God is with us!

 

Tuesday Twenty-Sixth Week Ordinary Time

Zechariah 8:20-23

Luke 9:51-56

 

Maybe you felt like I did yesterday watching the news and hearing about the horrific killings and shootings that took place on Sunday evening in Las Vegas. My thoughts turned from shock to sadness to frustration. What is happening to our country that these senseless killings take place and the number of innocent lives is growing? We just proclaimed in our Responsorial Psalm what we need to know, “God is with us!”

Knowing that should help us to be what God wants us to be this day.

 

In our first reading from Zechariah, the prophet knows God is with him as he gives words of great hope, “People from many nations and cities will say. Let us go with you, for we have heard God is with you.” Are we able to have this said about us?

 

In our Gospel, God is with them as Jesus is on his way to the Jerusalem, and some of his disciple’s go-ahead to prepare a place for him, but the Samaritan’s will not let him pass through their village. Samaritan’s and Jew’s did not like each other. How sad! However, the worst of this situation is not the Samaritan’s it is James and John who say, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy them?” It is the disciples who act out more than the Samaritan’s did!

 

Who are we as a nation? Who are we as a people? Who are we as we sit here today? Who are we in the eyes of God? My friends in Christ is God is with us then we need to look at ourselves and clear away any form of hatred, anger, or lack of forgiveness for anyone in our lives. Things need to get better, in this month we stand for life, and it needs to begin with us. 

 

 

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You made them equal to me!

 

Twenty-Fifth Sunday Ordinary Time

Isaiah 55:6-9

Philippians 1:20-24, 27

Matthew 20:1-6

 

I beg you Jesus, next time, please pay those workers who worked all day, pay them first! They would have gotten their pay and gone home, they would never have known what you paid the others. I say this because this is the least of my favorite gospels to preach on because I get just as upset as you when those who worked all day in the hot sun got paid just as much as those who worked only one hour.  I scream, “Not fair!” and it is not fair. To make matters worse, I have to find something that is good news for us to live by in our lives. Thanks, Jesus!

 

The parable is not about the wages! So if we are going to get upset about what is not the truth, maybe we will get just as passionate about what is the truth in our readings. The readings are perfect for us today because we have been talking lately about reconciliation and forgiveness. This week we are going to talk about God’s abundant goodness and his generosity.  

 

What we know about God’s generosity is shared with us by the prophet Isaiah when he says, “Seek the Lord, while he may be found, for my thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways.” Well, we can all certainly agree on that can’t we now? Think of what we did last night? Or what we said or what we thought? Our ways are most certainly not God’s ways! (Story of Comcast guys)

 

In our Gospel, it is evident we do not understand God’s generosity when the workers who worked the shorter day got paid a full day’s wage, those who worked a full day expected more money. They felt entitled to something more. The full-day workers say, “You made them equal to us!” It is not about the money it is being made equal to someone we do not want as our equal.

 

Those who only worked a few hours when asked, “Why do you stand by here idle all day?” They respond, “Because no one has hired us.” That is the same as “No one has invited us back. No one thought we were their equal and cared enough for us?”

 

My friends in Christ, I have always preached that we are the ones who were hired last, but now I think we are the ones who were hired first. We are the ones who have been working all day in the hot sun; we are the strong ones, the best workers. Then why do not invite those who are not equal to us back? The Eucharist we celebrate is about a thanksgiving of God’s generous love for us, may we live in God’s graciousness for us and know of his great mercy.   

 

 

Who would we invite?

 

Friday Twenty-Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

I Timothy 6:2-12

Luke 8:1-3

All School Mass

 

If we could invite any professional athlete or famous person to speak at our school who would you want to come and speak? It could be someone who plays baseball, football, basketball, volleyball, tennis; it could even be a famous singer. Who would you like to have speak at our school?

 

Those are all good choices and wonderful people, but let’s look at who Jesus would choose to come and speak. Yesterday was the feast day of St. Matthew, he was a tax collector and a known public sinner. Maybe Jesus would have him come and speak? Today in our gospel Jesus might choose Mary Magdalene, a woman whom seven demons were gone out of. He might also choose Joanna or Susanna who were outcasts with some very sketchy backgrounds. These are not the cream of the crop or members of the rich and famous!

 

Jesus picks these people because they were given new life in him and they had the most potential to speak about their new lives in Christ.

 

We are part of this ragtag group because we have much to say about the Lord. St. Paul tells Timothy embrace this new life in Christ, and embrace love, patience, and gentleness.

 

In this Eucharist, we come to know the goodness of God. May we always share that goodness and live in a way worthy of our calling.

 

 

Would Jesus call me to be a follower of him?

 

Friday of the 24th Week

Feast of St. Matthew

Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13

Matthew 9: 9-13

 

 

Today we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Matthew. When we celebrate a feast day of an apostle, I always ask myself, “Would Jesus call me to be a follower of his by what he sees in me?” Would he know that “I am a sinner? Someone who says things and does things that I regret.” Would he look at me, and say,” Follow me?” I am a sinner, but I believe I am in good company with lots of people especially the one who we celebrate today.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus passes right by Matthew a known tax collector and simply says, “Follow me.” And Matthew gets up from his post of collecting taxes and follows Jesus. Because it was unlawful for a Roman citizen to collect taxes from their own citizens, they hired it out to the Jewish men. Tax collectors were despised as traitors to their own people and they were despised because they cheated their countrymen. Consequently tax collectors were viewed as the worst of sinners. To have Jesus call Matthew would have been very surprising, and to have Jesus eat at Matthews house would have been even more scandalous. To eat at someone’s home expressed a covenant solidarity. This is a sign that Jesus is ushering in salvation for all people not just for the upright. Jesus sees more than a sinner, he sees, someone who will be a saint.   

