The Feast day of St. John Vianney, patron of parish priest!

Tuesday of the 18th Week Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22

Matthew 14:22-36

St. John Vianney

 

Today is a good day to celebrate priesthood as St. John Vianney is the patron saint of parish priests. He worked hard in school but was still a poor student. He did not receive any primary education, and he struggled with his studies and especially with learning Latin. He was the last in his class to be ordained, and so he was assigned to the smallest village in France where he would do the least damage.  This did not discourage him as he never lost his faith as he committed himself to prayer and fasting. His pastoral plan for the parish was to have every single person from town to attend Mass every Sunday. He set out to make this happen by getting to know everyone personally in the town. He is quoted as saying, “True happiness can only be obtained through prayer and love.” He attracted large crowds by his short, simple teachings and preaching, and he was known as a great confessor. He truly is my hero!

 

I love being a priest as I have never been so happy in my life, and our readings speak well for us today.

 

In our first reading from the prophet Jerimiah, there is a big twist to our reading. The first part of the reading is God bringing condemnation on His people because of their sinfulness. However, the second half is all about God showering down his mercy upon his people. May we show mercy today!

 

In our Gospel, Peter is brave as he begins to walk on water out to Jesus. When the waves begin to get larger, Peter becomes afraid, and when he sinks, Jesus is there to take him by the hand and raise him. When things become hard in our life, may we know the loving embrace of God?

 

My friends in Christ, may we show mercy and knowledge of the loving embrace of God.

 

We are invited!

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 55:1-3

Romans 8: 37-39

Matthew 14:13-21

There are times I wake up in the morning, and I am sad. My brothers and I canceled the fishing trip that we had planned for this summer and that made me sad. I am still uncertain about going to people’s home and that also makes me sad. When I get sad, life seems heavy, and it is hard to get motivated. Have any of you gone through these kinds of emotions? If you have, then you are in the right pew, because our readings have much to say to us today.

In our Gospel, Jesus has received the sad news of the death of his cousin John the Baptist, and he is trying to go into the desert to be alone to grieve his loss. The very first line of our Gospel sets the whole story into its proper context because it gives us two points of interest to know. The first thing to remember is whenever we hear someone is going into the desert, the desert is the wilderness a place of chaos. Jesus goes to the desert, to transform the wilderness into a place of peace, and place to find God. The second thing to note is we often think of Jesus as the guy who travels around and has everything all together. Today’s story is not that Jesus! Jesus is grieving and sad, his eyes red, his face swollen from crying, and his heart is broken. Jesus wants to get away so that no one would see him. When I look at this story this way the whole context of what Jesus does takes on a whole new meaning.

We are told that the people are following him, and when he gets out of the boat, he has pity for the people. The kind of “pity” that Matthew describes is a gut-churning response where Jesus is deeply moved to be with the people instead of going to the desert. He is so moved he spends the whole day with the people, and when they are hungry, he feeds them from the fives loaves and two fish. Jesus does this miracle by reaching into his sadness and finding the strength to face the sorrow and the pain of others and to heal the people.

My friends in Christ, as we face the sadness of our lives, may we know as we gather in this Eucharist that Jesus knows the depth of our pain and is here to heal us. Sitting outside eating breakfast in the patio, I said to God, “You are all that I have!” and the response was, “I am glad!” Because when I contemplate the things of God is when I am most happy! May we hear the invitation of Christ to come to the Eucharist to heal us and to strengthen us!

Why me, Lord!

Friday of the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 26:1-9

Matthew 13: 54 – 58

St. Ignatius

Proper of the Saints, pg. 763

Have you ever asked the question, “Why me?” On this day back in 2003, I was working at Our Lady of the Lake Church, and I packed all my personal items in my office, and I left the parish to begin my studies in seminary. I asked, “Why me, Lord?” My prayer that day and every day since has been “Lord, just show me your face one more time, and I will stay.” I think the question “Why me?” is being said a lot in our readings.

 

In our first reading, Jerimiah may be saying, asking, “Why me?” Jeremiah has just told the people that death and destruction are coming to them if they do not repent of their ways, and the people are so tired of hearing him they want to put him to death. Tradition has it that Jerimiah did die at the hands of the people he preached to. Jerimiah may have asked, “Why me?” but he never strayed from saying what God wanted him to speak to the people.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus could have said, “Why me?” as he has just gotten done preaching to the people, and at first, they are amazed, but then the people begin to say, “Who does he think he is?”

 

My friends in Christ, have you ever asked the question, “Why me?” The answer I received back from God that day was, Why not you? I have given you everything and more?”

 

What are we doing with our failures?

