Do not be anxious!

 

18th Sunday OT Year C

Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23, Psalm 95

Colossians 3:1-5, 9-1, Luke 12: 13-21

This homily is by Deacon Stephen Durkee

Remember the truth that once was spoken, ‘to love another person is to see the face of God'”.

“The connection is drawn explicitly between the ‘anxiety’ for the security and protection of life through the accumulation of possessions, and the fear and anxiety experienced at the threat life”

**(Not spoken; just something that inspired this homily)

 

On Friday I finished my summer long internship at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s hospital.  It was a beautiful experience.  There were many people I met there that I will never forget because through them I saw the face of Christ.   One such person was a woman in her 90s.  She was a small woman who greeted every caregiver with a smile.  I know you’re not supposed to have favorites, but she was one of mine.  The last visit I had with her was the most memorable.  On this day she had declined tremendously, I knelt next to her bed and I grabbed her hand.  I asked her “how can I pray for you today?”  She said, “Stephen I’m ready to go home.  I’m at peace, and I want to see Jesus.  But my kids are not ready to let me go.  I would like to pray for them that they will be at peace when I go to the Lord.”

 

But there is a striking difference between the man in the Gospel and the woman I met in the hospital.  The man in the parable is anxious.  He is searching for security.  He wants to feel safe and he wants to be at peace. The way he believes that he will find happiness is by storing his wealth.  But he is so anxious that decides he needs to tear down his barns and build bigger ones hoping that he will at last find security and peace. The man’s desire for more wealth is an indicator that he relies more on earthly things rather than heavenly things.

 

Saint Paul calls us to seek what is above.  To hold on to the heavenly things; namely our relationship with God which is what the woman from the hospital teaches us.  I believe that Christ is asking us to pray about the anxiety we all experience in daily life.  It is in experiencing all the anxieties of life that we reach out for ways to bring peace to our souls; just as the man from our Gospel sought to bring peace to his heart through his wealth.  A good challenge for us this week is to be conscious, to be mindful of those moments when our soul is not at peace; and to pray and reflect on these moments.  What do we run to?  Do we run to our phone because the experience of silence and solitude is too foreign?  Do we run to sports or other good activities to bring peace?  Or do we go to entertainment, shows, movies or games to distract us from worldly anxieties; such as, for all the young people present, Pokemon Go? I know which one Fr. Mark chooses… Gotta Catch ’em all right padre?  All of these things are not bad in themselves, but they are indicators of where each of us is holding on to earthly things.

 

Christ wants us to go to him first.  Christ invites us to prayer so that we can build our friendship with him.  The place to find real peace is in prayer and the Eucharist.  In prayer we encounter the prince of peace.  We encounter Christ.  The challenge for all of us this weekend is to be more like the woman I met at the hospital and not like the man in the Gospel.  We will find ourselves like the woman if we train ourselves to run to God in the times of anxiety and insecurity; and he will bring us the peace and security we desire.  So let us stay close to God in prayer and in the Eucharist so that Jesus, who is the prince of peace, can give us the peace of heart we desire.

Even in the pain, we give glory to God!

 

Friday of the 17th Week

St. Martha

Jeremiah 26:1-9

John 11:19-27

 

We are all called to be saints today, and to do that we will need to be obedient to God and to give him glory and praise. To be a saint today, our readings give us a little different spiritual truth, with a twist to help us become a saint.

In our first reading, God tells Jeremiah to pronounce a severe judgment against the people, and not to omit one word. He tells them, if they do not repent and turn back from their sinful ways, God will bring his wrath upon them. This unpopular message did not go over well with the priest, other prophet’s, and the people, and they form a mob to take him away and punish him for these damning words. Jeremiah knew before he even spoke that this would happen, but he said what God wanted him to say anyway. Jeremiah praises God and gives glory to God not in the most joyous of times.  

In our gospel story, we hear the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus. However, before this can happen, Martha severely reprimands Jesus for being late in getting to her brother Lazarus. This is the saddest day of Martha’s life, and yet she can turn to Christ in great confidence, even before he does this miracle and say, “I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” In some ways, Martha’s profession of faith is more profound then Peter’s.

