Friday, January 29, 2010

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year C 2010 -

Reading 1
Responsorial Psalm
Reading 2

You know like many of your parents I was born in the 50s.
1955 was a good year.

I was in eighth grade in 1968 the zenith of the hippy days.
We all sang along with the Beatles.

“You say you want a revolution well you we all want to change the world.”

I can remember in my freshman year of High School going clothes shopping with my Mom and Dad.

We got the ties and dress shirts and Blazer that I needed for Bishop Turner Catholic High School.

But as we were walking out of the store
I stopped and asked my Mom for a pair of bell bottom pants.

There was a long family discussion and she let me buy them
as long as I paid for them myself,
and I promised never to wear them in front of my aunt and uncles, who happened to be her brothers and sisters.

The drinking age was 18, that meant people drank at 14 enough said.

I loved Jethro Tull, Neil Young and of course the Beatles.

I loved the Beatles even though they said that they were more popular than Jesus.

We were hippies and we gloried in it.
Well I was kind of a hippy.

Let’s say I aspired to be a hippy and a rebel.

But I don’t think I ever made it to full hippy status.

I never lived in a commune or I did not go to Woodstock.

I was one of the editors of my yearbook and this is the cover we chose.

When Fr. White the Principal saw the finished product he almost refused to let us hand the yearbooks out.

BTW we used to call him God but never to his face.

He asked us if there were secret message embedded in those drawing.

He asked us why we wanted to remember our high school with a year book that looked like a bad drug experience.

He seriously told us that people who looked at our yearbook might have seizures.

He was not happy at all.
(They were different times)

We were young and we were pretty naïve.
Yes we all believed in love.

We also believed that love was easy.

We believed the essence of love was being loved, being satisfied, being nurtured and cared for.

Another Beatles song we used to sing in our sleep was…
“All you need is love… da da da da da
All you need is love….
da da da da da
All you need is love love
Love is all you need.”

And you know I still believe the Beatles.
Love is all you need.

But I have come to understand that love is not what we thought it was in the days of our youth… in the days of the Revolution.

I have come to understand that…
Love is not a happy pill.
Love is not only a warm fuzzy feeling.
Love is not easy.

I have come to understand that if I find that love is easy
I might not even be loving at all.

Experience has shown me that love is really not about receiving or getting something at all.

Love is about giving, sharing, pouring out or lives for others.

As the second reading said so clearly
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.

Life experience has shown me that
in today’s second reading St. Paul knows more about love than the Beatles.

In his letter to the Corinthians he wrote

Love is patient,
but we all know that being patient is not easy.

Love is kind,
but there are lots of moments when we would rather be anything but kind.

Love is not jealous,
and yet we have this propensity for comparing ourselves to others.

Love is not pompous,
yet so often we want to put ourselves first and impress others.

Love does not brood over past injuries
yet it is so hard to let go and forgive.

Love does not seek its own interests,
yet we know how much of our day
and our week
and our lives are spent seeking our own self interests?

As St. Paul said…
Love bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Yes love is all you need,
real love is all you need.

Love like the Mom and Dad who work constantly to give their kids a chance.

Love like teacher who refuses to give up on the kid in the last seat of the third row who challenges her or him ever single class.

Love like the father who goes to a job he hates everyday because he knows it is how he must support his family.

Love like the parent who refuses to take a big promotion because he/her does not want to move his family when the kids are in High School.

Real love is the love that Jesus had for us as he poured out his life from the cross.

Real love is selfless
Real love is always directed toward the well being of others.

Yes there maybe moments of consolation and comfort when we love and are loved.

But the moment that consolation and comfort become the reason we love.
The moment our love is not completely free
what we do ceases to really be love at all.

Sometimes it really costs a lot to love
Sometimes real love is a harsh and dreadful thing
And yet that is how God loved us… on the cross and
How God calls us to love..

Our faith teaches us that love is why we are here.
We were created to Love God and Love our neighbor there are no exceptions.

The prophet Jeremiah in the first reading risked everything because he loved.
He was afraid but he kept loving.

The people in Nazareth were under the false impression that salvation was assured to all Jews so they though that how they lived didn’t really matter.

Somehow they had convinced themselves that they had a get out of love free card.

In the Gospel Jesus went to his home town and challenged the people he had grown up with because he loved them.

He didn’t go just to get them angry or upset even though that is what he knew would happen.

He went home knowing full well how he would be received.
But love compelled him to go.

