Do we listen to God?

 

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

Jeremiah 18:18-20

Matthew 20:17-28

 

Do you ever feel as though no one is listening, and you are just talking to the wind? A teacher says, “Class, please be quiet?” and the students keep on talking. A parent says, “Stop playing that video game and get your homework done.” And the children keep on playing. In our readings, people are not being listened to, and they are just doing what they want to do.

 

In our first reading, Jeremiah has been sent to the people to speak the Word of God to the people. The people of Jerusalem and Judah are no longer listening to what Jeremiah has to say, and they now are plotting to kill him.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus has just spoken to the disciples of how is to be handed over and to die on the cross. The disciples do not hear what he is saying and making matters worse James and John have gone home and told their mother, and she is now come to defend her boys before Jesus. She too does not listen to Jesus.

 

Jesus brings his disciples to him and he speaks to them what will be the very core teaching of his ministry and mission. Jesus says, “If you want to be great then be a servant to all people.”

 

What challenges me in our readings, is that the people who are not listening are not the enemies of Jeremiah, it is not the Gentiles in the time of Jesus. The ones that are not listening are the Holy People of God and the chosen disciples! Let us not be quick to judge.

 

How do we need to hear the Word of God spoken to us and be great as we serve all we meet.

 

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Are we who we say we are?

 

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent

Isaiah 1:10, 16-20

Matthew 23:1-12

 

It is always good to remember that when we celebrate the Eucharist, it is one continues prayer. There are times when we pray together, there are times when you pray alone, and there are times when I pray silently. There are a few times during the celebration of the Mass when I pray silently, and most of these prayers are praying for me to remember who I am and what I am doing. Before I proclaim the gospel, I pray, to be worthy; as I set the altar, I pray to remember to be humble; as I am washing my hands I pray to wash away all of my sins, and after the Lamb of God, I pray to be free of sin and evil and to live by the commandments. All of these silent prayers are to remind me what you see on the outside as holy is what is going on on the inside of me. How are all of us holy on the inside and the outside?

 

In our first reading, Isaiah the prophet says, “Hear the word of God and listen to the instruction of our God. Wash clean! Cease doing evil; learn to do good. Let us set things right.”

 

In our Gospel, Jesus says, “Observe what the scribes and the Pharisees tell you, but do not do as they do.”

 

The goal of Lent is to bring our insides in line with what people see. May they both be as holy!

 

 

 

See where God is leading us!

 

Second Sunday of Lent

Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18

Romans 8:31-34

Mark 9:2-10

 

Holding up a framed picture, and a window screen asks, “Would you rather be a framed picture or a window screen? Do you see yourself as a framed picture or a window screen?”  The framed picture and the window screen both have significance in our spiritual lives. Our readings challenge us to know the difference and to go deeper in our spiritual lives.

 

Let’s begin with the framed picture. If you are experiencing life right now as a framed picture, you are in good company because Peter in our Gospel is a framed picture. Peter is a framed picture person because the Lord has just transformed himself in all of his glory, and Peter wants to build booths and stay there forever. Peter does not see all the glory or all that God is trying to show him. Picture framed people do experience God in their lives and see him acting in their lives, but that is about it. Framed picture people tend to focus just on the frame and not the picture. What I mean by this is they live on the outside of life and not ready for whatever reason to go deeper. Picture framed people might say, “Is this all there to life?” Are we experiencing life on the edges and afraid of going any deeper?

 

If you are a window person, you are in good company because Abraham is experiencing life as a window. Abraham hears what God is asking of him, which is to slay his son Isaac, his most valuable possession. Abraham knows it is a test, and he can see through the window into something which may even be beyond his sight. Seeing our spiritual lives as a window allows us to see what is outside our window, but to be continually looking at the foreground and what may be coming.

 

Let me give you an example of moving from seeing life as a framed picture to a window. To all the parents here today, can we remember holding our first child in our arms? At that moment we knew that our lives were going to be forever changed, it was time to grow up. To all the Grandparents, how awesome was it to hold your first grandchild in your arms? It is at that moment we see our lives come full circle. This week, I had someone come visit, and then said, “Since my spouse died, my whole life is different, but I see God in a whole brand new way.”

 

The transition from a picture frame spirituality to a window spirituality is seeing the same old things with new eyes. We need to hear the same old voice with different ears. We need to experience our lives, not on the periphery but looking at our life deeper and where God is calling us to go.

 

People who live life as a window, are ready when God calls, they take risks, and when change comes they are ready, and they encourage others to do the same. It takes courage to live as a window, may we go through this window to where God is leading us.

Be a person of peace!

 

Friday of the First Week of Lent

Ezekiel 18:21-28

Matthew 5:20-26

 

Tell me what you do to prepare for a sporting event? Ex. Basketball Game

 

Tell me what you do to prepare for taking a test?

 

We know how to prepare for a game or a test, those we have down.

 

Tell me what you do to prepare to go to Mass?

 

In our Gospel, Jesus gives us the answer to preparing for Mass, but first, he tells us, that our holiness needs to be greater than the religious leaders of our time. The best example I can give you is we are to be holier than Bishop David.

