Everything I have is yours!

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Laetare Sunday

Joshua 5:9 -12

II Corinthians 5:17-21

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

 

Have you ever known someone who you have said,” Everything I have is yours!” Everything I have is yours, and yet you break my heart, you keep me up at night; I shed tears of pain for you all the time. What do we do when we say, “Everything I have is yours,” and the person either squanders all they have been given, or they think what they have been given is not enough.

In our Gospel, there is a Father who has two sons; the younger son comes to the Father and asks for his share of the inheritance that is coming to him. What the son is saying to his Father is, “Father you are dead to me, so give me my share of what is rightly coming to me?” What is amazing is the Father says, “Everything that you have coming to you I give you” and the son goes off squandering it on anything he wants. The Father each day goes to the edge of town, and he looks for his son, I think it is significant that he does not go searching from him, he looks for his son to return. When the younger son returns the Father runs out to him and wraps him in his arms. One reason for this is because of the joy the Father feels for the son, but another reason would be to protect the son from the town’s people hurting him on his return. The younger sons leaving would have caused the Father great shame. When the son returns and gives his prepared speech, the Father doesn’t let him give his speech and once again says, “Everything I have is yours” as he puts a beautiful robe on him, gives him a ring for his finger, and kills the fattened calf, and tells the servants to prepare a huge celebration.

The older son is out working in the fields, and when he hears a celebration going on and hears that his brother has returned, he is furious and refuses to come to the celebration. The Father comes out into the field to get him, this would also be a great sign of disrespect to the Father making him come out to his field. This older son is saying the very same thing the younger son did when he said: “You are dead to me.” When the Father begs for the son to come in the older son says, “I have not been your son, I have been your slave, and you have never thrown me a party.” The Father says, “My son, everything I have is yours.” The correct term would be my “child.” The Father is reaching deep within himself remembering all he has ever done for the son and the older son in response says, “You have given me everything, and it is not enough.”  

What do we do when someone we love who we have given everything to either says in return, “I want it now so I can go squander it all, or it is not enough?” We need to reach for the grace to be like the Father who loves, even when it is so painful. To hear we are loved is one thing, to feel ourselves being loved is entirely something different.

However, I think the bigger challenge is how are we like the younger and older sons, when the Father says to us, “I have given you everything” and we have squandered all that has been given to us, or we say, “It is not enough!” Today is about knowing the joy of the Father as we return to him and know his love. We need to know that the Father loves us and he is holding us in his arms no matter what we have done. We gather at a banquet because some hearts are only healed or given the strength to go on by being at this banquet of love. May we, in turn, learn to love as God has loved us?

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The finger of God brings healing!

Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

Jeremiah 7:23-28

Luke 11:14-23

 

Do you remember the movie, E.T.? The movie came out in the early 1980s, and it was a box office hit. It was a story of a gentle alien, who becomes stranded on earth, and a young boy named Elliott discovers him, and they become friends. This film is such a beautiful exploration of a unique friendship; as E.T. proves to be loving and kind, bringing healing and new life into every life that he touches. In turn, those around him find themselves responding in positive ways. Our readings challenge us to know this healing power of God.

 

Jeremiah in our first reading must position himself in a place to reach the biggest crowds of people. The place where most people would gather is at the temple, and so Jeremiah is outside the temple in the gathering area, and he is delivery God’s message to the people. He is waving his arms and pointing his finger and shouting as loud as he can to get the people to listen to him. God instructs Jeremiah not to beg the people but to let them respond to his words. God recalls to Jerimiah that the people who wandered in the wilderness were stubborn and this will people be the same. The passage ends with the haunting line, “Faithfulness has disappeared; the word of God is banished from their speech.”

 

In the Gospel, Jesus expels a demon from a man by a single touch of his finger. The man is restored to health, but the people ask, “How does he get his power, he must be from the evil one.”  They ask for another sign but Jesus does not give one, his healing touch was enough.

 

In both stories, the people of God have not believed have not turned back from their sinful ways and have rejected the healing touch of God. Do we believe today in God’s healing touch in our lives? How have we failed to hear and to know the healing touch of God? How will we be called upon to bring the healing touch to others this day?

