Oh, by the way, there is one more thing!

Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 53:10-11

Hebrews 4:14-16

Mark 10:35-45

Have you ever had someone say, “Oh, by the way, there is just one more thing?” When someone says this, you know that something demanding is coming. I back up, brace myself, and get ready for whatever comes when someone says this to me. Our readings today come to us with these words, “Oh, by the way, there is just one more thing?”

In our Gospel, James, and John come to Jesus with two questions. Now, remember James and John, along with Peter, where the three disciples in the inner group of Jesus. These three disciples witnessed things that the others did not. James and John ask two very bold questions, and the first question is, “Teacher, we want you to do whatever we ask of you.” When I first read this, I thought, “Wow! Who do these two guys think they are?” But we do the very same thing in prayer all the time? We ask God to change whatever we ask instead of asking God to change us?

The next amazing thing is Jesus does not rebuke them; he loves them, just as he looked at the rich young man last week and loved him. Instead, Jesus says, “What do you wish for me to do for you?” What I take comfort in is that even when we may not ask the best of questions of Jesus; he still is there to help us.

Now the brothers are ready to ask their second question,” We want to sit one at your right and one at your left in your kingdom.” Jesus says, “Oh, by the way, there is one more thing! Are you able to drink from my cup?” What Jesus is asking the brothers is, “Are you willing to share in my fate and do what is about to happen to me?” James and John responded, “Of course we can do this!”

Jesus had just told the disciples three times that he was going to Jerusalem to suffer and die, to usher in the Kingdom of God, but they never heard the suffering and death part; they only heard the Kingdom of God. Jesus says, “Oh, by the way, there is one more thing! Are you willing to make me number one in your life above and beyond everything in your life? And if you are willing to do that, are you ready to suffer and die as I am because this is what you are going to have to do.”

In a few moments, my friends in Christ, we will physically get up and come closer to Christ by coming up for communion. But will we be spiritually ready to hear to receive Jesus? Because as we come forward, he will be asking us, “Oh, by the way, there is one more thing? Are you spiritually ready to make me the center of your life? And if you are willing to do that, are you ready to suffer and die as I am because this is what you are going to have to do.”

How do you wake up in the morning?

Thursday Twenty-Eighth Week Ordinary Time

Romans 3:21-30

Luke 11:47 54

How did you wake up this morning? Did you wake up naturally, or did your alarm wake you up? For me, there are three ways that I wake up. First there is my day off, when I do not set the alarm and my body tells me when I should wake up. I still fight it, though, as I love to stay underneath the covers. Second, there are the times when I wake up 15 to 20 minutes before my alarm, and I get up begrudgingly get up because there is no going back to sleep for 15 minutes. Then there are days like today when the alarm goes off, and I think it is a five-alarm fire, and I do not even know what side of the bed I am to get out on.

Jesus speaks to us each of these ways, and our readings bring this out for us today.

In our Gospel, Jesus has been speaking to the Pharisees in all three of these ways, but they have not been listening to him. All week long we have been hearing this story of Jesus at a dinner party of a Pharisee, and we have been told early in the week that they have been trying to trap Jesus into saying something that they could arrest him for saying. So Jesus goes right on the offensive just like our alarms clocks and at first tells the Pharisees, “Woe is you for leading the people astray!” So now today, Jesus tells the scribes and the Scholars of the Law, “Woe is you holding back the Key of Knowledge to the people.”

How are we waking up to God’s word in our lives if we are still waking up? Jesus is trying all the methods he knows on us. I will hope if it is a five-alarm fire that we will listen and change our lives!  

Clean the windshield inside and out!

Wednesday of the 28th Week

Romans 2:1-11

Luke 11:42-46

How clean is your windshield? Are there dead bugs all over it? Is there a crack in your windshield? How about that grease film on the inside of your windshield? How bad is that because it still blocks our vision? Our readings beg the question of us to clean our windshield so we may see through it correctly.

In our first reading, one might say, “My windshield is not bad, just a few bugs, and that messy inside smear is doable.” St. Paul says to us, “Do you know that when we judge others is when we too are going to be judged?” When then do you judge others? St. Paul continues with, “God’s kindness is meant to lead us to clean our windshields, not to leave them dirty?”

Our Gospel is all about cleaning the windshield because Jesus knows it is so dirty we cannot see through it correctly. Jesus says to the religious leaders three times, “Woe to you, for leading others astray by your words and your actions.” We might say, “But Lord, I can still drive with a dirty windshield?” Jesus says one more time, “Woe to you also, who think they are still able to drive away.”

May we clean the windshield of our lives today!

Give alms and everything will be made clean!

Tuesday Twenty-Eighth Week Ordinary Time

Romans 1:16-25

Luke 11:37-41

I hope that you did not give up on the Gospel. It is only five sentences, but it is powerful, and the best is at the end.

