Get off the scale

 

Fifth Week of Easter Thursday

Acts 15:7-21

John 15: 9-11

Do you have a scale to weigh yourself at home? Not that I obsessed about my weight, but I do weigh myself occasionally.  There are days, I like what my scale tells me, and there are days, I do not like what the scale tells me, but either way my scale tells me the truth it never lies.

In our reading from Acts, we hear “God always knows what is going on in our heart.” Like my scale, which tells me the truth, God knows the truth about us. Stop and think about it, right now God knows what is going on in our heart? Whatever we want to tell him, and whatever we may not want to tell him God already knows!

Our Gospel follows this up well, because what should be in our heart? Jesus says, “Remain in my love.” I like that line, but it reminds me of just standing on my scale looking down at what it is telling me. I need to know, “remain in my love.” However, no matter what, I need to get off that scale and go do something, which is to love. However, it is not just to love as I want to love, it is to love as Jesus himself loves. That is a whole new level of love, there is no room for complacency!

As we celebrate this Eucharist let us live this day trusting and living that God knows what is in our heart. May we live with great hope and with great joy!  

 

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What sign can we give that we are connected to Christ?

 

Fifth Week of Easter Wednesday

Acts 15:1-6

 John 15: 1-8

Have you ever had a rock-solid plan then have it all pocked at and changed? That is what is going on in our readings today.

Here is what is going on in our first reading by way of example. On this, side is the Jewish people and the religious leaders; they are being represented today by all the adults. All they have known for hundreds of years is being told to hang on to the Torah, be faithful to God, and a sign of their faithfulness to God is circumcision. Staying faithful to the Torah was their way of showing to the world, they are God’s chosen people. They had never had to deal with anything they are about to deal with because it has always been them against the pagan world.

On this side, is all the gentile converts that Paul and Barnabas are making as they talk about the Good News of Jesus Christ. This group is growing widely and almost out of control, and questions are being asked about they are to believe in. They are represented today by all of our school children and their teachers.

There is a meeting in Jerusalem call the First Council of Jerusalem where the question is not about exclusion, but about inclusion, and do these new converts need to abide by all the laws of the Torah or not? What sign can you give us that these gentiles are converted to the faith? Paul would eventually say, “All that is well and good, but at the end of the Torah, is Jesus Christ, and that is what these new gentiles are being called to believe in. The sign you need to know is Jesus Christ.”

In our Gospel today, Jesus is saying, “I am the sign that you need to know and believe in me. Stay connected to me, somehow just stay connected.”

What will be our sign that we are connected today to the vine, of Jesus Christ?

 

God gives us his peace!

 

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Acts 14: 19-28

John 14: 27-31

Prayer: Dear Lord, so far I am doing pretty well. I have done what you asked, I have sought your word, and I have felt your presence that has warmed my heart and soul. I have been at absolute peace so far this day. I am very grateful about all of this. But in a few minutes, I will be getting out of bed, and from then on I am going to need a lot of help. Have you ever felt this way? Our readings help to know God’s peace.

In our Gospel, Jesus is at the Last Supper; he knows what is about to happen, and he has every reason to be concerned, and yet he says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give it to you.” What I hear in that statement, is he is going away, and he is leaving his “peace” but as he leaves, he will also give his “peace” when it is needed. He goes on to say, “I am telling you all of us this, so that when bad things happen, you will remember and know this peace.” 

In our first reading, Paul knows of this peace, and he lives in this peace. Some Jews who were upset with him stone him and leave him for dead. Paul somehow survives and when he gets feeling better, he goes right back to the same place and continues preaching the Word of God.

This peace that is being talked about in our readings is the fruit of Jesus’s relationship with the Father. It is perfect peace! We are part of this when we are obedient to them. We can know this peace when we are people of great prayer. The secret, I think is doing what the disciples did and that is looking for the presence of God in our lives. This brings peace, and finally, being a person of peace, helps others be at peace.

God has promised us his peace, may we in this Eucharist be strengthened in that promise. May you know the peace of Christ and know his peace in this community.

To love as I have loved

 

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Acts 14:21-27

Revelation 21:1-5

John 13:31-35

I began last week asking a rhetorical question about “How was our relationship to Jesus Christ?” Well, that worked so well I want to begin again this week with a rhetorical question. I think it follows up from last week very well. Here is the question, “How well did we love this past week?” John Lennon, as a member of the Beatles wrote, in 1967, “All you need is love?” That is true, but Jesus is going to challenge that a bit by saying, “I give you a new commandment, to love, as I have loved you.”

In our first reading, Paul and Barnabas are returning home from a mission trip, and they say, “Let us report to you all that God has done for us.” Did you notice? It is not what they have done, it is what God has done? They tell the community of believers, “We had to go undergo hardship, but it was always so the community would be built up in love. Paul and Barnabas strength the spirits of the others and encourage them to persevere. Paul and Barnabas loved like God loves and where able to do great things.