And so holy ones let us take to heart the words of St. Paul.,
Let us take them to heart,
and let us love as God loves.

If we really want that revolution
we have to think about giving rather than receiving.

We have to have heartfelt concern for the poor and those who are lost

If we really loved as God would have us love
The world would be a different place indeed

For in the end there are only three things that last
Faith Hope and Love
And the greatest of these is love

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Reading 1
Responsorial Psalm
Reading 2

Today’s readings should cause us all to stop and reflect on the importance of the God’s Word in our lives.

They should also cause us to stop and reflect on the importance of our words in the lives of others.

Words are powerful, they very powerful indeed.
As we will see in the first reading words have the power to build up and encourage.

Sadly, we all know that words also have the power to destroy.

I know people who have been haunted for years things that have been said to them.

I know people who have suffered horrible consequences because of the words that they have spoken.

Sometimes families are torn apart because of words, poorly spoken, or angry, ignorant words.

With the end of the Babylonian Exile
the Jews slowly but surely returned home.

They didn’t all return at once but rather they returned in waves.

They returned to Judah and to Jerusalem
and when they returned they had a lot of work to do.

In the first few years of their return they were in survival mode.

They spent most of their time re-establish  their society.

They started to rebuild the temple and the walls of their city.
They rebuilt their homes.

They planted their crops so that they could eat.
They began to produce goods.

And as they settled in, they began to reestablish their covenant with God.

And that’s what was happening in the first reading.
The Prophet Ezra called the people of Judah together in Jerusalem and
he began to proclaim God’s Word to them.

He proclaimed God’s word to anyone who could understand, Men, Women and Children.

And as they listened to God’s Word
they realize that God was faithful and that He loved them.

And as the Word of God was proclaimed they began to weep.

They wept because they bitterly regretted the sins of their forefathers.

They wept for joy because they knew that they were forgiven.

They wept because they were finally home
in their own land among their people.

They wept because they understood that they were strangers and aliens no more.

They wept because through His Word their covenant with God was once again renewed.

The Gospel paints a similar picture.

Jesus returned to his home town
And the first thing he does go to the Synagogue and proclaim the Word.

And with the Words of the Prophet Isaiah

Jesus proclaimed who He was and what he had come to do.

As we heard Jesus proclaimed

”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.?

And with his words He tried to help them understand that a new age of hope has begun.

They all looked at him intently because his Word stirred in their hearts.

The power of the Word can indeed inspire and lift up the human heart.

Holy Ones
I propose that we take two simple points from this God’s word this week

The first is simply this
God’s word has to be a part of our lives.

It has to be read and meditated on
God’s word is indeed powerful

But unless it is read
Unless it is proclaimed
Unless we make it a part of our lives we can never really say that we know God.

Sometimes I hear comments like this..

Father I feel I don’t know God.
I don’t know how to love Him.
I don’t understand my faith.

How can we expect the Word of God to change us if we never read it
if we never meditate on to it
Or we never make it a part of our lives?

How can we expect to know God if we never listen to His Word?

The readings today also should cause us to think and mediate on our own words,
what we say and the manner in which we speak.

There used to be a student here who I knick named “easy pass”

Whatever was on his mind passed easily thorough his lips… there were no filters

Sometimes the things he said were wonderful
sometimes they were outrageous.

He wasn’t a bad person but he just couldn’t understand the power of his words.
And when he misspoke he would be dismayed at the destruction he was able to cause.

In our families and in among our friends our words are so powerful.

I would propose to you and myself that we have to be very careful how we use our words.

If you don’t know what to say
Or if your heart is beating fast or if your are angry or upset.

Maybe it would be a good practice to say nothing.

If you are angry or frustrated or fed up… don’t say anything that you can’t take back.

Rather it might be better to get into the habit of saying something like…

I don’t know what to say. I need some time to think.

Thankfully the more God’s Word becomes a meaningful part of our lives,

the more our words
and our actions and our lives will be transformed in to the image and likeness of God.

Let us  always speak carefully and reverently
and let us resolve to listen ever more attentively to God’s word.

That our hearts and our lives may be transformed.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year C 2010-

Reading 1
canaGiottoResponsorial Psalm
Reading 2

May the Peace of Christ Reign in our hearts.

Recently I saw a facebook announcement for a 5 keg party and I thought to myself ….. that’s a lot of beer.

(Sometimes people obviously forget that when they “friend me” I see all of their status updates.)

Being an inquisitive soul, I asked myself how many gallons 5 kegs would make?

