily by picking the strings. Do you want to hear a song? Mr. Houdek, are you ready? Like we rehearsed it? On three, One, two, three.

 

Have Joe play a song, but I do not follow along. Have Joe play another song, and I do not play it. It does not matter what song Mr. Houdek plays, because I do not know any songs to play on my ukulele. I need a good friend to show me how to play. Our readings today bring us to ask ourselves, “How can we help someone to come to know Christ?”

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is preaching in a home, and it is filled with people. There is a paralyzed man who was four good friends who climb on the roof, with the paralyzed man, tear open the roof and lower him down. Jesus forgives him of his sins and heals him. Bonus round day!

 

What moves me in this story is it is all the work of the friends who stop at nothing to get their friend in front of Jesus. There is nothing in our story that says that the paralyzed man even knows Jesus, but his friends do, and they stop at nothing to get the paralyzed man to Jesus

 

Today is a good day to reflect on how we can help someone come to know Christ. We can do this by prayer, by caring for them, by listening to them, and by helping them. One of the most important things we can do is to help a friend come to know Jesus Christ.

 

Use Nathan Steffens our seminarian as an example of someone leading others to Christ.

 

In this Eucharist, may we gain the courage to share the Good News of Christ with our friends and neighbors?

 

 

What connects our lives?

Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

I Samuel 4:1-11

Mark 1:40-45

 

When I am given the opportunity to prepare a homily, I look at the readings and see if there is any connection between the readings. Sometimes it is easily seen, and sometimes it is not, but I try to do my best to connect the readings because I figure the Church gave them to us for a reason. Today’s readings took some extra praying and searching to link them together.

 

In our first reading, the Israelites go to battle twice against the Philistines. The first time they are defeated by losing 4000 men. The second time the Israelites bring the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments, the holiest thing they have, and they go back into battle, and this time they lose 30,000 men, and the Ark was taken from them and carried away. We hear this and ask, “What happened?” I think what happened is what happens all the time in us when we tell God, “I am doing all these things right; I pray, I go to Mass, I do good things, so why do I suffer and have hardships?”

 

In our Gospel, a leper approaches Jesus, he falls to his knees and asks, “Lord, if you wish it, I can be healed by you.” Jesus moved with pity, responds to the leper, “I do will it, be healed.”

 

I believe what connects the two readings. We are never to take for granted our faith in the real presence of God with us in this Eucharist. We should be like the leper who humbled himself in the presence of God. May we always be grateful to God for everything and handing over to God all lives and being patient with God’s time.

 

The Eucharist is given to us as a gift to do all of this today.

 

 

Speak, for your servant is listening.

Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

I Samuel 3: 1-10, 19-20

Mark 1:29-39

 

I am trying to make an concentrated effort to be more contemplative. In this noisy world overburdened with consuming information and sending information, I know I need more of God and less of my cell phone. Our readings challenge us and support us in this adventure.

 

In our first reading, Samuel is awakened from his sleep because he hears someone calling him. He rises three times and goes to Eli until Eli figures out that it is the Lord that is calling Samuel. Eli finally realizes what is going on and tells Samuel to respond, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Our real lives begin when we can say this and truly listen to the Lord.

 

In our Gospel, I think Jesus knows this hurry up pass of life. In this first chapter of the gospel of Mark, Jesus has gathered disciples, he has preached in the synagogue, he has expelled demons, he has healed Peter’s mother-in-law, he has healed a whole town of people, and then he rests for a short while, and then he knows where his strength comes from so he rises early and goes off to pray.

 

In the morning, Simon says, “Everyone is looking for you.” The response of Jesus is priceless, “Let’s move on to other villages, for this is why I have come.”

 

True disciples of Jesus are those who listen intently to his voice, and they know how to juggle the business of life with the listening to the Spirit in our lives. May we enjoy the voice of God this day!

 

 

Allow it now to happen!

Baptism of the Lord

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7

Acts 10:34-38

Matthew 3:13-17

 

Have you ever had a sudden change of plans? The rain, ice, winds, and snow is changing a lot of people’s plans this weekend. Our readings speak about a sudden change, but some of those sudden changes may have to be done!

 

In our Gospel, John the Baptist has to make some sudden changes in his plans. I get the impression that in preaching about the Messiah to come, John was expecting the Messiah to be like Sylvester Stallone, and what he got was Mister Rogers.

 

John is out in the desert, baptizing people and in line to be baptized is Jesus standing with all the other people. John is so thrown off by this change of plans as he says, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?” Jesus responds, “Allow it now to happen, so God’s plan for salvation can unfold.” John does baptize Jesus and there are two things to learn from this event. The first thing is Jesus humbles himself before John to be baptized, because John was correct, Jesus should have been baptizing him. The second thing is the baptism of Jesus empowers him because from here, he goes right out into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Jesus can face the devil because of the grace given to him.  

 

 “What in our lives needs to change now, so God’s plan of salvation can be manifested in our lives?” Are we willing to be a better spouse, a better parent, a better sibling, more forgiving? What needs to happen now in our lives where God is calling us, and we are frightened to go?

 

My friends in Christ, at the time of our baptism, we were given to grace to battle all things. In the grace of this Eucharist, how do we need to be humble before God and empowered to allow God to work in our lives right now and change our plans right now!

Why do we pray in this manner?

Friday after Epiphany

I John 5:5-13

Luke 5:12-16

All School Mass

 

For all the people who suffer from the hurricane in Puerto Rico:

We pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

 

For all the people who suffer from the wildfires in Australia:

We pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

 

For the safety for all travelers in the wake of the ice storm this weekend:

We pray to the Lord.  Lord, hear our prayer.

 

Later on in the Mass, three students in sixth grade will come up and pray more prayers in this manner.

 

Q – Why do we do this during the Mass? 

 

A –

 

In our Gospel, a man who is full of leprosy, which means he was left for dead, because there is no hope for him, comes to Jesus and says, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” The man knows that it is only Jesus that can save him, and Jesus says, “I do will it. Be made clean.” 

 

We know that sometimes in our lives, things go wrong, and we need to pray because we want God to intervene and to act in our lives. We need to keep in mind God answers prayers in three ways; first, he answers immediately, second, he says, “not now,” and thirdly, he says, “I have a better plan.”

 

May we pray to God and put our trust and hope in him.  

 

 

 

 

Spend an end-lessness amount with God!

Thursday after Epiphany

I John 4:19-5:4

Luke 4:14-22

 

Once a month, I go to my spiritual director for a one-hour meeting. I enjoy going because I can talk about anything in my life and how it is affecting me spiritually. When I went yesterday, we were talking about my prayer life and he put a challenge to me. He said, “I want you to once a week spend an “end-lessness” amount of time with God.” He went on to explain what he meant and that is, spending time with God when there is no ending time. It could be a half-hour, and hour or even more, but make the time as free of everything else as I am able. Our time here now could be an “end-lessness” amount of time with the Lord if we understood what we are doing needs to be carried out these doors. Our readings today give us plenty of things to challenge us to do.

 

All week long beginning on Monday and ending on Saturday, our first reading has begun with the word, “Beloved.” The writer is giving us the challenge to understand that we are God’s beloved. If we know, we are beloved by God, and then the challenge is we are to love our brother and sisters in the Lord.

 

In our Gospel, there is another challenge as Jesus goes into the synagogue unrolls a scroll and reads:

 

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

 

In all the challenges we will have today, will it be said of us that we are loved by God and that we love our brothers and sisters, and this has been fulfilled in your hearing?” It begins by spending an “end-lessness” amount of time with God.