Thursday of the 17th Week

Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 18:1-6

Matthew 13: 47-53

 

 

What was our last failure, or the last thing we did wrong? Failures and mistakes are going to happen, but if we do not learn from them, they remain our failures and our mistakes. Our readings have much to do about this subject.

 

In our reading from the prophet Jeremiah, he is watching a potter at his wheel, and the potter is shaping the clay on the wheel to the image that he has in his mind. If the clay fails to become what the potter had in his mind, he begins again shaping the clay into what he wants it to become.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus uses the image of a large net that is cast into the sea. When the fishermen bring the net to the shore, all kinds of things and fish are in the net. The fishermen throw back into the sea what is worthless, and they keep what is valuable.

 

My friends in Christ, failures, and mistakes are going to happen, but if we do not learn from them, they remain our failures and our mistakes. In this Eucharist, let us allow our loving God to shower us with His mercy, and may we allow God to shape us into the image that he wants us to be.

 

 

Are we good seeds?

Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 14:17-22

Matthew 13: 36-43

 

At my home in GH, my lawn went neglected for years. Because of this, weeds have overcome much of my backyard. I had a landscaper come and give me a quote on what to do, and he said, “Start over! Get rid of this topsoil, bring in some more soil, and plant a new lawn. ” Well, I did not follow that advice, so I decided I would pull up the weeds one at a time whenever I am out there. My yard is beginning to look much better as the grass is filling in nicely where the weeds once grew.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus has just gotten done telling a parable to the crowds, and his disciples ask to have the parable of the good seeds, and the weeds explained to them. The point of the parable is that we all have good seeds that are planted in us, but just as there are good seeds; there are also the bad seeds of temptation and sin that can grow right alongside all the good seeds. The Good News is that at our baptism, we were given the power to overcome those seeds of temptation and sin when we pay more attention to the good seed.

 

Jesus goes on to say to his disciples, “You are the children of the Kingdom. You are to grow the good seeds within you. When the Son of Man comes to collect his harvest, he will bring all the good seed into his barn.”

 

As we gather in this Eucharist, may we be nourished to be the good seed that we are called to be?

 

What is our heart’s desire?

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I Kings 3:5, 7-12

Romans 8: 28-30

Matthew 13:44 -52

 

At one time in my life, I had one thing that was my heart’s desire, and I was willing to do whatever it took to get my heart’s desire. In this bag, I have what was my heart desire. Do you want to see my heart’s desire? (Show my GI Joe action figure).  I want to be clear; it is not a doll; it is an action figure! When I got this on my sixth birthday, I was filled with delight, because I had gotten my heart’s desire. What is our heart’s desire today, and what are we willing to do to get our heart’s desire?

In our Gospel, we are given two parables about people’s heart’s desire. In our first parable, a man stumbles upon a buried treasure. He knows he has found his heart’s desire, so he goes and sells all of his belongings and buys the property, which contained his heart’s desire. In the second parable, a man is searching for precious pearls, and he comes upon a pearl that he holds to be his heart’s desire, so he too sells everything he has to buy the pearl. These two men know their heart’s desires, and they do all they can to obtain their heart’s desire.

In our first reading, we hear about Solomon’s heart’s desire as God asks him, “Ask me for whatever you want, and I will grant it to you?” Solomon is very young, under the age of 20, and he has been made king. Solomon is concerned that at his young age, and with so many people to govern, that he wants to be able to make good decisions, so he asks for what he does not possess; he asks for an understanding heart. 

All of us have our heart’s desires, but I am wondering, shouldn’t we be more like Solomon and asks for an understanding heart? Some of us have no problem making a decision, sometimes they are comfortable, and sometimes they are hard. We can learn the simple little process that Solomon used to be granted great wisdom. The first thing is to bring our request to God in prayer. Solomon goes to the largest shrine in the area, and he prayed there all night. The second step is to ask for what we do not possess. Be clear to God about what we are asking. The third step is to seek the help of others, which can give insight into the situation. The fourth step is to make the decision and act on it.

My friends in Christ, when we place Jesus as our heart’s desire and seek the wisdom of God, we too can be as wise as Solomon himself.  

How will we hear?

Thursday Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 2; 1-3, 7-8, 12-13

Matthew 13:10-17

 

Who would have ever guessed that On July 23, the Detroit Tigers would be undefeated? Tonight MLB returns with a whole host of games being televised. With all the teams playing, there will be some players who have decided not to play, and there will be no fans at any of the games at this time.

 

Having people at the games is an important part of any sporting event! Players feed off the energy and the noise that the fans bring to the games. Baseball players will have to get up for the games without hearing the sound from the crows. Maybe that is how Jesus felt today in our Gospel?

