Be people of great hope!

 

Tuesday Thirtieth Week Ordinary Time

Romans 8:18-25

Luke 13: 18-21

I did something yesterday that has been on my bucket list for over 12 years. I bought a cemetery plot, in hopes of using it someday. Today is a day of great hope! Why? Because every day we are alive and Jesus Christ is still our Savior is a day of great hope! Our readings today, encourage us to be people of hope.

 

In our first reading, St. Paul is letting us know God is not done with creation or us, he has so much more in store for the world. Paul says, “All of the creation groans as in labor pains as it awaits the coming of God.” I was out on the Grand Haven pier, which is open now, and there were 40 mph winds. I could defiantly hear all of creation groaning! He goes on to say, “We as humans groan knowing that all of our suffering and pain is only temporary. We hope for the redemption that we cannot see. Hope is only hope when we cannot see and yet we believe.

 

In our Gospel, is letting us know when God seems out of sight he is still present. Jesus talks about how a little mustard seed when planted in the ground out of sight grows into a big bush and gives many birds shade and shelter. Jesus continues by speaking about how a small amount of yeast can make a large amount of flour rise into something great to eat. Jesus is telling us it only takes a little hope.

 

As we gather today, we are challenged to be people of hope. We are challenged not to rush the process, but to take in each moment and learn of God’s love. A small amount of hope can make a big difference. May the Eucharist help us to be people of great hope?

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Love God, neighbor, and self!

 

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Exodus 22:20-26

I Thessalonians 1:5-10

Matthew 22: 34-40

 

Please respond yes to the following questions? Do you love the God the Father with all of our heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind? Do you love the Jesus Christ with all of our heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind? Do you love the Holy Spirit with all of our heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind? Do you love your neighbor with all of our heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind? Do you love yourself with all of our heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind? You just proved why these readings are so powerful for us because the response got quieter as I asked the questions. All of this will be challenged by what Jesus said and how he said it.

 

In our Gospel, the Pharisees ask Jesus, “What commandment is the greatest?” With over 600 different laws to follow they want Jesus to boil it down to one. This is one of the times that Jesus does answer the questions as he responds, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with your entire mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The first part of his answer would not have been surprising to them, “To love the Lord, with all of your heart, and all of your mind.” This is the Shema prayer; they would have been saying this every day. In saying this prayer the people are giving their fullest attention to God, we should be doing the same.

 

It is in the second part of his answer that Jesus makes a dramatic change in making one commandment. Jesus says, “We are to love our neighbor as ourselves.” To love God is to love our neighbor because God is all love. We should ask, “Then who is our neighbor?” Jesus would respond, “Everyone!” In our first reading that we come to an understanding of what Jesus is talking about. We see that God has a special place for those who poor, vulnerable, alienated or rejected. God says, “I will hear their cries.” All those people we keep at a distance for whatever reason, God has a special place for them in his heart. It does not matter what this person is worth to us, what matters is the worth they have with God.

 

Finally, what makes this Gospel, so challenging is, “We are to love our neighbor as ourselves.” So, I will go back and ask, “Do we love ourselves?” The best thing about turning sixty is that it is the age of wisdom. When I was 40, or even 50, when I heard about someone turning 60, I thought they are so wise. I now know who I am and I know what I can do and what I cannot do, and I am ok with both ends of that spectrum. When we love ourselves, we accept everything about ourselves and what other people think does not bother us as much as it may have previously. How we love ourselves will tell a lot of how we love God and how we will love our neighbor.

 

In closing, think about how God loves us right now, not because we have done anything great or good, he loves us because he created us. God even loves us when we have done something wrong. Now think of those people God has put in our lives, can we make a conscious effort to love them just for who they are, not because they have done something good but just love them? Now think of those people who we are having a difficult time loving right now? Can we make a conscious effort to love just for who they are, setting aside the hurt, setting aside the hurtful words and the disturbing actions?  

