Sink our roots deep in Christ!

Thursday Seventh Week of Ordinary Time

Sirach 5:1-8

Mark 9:41-50

 

How do we need to grow in the ways of the Lord? Are we willing to be a “radical” for Christ? The word “radical” comes from the Latin word which means “root.” Are we willing to sink our roots deep into Christ? Are readings bring us as we draw closer to Lent to be making the things that will improve us to give God glory.

 

In our first reading from the book of Sirach, it is masterfully writing as it lists all the ways we avoid sinking our roots deep into Christ. We avoid Christ when we rely on our riches, proud living, trusting in other things other than God and when we fail to repent. The writer strongly counsels conversion without delay.

 

Our Psalmist encourages us to go the opposite way and tells us when we are like a tree that sinks its roots deep into the ground to reach the well-spring of God’s grace we will live in abundance.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is trying very hard to get his disciples to be radical by sinking their roots deep within him. Jesus uses very strong words to the point of exaggeration. If I were to take his words serious about cutting off my hand, foot, and eye that causes me to sin, I would not have very many body parts left. Jesus tells them that even the smallest of kind gestures will not go unnoticed and if we lead someone away from God, it will not go unnoticed. Jesus wants his disciples to be like salt that brings life to food, and when put into a fire it makes it hotter.

 

Why are we resisting not sinking our roots deep into Christ? What are those vices in our lives that prevent our roots from growing? The largest room in the Christian’s life is the room for improvement.

 

  

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What God lesson do we have to learn today?

Tuesday of the Seventh week of Ordinary Time

Sirach 2:1-11

Mark 9:30-37

 

Do you remember the things you wanted your kids to learn? There is to have good manners, to say please and thank you. There is to teach your kids to say hello and good-bye when meeting someone. When visiting a family recently and the child did not want to eat something that was given to her the mother said, “You have to have one bite of a no thank you bite.” In our readings today there are so many lessons it is difficult to streamline it down, but I will try.

 

In our first reading from Sirach, we are given many lessons, but they can be separated into two groups. The first lesson entails knowing that we will go through many trails and we will suffer heartache and headaches. The second lesson is to fear the Lord in all things. To “fear the Lord’ does not mean to coward before the Lord but to put our trust and hope in God.

 

In our Gospel, we get a wonderful picture of Jesus as the teacher, and he is doing his best to teach that he must suffer and die and be raised from the dead. The apostles are struggling to learn this lesson because they want a Savior who will take over the Romans. He continues to teach them that if they want to be first, they need to learn to be last.

 

There are many lessons in our readings today. It would be a good practice to go back and read the readings again and see which one of the many lessons do we need to learn today? The Eucharist we share will help us to live that lesson better in our lives.

 

 

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, and pray!

Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

I Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23

I Corinthians 15:45-49

Luke 6:27-38 

 

To you, I say, “Love your enemies, do good to those how to hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you.” So, how are you doing with that command of Jesus? Jesus is saying this to us not to make the world a better place or to build a self-help guide for us, Jesus is saying this to us because this is how we will be judged and it is by this standard we are going to win our salvation. All of that is hard, but if you want a short cut to salvation then don’t have any enemies or don’t think ill of others! So will the person who has never had ill thoughts about someone or had someone think ill thoughts of them, please stand up and we will make you a saint. If there is someone here you will be the first saint to be named while you are still alive, all the other saints had to be dead. Our readings today as I have been reflecting on them have to do with forgiveness.

 

Let me begin by clarifying what forgiveness is and what it is not. Forgiveness is not about denying that we have been hurt. Forgiveness is about being honest and knowing how someone has hurt us. There is no short cut through forgiveness. The words I dread the most is “Get over it!” There is never a leapfrogging over pain; it is always about going through it. We have to work through the pain. There may be a time in forgiveness when we have to say, “You hurt me, and I forgive you, but our relationship is over.” This is ok as long as we can honestly forgive the person. Forgiveness is not a onetime thing. We may have to forgive the same person every day!

 

The other thing to know is the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Here is where things get’s confusing, because we desire one but are only commanded to do one. Forgiveness is a one-way street; it is our heart to their heart. The other person does not have to get involved. Reconciliation is our heart to their heart and their heart to our heart.   

 

So how do we forgive? St. Paul in our second reading helps us to forgive by reminding us that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. I realize that it may be hard when we do not like the person, but it is a beginning. The other thing to do is in our prayer we need to pray for those who have hurt us and those that we have hurt.

 

My friends in Christ forgiveness is hard work but the choice is always are to make. We can choose not to forgive and live in misery or we can choose to forgive and live in eternal peace.

We are one foundation!

Friday of the Sixth Week Ordinary Time

The Chair of St. Peter

I Peter 5: 1-4

Matthew 16:13-19

 

Slide One: Picture of the weather forecasted for Sunday. Strong winds.

 

Our Sunday weather forecast is for the strongest winds of winter to come, with wind gusts up to 60 mph.

 

  1. What needs to happen to our homes to prevent them from falling apart?

 

  1. Our homes need to be built on a firm foundation.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus asks, “Who do I say that I am?” Simon responds, “You are the Christ.” Simon is the first person to make this profession of faith and because of this Jesus changes his name to Peter, which means rock. Jesus tells Peter you will be my strong foundation on which I will build my Church.

 

Slide Two: Picture of the Chair of Peter.

