Are we prepared for today?

Thursday Thirtieth Week Ordinary Time

Ephesians 6:10-20

Luke 13:31-35

6th, 7th, & 8th graders at Mass

Q.) The big game is this weekend, with U of M playing MSU in college football. Go Green! What are both teams doing to prepare for this game?

  1. Teams are practicing, going through their plays, eating and sleeping properly, and mentally getting prepared.

Our readings today are about being prepared for what God has ready for us.

In our first reading, the writer tells the people to prepare for when the evil one will come and fill us with the temptation to sin. The writer says, “Draw your strength from the Lord, by putting on the armor of God.” I like this image because it is what we need to do also when temptation comes.  

In our Gospel, Jesus is prepared to finish with his preaching and healing of the people and then move on going to Jerusalem. Jesus is told that he should leave now and go somewhere else because King Herod captures him. Jesus is prepared to keep doing what he is doing and then move onto Jerusalem, where he knows he will suffer persecution and death. Jesus is prepared for all of this and will not be discouraged.

My friends in Christ, the football players of U of M and MSU, are preparing themselves for the big game this week. We need to be ready for all that God has in store for us today and not be turned away. In this Eucharist, may we be given the strength to move forward in the Lord.

What does it mean to be subordinate?

Tuesday Thirtieth Week Ordinary Time

Ephesians 5:21-33

Luke 13:18-21

Let’s talk about a word we usually do not like to talk about, and that word is subordinate. Just saying the word may make us bristle a bit, but it does not have to. To be subordinate, we need to know who we are in God’s eyes and be strong in Him.   

Our first reading is so powerful if we allow ourselves to hear the whole message. We may have stopped listening when the writer wrote, “wives be submissive stuff.” This reading’s reality is that it was more scandalous in the time it was written than now. In first-century Roman times, marriages were arranged for economic, social, and political gain. There was little or no love involved. So when the writer insists that the husband loves his wife as he loves himself, and as a sign of God’s love for the Church. The people hearing this would have said, “What are you talking about?” The writer is encouraging husbands and wives to be subordinate to each other.

Our Gospel today is perfect for a fuller understanding of being subordinate as Jesus talks about a mustard seed and yeast. A mustard seed is tiny, and it grows into a bush where many birds can nest in its branches. We know that a small amount of yeast enables the dough to rise into many bread loaves. Jesus is inviting his listeners to be subordinate to each other by offering to be small and influencing many things.

My friends in Christ, may we be subordinate to God today in all things, and have a big impact on all we do.

How do we understand love?

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Exodus 22:20-26

I Thessalonians 1:5-10

Matthew 22: 34-40

Here are three things I love. I love carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I love a vacation with people I dearly love and who love me. I love anything wrapped in bacon. Our readings have a lot to do with our understanding of what God is asking of us in love.

In our Gospel, we find out what Jesus loves as the Pharisees ask him, “What commandment is the greatest?” Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with your entire mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus takes 613 laws and condenses them down to two by saying, “Hang everything you do, on the love of God, and love of neighbor.” I feel a bit embarrassed none of my three things are on the list of Jesus?

So, what is God asking of us, to understand about love? It is too bad that in our English language we do not have more words to describe love. The Greeks had three words for love, agape, eros, and philia. We have either we love you or we like you. We tend to think of love as a feeling, something that overcomes us, and we do not have control over it. We say, “We fall in love.”

A biblical understanding of love is love is a discipline, it is something we practice every day, and it is a conscious decision to do something. Biblical love is a commitment to love someone, even when the person does not look like us, smell like us, or thinks like us. Biblical love makes us vulnerable, because it may even expose a weakness within us. A biblical love will call us to places beyond our self-made boundaries. Biblical love would say, “I am going to love you no matter what you do to me.”

We gather here to know that God loves us, and God wants us to love him in return, and to love others. God wants us to set aside our fear, our doubt, and come to him.