To be a saint, we will need to face the uncertainties of lives, the anger, the frustration, and the hurts, like Jeremiah and Martha to have confidence, in Jesus Christ to see us through. The Eucharist is offered to us to strengthen us on our journey of faith.

 

We will survive!

 

Thursday of the 17th Week

Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 18:1-6

Matthew 13: 47-53

How did I ever survive kindergarten? We lived out in the Township of Walled Lake, and I had to walk to my bus stop, without my older brother or sister, and then I had an hour’s ride to school. I never remember talking to anyone, hence my dislike of buses. I remember being on the playground when the horses, next door got out and were running all over and sent us kids scrambling for cover, hence my great fear of horses. I remember this picture being taken, the woman, taking the picture insisted on wetting my hair, hence I do not allow anyone touching my hair. It is a wonder that I survived kindergarten! However, if I focus on our readings, I am giving a reason, why I survived kindergarten.

In our reading from the prophet Jeremiah we hear that our lives are in the hands of God, and he is like a potter, turning the wheel, so he can shape our lives, like the clay on that wheel. Sometimes with all the best intentions, the clay does not take the shape the potter hoped for, so he simple begins again, shaping the clay to what he wants it to be.

In our Gospel, we hear about a huge net being thrown into the sea and being pulled onto the shore. When it is on shore, the good fish are picked out and put onto the shore while the bad fish are thrown back into the sea. Noticed there are no questions asked, just by looking, they know what fish to keep, and what ones to throw back.

We today need to know that by the hand of God, we too are going to survive this day, because God is shaping our lives, into what he wants. That is why we come to the Eucharist, to help us know, if we can survive kindergarten, we will survive today, by God’s grace.

K Picture

 

Say Something!

 

Wednesday of the 17th Week

Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21

Matthew 13:44-46

“Say something, I’m giving up on you. I’ll be the one if you want me to. Anywhere I would have followed you. Say something, I’m giving up on you.” Sung by Christina Aguilera and A Great Big World.  

Have you ever felt this way, “Lord, just say something, or I am giving up on you? My worries, my concerns, my doubts and fears, are just to much. If Lord, you do not say anything, I am giving up!” 

In our first reading the prophet Jeremiah says, “When I first found your words, I devoured them; and they became my joy.” However, now I need you to say something, or I am giving up on you, I thought I would be the one to follow you anywhere, but now I curse the day I was born because your people hate me and scorn me. Say something, or I’m giving up. God simple responds to Jeremiah, “I am with you, and I will deliver you.”

Jesus in the Gospel says to us, “Say something, I am the one if you want me to. I will follow you anywhere, just say something!” Jesus tells two parables, where in the first parable a man realizes he has a once in a life time opportunity to purchase a piece of property that has a valuable treasure on it. The second parable is about a merchant who sells everything he has to buy a pearl values at a great price.

Jesus is saying something, it is right here. He is the one, and we are to follow him anywhere. May we know today that he has come to deliver us.

 

 

It is Grandparents Day!

 

Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 14:17-22

Matthew 13: 36-43

St. Joachim & St. Anne

 

It does not bother me that the names of Anne & Joachim, who are the parents of Mary, do not appear in sacred scripture. It does not bother me that all we know of them comes to us from an apocryphal Book by James. We all have parents, and it good to celebrate, the parents of Mary and all they did to raise her in the faith. Today is a great day, to stop and think of those who handed their faith onto us, and pray for them and thank them.

Legend has it that Anne and Joachim suffered greatly for being childless, and took it as a sign of God’s great displeasure in them. In their lament, which is just like the lament of the prophet Jeremiah, who laments the destruction of Jerusalem, Joachim retreats to the desert and Anne remained at home. While they were both apart, they each received a message from an angel, assuring them they would soon conceive a child, but not just any child, a child that would be revered for all of time.

However, God’s Word has more to teach us, as we hear in our Gospel, there are good seeds that are thrown and there are bad seeds that are thrown. What are we throwing to our children and to our grandchildren? Our children and our grandchildren are looking up to us to help them with life. Are we strong enough to make sure what we are throwing their way is our faith in Jesus Christ?

As we are grateful for Anne and Joachim, and they did to raise Mary, to be the Mother of God, may we use this Eucharist to strengthen us to share our faith with our children and grandchildren, so when God calls them, they will be ready to respond with a firm yes.

