How do we love God?

 

Friday of the Third Week of Lent

Hosea 14: 2-10

Mark 12:28 – 34

All School Mass

 

If someone was to ask you, “What is the greatest Catholic School in the Diocese?” What would be your answer?

Answer – St. Patrick’s of Parnell.

 

Why is St. Patrick the greatest?

 

If someone was to ask you, “Who is the greatest Catholic School principal in the diocese?” What would be your answer?

Answer – Mr. Czarnopys.

 

Why is Mr. Czarnopys the greatest?

 

If someone was to ask you, “Where would I find the greatest Catholic School teachers in the diocese? What would be your answer?

 

Why are the teachers at St. Patrick the greatest?

 

If someone was to ask you, “What is the greatest of all the Commandments?” What would be your answer?

Answer – “To love the Lord our God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, and with all of our strength. And to love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

Why is it this the greatest of all the Commandments?

 

To love God and others is the greatest of all the commandments because God has loved us, and we need to rest in knowing that God loves us, no matter what we think of ourselves. We show our love for God by loving others. Love of God and love of others cannot be separated. We say we love God, but now think of the person we struggle to love. This is how much we love God, by our Gospel today. Not loving others is not loving God. What we do or do not do for others is how we do or do not do for God. This is what we must strive to do and be.

 

May we examine our lives this Lenten season and may we love God more today by showing love to others.

We does our power come from today?

 

Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

Jeremiah 7:23-28

Luke 11:14-23  

Other than our beautiful Church, the next great place to have a powerful transformation is our very own bathrooms. Every time we leave a bathroom we are better than when we went in. We brush our teeth at the sink; we wash our hands. We shower or bath to rid ourselves of the dirt and smell from the day before. We leave behind what our bodies naturally tell us we do not need anymore.  

The bathroom in the rectory has this window that faces the east; the window is in the shape of an arch just like our windows. The thing that makes it powerful is the cross that frames the inside of the window. As I am getting cleaned up, I look at the cross, and I am reminded of the true power in my life.  

In our first reading the prophet Jeremiah, he is going to need to rely on the power of God as he has been given a mission of going to the people and preaching about repentance and being told that the people will not listen and he will fail. Jeremiah will need to hang onto the power of God to see him through this time.  

In our Gospel, Jesus heals a man who is unable to speak. No one questions the miracle, but they do question who Jesus is and how he has gotten the power to do this miracle.  

Where will we draw our power from this day to do the things are being asked to do? Will we use the power of Jesus Christ that is given to us right now in this Eucharist?

 

God will stretch us today?

 

Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9

Matthew 5:17-19 

When we went to visit our grandparents, we always had to get cleaned up and put on clean clothes. When we arrived, we had to sit on the couch until we were excused to go and play. It was a stretch for kids all under eight years old. When new went to see my mother’s parents, we had the same routine, but something else happened. My grandfather had a stroke that left him unable to speak, and he would sit in his chair that was right in front of a large hutch. On the top shelf of that hutch, he would keep a candy jar full of M&M’s. The four of us would sit there trying to be good until grandpa got up and would go to the hutch and bring down the candy jar and fill our little hands with M&M’s. The whole episode was a great stretch for us as kids, but it was worth it in the end. Our readings bring us to the truth about Lent, which is meant to stretch us in our faith.  

In our first reading from Deuteronomy, Moses is stretching the understanding of the Israelites of their laws and customs. Moses is letting them know when they follow the laws and customs that God has given them they will be given “wisdom and understanding.” Observance of the law will stretch them, and it will show their love of God.  

Jesus is the last of the great prophets that God sent to his people. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is stretching the people’s understanding of the law by saying he has not come to abolish the law but rather to complete its understanding. The law is not to be downgraded but rather transcended to a higher level. Jesus is expecting his followers not only to follow the law but to go much further in understanding what the law means.

 During this Lenten season, we are being asked to stretch our understanding of who we are in light of God’s teaching. May we by participating in this Eucharist be stretched to love, forgive, and show mercy like we have never done before.

 

 

 

Are we able to forgive?

 

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Daniel 3:25, 34-43

Matthew 18:21- 35  

What if next year we gave up for Lent, what if for the remaining of this Lent, no, that is not good enough, what if today, no better yet, what if, for one hour, we can do anything for one hour. What if for one hour we forgive those who have hurt us? What if we went through our list of people that we are angry with or mad at and forgave them? What would happen to our souls? I would look at some of you differently! Our readings today challenge us to be people of great mercy.  

In our first reading, we get the prayer of one of the three men about to be thrown into the fiery furnace for not worshipping foreign gods. Here Abednego prayed a beautiful prayer that could very well set the stage to help us be people of forgiveness. Abednego prayers just before being thrown into the furnace, “Lord, do not forget your mercy, for we have nothing to offer you, no burnt offering, no incense, and no first fruits, to find favor with you. We only have contrite hearts and a humble spirit and a desire to follow you.” Could we say the same thing today about ourselves?  

In our Gospel, Peter is thinking he is so holy by asking, “How often must I forgive? Seven times!” What if we were only forgiven for seven things during our lifetime? We show up for confession, and the priest says, “Sorry, you use up all your seven chances?”  

My friends in Christ, if we are to be true followers of Christ, we must learn to forgive in the name of Christ Jesus. It is a process, and the Eucharist we share is given to us to begin that process of learning to forgive those who have hurt us. May we be true disciples of Christ and to learn to forgive?

 

Do we know the love of God?

