Called to be filled with hope

First Sunday of Advent

Jeremiah 33:14-16

I Thessalonians 3:12-4:2

Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

As Advent begins and we welcome the beginning of a new church year, I have been reflecting on how can we be Advent people? Advent people are like a three-legged chair, it is about faith, charity and hope. What really challenges me is to be a person of hope, because never in my life time has there been a sense of hopelessness in the world and in our lives? We have the threat of terrorist’s attacks, immigration issues, shootings and killings and that is globally and nationally. How about our own personal lives? But what we think is hope is really wishful thinking. We hope our team wins; we hope for nicer weather; we hope we get what we want for Christmas. The hope that I am talking about begins when all else fails. Christian hope is standing rock solid in the face of everything and anything and knowing that our God is doing all he can to see us through. Our readings give us pearls of wisdom of how to be hopeful Advent people.

In our reading from Jeremiah, he speaks of being Advent people by remaining faithful to God even though they are to be taken over by the Babylonian’s. King Zedekiah’s has not been faithful to God, but God will continue to be faithful to his people. Jeremiah gives them a vision of what they can only imagine, which is beyond their dreaming. Comfort will come to them from “just a shoot.”

St. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians speaks about being Advent people by being filled with charity. We hear his very own prayer that they grow in love for another, and then they will grow in holiness. Paul says, “I think you have done enough! You can do more!” How often when we are feeling hopeless, it becomes all about us! Paul is encouraging us to think of others.  

In our Gospel, we are given the last leg of the chair of Advent people, and that is to be filled with hope. We are to trust in God to give us the strength despite temptation and persecution. We are to be watchful and alert, prayerful and humble, trusting in God at all times. When hopelessness over comes us, the texts says “to stand up.” The original Greek word means “to be stood up.” We don’t do the standing; God will stand us up. I love that!

My friends in Christ, let us be Advent people, by being people of hope. Pick one area of our lives where we have felt hopelessness, try this week with all of our might to replace that with hope. The Eucharist is given to us to know what hope really is.

We live in gratitude

Thanksgiving Day

I Kings 8:55-61

 Colossians 3:12-17

Luke 17: 11 – 19

In our Gospel, ten lepers are healed and return to their families and friends. It is a great story, and I firmly believe that we would read about this story no matter what, because ten people were healed. Jesus did many miracles but he normally only heals one person at a time. What makes this story special is what one of the lepers does after he is healed, he returns thanking Jesus. It is great that he returned, but what I think the lesson is in our gospel, is that he listened to a small voice in his heart guiding him what to do. All the others did nothing wrong, only what they were instructed to do by Jesus Christ. Jesus told them, “Go show yourself to the priest.” To me, the lesson is listening more attentively to that little voice moving us to do the right thing.

This Samaritan comes back and kneels before Jesus Christ because he followed a hunch, a premonition in his heart. I really think the ratio of one to ten is actually accurate. We miss most of the things that we should notice, that we should say that we should do, and we only get a few of them right.

The most useful asset we have a person is not a head full of knowledge, but a heart full of love. Some may believe that our heart can be too uncertain and even misguided, but that is the head talking! Our heart is a source of great richness, and wealth because it cannot be squandered or lost. It is the core, the essence of our being, a reservoir of joy; our heart holds a powerful love and infinite compassion that lies within you. Our heart is on our left side, but it is always right to listen to it.

My friends in Christ, today is a day to be mindful of our many blessings, but it begins by being attentive to those little voices of the Spirit in our hearts. The Eucharist is given to us as a thanksgiving of the greatest gift ever given.

We are called to be holy

Wednesday of the 34th Week

Daniel 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28

Luke 21:12-19

Do you have everything in order for Thanksgiving? The house is cleaned, pies baked, and the turkey is thawed. Our readings speak about having everything in order.

In our first reading the new king in Babylon, King Belshazzar is having a thanksgiving celebration. He is celebrating that it was predicted that the Babylon’s would be in power for 70 years, and he is celebrating that the prediction is wrong. His calculations would be off by one year as the following year they would be destroyed. As he is celebrating he decides to bring out and use the sacred vessels from the Temple that his father captured.  As they begin to defile the sacred vessels, a hand appears and writes a message on the wall, and all are struck with fear. The words are interpreted by Daniel warning the king that all of his wealth cannot  protect him anymore. His kingdom would soon be conquered by the Persians.  

In our gospel, Jesus is speaking to the crowd that they need to keep themselves holy.  He warns them that one day they will be persecuted and hated and some may be martyred for your faith. Jesus says, “Keep holy, and all will be well.”

As the end of the church year comes to a close. we need to look back on our year. How have we kept things holy in our lives? As we look to the new church year, what perhaps need to improve or change?

The good news is this Eucharist will never change; it will always be offered to us to change our lives.

 

I pray to trust you more

Tuesday Thirty- Fourth Week Ordinary Time

Daniel 2:31-45

Luke 21: 5-11

St. Andrew Dung-Lac Priest and Companions

 

There is a story that goes around that a businessman was known to do many hours of charity work. One day, he got the opportunity to meet Mother Teresa from Kolkata. He approached her and asked, “Mother, pray that I will know what to do with my life.” She responded very quickly, “I will not do such a thing!” He was dumbfounded as she was the most charitable person on the planet. She replied, “I will not pray for clarity. I will pray for trust.” Our readings speak about placing our trust in God.  

