Wow! Do you look holy!

Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

I Samuel 16:1-13

Mark 2:23-28

Don’t we all look so holy today? I would think some of us are ready for sainthood! But we may look so holy on the outside, but what is going on inside? Does the outside holiness match up with the inside holiness? Our readings challenge us to have these two things match up evenly.

In our first reading, Samuel goes to the home of Jesse to anoint the next king. When Samuel arrives and looks at seven of Jesse’s sons, he thinks to himself, surely by looking at these fine young men, one of them will be the next king. But the Lord does not like any of these men because the outside and the inside do not match up. So when Samuel asks if there are any more sons, David comes in from the field, and Samuel anoints him, king.

In our Gospel, the Pharisees judge the followers of Jesus for pulling wheat grains off the stalks and eating them on the Sabbath because they were hungry. The Pharisees only see the outward appearance that the followers of Jesus are breaking the law by working on the Sabbath. The Pharisees have failed to see the heart of Jesus and his followers and all the good they have done.

Let us make sure that the inside matches well with the outside because we are only as holy as our last secret.

We will be filled up!

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 62:1-5

I Corinthians 12: 4-11

John 2:1-11

Our Gospel is about living in the tension between “They have no more wine” and “Do whatever he tells you.”

How often do we say, “I have no more wine?” It may sound more like, “I have no more money. I have no more friends. I have no more to give.”  It is a hard place to be.

On the opposite end of this spectrum, is “Do whatever he tells you!” I love this line, but how good are we doing whatever someone tells us to do? Children, how good are you at doing what your parents tell you to do? Please go and clean your room? Please do your homework? Please come to the dinner table? Do you jump up and say, “Yes, mom and dad, I will do whatever you ask of me?” How good are we at doing whatever our boss or supervisor asks of us? I would like you to work late today to complete this project? Would you be willing to work with them on this project? How good are we at doing whatever God asks of us? Our readings challenge us to be attentive to these two opposite poles in our lives.

In our Gospel, Mary, Jesus, and some of his disciples are at a wedding. A wedding at the time of Jesus would last for days. It was the host’s responsibility to provide enough food and drink for all of their intended guests through the duration of the festivities. To run out of food or drink would be a great disgrace to the family. Mary sees that the wedding reception has no more wine, and she goes to Jesus and says, “They have no wine.” Jesus responds with, “Woman, what concern of this is mine?” Mary does not respond to his question because she knows that compassion and empathy for others will win out because of who Jesus is. Mary tells the wait staff, “Do whatever he tells you.” Jesus instructs the servants to take the six stone jars, which would hold 120 to 150 gallons, fill them with water, and bring them to the head waiter. The servants take the jars to the head waiter, and he says, “You have saved the best for last.”

My friends in Christ, when we have no more to give, is when we need to hear, “Do whatever he tells you!” Because Jesus wants whatever we bring him and to transform it into something extraordinary. We come to this Eucharist because this is where miracles happen when we realize we are empty and the only one who can fill us is Christ.

Homework: before we pour our coffee, tea, or milk into a glass, may we be reminded of how Jesus is filling us up.  

We are called to bring others to Christ!

Friday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

I Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22

Mark 2:1-12

Who has been baptized?

Have you seen pictures of your baptism?

The biggest thing that happened in our parent’s life was to give birth to us. The next biggest thing was to bring us to Christ by being baptized. We should know the date of our baptism because it is the day Christ claimed to be his children.

At the time of our baptism in attendance, I would guess our parents, godparents, grandparents, relatives, and friends.

We were held over the baptismal font, and the priest or deacon poured water over our heads, with these words, “I baptized you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Our parents brought us to Christ, and our readings challenge us to think about what are we doing to bring others to Christ?

In our Gospel, four friends of a paralyzed man want him to be healed, and they are willing to do anything to get their friend close to Jesus because they know he can heal the paralyzed man. In cutting a hole in the home’s roof, the man lowers their friend right before Jesus. Jesus sees the faith of the man’s friends and tells the man, “Rise, pick up your mat and go home.”

We are going to do lots of things with our friends, and one of the things we should do is to bring them to Christ by the way we act.

We gather in this Eucharist to grow in faith and bring others to Christ.  

Have we prepared well for today?

Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

I Samuel 4:1-11

Mark 1:40-45

Have we prepared ourselves already for what this day will bring? In our readings, we get examples of some who did well and some who did not prepare well.

