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?

 

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

How does God’s glory shine in us?

Second Sunday of Lent

Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Luke 9:28-36

 

Yesterday would have been my mom’s 90th birthday; she has been gone since 2001. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about her because she was a great mom and I miss her terribly. The news of her death hit my family very hard. At Mass every weekend, I see some of you crying, and some of you are smiling, it shows me we all come from so many different places. The Transfiguration story begs the question of, “How does the glory of God shown on the mountain speak to those who are in a valley or on level ground? 

 

Our Gospel story is a very familiar story one of which we have heard many times. This week I have read this with a new understanding that I want to share with you, but to do so, I have to look at all of chapter nine in the Gospel of Luke. The ninth chapter of Luke begins with Jesus giving the disciples all of his ‘power and authority’ as he sends them out on their mission. Contrary to Matthew and Mark who tell all the good things that the disciples had done, Luke tells of them being sent he says nothing about their return. In verse 22, Luke has Jesus giving the first prediction of his passion and death on the cross. The news of his death would be very hard news for the disciples to hear and they would not be very accepting of this news. All of this is the background too what is about to happen in today’s gospel. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up the mountain and in their midst, he is transformed in all of his glory. Jesus becomes dazzling white, and this story happened at night so he must have looked amazing! Moses and Elijah appear and begin speaking to Jesus. Peter and the others become overwhelmed, and Peter offers to build three booths for all to feel welcomed to stay. A voice from heaven comes and proclaims, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” They all fall silent, and it is over within seconds.

 

The next part of the story that we are not given is the very next day as they have come down from the mountain a father goes the disciples and begs them to heal his son from an illness, and they are not able to. We need to remember they have been given the power to do so, Peter, James, and John have seen the glory of God, and they too are not able to do anything to help the man. Jesus comes and heals the young boy and gives him back to his father.

 

The Transfiguration story shows us if we are in a valley, God’s glory is there. If we are on level ground, God’s glory is there. If we are confused about what to do like the disciples, God’s glory is there. Peter, James, John and the others would have to make sense of the power and the glory that was given to them. The time that I feel my mom’s presence the most is when I celebrate the Eucharist, because I experience her in all her glory. We gather in this Eucharist because we get a foretaste of the glory to come. May we know of God’s glory in our life!

 

How does God answer my prayer?

Thursday of the First Week of Lent

Esther C: 12, 14-16, 23-25

Matthew 7:7-12

 

All of us came to church today and prayed about something. Is God asking something of us that is difficult to do? Hopefully, we respond like the people in our readings today by going to God in prayer.

 

In our first reading, Esther a Jewish woman has become Queen of Persia by winning a beauty contest. It was said that she was so beautiful that the King made her Queen without knowing much about her. What is happening in our story is there is an edict to exterminate all the Jewish people from the land of Persia, and Queen Esther knows she needs to do something to save her people and herself. She has her handmaids, and herself lay on the floor face down praying with all there might that God will hear their prayers that the Israelite people will not be destroyed by the king. She prays for the grace to do be strong and to do her part and speak to her husband and leave the rest in God’s hands. Eventually, her prayer would be answered.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is speaking with his disciples about prayer and says, “Ask, and it will be given you to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.” To “ask” to “knock” to “seek” and to “act” are all things we are required to do on our part when we go to prayer. Let us not be so naïve to think all we need to do to get our prayers answered is pray with great intensity and do that for a long while. The “Good News” is that God already knows our prayer, and what we need.

 

God does answer prayer in three ways, the first way if he answers the prayer immediately when we ask him. The second way is not yet; we do not always like this answer because it demands more praying on our part. The last way is God saying to us, “I have a better idea.”

 

We come to the Eucharist to be reminded that our God is a God who does take sides! He always takes the side of the broken, the lost and the forsaken. Let us call upon the name of the Lord.

 

How do we pray?

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Isaiah 55:10-11

Matthew 6:7-15

 

 

Many years ago I was walking with a good priest friend, and I was sharing with him all my struggles I was going through at the time. After about 45 minutes of listening to me, he suddenly stops and looks at me and said, “How is your prayer life?” I was stunned by the question. I responded, “Actually, it is not very good at this time.” He said, “Get your prayer life back in order and you will get an answer to what you are concerned about in your life.” That conversation happened over 30 years ago, and I have never forgotten it because he was so right.

 

Our first reading from the prophet Isaiah says “Just as the snow and the rain come down and waters the earth so does shall the word of God into our hearts.” What is implied is that we are praying and ready to receive God’s word.

 

In our Gospel, I like the first line of Christ when he says, “Do not babble on.” Yes, it is ok to have those things to say to God, but we also need to be quiet so we can listen to God speak to us!

 

St. Theresa of Calcutta once remarked, “That prayer is the fruit of silence.” I think our biggest challenge to prayer is simply to be silent in the presence of God. In my hour of power, it is the thing I struggle with the most to quiet my mind and focus on God.

 

In this Eucharist, we are grateful for your presence to us as we try and settle our minds and hearts on you. May all we do begin and end in you this day.  

When temptation comes?

First Sunday of Lent

Deuteronomy 26:4-10

Romans 10: 8-13

Luke 4:1-13

 

We all know there is evil in the world and there is evil in us. So what do we do when we are most vulnerable to that evil? When temptation and sin come to a knocking? In every temptation, there is that moment where we say yes, or was say no. Our readings give us some spiritual truths to follow when we ate tempted.

 

To understand our Gospel we need to go back into the previous chapter and know that Jesus was just baptized and he is told by His Father, “You are my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Our Gospel story will make more sense because everything that happens in the desert will be to crush that identity. Everything that happens when temptation comes our way is to crush that identity of ourselves. We have to know that we are God’s beloved sons and daughters.

                             

Our Gospel story begins by letting us know that Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit. The desert is not the place to go to willingly; it was the place where evil and scary things lived. Jesus goes there to face what he needs to face for our care.

 

We are told that he spent forty days in the desert and he ate nothing. On the last day, when he was the hungriest, he is confronted by the devil. He is told to make stone into a loaf of bread. The devil is tempting him to an entitlement, suggesting that he should never have to hunger again. This temptation comes to us when the devil says, “You need this make excessive drinking, pornography, and lust into bread. These things will be the answer to your problems.”

 

The second temptation is about power. The devil says to Jesus, “I will give you all my power.” Jesus responded with, “He does not need his power because the power he wishes is to be dedicated only to God and no-one else.” At times we all try and look powerful, and we do this when we are filled with pride and when we gossip. Gossip is all about evil because we do it to make ourselves look good while we tear someone else down.

 

The third temptation has to do with vulnerability. The devil takes Jesus up the highest point and tells him to jump off, and his angels will save him. The implication is that Jesus should be spared any hardship. We may do the very same thing and think our lives should be free of suffering, pain, and hardship. When hard times come, we need to become even more vulnerable to God.

 

The last line of our gospel gives us a good warning as we are told, “When the devil was finished with Jesus, he departed for a while.” It means that Jesus would not be exempt from the devil in the future.

 

Lent is a time to look evil in the face, to hear its voice and to know that in the name of Jesus Christ it does not have power over us. I had a very bad habit for many years into my adult life. On Ash Wednesday three years ago, I stared evil in the face and proclaimed, “You do not win anymore! By the grace of God be gone!” All of a sudden a huge power came over me, and the temptation left me. It has gotten easier and easier each time the temptation has come to overcome it. As we go through the desert of Lent may we be filled with the Holy Spirit and not give into sin.