In our Gospel, Jesus is at dinner with a Pharisee, and it gets ugly pretty quick. The Pharisee is amazed that Jesus did not do all the prescribed washes. Moses prescribed ceremonial washes, and every Jewish did those washes, but the Pharisees had more washings, and Jesus did not do these washes. Jesus can tell the Pharisee is upset, so Jesus makes no excuses for not doing the washings, and he calls the Pharisee out by saying, “You cleanse the outside of the cup and the inside of the cup is still dirty.”

But here is where the answer is to keep the inside clean. Jesus says, “We keep the inside clean by giving alms.” The book of Tobit 4:6, “To all who give alms, you will practice righteousness at its highest level.” Why, because almsgiving comes from within at our deepest level.

When we believe our money is God’s money, when we see time as God’s time, and when we see people in the image and likeness of God, is when we inside will look as good as our outside.

May we give from all we have!

What must I do to inherit eternal life?

Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Wisdom 7:7-11

Hebrews 4:12-13

Mark 10:17-30

On a scale of one to ten, how would we rate our prayer life today? On a scale of one to ten, how would we rate our spiritual life today? What needs to change so we will make our prayer life and our spiritual life a ten? Last question, if we were going to go to confession right now, what sins would we confess? Our readings today, challenge us to fill this gap with Jesus!

As I have been reflecting and praying over our readings, I believe we need to see ourselves as the man in our story today! In our Gospel story a wealthy man runs to Jesus, kneels, and asks Jesus a question. If we had a burning question in our hearts and Jesus was in the vicinity, we would do the same thing this man does. The man asks, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The man asks a great question, he realizes that something is missing in his life with his wealth.

Jesus gives him a very straight answer, “Live and obey the commandments.” The rich man says, “I have been living and obeying the commandments all of his life! I believe each one of us would say something close to this, “Hey, I have been trying to live a good life, I pray, I go to church, I do works of charity!” Jesus looks at him and loves him. I would hope that Jesus would look at us also and love us. But it is never about staying in one place in our prayer life, our spiritual life, so Jesus continues, “You lack in one thing.” I wondered if the man thought he only lacked one thing when he heard, “Oh, thank God!” Jesus continues, “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” Wow! Upon hearing this, the man went away very sad, for he could not do what Jesus pointed out to him that needed to be changed in his life. The man in this story is the only person when asked by Jesus to follow him, and he chooses not to follow Jesus.

My friends in Christ, notice Jesus does not go chasing after the man begging him to come back? The story of the rich man is our story. If the message does not take our breath away and moves us to do something, and we choose to ignore it, we will have to face it on our judgment day. It will be better to do something now so we have time to change than on our judgment day when we will not be able to do anything about it.  What needs to change in our lives so we will make a total commitment to Christ?

Our God given power!

Friday Twenty – Seven-Week Ordinary Time

Joel 1:13-15; 2:1-2

Luke 11:15-26

Our lesson today has to do with the use of power and how we use the power that has been given to us for good or for bad!

Q.) How is water used in a powerful way for good?

A.) Hoover dam making electricity

Q.) How is water used in a powerful way to do something bad?

A.) Flooding

Q.) How is fire used in a powerful way to do something good?

A.) Fiery furnace for melting and making steel

Q.) How is fire used in a powerful way to do something bad?

A.) Forest Fire

In our first reading, the prophet Joel lets the people know that God has given everyone a certain amount of power. The prophet is letting the people know they can use that power for good or evil. God will punish those who use their power to do bad things and reward those who do good things.

In our Gospel, Jesus is being confronted on how he uses his power. The people question him by asking Jesus, “Do you get your power from God or the evil one?” Jesus says, “Here is how you can tell where my power comes from. If it is about healing and brings people together, it is from God. If it is about tearing people apart, it is about the evil one.”

When we gather here, Jesus uses his power to make simple bread and wine into his body and blood. When we consume the Body of Christ, we are given the power to do good things just as Jesus did.

Our Lady of the Rosary!

Thursday of the Twenty – Seven-Week Ordinary Time

Our Lady of the Rosary

Acts 1:12-14

Luke 1:26-38

All week we have been talking a lot about prayer. Today we celebrate the Feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary, and we know the great help that the Rosary is to us in our prayer life.  

Our first reading from the book of Acts is the day of Pentecost, and Jesus has been raised up to heaven. After Jesus’ departure into heaven, the disciples return to Jerusalem and devote themselves to prayer. They are attentive to the Spirit breathing and moving about them, and they are compelled to pray. The Holy Spirit will come and fill them with courage and wisdom.

In our Gospel today, we hear of the announcement of the birth of Jesus as it is made to Mary. Mary is young and without a husband, and yet the angel of the Lord comes to her and says, “You, Mary, have found favor with the Lord!” Mary responds, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.”

The story of the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary focuses on the intercessory power of Mary. It shows that when Christians are in danger, they can go to Mary. And when an individual is in pain, discouraged, or having trouble accepting God’s will, he or she can also go to Mary. She will pray to her Son for anyone who calls on her. Anyone who prays to Mary no longer feels alone because she prays with them and for them.

The Rosary gives us the victory over the most significant battle of all. Praying the Rosary will help us battle against the evil forces in our lives. Praying the Rosary helps us focus our minds on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ by praying all the sacred mysteries of Christ. May we run to Mary and have her intercede for us.

