As you wish!

Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Hebrews 3:7-14

Mark 1:40-45

Feast Day of St. Anthony

 

In the movie “Princess Bride” which is the best love story ever written, Wesley, the lead man, repeatedly says to his true love Buttercup “As you wish.” Do we believe that everything we have ever done wrong or failed to do God says to us, “As you wish, I forgive you?” Our readings help us with this conclusion.   

 

In our first reading from Hebrews, the writer quotes from Psalm 95. In this Psalm, it mentions twice something about our hearts, “Oh, that today you would hear his voice, harden not your heart.” In ancient times the people knew that the heart was the most primary organ but what they also understood was the heart was the primary organ of hearing. Their understanding was if they heard the Word of God only with their ears, it could result in one and out the other. It is when they heard the Word of God and they heard it with their heart did it change their lives. The writer is urging the people to let the Word of God sink into their hearts and to hear God say to them, “As you wish.”

 

In our Gospel, a man with leprosy approaches Jesus hoping Jesus will say, “As you wish.” Leprosy was a disease where if you had it you had to live outside the city walls, and you were not allowed to approach anyone. A leper had to keep their distance from everyone. The leper does not keep his distance but comes right up to Jesus and says, “If you wish you can make me clean.” Jesus moved by this leper touches him and says, “As you wish you are made clean.”

 

Do we believe today that God is saying to us, “As you wish!” God is taking all our pain, all of our suffering, all our doubts to him and healing us. God sent his only son to die on the cross, with his arms outstretched to embrace us. In this Eucharist can we come to believe that our lives will be made easier because of what we do here right now? As you wish!  

 

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Humility and Authority!

Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Hebrews 2: 5-12

Mark 1:21-28

 

 

Our readings today go together very well, like peanut butter and jelly, like Oreos and milk.

 

In our first reading from the book of Hebrews, we hear that Jesus was sent to us under the umbrella of humility. Jesus was made a little less than the angels and given to us so we would know that he understood all that we are going through in our lives. Jesus is not ashamed to be our big brother. We often associate humility with meekness and being easily swayed. Humility fully understands who we are as men and women created in the image and likeness of God. Humility forces us not to think less of ourselves but to think of others.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus has chosen four of his disciples and he goes immediately to the synagogue to teach and to preach. In this passage, we are told that the people were amazed by his authority because he taught differently than the scribes. So what is different? Let’s begin by exploring the difference between authority and power. Power is when we are shouting, losing our minds, and forcing our way onto someone or to a situation. Jesus takes all that humility of knowing who is in and why he was created and uses that to influencing others.

 

How do we hear these words in our lives as we search out what God has in store for us? In this Eucharist may we know the humility and the authority of Jesus Christ.  

Baptized in Christ!

Baptism of the Lord

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11  

Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7

Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

 

Maybe you are like me and you do not like to spend time waiting in a line, but we do it all the time. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to go to the head of the line? Imagine the next time we are at the airport, and we are waiting in line, and someone says, “Please come to the head of the line.” What if the next time we are at the grocery store where there are never enough cashiers, and someone says to us, “Please come to the head of the line.” We come to the end of our Christmas Season which had all this fanfare and excitement, and we come to this very important Feast Day of the Baptism of the Lord, and it is very subdued. However, there is still a very powerful message for us in our readings and this liturgy.

 

In our Gospel, we are given the story of Jesus being baptized. We are told that Jesus is standing in line with all the others waiting to be baptized. He does not move ahead; he is not invited to the front, he waits his turn. When he has been baptized a voice from heaven says, “You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well pleased.” What I find very interesting is we have this historical event, and these incredible words that are given to us to change the world and no one seems to be affected by the event or the words. Was the voice only meant for Jesus and no one else? The very next sixteen verses are the genealogy of Jesus.