 

May the Eucharist give us the strength to “Love the Lord, your God, with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with our entire minds, and to love your neighbor as yourself.” May we live our lives in such as way unless God did exist?

 

We need to examine our lives!

 

Friday of the 29th Week

Romans 7:18-25

Luke 12: 54-59

 

Every Friday morning the Liturgy of Hours for Morning Prayer has Psalm 51, to be read. It reads as follows:

 

Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions. Thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me. For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your eyes.  So that you are just in your word, and without reproach in your judgment.

Behold, I was born in guilt, in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, you desire true sincerity; and secretly you teach me wisdom.  Cleanse me with hyssop,* that I may be pure; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. You will let me hear gladness and joy; the bones you have crushed will rejoice.

Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my iniquities. A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit. Do not drive me from before your face, nor take from me your holy spirit.

Restore to me the gladness of your salvation; uphold me with a willing spirit.

 

As a priest, this is a very good examine of my life to prepare me for the celebrations of the Eucharist for the weekend. Each Friday, I review my week and ask God for his mercy and I pray to be at my best when I celebrate the weekend liturgies. Psalm 51, is a very good examination of our conscious. I believe that is what God is asking of us as we hear the readings for today.

 

St. Paul is going through an examination of his life as it sounds like he is powerless against something as he says,” I know the good, but my flesh is weak.”  Paul is very much aware of the conflict going on in his life he aware of his humanness, and he is very much aware of his need of Christ in his life. I love these words of St. Paul, because we always hear Paul being very confident and in this passage, he is very vulnerable.

 

In our Gospel, there is a great examine going on as Jesus says in our gospel, “You see a dark cloud coming from the west, and you say it is going to rain and t does.  You feel the wind come from the south and you say it will get warmer and it does.”  You see things going on around you, but you fail to see the sin in your own life.  You hypocrites!

 

As we gather today for this Eucharist, how should we examine our lives, and see those things that need to be changed, but also admit those things, like Paul that we are powerless against? In our prayer, may we run to God and seek his help to guide us through our day.

Are we on fire for the Lord?

 

Thursday Twenty-Ninth Week Ordinary Time

Romans 6:19-23

Luke 12:49-53

 

Wow! What a tough Gospel! What is Jesus talking about to us, I thought he was the King of Peace?

 

In our Gospel, Jesus begins by talking about how he wants a fire to be always burning in our hearts for him. Our desire for Jesus has to be our number one desire. This desire for Jesus needs to be the way we look at everything in our lives. Where is our desire for serving Jesus Christ in our lives right now!

 

Then Jesus goes on to say how he wants to spread not peace but the division in families and our relationships. This statement does not bother me as much as the first statement about a “fire” because I think Jesus is just stating the obvious to us. There will always be some people we do not get along with, and they do not get along with us. Jesus wants us to be prepared for these unfortunate relationships and know how to deal with them when they occur.

 

So, now go back to the first statement Jesus made about the blazing fire. When our relationship with Jesus is on fire, and we see Jesus in all we do, then we will know how to live and what to do in all situations. We strive for authentic relationships, and Jesus offers us this ability to do so in him.

 

 

May our hearts be on fire for the Lord this day and may we strive to serve God is all we do.

 

Be a master of faith, hope and love!

 

Wednesday of the 29th Week

Romans 6:12-18

Luke 12:39-48

 

Our readings work well together because they bring us to a topic we all know well, and that is sin. We all do it, some of us do it better than others, but we all fall into temptation and sin. So what do we do about it? Our readings help us to understand sin and what we are to do to help us not to fall into temptation and sin.

 

In our first reading St. Paul says, “Sin is not to reign in our mortal bodies, it is not to have power over us.” He continues by saying, “Do not be a slave to sin, but be a slave to the obedience to God, which leads to righteousness living.” So there needs to be an understanding of what will be obedient too.   

