Stay Awake, and be ready!

 

Thursday of the 21st Week Ordinary

I Corinthians 1:1-9

Matthew 24:42-51

All School Mass

 

Ask for three volunteers. Standing in a straight line hand a ball to the person on the end and say, “The object of this game is to hand the ball to the next person and to keep the ball moving. While you are handing the ball to the next person, Mr. Houdek will be playing music and when the music stops, whoever is holding the ball is out.”  

 

Question: What was the hardest part of the game?

 

Answer: The hardest part was not knowing when the music was going to stop. You had to be ready to catch the ball, get rid of the ball before the music stopped.

 

In our Gospel Jesus says, “Stay awake” because you do not know when the Son of Man is going to come.

 

St. Paul in our first reading says, “We have to be ready because we do not lack in any spiritual gift.” We have everything we need to face the day. 

 

Our Church is suffering from some hard times right now, but we are not to be discouraged. We do not know when good times or challenging times will come so we need to be ready. We need to be ready to spring into action when the Lord calls us. Our Catholic School will teach us what to do, and the Eucharist we celebrate will give us the grace to God’s will.

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Stand tall, do not give up!

Tuesday of the 21st Week

St. Augustine

I Thessalonians 2:1-3, 14-17

Matthew 23:23-26

 

After celebrating what was a joyous celebration of being installed as your new pastor by Bishop Walkowiak on Sunday.  I heard the news of an eleven-page letter that was published outlining that Pope Benedict and Francis may have known of some of the sexual abuse that has been in the news lately. It is disturbing, it is hard to be a Catholic, and it can make one want to run a hide. As I was discerning priesthood back in early 2000, I had people call me names because I was praying about entering the seminary. It only added to my resolve to pray harder for my vocation. Our readings today help us to know what to do in these troubling times.  

 

In our first reading, St. Paul writes to the Thessalonians, a strong message telling them not to be shaken, stand firm, and hold on fast to the faith that you have been given. How prophetic for us today!

 

In our Gospel, Jesus condemns those who look so holy on the outside and are filthy dirty on the inside. Jesus is telling the people “Do not be a hypocrite, be a person of integrity.” We all need to look at ourselves and change even the smallest temptation and sin. 

 

My friends in Christ, we need to pray for those victims of sexual abuse and their families. We as Catholics need to express our sorrow in these crimes against innocent people. We also need to pray for our leaders to rise and to lead us to a brighter day. It would be easy to leave the church right now, but I urge you to stay because it is here that healing can and will take place. It is here that we can come to know of God’s great love and forgiveness for us. It is here that real change can and will take place.

 

 

These words are hard; they make me want to leave!

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Joshua 24: 1-2, 15-17, 18

Ephesians 5:25-32

John 6:60-69

 

Your words are hard; they make me want to leave!  I need to talk to you about your drinking? Your words are hard; they make me want to leave!  I have something I want to talk to you about before you leave for school. Your words are hard; they make me want to leave!  Our marriage is not where I thought it should be at this time. Your words are hard; they make me want to leave!  What do we do when words are hard, and they make us want to leave!  Our readings will help us with what to do.

 

In our first reading from the book of Joshua, he will say hard words and some may want to leave. At the time in history, people believed that different gods occupied different lands. The people of God are in the Promised Land, and Joshua stands before the people and says, “Decide right now, who you are going to serve?” Before they can answer Joshua says, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord God.” “Decide right now, who you are going to serve?” This may seem like an easy answer, but pause and think of the gods we have in our lives such as excessive drinking, drugs, porn, or others things.

 

In our second reading from St. Paul knows that married life is hard and at times one may want to leave. Our reading today takes the understanding of marriage to a whole new level. Paul says, “Wives be subordinate to your husbands because they are the head of the household.” A good wife lets her husband believes he is the head of the household. Now this saying is hard, and at times we do want to run away from this statement, but it was what said before this line that makes this saying so powerful. St. Paul begins the passage with, “Brothers and sisters: be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.” He continues with, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ has suffered and died for the Church. Do you notice that there is more said about husbands then about wives? The bigger the problem was getting the husbands to love their wives, not the wives to love their husbands.

 

In our Gospel Jesus just got done saying some very hard words when he said, “Unless you eat of my body and drink of my blood you will not have eternal life,” many of his followers respond “This saying is too hard, we cannot accept it” many turns and walk away. Jesus turns to who is left and asks, “Are you going to stay or are you to go?” Simon Peter steps forward and says, “Master, to whom we shall go? You have the words of eternal life.”   

 

Our readings today challenge us to what to do when he hear hard words that make us want to leave. The first thing we need to do is come to the Eucharist and look to Christ for all things! We are told in our gospel, that the Holy Spirit brings ‘spirit and life,’ so we will know we have made a good decision when we know joy and life. May we always run to the Eucharist, when things are hard, and we want to leave.  Are these words hard and we want to leave?  

Come and see!

Friday of the 20th Week Ordinary Time

Feast of St. Bartholomew

Revelation: 21: 9-14

John 1: 45-51

 

How do we hear the voice of God calling us to holiness and faithfulness? Solicit a response from the assembly. God is calling us through many things to follow him and on this Feast Day of St. Bartholomew; we get the three-step invitation of Christ.  

 

In our Gospel, we hear how Bartholomew is called, and that is through his good friend Philip. Philip says, “We have found the Lord!” Bartholomew responds, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip responds, “Come and see!”