 

What is going on? What is going on maybe one of the hardest lessons of Jesus to understand and to live? Before we dive into the meaning of today’s feast, let’s make one thing clear before moving on, Jesus never outgrows his need to seek his Father in prayer and solitude. He never stops needing these epiphanies about his Father. The same is to be said about us. The lesson that is hard for us is that Jesus Christ appears to us in so many familiar ways that we often miss him or take his presence among us for granted. It is by our baptism that we are bound to Christ and all he wants to do in us is remind us each day that we are his beloved children whom he is well pleased and we say in response, “I do not believe you, your message is not true with me.”

 

Yesterday, a good friend told me something about myself that was a little hard to hear. He was correct, but it was hard to hear. The more I thought about it, the more it became a problem. I asked myself, “Lord, where are you in this?” A simply quiet voice said, “You are my beloved son; whom I am well pleased.”

 

Our lesson given to us in the Baptism of the Lord is that Jesus Christ is always with us, never leaving us, always cheering us on and we miss his comforting words, his gentle touch. In a few minutes, we are going to form a line, a line in which we are going to want to be in because it is in this line that we will be fed by the Body and Blood of Christ. May we hear his voice and know his touch, as he tells us, “You are my beloved children in whom I am well pleased.”

#Joeysafterglow

Thursday after Epiphany

I John 4:19-5:4

Luke 4:14-22

 

I was out yesterday on an appointment and on my way back I decided to stop somewhere and have lunch. I ordered, and I enjoyed my lunch, and when I asked the waitress for the bill of which she gave it to me, but there was no bill just a note with the inscription #Joeysafterglow written on it. I called the waitress over and asked what this was about; she said, “Someone paid for your lunch, and I do not know anything about what is written on that paper.” Not sure of what the words meant and not wanting to get in trouble I called my brother to figure it out. My brother said, “It is a cool sight. It is a Facebook page created in memory of a boy named Joey who died last year at this time. The people who created the page are asking others to do random acts of kindness this week in memory of Joey.” Our readings today remind us to do random acts of kindness. 

 

In our first reading from I John, we hear again the word “Beloved” which means, “Those who are loved by God.” The writer goes on to say, “We who are loved by God are to love others because God has loved us first.” There is no room in that statement to not loving others. What a challenge to us, to love and not hate our brother or our sister. 

 

In our Gospel, we are told that Jesus is given a scroll which contains the Book of Isaiah, and Jesus unrolls it until he finds the passage that he knows so well. Jesus reads, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

 

How good is God? Jesus is letting us know what we are to do, to bring glad tidings to the poor. May we all remember this boy Joey and do one random act of kindness for someone today?

 

 

 

The word of the day! “Beloved!”

Tuesday, January 7

I John 4:7-10

Mark 6:34 -44

 

Our readings come to us today as a tidal wave, yet we probably do not know how soaking wet we are! Our readings answer two very fundamental basic questions that we all ask.

 

Our first reading gives us the first question which is, “Is it possible in a world of seven billion people that God knows me by name and loves me?” All week long beginning with last Saturday, the writer John begins the reading with the word, “Beloved.” In writing this word “beloved,” the writer is telling us this is more than “God loves you.” To know we are his “beloved” is giving us an identity, an identity that we need to come to own. When we walk into the room, God claps, he gets a twinkle in his eye.

 

Our Gospel gives us the second question which is, “How do we respond to this crazy love that God showers down upon us?” In today’s story, Jesus is teaching a vast crowd, and he is moved with pity for them. As it getting late in the day, the disciples want the people to go home to get food. It is clear to Jesus that the disciples do not get what he is about. Jesus tells them, ”You feed them!” In other words, Jesus is saying, “You love them!” Of course, the disciples are shocked that Jesus would say such a thing as there is no food around to feed everyone. Jesus takes the five loaves and two fish, blesses it and gives the food to the disciples to give to the people.

 

It is when we wrestle with these questions can we know who we are and what we are to do. Gratefully we come to the Eucharist to get answers to both of these questions.

 

The Light of Christ!