In our first reading, Daniel trusts that God will give him the ability to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Daniel foretells of the time that the four known world powers of the time the Babylonians, Medias, Persians and the Greeks will all be taken over. They will be replaced by a kingdom of God that will never be able to be destroyed.

In our Gospel, Jesus teaches that a day will come when God’s kingdom will be fully established over all the earth. There will be predictions of wars, famines, natural disasters, plagues, and false prophets. We do not know when this will occur, we are only to trust in God and to not be terrified.   

Do we trust that God is in control of our lives? This Eucharist is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet to come.  Let us place our lives in God’s hands.   

 

 

Jesus is the King of the Universe

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Daniel 7:13-14

Revelation 1:5-8

John 18:33-37

 

It seems to me that life is going faster and faster? Do any of you feel that way? As things seem to be going so fast we may look to the future and say, “Things have to get better!” As I have been reflecting this week, I believe the best thing in our life has already happened to us. Christ was born, lived, and died for your redemption, and today we celebrate him as Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe! Jesus stands before Pilate, and Pilate does not know who stands before him, he is nervous, and he questions Jesus about his kingship, because there is no way that he can understand it? We at times do the very same thing.

We celebrate today that Jesus is the King of the Universe but what kind of king is he? Here are a few things that show how different kind of kingdom.

In the Kingship of Jesus Christ he does not live like king. Why doesn’t Jesus live in heaven, our eternal kingdom and just come down when needed? Jesus does not live in a palace, with servants waiting on him. God chooses to have his son leave heaven, the most perfect place to live and to come to live among us. God allows the incarnation to happen, so Jesus would be like us in all things but sin.

2) In the Kingship of Jesus Christ he does not go around acting like a king. Jesus does some many good things, but he could have done a lot more. As King of the Universe when he was helping his father Joseph he could of just snapped his fingers and there a chair, a table. Jesus then says, “Now can I go out and play?” Jesus did nothing that was self-serving. Jesus did not own anything but borrowed everything he had. His tunic was given to him and it was taken from him. He borrowed a place to be born, he borrowed a boat to travel in. He could have owned anything he wanted yet he borrowed everything.

3) In the Kingship of Jesus Christ he did not look like a king. There is nothing in sacred scripture that tells us what Jesus looked like and there is nothing that says people followed him around because he was so good looking. He must have had a charisma, but he was no Paul Newman, Robert Redford or Richard Gere. I would be taller, I am tired of smelling second hand air. I wouldn’t just have a six pack, I would have an eight pack! No one followed Jesus because of his looks, he was just a common looking person.  

4) In the Kingship of Jesus Christ he is not treated as a king as he is beaten and scourged and stands before Pilate and is questioned about his kingdom. Pilate cannot understand what kind of king Jesus is so Jesus does not answer his questions.

My friends in Christ we gather in this Eucharist to know this very truth that Jesus is the King of the Universe and he chooses to be a king by being one of us, so he can know everything about us. We cannot make this stuff us, because if we made it up the Kingship of Jesus Christ would be much different. Are we willing to live, like Jesus? Are we willing to act like Jesus? Are we willing to look like Jesus and are we willing to be treated like Jesus so that the Kingdom of Jesus Christ will be known in our lives. The best has already happened, because Jesus Christ is the King of the Universe. May we place our trust in him!

We are consecrated to God

Friday Thirty – Third Week Ordinary Time

I Maccabees 4:36-37, 52-59

Luke 19: 45-48

 

Does anyone remember back in March of 2014 when Bishop Walkowiak was here, and he consecrated our new altar? He used Sacred Chrism and smeared it all over the altar. The word consecrated means to “set aside, to be made holy by God.” (Have Sacred Chrism oil out and have kids smell it.)

In both of our readings, the temple is not being used as a consecrated space.

 In our first reading, the Jewish people have not been occupying the temple. They had lost the temple to their enemies, but now have won it back. They clean the whole temple, and make a new altar. They consecrate that altar just as Bishop Walkowiak did back last year.

In our gospel, Jesus is not happy with what is going on in the temple as people are buying and selling things. He clears all these people out, because the temple was a holy place, a place to meet God. Jesus also wants the people to be consecrated to him.

Any of us who have been baptized are consecrated to God. (Use Sawyer and Addysen as an example as they were just baptized.) At the time of our baptism, holy chrism was poured on our heads. At the time of confirmation, our 8th graders will have sacred chrism put on your foreheads. All of this is done as a sign of the Holy Spirit and being consecrated to God.

We are consecrated people, and we belong to God. May we live today giving God glory and praise.

 

Be at Peace

Thursday Thirty-Third Week Ordinary Time

I Maccabees 2:15-29

Luke 19:41-44

Jesus says, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace.” Other than food, water and shelter which all of us seek, we also seek peace in our lives. Let us not forget that God already knows everything that is going to happen today, and he is in control to bring us peace. We get one chance every second of the day to know peace.

There is a tear-drop shaped church half way up the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, which commemorates our gospel of Jesus weeping over the city. Jesus knows of those who will not know his peace. In the church, in the floor, in front of the altar is a small mosaic of a mother hen with her chicks. The mother hen has all the chicks under her wings for protection, and some of them are peering out in the way that chicks do. We seek this kind of peace from God holding us under his care this day.

Mattathias in our first reading seeks peace by shouting, “Let everyone who is zealous for the Lord to know his peace, follow me.” Can we say that today?

The Eucharist is being offered to us to guide our way into the way of peace.