 

In our first reading, we hear what that look like as the writer of Ephesians says, “I urge you to live in a manner worthy of your calling, with humility, gentleness, patience, striving for the unity of the Holy Spirit.” To live in this manner will take divine grace.

 

Yes, I am a sinner, but I am also a child of God, who has been filled with grace, and when God said to me, “Follow me” it was not to run away from something but for the running to something. 

 

 

 

 

Can you visit me?

 

Wednesday of the 24th Week

St. Andrew Kim & Martyr, St. Paul and companions

I Timothy 3: 14-16

Luke 7:31-35

 

Our feast day of celebrating Sts. Andrew Kim, Paul Chong and all of their companions, exemplifies for us exactly what we are to do this day. These Christian people went to Korea driven by faith to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Is there someone in our lives we have been meaning to contact but have not found the time or the right mood to contact them?

 

St. Paul is writing out of personal concern to his friend Timothy. Paul is concerned for the welfare of his friend and the community that he serves. Paul wants to come and visit, but he is concerned that he will be delayed in his visit and Timothy and the community needs to know these instructions. Paul says, “You need to know this information” as he shares a poem of the early church about the belief in Jesus Christ and who Jesus is to them. 

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is telling the people, “I came, and John the Baptist came, we are the only prophets of this time, and you still do not believe. John came not eating bread or wine, and I have come eating and drinking with sinners and tax collectors, and you failed to believe.”  Jesus just throws up his hands and says, “You have rejected to extreme styles, and you and you have rejected the same message from us.”   

 

Let us examine how we are hearing the message of Jesus Christ in our lives today? How are we changing our hearts to be more like Christ? Who may need some encouraging words from us about the good news of Jesus Christ? Every day, I try and send a note or call someone just to let them know how awesome they are. Make someone’s day by reaching out to them today in Christ name.

 

 

Stand up and be a leader in Christ!

 

Tuesday Twenty-Fourth Week Ordinary Time

I Timothy 3:1-13

Luke 7:11-17

 

God is looking for a few good boys and girls, men and women to stand up and be an army for him. Our readings present to us what we will need to do.

 

St. Paul is writing to his good friend Timothy and letting him know what to look for in people to be chosen to be good leaders in the church. Paul says, “Look for people who understand what authority means. Look for people who are hospitable and gentle and look for people who have a good family.”

 

In our Gospel, Jesus and his disciples encountering a funeral procession coming from the city of Nain. A young man has died, the only son of his widowed mother. A woman to have lost her only son in a patriarchal society meant that her future was grim. Jesus moved with great pity, and compassion tells her, “Do not weep” as he touches the young man, and tells him to “Rise up.” Jesus models for us what we need to do to be a good leader, which is to act even when no one asks anything of us. No one from his group and no one from the funeral group asks Jesus do anything. Jesus just acts out of mercy and love.

 

My friends in Christ, Jesus is looking for a few good people to rise up and to take their place as leaders in the church. You and I will meet people today who need to know the love of God. By the grace of this Eucharist may we spring into action when the moment comes?

 

Can we forgive?

 

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sirach 27:30-28:9

Romans 14: 7-9

Matthew 18: 21-35

 

I want to congratulate those who were here last weekend, and for coming back this week, because you know, we are going to talk about forgiveness. Last week we talked about reconciliation, and that is not possible until we learn to forgive. The reason reconciliation does not always work is that we are not able to do the first step, which is forgiveness. Forgiveness is hard, we all struggle with it, but we heard today in our readings where God is with forgiveness and where we are with forgiveness. We need to close that gap between God and us.

 

Who are we to forgive? We are to forgive the drunk driver, the rapist, someone who has abused us, anyone who has hurt us. Yes! We are to forgive them by God’s standard. It does not mean we forget about those offenses to us. We do not condone the behavior, and we do not excuse the cruelty or the injustice. It means being released from the pain and the bitterness of the offense. Forgiveness is our way of moving forward. Have we forgiven our spouse, for what they have said or done this weekend? Have we forgiven our children, and have we forgiven our parents?

 

What are we not to do, although we do these things all the time? We are not to seek revenge. We are not to push the offense down and bury it deep within our souls, or avoid it, or run away from it. All those ways of dealing with forgiveness will only lead us to misery and more pain. The other thing we are not to do is believe we can “Just get over it!” There is no just get over it!

 

In our Gospel, Peter asks the question we all ask, “Lord, how many times should I forgive? Seven times?” Tradition had it that you had to forgive a person three times. Peter thinks he has given a great answer by doubling that and adding one. Jesus answers “No! Not seven times, but seven times seventy.” Forgiveness for Jesus is not about a number; it is a way of life. It is way to reorientation ourselves in the world to Christ.

 

Jesus goes on with a parable of a man who owed the king the largest number known to man. The amount owed would be equivalent to 100,000 soldiers each carrying 100 lbs. of silver. The king forgives the debt, but when the man leaves, instead of rejoicing in the king’s mercy he cannot forgive another person who owes him very little. When the news got back to the king, he had the man tortured until he paid back the debt in full.

 

How do we learn to forgive and get where God wants us to be? Forgiveness is not about changing the person who has hurt us; it is about changing us. Forgiveness is a process it takes time, there is no easy road to forgiveness. Forgiveness is a God act, and it begins knowing we are forgiven of our most grievous acts. Sometimes when the pain is so tuff, we can only choose to want to forgive. When this happens, begin again by knowing we are forgiven and recall the freedom we have experienced in forgiving others and begin to try and forgive.

 

My friends in Christ none of this is easy, it is hard, but we must try to forgive. I believe each of us is here today because there is someone we need to forgive, it begins right now in this Eucharist. Please pray for me and I will pray for you.