The Birth of John the Baptist
Luke 1:57-66, 80
As we celebrate the Nativity of John the Baptist our first lesson we learn is from Zechariah and Elizabeth. What we learn is at times it takes a long time for God’s plans to unfold. In the time of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the Jewish culture looked at childless couples with great shame. God told Adam and Eve to “be fertile and multiply.” A childless couple would be looked down upon in their community. However, we see that Zechariah and Elizabeth continued to pray, and trust themselves to God’s care and his will. We can only imagine their joy when Elizabeth gave birth to a child especially a boy, someone to carry on the legacy. The name John in Hebrew means “gift of God.” But you might imagine their great disappointment when John grows up and takes off for the desert and does not marry. Leaving Zechariah and Elizabeth with no grandchildren would once again bring them shame from their, friends and family.
How often in our lives have we had to wait for God to act? Or, we act for God to act and it is not the answer we were hoping to happen. At this point, we only have two choices: to become bitter and cynical or to hold fast to our trust in God and his mysterious design. We need to remind ourselves, God does answers prayers, but God does it in three different ways. There is the simple “Yes” from God which we all prefer. There is the answer from God of “Not yet” we don’t like this one because it requires more faith and trust. Finally, there is the best answer, and that is “I have a better plan.” In this answer, we do not get what we asked for, but God in his wisdom has a better plan which will be more fulfilling than our plan.
If I had to leave you with a message, it would be the lesson of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and that is God’s plan “B” is always better then our plan “A.” May we all wait on the Lord and know his will for our lives.
Friday Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time
II Kings 11: 1-4, 9-18, 20
Matthew 6:19- 23
As I have been packing, I have realized how I have been storing many treasures in my nine years of being at St. Patrick’s. I am still trying to figure out how to get all these treasures over to Holy Spirit Parish. Our readings challenge us to what do we store up as a treasure in our lives?
In our first reading, we hear of an evil queen who after her son is killed who would be the heir to the throne, she has all the boys who would be in line to the throne killed. The one boy who would be next in line to be king is stored away as a treasure to come out later and to be the king.
In our Gospel, Jesus tells us that we are to store up a treasure in heaven that will never decay, dissolve, or be stolen. As I get older what matters to me is not my possessions, but to be loved and to love someone in return.
My treasures are not so much my possessions but the
As I pack up and see all the things that people have given me and all the letters and cards, they mean a lot. What means even more to me that I will always treasure are the relationships I have made with you and many other people here at St. Patrick’s. These things will never fade away.
May we know when we celebrate the Eucharist we are always connected as one. May we know our treasure in Jesus Christ.
Thursday Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time
St. Aloysius Gonzaga
In my move to Holy Spirit Parish, the room that I am most concerned about is not my office; it is not the living room or the kitchen, it is my prayer room. I need a room that I can put my prayer chair, a candle, and a crucifix. I need this sacred inner room to help me to go out into the outer room of life and know what to say and do. The line before our Gospel says, “When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to God in secret.” A good prayer room is the most important room in my new rectory.
In our first reading from the writer of Sirach, we hear that Elijah by his words was able to bring down fire; he brought a man back from the dead, and he sent kings to destruction. Elisha by his words brought about many marvels. I can only imagine these two men having a prayer room to be in contact with God to go and do all the great things of God.
In our Gospel Jesus speaks powerful words as he teaches his disciples how to pray the Our Father. The words we are to say begin with giving God glory and praise, we acknowledge that we are given what we need, and then we say the words that we will say words of forgiveness to those who need forgiveness.
As we gather this day let us be mindful of the words we speak today. Our words have the power to build up or to destroy. Let us listen to the words of God and speak his words of comfort.
Wednesday Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time
II Kings 2:1, 6-14
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Once again what profound readings we have for us today. I may be the only one who is leaving, but I am not the only one in transition. All of us are in some level of transition as I leave and Fr. Tom arrives. We are all trying to anticipate what life is going to be like after July 6th. Our readings help us to be asking the right questions and to be doing the right things.
In our first reading, we hear about the transition from the prophet Elijah whose time has come to an end to the new prophet Elisha who will be the new prophet for Israel. As Elijah is preparing to leave, he turns to Elisha and asks, “Ask for whatever I may do for you, and I will grant it?” Elisha could have asked for anything he wanted, wealth, long life but Elisha knows that to be a good prophet for Israel, he would need to have a good relationship with God, and so he asks for a double portion of God’s spirit. A “double portion” is asking for what a father would give his oldest son as an inheritance. It is not a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.
In our Gospel, there is the transition Jesus telling his disciples of what they need to do to be connected to him. Jesus tells them to be people of prayer, people who fast, and people who give alms. In times of transition, we are not to neglect these three things.