My friend in Christ, there is one more thing that I love very much, and that is all of you! I want to be with you to laugh, to cry, when you are hungry and when you need someone to listen to you. We come here to know of God’s great love for us, which is beyond all understanding. May we love as God loves us!

Much has been given, and more is expected!

Wednesday Twenty – Ninth-Week Ordinary Time

Ephesians 3:2-12

Luke 12:39-48

3rd, 4th, & 5th graders at Mass

What would happen if mom or dad told you to clean your room before dinner, and you did not do it?

What would happen to you?

What would happen if mom or dad told you to clean your room before dinner, and you did clean it?

What would happen to you?

In our Gospel, we are told of a master who prepares for a journey and leaves his farm to his servants. He trusts the servants will do all they can to grow the crops in the fields. Upon the master’s return, he finds that the servants have not done anything they were told to do, and he is upset and punishes the lazy servants.

Jesus continues the story by saying, “Blessed are those servants who upon the master’s return, he finds working, for they will have their eternal reward.”

The words of Christ are challenging, but the last words of Christ are even more challenging when he says, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, but still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more!”

Jesus is talking about all of us, as we attend one of the best Catholic schools in our diocese. Much more will be required of us since we are being given so much. May we live more for Christ today?

Share your location!

Tuesday Twenty-Ninth Week Ordinary Time

Ephesians 2:12-22

Luke 12:35-38

On an, I Phone, there is a program called “Share your location.” You can use this to share your location with someone, so they can know where you are at any given time. When I was driving out to Denver, I allowed a good friend to know my location using the program “Share my location.” He could see my location as a map, with my face traveling along the route. What I found interesting is he would be able to see the cities and places that were ahead of me that I could not see, and he would say, “You are almost to Omaha, or you are almost to Colorado.” Each time he would know it before I would see the sign. We would laugh about it, but it helped me prepare and get ready for the next place that I was passing through. Our readings have a bit to do about being prepared for what is coming next.

In our first reading, the writer of Ephesians is laying out for the Gentile people what they could not see. The Gentiles who were new to the Christian faith were not treated very well by the Jewish people. The writer of Ephesians is telling them what they cannot see, and that is they are no longer strangers but citizens of God’s household.  

In our Gospel, it is all about seeing something new that we cannot see right now. In our story, we are told of servants who are waiting for their master’s return, and when he returns, they are ready to wait on him and bring to him anything he may want. What the servants could not see that upon the masters return, it is the master who waits on them and brings them whatever they want.

My friends in Christ, as we gather this day, how we will put our trust in God to lead us, where we are not able to see right now? How are we anticipating all that God has in store for us today? He is already setting the road ahead of us as a peaceful place.

Dude! Slow down!

Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 45:1, 4-6

I Thessalonians 1:1-5

Matthew 22: 15-21

Show a picture of me and the grandkids on screens. Scarlett, the middle child, said something while I was visiting that stuck with me. The week before I arrived, Meggin was getting the kids ready to go for a walk when a truck went down their street relatively fast, and Meggin said, “Dude! Slow down!” Later that day, Scarlett, who is learning to talk and put words together in a sentence, said, “Dude, Slow down!” When I arrived she said it one time and then she laughed. As I was packing the car to leave, and the girls were helping me pack, Scarlett, said, “Dude, Slow down!” I took it as, “Grandpa, slow down, and let’s take in this moment and know who you are to me, and me to you!” Our readings have a bit to do about slowing down and knowing who we are.

In our second reading from St. Paul to the Thessalonians, we have the earliest New Testament writing piece. Paul writes this letter in the year 50 or 51. It is written before the Gospels, and it would have been read at a gathering of believers at a worship service. As it is read, the hearers of this letter may have said, “Dude! Slow down, I what to take this all in!” The first words recorded in the New Testament are remarkable as Paul says, “Grace and peace to you as we give you thanks for knowing who you belong to.”

