How do we desire Jesus Christ more today?

 

Thirty – First Sunday

Wisdom 11:22-12

II Thessalonians 1:11-2:2

Luke 19:1-10 

This past week I had one of the events that I have had on my calendar for a while that I really looked forward to. On Tuesday of this week, I went pheasant hunting with my 90 year old father. Recently he canceled our fishing trip for next year with us boys, but he still can hunt, and he can still shoot fairly well. The big difference is now he is driven around in a golf cart, and when the dog goes on point, he gets out leans against the golf cart, and fires his gun. He leaned against the cart, so he would not get knocked over. Hopefully all of us have those things we desire to happen so much, and when they do we want to soak in each moment? Now do we have the same desire for Christ and the Eucharist? 

In our Gospel we hear about a tax collector named Zacchaeus, whose name means “righteous” or “pure.”  He was a tax collector, so he would despised, but he was the head tax collector, so he would be very rich. Zacchaeus had a strong desire to see Jesus, it had to be strong because he does what would not be expected of him. Zacchaeus runs, and he climbs a tree, dignified adults in time of Jesus would not run or climb trees. Besides, he was wealthy enough, he could have paid someone to run ahead, or to push their way through the crowd. He would have had on nice fancy cloths, and how silly he would of looked, sitting in the tree. The crowd would have thought he lost his mind. He has a great desire to see Jesus, and he is willing to do whatever it takes, even if it means looking silly. Then something amazing happens, and the only thing I have to relate to it is the times I have been in St. Peter’s Square seeing the Pope at the General Audience. When the Pope gets close, everyone begins to scream out his name, hoping that the Pope will pass a glance at them. When Jesus gets close to Zacchaeus, it is not him who is screaming the name of Jesus, it is Jesus who screams the name of Zacchaeus. As Zacchaeus comes down, Jesus then invites himself to Zacchaeus’s home. The crowd now grumbles, but Zacchaeus, holds his ground and declares to everyone, he will give half of his possessions to the poor, and he will pay back four times over whatever he has cheated out of someone. Jesus now calls Zacchaeus a son of Abraham, because what was lost is now found. 

What can we take from this story? What are we able to do right now to desire Jesus Christ and the Eucharist more in our lives? What can we change in our thoughts, are words, our actions to show that we desire him more? In the story it appears that Zacchaeus is doing all the seeking, but Jesus is also seeking Zacchaeus. There is nowhere in Sacred Scriptures that says, Jesus and Zacchaeus knew each other, yet it is Jesus who calls out the name of “Zacchaeus.” Then it is Jesus who invites Zacchaeus to something more. We need to know that Jesus is always inviting us. Finally, are we willingly like Zacchaeus to have our lives changed, to turn back to God, and to seek forgiveness for what we have done wrong? 

It is here in this Eucharist that our daily lives and our worship become one. May we have the desire like Zacchaeus to see Jesus, may we accept his invitation as he calls us by name, and may allow our lives to be changed, and respond with great zeal, as Zacchaeus did.  

We stand with Apostles

 

Friday 30 week in ordinary Time

Feast of St. Simon & St. Jude

Ephesians 2:19-22

Luke 6:12-16

 

Any time we celebrate the feast day of an apostle we should stop and think, “How are we being everything we can to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?” 

Here is how! At the time of our baptism, the priest or deacon turned to our parents and asked, “You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practices of the faith. It will be your duty to bring them up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are about to do?”

Then the priest or deacon turns to the Godparents and ask, “Are you ready to help the parents of this child in their duty as Christian parents? This is very action is what this day is all about, because through the grace given to us at baptism, we all become intimately related to Jesus Christ and the Word of God becomes “enfleshed” in each of us.  

In our first reading from St. Paul to the Ephesians, speaks words of great joy when he says, “We are no longer aliens and strangers. We are all built upon a foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ as the capstone.” He goes on to say, “We are being built as a temple.” What a lovely image for us today, we are a temple. 

Imagine ourselves there at the time of Jesus, as one of his followers. How do we feel, knowing Jesus is ‘up the mountain’ praying. Mountains are places to meet God! We see him coming down and when he gets to all of us he begins to stare individually at each one, and he begins to call out people by name, and make them more than followers, but apostles. How do we feel, as we experience this life changing event? 

As we honor the memory of Saints Simon and Jude, Jesus has been praying for us, and as he does come down the mountain he is present to us right now, right here, and he calls each of us by name. How will we respond to his call?

 

Be big and brave

 

Thursday Thirtieth Week Ordinary Time

Ephesians 6:10-20

Luke 13:31-35 

I love the legend of the Cherokee Indian Youth’s Rite of Passage. The story goes that a father takes his young son into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him on a stump or rock alone all night. He is not to cry out for help to anyone. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. When the boy sees the glow of the morning sun through his blindfold, he can then take it off. It is then that he discovers his father sitting on the stump next to him, and he has been there all night long. Our readings today talk about not being afraid or scared but being filled with great courage.  

In our first reading St. Paul is trying to give the Ephesians courage by telling them, “Put on the armor of God so you will be able to stand firm against the tactics of the Devil.” Paul knows what it feels like to be courageous as he writes from his prison cell. We need to put on the armor of Christ. 

In our Gospel, Jesus speaks quiet courageously as he is told by some Pharisees to run because Herod wants to kill him.  Jesus says, “Tell that fox that I am not leaving until my work here is done, I have teaching to do and people to heal.” Jesus speaks boldly and he is not afraid for he needs to do the will of the Father. 

Are we ready to be courageous today? There will be something that will happen that will shake our emotions our courage. It may be a disappointment, a temptation, but we need to be strong and be willing to stay strong. The Eucharist is given to us to help us be strong in Him, for he is sitting right by us.

