In our brokenness we come to you.

 

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 56:1, 6-7

Romans 11: 1315, 29-32

Matthew 15:21-28

 

For peace in our country to end hatred, anger , nd violence; we pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

For our hurts to be healed, from what holds us back from loving as God wants us; we pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer. We are going to say the Prayers of the faithful in a bit, but do we believe that peace is possible, even when such display of hatred was shown in our country last weekend? Do we believe that all of our hurts will be healed? We heard the story of a woman who in her prayer believed that all things are possible and her daughter was healed by Jesus. This woman followed a very ancient formula of prayer that still works for us today. This woman knew she was broken, she moved with great urgency to the Lord, she had hope beyond hope, and she lived in faith. Today we need to model her faith and come to know what she knew.

 

In our Gospel, a Canaanite woman comes to Jesus; she knows she is broken as she says, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” Jesus does not respond, and the disciples want her to go away. An important fact here for us is Jesus does not go away! We too come broken, and in need of God’s healing, we are always working on being made whole.

The woman continues with great urgency as now she says, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responds with “It is not right to take food and give it to dogs.” Wow! That is harsh! What we need to see here is that we are always the one who needs a sense of urgency in our spiritual lives, it is never on the part of God. We can get hung up on this point when something bad happens in our lives. When we begin to ask, “Lord, where were you? Why did you let this happen?” These are not questions of faith; these are questions of God’s identity. God does not have to answer these kinds of questions. It is better to understand bad things happen; we are not excused from pain and suffering. We should be asking, “Lord, where are you leading me now?”

The woman expresses great hope as she responds, “Even dogs eat the scraps from the table.” This woman could have grumbled, and stomped her feet, but grumbling gets us nowhere, only frustrated. Jesus heals her daughter based on the fact that she believed in who she was speaking to, the savior of the world. Hope means we are part of the solution.

 

Jesus is not expecting such faith from someone who is not a Jew. What this woman reveals to us, is her prayer was an authentic Christ-centered faith. Do we as a community possess a true faith that in our brokenness we come to the Lord in great urgency? We come as people in prayer with great hope, because we want to the people part of the solution, not part of the problem. We want to be the people when we gather in this Eucharist as God’s people, that this is our finest hour. In the transformation of simple bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, may we also be transformed into Christ.

 

In our brokeness!

 

Friday of the 19th Week

Joshua 24:1-13

Matthew 19:3-12

 

Our readings speak to us today about authentic, and honest relationships and how do we sustain authentic relationships. One way is always to see the good in our relationships and to keep working at them to make them better. I also think it is good to know how we are broken and how this relationship helps us to be a better person. There should always be an urgency to continue to move the relationship to a new place.

 

In our first reading, Joshua has summoned with an urgency all the tribes of Israel to the great sanctuary at Shechem. He recalls for the people how broken they were on their journey to the Promised Land and how faithful God has been throughout their history and how God has guided them and has been leading them all these years. They must remember their brokenness and how good has been to them in giving them the Promised Land. Joshua reminds them that God has always been faithful.

 

In our Gospel, we hear how Jesus raises up the relationship of marriage and says, this is the ideal relationship, where two people commit themselves to each other, and become one flesh. To become one flesh is hard work, it helps to remember how broken we are, not made perfect, but made broken, in need of healing. Marriage should always have an urgency about it, to move this relationship forward through all the twist and turns of life. Jesus will always be there to strengthen married love.

 

As we gather around the altar and celebrate the Eucharist, we gather with an urgency in our brokenness, for here is where we can be healed. Our “Amen,”  to “The Body of Christ,” is our acknowledgment of God’s grace working in us.

 

 

I prefer to believe that we are in our finest hour.

 

Thursday of the 19th Week

Joshua 3:7-10, 11, 13-17

Matthew 18: 21-19:1

 

In the movie Apollo 13, Tom Hanks played the role of James Lovell who said the words, “Houston we have a problem.” He said these words after an oxygen tank exploded, crippling the spacecraft. All of American feared for the lives of those astronauts after this disaster. The answer that was given back was, “I prefer to believe that we are in our finest hour.” This is true today for us also, “This is our finest hour.”

