This is our greatest hour!


Fifth Sunday of Lent

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Hebrews 5:7-9

John 12: 20-33


Recently a call came into the office to celebrate the sacrament of the Last Rites with someone who was actively dying. Cheryl and I went as quickly as we could, and when we arrived we were surprised as we walked into this small room, and it was filled with people. In the room were the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren and they were all surrounding the bed of their loved one who was dying. I celebrated the sacrament with the person, and the son-in-law said: “Believe it or not, this is the best day of her life!” This family made this time of death, a time to celebrate life!


We don’t like to acknowledge death because death is sad, painful and scary. Unfortunately, we tend to run away from death, to hide from our feelings, and avoid it at whatever cost! Our readings today help us to face the ‘greatest moment of our lives.’


In our Gospel, some Greeks come to the disciples and say, “We would like to see Jesus.” I love this line because I would like to see Jesus and I would assume you would also? Jesus responds, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” We do want to see Jesus, but to see Jesus means we must participate in his life, death, and resurrection. We tend to focus on the life and resurrection part and skip the part of death. If we want to see and know the fullness of Jesus, we must not skip over death.


Next week when we gather we begin the week we call “Holy” by celebrating Palm Sunday. Within Holy Week is the Triduum which is all about the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Holy Week is given to us not only to face physical death but to face all the spiritual and emotional deaths we face every day. We die a thousand deaths each day. There are deaths of relationships, marriages, hopes, dreams, careers, health and beliefs. Regardless of what it looks like, it is still a death. All these little deaths, when we see how God has helped us through them should help us with our death and how God will help us through it. Holy Week should be a week we spend more time in prayer. A Hebrew understanding of prayer is there are three kinds, and they lead to three different levels. There is a silent prayer that we pray all the time. There is a prayer that we cry out in a loud voice to get God’s attention, and there is the prayer of tears, which when prayed is from our hearts, filled with great emotion and this is the highest form of private prayer.


My friends in Christ, the pathway to seeing Jesus is not possible unless we are willing to face all of our little and big deaths. Jesus did not ask to be saved from death, he faced it, in all of its turmoil. If we want to see Jesus, we must see death, as our greatest moment. It is only through death that we can become the bread of life.


Where are we from and where are we going?


Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Wisdom 2:1, 12-22

John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

All School Mass


Tell me where are you from? Ask a few kids. Who knows where I am from?


In our Gospel, Jesus is in the city of Jerusalem, and it is the Festival of the Booths. The Festival of the Booths is similar to our Thanksgiving. I have been to Israel during this time and what the people do is build booths outside their homes, and they live in them to remember where they had come from when their ancestors wandered in the desert, and to know who sent them out of the desert into the Promised Land.


There are some people who are angry at Jesus because they know him, and they know where he is from, but they do not know whom sent him. Jesus says, “You know me, and you know where I am from, but you do not know the one who sent me.”  Jesus is very disappointed in them for not believing in him. Jesus has to get the Good News out, and he needs help in doing it.


Today we celebrate our patron feast day of St. Patrick. Patrick was from Britain, and at the age of 16, he was captured by Irish pirates and brought to Ireland to feed sheep. He would escape back to Britain at the age of 20. Patrick became a priest, and after becoming a Bishop, he was sent back to Ireland where he converted many pagan people over a 40 year period.


We gather this day, knowing where we are from and knowing who is sending us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Our ancestors meet here 174 years ago knowing where they had come from and knowing they were being sent here to begin something new. We are now commissioned by Christ to carry on what has been started a long time ago. 


Be a good mentor


Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Exodus 32:7-14

John 5:31-47


Who have you mentored today in the faith? A mentor is a disciple who is willing to share their faith and speak what they know about Jesus. When we share our faith, our joy, our thoughts, this is an act of God. Our readings put us in touch with who will we mentor the Good News of Jesus Christ with today?


In our first reading, Moses is a good mentor for the people as today, God’s says, “Moses they are your people.” All the other times God refers to the people as “His people.” The people have fallen away from their faith in God, but Moses has not forgotten his role as a mentor for the people. Although the Lord is outraged with his people, Moses stands up for the people and begs God to relent his punishment. Moses is a great mentor for the people.


In our Gospel, Jesus seems to be on trial for claiming himself to be one with God the Father. Jesus makes the case that there are a few good mentors that prove to who he is. Jesus says John the Baptist was a good mentor of his arrival. Jesus says his works are a mentor and prove that he is the Son of God. He could not do all those miracles without the help of God. Jesus says, God, the father has spoken on his behalf and is a good mentor for who he is. Finally, Jesus says, the scriptures themselves are a mentor and speak that he would come and be the Savior of the world.


It is our turn to now stand in line and be a good mentor for the existence of Christ in our lives and others. Our Eucharist is given to us to strengthen us to do all we can to be a good mentor.



We are given superhuman power!


Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Isaiah 49:8-15

John 5:17-30


We love our human superheroes. When I was a small boy, it was Superman, Batman, the Green Hornet, and the Fantastic Four. We like it when good triumphs over evil. We all dream of having super-human powers. I dreamed my superhuman powers were that I could fly. I always thought the reason I had this superpower was because of my last name. As, I think about it now, I believe that God knew there would be a day that I would wear a gown that all I had to do was spread my arms out and I could take off and fly. Our Readings today bring us to remember that we are given superhuman powers each time we celebrate the Eucharist.


The prophet Isaiah speaks to a people who are still being held captive in Babylon. Isaiah wants them to remember that God has not forgotten them as he says, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for her child in her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you?” What a beautiful image, one in which I hope to meditate on all day long. The image of never being forgotten should give us superhuman powers.


