Stretch yourself for Lent.

 

Tuesday Eighth Week of Ordinary Time

Sirach 35:1-12

Mark 10:28-31  

I like this set of readings, on this day before Lent is to begin, because they challenge us to stretch ourselves beyond what we think we can do.  

In our first reading, Sirach tells us to do works of charity, refrain from doing evil, do not even think to appear before the Lord, empty handed, and in all you do, live in a spirit of great gratitude. These are great words in preparation for Lent.  

In our Gospel, Peter says, “Lord, we have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus responds “Whoever has given up all these things for me, for the sake of the Gospel will receive a hundred more times now in the present age.” Peter had given up a lot, but it was just beginning, he would learn to do so much more. The more we give up, the more we will get in return, for we can never out give God.  

Lent begins tomorrow, and it is always about an encounter with Christ; it is about changing our hearts. We, like Peter, say, “But Lord, I have given up so much,” but we have so much more we can do.  

May this Eucharist help us to discern what we will do for Lent around the disciples of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving? May this Eucharist stretch us to do something, which changes our lives and helps us draw so much closer to Christ.

 

Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.

 

Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Leviticus 19: 1-2, 17-18

I Corinthians 3:16-23

Matthew 5:38-48

Who wants to be holy? Who wants to be perfect? Who wants to try and be better than what we are today? We are told to be holy and to be perfect, but how do we live being holy and perfect? God’s Word says, “Do not hang onto resentment, anger, hatred and violence. Think of an argument, a fight, we have had, it may have been today or a long time ago, but we are still in it. How can that situation be resolved? We think “If I just hate them enough, I am punishing them.” Not true, we normally are punishing ourselves.  Our readings offer us spiritual truths that we can hang onto and use in our lives. 

In our first reading, Moses is speaking to the whole community, and he says, “Be holy!” Why? Because God is holy and we are made in the image and likeness of God.  

In our second reading, St. Paul says, “Be holy! Why? Because we are the temple of God.” This statement is very powerful because the Temple in Jerusalem is still standing at this time, this is the center of their lives. Paul is saying, “There is no room for revenge or holding a grudge in the temple of God.” 

In our Gospel, Jesus says, “Be holy!” How? “By offering no resistance to one who is evil.” Is he for real? Most of us are hard-wired to fight when someone has hurt us. Is Jesus wanting is to be wimps? Who is the stronger person, the one who lashes out in anger or the one who remains in self-control? 

Jesus continues, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” A spiritual truth to know is when Jesus uses the word “love” in this situation, he means, “To wish the wellbeing into another person.” It is not the romantic love we often think of when we hear when we speak about love. We are to wish the wellbeing into those we struggle to love. Another spiritual truth is to remind ourselves that we are not going to get along with everyone, and even though we may not get along with them if they are in need of our help we must serve them. The last spiritual truth is we should pray daily for those we struggle to love and for those who struggle to love us. 

It is not easy to be holy or perfect, but that is why we come to be strengthened in the Eucharist because God offers us the greatest gift in his son. May we be strengthened to learn to let go of our hatred and learn to love!

Love our enimies, and pray for those who persucute us.

 

Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Leviticus 19: 1-2, 17-18

I Corinthians 3:16-23

Matthew 5:38-48

Who wants to be holy? Who wants to be perfect? Who wants to try and be better than what we are today? We are told to be holy and to be perfect, but how do we live being holy and perfect? God’s Word says, “Do not hang onto resentment, anger, hatred and violence. Think of an argument, a fight, we have had, it may have been today or a long time ago, but we are still in it. How can that situation be resolved? We think “If I just hate them enough, I am punishing them.” Not true, we normally are punishing ourselves.  Our readings offer us spiritual truths that we can hang onto and use in our lives. 

In our first reading, Moses is speaking to the whole community, and he says, “Be holy!” Why? Because God is holy and we are made in the image and likeness of God.  

In our second reading, St. Paul says, “Be holy! Why? Because we are the temple of God.” This statement is very powerful because the Temple in Jerusalem is still standing at this time, this is the center of their lives. Paul is saying, “There is no room for revenge or holding a grudge in the temple of God.” 

In our Gospel, Jesus says, “Be holy!” How? “By offering no resistance to one who is evil.” Is he for real? Most of us are hard-wired to fight when someone has hurt us. Is Jesus wanting is to be wimps? Who is the stronger person, the one who lashes out in anger or the one who remains in self-control? 

Jesus continues, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” A spiritual truth to know is when Jesus uses the word “love” in this situation, he means, “To wish the wellbeing into another person.” It is not the romantic love we often think of when we hear when we speak about love. We are to wish the wellbeing into those we struggle to love. Another spiritual truth is to remind ourselves that we are not going to get along with everyone, and even though we may not get along with them if they are in need of our help we must serve them. The last spiritual truth is we should pray daily for those we struggle to love and for those who struggle to love us. 

It is not easy to be holy or perfect, but that is why we come to be strengthened in the Eucharist because God offers us the greatest gift in his son. May we be strengthened to learn to let go of our hatred and learn to love!

Pick up our cross.

Friday of the Sixth week of Ordinary Time

Genesis 11:1-9

Mark 8: 34- 9:1  

Who loves God?

Who loves Jesus?

Who wants to do all they can to follow Jesus? 

That is great! The huge crowd following Jesus at this time would have answered the very same way. 

In our Gospel, Jesus says some things that might have been hard to understand as he says, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.” What comes to your mind when you hear Jesus saying these things? What does it mean for you?  

