Thursday Ninth Week of Ordinary Time
II Timothy 2:8-15
Today is the last full day of classes for our students as tomorrow is a half day of school. Our students have learned so much this year, but hopefully, there is one more lesson we need to learn today, and that is to give our hearts to God totally, so we can love him and love our neighbor.
St. Paul says to his good friend Timothy, “Be a good worker for God and be filled with grace.” “Be a good worker?” Paul says, “Because we have a lot of work to do! There is a lesson you need to learn over and over again.”
In our Gospel, a scribe comes to Jesus because he realizes that burnt offerings are not enough and he is seeking something more in his life. This guy is not like the rest he genuinely wants an answer from Jesus that will help him grow in holiness. The scribe asks, “Master what is the greatest of the commandments?” Jesus responds with, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Jesus continued by saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus is telling the man, that you ask for one answer, I gave you two, but they are inseparable.
This is a lesson we will be tested on time and time again this day. We will know when we have passed and we will know when we have not done well. In this Eucharist may we pray to pass the test that God is giving us.
Wednesday Ninth Week of Ordinary Time
II Timothy 1:1-3, 6-12
Have you ever noticed that birds are most active early in the morning before dawn and late in the evening when dusks comes? The birds have much to teach us. Our readings are about living to our fullest potential. We live to our fullest potential when we are grateful at the beginning of the day and when the day ends.
In our first reading St. Paul is in prison, and is writing to his good friend Timothy. Timothy has been having a very difficult time leading a church, and one of the reasons may be because he is very young. Paul tells Timothy to reach your fullest potential stir into a flame the gift of faith that has been given to you. Paul wants his friend to succeed and gives him good advice of what to do in the morning and in the evening.
In our Gospel, Jesus has just described the sanctity of marriage as a special relationship. Marriage needs to work to its fullest potential because it is a reflection of the Trinity. Jesus is saying do not be misled; marriage is sacred to even death. Those of you who are married, try harder because the other person is worth it. Married people should give thanks together in the morning and in the evening.
How are we going to live to our fullest potential today? We do this by giving God thanks in the beginning of our day for all that God will do. We claim that God will act, this keeps us attentive to God. At the end of our day we look back and see how God did act, and we give thanks. The birds have it right by singing so beautiful each morning and night, may we do the same.
Tuesday of the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time
II Peter 3:12-15, 17-18
I have been asked by the eighth graders to give the commencement speech tonight at graduation. I said yes, but I am terrified! I have always wondered what I would say if I were ever asked because I think it is the hardest speech to give. I am terrified. A good commencement speech should include things like never give up, follow your dreams, go out and change the world. How many times and in how many ways can this be said? Our readings speak like a very good commencement speech maybe we should tune ourselves in.
In our first reading, Peter gives a great commencement speech as he says, “Wait on the Lord, be found without a blemish of sin and be on guard not to be led astray, but always grow in grace.”
In our Gospel, Jesus gives the shortest but best commencement speech of all time. The chief priests and scribes asked Jesus, “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? If Jesus says, yes, then he has betrayed the Jewish people, if Jesus says, no, then he has offended the Roman government. Jesus asks, “Whose image is on the coin?” “Caesar” they respond. He tells them to “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God, what belongs to God.” Give to God what is God’s because God’s DNA is all through us.
Now that is a pretty good commencement speech, now get out there and change the world in the name of Jesus Christ. Never give up because Jesus Christ is on our side. Have dreams but allow God into those dreams so he will full fill them.
The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Exodus 24: 3-8
Hebrews 9: 11-15
Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26
Today, (yesterday) Deacon Mike Steffes became Fr. Mike Steffes. Fr. Mike leaves behind his old way of life to begin a whole new chapter in his life as he is now a priest for our diocese. Fr. Mike and I will be together at Holy Spirit. Fr. Mike has told me how much he loves the Eucharist, and now as a priest, he gets to bring the very thing he loves the most to others. Today we celebrate the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, and we need to know its transforming power in us.
Why is it essential for us as Catholic to believe that simple bread and wine can be blessed and become the Body and Blood of Christ? It is essential because we need to see this is our last day, and when we gather something new in us is going to begin. The Eucharist has transforming powers as God is trying to renew us each time we gather in his name.