Epiphany of the Lord

Isaiah 60:1-6

Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6

Matthew 2:1-12

 

Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord a good definition of the word “epiphany” is a sudden realization about the nature and meaning of something. While I was out visiting my grandchildren this past week, an epiphany happened with my oldest granddaughter Eleanor who is two and a half. My daughter Meggin and my son-in-law Pat decided to take the opportunity since they were both home to potty train her. Before I arrived, she had a couple of accidents which greatly disturbed her but when I arrived victory was won. On my third day after asking Eleanor 100 times if she had to go to the bathroom to do number two, the moment had arrived. Meggin scoped her up ran to the bathroom and soon after the party began. There was great excitement in pooville. However, the excitement was over as Eleanor came out of the bathroom, took me by the hand looking down into the toilet said, “Grandpa, touch it!” I settled for a happy dance instead. Eleanor’s epiphany of not wearing diapers and wearing big girl pants was amazing and transforming not only for her but for mom and dad as well. We come to this day wondering if an epiphany is possible in our lives to increase our faith and to see Christ more in our lives.

 

We do not have much historical information about these men and their journey. Are they wise men or are they kings? We would like to believe there were three, but we are never told that for sure, we are only told that three was three gifts. We do not know much about them but what we do know is that what was in their heart lead them to follow a star to the Christ child. The lesson of the wise men is that God is always revealing himself to us and we are to search for him in our lives.

 

Perhaps a story to illustrate this point: There was a wise teacher with many young disciples. The wise teacher taught his disciples many things, but of all the young disciples there was one disciple that the wise teacher treated with more care and concern. All the other disciples were envious and jealous. One day the wise teacher told the disciples to go to the marketplace and buy a chicken. Take the chicken home he said and without anyone knowing to kill the chicken and bring the dead chicken back here to me. All the disciples left, and within one hour the first disciple had returned, within two hours almost half had returned, by three hours all had returned except the one loved disciple. Late in the day the loved disciple returned carrying his chicken, but it was still alive. All those disciples who had already returned laughed and made fun of this disciple for not killing the chicken. The poor loved disciple began to cry and stumble over his words as he said, “I bought this chicken, and I tried to follow your instructions, but each time I tried to kill the chicken a holy presence overcame me, the more I tried, the stronger the presence of something holy was in me.” The wise teacher went to the disciple and wrapped his arms around him said to the others, “This is why I love him so because he knows the Holy presence in his life.”  

 

The reason King Herod could not see the star is because he wasn’t looking. He only asked a question to get information. Herod did not seek the Christ child with his heart. We are not to settle for this in our lives; we are to seek him with our whole heart. Where does an epiphany need to happen in our lives? May the Epiphany of the Lord change our lives this day.   

 

What are we looking for today?

Friday, January 4, 2019

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

I John 3:7-10

John 1:35-42

 

“What are you looking for?” Is it peace, joy, happiness, a special healing today? All these things are ok, but our readings are challenging us to so much more.

 

In our first reading from I John the writer is asking, “What are you looking for?” However, he is answering that by saying God is watching us see how we are living his commands. Think of it this way, that there is a divide down the middle of the room, there are those who are living the Gospel message, and there are those who are not. Those who are living the message give evidence to living the message. Another way of saying is, “What kind of God do we reveal by our actions?”

 

In our Gospel, John the Baptist and two of his disciples are walking when John sees Jesus coming toward them and proclaims, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!”  This is all the disciples of John need to know, and they leave John and follow Jesus. I think this is historical because John does not stop them, he lets them go. John knows what his disciples are looking for.

 

Jesus notices these disciples of John following him and asks, “What are you looking for?” The very first words of Jesus and how powerful this statement is! The disciples are John respond, “Where do you live?” At first, this may seem that they did not answer the question, but I love this answer. I think they are asking, “We have been waiting and looking for you so long, and now you are here we can hardly believe our good luck.” Jesus responds with, “Come and see! Come and see all the incredible things that I will do, but you must do more than believe you must live this message in your life.”

 

“What are we looking for today?” Are we able to hear Jesus say to us, “Come and see?”