 

 

 

We seek forgiveness!

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Daniel 3:25, 34-43

Matthew 18:21- 35

 

 

The Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving should bring us to realize our need of God’s forgiveness. In this awareness of our sinfulness, we ask God for forgiveness from our sins. I wonder though if during Lent when we ask God to forgive us of our sinfulness if we, in turn, forgive those who have hurt us. What if every time we ask God to forgive us, we instantly think of someone who has hurt us, and we say “We forgive you of all the things you have done against us?”  I think that would be good Lenten practice! Our readings speak about our need to forgive.

 

In our first reading, we hear from one of the men thrown into the fiery furnace; their names were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We hear of Abednego’s beautiful prayer as he prays that they have no sin offering; they only have their contrite hearts and humble spirits. He asks for mercy upon themselves and upon those who threw them into the fiery furnace.

 

In our Gospel, we are given the story of the unforgiving servant, who is having his debt forgiven, but he does not forgive others who owe him a much smaller amount. Peter asks, “Should I forgive seven times?” The number seven in Jewish theology is a perfect number it represents completeness. Peter is thinking he is doing well by asking, “Do I only have to forgive seven times?” Jesus responds, “Not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

 

My friends in Christ, we do need to learn to forgive others, but I wonder if the person we need to forgive the most is ourselves. So many times in confession I hear people confess their sins, but they struggle to forgive themselves. I can think of someone I need to forgive for something, but I have a much more difficult time forgiving myself for things that I have done.

 

May we learn the true virtue of forgiveness.

Not a “why” question, it is a “what question!

Third Sunday of Lent

Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15   

I Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12

Luke 13:1-9

 

I went to my spiritual director this week to answer a question about myself that has been bugging me. I had to ask, “Why do I do that? Why do I say such a thing?” I got to thinking, what are the questions that you might bring today’s Eucharist? Maybe you have questions of why you are not feeling very well. Questions of why your kids are not behaving well? Questions of why your marriage is not what you want it to be? We tend to ask a lot of “why” questions, but do we get the answers that we need when we ask those questions? Our readings help us know what to do when we are asking the why questions.

 

If you read anything about Moses, he is always asking “why” questions of God. In our story today Moses asks is asking why Lord Gog have you chosen me for this job you need to give me something more so I can tell the people who you are?’ God gives Moses a wonderful answer as he gives Moses the answer in a burning bush as he says, “I am the God of your fathers. I have witnessed their affliction; I have heard their cries, and I know of their suffering.” God is letting Moses know that when he asks the “why” question he needs to know “who” he is asking it of him. The first lesson for us today is to know who is speaking to us. Moses would never forget that burning bush as his answer to his question.

 

Our Gospel begins with people telling Jesus that Pilate had some people killed and he mingled their blood with the blood of a sacrifice. Jesus tells of a story of a tower that fell and killed 18 people who were working on it. Jesus knows they are asking a question of why these people died and are it because they were bad people. Jesus responds with, “You are asking the wrong question; these people were not any worse then you are.” Jesus wants to move them away from asking the “why” question to a “what” question. He is saying to them, “What are you doing to be ready for your time of death?” Jesus goes on to tell about a man who owned a fig tree, and for three years it had produced no fruit. A fig tree should produce fruit after two years. The owner tells the gardener to cut it down; it is taking up space. He wants him to plant another fig tree that will produce fruit. The gardener begs the owner to give it another chance because he will give the special tree attention and then if it does not produce fruit he will cut it down. The second lesson is that of “what are we going to do with what God has given us?”  

 

My friends in Christ, we ask a lot of “why” questions and Jesus wants us to ask more “what questions. Are we able to say, “What am I going to do to make my marriage right? What am I going to do to help my kids behave in the way they should? What am I going to do differently at work to get along with coworkers?” I think our readings are pushing us to set aside the why questions and ask ourselves what am I going to do to correct the situation?

 

Our Eucharist gives us all we need to do just that and Lent is a perfect time to get busy. May we busy ourselves with doing “what” God wants this week.

Living the dream of God!