 

In our first reading, as Joshua takes over as the leader of the people after the death of Moses he is faced with his first major challenge as the people have to cross the Jordon River. He may have said, “Lord, we have a problem!” The Lord God, responds, “I prefer to believe that we are in our finest hour” as the feet of the priest who are carrying the Ark of the Covenant touch the water, the river dries up, and the people can cross on dry ground. It was one of the finest hours for Joshua as he leads the people into the Promised Land.

 

In our Gospel Peter is going to Jesus saying, “Jesus we have a problem, how often must I forgive someone?” Of course, Jesus responds with “I prefer to believe Peter that you are in your finest hour.” Jesus tells Peter that he is to forgive seventy – seven times.

 

We can sit here today and say, “Lord, I have a problem.” Life is at times difficult, but with the grace of this sacrament, we are in our finest hour. This is our time to shine, this is our time to grab hold of our faith and do great things. We have better be ready to hear God say back to us, “I prefer to believe that we are in our finest hour.”

 

How to be a peace-maker?

 

Wednesday of the 19th Week

Deuteronomy 34:1:12

Matthew 18: 15-20

 

I am deeply troubled by the hatred, violence, and bigotry that is happening in our country. There are times I am frightened and do not know what I should do, and there are times I feel as a priest I need to do something. My solution is twofold, to preach the Gospel message of Jesus Christ with more vigor and honesty than ever before. At the very core of my being, I am being pushed to examine all that I do, all that I think, and all that I say, in light of the Gospel message.

 

In our first reading, Moses has died and he is being remembered by always speaking the message of God, no matter how hard it was to say. Moses never questioned God about what he was to say, he just delivered God’s message and did not worry about the consequences. Moses is still known as the greatest prophet the world has ever known.

 

Our Gospel is about solving problems that come as a result of living in community. This passage is especially concerned with big problems; it presumes that little problems can be worked out by the first method. It also presumes that big or small problems will be worked out in mutual love and understanding. The first step is “Fraternal Correction” this is where you go to the person who is lost and in love “uncover” the problem and talk about it with understanding and love. The second step is “Witness Correction” this is where if the person does not understand what has been told them then witnesses are brought in to help clarify what is the problem. The last step and hopefully it never gets to this step is the “Church Correction” this is where the whole church steps in and shares what it knows about the problem. All of this is done with great love, understanding, and most of all lots of prayer.

 

How are we going to resolve our differences in light of this teaching? May the grace of this Eucharist give us strength.

 

How does my soul proclaims the glory of God!

 

The Assumption of Mary

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

I Corinthians15:20-27

Luke 1:39-56

 

 

On this solemnity, we profess that God gave Mary the unique privilege of being assumed body and soul into heaven at the end of her earthly life. The reason she was granted this privilege is that she was born without original sin, and she conceived Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Savior through the Holy Spirit. It makes perfect sense that her body and soul were assumed into heaven. For her, the resurrection from the dead has taken place already. Mary teaches us that life does not end in death when we die, our bodies will decay into the ground we will have to wait until Jesus comes again to be reunited with our body?

 

What can we learn from this privilege? Sacred Scripture records many of the travels of Mary; she was a woman on a mission. She traveled to see her cousin Elizabeth, then late in her pregnancy, she made the trip to Bethlehem. Then, she is on the move again, fleeing to Egypt, to escape death, and then sacred scripture records the Holy Families trip into Jerusalem, was her son Jesus goes missing.

 

In our Gospel, we heard Mary proclaim, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” Everything Mary did was to proclaim this message to us. How can we say along with Mary, “My soul proclaims the greatness of God?” Do we do everything we can to protect the sanctity of human life from conception until death? How does our soul proclaim the greatness of God by treating our bodies with respect, and seeing the sacredness of others body as holy? Does our soul give glory to God, by being a person seeking peace and understanding in all of our relationships? Does our soul give glory to God by seeing forgiveness, for the things we have done to hurt others? Does our soul give glory to God by seeking to heal in our own lives that keep us trapped in confusion and turmoil?

 

Today, on this feast, we celebrate her ultimate journey of Mary, her Assumption into heaven. Our destiny is like hers, that one day our mortal bodies being raised up on the Last Day, and being glorified before God and all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.  

 

May our souls magnify the Lord in all we say and do this day.

What fear is holding us back?

