Be able to stare at Jesus!

 

Tuesday of the Fourth Week

Of Ordinary Time

St. John Bosco

Hebrews 12:1-4

Mark 5:21- 43

 

Every day when I get out of bed, it takes me a few minutes to get my feet to move properly. I shuffle a bit before I can begin walking normally. It is a bit harder to move my feet properly in the mornings. Do you have a time of day or hour that is difficult for you? I also have to spiritual time that is difficult, and that is Monday’s my day off. I Mondays’ I am not here, I am not in my clerics and the evil one play havoc with my soul. I have to get to what I call my “hour of power” prayer time to set my life back in order. The thing I do every Monday morning in prayer is hold onto a very old crucifix that someone gave me, and I just stare at Jesus and talk right to him. Our readings are about staring at Jesus and knowing he will help us.  

In our first reading from the letter to the Hebrews, the writer is so encouraging them to continue to stare at Jesus by knowing there is a whole huge crowd of witnesses that are cheering for them. He then goes on to say, “Run the race to win, but know it is a marathon, not a sprint.” Finally, he simply says, “Just look to Jesus and find him in all you do, because he is looking for you.”

In our Gospel, there are people who are looking for Jesus because they know that he can help them and heal them. Jesus has the great power to heal, and he does both these healings with very little words. His presence is enough. 

May we come to the Eucharist today to be reminded that Jesus Christ is already healing us, protecting us from all harm of the evil one? May we be at peace!

 

Are we poor in spirit?

 

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time after Epiphany

Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13

I Corinthians 1: 26-31

Matthew 5:1-12 

I always count it as a blessing, a privilege to stand before you and to share the Word of God, but today it is a bit overwhelming and a little scary. Watching the news this week and listening to some of you, and then reading God’s word, I could see there is going to be a clash of thoughts, but God speaks the truth to us. I did not pick these readings, I just have to preach on them, and for that, I pray I can do God well. God’s word wants us to understand that our family is not just those who you may have come with today. Our family is the poor, the meek the downtrodden, the forsaken, and those who fight for justice. If that wasn’t difficult enough, he says, “If you want to get ahead in this world by my standards it is not about power and authority! 

If we cannot think of time in this past week when the teachings of Jesus Christ or the Church did not change or affect our lives, then we are missing the point of being here. The goal of Jesus Christ is always about unity in him. Now would be the time for husband and wives to hang onto to each other, if you are sitting apart because of the kids then grab onto your kid’s hand. The Word of God is meant to make us feel uncomfortable, and today the message reaches to our very core. 

The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes which we heard today are different. The Ten Commandments are still good, but they are much easier to keep. According to the Ten Commandments, if you keep holy the Sabbath and then sit in your house and just don’t do some things you are good. The Commandments are void of love or relationships. The Beatitudes are all about relationships; they are all about love and a change of attitude! 

In the Gospel of Matthew, the first thing we need to know is that we are blessed. What does it mean to know we are blessed? That we are specially chosen by God, which means that he is ready to act in our lives, so we need to be ready to respond when God acts. Matthew wanted to be sure that his community was ready to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, but he was convinced that only a small number could following the teaching of Jesus. Matthew writes from knowing that he is blessed because he knows what it is like to be poor, to mourn, and to be meek.  

Let’s look just at the very first beatitude because it is the most important. Jesus says, “If you live the first one, which is ‘blessed are the poor in spirit’ and the last one which is ‘blessed are those persecuted for justice’ you already dwell in heaven, the other six are pathways to heaven. Jesus begins by saying “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Blessed are those who are materially poor but also blessed are those who are broken and in need of healing. Blessed are those who put no obstruction between them and God. 

My friends in Christ we are challenged today to know that we are blessed and that we are poor in spirit. In the spirit we are to build bridges not walls between us and those who mourn, are meek, those who are vulnerable. May we be that small remnant and be on fire for the truth in Jesus Christ.

Do acts of kindness!

 

Friday of the Third week

Of Ordinary Time

Hebrews 10: 32-39

Mark 4:26- 34

What does it mean to do an act of kindness? Give me examples. 

Have you ever done an act of kindness? What have you done that was an act of kindness? 

Raise your hand if you did an act of kindness? 

In our Gospel, we hear a parable of a mustard seed. If you have ever seen a mustard seed, it is one of the smallest seeds. It is very hard to look at a mustard seed and know that it will grow into a large bush, measuring ten feet tall. Who would ever imagine that this very little seed would grow into a tall bush that is perfect for birds to nest and to come to rest? 

We need to do as many acts of kindness as we can because we never know the difference it may make in some one’s life. In a world filled with hatred and anger, we need to be the ones who make a difference by doing acts of kindness. The smallest act of kindness, a kind word, a kind gesture, can bring about a world of good. 

Who is going to do an act of kindness today? 

All of us together can make a difference. Let’s help God bring about the kingdom of God here on earth.

 

 

Words of Encouragement!

 

Thursday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time

St. Timothy & Titus

II Timothy 1:1-8

Mark 4: 21-25

 

The other night someone called and left me a message. They had been in our gym watching our 5th graders play basketball. As they were leaving, they noticed that multi- purpose rooms 1 & 2 had groups in them. There was another group in the Erin Isle room, and there was a group in the choir room. This person made the comment “It is so incredible that our Family Center is being used so well, it is truly a sign of an active church.”  All I could do was smile! Our readings come to us today as words of great encouragement! 

In our first reading, St. Paul writes words of great encouragement to his younger friend Timothy. Paul tells him, “Stir into a flame the gift of God that is already in his heart.” Paul wants him to keep his faith burning red hot. 