 

Here is the answer Jesus gives us that we need to do to prepare for mass. Are you ready? Jesus says, “If you bring your gift to the altar and realize we have anything against someone, leave our gift at the altar, and go and be reconciled.” So if we have yelled at someone, said a bad word about someone, hurt someone or even thought a bad thought about someone. We need to leave right now and ask for forgiveness! If we took this for real who of us would be left in this church?

 

Jesus is telling us that we are to waste no time in seeking reconciliation with someone we have hurt. May the grace of this sacrament give us the courage to ask for forgiveness?

 

The Chair of Peter!

 

Thursday First Week of Lent

The Chair of St. Peter

I Peter 5: 1-4

Matthew 16:13-19

When I think of the people in my life that mean the most to me, I think of them in the chairs they loved to sit in. When I think of my grandparents on my mom’s side, I think of them sitting together on the porch swing waiting for us to arrive. When I think of my dad’s parents, I think of Grandpa Peacock sitting in his chair, and grandma sitting next to him in her chair.

 

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, but we do not celebrate the chair itself but what the chair represents. The chair of Peter represents to us the teaching and pastoral power of the Pope. It is a sign of unity of the Church.

 

In our first reading, Peter as the head of the church addresses his fellow ministers, priests, and servants. He wants them to fulfill their duties as leaders with a spirit of willingness, enthusiasm, and servitude. Some were going about their roles reluctantly, and Peter is encouraged to serve joyfully.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus has asked the disciples what the people think of Him, and now he asks the disciples what they think of Him. Peter boldly says, “You the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responds, “To you Peter, upon this rock, I will build my Church, and I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of God.

 

Today we honor the position of the head of the church, the pope, who sits on the Chair of Peter. Let us give thanks for St. Peter and all those who have succeeded him as Pope for their service, dedication, faithfulness, teaching, preaching, and courage that has helped preserve the unity of the Church.

 

Pope Francis says of all leaders of the church. Do we free hearts to love and forgive? Do we ‘smell like the sheep’ or separate ourselves from them? Let us also pray for all Church leaders that they will be strong in faith and worthy to carry out their office. 

 

We need a sign!

 

Wednesday of the First Week of Lent

Jonah 3:1-10

Luke 11:29-32

 

What would we do without the proper signs in our lives to tell us what to do and where to go? We have signs to tell us when to stop, and we have signs to tell us when to go, we need all these signs, or we would live in chaos. Our readings have a lot to do with signs, our spiritual signs that we need telling us where to go.

 

In our first reading, Jonah is a sign to the people of Nineveh of God’s powerful words and God’s love. Jonah walks only one day into a three-day walk, and all the people including the king repent of their sinfulness. The people of Nineveh become a sign of what God wants to happen in everyone hearts.

 

In our Gospel, the Jews want another sign to convince them who Jesus is. Jesus has already performed many signs as he has healed the sick, brought the dead back to life, and yet they ask for another sign. Their hearts are far from the Lord, and another sign is not needed.

 

The greatest sign of God’s love and mercy is Jesus Christ. The greatest sign that Jesus uses to show this love and mercy is converting our hearts away from temptation and sin and back to him. We become Christ’s greatest sign to the world of his love when we use our gifts and strengths to build up the Kingdom of God. We become a great sign to the world when we realize our weaknesses and our shortcomings, and we turn back to God and ask for forgiveness and change our ways.

 

The Eucharist we celebrate has the power to change our hearts back to Christ. St. Augustine once said, “The one thing we can count on is God’s mercy and forgiveness and seek our conversion. The one thing we cannot count on is that we have tomorrow to do it.”

 

May we change our hearts today and be the sign to all we meet of God’s saving love and forgiveness.    

 

Making prayer God’s will!

 

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Isaiah 55:10-11

Matthew 6:7-15

 

The weather has changed dramatically today as the rain falls and it is still winter. The change of weather is a good reminder to us what our readings are challenging us to do and that is to constantly be changing our prayer lives. What I need to face is my biggest obstacle to prayer is myself! I constantly need to remind myself what prayer is and how I should pray. Prayer is to be like a fire that continues to grow hotter and hotter. Where I stumble, many times is making prayer not my agenda but God’s agenda. It is ok to have our laundry list of things to pray for, but it, in the end, we need to remember it is always about God’s will not our will. True prayer is an eviction notice to our priorities and replacing them with God’s agenda.

 

Our first reading from the prophet Isaiah tells us the result of what happens when we pray with God’s agenda, not our agenda. The only thing that can happen when God word is to us is to be like the snow and the rain that comes down from heaven, it waters the earth and makes it fruitful. The only result of God’s word leaving his mouth is it has to accomplish what it is sent to do.

 

In our Gospel, we have a perfect example of this as we are given the very prayer of Jesus. Let’s be clear; God knows what we need before we ask, so we don’t need to ramble on. Prayer brings us to a place to begin in God’s place, and ask God what he wants. Prayer is never just about God and me. Prayer is always about me, God and others.

 

Jesus gives us his prayer, which we know as the “Our Father.” In praying the Our Father, the first thing we do is give God glory; we then pray to ask that God’s will be done. We pray for our daily bread. Do we know what it is all the time? No! We trust that God will give us what we need. We pray to forgive, as God has forgiven us. Finally, we pray, that we are not subjected to trial and be handed over to the evil one.

 

In this Eucharist, may all of our prayers change us to the will of God.