Our need to forgive!

 

Thursday of the 19th Week

Ezekiel 12:1-12

Matthew 18: 21-19:1

 

Today we are so blessed to have our teachers and support staff to worship with us. Our teachers have been entrusted to teach many things to their students; there will be reading, writing, arithmetic, history, religion and many other things. All of this will be done with great preparation and great skill. Our readings today challenge us to another lesson, a lesson about how to learn to forgive.

 

In our first reading, Ezekiel tells the people they are a rebellious people; they do not know how to forgive, they have eyes but do not see and ears but do not hear. God tells Ezekiel to pack a bag, and in broad daylight dig a hole in the wall of the city and crawl through that hole. The hole in the wall will be a symbol that they will be taken away as captives through the holes that will be made on their walls because they have not learned to forgive and turn away from sin.

 

In our Gospel, Peter asks, “Lord, how much should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Peter sounds pretty saintly; however, in the heart of Jesus, seven times it is not enough. Jesus tells the parable of a man who is forgiven of his debt that would be worth millions of dollars in today terms. But when the man has the opportunity to forgive a debt owed to him that is much smaller he is not able to forgive.

 

Forgiveness always has three parts. The first part is to know that we are forgiven by God when we ask for forgiveness. The second thing is to forgive ourselves, and how hard is this to do. We beat ourselves up for years after we have done something wrong, and finally, then after we have mastered the first two is to learn to forgive others. May the grace offered to us in this Eucharist help us to master all three levels of forgiveness?

 

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The Assumption of Mary!

 

The Assumption of Mary

Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6, 10

I Corinthians15:20-27

Luke 1:39-56

 

 

 

My mother is in heaven. I know that is a bold statement to make, but I believe it with all of my heart and soul. I bet you also know someone that you have known that you would say the very same thing, “My loved one is in heaven.” I want to believe this because not only did my mother show me a mothers love she showed me Christ love. She loved me when I did things right, and she even loved me when I did things wrong. My mother had rheumatoid arthritis so bad that her hands and feet were all crippled, but she never complained, just as Jesus did not complain about being hung from the cross. Today what we celebrate in the Assumption of Mary is her assumption into heaven after her earthly life, and Mary shows us where we should be striving to go. Mary not only shows us, but she models for us what we are to do.

 

In our Gospel, Mary responds to the angel Gabriel by saying, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.” Mary models for us how to say “yes” to the Lord’s plans for us in our lives. Even though she did not completely understand what God was asking of her, she said “yes” to God’s plan. The same must be true for us who put our trust in God’s plan. God invites us to his plan every day.

 

Mary then teaches us how to live once we have said “yes” to God’s plan as she says, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Mary models for us how to let the light of Christ to shine through us in our words and our actions.

 

As we celebrate this feast day of the Assumption, may we set our sights on heaven, and make it our goal to do nothing less than to give God glory. May we ask Mary to intercede for us, that we will say “yes” when God calls us to do his will. My mom’s in heaven, and I am doing all I can to one day see her again.

To be in the presence of God!

 

Tuesday, Nineteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 2:8-3:4

Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe

 

Yesterday, at breakfast I was feeling a bit down in the dumps. I was thinking about all the things I have not done and all the things I want to do, and I was getting frustrated. As I looked out my kitchen window, I began to watch squirrels playing in the yard. There were some who were chasing each other around a tree, and others who were playing by jumping on each other and running off. It seemed to me that they were having so much fun. As I watched them, I began to feel at peace, and my disappointment lessened. As soon as I took my attention off the squirrels, I would begin to feel bad again. All of a sudden it dawns on me that I was focusing too much on being productive and finding my worth in what I do and not in just being. I think our readings help us to understand our purpose in life.

 

In our first reading, the prophet Ezekiel is told to “obey the Lord.” The Lord God tells him to eat a scroll that is made up of wailing and woe. However, when he tastes the scroll, it is as sweet as honey. Interesting! All Ezekiel had to do is obey God and live in his presence, and all of his woes and pains became sweet as honey.   

 

In our Gospel, the disciples ask, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus places a small child in their midst and says, be like this child, innocent, filled with gratitude and hope. I would bet that most of us can remember our childhood very well when life seemed more carefree, and life was more innocent. It is because as small children life is a big game to be played each day.

 

Maximilian Kolbe learned that what he needed to do was be in the presence of God and God would lead him to what he wanted him to do, and that would bring him joy, even if it meant death. Let us not become so preoccupied with “doing things” and just work hard at “being” in the presence of God.

I have had enough!

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I Kings 19: 4-8

Ephesians 4:30- 5:2

John 6:41-51

 

There are many times when I am out running when I say, “I have had enough!” There are many times I want to stop running and walk, but most of the time I can keep running. Maybe we want to give up on the Lions as they lost their preseason game last night. There may be those here who are thinking, “I want to give up on you.” Our readings are filled with many, “I have had enough” but our readings give us hope as to what to do when we are feeling this way.

