What are we learning in the Lord Today?

Friday Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

II Timothy 3:10-17

Mark 12:35-37

St. Boniface

Last day of school 

 

Today is the official last day of school, although the students have been out of school since March. Our teachers and staff have done an excellent job continuing lesson plans, so our students have continued learning. How are we using what we have learned for the building up of the Kingdom of God?

 

In our Gospel, think of the temple as a classroom where teachers go and teach what they know. Jesus is one of those teachers. In the crowd on this day, if all of the students who want to learn and they are right up front close to him. There is another group of students, and they are in the back of the crowd, and they are not there so much as to learn as to try and trip Jesus up as he might say something they can report to the authorities. When Jesus is done teaching, the crowd in front of him was filled with delight.

 

In our first reading, Paul is teaching his young students Timothy in the ways of faith. We have been reading from this letter all week, and to catch people up, Timothy is a young man who Paul left in charge of a church. Since Paul has been away, Timothy has been struggling, and Paul teaches him what to do. Paul reminds him to follow what he has been doing while he was with him. Paul tells him that as the leader, he has to bear some hardship as he leads this church. Finally, Paul says, “Another great teaching tool is reading sacred scripture, ‘for it is good for teaching and correction.’

 

My friends in Christ may we never take for granted what we have learned but always have a thirst to learn more. May we give thanks to those who inspire us!

 

 

 Introduction:  Today, we celebrate the feast day of St. Boniface. A story attributed to Boniface is the people of a town worshipped a great oak tree and Boniface took an ax and went to the center in the city and began to chop down the oak tree that the people had named Thor. The more he chopped, the more the people feared that he would be struck down by the gods. When the tree hit the ground, he jumped onto the stump and screamed. Where is your god now? St. Boniface made his point that day that our God is more powerful than any other god. What other gods do we need to chop down in our lives? Where do we need to let God back into our lives!

 

How are we to love?

Thursday Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

II Timothy 2:8-15

Mark 12:28-34

 

I have good news to announce to you; we are getting a new parochial vicar (associate pastor.) He arrives in the middle of July. When the appointments committee asked me if I wanted someone, I was excited about someone coming and helping. I thought of all the professional things he could do, like celebrate Mass, visit the sick and homebound, and I loved that idea. However, then I thought what I might not love is living with someone. What if we do not get along, what if he does not my television shows or my music? I may have to change some of the things I do? Yikes! Our lesson to be reminded of today is how we are called to love and to love as God does.

 

In our Gospel, a scribe comes to Jesus asks, “Master, what is the greatest of the commandments?”  Jesus responds with, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord, our God, is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Jesus continued by saying, “The second is like the first, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

Here is the big twist our story, when the scribe agrees with Jesus, he repeats what Jesus says, but makes it one command. The scribe says, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord, our God, is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus commended him by saying, “You are not far from the Kingdom of Heaven.”

 

My friends in Christ, would the same be said about us today of how we love God and love our neighbor?

 

 

Are we thriving today?

 

Wednesday Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

II Timothy 1:1-3, 6-12

Mark 12:18-27

St. Charles Lwanga & Companions

 

Are we thriving, or are we just existing? Are we living to die, or dying to live? I think our readings are a good pep talk for us today?

 

In our first reading St. Paul is in prison and is writing to his good friend Timothy. In all of Paul’s adventures, he has chosen to thrive as he writes words of encouragement to Timothy. Timothy was thriving when Paul was with him, and they were leading this church together. However, since Paul has left, Timothy has been struggling and is only existing. Paul tells Timothy to “stir into a flame the gift of faith that has been given to you.” Paul wants his friend to thrive and to set the church on fire for the Lord.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is again confronted by a group of people as he was yesterday; this time, it is the Sadducees. The Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection; they believe if there is anything beyond this life, it will be just like this life. So when they question Jesus about a woman who marries seven brothers because all they die, who will she be married to in the after-life? The response that Jesus gives them is they fail to understand that in the after-life, all of us will be thriving to our fullest potential. It is not going to be anything like what we have right now.   

 

Our readings help us to know we do not live for this life, but our next life in heaven with God. We are to live each day to its fullest, striving to all we can to give God glory and praise. Our Eucharist is given to us to prepare us for our eternal life.

Who do we serve?

Tuesday of the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

II Peter 3:12-15, 17-18

Mark 12:13-17

 

Have you ever been in a situation when someone confronts you and you do not know what to do? It is a helpless feeling, and I know I do not enjoy the feeling at all because I feel confused and stupid. These can be difficult situations to be in, but it can help to remember who are we serving who do we serve today? 

 

In our Gospel, there are three things to know to help us understand the situation that Jesus is in. The first thing is to know at this time there were many taxes imposed on the Jewish people that had to be paid by using a Roman coin. The Jewish people resented paying it because it went right into the Roman imperial treasury. The second thing is to know that there was a very clear understanding that who’s ever image was on the currency; it was believed to belong to that person. Finally, to know that Herodian’s and Pharisees did not get along with each other. Jesus can already tell that something is up.

 

When the Herodian’s and the Pharisees approach Jesus, they ask him, “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? If Jesus says, yes, then he has betrayed the Jewish people, if Jesus says, no, then he has offended the Roman government. We might imagine Jesus checking his pockets for the Roman coin, and not finding one, so he asks, “Show me the Roman coin?” When they produce a Roman coin from their pockets, Jesus is wondering, “Why are you carrying around a Roman coin in their pockets? We Jews have our currency?” Jesus responds to them, “Whose image is on the coin?” He tells him to “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and God, what belongs to God.” Jesus can turn the whole thing around because he has shown their hypocrisy and who they are serving. 