The Good News about the ‘taking up our cross’ is that we are reminded of this all the time. Do you remember a few weeks ago when Deena was baptized, one of the first things I did was make the sign of the cross on her forehead? Our eight graders will be making their Confirmation, and the Bishop will make the sign of the cross on their foreheads once again. As we came into Church and as we leave, we make the sign of the cross. Lent begins in a couple of weeks, and we will again be signed with ashes on our foreheads with the sign of the cross.  

Our whole identity is in the cross because Jesus loved us so much, he took up his cross and was willing to be hung on it for us. What we must do is be willing to do the very same thing.  

In the privilege that we have to celebrate this Eucharist, may each we time we make the sign of the cross, be a reminder to us to pick up our cross and do the will of Jesus Christ. 

 

 

 

Who is Jesus Christ to me right now?

 

Thursday of the Sixth week of Ordinary Time

Genesis 9:1-13

Mark 8: 27-33  

We have exceptional beautiful readings for us today. We need to answer for ourselves, “Who is Jesus Christ to me right now?” 

Our Gospel is a turning point for the disciples to finally have an understanding of who Jesus is. In two previous stories, Jesus has scolded the disciples for not understanding and not seeing who is his. Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do the people say I am?” The disciples answered, “Some say you are a great prophet, others say you are John the Baptist come back to life, others Elijah or Jeremiah. The people have a high opinion of Jesus, but they do not see him as the prophet that Moses spoke about in the Old Testament. Jesus turns to them and asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter professes “You are the Christ. The one we have been waiting for.” Peter is saying, “You are the one through whom God has spoken and will accomplish all of his will.”  

Jesus then goes on to say what kind of Kingdom he will have as he will suffer, die and rise again on the third day. Peter pulls Jesus aside and says, “Jesus do not talk like that we do not like it!” Jesus corrects him, “Get behind me, Satan!” They know who he is, they do not know what kind of Messiah Jesus is?  

The reality of this story is Peter responded just as we would; he wants Jesus not to know pain as he does not want him to die a shameful death on the cross. Pater does not understand how going to the cross will be victorious. God’s way of thinking turns everything upside down and it will always mean a major shift in our thinking and a conversion of our hearts.  

Who is Jesus to us, and what does he mean to all of us? Who do you say that I am? Do we believe he will he is leading us, or are we trying to lead Jesus to what we want? The Eucharist is offered to us, to help bring our hearts to him and be filled with his grace.

 

We need to wait on the Lord

Wednesday of the Sixth week of Ordinary Time

Genesis 8:6-13, 20-22

Mark 8: 22-26

I have a home improvement project going on at my home in GH. As much as I would like to get it done, better things are coming to me to do the longer it takes for me to complete the project. If I had rushed into the project, I would have done it wrong. Our readings teach us the benefit of waiting on God. 

In our first reading from Genesis, Noah who has been on the Ark with his family and all the animals, for almost a year and he is beginning to want off the Ark. He cannot see the dry land, so Noah first sends out a raven, and it flew around and then flew away. He waited a bit then he sent out a dove, but it flew back. He waited some more time, and then he sent the dove out again, and this time it returned with an olive branch, and Noah was hopeful about getting off the Ark as olive trees do not grow in high places. When Noah gets off the Ark, he and his family make a sacrifice to God in thanksgiving for letting them live through the great flood.   

Our Gospel today is an interesting one because it is the only time that Jesus does a healing, and it is done in two stages. Jesus has to lay his hands on the blind man twice to fully heal him. Is Jesus losing his power? There is a great spiritual truth in this story, and the first is that this story comes from two previous stories of Jesus asking his disciples, “Do you still not see and understand what I am about?” This story is the antithesis of those two stories because after this the disciples will begin to understand. The other thing this story has to teach us is just because we live in faith does not mean that everything will become perfectly clear to us when we want it. We are not to give up on the Lord, we are to wait on him and he will see us through whatever struggles we may be having.  

What are we waiting for in our lives today, may this Eucharist give us the grace and the strength to wait on the Lord.  

 

 

God is always merciful!

 

Tuesday Sixth week Ordinary Time

Genesis 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10

Mark 8:1- 21

St. Cyril and St. Methodius

 

It is Valentine’s Day, and it is the one time of year that you get to tell that someone how special they are to us. In our readings today God tells us how special we are to him, but we need to listen and obey what he is calling us to do. 

In our reading from the book of Genesis, we get a simple truth that God is all good and merciful even when God’s people fall to temptation and sin. God is so upset with what he created that he wants to destroy it all and begin again. Before he destroys everything, he finds Noah and his family to build an ark and put two of every animal on the ark. The English word for “ark” is a wooden box or chest, referring to the Ark of the Covenant. God is kind and merciful through Noah, and God’s creation begins again.

In the Gospels, Jesus and his disciples are in a boat, and they have forgotten to bring any bread to eat. Jesus says, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod.” The Jewish people understood “yeast” as a corrupting agent because it caused fermentation. What Jesus is saying is be wary of the Pharisee’s narrow-mindedness and Herod hedonistic pleasure seeking. The disciples completely miss the point as they are only thinking of their bellies and when they are going to eat again. 

My friends in Christ, we have the very same God, who has not changed saying to us, Do you still not see what needs to be changed?” Lent will be here soon, and it is never too early to begin to think about what we need to do to turn ourselves back to God. What are those things in our lives that are triggers to temptation and sin? Our Eucharist is offered to us to help us turn back to God and live holy lives.