In our second reading, John the author of the book of Revelation is describing a vision that he had. The two lines I enjoy the most are, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race” and “Behold, I make all things new.” For many of us, our utopia would be a place deep in the woods were no-one can find us. What this vision is saying is, we are to see the love of God right where we are at, and stay right here and by God’s love working in us. We are to transform the world, because God is making all things new. He is not creating new things. When we love like God great things can happen.

Our Gospel is something amazing, and the Church in her great wisdom has done something remarkable to this story by sandwiching in between two stories. The story begins with “Judas had just left” so it begins with the betrayal of Judas to Jesus. Our story ends with verse 35, but verse 36 and following are about Peter denying Jesus three times. So the top piece is the betrayal, and the bottom piece is the denial, and in the middle, Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another.” What is “new” about that? What is new ‘is to love, as Christ has loved us.’ Which means to try and find a way to keep loving in the face of betrayal and denial. We can all think of someone who has betrayed us or denied us! But can we stop and think of a person we have betrayed or denied this past week? What else is new, which should help us to love, is the understanding that all love is from God. It begins in God; it is of God, and it ends in God.

In order to love in this “new” way, we need to know the love of the Father that is given to us in this community. We need great prayer and the grace of the sacraments, we need a deep and abiding spiritual life. We cannot do this on our own! The type of love required carries a divine power given to us in this Holy Eucharist. May we live in this new love of God.

Make Christ the center of our lives

Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Acts 13:26-33

John 14:1-6

This morning very early, a friend of mine invited me to go turkey hunting, in a town called Gaylord. So, I want to go right after morning mass, but I do not know the way. Do any of you know the way to Gaylord? I have this map that I found in my car, do you know how to read a map? Invite a few students to look at the map, and show me the way to Gaylord.

In our Gospel, Jesus says, “Where I am going you know the way.” However, Thomas speaks up and says, Master we do not know the where you are going; how can we know the way?” Thomas wants a map. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

What Jesus means when he says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” is we need to keep him at the center of our lives. It is easy when we are in church to do that but what happens when we leave here? We need to keep Jesus at the center of our lives, in our classrooms, by being respectful. We need to keep Jesus the center of our lives on the playground by including others to join in. We need to keep Jesus the center of our lives when we go home.

The best way to keep Jesus the center of our lives is to come to mass and receive him in the Eucharist. Our second graders are going to know what that feels like this coming Sunday. May we do all we can to keep Jesus at the center of our lives.

 

God is in control

 

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Acts 13:13-25

John 13:16-20

We all have a pretty good idea how this day is going to go. We have school and homework to attend to, lesson plans to teach. We may have lunch or dinner plans. This gives us a sense of control. However, within all those plans, we do not know how all those plans will play out. This can give us a sense of being out-of-control. Our readings today will challenge that feeling and help us to be at peace.

In our Gospel, Jesus says, “I am telling you all of this before it happens, so you will know that I am.” Jesus is fully aware that his hour has come, and he is in control. (Although it may seem like things are out of control.) Jesus is letting us know that distractions, interruptions are all going to happen, but he is still in control.

In our first reading when Paul is asked to speak gets up and gives a quick over view of all of ancient Israel’s history. Within all of this history, there are stories of is disruptions, persecution, promises made and promises broken, but through all of these things, God revealed that he would be with his people.

We gather today and there will be interruptions to our day; some may lead to fun, and some may lead to a challenge. It is in all these distractions that God is trying to act so we can see him more clearly.

May we move about this day, with prayerful hearts, and eyes of faith! Seeing God in all our distractions! 

 

We share in God’s mission

 

Fourth Week of Easter Weekday Wednesday

Acts12:24–13:5

John12:44-50

Standing in front of the 8th graders invite them to stand and be recognized for being confirmed Monday night by Bishop Walkowiak. Applause! As I was reflecting on these readings, I could not help but think how perfect they were for you. (Remain standing)

Our Gospel today is really a summary of the first twelve chapters of the gospel of John. John is establishing that Jesus, and the Father are one. When we look at Jesus, we see also the Father. Jesus was sent by the Father to proclaim his word, which is always about following the light; it is never about darkness. Jesus never speaks on his own, but only for the Father.

In our first, reading is all about doing this as Barnabas and Saul have been set apart from the community to do the will of Father. After completing their fasting and prayer, the community lays hands on them, and they are sent off by the Holy Spirit. This is now your role to do what you are called to do.

At the time of your baptism, you were anointed priest, prophet and king. You were anointed as priest, to act always in reverence, and strive to be holy at all times. You were anointed as prophet to proclaim the word of God even when it may be uncomfortable to do so. You were anointed as king to know that you have been given a power, a power to be used for good not evil.

You now have been set apart, sealed with the Holy Spirit and are being sent out. You may not be as worldly as some other eight graders, but that is ok; it is about being spiritual. It is not about how we are feeling, but about doing the will of the Father. It is demanding, and it is not about being comfortable; it is about the mission of Christ.

May you never forget you have been chosen by Christ, for a purpose and a mission, and you have now been given all that you need for that mission. The Eucharist is given to us today, that all of us share in that mission with you.