In our Gospel of Mark, Jesus says, “Take it; this is my body, and take this cup; this is my blood.” Jesus does not try to explain how simple bread and wine become his body and blood; he invites us to taste and see, to eat and drink. Jesus is like a loving parent setting food before a child knowing the food is good for the child and says, “Try it. It is good for you.” Meggin sent me a video of Eleanor eating her first ice cream cone. You can see that Eleanor does not know what to do with it as Meggin is telling her, “Take it, and eat it.” As the ice cream is running down the cone onto her hand she begins to let out a very big scream when Meggin says again, “Eleanor take it; and eat it.” When she does and tastes the sweetness of the cone, a big smile comes over her face. Does that happen to us as we receive the Body and Blood of Christ?
I like that Jesus does not try and tell us how this change happens. And it is not for us to ask how this change happens. The only question to be answered is, “What will we do knowing that Jesus Christ is offering us his body and his blood? What will be become?”
My friends in Christ each time we gather in the Eucharist, it gives us everything we need to be what we are called to be. Are we willing to risk being united, to Christ by eating his body and drinking his blood and being made into one by Him? If yes, then we are asking to be made to be changed, to be made different, to leave our old self here and become what Christ wants us to become. Fr. Mike knows of this transforming power, may we also know this same power.
Friday Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
I Peter 4: 7-13
What a historic day this is as is it the last day of school for our eighth graders. Our eighth graders will be celebrating graduation next year.
Eighth graders, what is the best thing about graduation?
What gifts might you receive as you graduate?
Our readings teach us that gifts are nice, but the Christian way of life is about using our gifts to help others.
In our first reading from Peter, he says, “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s grace.”
In our Gospel, Jesus sees a fig tree that is not producing any fruit, and he condemns the tree. The tree withers and dies because it did not produce any fruit. Jesus is telling us that we need to use our gifts all the time and not hold back.
As we say good-bye to our eighth graders, what are the gifts that our eighth graders have that they have shared with us? What have they done to help the rest of us come to know Christ?
May we thank our eighth for the gifts they have shared with us?
May we use all of our gifts and talents to help others grow in the Lord?
Thursday of the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
On this Feast Day of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, we celebrate an encounter. We celebrate an encounter of epic proportions. Mary, the young virgin, barely old enough to conceive, and she do by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth the elder, past her childbearing years yet she also is with a child. These women celebrate the children in their wombs as each child will have a lasting impact on the world for generations to come.
We celebrate an encounter that would appear to be a random encounter, but this encounter was predicted from the beginning of time. An encounter made possible because both these women are in tune with the movement of God in their lives.
We celebrate an encounter where both women are filled with gratitude for what God is doing in their lives, even though what has been done is beyond their imagination.
We celebrate an encounter that touches our lives even as we sit here today. John the Baptist who herald the coming of Christ and Jesus who brings salvation into the world. May we bring this same spirit into our encounters this day?
Wednesday Eight Week of Ordinary Time
I Peter 1:18-25
Did you catch the story of Rachel Newberry and Ben Robinson going to prom together? Ben has Down syndrome, and when her proposal went viral, she got comments like, “What a nice girl she was for asking Ben.” Rachel’s response to this was, “I did not do it to be nice, “Ben is my best friend!” You see, Rachel and Ben have gone to school together and Sunday school together their whole lives.
Our readings once again challenge us to be a servant to each other, but not for the reason because it would be nice, but because we have been ransomed by Christ. Do we fully understand what that means?
In our first reading, the writer says, “Realize that you were ransomed from your futile conduct handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver and gold but with the Blood of the Lamb.” He would go on to say, “Love another, with a pure heart.” We are to love with a pure heart because it is the right thing to do!
In our Gospel, James, and John want to be the greatest, but they too need to know what that means. Jesus tells them they are to be a servant to each other because he has ransomed them. Their lives have been paid for by Christ.
Yes! We are to be a servant to all people, but not because it is the nice thing to do, but because Jesus Christ suffered and died for us on the cross and there should be no other way to live but to be a servant. To be nice is a decision we make, to be a servant is what we are called to do because we have been ransomed by Christ.