 

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I Kings 19:9, 11-13

Romans 9: 1-5

Matthew 14:22-23

 

I am not going to give you the homily I have written in my pocket. It is a good homily, but it is not my homily. Let me explain. Each week I spend a few hours in preparation for this homily. On Friday evening, I go to my good friend Msgr. Duncan and we talk over our ideas and try to get it down to one idea. I left his house feeling pretty good about what we came up with but not 100%. I woke up at 2:30 in great fear knowing it was his homily, not mine. When I preach, I need to preach from my heart, and I know when it is and I know when it is not. I woke up this morning and again poured all over the readings. What I have come to understand is that the readings have a lot to do with fear. Fear can be a good thing, but when it prevents us from doing what God wants us to do, fear becomes a bad thing. I know I have preached on this theme before but there is more to learn about how to handle fear in our lives as it was the number one topic that Jesus preached on in his ministry. I discovered that I did just what Elijah and peter did in their fear. I let fear become a crisis, there was an invitation to get rid of the fear from God, and then there is a response to the fear. So what fear is preventing us from being the person that God wants us to be?

 

In our first reading, Elijah is running away in fear as he has just killed all the false prophets of Queen Jezebel and now she wants him dead. In fear Elijah runs out into the desert, and he runs until he can run no longer, then he lays down and begs God to take his life. This is bad fear, for fear has trapped him into thinking of all the wrong things. An angel provides food and water, and Elijah gets up and makes his way to a cave. Elijah is still in fear so he begs to know the presence of God. God sends all the traditional ways of how he has revealed himself to others, he sends a mighty wind, an earthquake, and fire but God is not in any of those things. When God sends a tiny whisper, Elijah hides his face in his cloak, for now, he knows he has experienced the presence of God. The new spiritual insight into knowing what to do when fear comes is that God does not always come to us in the traditional ways. God can use anything to eliminate fear from our lives.  

 

In our Gospel, the disciples are filled with great fear as that are crossing the sea without Jesus and a huge storm blows up on the sea. When Jesus comes to them, walking on water, they are filled with more fear, as they fear it is a ghost. Jesus tries to calm their fear by saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter responds, “If it is you, make me walk out on to this water.” Peter climbs over the side of the boat, and as long as Peter keeps his eyes on Jesus he walks above the waves, and the wind is no problem. However, as soon as Peter feels the wind and the water, be gins to sink. Jesus is there to save him and bring him back to the boat. The other new insight into dealing with fear is when we call on the name of Jesus we are only sending our RSVP to Jesus because he has already been coming to us. This is called, prevenient grace, grace that comes before. Jesus was already heading out to them because he could see the storm, he could sense they did not know what to do, so he came to them.

 

What fear is preventing us from being the person that God wants us to be? What fear is trapping us? In this Eucharist may we hear the whisper of God say to us, “Do not be afraid, I am here?” And let us be like the disciples who proclaim, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

Do not let fear strangle our lives!

 

Friday of the 18th Week

Deuteronomy 4:32-40

Matthew 16: 24-28

Feast Day of Saint Clare

 

What do we fear today? Fear can be anything like the dog next door, losing someone or fear of ourselves. I think our readings today help us to know what to do when fear comes in.

 

In our first reading from Deuteronomy, the people are ready to enter the land that has been promised to them by God. They have been wondering in the desert and hearing so much about this land, and now they are ready to embark upon it. Moses gives them great instruction to calm their fears and their anxieties about entering this land. He tells them never to forget what God has done for you. God has calmed all the storms in your life, he has calmed all the fires, and he has been there for you all along the way. The biggest line in vs. 35, “All of this was so you would come to know, there is only the Lord God, and there is no other.” Take comfort my friends and release our fears, there is no other God but our God.

 

In the Gospel, Jesus is trying to rid fear from the disciple’s life by having them face their fears. Jesus tells them. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.” This would have been probably the most terrorizing thing Jesus could have said to them. We need to remember; the Romans perfected crucifixion. It was such a horrible death that the Roman people would not talk opening about the crucifixion, it was too barbaric. Imagine today a parade, and the purpose of the parade is not to show off all the good that a town has done but to show off all those who have committed crimes or thought to be a threat to Rome. To carry your cross would be to bring great shame and guilt on the person.

Jesus is inviting the disciples to this type of fear, so they will be ready to give up everything right now for him, so if it happens, they will know no fear and put their trust in him.

 

Our Eucharist is offered to us, to rid of us any useless kind of fear. May we are strong in Christ and know no fear.