In our Gospel, Jesus gives words of great encouragement as he says, to his disciples, “Keep your faith burning brightly as a lamp. Take care of what you hear it may ruin your heart.” Jesus is giving them a pep talk and is encouraging them to do great things. 

Doesn’t it feel great to be here today? What a gift we have in the Eucharist? Here is our challenge! Try and say only words of encouragement the rest of the day. Try not to say and words of discouragement. Try and only say words that build people up.  May the Eucharist we share encourage us to greatness today?

 

To be obedient to the Lord!

Wednesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

Conversion of St. Paul

Acts 9:1-22

Mark 16: 15-18

 

Today we celebrate the Conversion of St. Paul, which is great and wonderful to celebrate, but there is another conversion that also happened in our story today which also teaches us a great lesson, and that is with the person of Ananias who is asked by God to go to Saul. 

The first thing we are told about Ananias is he is a “Disciple”, he is a man of faith, a man that has already given himself to the Lord. As soon as the word of the Lord came to him he responds, “Here, I am Lord.” Ananias was listening for the voice of God. 

The Lord has a special mission for Ananias, he wants him to go to Saul, and this command probably didn’t make much sense! After all, Saul hated Christians. He had been arresting them and putting them to death. How many times in our lives does God command not make sense? When Ananias hears the command from the Lord, he balks at it! He tries to wiggle out of it. Ananias had to be terrified to meet with Saul. God tells Ananias that Saul is going to fulfill a very special place in bringing the Good News to the Gentiles. Ananias went as he was told and was obedient to the Lord. Ananias went to the house where Saul was, he entered in and he touched him. Then he did something that must have touched the heart of Saul like nothing he had ever heard in his life. Ananias called Saul “Brother.” Because Ananias obeyed the Lord, Saul was healed from his blindness, he was filled with the Holy Ghost and He was used by God as no other disciple had been used. 

What is God asking us to do that we may be afraid to do? How can we be obedient to the will of God? The Eucharist is offered to us, to be obedient and to do the will of God.

 

 

What is our will asking us to do?

 

Tuesday the Third week

 Ordinary Time

St. Francis De sales

Hebrews 10:1-10

Mark 3:31- 35

 

What does our will want for us today? Our lives are all about making God’s will our will and most of the time I would guess we do pretty well at this. What we want to concern ourselves about are the times when we have to ask ourselves, “Am I going to say that? Am I going to do that? Am I going to continue to think that?” Those are the times when the evil has crept into our lives and is working on us. Our readings are all to help us change our wills to God. 

In our first reading, the writer of Hebrews is saying, “The sacrifice of animals is not capable of bringing about the change of our will that we desire. It is only in Jesus Christ who has died on the cross for us, do we get the power to overcome temptation and sin. The writer of Hebrews says, “We have already been consecrated in him.” Hold that thought because we are going to need it for what Jesus says next in our gospel. 

In our Gospel, Jesus is told that his mother and his sisters and brothers are outside waiting for him. He responds, “Those who do the will of my Father are my mother and my brother and sister.”  Jesus is already challenging us to look at ourselves honestly, and ask, “Who is on the inside of my circle of friends and who is on the outside?” Our circle should get a bit larger today as we do not look at outside appearances, but how we are all trying to live the will of God. 

May this Eucharist bring us to a fuller understanding of God’s will.

 

Jesus Christ First!

 

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 8:23-9:3

I Corinthians 1:10-13, 17

Matthew 4:12-23 

Our country celebrated the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as our 45 President. In his speech he made promises and we hope that he will be able to make those promises come true. One thing he said, that I want to use, and twist a little because for me it is the theme that runs through our readings today at that is “Christ first!” We need to make Christ first in our Catholic lives. I looked at a penny on my dresser this morning, and read “In God we trust” I thought I hope so! Our readings are an inauguration of the ministry of Jesus Christ.  

St. Paul’s in his inaugural address to the Corinthians begins with “I urge you in the name of Jesus Christ.” This is paramount, it is all about Jesus Christ! This is a community that Paul founded, and they were doing very well when he was there but he has left and given the authority over to others, and now there is great division and Paul is writing and saying, “This is has got to stop!” Paul is writing them and letting them know that these divisions are pulling the body of Christ apart. The mission of the body of Christ is that each member is ready to pour out their life for the community. Think about the divisions in our own lives. Imagine what would happen if all those involved in those divisions would dedicate themselves to solving those divisions in Christ?  Imagine what our community would like if we set aside our judgments and saw each other as children of God. 

Jesus begins his inaugural speech with the words “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Now, this is a huge statement is needs some of our attention. The word “repent” for Jesus does not just mean, “I am sorry.” What Jesus means by the word “repent” is a totally new direction. A totally new way of thinking and acting. 

When the gospel writer Matthew uses the word “heaven” this is a code word for God. Matthew is writing to Jewish converts, they were not to speak the name of God. So Matthew uses the word “heaven” to mean God. What this means is when Jesus says, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” what he means is, be aware of God in our lives right now, because he is right here. Matthew is not talking about a future tense, but about a present tense. 

Jesus is now ready to have others join him in his mission. Jesus goes to the seashore and calls Peter, Andrew, James and John with the words, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” All four of these men dropped their nets and followed Jesus Christ. How amazing is that? The security they left behind was made up by the security of living for Jesus Christ and learning to love him first. 

We can sit here today and say, “I do not need to do anymore, I am holy enough.” This was the response of the Pharisees, they were the ones who said, “Jesus we do not need you, we are holy enough.” My friends in Christ, is our Catholic faith just a nice idea, a comfort in difficult times or is it the only thing that makes sense in our life? We need to make this decision for ourselves, but also in this community. May we not just try to fit Jesus into our way of life, but it is about fitting our way of life into the mission of Jesus Christ. Let’s make Jesus Christ first in our lives.