In this time of transition be well and know that God is good and he will take care of us.
Tuesday Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time
I Kings 21:17-29
I want you to brace yourself for the most demanding reflection on these readings. However, before we get to these difficult readings remind yourself of the worst thing that we have ever done and know that God has forgiven us and loved us.
Now, bring to mind someone who has harmed us and there has never been amends. Call to mind the pain, the hurtful words, and the desire to strike back. Now in our minds extend a hand of forgiveness as God has forgiven us of our wrongdoing? I told you these readings are very demanding. Let’s take it up a notch and repeat the last line of the gospel, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
In our first reading, King Ahab and his wife Queen Jezebel have greatly sinned. The two of them have done so much evil that Elijah gets to go to them and tell them how badly they have been and that God is going to strike them and all members of their family down and dogs and birds will feast on their dead bodies. Elijah gets to do what we long to do when someone harms us, and that is to tell the person off. Ahab hears this news, and he puts on sackcloth, and he repents of his sinfulness. God sees how Ahab has repented of his sinfulness and God relents his punishment.
In our Gospel, Jesus calls his follower’s children of God and encourages them to go beyond the cultural norms of the times to reflect God’s unconditional love and to pray for their enemies.
My friends in Christ we should remember we may be on someone’s list of most hated and hard to forgive. We must understand that God’s forgiveness showers down on us and on those who have hurt us. We are not to judge, but to love. It is always good to pray for those we struggle to love and for those who struggle to love us. Know that we are not alone in this adventure.
Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 17: 22-24
II Corinthians 5:6-10
Mark 4: 26-34
Our readings I believe are perfect for us as they speak about the kingdom of God in our lives. I will admit, every time I hear “The Kingdom of God” I ask what does that mean? My understanding is it is being aware of the presence of God in our lives and where God is moving us too, even if we may be nervous about what God is asking us. I say these readings are “perfect” because it is what “I” in particular need to know this day.
St. Paul helps us understand the kingdom of God by saying, “We walk by faith, not sight.” How true this is! The primary purpose of sacred scripture is to teach us how to see, in faith. Sacred Scripture is always leading us to a deeper understanding of what we do not understand.
In our reading, Ezekiel speaks about the kingdom of God as this gigantic and magnificent Lebanon cedar. This cedar was thought of as the grandest of all trees. God plants this twig on a high mountain for all to see and all the birds of the air come and rest in its branches. I have seen the kingdom of God here at St. Patrick’s in this way as all the projects we were able to do by your generosity. A new roof, redoing the whole interior of the church, a new steeple, and now a complete redo of the exterior.
In our Gospel, Jesus goes the complete opposite direction in describing the kingdom of God then Ezekiel. Jesus describes the kingdom of God as a tiny mustard seed that eventually grows into an underwhelming shrub. Seldom do these shrubs grow taller than seven feet, they are not attractive, and they are seen as weeds. The branches are thin so most birds are not able to perch on its branches. Mustard plants are an ordinary plant that is very hardy and grow in all kinds of soils. We need to be like that mustard plant to grow where we are planted. I see the kingdom of God as a mustard shrub here at St. Patrick’s in all the wonderful small ways God reveals himself in the sacraments, around dinner tables, in this beautiful church, in people being welcoming and hospitable. In people meeting every challenge because they believe and never want people to forget the rich traditions that have been done here at St. Patrick’s.
The point our readings are bringing to us is that the kingdom of God is being revealed to us in big and in small ways. Are we able to see the kingdom of God unfolding in our midst? The other message is to know that the kingdom of God dwells within us. May we know the kingdom of God is unfolding in our midst right now.
Thursday Tenth Week of Ordinary Time
I Kings 18:41-46
I am getting weary! As each day passes and it is closer to the day I leave, I get weary. I have to pack, there is the Plaza Project, and there are appointments and the business of the church to take care of. I am weary! If you are feeling weary, there is hope from our readings today.
I have enjoyed the stories all week about Elijah. He has every right to feel weary, but he keeps on going. He has run to escape death, he has run out of food and water and needed to travel to a foreign land, he had to outwit 450 false prophets, and today all he has to do is make it rain to end the drought. As he prays, he sends his servant seven times up the mountain to look for rain, on the seventh time rain does come. Elijah runs before the King in his chariot as a sign of honor that God has acted in a powerful way in Elijah’s life. God has acted because Elijah always keeps his focus on God and believes in all that God has told him.
We can hear this Gospel and think, “It is just making me wearier!” If we keep our entire focus on Christ and seek balance in our life than what Jesus is asking of us is doable. We will realize what God is asking of us because we are in tune with what God is asking of us and it is all doable.
Let us not be weary, let us look to Christ and rest in his arms, for he held us up.