 

In our Gospel, the disciples ask Jesus, “Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?” Parables were a popular way of teaching at this time for Jesus. The important thing was not only to hear the parable but to understand the multi-layers of meaning that was important. To hear God’s Word has four parts to it. There is the listening to the Word, the understanding of what was proclaimed, the accepting of the message, and finally allowing the Word to change our lives.

 

Jesus goes on to say, “Blessed are your eyes, because of what you see, and blessed are your ears because of what you hear.” Jesus is speaking not only to his disciples but to each of us!

 

My friends in Christ, the Tigers begin tomorrow evening against the Cincinnati Reds. The stadium will be quiet, but will we be silent about what we have heard Jesus speak to us about today?

 

Who really is our family?

Tuesday of the 16th week Ordinary Time

Micah 7:14-15, 18-20

Matthew 12:46-50

 

Fr. Edwin has been a blessing to me in the short time that he has been here at Holy Spirit. I loved what Fr. Edwin said on Sunday when he was introducing himself he said, “I am your priest, your brother, and your friend,” and then he put his hands on his heart. Fr. Edwin went on to ask for our patience as he learns to speak English better. The thing I have enjoyed the most so far from him is his joy, and he is helping me to grow. Our readings are challenging us to expand what we see and how we feel today.

 

In our first reading, the prophet Micah is expanding his idea of what mercy is as God says, “I will remove your guilt; I will not persist in anger, and I will delight in my compassion for I cast your sins into the sea.”

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is expanding the understanding of family, as his mother and other family members come to see him. Jesus says, “Who is my mother, who is my brother or sister? It is those who do the will of my Father.” The point Jesus is not making is that he did not love his mother and his relatives. The point he is making is to expand our understanding of family beyond our bloodlines.  

 

My friends in Christ, at the time of our baptism, we were brought to the church by our family. When the waters of baptism were poured over our heads, we became a member of a broader family, the family of Christ. Our life from that moment is to love this larger family of God that has blessed us with in our lives. May today be a great family reunion?   

 

 

The weeds and the wheat!

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 12:13, 16-19

Romans 8: 26-27

Matthew 13:24 -43

 

I believe our message today from our readings is to know there is joy in the journey. If we can learn this lesson, we will do well.

 

In our Gospel, we hear another parable of a farmer who plants a garden, and the workers come and say, “Did we not plant good seeds? Weeds are growing alongside our plants. Do you want us to pull up the weeds?” To the surprise of the workers, the owner says, “No, let the weeds grow alongside the plants, and at harvest time, we will separate what we will put into the barn and what we will burn.” What are we to take from this parable?

 

There is joy in the journey when we realize that like the weeds that grow alongside the wheat but never overcomes it. There is evil that grows right alongside our goodness. As much as we like the weeds in the parable, we would like to eradicate the evil in our lives the best we can hope for is to manage the evil in our lives. We do this by how much attention do we give to each one? How intertwined are they to each other? Just as God knows everything about us, so does the evil one know everything about us. The difference is that the evil one waits until we are most vulnerable, and then he strikes on us. So we need to become wise in ways to overcome evil. Thus, the first defense against evil is to have reminders of God’s protection all around us, such as a rosary, bracelet, cross, or some sacred images.

 

Here is a personal story to bring out this point. I am driven by fear of ridicule from someone. I am driven by fear of letting you down. I am driven by fear of making a mistake. All these fears can destroy me and keep me up at night, telling myself what a loser I am. However, when I know, these are triggers of the evil one, these fears can drive me to seek the loving arms of God.  

 

My friends in Christ, may we find joy in the journey and feed the wheat in our lives and not the weeds!

If we have another fifteen years to live?

Friday 15th week Ordinary Time

Isaiah 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8

Matthew 12:1-8

 

If on our death bed, we were healed and given another fifteen years to live, what would we do with those fifteen years? If we are spiritual, the insight of what we might do would be based not on the amount of time, but what we do with the time that we have been given.

 

In our first reading, the prophet tells King Hezekiah, “Put your house in order, for you are about to die.” King Hezekiah begins to weep and pray to God to remember how faithful he has been and asks him to let him live. God gives mercy to King Hezekiah and allows him to live another fifteen years.

 

In our Gospel, the disciples have been working very hard, and they are now hungry from the long journey. When they tell Jesus they are hungry, Jesus tells them to eat the heads of wheat as they walk through a field of grain. The Pharisees see this and tell Jesus it is unlawful for his disciples to do this on the Sabbath.  Jesus reminds them that they should be showing mercy to those who have been doing the will of God.

 

My friends in Christ, given the time we have, will we show mercy to someone today? Will we allow something great to happen within us because of God’s mercy to us?