 

It is as if Jesus overheard this comment by Bartholomew and says about Bartholomew, “Here is a true child of God. There is no duplicity in him” We need to know that God can use anything or anyone as an invitation to him. Jesus is behind any invitation.

 

The thing to take from our reading is that we acknowledge God’s invitation by making a profession of faith. Bartholomew says, Rabbi, you are the Son of God, the king of Israel!”  

 

What we celebrate, on any of the Feast Day St. Bartholomew is we stand on the shoulders of the apostles. We are always invited to be like them and invite others to Christ. May we hear the voice of God calling us and invite others to the Lord.

 

 

We deserve more!

 

Wednesday of the 20th Week

The Queenship of Mary

Ezekiel 34: 1-11

Matthew 20: 1-16

 

What is not fair in our lives? We scream all the time, “It is not fair, I deserve better!”

 

In our first reading, Ezekiel uses the image of shepherds to explain why God’s chosen people are now in captivity in Babylon. The prophet proclaims, “You shepherds, you kings, scream, you deserved more.” You have treated God’s people with what they can do for you, and not for what you could do for God’s people.

 

In our Gospel, the workers who worked all day in the hot sun scream, “We deserve better, we deserve more then what those who worked only one hour.” This only what we would scream also if we worked all day in the hot sun, and those who only worked one hour got the same as us. This is not the point of the parable! The parable is teaching us about God’s great mercy, and we are to see ourselves as those workers who only worked one hour. Now how do you feel?

 

What we celebrate today in the Queenship of Mary is Mary interceding for us pleading to God on our behalf. May we know the mercy and generosity of God and in turn show that mercy to others.  

 

 

When we gather here!

Tuesday of the 20th Week Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 28:1-10

Matthew 19:23-30

St. Pius X

 

By a show of hands, “Who thinks they are as smart as God?”

By a show of hands, “Who thinks they are as powerful as God?’

By a show of hands, “Who thinks they can do all the things of God?”

 

Question: Why did no one raise your hand?

Answer: No one could raise their hand because there is only one God and we are not him.

 

In our first reading, the Prince of the city of Tyre because he had so much wealth thought of himself as a god, and the real God says, “There can only be one God, and it is me.”

 

Ok, let’s try it again!

 

By a show of hands, “Who thinks God can share what he knows with us to understand so we will be smart?”

By a show of hands, “Who thinks God can share his strength with us to help us this day?”

By a show of hands, “Who thinks God can share with us all the things about himself so we will come to know him better?”

 

 

We are going to learn so much about God and his love for us in our Catholic School. The best place to learn about God is right here in our Catholic School because we have the best teachers and support staff here at Holy Spirit School.

 

May we always know that when we gather here in this beautiful Church is where we will learn a lot about God?

Are we a fool?

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Proverbs 9:1-6

Ephesians 5: 15-20

John 6:51-58

 

None of us like to be played as a fool or to be a fool. If you have been following the news in the past couple weeks, maybe we as Catholics are fools for placing our trust in our leadership to protect innocent people. In recent days there has been Archbishop McCarrick who abused seminarians and the investigation by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury which has uncovered over 300 priests who have abused innocent people. Perhaps someone has asked you, “What is going on in your Catholic Church?” Fr. Mike and I have had several discussions about this crisis and assure you that we are doing all we can to protect and keep everyone safe here at Holy Spirit Parish. On behalf of Fr. Mike & I want to say how sorry we are about these crimes against young people and others.

 

I was speaking to a priest friend who was feeling very sensitive about the crisis as he was called to a hospital to anoint a parishioner.  As he was driving to the hospital, he had visions of people looking at him as a fool or calling him a fool or much worse. As my priest friend was leaving the parishioners room and he was heading to the elevator he heard someone call out, “Hey Father!” My friend thought, “Oh, boy here it comes!” As he looked up to face his accuser, he saw a big man, with work boots, jeans, and a t-shirt. The man came up to my priest friend extended his hand and said, “Father, I want to thank you for all that you do for us!” My friend got on the elevator and began to cry, and he gave thanks to God for being a priest. He also prayed no one else got on the elevator.

 

My friends in Christ what has been done to children and others are a tragedy, and the Church is doing everything it can with a special meeting coming up in November in Baltimore. None of us what to be a fool and our readings encourage us to do something when we are fools. 

 

In our first reading from the book of Proverbs, Lady Wisdom is inviting everyone to her celebration. It is an invitation to everyone to seek wisdom. We all need to seek wisdom.

 

In our second reading, St. Paul is calling all people to a higher standard when he says, “Be careful how you live, what you think, what you do, and what you say!” Do all things in the name of Jesus Christ, and he will give you wisdom

 

In our Gospel, the people think Jesus is a fool because he says, “I am the bread of life.” The reality of the situation is, the people are the fools because Jesus has told them, he has shown them and they still do not believe.

 

People may say to us, “You are a fool for putting your faith in people who abuse children and others.” Might I agree with them? However, what I will never agree with is when someone says, “You are a fool for believing that simple bread and wine is changed into the body and blood of Christ.” I will never make excuses for what we believe in the Eucharist because this is the place where true healing can take place, where those who are hurting can find comfort, where those who are happy can find joy. Maybe it is foolish not to believe in a God whom has the power to change our very lives.