The incredible internet told me that each keg has 15.5 gallons so 5 kegs is 77.5 gallons of beer

It sounds like a lot but a five keg party has nothing on the wedding feast of Cana.

With his first miracle Jesus made 120 gallons or 444 bottles of wine…That’s a real lot of wine.

Lots of things pop into our heads when we read the story of the wedding feast of Cana.

First we learn a lot about Mary.

Cana was very close to Nazareth which was where Mary and Jesus lived.

St. Jerome says you could see Cana from Nazareth.

Mary must have known the couple getting married because she and Jesus were invited to the wedding.

Mary seems to have been involved in the preparation of the wedding because she knew the wine was running out and when she spoke the stewards listened to her and sprang into action.

The account clearly shows us that Mary was compassionate she didn’t want the Bride and Groom embarrassed.

It shows us that Mary understood what Jesus could do.

When she told Him about the problem she didn’t think He was going to go to the wine vendor and buy some.

She knew a miracle would follow.

And finally Mary seems to have understood Jesus’ mission.

She knew it was time to start even though it appears that he didn’t.

She knew what the miracle would start.
She knew how much it would cost her
She knew Jesus would be leaving home.

She had experienced the incredible grace of God in her lives and She knew he was calling her to let go…

Every mom, every parent someday has to let go…
They know it and it is never easy to do.

When he was 12 Jesus he left his parents in Jerusalem and wanted to preach in the Temple.

When they found him he said that he had to be about his Father’s business.

Mary told him to come home and he did.

Now it seems that Mary had to convince him that it was time to leave home and begin His Father’s business.

The account also teaches us a lot about Jesus.

As we heard he was at a wedding with his disciples.

Jesus was not afraid to have fun
Jesus was not afraid of wine. He made 120 gallons of it.
Jesus was a real person who mixed with real people
Jesus loved his Mother.

When he called her “Woman” the biblical scholars tell us it was like calling her Ma’am and that he was expressing his respect for her.

And we know that with this first miracle Jesus was in… as they say.
There was no turning back.
When he left the party he began his eventual journey to Jerusalem and the Cross.

The Gospel of John is very complex filled with symbolism
It is the last Gospel written.
It reflects not only the real events in the life of Jesus
but also the faith of the church which had mediated on his life and works for many years.

By the time the Gospel was written many people had given their lives rather than renounce their faith in Jesus.

Some say that John chose to mention 6 large stone vessels because that was one less than seven because he wanted to show that with Jesus’ ministry that the faith of the Jewish people was be made complete .

The scholars tell us that the account shows us that God’s grace is recklessly abundant
just like the wine Jesus created at Cana was recklessly abundant.

The Gospel also teaches us a lot about ourselves.

It gives us the hope that just as Jesus was compassionate on the host at the wedding he will be compassionate to us.

It reminds us that he understands normal people with normal problems in everyday situations.

Jesus did not sit back, removed and aloof from people
He was present in their lives
And we have to have faith that he is willing to be present in every day and every moment of our lives

Jesus is with us
When we are good
When we are bad
When we have we celebrate and have fun
When we are lonely
When we are afraid
He is with us when we pray and when we play.

He may even be with us at the Thirsty Turtle… (Yikes)
Do they serve wine there ?
Don’t forget Jesus made 120 gallons of wine…

Like Jesus and Mary we too have to discern when it is time to follow God’s will.

Mary and Jesus were willing let go of a wonderful life they shared together in Nazareth because it was time.

We have also have to be willing to let go.

When God calls
We have to let go of our plans and our comfort
and even the ones we love.

We were created to follow Jesus’ example and live our lives as God would have us live them.

Over the 30 years that Jesus lived quietly with his mother and father in Nazareth he must have repeatedly meditated on God’s plan for him.
So too must we.

The compassion that Mary and Jesus shared for the bride and the groom should inspire us to be compassionate people and a compassionate Church.

When the hosts ran out of wine…. A very embarrassing thing indeed.
Mary and Jesus didn’t say…
Oh they should have planned better.
Or that the problems was their own fault.
Or It’s none of my business, not my problem.
Or whatever
Their compassion led them to help.

So often we use the the faults of others to withhold our compassion from them.

That’s not what Jesus and Mary did… that’s not what we should do.

When faced with a difficult situation
Mary simply told the stewards do whatever he tells you.

She challenges us to do the same.
Good advice indeed.