 

My friends in Christ, who will we be serving today? We are not to give in to the hypocrisy of this world but to stay true to the gospel message.

 

 

Come Holy Spirit!

Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2:1-11

I Corinthians 12: 3-7, 12-13

John 20: 19-23

 

We just heard two different accounts of the Pentecost story. We heard from St. Luke and his version in the Acts of the Apostles. In his version, Pentecost took place 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus. In our Gospel from John, we have Pentecost happening on Easter Sunday. Take yourself back to Easter Sunday. If it is hard to remember I can tell you know one but Joe and I were here. I want to begin my thoughts with Easter Sunday.

 

In our Gospel of John, it is Easter Sunday, and all the disciples are gathered in one room. All they know is that Jesus has been taken from them, hung on a cross, and have died; they do not know he has risen from the dead. The disciples are grieving the loss of Jesus, they are sad, and wondering what life is going to be like without him and there is a huge void in the room.   

 

I thought about this image, and I asked myself what that might have been like and have I had any experience of this in my life. What came to me was the day we got the call that my mother had died. On that day, all five of us siblings were home with dad, and it was my brother’s birthday when the call came that mom had passed away. The emotion in the room went from up here to down here. We did not know what to say anymore as we hugged and held each other. It felt as though there was a dark cloud in the room.

 

The disciples had no idea that Jesus would appear to them, especially since the doors were locked and windows closed. When Jesus does appear to them with a bright light, he says, “Peace be with you!” The word is “Shalom,” but we don’t have a good word for this translation. It would be equivalent to Jesus is saying, “May every good blessing of God be given to you.” He then shows them his wounds as if to say, “Here are my wounds that have been transformed.” Your wounds also will be transformed!

 

Jesus then breaths on them and tells them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  It is here that the void in the room has been filled with the Holy Spirit. The void is now made sacred and holy. It is now that the men who became disciples of Jesus, who could never imagine that one day they would be called to go and preach, teach, and heal others in the name of Jesus Christ, now are transformed to leave the confines of this home. When they leave the room and go outside, the people do not recognize them as the same people because now they are filled with the Holy Spirit.

 

My friends in Christ, “How do we expect Pentecost to happen in our lives?” Are we ready to break out into new patterns of living, leaving behind, fear, anger, and negative behaviors of life, and replace that void with the Holy Spirit? May we go from here today out of breath from telling others of the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives?

We stand on the faith of Holy Men and Women!

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Acts 25: 13: 13 -21

John 21: 15- 19

 

God’s Word is so wonderful and powerful, because we can hear it time and time again, and each time we listen to it, it can mean something new a different to us.

 

As I prepare a homily, I always try and figure out why in the Church’s great wisdom, did they pair these readings together? Today’s readings were a bit more of a challenge to me, but then it leaped off the page for me. What I think links the two readings is the journey of faith of Paul and Peter. The faith stories of each are also our stories.

 

We are all very familiar with the conversion of Saul, who persecuted Christians to Paul, who did everything he could to promote Christians and to save them in Jesus Christ.  In our story today, Paul has been arrested and held in prison in Caesarea for two years. He is now being brought before the new king and queen to decide his fate. Paul’s faith never wavered once he had this conversion to Christ, and no matter if he was wiped, beaten, or imprisoned, his faith stayed strong.

 

We also know the story of the calling of Peter to be an apostle, and his fall from grace as he denies Jesus at his time of need on his way to being crucified. In today’s; story, Jesus is reminding his call to be the rock on which he will build his Church. Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me? Feed my sheep?”

 

As we prepare to celebrate the beautiful feast of Pentecost, how do we hear the faith stories of Paul and Peter? Have there been times in our lives when we did not know Christ? How did we come to know Him? Where there times in our lives that we fall from grace in God called us back, and reminded us who we are?

 

 

What will be our sign of unity?

Seventh Week of Easter Thursday

Acts 22: 30; 23 6-11

John 17: 20- 26

 

As we draw closer to the celebration of Pentecost this weekend, one of the signs of the Holy Spirit in our lives is a sense of unity with each other. Our readings speak about this unity very well.

 

In our first reading, Paul has been brought before the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was a council of religious leaders who would gather to decide and make decisions on spiritual matters within the community of people. When this council gathered, they were one council, but as Paul began to speak about Jesus Christ and how he was crucified, died, and rose from the dead, the council was split in two. The Pharisees believe in the resurrection, and the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection, so the two groups began to argue amongst themselves.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is in prayer as he was preparing to depart from this world. Jesus could have prayed for many things; he could have prayed that the disciples have plenty of food, water, shelter, and clothing. Jesus could have prayed for their better welfare and that they overcome all of their struggles. Jesus prays for one thing, and that is that the disciples will be united as one, as he and the Father are one.

 

My friends in Christ as we gather today the challenge for us is Jesus did not leave any instructions on how to make this unity happen. He only asked that it happen. In our lives, how are we a visible sign of this unity in Christ? What tangible evidence will we give to this unity in our lives today? Let us look to the cross for the help and guidance we need this day.