Who is our family?

Tuesday of the 16th week Ordinary Time

Exodus 14:21-15:1

Matthew 12:46-50

 

Fishing last week with my older brother and a good friend was one of the best times of my life. The fishing was good even though none of us had ever fished on the lake before. We ate like kings; my brother’s friend loves to cook, so he prepared a leg of lamb one night and fresh lake trout another! What made the time away so special were the late-night talks around the campfire, chatting about life and sharing stories. What I am learning is what unites people is the willingness to experience and to share intense or significant experiences in our lives. Our readings speak to this very well.

 

In our first reading, the slaves of Egypt have been set free and are running for their freedom as the Egyptian army chased the Israelites into the desert. As they prepare to cross the sea, God parts the water so the Israelites may cross on dry ground, but when their captures come to God brings the water back and drowns the Egyptian army. This intense experience brings the people to a greater awareness of who they are, and they believe in God.

 

In our Gospel, as Jesus is preaching and healing the people when notice gets to him that his mother and brothers are outside, and want to speak to him. Jesus responds, “Who is my mother? Who is my brother?” Jesus stretched out his hand towards his disciples; by this gesture, Jesus is extending who is in his family by anyone who does the will of the Father.

 

In a world that is pulling people apart and making dividing lines between people, let us not forget the circle of “family” for us widens when we are willing to stretch out our hands to create what might be a significant life-changing event in someone’s life.  

 

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Who is our neighbor?

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deuteronomy 30:10-14

Colossians 1:15-20

Luke 10:25-37

 

A scholar of the law asks, “What must I do to inherit the kingdom of God?” and “Who is our neighbor?” In answer to these questions, Jesus tells a parable of the “Good Samaritan.” The questions are good ones, and we must come to an answer for ourselves.

 

A parable, like any good story wants to draw us into the story, and one it does this is by inviting us to be one of the characters in the story. The whole design of a parable is that it pulls us in to make us uncomfortable and to move us in faith. The problem with many of the parables is we have heard them so many times they lose any impact on us.

 

In the parable of the “Good Samaritan,” we can automatically cross off the priest and the Levite because they did not stop and help the person in the ditch. We certainly would not be either one of these people. That leaves the “Good Samaritan” who stops and helps the man, and he does everything right. We can sit here today and say, “Yup! That is me because I know who my neighbor is, and of course, I would stop and help this person.” Ok! Great, end of story! Praise Jesus! Alleluia! We can all go home feeling good about ourselves!

 

However, I do not feel any better; I am not moved to answer, “What must I do to inherit the kingdom of God” and “Who is my neighbor?”  As I look around of what is going on in our lives, in our country, and our world, I am not moved to change. I do believe there is one more person who may be able to help us to come to a different understanding of our parable today.

 

What if we were the poor man in the ditch? What if we were grabbed, beaten, had all of our belongings stolen and thrown in a ditch? As we lay there barely breathing, we look up to find someone has come to our rescue. The problem is they do not look like us, they do not think like us, they are not from the same political party, and we would normally despise this kind of people.

 

Now answer the questions? “What must we do to inherit eternal life?” and “Who is our neighbor? Jesus tells us, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

 

What is new?

Friday of the 14th Week Ordinary Time

Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30

Matthew 10:16-23

 

 

So what is new? I am wearing a new chasuble today that I picked up yesterday. It is a new day; it is Friday, the one day of the week that many people look forward too. It is known as T.G.I.F day, which gets translated, Toes. Go. In. First!   

 

In our first reading, Jacob is being called to something new as he has packed all of his family, his livestock, and his belongings and is moving to Egypt. Jacob is going to Egypt to be with his lost son Joseph and God promises that he will take care of him and his family will prosper. God is now blessing this reunion, and making all things new.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus calls the apostles to something new. He sends them out on a mission to be like sheep among wolves. Jesus promises that the apostles need not worry about what to say because, in their time of need, they will be given what to say.

 

Is God calling us to something new? The truth of the question is that God is always leading us to something new! In our spiritual lives, something new is always happening. The challenge becomes are we able to trust in a God who is continually trying to renew us and bring us to a new place in faith. The Eucharist we celebrate gives us the grace to be open to God’s leading us in faith. 

 

 

Are we attentive and intentional about God’s movement in our lives?

Thursday of the 14th Week

Ordinary Time

Gen 44: 18-21, 23-29; 45:1-5

Matthew 10:7-15

St. Benedict

 

Do we believe that God is working through the events in our lives? Are we attentive the movement of God? How intentional are we to God’s will in our life? Have we done something to move us away from God? Our readings speak to our attentiveness and our intentional behavior.

 

In our first reading, Joseph breaks down and cries as Judah returns with his youngest brother Benjamin. Joseph teaches us a beautiful spiritual truth as he acknowledges that all that has happened to him was because God was acting and moving him in a way that he did not know, but God knew what was going to happen.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus gives instructions to his disciples before sending them out on his mission trip. He tells them, “Take no gold or silver, nor any traveling items. Leave behind your sandals and your walking stick.” Jesus is telling them to be attentive to him, and everything will be ok!

 

How attentive and intentional are we to the movement of God in our life? The worst thing is to be ignorant of God’s movement. St. Benedict would encourage us to do the following things: to be present to God and too reflective on what is happening in our lives. He would encourage us to be ready to act when we are sure that it is God moving us and to know we can do what God wants us to do.

