Third Sunday Ordinary Time
Nehemiah 8:2-4, 5-6, 8-10
I Corinthians 12:12-30
Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21
Father, I wish I could begin to tell you all the problems that my family is going through. Father, I have cancer, and the prognosis is not good. Father, when my wife died, all I kept telling myself in my grief is, “Now I know what true loves feels like.” Father, I am getting married!
This is just a summary, of some of the conversations I had with some of you this past week. All of these conversations are life changing. We gather today for many reasons, and in the midst of everything, is God’s word speaking to our hearts. In our Gospel today, Jesus says, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” It would be well, if we learn this living changing lesson.
In our first reading, the Israelite’s have been set free and are rebuilding the holy city of Jerusalem. Ezra the priest begins to read the Word of God to them, and they begin to weep. The people realize how wonderful it is to hear the Word of God and how hungry they were to hear it. Ezra encourages them to stop weeping, to rejoice in the Lord always and to keep this day holy by never taking the Word of God for granted. Their lives will be forever changed by hearing the Word of God.
St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians gives a beautiful description of how Christians are all part of the body of Christ, and this is life changing. Paul says, “We all have been given different gift, and those gifts have been given to us for the building up of the body of Christ.” At the center of each of us is the Word of God giving us the power we need to use those gifts. In this Body of Christ, when you hurt all of us hurt. When you are happy, all of us are happy.
Jesus goes to the synagogue as was the custom and reads from the Torah. This was a passage that everyone present would be very familiar with. What is life changing is what he does next, he hands the attendant back the scroll, he sits down and says, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing?” The people in that synagogue were astonished to hear such words, and their lives were changed by him saying this. We should be just as astonished to hear those words spoken in our life, because everything we hope for is already be fulfilled in our midst by God’s Word in this Eucharist. It means right now; our lives are being changed by the Word of God. Jesus is at work within us, healing us, forgiving us, inspiring us to move on in faith.
As we gather in this holy Eucharist may we come to know, that the Word of God is no ordinary thing. It is already in us changing us. May we come to know, “These words are being fulfilled in your midst.”
Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children
Friday of the Second week
Of Ordinary Time
I Samuel 24:3-21
Mark 3: 7-12
Have you ever been given a gift? What kind of gift have you been given and what have you done with that gift?
When we are given a gift, we have a responsibility to treat that gift with respect and integrity. Today is the 43 anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow abortions in the first three months of a pregnancy. All of us have been given the gift of life and we are to respect all of human life from conception until natural death, because Jesus is the author of all human life.
In our first reading, David demonstrated great respect and integrity for the sanctity of human life for King Saul. Saul was out to kill David, but David had an opportunity to do harm to King Saul but he chose life and let him live.
Our Gospel is powerful also for today, because Jesus picks others by name who can and will help him carry out his mission.
God has now called each of us by name to help him carry out his mission. (Call out a few names) What can we do to protect the sanctity of human life from conception until death? Answer: pray for unborn babies and pray for those mothers, to know mercy of God. Treat people fairly. Not play so ruff on the playground.
May this Eucharist give us the grace to see God right in the middle of us and may we chose life in all things today.
Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
I Samuel 16:1-13
What is it that we need? Food, water and shelter. What is it that we want? Everything! However, with that understanding we still need to bring everything to Christ on the cross, because somewhere in between those polar opposites is where God wants to surprise us. Our readings are about how God surprises us!
In our first reading, God tells Samuel to go to Jesse’s home in Bethlehem and from his sons, he will pick a king. After seeing seven of the son’s, Samuel is ready to anoint Eliab right away, but God wasn’t having it. Samuel asks if there are any more, as Daniel comes in from the field, God tells Samuel to anoint him. He was the youngest and God is with him, but he had the stuff that God was looking for. God surprises Samuel, by choosing David.
In our Gospel, the disciples and Jesus are so busy ministering to people they have had no time to eat. As they pass through a grain field, they take the opportunity to pull the heads of grain off the stock, rub them together in their hands and eat ripe kernels. It is the Sabbath, and the Pharisees confront Jesus about them doing work on the Sabbath which is against Jewish law. Jesus does not dispute this understanding. Instead, he argues that there are times when the Sabbath law is subservient to the needs of human beings. In this story, Jesus is also liking himself to David the anointed one. Jesus surprises the people with this understanding.
As we gather this day, God has many surprises in store for us. I pray our hearts are ready for them. May we in turn surprise someone with the mercy of God from our hearts this day.
Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
I Corinthians 12: 4-11
When I use to eat cake, I got very good at saving the best for last, which is the frosting! I would eat the cake part first, carefully using my fork like a fine tuned scalpel and leaving the frosting for last. When I mastered that skill, I trained myself to leave the middle frosting attached and standing, then I would eat all the frosting last because it was the best. Our readings today are about how God is saving the best for last for us.
In our Gospel, it is all about saving the best for last. One thing to note about the Gospel writer John, he never refers to the Blessed Mother as Mary, but only as the Mother of Jesus. John wants to show that she has a much more symbolic role in the gospel. The episode begins with a description of a wedding. Wine is always a sign of celebration, but in the time of Christ, it was also a sign of God’s abundant love. At a wedding, it would have been very embarrassing and shameful for the couple for the wine to run out. Mary turns to Jesus and lets him know that they have run out of wine. Jesus responds with, “How does this concern me?” Mary does not respond to his question, all she does is turn to the wait staff and say, “Do whatever he tells you.” Why is this important? This shows a big change in their relationship, she is his mother, but she also is now one of his followers. Mary knows full well who Jesus is and now she is saying, “God has saved the best for last, Jesus is the one whom you have waited for.” Jesus instructs the servants to take the six stone jars used for purification and fill them with water. Notice they are not the clay jars used for cooking; they use the stone jars used for purifying oneself. As people traveled about in those days, on dry dirty roads, there was would always be these stone jars of water to purify oneself. This was symbolic to purify oneself in preparation to encountering God. Jesus is saying, “Get ready, to encounter God, because I have saved the best for last.” Jesus tells them to fill them with water. God doesn’t take any more than what we have and changes it. The servants take the jars to the head waiter, where he tastes it and proclaims the line of the weekend, “You have kept the best for now.”
How do we come to know that God has saved the best for last in our lives? We can come to know this spiritual truth, by being in the very presence of God. Just putting ourselves in God’s very presence. The allowing all the voices that are running interference on us to be spoken. Get them all out, Ex. I am lonely; God has left me; I can’t see God; I am afraid. Then simply listen to God speak, “I am saving the best for last.” Now see ourselves as we are in the eyes of God, and know and trust that God has given us all we need to get through whatever is plaguing us.
My friends in Christ, God has saved the best for last, and it is right here in this Eucharist.
Friday of the First week of Ordinary Time
I Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22
How did you find out about God? Who told you about God?
I love our Gospel today because as Jesus heals the paralyzed man, he reminds us that he wants to heal us. However, what I am challenged by is what happens before the healing.
Did you notice in the gospel that while Jesus is preaching and teaching there are people on the roof, and he does not stop; it does not bother him; he goes right on preaching? If someone was tearing apart our roof, I would stop, because no one would be paying attention. Did you notice that Peter, the owner of the house, does not even get upset that someone is destroying his home? Believe me, I would be very upset. The whole story points to something else, that we are to pay attention too.
We get a clue about what the gospel is about when Jesus looks at the four people helping the paralyzed man, and he sees the faith of those who were helping the paralyzed man. We hear nothing about the faith of the paralyzed man.
All of us at some time are like paralyzed man, who will need the help of others to carry out the basic tasks of life. None of us can find our way to God alone. All of us will need the help of others, especially in time of darkness, confusion or fatigue. Just as someone took the time to tell each of us about God that process continues all the time.
If you realize this about ourselves, then our mission today should be to reach out to others and help them see Christ today. The Eucharist is given to us, to help us do that, may we use this gift well today.
Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
I Samuel 4:1-11
I love our readings today, especially since last night I was sitting with the readings and struggled with connecting them. I called a priest friend, and he helped make the connection. Now I can say “wow” what an awesome set of readings.
In our first reading, the Israelites went to battle against their arch enemy the Philistines, and were defeated losing 4000 men. In their defeat, they regroup and decide to get the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments, the holiest thing they have and go back into battle. They are defeated again, this time losing 30,000 men and the Ark were taken from them. This is a disastrous defeat. What happened? They thought they could control and or manipulate God by doing all the right things. God cannot be controlled.
In our Gospel, a leper approaches Jesus on his knees and asks, “Lord, if you wish it, I can be healed by you.” Jesus does heal him and once he is healed; he goes through-out the town and villages telling everyone about Jesus. The leper knows that it is all about Jesus and surrendering to God’s will.
So, how do we prevent ourselves from falling into this trap? We always need to go into our own hearts and become deeply aware of God’s presence in our life. Know his mercy and his love for us. We need to eliminate anything, like trying to control God or manipulate God from our spiritual life. We then need to listen deeply to God’s voice and act on his word. Finally, we need to accept who we are in the eyes of God and act on his will.
The Eucharist is given to us as a gift to do all of this today.