In our Gospel, there is a lot of “Dude! Slow down!” The first slowdown is the Pharisees and Herodians are two groups who opposed each other, but they come together, thinking they can trip Jesus up with a question. They ask him, “Is it lawful to pay the tax to Caesar or not?” It is a tricky question because if Jesus answers “yes,” he will be seen as a traitor to the Jewish people. If he answers “no,” then he will be a rebel against Rome. Jesus doesn’t answer the question; he asks, “Show me the coin that pays the census tax? Whose image is on this coin?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” “Then pay to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what belongs to God.”

The second slow down comes that these Jewish leaders had a Roman coin in their possession. At this time, the Romans had their coins, and on each coin, there was an image of the emperor, and it read, “Caesar Augustus the divine one.” What the coin was saying is, “Caesar is god.” Because the Jews knew there was only one God, the Romans produced other coins that the Jewish people would use without the image of Caesar Augustus on it to pay the tax. So, when Jesus asks for a coin to pay the tax, and these priestly men produce the Roman coin, you can almost hear Jesus saying, “Dudes! Slow down! Do you realize how you just conflicted yourselves by having this coin in your possession?”

We gather to answer, “Dude! Slow down” Do you know who you belong to? What areas in our lives are we conflicted with and have not given that part to God? We are being called into a special relationship with Christ. We need to choose who we belong to. We are called to this table where we are one. May we live in Christ this week? Let us slow down and give our lives to Christ!  

We are chosen!

Friday of the Twenty-Eighth Week

Ephesians 1:11-14

Luke 12:1-7

I can remember back in High School and during my college years asking myself the questions, “Who am I?” “What is my purpose in life?” “What am I going to do with my life?” These are all excellent questions to ask ourselves, but one question comes even before these questions. It is the question that God asks of us, “Do you know that I have chosen you to be a beloved child of God?” If I had spent more time reflecting on this question, I could have saved myself years of worry and fear.

In our first reading, the writer of Ephesians says, “Do you know in Christ you have been chosen, and your destiny and purpose have are laid out for you?” The writer continues by saying, “We all exist to give glory and praise to God!”

In our Gospel, I cannot get past the opening line, which tells us that there were so many people following Jesus that the people were tripping over each other to get to him. What Jesus does next is what I find interesting. With all these people following him, he turns to his disciples and says, “Boys, lets for not pay attention to these people; this is what you need to know.”

The first thing Jesus says is, “Do not be a hypocrite.” The word hypocrite comes from the Greek word, “To act.” Jesus is telling his disciples, “Be who I have chosen you to be! Do not go outside of what you are in my eyes.”

The next thing Jesus tells them is, “Do not be afraid, because you are worth my then sparrows.” Why did he not say, “You are worth more than diamonds, rubies, or gold?” I believe because God knows we think of ourselves more as something worthless, than something worth a lot. Jesus is telling them, “I have chosen you, and you are worth everything to me.”

The last thing he wants the disciples to know is because they have been chosen every hair on our head. Now that is getting easier every day for the angel assigned to counting the hair on my head?

My brothers and sisters, can we live in the grace of knowing that we have chosen by God for a particular purpose, and are we willing to accomplish all that God has planned for us. It begins right now by receiving this Holy Eucharist?

Why do we groan?

Thursday Twenty-Eighth Week Ordinary Time

St. Teresa of Avila

Roman 8:22-27

John 15: 1-8

I believe St. Teresa of Avila has something to teach all of us as she joined the Carmelite Order at the age of 21. She joined not because of any attraction to religious life, but because you could live a comfortable life. You could be well cared for, and you could keep your possessions and have contact with the outside world. Teresa’s prayer life and conversion led her to reform the Carmelite Order and begin a whole new branch of Carmelites, living a more strict life of contemplative prayer and adopting a life of poverty and abstinence. These reforms were met with great resistance, but she moved forward with faith and persistence, and her committee grew. Where are we comfortable in our faith life, and there needs to be a reform of some kind?