Here’s another really good reflection on the Wedding feast of Cana check it out.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Baptism of Our Lord – Year C 2010 -

Reading 1
Responsorial Psalm
Reading 2

May the Peace of Christ Reign in our Hearts

So much has happened in the life of Christ from last week to this week.

The Luke tells us that Jesus was baptized when he was 30 years old

And so we move from the scene of the Magi bringing gifts to the new born king which we commemorate last week.

To the banks of the Jordon River where Jesus steps up to begin his ministry

We know precious little about the 30 years before Christ.

We know as a boy he left his family and wanted to begin preaching to the Priests in the temple

We know that when he was found by his anxious parents that he remained obedient to Mary and Joseph and stayed home with them

We know that Joseph died during those years after having passed on to Jesus his profession as a carpenter

We know that Jesus lived in Nazareth a kind of rough and tumble town and that he worked supporting Mary his mother.

And the scriptures say that during this time he grew in wisdom and knowledge.

And it follows then that during these thirty year Jesus was a man of prayer trying with his whole heart to discern God’s will and live it

When John came

Jesus was moved by his preaching

And through the Ministry of John Jesus understood that it was time

Time to follow God’s will and begin his public ministry

He had probably reflected on this day over and over again

By asking to be baptized
Peter said in the second reading
Jesus received the power and understanding of Holy Spirit.

And his work began
The nature of the mission is clear in the first reading, which is a prophecy from the Book of Isaiah

It would be
The mission of a servant leader

A bruised reed he will not break
A smoldering wick he will not quench
And he will establish justice on the Earth

There are many things for us to ponder on this feast of the Baptism of the Lord

The first is essential for anyone preparing to take their place in the world

Jesus needed an interior life before he began his mission
It was a private life, which lasted thirty years
Depending on which Gospel you read Jesus mission lasted between 1 and 3 years…

Ratio of training to ministry was either 30 – 1 or 30 to 10

Our time in college is a time of preparation it is a time which we dedicate ourselves.….to learning and getting the skills to assume our place in the world

How much time have we dedicated to developing an interior life

Yes we have to learn the skills to be nurses and Architects and businessmen and even politicians

But if we are to follow our destiny we have to learn how to be men and women of God

Open to God’s word
God’s will and
God’s plan for us

What a tragedy to be the world’s best engineer but miss The husband or wife that God had planned for us because we were not in the habit of listening to God’s will

What a tragedy to be to be a great politician and miss the mission or task which God need us to accomplish because we had no interior life.

Jesus understood that whatever he did had to be rooted in God’s will and the power of the Spirit..

Thus he is obedient even when it doesn’t make sense

To the casual observer or even to John himself it made no sense for Jesus to be baptized but he did so because he knew it was God’s will

How often are we obedient to God’s will when it doesn’t make sense to us.

Or How often do we pick and choose how we will follow the will of God

And how often does our obedience depend on
What others say
Or what is comfortable to us.

For Jesus following God’s will involved leaving things and people which gave him comfort.

If we study the scriptures and the lives of the Saints there always seems to be some kind of dying to oneself when we are called to follow God’s will

For all that we know Jesus had a good life in Nazareth.
He had his way of living
His routine
The comfort of his mother and friends and relatives

Yet because of God’s call
He Embarks on the life of an itinerate preacher
And leaves all that is familiar to him

How many times… have we said
I’ll follow God’s inspiration as long as it doesn’t cost me too much
As long as I don’t have to leave my comfort zone

It there is one thing that is clear on every page of the scriptures
Love has a great price

Why do we often refuse to pay it

And finally
There is one more lesson we should notice
That is the lesson which John the Baptist teaches us..

Somehow some way from all of the thousand who were coming forward to be baptized John recognized Jesus

How did he recognize him ?

Maybe he knew for a while who Jesus was
Maybe the Holy Spirit inspired him at that moment

How often has Christ presented himself to us in the poor
In those in need
In the instruction of our parents or good advice of a friend and
We either missed it or refused to accept his presence

What a profound tragedy to miss or refuse the very presence of God in our lives

And so dear ones
As you prepare to find your place…. To make your contribution
To live the wonderful life that God has gives you…

Let us strive to develop our spiritual lives and live in the presence of God
Let us discern God’s will and obedient to it even if it doesn’t seem to make sense

Let us be willing to make the sacrifices that following God’s plan will necessitate

Let us be very sensitive to the presence of God

These are some to the lessons, which the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordon offers us

Let us be attentive.