Friday of the Second Week of Lent

Genesis 37: 3-4, 12-13, 17-28

Matthew 21:33-34, 45-46

 

I have been planning a fishing trip with my older brother, and I have been dreaming about all the things we are going to do on that fishing trip. It has been harder to focus on some things at work lately because I am dreaming about this trip.

 

What are you dreaming about this weekend?

 

What are you dreaming about now that spring is here?

 

What are you dreaming about for Spring Break?

 

In our first reading, we hear about Joseph the youngest of 12 brothers of their father, Jacob. Joseph is a dreamer, and he has shared with his brothers a couple of his dreams about how he will be a great leader. His brothers are not happy hearing about Joseph’s dreams, so they plot to kill him by putting him in a dry well.  

 

In our Gospel, Jesus has been sharing his dream, and he can tell that the people do not like his dream. Jesus tells them a story about a father who has a dream about a beautiful garden and he sends workers into that garden to work every day. When the son comes, the workers kill the son thinking they will get the garden for themselves.

 

My friends in Christ the dream of God is for us to come to know his son and that we live our lives in accord with his teaching. God’s dream cannot be stopped; it lives on in each of us. We live God’s dream here in our Catholic School by learning about God’s dream. We live God’s dream by gathering at the end of our school week to hear God’s word and to be feed in this Eucharist.

 

May we never tire of living God’s dream in our words, thoughts, and actions?

 

 

 

 

Break out of our everyday routine!

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

Jeremiah 17:5-10

Luke 16:19-31

 

This winter I have suffered from cabin fever more than any other winter that I can think of in my recent past history. It doesn’t help that I live in a habitrail and have everything under one roof. Many days I have felt stuck in the same routine of eating, meetings, and sleeping.

 

I am looking forward to spring and getting out a bit more then I am now. Our readings challenge us to make Lent not just a time of routine of ridding ourselves of our sinfulness but of really making a life change for Christ. 

 

In our Gospel there is a rich man who is into the same routine every day of eating fine foods, wearing beautiful clothes and going about his routine of life. One of his routines is to step over a poor beggar that lies at his door. The rich man’s routine included nothing about God or others, and so when he dies, he goes straight to the netherworld.

 

The poor man also has a routine but his routine is spent giving glory to God in his life by all that he can do, and so when he dies he is sent right bosom of Abraham.

 

The prophet Jeremiah says we need to be like a tree that is planted near a cool stream that its roots go deep and can be nourished by the running water.

 

My friends in Christ, Lent is our time to make a difference in our lives and to do something that could be life changing and great. It is time for us to sink our roots deep into the heart of Jesus. We can be God’s angels here on earth. This Eucharist is a foretaste of all of God’s glory let us not miss it.

 

 

God gives us a special task!

St. Joseph Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

II Samuel 7: 4-5, 12-14, 16

Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22

Luke 2: 41-51

 

We pause to interrupt Lent to celebrate the life of Joseph, a holy a righteous man. The lesson that I see in celebrating St. Joseph is when God chooses someone for a special task God gives that person all the gifts, all the grace they will need to fulfill that task. It is left to that person to have faith and to believe in the one who gives those gifts.

 

In our first reading, God tells King David to have faith because the kingdom will last forever and from him, ancestry will come to the Savior of the world.

 

St. Paul in our second reading recalls the faith of Abraham when God told him that he would be the Father of a great nation even before he had one single child. Abraham had to have faith.

 

In our Gospel, we hear of Joseph a man of faith and a righteous man. Joseph was such a man of faith that as he took to prayer what to do about his betrothed wife who was with a child before Joseph had relations with her he took it all to prayer and it was in his sleep that he is given an answer of what to do. Contrary to Peter, James, and John who are always asleep when Jesus needs them, Joseph makes good use of his sleep being attentive to God in his sleep.  

 

So maybe it is not an interruption from Lent because Joseph models for us what we need to do and that is to have faith in what God has chosen us to do because God has given us the grace to do his will. Remember faith is not what we see, but what we hope to happen. Joseph knew very well trials and tribulations, but his faith never wavered. In this Eucharist may we also have faith in God and what he has in store for us!