 

 

Being obedient!

 

Wednesday of the 30th Week

Ephesians 6:1-9

Luke 13:22-30 

Are we good enough in our thoughts, words and actions to get to heaven today if we were called home?  

In our Gospel, Jesus is asked, “Lord will only a few be saved?” Jesus does not directly answer the question. He says, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.” He continues with a story about someone knocking at the door but the master says, “I do not know where you are from.  Depart from me.” The person responds, “I heard about you and I was in the same room with you.” I do not know about you, but this un-nerves me a bit. 

We get some help and understanding about our Gospel, in our first reading, when we hear about being obedient. This word can have a lot of negative feelings for us. In our Christian tradition to be obedient means to “listen to God.” Notice in every example Paul gives of who to be obedient with, he connects it to ‘listening to God.’ He just does not say, “Be obedient because it is the right thing to do.” 

Today we are being called to be obedient because this will help us to make sure that when Christ calls us home, he will know us. Who do we need to be more obedient with in our lives? The Eucharist is here to help us be more faithfully obedient to Christ and others today.

 

 

 

What is in our heart?

 

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18

 II Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18

Luke 18: 9-14

What is in our hearts today? I am not asking what is in our heads, because our head is always going to try and rationalize away what is in our heart. It is in our heart where we come to know where God is leading us. What are the things that God is asking of us, and we may be struggling to do? Our readings challenge us to listen to our heart and do the right thing that God is asking of us. 

The writer of Sirach is sharing with us, when we are unsure, insecure, and not sure what to do, simple get on our knees and pray! Pray with all of our might, because God listens to all kinds of prayers. However, there is one prayer that he is more attentive to and that is the prayer of the lost and forsaken. The prayer that God is more attentive to, is when we are struggling with his will, when we are tempted, when we know in our heart what we need to do, but our head tells us something different. 

In our second reading St. Paul is hurt that his friends knew how much he needed them as he went to trial, he pleaded and begged them to come with him, but they did not come. He gives thanks that Jesus Christ stood by his side and gave him the strength he needed to get through the trial. Paul says, “Because God stood by me, I will win the race. 

In our Gospel, we hear a parable of two men going to the temple to pray. The one man is a Pharisee and it looks like he is doing everything right, as he is not greedy, not dishonest, and he tithes and fasts twice as much as rabbinic law requires. The other person is a tax collector and it looks like he is doing everything wrong, as he is a Jew, who collects taxes from the people. He would be treated as a traitor to his country, he is religiously unclean, and he would have been despised by all in the temple that day. However, Jesus says, “This tax collector went home justified.” Everyone listening to Jesus would have went home scratching their heads wondering what Jesus was talking about. 

The problem is the Pharisee knows what to do and appears to be doing the right thing, but he does it for all the wrong reasons. The Pharisee does it to make himself look good, he is prideful, self-serving, and arrogant. The tax collector has done the wrong things, and he knows it, and now he prays for forgiveness from his heart to change. 

What is in our heart today telling us what we need to do in Christ? A way to holiness is to discover that we are bigger sinners then we think we are! The closer we come to God, the more obvious our sins should be. To help us match those two things is the Eucharist where the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ will do its part. May we do our part and live as one.

How to settle a disagreement?

Friday of the 29th Week

Ephesians 4:1-6

Luke 12: 54-59

All School Mass 

I have noticed this week, that there have been a few people who had disagreements, and I have not really liked the way they have been resolved. So, I am declaring from this moment on, whenever we have a disagreement with someone, we are going to settle the disagreement by a Thumb War! Whoever wins, gets to resolve the disagreement. 

Demonstrate how to do a Thumb War. 1,2,3,4 we declare a thumb war, 5,6,7,8 try and keep your thumb straight. Please now turn to the person next to you and let’s try it all together. (Have all the students try it.) 

Is this going to work? 

When you are out on the playground and there is a disagreement, how do you solve the problem? 

In our Gospel, Jesus says, “Try and solve your arguments by yourselves, before you get to your teacher or to the principal.” 

In in our first reading, St. Paul says, “Live in the manner worthy of the call you received.” Treat others with humility, gentleness, patience, love, peace and unity.” 

The Eucharist is shared with us today, to know what to do when situations come up, where there can be hard feelings. May we look to Christ for his divine help.

 

I have come to light a fire!

 

Thursday Twenty – Ninth Week Ordinary Time

Ephesians 3:14-21

Luke 12:49-53 

How are our families doing today? What are the things going on in our families that needs our attention? Our readings speak beautifully about the gift of family. 

In our first reading, the writer of Ephesians says he is on his knees praying to the Father for families, and this is what he says about families.

  • May families be strengthened by power of the Holy Spirit!
  • May Christ dwell in each member of the family!
  • May families be rooted in love!
  • May families comprehend all things in Christ!
  • And finally, may families come to know the love of Christ. 

In our Gospel, Jesus seems to be saying words that seem contradictory to his mission when he says, “I have come for division, to set father against a son, a mother against a daughter, a mother-in- law against a daughter-in-law. I think he is just speaking the truth, of what we already know. We hear these words and miss the earlier words of Jesus when he gives us what is the heart of the Gospel, “I have come to set the earth on fire.”   

What Jesus desires is the same thing as the writer of Ephesians. Our number one relationship in our life that we need to spend fostering is our relationship with Jesus Christ. If this relationship is our main focus, all our relationships will fall in line. A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Jesus Christ.  Jesus insists that his disciples give him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty which is higher than spouse or kin. 

In this Eucharist may we ponder know what it would mean in our lives, to make, or to strengthened, our relationship with Jesus Christ and keep it the number one relationship!