 

In our first reading, Elijah says, “Lord, I have had enough. Please take my life; I want to die.” Elijah is at the top of his game as he has just slain 400 of Queen Jezebel pagan prophets and now she wants him killed. Elijah runs for his life, and when he can run no more, he stops under a tree and begs to die. Elijah may want to die but God provides for him an angel to care for him and special food to eat, and he is able to walk for forty days and nights.

 

In our second reading St. Paul is telling his community, “It is not enough to live as everyone does.” Paul continues by saying, “You are not to live mediocre lives, not average lives, but above average lives.” You are to live differently; live like God and then Paul lays out for them how to live like God by being more loving, forgiving, and understanding. The only way to be this way is by receiving the Eucharist.

In our Gospel, The crowd of people tells Jesus, “We are giving up on you because you cannot be who you say you are because we know you, we know where you are from, and we know your parents.”  Jesus responds, “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors were given food from heaven that nourished their physical lives. I now offer you spiritual food that will nourish you for eternal life.” The crowd would not respond to the invitation of Jesus the Bread of Life.

 

My friends in Christ, when we are thinking about giving up, we need to hear the words of Jesus say to us, “I am right here with you. I am giving you what you need to get through this situation. Give in to me, and I will see you through. May we know that God is not giving up on us, and in turn is giving us what we need to get through every situation of our life?  

How generous are we today with time, treasure and talent?

 

Friday of the 18th Week

II Corinthians 9:6-10

John 12:24-26

St. Lawrence Deacon and Martyr 

Today is a big day. It is a most important day because we are going to learn so much. It should be a red letter day on all of our calendars. Why? Because of tonight at 10:30, the Detroit Lions will play the Oakland Raiders in pre-season football, and all those players who have been practicing and working out will find out if they make the team. There will be a lot of players on the sidelines, but that is where they do not want to be, they want to get into the game and show what they can do to make the team. There is no sitting on the sidelines for us either as our readings today challenges us to get in the game.

 

As we celebrate the Feast day of St. Lawrence, he shows what we need to do to get off the sidelines and to get into the game. 

 

In our first reading, St. Paul tells the early church what they must do to get into the game when he says, “God loves a cheerful giver.” Why do we give? We do not give our surplus; we give from our bounty! We give our time, treasure and talent out of our blessing that God has given us.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus tells us how to stay in the game as he says, “We need to be like the grain of wheat that needs to die and fall to the ground to produce much fruit.”  

 

As we gather on this day, we need to stay in the game, and we do this by being generous with our time, talent, and treasure. St. Lawrence gave his life in generosity to others. May we give generously in the name of Jesus Christ.

What is in our hearts today?

 

Thursday Eighteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 31: 31-34

Matthew 16:13-23

 

Showing my kindergarten picture! I do not look very happy? It is because I was not happy! I was when I left the house, I had this new bright red sweater on, and I knew I looked like something pretty flashy. I wanted to get my picture taken, but when I went in the woman thought my hair was out of place, so she wetted it down and tried to get my hair to move over to the side. I was not happy! Thus started the saga of no one touches my hair, and no gel or spray ever gets put on this head of hair. What is in our hearts this day?

 

In our first reading, Jeremiah tells the people what is in their hearts put there by God himself. The Old Covenant written on stone, could be broken. The New Covenant is written now in their hearts and it will not be broken.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus wants to know what is in people’s hearts when it comes to an understanding who he is. He first asks, ‘Who do the people say I am?” Of course, he got answers like, “You are John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah and still others you are a great prophet.” However, Jesus wants to know what is in the disciple’s hearts, so he asks them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter responds with a great answer, “You are the Christ the Son of the living God.”

 

As we gather this day, “What is in your heart today?” At the beginning of the day and the end of the day, all I want is to be loved, accepted, and when I mess up, I want to be forgiven, loved and accepted. I would guess that is just about what you want also? If we know that, how can we live that message with others this day? As we connect our hearts to God’s, may we, in turn, connect our hearts to others?

 

We have been invited!

 

Tuesday of the 18th Week Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22

Matthew 14:22-36

 

Last evening Fr. Mike and I got invited to a dinner party at a rectory with three other priests. The host of the evening was a perfect host. There was plenty of wonderful appetizers and plenty of beverages to choose from, and the rack of lamb for dinner was outstanding. Of course, the conversation went from the insane to the hilarious to the serious, and when we got up to leave the host insisted that he be the one to clean up. The host was the perfect host as he made the evening enjoyable for all his guests. In our readings, God is the perfect host, and his intended guests are paying the great benefits.

 

In our first reading from the prophet Jeremiah, even though the people continue to stray away from God, God is the perfect host by saying, “I have invited you and invited you, and you still go about your sinful ways. I am not going to wait until you turn from your sinful ways, I will show you my great love and mercy.”

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is the perfect host as the disciples are being tossed about by the sea. Jesus walks out on the water to be with them, but they think he is a ghost. When Peter accepts the invitation to come out, he begins to sink when he feels the strong wind. After Peter and Jesus return to the boat safely, the disciples proclaim, “Truly; you are the Son of God.”

 

God is the perfect host by inviting us back, from our sinful ways. God is the perfect host by holding our hands through troubled times. May we accept this invitation and know of God’s great banquet that he has invited us to this day.