 

 

Prayer: Our relationship with God

 

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Genesis 18: 20- 32

Colossians 2: 12-14

Luke 11: 1-13

How is your prayer life today? There is a lot that could be said about prayer, the Church has a huge treasure chest of wonderful prayer forms to use. I am not so concerned about what form that you use, I am more concerned, if you pray! St. Augustine once said about prayer, “Many cry out to God, but not with the voice of the soul, but with the voice of the body; only the cry of the heart, of the soul, reaches God!” Our readings today push us to continue to build a relationship with God through our prayer.

Our first reading, from the book of Genesis is a wonderful example to us of intercessory prayer. Abraham wants to impress upon his family the importance of praying for others, especially family members. God wants to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, but Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his family live there, so Abraham is appealing to God, to save Sodom. This prayer, shows the depth of relationship that Abraham and God have as Abraham haggles with God. We too, need to have this same intercessory prayer for our family and loved ones.

The Gospel writer Luke, gives us more examples of Jesus at prayer than all the other gospel writers. Luke has Jesus praying for a wide variety of things. Today the disciples ask Jesus to teach them too pray as he does. The gift of the “Our Father” which Jesus teaches them is it is an insight into his relationship to the father. This is Jesus’s prayer! How awesome is that? The “Our Father” is a great prayer to put us in touch with the ebb and flow of life of being forgiven and forgiving others.

Then Jesus follows this up with two stories that teach us even more about prayer. The first story is about a man, who needs bread, since some unexpected friend came to his home. It is late, but he goes to his neighbor’s home and knocks at his door. The man yells, “Go, away, my family and I are all in bed.” The man, might get up for friendship, or he might get up, because of the persistent knocking. We need to be persistent in our prayer life.

The second story says, “Ask, and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you.” Do you see the progression of the relationship growing here? We ask, doesn’t require much. We seek; we begin to search for God. We knock, and the door is open, to the house of God.

My friends in Christ, The Word of God should always challenge us. Today the challenge is to be a better person of prayer. My hardest and best prayer is when I can put down the phone, clear my mind, concentrate on my breathing, and my heart beating, and be silent in the presents of God. What is more real, the self we see, or the self-God sees? The self-God sees is what we can be. The only way to get to what God-sees, is by being people of great prayer. Prayer has the power to change us. May that change to being what God sees, begin in this Eucharist, which is the supreme prayer we can make. May we live in constant prayer this week.

Such great love!

 

Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

Song of Songs 3:1-4

John 20:1-2, 11-18

 

Very sad, and very ironic, that yesterday we lost two priests of the diocese. Fr. Phil Salmonowicz, pastor of St. Francis De Sales, in Norton Shores, passed away yesterday morning, from his battle with cancer, and in the afternoon, Fr. Donn Tufts, one of our retired priests passed away from his long battle with cancer. It is a sad day, for the diocese, but a great day for heaven. I knew both  priests fairly well; they loved the Lord; they loved celebrating the Eucharist, and they loved serving God’s people.

Today we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Mary Magdalene and her great love for the Lord, for the Eucharist, and for serving God’s people.

In our Gospel, because of this great love, Mary Magdalene is the first to go to the tomb, while it is still dark. Seeing the stone rolled away, she runs back to tell Peter and the others, (for brevity, this is left out of our story today), and they come to the tomb. After seeing the tomb empty, Peter and the others return to Jerusalem. Mary in her great love for Jesus, stays outside the tomb weeping. In a conversation with Mary, Jesus twice calls her “woman” but she fails to recognize him. When Jesus calls her by name, “Mary” she does recognize him, and she begins to hug him and embrace him. She is like the woman, in our first reading who searches for her husband whom she loves very much. When she finds him, she cannot stop embracing him and hugging him. Jesus then says, “Stop holding on to me.” This shows that there is a big change in the relationship, and she is now to go and tell the others the good news.

We are called not to “like” Jesus that would demand nothing. We are called to be like Fr. Phil, Fr. Donn, and Mary Magdalene, who loved Jesus. To love someone demands and act of our will to be changed. The Eucharist is offered to us to love God more, to love the Eucharist more, because it is the greatest gift ever, and to love and serve others more this day.