In our first reading St. Paul says, “All of creation is groaning.” We experience this at this time of the year as summer has passed and fall is here, and the trees are giving up their leaves in preparation for winter. However, St. Paul goes on to say, “We too need to be groaning in all things to have Christ in our lives.”

In our Gospel, Jesus picks up on this with this image of how, through all the strong winds in our lives, we need to stay connected to the vine of Jesus Christ.

My friends in Christ, how serious are we today to be like St. Teresa of Avila and reform our lives to be people of hope and staying grafted to the vine of Christ?

Prayer and service!

Tuesday Twenty – Seventh Week Ordinary Time

Galatians 1:13-24

Luke 10:38-42

Did anyone leave their bed not made? Did anyone leave dirty dishes in the sink? I might say “good for you!” but I have one more question. “Did anyone spend time in prayer this morning, and that is why the bed is not made, and the dishes are still in the sink? If your bed is not made and the dishes are still in the sink because you were in prayer, then good for you?

Today, our Gospel leaves none of us off the hook because we are all challenged by this story. Jesus comes to visit Marth and Mary and is the case anytime someone is coming to visit, and you want to have the house ready for your guest, so Martha is so busy preparing the home. On the other hand, Mary is sitting at Jesus’s feet, listening to his every word. Let’s be honest. If we were Martha, we would be screaming too! Martha says, “Lord, doesn’t it matter to you that I am doing all the work while my lazy sister does nothing?” Notice that Jesus does not condemn Martha for her words; he only says, “Martha, you are worried and anxious about many things. Mary has chosen the better part.” You see, Martha and Mary represent the two vocations of the Church, that of service and that of prayer. What Jesus is pointing out to us is that we are not to be anxious or worried in either vocation.

Now I am the CEO of the “I love to worry and be anxious club,” but once again, what I find amazing is that God knows us so well. He knows that we busy ourselves with many things, and we do not spend the proper time in prayer, so we are less anxious and worried. God calls us to put ourselves before him in prayer and get out there and do his will.

The dishes will be done later, may we come now and sit at the feet of Jesus!

What more could I have done?

Twenty – Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 5:1-7

Philippians 4:6-9

Matthew 21: 33 – 43

I had an experience this week that left me asking myself the question, “What more could I have done?” I was called to the hospital to anoint someone who is very sick and fears that they may be near death. The person began to share about their life and about their fear of death. As they talked, they began to doubt that they did not do enough to gain their eternal reward. I tried my best to make some connections to help them overcome their fears and doubts, but when I left, I asked myself the question, “What more could I have done?”

In our first reading, a farmer has a vineyard, and after doing everything in his power to make it the best vineyard, it only produced wild grapes. The farmer asks, “What more could I have done?” Have you ever felt like you have done all that you could, and despite our best effort, it was wasn’t enough?   

In our Gospel, Jesus tells of another vineyard of a landowner who has done all that he can to produce an excellent vineyard, so he sends his servants to collect the vineyard, but the tenant farmers beat some servants, stoned others, and killed the rest. When the owner sends his son, they grab him and kill him. The tenant farmers take what is not theirs, as they want it all for them. The landowner asks, “What more could I have done?”  Do we dare ask ourselves, how are we like the tenant farmers, taking what is not ours?

In our second reading, St. Paul gives us the lesson of what to do when we ask, “What more could I have done?” St. Paul tells us to have no anxiety at all. We hear that, and we might say, “Yeah, right!” Paul can say this as he continues with his teaching, as he says, brings everything in prayer and petition to God, making all of our requests known to him. Finally, Paul says, “Do not give up on me. Keep doing all that you know what to do that you have learned and received from me.” When you do these things, the peace of God will be with you.

My friends in Christ, it is Respect Life Sunday, where we should be asking ourselves, “What more could I do to respect all of life from conception to natural death?” We know that our best efforts have sometimes failed, and we know that evil is lurking everywhere but can we still keep moving on? May we ask ourselves, “What more can I do?