Our first reading has always bothered me because it seems that the Israelites have done every right to win the battles against the more powerful Philistines army. Still, they are mortally defeated twice, and the Ark of the Covenant, the holiest thing they have, is taken away from them. What happened?

Let’s go back to Eli, the high priest who encounters Hannah in the temple back on Tuesday’s story. If you go back to chapter 2, of I Samuel you read that Eli had two sons who were terrible leaders and did many things that led the people away from the Lord God. The two brothers in our story are Eli’s sons, who treat the Ark of the Covenant like a magic trick, and all they have to do is a little hocus pocus, and because the Ark is present, they thought they should win. But, unfortunately, the brothers did not prepare the people well for this battle.

In our Gospel, a leper does prepare well as he is willing to risk everything he has to be healed as he approaches Jesus. He falls to his knees before Jesus and says, “Lord, if you wish it, you can heal me.” Jesus moved with pity, responded to the leper, “I do will it, be healed.” The leper prepared himself by knowing that Jesus could heal him. All he had to do was come to him and humbleness.

With whatever will happen today, we need to put the time into this liturgy and our prayer life to be ready for the day!

God chooses the lowly to do his will!

Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

I Samuel 1:9-20

Mark 1:21-28

Throughout all sacred scripture, God chooses the lowly to bring about his will. So if you are worried or overly concerned about something, you are in the right place.

In our first reading, Hannah is very concerned because she has not been able to get pregnant. At this time, it is seen as shameful not to bear children because God said, “To be fruitful and multiple.” Therefore, a woman who could not have children was seen as having a curse upon them. Hannah is pouring her heart out to the Lord in the temple when Eli, the priest, hears her and tells her to go home and be at peace.

In our Gospel, Jesus has been baptized and is returning from his retreat in the desert, and he goes to the synagogue, where a man confronts him with an evil spirit. Jesus shows he has power over evil by saying, “Quiet! Come out!” and with that, the evil spirit left the man. 

The same God that helped Hannah have a child and freed this man of an evil spirit is here with us. We should always remind ourselves that God works wondrous things through the poor and humble. God will work through us today if we allow him.

We are claimed by Christ at the time of our baptism!

Baptism of the Lord

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11  

Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7

Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Did you do your homework assignment and go home a different way? Did you have a good week? Did anyone have any problems this week? Have you ever felt like the ball in a pinball game, where you are just getting smacked around? It is an awful feeling! Well, I have a problem with our Gospel story today because, at one point, I struggled with it, but I believe I have a solution to it by faith.

Here is the challenge I have with the Gospel today. At every baptism I have ever done, there is the baby, mom, dad, grandparents, siblings, and friends, and there is always some celebration to follow.

Here is the problem I have with the Gospel today. The Gospel writer Luke is known for the excellent detail. The first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel are among the most extended chapters in the entire bible. Luke gives a lot of detail about the birth of John the Baptist and the birth of Jesus. Luke describes the birth of Jesus, all the angels, shepherds, and the place of his birth.

Why is the baptism of Jesus, one of the most sacred moments of his life, so understated? The baptism is described in two sentences, Jesus is in line with other people, he is baptized, the heavens open, and a voice from heaven says, “You are my beloved son: with you, I am well pleased.” The way Luke tells the story, only Jesus hears these words, so the crowds does not go wild with joy, no one is changed, and there is no party to follow.

Let’s be assured what has happened is God has landed, he has made his first move, and the world has been changed forever! In Jesus first public act in many years he stands amongst those we seek a change and he says, “I am right here with you, now be at peace.” What we are to take from our life-changing story of Jesus’s baptism that he is standing in line with us, and it is up to us to see him there with us.

This week’s homework is anytime we are in a line, we are to look for Jesus. There is one more line we are to look for Jesus, and he will not be at the back of the line, he is the beginning of the line, and that is the line we will make that brings us forward to receive him in his precious Body. May we know that he is standing in each line that we will be in this week?

The hand of God will help us to be better!

Friday after Epiphany

I John 5:5-13

Luke 5:12-16

All School Mass

Who is playing a winter sport? Will you be trying harder to be better at the sports you will play?

Who plays a musical instrument? Will you be trying harder to learn your musical instrument to be better?

Who knows you need to study harder in school work to be better and get good grades?

Our readings are all about having God making us better!

