Saturday, July 11, 2015

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B - 2015

In the 2nd reading today St. Paul reminds us that each and every one of us was chosen by God before the foundation of the world.

It is a beautiful thing to be chosen or to be loved by someone

Can your remember the first time someone other than your Mom said I love you and meant it? I’m sure it was a powerful moment.

Being chosen and loved by God is wonderful a gift beyond our understanding.

Sadly we all know that there are many so people in the world who just don’t feel loved.
They don’t feel lovable.
They don’t feel appreciated.

Today’s Gospel reminds us that being a disciple of Jesus is not only about us.

With discipleship comes the obligation not the option but the obligation to help people understand that they too are loved by God.

Being a disciple isn’t only about getting your own house in order before God.

No, when we chose to follow Christ, in addition to living a righteous life we are also called to share the Good News and bring others to discipleship.

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us how to do just that.

The first thing you notice is that Jesus sends his followers out two by two or in a little community.

He sends them out two by two so they could care for eachother
He sends them out two by two  so that if one got discouraged or tired the other could encourage him and carry the heavy load for a while.  

They go two by two  so that the care and concern they showed for each other is the very first homily they preached even before they open their mouths. (You will know they are Christians by their love)

He also told them not to bring any food, or money or even a second tunic.

At first glance it seems almost foolhardy to leave without any resources.

Jesus tells his disciples and us to travel through life lightly so that we can wholly dependent on God and on the generousity of others. God will provide.

When they arrived in a town Jesus told them to take the first invitation that they received, and stay there so that they would not shop around and see if someone offered them more gracious hospitality.

Proclaiming the good news can never be about personal profit, getting compensated or taking the best offer.  

When he sent them out he sent them out with authority, his authority to speak in his name and heal the sick in his name.

Yes Jesus founded a missionary Church and gave each of us the task of bring people to faith in Him

And it would be naive for any one of us to think  the question… “Who did you bring to faith will not be on our final final exam in front the pearly gates?

All of us are sent
Sent to the people we love
Sent to the people we meet along life’s journey

Like the early disciples let’s try to travel light. So that we can God where God needs us to go and not grow too comfortable or complacent. This is no easy task

Travelling Light is not easy. When I entered the seminary
We were given a list of things we could bring right down to the number of underwear
Two days before I left my Mom bought me new socks and underwear because she didn't want me going to the seminary with anything that had rips stains or holes.
Everything I had everything fit into one  suitcase.

When I moved here it took the back of a pickup truck and a car loaded to the roof
One of the wisenheimers kids who was helping me load the truck said.
If all this stuff you have is poverty… I can’t wait for chastity.

Brothers and Sisters…
The world is not very friendly to religion these days especially Christian and Catholics

Yes it’s easier and safer to stay home,
to keep our mouths shut in conversations, and be concerned about our own well being rather than share the Good News.

Last week we heard how Jesus was not accepted in his own town.
That great disappointment didn’t stop him, didn’t hold him back.
Almost immediately Jesus sent out the disciple to try again.

Yes Jesus compels us and love compels us to go out into our communities, into our neighborhoods, our families, our places of work, and find a way to make disciples of all nations…

We need to go out into the hworld with others that’s why Jesus us gave us the church
We need to travel lightly not bogged down with lots of stuff
We should never preach the Gospel for our own profit or benefit.
and when we go we should not be afraid because Jesus has given us the authority to speak in his name.

Let us tell  have been loved and chosen by God from the beginning of the world.

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B - 2015

We are so blest here at St. Paul. On the average, 2000 people come to church every week. (Maybe not on the 4th of July weekend, but on the average).

Some come out of habit.
Some come because they are forced to come.
Some come because they are afraid not to.
Some come because it makes them feel good.
Some come because they believe that God wants them to come or needs them to come.
Some come because they  know that it is good for them to be here.
Some come for all of the above, depending on the day.

Every time we come to Church, God’s Word is proclaimed and the priest does his best to relate it to our lives.

When the sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated, we participate in that moment when Jesus offered himself up for our sins.

When Jesus began his public mission, wherever he went he was a big hit.

He taught with authority, He healed their sick and gave them hope;
and people from far and wide came to listen to him.

Then one day Jesus went home, and he stood up in the synagogue where He and Joseph had prayed together for years.

He stood up to explain the Torah amidst the people who knew his family and had watched him grow up from a little boy.

He proclaimed the same message he proclaimed in every town, but “His own” were not ready to accept Him or his message.

Their hearts were closed..
Who knows why?
Was it was their pride?
Was it because they were jealous at his success?
Was it because they came to see the show and be entertained?

Maybe they expected to see a how a hometown kid made it big and how it would benefit them.

Whatever the case, their closed hearts pained him; and hence, Jesus’ lament, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”

And because their hearts were closed, the seeds which Jesus sowed fell on hard dry soil and were unable to germinate or bear fruit.

A question that this Gospel asks each of us to ponder is simply this:
Are we like the people in that synagogue that day in Capernaum?

What are our expectations when we come to Mass?
Why did we come to Mass today?

Sometimes we priests hear comments like:
Mass is boring.
Why don’t they shake it up a little and get with the times?
I don’t get anything out of going to Mass.
Let me tell you, we’ve heard these comments for years and years.

Good meaning priests have tried all kinds of things to address them.

Those of us who lived through the 60’s and 70’s can remember clown Masses, Polka Masses and even rock Masses.

I was at a Mass once and when I elevated Our Lord after the consecration, the most sacred moment of the Mass, I heard a drum roll; and when I got to the top of the elevation, the drummer hit the cymbal!  Imagine ….!!!

There were even balloon Masses where everyone went out after Mass and let go of a balloon. Who knows what that was about?

On the internet I saw one priest dressed up like Barney at a children’s Mass to give the final blessing so that the kids could relate to him.

Some people have come to expect the priest to tell jokes and deliver monologues like David Letterman.

At the same time, they ask us to offer a meaningful, life-changing message. Normally some will listen for 10 minutes, but 5 minutes would be better.

All of these attempts to make the Mass more relevant failed.
None of these things worked.
None of these expectations made us holy,
and none of these things brought us closer to God or each other.

We come to church to worship God and share our lives with Him.
We come to hear God’s Word and allow it to penetrate our hearts and change us.
We come here to be inspired to pour out our lives in loving service of God’s Kingdom.

We come to receive Holy Communion and be in Holy communion with Jesus Christ our Lord and our savior

These things are so much more important than a chuckle at a one liner well delivered.

And if the Priest's homily didn’t inspire us, we have to ask ourselves,
“Is the soil of our heart ready to accept God’s Word and bear fruit?”

How did I prepare for Mass? Did I read the readings before hand and think about them during the week?

Did I calm my mind and my heart before Mass began or do I try to catch up on the Berlin gossip?

If a farmer just went out into the field and simply threw some seed on the ground without first tilling or opening up the soil and making sure that it was fertile and moist, he and his family would go hungry.

The seed could not produce anything because the soil was not ready to receive it.

It was the same for the people in Jesus’ home town.
They simply were not ready to listen; and if we are not careful, it will be the same for us.

Unless we open our hearts and are willing to accept God’s Word, it will fall on barren soil like that tragic day in Capernaum when Jesus went home.