 

We come to the Eucharist to put our trust in God’s loving hand.

 

 

 

 

In our brokenness!

Wednesday of the 14th Week

Ordinary Time

Genesis 41: 55-57; 42:5-7, 17-24

Matthew 10:1-7 

 

Today we have these two beautiful stories of Joseph and Jesus meshed together to show us the connectedness between the stories and to bring us the good news we need today.

 

It all begins by understanding Jewish theology in which for the Jewish people, some numbers have spiritual meaning. The numbers such as 1, 3, 7, and 12, all have special meaning to the Jewish people. The number 12 has special significance because it conveys the totality, completeness, wholeness, of God’s power and authority. When the Jewish people heard these numbers, they would be already tuned in to knowing there the meaning of God’s word.

 

Here is an example of the connectedness of the number 12 in these readings. There are 12 sons of Jacob who will become the 12 tribes of Israel which will be for the Jewish the foundation of their faith. Jesus chooses 12 apostles to fulfill this foundation as the apostles will become the foundation of which Jesus builds his kingdom. Joseph and Jesus are both betrayed by others, they both give bread to eat, and both wept over the destruction they witnessed in their lives. The biggest take away from all of this is God uses brokenness to complete what he has begun.

 

Last night after my last appointment I went out for a walk. I put on my sunglasses and I began walking. As I was halfway through my walk I thought I had lost my sunglasses. I turned and began to run as hard as I could from where I came looking all over the walkway for my glasses. I was just ready to ask someone if they had seen a pair of sunglasses along the walk when I realize I had not lost my sunglasses; they were on my head. I had a feeling of great wholeness as I was relieved that I had not lost my glasses.

 

In our brokenness, God is still using us to fulfill his mission. May we never give up on ourselves because God will not give up on us.

 

The struggles of the Spiritual life!

Tuesday of the 14th Week Ordinary Time

Genesis 32: 23-33

Matthew 9:32-38

 

So, how did you sleep? Our sleep or lack of sleep can tell us a lot about what we are struggling within our spiritual lives.

 

In our first reading, Jacob wants to return to his brother Esau and make amends, but he is struggling with this decision because the last time he was with his brother, he fled for his life. Jacob has packed his family and his belongings, and he is traveling to meet his estranged brother. At night while Jacob is all alone, he has this great wrestling match with an angel. This wrestling match encapsulates the spiritual struggle that we all go through at one time or another. We have spiritual battles with ourselves and our limitations, we have spiritual battles with others, we have spiritual battles with the forces of evil, and we have spiritual battles with God. We should remember that Godliness is more powerful than anything else.

 

In our Gospel, we get a lovely story of Jesus doing battle with the forces of evil, and his own battle to have pity on the people because they are like sheep without a shepherd.

 

What are we struggling with today? Are there things we are not sure of that make us fearful or not sure of ourselves? In this Eucharist may we know the peace of Christ as he comes to us in his body and blood to overcome our struggles?

 

 

Peace to this household!

Fourteenth Sunday Ordinary Time

Isaiah 66:1-14

Galatians 6:14-18

Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

 

Let’s begin with a little church participation. (First slide) What is this company? UPS! If this truck showed up at your home, would you know what was to happen next? (Next slide) What company is it? Postal Service! If this truck was to show up at your home, would you know what was going to happen next? We know these companies and the people who come to our doors all the time. Our readings challenge us when we go to peoples doors, will they recognize us with the message that we have to deliver to them?

 

In our Gospel, Jesus sends out an additional 72 disciples; this is significant because all the synoptic gospels have Jesus sending out the 12 apostles; it is only Luke that sends an additional 72. The number 72 is significant because it represents all of the known countries at this time in the world and it represents an invitation for all of us to go out and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Jesus tells them they have one message, to go to each home and say, “Peace to this household!” It is a simple message with a complicated meaning. Let’s unpack what Jesus is saying about this peace that he wants the world to know. We often think that peace comes when conflict is absent; we will always have some conflict going on in our lives. The other misconception about peace is that it will come when the other person changes their behavior. The only person we can change is our self. The peace of Jesus is not determined, but what is going on around us because it is to come from us, in our hearts. When Jesus sends these 72 out with no purse, no bag, and no extra sandals, what he is saying is, “Do not take the baggage of negativity into this relationship, and rely on me and the peace that I have given you.”

 

I believe that Jesus is challenging each of us to have a heart of peace. A heart of peace loves our neighbor as ourselves. A heart of peace sees everyone regardless of who they are as a child of God. A heart of peace loves our enemies and does good to those who hate us. Is this a peace we are willing to open our hearts to in light of the message of Jesus Christ?

 

My friend in Christ, a good test to understand how we are doing with this message of Jesus is how at peace are we this day, how peaceful we are tells us how accepting we are of the mission of Christ. The peace that Jesus is describing for us is more than an ideal; it is a way of life to strive for each day of our lives. This peace comes when we risk being alone with God in silence and listening to him speaking to us. This peace comes when we spend time in prayer each day. This peace comes when we come to the Eucharist as we can experience that peace right now in this Eucharist. May we carry this out and into our lives with those we will meet. Peace to this household!