In our Gospel, there is a man who wants to be better as he has a bad skin disease. We are told that he has sores all over his body. The man knows who Jesus is, and he calls out to Jesus, “Lord if you wish, you can make me clean.” The man comes right up to Jesus, kneels in front of him, even though he knows he should not be this close to Jesus.

Jesus knows he wants to heal the man, and he stretches out his hand, touches him, even though he knows he should not be touching him, and says, “I do, will it. Be made clean.” 

We can do many things to make ourselves better, but there are times we need to turn to God for help to make us better because only he can help us. Ex. Love, patience, forgiveness. There is no better place to learn these things than our Catholic School.

What do we want Jesus to heal in our lives? We come to the Eucharist so Jesus will stretch out his hand and offers us his Body and his Blood so he can make our lives better.

Why did we get out of bed today?

Thursday after Epiphany

I John 4:19-5:4

Luke 4:14-22

What are you excited about doing today? What are you looking forward to doing today?

I can tell you there are 300 students from Holy Spirit School that are pretty excited to sleep in today because of another snow day. I am looking forward to an afternoon nap if it works out in my favor! So our readings come to us today as a pure gift of what to look forward to today.

We have moved relatively quickly through the life of Jesus in twelve days. We celebrated his birth on December 25, the Epiphany last weekend, and Jesus is baptized and has spent forty days in the desert in our reading today.

Today, what captures my heart is that we are told that Jesus arrives in the synagogue on fire. He is filled with the Holy Spirit. He knows he is and what he is to do, and he comes out of the desert right to the synagogue, unrolls a scroll, and reads:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Jesus knows what he is to do, and he is ready to do the mission of His Father.

So, my question for us is, would we be able to read this quote from Isaiah about us today because we too are filled with the Holy Spirit? Do we know our purpose and our mission for today?

Is Jesus in our boat?Wednesday after Epiphany

I John 4:11-18

Mark 6: 45-52

St. John Neumann

What is my favorite color? What is my favorite food? Many of you may not know these things about me because I have not shared them with you. Our readings are all about getting to know Jesus and what he means to us?

But to have more of an impact, we need to go back to yesterday’s story of Jesus feeding the 5000 people. Remember the line when Jesus said, “You feed them?” The disciples only make excuses of why they cannot feed the hungry people. Jesus was trying his best to reveal who he is to his disciples, and they missed it.

In today’s story, Jesus orders the disciples to get into a boat and go ahead of him to the other side. It is clear there is a lot of emotion going on as the disciples are reluctant to go or ready to give up on Jesus.

Today’s story is different from a previous story of the disciples out on the sea at night, where they are frightened because they are in a storm. In today’s story, the disciples have trouble rowing against a strong wind. The wind symbolizes the disciples having a hard time understanding who Jesus is. Jesus does not come out to rescue the disciples but only reveal who he is.

It is said that Jesus “only meant to pass by them.” This would recall that God passed by Moses, revealing his glory for the people hearing this story. Thinking Jesus is a ghost, he tells them, “Courage! It’s me; do not be afraid!” Jesus climbs into the boat, and the disciples are left wondering who this guy is?

Today Jesus wants to be with us in our boat. How will we know that he is with us, and how will we tell others about him?

Did we put in our order to God today?

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

I John 4:7-10

Mark 6:34 -44

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

St. Elizabeth Ann once said, “The goal of our Christian life is to do the will of the Father. The second goal is to do it in a manner of which he wills, and then to do it because it is God’s will.”

In light of her remarks, it got me thinking about how I deal with God and how I often pray. At times I pray like I am going up the drive-up window at McDonald’s. I put in my order, and I get what I ordered?

How much time do we spend asking God to give us what we want?

Would it not be better to ask God what he hopes for us?

Our first reading bears this out very well, as the writer says, “What we are to remember is not that we love God, but that he loves us.” So if God loves us, why not ask him what he wants us to do?

In our Gospel, we get another example of this as Jesus is preparing to feed over five thousand people. The first line tells us, “Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them.” He tells his disciples, “You give them something to eat?” All the apostles offer excuses of why they cannot feed so many people. I would think that Jesus was hoping for some act of faith that the disciples could have shown by believing that he could do something to help all these people.

Let’s be assured that God loves us! If this is true, then let’s step out in faith and ask God, “What do you hope for us to do for you today?”