 

Our Gospel we hear about a story of a master who if he knew when the thief was coming he would have protected himself against the arrival of the thief.”  Are we the master of our lives, our bodies, our thoughts? If we are the master then why do we not protect ourselves against sin and temptation? We will be held accountable for our thoughts, words, and actions. Are we attentive to the thieves that come and steal our peace away?

 

To combat temptation and sin, ask yourself, “What makes me happy and filled with joy?” When we live with faith, hope and love are when we find peace. Work toward these things!

Think of the times when we are not at peace? I would bet that these are the times when we give into evil and are not working to faith, hope and love?  

 

Our Eucharist is given to us so we will be able to fight against temptation and sin. May all of God’s grace be alive with us today?  

 

 

Give to God what is God’s!

Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 45:1, 4-6

I Thessalonians 1:1-5

Matthew 22: 15-21

 

Ask for kids to volunteer to help me. Whisper to kids to play is a dog, a cat, a frog, or a Queen or a King.

These kids are adorable and cute, and they did a great job, but the question for us is, “Are we play acting when it comes to living our faith or are we doing everything we can to live our faith?”

 

In our first reading from Isaiah the prophet says, “I have called you by name.” I love that line; God has called us by name, to be one of his chosen people. The prophet continues, “There is no other God but me.” What are the other gods we have in our lives? Ex. Sex, drugs, alcohol.

 

St. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians says, “Grace and peace to you for your faith, hope, and love that you have shown because you have been specially chosen to live in this manner.” How do we show faith, hope, and love in our lives?

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is being asked a question by some Pharisees and Herodians. The Pharisees and the Herodian’s were normally at odds with each other. Both groups were Jewish, the Pharisees opposed the Roman rule while the Herodian’s liked Romans. They ask him, “Is it lawful to pay the tax to Caesar or not?” It is a tricky question, because if he answers yes, then he will be seen as a traitor to the Jewish people. If he answers no, then he will be a rebel against Rome. Jesus doesn’t answer the question; he asks, “Show me the coin that pays the census tax? Whose image is on this coin?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” “Then pay to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what belongs to God.”

 

However, here is the twist to the story! At this time, the Romans had their coins, and on each coin, there was an image of the emperor, and it read, “Caesar Augustus the divine one.” What the coin was saying is Caesar is a God. Because the Jews knew there was only one God, Yahweh, the Romans produced other coins that the Jewish people would use without the image of Caesar Augustus on it. So, when Jesus asks for a coin to pay the tax, these priestly men produce the Roman coin. They are even conflicted in their spiritual lives.

 

We gather to decide “Are we just play acting or could we be doing more to follow Jesus Christ?” We are being called into a special relationship with Christ; we need to choose. We are called to this table where we are one, may we live in Christ this week.  

 

We are loved by God!

 

Friday of the 28th Week

Romans 4:1-8

Luke 12:1-7

All School Mass

 

Do you know the game show, “Let’s make a Deal?” We are going to play this game.

Have three cups with lids on each cup so you cannot see what is inside the cup.

In one cup have one gold coin worth one dollar. In the second cup have five pennies. In the third cup have two nickels.

Pick three students.

The first student picks a cup and decides if that is the cup they want to keep. They are not to open the cup until all have chosen a cup.

Have the second student pick a cup, and the third student gets the remaining cup.

At the same time have the students open their cups and tell what is in the cup.

 

Who got the most valuable prize? It was hard to tell what was the most valuable by shaking the cup. It was not until you were able to look inside the cup that you knew how valuable it was. The Good News of Jesus Christ is he can see the inside of us, and he still loves us.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is speaking to people who are afraid and think they are not worth very much. Jesus says, “Not even the birds escape his notice, all the hairs on our heads are counted.” We are worth so much more than the birds or the hair on our heads.

 

If we are feeling the least bit unloved or unlovable, then we need to hear this gospel message. The Eucharist we share is God letting us know how much we are loved, never doubt it. May we come to know the love of God today!