 

Peter was given superior authority; this is symbolized by a special chair, called the Chair of Peter. This authority has been handed down from Peter to all the Popes after him and to our present day Pope Francis.

 

Slide Three: Picture of Pope Francis.

 

The Church is built on rock, and for this reason, it has stood against all evil and will continue to stand against all those who have tried to destroy her.  May we know that God will protect the Church, and God will continue to protect the Church through any storm that it will face? May we put our hope and trust in God that He is leading us.

 

“Who do you say Christ is for us in our lives this day?”

Thursday of the Sixth week of Ordinary Time

Genesis 9:1-13

Mark 8: 27-33

 

“Who do you say Christ is for us in our lives this day?” All we do today revolves around answering that question. To answer the question also defines who we are! How we handle our joys and struggles is dependent on our answer.

 

In our first reading from the book of Genesis, Noah, and his family has to answer “Who do you say I am?” as God makes a whole new covenant with his people. God is saying in this covenant “How will you see me in everything that I have given you?” Do we see God in all the things in our lives?

 

In our Gospel Jesus and his followers are in Caesarea Philippi, a city named after Caesar. In this town, there are many Greek and Roman temples to many different gods. Jesus wants to know amongst all these gods “Who do the people say that I am?” The disciple’s answer, John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others a great prophet.” Jesus wants more so he turns to the disciples and asks, “But who do you say I am?” Peter steps forward and says, “You are the Christ.” Jesus continues telling them who he is and now Peter does not like it and Peter rebukes Jesus for describing himself as a suffering Messiah.

 

“Who do you say Christ is for us in our lives this day?” Will we respond with “You are the Christ” or “Jesus you have messed everything up?”

 

The Eucharist is offered to us, to help answer the question, “Who do you say Christ is for us in our lives this day?” May all we do and say give profession to Christ in our lives?

 

Let’s be honest!

Tuesday of the Fifth week of Ordinary Time

Genesis 1:20-2:4

Mark 7:1-13

 

Our readings come to us with the demanding message, to be absolutely honest with ourselves and to see the hypocrisy of our lives. Simply put, what was the last sin we did in secret? How do we act like it was no big deal or that no one is going to know? We look so holy, but are we?

 

In our first reading from Genesis, we hear how God created everything, and everything was created for good.  The Jewish people created laws to remind them of God as they went through their day.

 

In our Gospel, the scribes and Pharisees have taken the purifications of hands, cups, jugs, kettles and other items to a whole new level. The Pharisees unlike the rest of the Jewish nation created more ritual purifications to do before a meal. Their the idea was to imitate what the priest did in the temple by purifying all the vessels and their hands. All these purifications were to sanctify their families.  What has happened is the Pharisees have become very scrupulous in their ways, and all these external aspects have not led to a deeper meaning of love for God.  Jesus calls them hypocrites because they pay lip service and they do not look to change their hearts.   

 

The big challenge for all of us is to look into our hearts and see how we are like the scribes and Pharisees. How do we pay God lip service by saying all the right things but it does not affect our lives, our hearts are not changed to see Christ. Think of the last sin we know we committed. God is calling us to focus more on him and bring him in to help us stop this sinful behavior.

 

The Eucharist we celebrate is meant to bring closer to God and loving others? May we see God in all things today?

 

God’s grace is enough!

 

Fifth Sunday Ordinary Time

Isaiah 6:1-2, 3-8 I

Corinthians 15: 1–11

Luke 5: 1-11

 

On a scale from one to ten and ten is the best, how holy are we today? Are you doing ok, or are you feeling a bit unworthy, like you are not holy enough? Maybe we have said or done something that we are ashamed of this week? There are lots of reasons why not to come to church, you need one good reason to come, and we are given that in our readings today. In our readings, Isaiah, Paul, and Peter all respond to God’s call by saying, “I am not worthy enough because I am a sinner.”

 

In our first reading, Isaiah is overwhelmed by the vision he is having as angels are singing, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts.” Isaiah says, “I am not worthy because I am a man of unclean lips.” An angel touches his lips with a burning ember, and he is made clean.  Isaiah responds, “Here I am; send me.” How have our words been unholy? How can we speak words of holiness this week?

 

In our second reading, St. Paul says, “I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle.” He continues by saying, “I am who I am because of God’s grace.” How have our actions not been holy and hurtful to others? God’s grace is still being showered down upon us.

 

I love our Gospel, Peter and the others are cleaning their nets after being out fishing all night long and catching nothing. Jesus gets into Peter’s boat and tells him to put out into deeper water, and he will catch some fish. You can almost feel the frustration in Peter as a professional fisherman being told what to do but he does it, and when he does he hauls in a huge amount of fish. Peter realizing what happens proclaims “Depart from me, Lord, I am an unholy man.”  What I like about the story is not the amount of fish but that Jesus gets into the boat with Peter. Jesus is right alongside Peter even in Peter’s sinfulness. I think that is a good image to hang onto in our lives.

 

We do not come to Mass because we are holy, we come to Mass because God is holy and we need to come and give him glory and praise. In a few minutes, in preparation to receive the Eucharist we are going to say the very same words that the angels proclaimed in our first reading. We are going to say, “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts.” In Hebrew theology, this was the highest form of worship to give God by repeating how holy three times.

 

Isaiah, Paul, and Peter realized their un-holiness, but when God called they stepped forward and did his will, may we do likewise.