The Our Father, a perfect prayer!

Wednesday Twenty – Seven-Week Ordinary Time

Jonah 4:1-11

Luke 10:38-42

In our Gospel, Jesus is praying, and when he returns, one of the disciples asks him, “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples to pray.” So Jesus teaches them to pray the Our Father.

In a few minutes, I will invite all of us to pray the “Our Father” by saying, “At the Savior’s command, and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say.” Remember, as kids, we would dare someone to do something that we may not be willing to do! I dare you to cross this line. I dare you to jump over this campfire. I dare you to eat this worm.

In her great wisdom, the Church dares us to pray the Our Father because it is so powerful! The first two words of calling God “Our Father” should blow our minds because Jesus is inviting us into a special relationship that he holds with his Father. We are as close to God the Father as God the Son is. These two words of calling God “Our Father” are the invitation to believe that we are children of God. All of this becomes possible because of Jesus Christ.

The Our Father prayer continues with five petitions asking God that his will be done in our lives, and we are called to believe all of them.

So when we pray, Our Father, let us meditate upon each word, not taking any of the words for granted, and let us not fall into the trap of saying it fast.

I dare us to pray the Our Father today!

The ministry of Prayer and hospitality.

Tuesday Twenty – Seventh Week Ordinary Time

Jonah 3:1-10

Luke 10:38-42

How is your prayer life today?

How is your ministry of hospitality today?

I know people who do these things well, and I have observed it is because they hold these two things in balance with each other.

In our Gospel, Jesus comes to visit his friends of Martha and Mary. After the greeting, Martha stays in the kitchen preparing all the food and drinks for everyone, and Mary goes into the living room and sits at the feet of Jesus. Very soon after Jesus arrives, Martha screams from the kitchen, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do all the serving?”

Two things are going on with Martha’s question. The first is that Martha is doing the ministry of hospitality, but she only feels the burden of this ministry and not the joy. It may be because of the second reason, and that is at this time to be at the feet of Jesus is not the place for a woman to be. It would only be a place for men to be. Mary is bringing shame to the family, and perhaps Martha wants to protect Mary and the family from any undue harm.

The response of Jesus is quite radical as he says, “Martha, you are worried and anxious about many things. Mary has chosen the better part.”

Where are we overly burdened or worried today? Are we keeping our prayer life and our ministry of hospitality in balance? Our hospitality will be more effortless if we take everything to prayer.

Is this for here? Or to go?

Twenty–Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Genesis 2:18-24

Hebrews 2:9-11

Mark 10:1-12

In our readings, we heard the word, “Divorce” and I know that divorce has affected many of us. I am sorry for the pain and suffering divorce can have, but our readings have much to speak on than divorce. If anyone has any questions or concerns about divorce, please call the parish office.

After much prayer and reflection, I believe that our readings present God’s plan from the beginning of time that we are to live as one. In God’s plan, those who choose to be married have a special role to play in God’s plan of unity.

If married couples are not sitting together, please move now and sit together. If you are not holding hands, reach across and hold each other’s hands, and maybe look at each other. You did this on your wedding day, and do you recall how you felt on that day? This is what God wants to bring back into your married life!

In our first reading from the Book of Genesis, after God has created the heavens and the earth, God created “Man.” God says, “It is not good that man should live alone.” God’s first attempt to help the man not be lonely is God created all living things and allowed the man to name all the living things, but the man was still lonely. So, in God’s second attempt, he casts a deep sleep on the man, and from the man, he pulls out one of his ribs and puts that bone into the creature he calls the woman. As the man awakes from his sleep, he says, “Finally, Lord, God, you got it right! This woman is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” Thus, in God’s great plan of creation, we are social beings, and we become more fully human when we build up relationships, and two become one.

In our Gospel, we hear of the Pharisees coming to Jesus and testing him with the question, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Before I go any further, throw out any modern-day concept of dating, engagement, and marriage. Marriages were prearranged, or contracts made between the two fathers of the parties involved so the families could advance in power or property.

The other thing is that divorce was widely practiced, and all a man had to do was write what was called a “Bill of Divorce” to his wife, and they would be divorced. A divorce would be very damaging for the woman, and the children, for it would leave them unprotected.

In his answer, Jesus does not take the bait from the Pharisees. Instead, Jesus sends them back to the original intent of God at the beginning of time, that man and woman are created equal, and that together as one flesh, they reveal the oneness and image of and likeness of God. Nothing is to separate what God has joined together. The words of Jesus were radical at this time and just as revolutionary in our time.

Let’s face it; there are peaks and valleys in all relationships. One thing that McDonald’s has gotten right, besides the tremendous French fries, is the question, “Is this for here or to go?” We all need to answer that question, “Are we going to take what God has given us and leave it here, or take it with us?” All married couples have a unique role because you were given the grace to become one flesh on your wedding day, as now you are a sign to us of God’s love for his church!

My friends in Christ, we will continue to meet here seeking the healing that needs to take place until all things are made one in Christ.