Third Sunday of Lent

Exodus 17:3-7

Romans 5:1-2, 5-8

John 4:5-42

 I have in my hand something I will never be able to give up for Lent because I am not strong enough, I am weak, and I am powerless against eating it, and it is a Cadbury Egg. I love these things, and they are only out at this time of the year, and I dream about eating these things, all year long. On the First Sunday of Lent, I went to buy some and I could not wait to taste one. I bought six, and I had to use my credit card because I did not have enough money. I ate one in the car before I even turned it on, I ate another one driving the car, I ate another sitting in my garage, and I ate another when I got into the kitchen. The remaining two I ate watching TV. Now that was a night, as I enjoyed the creamy middle. These Cadbury Eggs are the perfect Lenten food, because they only are sold during Lent, and they teach us what Lent is about and what are readings bring us to come to understand today. The creamy middle is God’s love that is inside of us. Lent is about a journey, a conversion to that inner sweetness of believing in God’s love for us. We complicated that process by hungering and thirsting for the wrong things. 

In our first reading, the people wandering in the desert and they are thirsty, so thirsty they are willing to return to slavery in Egypt. It took the Israelites forty years to get to Promised Land. Why? If they went in a straight line, they could have shaved off maybe thirty years. It took Moses and the people that long to come to know the love of God. God is trying to remind us that he loves us, will it take another forty years for us to be set free?  

St. Paul in our second reading is telling us that God’s love is freely given to us, we do not deserve it, and we can’t earn it! God just offers it, as a free gift. We just need to be willing to accept what God is offering. My friends, it is right here, why can we not grasp this idea, or welcome and treasure this most awesome gift?  

In our Gospel Jesus is in a foreign land, so he is now a stranger, and he encounters a Samaritan woman. Samaritans and Jews disliked each other for lots of reason. The disciples are gone, so this encounter is a one-on-one encounter with Jesus. It is the most unlikely part of the day to be out because it is the hottest part of the day. Jesus initiates the conversation, and he is very blunt, “Give me a drink of water.”  The conversation that follows has lots of twists and turns but what unfolds is Jesus is thirsty, and the woman can give Jesus what he wants, a drink of water. What happens is the woman will come to thirst for “living water” that only Jesus can give. As the conversation continues, she comes to realize who Jesus is, and when Jesus tells her “Go and get your husband and come back” she answers “that she does not have a husband.” Jesus tells her what he knows about her, and that she has had five husbands. She leaves her bucket, the very thing that she came with to give her life, she leaves the bucket behind and tells everyone in town, “He has told everything about me, and he still loves me and wants me to tell you.” Wow!  

What I did not tell you is how I get to the creamy middle. I peel the tinfoil wrapper very slowly as not to tear it. If I tear it, which is almost every time, I tell myself I am a loser. This is another reminder to me of Lent because the thin tinfoil covering is my sins, it is just a thin layer, but it prevents me from getting to what I desire. It represents all the wrong things I thirst for and hunger for in my life.

My friends in Christ, God knows everything about us and still loves us. May we hunger and thirst for Christ, and know the sweetness of his great love.  

 

We are called to be disciples!

 

Friday of the Second Week of Lent

St. Patrick Day

Jeremiah 1:4-9

I Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23

Luke 10: 1-9

 

What do we know of St. Patrick? 

At the age sixteen, he was taken to Ireland as a slave. Patrick clung to his faith and recited his prayers daily. After six years, he would escape and return to Britain. Patrick would be called into the priesthood and when a missionary was needed to go to Ireland Patrick was sent. Today is the day he died; it is not his birthday. He used the shamrock to teach about the Trinity. The original color of St. Patrick in blue.  

Our first reading from Jeremiah is my favorite reading of all time. I like it because Jeremiah is trying to figure out his life, of what he is to do and God tells him, “I chose you while you were still in his mother’s womb.” Jeremiah protests by saying, “But I am too young.” God responds with great confidence in Jeremiah by saying, “You are not too young, have no fear you will go where ever I send you.” None of us are too young to share what we know and have learned about God.    

In our Gospel, Jesus has already sent out the twelve apostles and now he sends out another 72 disciples. Jesus lets them know the work will not always be easy, they are travel light, and they are to bring peace to those homes they go visit.  

On this feast of St. Patrick, we are grateful that he was willing to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Let us never take our faith for granted and may the Eucharist always inspire us to share what we know about God by our words and our actions.

 

To see Christ in every face!

 

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

Jeremiah 17:5-10

Luke 16:19-31  

A very good spiritual practice to do every day is to begin our day praying that God will reveal himself to us in some way. We might say, “Lord, how will I see you and know you today in the situations and people of my life?” Then at the end of the day, we do a good examine of our lives to see how we discovered God in those we encountered. This spiritual practice of asking God to reveal himself will help us daily in our spiritual lives.  

In our Gospel, we hear of a self-absorbed rich man, and he does not ask God to reveal himself to him each day. The rich man eats and drinks well each day. At the rich man’s door is a poor man named Lazarus, whose name means, “God is my help.” Lazarus is not abused or chased away; he is simply ignored as there are no words between them. Both men die, with the rich man going to the netherworld and the poor man, Lazarus is carried to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man cries for pity to send Lazarus to cool his lips with cool water. He also cries out to send someone back to tell his brothers, but it is to no avail.  

The tragedy in this situation is not the rich man sent to the netherworld; it is that the rich man knew Lazarus was at his door and he chose to ignore him. The rich man went completely contrary to the law which says, “Open your hand to the poor and those most in need.” The rich man sins by the sin of omission, the failure to do anything.  

The rich man’s lack of noticing Lazarus is a tragic situation, but Lent would have us look at our lives and who are the people we completely ignore that are right in front of us. We may even know their names, and we sin, by not doing anything?  

Lent is our time to ask God for the grace to see the face of God in everyone we meet.