In our Gospel, Jesus describes himself as a follower of God the Father: like his Father, like the child, they are one of the same. Jesus is saying he does nothing on his own, the Father and he remembers everything, and greater things are yet to come. Jesus and God are the Dynamic Duos! When you add the Holy Spirit, they become something even greater.  


We gather to remember our superhuman powers given to us to remember all that God has done for us and will do for us. The superhuman powers we are given are to love, to forgive, to be patient and to give God glory. May we know and believe that we have all of the power of the world and heaven on our side.



Grab hold of our lifeline!


Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12

John 5:1-16


There was very popular game show on a few years ago called “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” Contestants had to answer questions and if you did not know the answer to a question you were given a lifeline, where you could call a friend who would help you. Our readings are about a lifeline, and the good news is that it is always present to us.


In our first reading from Ezekiel, we hear of the lifeline of water that begins as a trickle from the temple. As it flows out, it eventually becomes a river and everything the river touches teams with an abundance of life. This vision shows us what can happen when we reach for our lifeline in God.


In our Gospel, there is the man who has been sick for a long time as he waits by the healing pools of Bethesda. The man’s lifeline is right in front of him, and he does not acknowledge Jesus Christ. Our reading tells us that Jesus knew the man had been ill for a long time, so Jesus knows him. Jesus asks, “Do you want to be healed?” It would seem obvious that man wants to be healed after suffering for 38 years! The man does not respond with a firm “Yes” as you might think, he says, “There is no one to put me in the pool.” Jesus tells him to get up and pick up your mat and walk. The man does not thank Jesus for being healed; he just goes about his way. When the man is questioned by authorities of who healed him on the Sabbath, he simply replies as if he does not know Jesus. The man is healed, he has been given a lifeline, yet he fails to now Jesus. 


What are we doing with the lifeline that is being given to us? What needs to change so we will be better? What are we waiting for? Do we trust Jesus enough to do what he wants us to do? May we grab hold of the lifeline because we have been warned. 




Facing our fear and seeing God!


Fourth Sunday of Lent

II Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23

Ephesians 2: 4-10

John 3:14-21


The other day, I was watching a local celebrity who was promoting the opening of the John Ball Park Zoo this weekend and the zoo trainer was holding a large snake. Is there anyone here who does not like snakes? As the zoo trainer was talking about the snake, this celebrity always kept her distance, and if the trainer moved closer to her, she would move back out of the way. I do not blame her at all because I do not like snakes, and I would also keep my distance from a snake. Our readings bring us to know the joy of this day.


In our Gospel, Nicodemus is looking for that joy, but because he is a Pharisee he has to come to Jesus in the night and ask all his questions. In answering one of his questions, Jesus refers to the time that Moses lifted up a snake on a pole for the people to look at. Nicodemus being a good Jew, and someone well versed in the history of the Jewish people would have known what Jesus was referring to. Jesus has Nicodemus remember when the people were disobedient and God sent snakes to bite the people. The people repented, and Moses made a bronze snake and hung it on a pole. When the people looked at the bronze snake, they were healed and cured of any illness.


We want to live in joy, but we live as though there are snakes all around us! We avoid what we fear, the things that hurt, the things that can bite. We avoid our addictions, our broken relationships, and we run away and not deal with it. We need to do the very same thing the people of Israel did, and that looks whatever is troubling us right in the face and be healed.


I wonder what would have happened if our local celebrity would have stared that snake straight in the eyes, to see who would blink first. The Israelites stared at the very thing they feared, and they were healed. We can live in joy when we look at the very things we fear and now see the face of Christ, who has already won the victory for us.


We come to know joy, and it is possible as the writer John tells us, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son over to death, so who believes in him will not perish and will have eternal life.”


As we go through our week, may we come to know joy as we look in the eye those things we fear, those things that are undone, and not run but look to Christ, and believe for he has not come to condemn the world but to raise us up!



This is our greatest hour!


Friday of the Third Week of Lent

Hosea 14: 2-10

Mark 12:28 – 34

No school today!

Prayer over Gifts the word “salutary” is used. This is hard to say!


In all the things we have accomplished in our lives what was our greatest accomplishment? In second grade Sr. Maria Hosea gave me two big shiny red apples at the end of the school day to reward me for working so hard. I was not a very good student; things came hard for me. As a little boy, this remains one of my finest hours.  


Last night I was at St. Roberts for a penance service and the window that was right above me that is all I had to look at had the words, “They came to me.” I kept reading that and thinking, “Yes, this is our greatest accomplishment because we have come back to God.


Our readings challenge us, to know that this time with Christ in this Eucharist is our greatest hour.


If you are ever feeling down, not sure of yourself, feel like a loser, then you need to read the book of Hosea. It is God’s greatest hour of mercy showered on people who have turned their backs on God, but God never gives up. God’s tells the people he wants them like a lily to grow beautiful and strong and he will be like a tall cedar to give them shade in the hot sun. Mercy and forgiveness is God’s greatest gift.   


In our Gospel, Jesus asks, “What is the greatest of all the commandments?” Jesus responds, “To love the Lord our God alone. You shall love the Lord with your whole heart, your whole soul, with your whole mind, and with all your strength. The second is just as important: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Jesus says, “When you do these things you are close to the Kingdom of God.”


Our greatest hour is right now because this time together in this Eucharist is where we are given hope, courage, peace and whatever else we need to go about our day in Christ.May we never take this time for granted because it is our greatest hour.