Sunday, January 24, 2016

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year C 2016

May the Peace of Christ Reign in our hearts.

Today’s second reading from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is so important for all of us to take to heart.  We’ve heard it many times but now we have to listen to it and ponder it.

In no uncertain terms St. Paul reminds us that we are the Body of Christ,
What does that mean
in other words we are one of the most important ways that Jesus Christ the Son of God is present in the world today .

We are His body.
When you let that thought sink in it can be overwhelming.

All of us, even those who are broken or hurt,
even those who can’t seem to get beyond one or another sin.
All us need to remember this most important truth
We are the Body of Christ

We all have different talents.
Just like an eye can’t do what a hand does, and a ear can’t do what an eye can do.

Each and every one of our gifts and talents are needed and important in the world.

It goes without saying that we also have to learn to recognize the gifts that God has given others, recognize them and appreciate them.

Only when we recognized our gifts and the gifts of others can we realize that we are dependent on each other and that we need each other.

We need their gifts and they need ours

Sometimes God even uses our weaknesses, our brokenness, our illness, to realize his kingdom on the earth.

Once I had a very upset young man walk into my office after I spoke on this reading He looked at me and he said.

Without any hello Fr. Robert he said

How can you tell me that my Dad who has been bedridden in our home for 2 years has anything to offer our family?

I remember gently looking him in the eye and telling him
your Dad’s dependance on you and your family is making you a better man,

It is making you a more loving, gentle and caring man.

His weakness, his dependence is making you holy and someday you will be a better father and husband because of the care you have given to your Dad.

You know that your Father is still a gift to you, and you are a wonderful gift to him.
When he heard this he started to cry actually it was more like sob.

Slowly, I learned that he was upset because he was feeling helpless. He was afraid his love was not strong enough.

He was tired and worried about tuition and his mother and his siblings.
We talked a little longer and he understood he was up to the task.

It was just a moment...

Yes sometimes God even uses our weakness, our illnesses and our sinfulness to bring the world closer to Him.

If we all have gifts and if all of our gifts are unique
We have to be willing to share them with others.

Willing to share them… needs a comment.

I know our lives are becoming more complicated and it is easy to fall into the temptation of only concentrating on our own needs and the needs of our families.

Do we really want a world where all or most of our attention are focused inward on ourselves or just our family?

Do we really want to model a world for our kids where they learn to always look out for themselves first and grudgingly share the small portion of their lives left over with others.

Is that what we want to teach our children and our grandchildren.

Because we are Christ’s body… all of us need to look beyond ourselves and our own needs and the needs of our families… all of us have to be willing contribute generously to the common good.

Our gifts were not given to us just for ourselves,
they were given to be shared with everyone one we meet

All of us need to look into our hearts and ask ourselves what have we done for others?
What have we done?
What are we doing for others?
How have we shared our gifts?

Every single one of us knows that the more we take God out of their lives the more lonely and desperate and violent and confused our world becomes.

The the World needs God
The world needs Jesus Christ.
and the world needs us
Our Country needs us
Our town needs us
Our parish needs us

We are needed because we the Body of Christ His living and loving presence in the world.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Jesus was born in turbulent times.
The Romans occupied Israel.
There were always tensions between the occupiers and the occupied.

Some accommodated the Romans and their religious practice grew weak.

Others did their best to remain faithful and observe the tiniest letter of the law.

Many knew that they had drifted away from their Covenant with God.
The problem was they were not sure that they could be forgiven.

In this context.... John the Baptist inspired by the Holy Spirit appeared proclaiming a baptism of repentance.

His message was simple and direct, the forgiveness of sin is  possible...  come and be baptized.

Encouraged by the chance of a fresh start, people came in droves to be washed in the living waters of the Jordan and be forgiven.

When you think about it the symbolism is obvious, water has always been used to wash or purify something.

By stepping into the water and completely submerging oneself
a person was saying I am sorry for every possible sin I have committed.

Just like there is not a dry spot on my body there is not an area of my life that I don’t want to clean.

And so the message of John the Baptist was
look into your heart realize your faults and step into the water.

When people came to be baptized by John they acknowledged their brokenness and enjoyed God’s mercy and forgiveness.

The first step in being forgiven has to be admitting that you did something wrong.

Then all of a sudden Jesus came to be baptized...
Why did He who was without sin feel drawn to John the Baptist’s ministry of forgiveness?

There are lots of interpretations but the one I read the most was that with His Baptism Jesus took upon himself all of our sins.

Humanity washed away it’s sin in the Jordan but Jesus, God’s son took our sins upon himself.

In a sense the baptism of the Lord was a prefiguring of his sacrifice on the cross when He paid the price of our sins.

What does all of this have to do with us... we live in turbulent times.

Our world our country our communities are becoming more and more polarized and violent and secular.

Many of us know that something has to change.

And it seems to have become a national pastime to look at others and point out what’s wrong with them.

It is so easy to point the finger at others and say they have to change.

Hardly any of us admit that we might have to change.

Hardly any of us admit that there are things in our lives which need to be healed or forgiven.

You know years ago when I was growing up we were taught everything was a sin and there was a lot of fear and anguish.

After the Council in reaction the pendulum swung to the other side and nothing was a sin.

And the Church contributed to this confusion...
How could eating meat on fridays be a sin and all of a sudden not be a sin?

Today for many or maybe even most the practice of confession has fallen away.

If John the Baptist came today very few would come to Jordan to be forgiven, because so many of us don’t understand that we need it.

Sometimes people come to confession and say gee it’s been several years.. and I can’t think of any sins...

How far the pendulum has swung.

The feast of the Baptism of our Lord and the Ministry of John the Baptist should remind us all that each and everyone of us needs forgiveness.

The feast of the Baptism of our Lord should also call us to deeper understanding of our own sinfulness and need for healing.

Today’s feast should remind us that forgiveness is indeed possible and challenge us to seek it out.

If we want the world to be a better place we have to start with ourselves.

Let’s stop pointing each other’s faults, lets examine our own conscience and walk to the Jordan seeking God’s mercy and God’s healing.

Jesus wants to forgive us.

With His baptism He shows us that He is willing to carry our brokenness and forgive our sins.

All we have to do is acknowledge them and confess them.


Friday, January 01, 2016

The Feast of the Epiphany 2016

The Magi were wealthy learned men.

They were Men who at first glance seemed to have all that they could ever want or need.

Certainly they had enough to be comfortable
and yet something was stirring in their hearts... they could not rest.
They found no peace because they heard the call of the star.

And so each one of them decided to set out on a journey,
to answer the call of the new star rising in the East.

On this journey they left the comfort of home and friends and family
On this journey they travelled to strange and foreign lands
On this journey everyone they met was not honest or good

Yet, on they went with really no assurance that they would ever find what they were looking for.

Like the magi, all of us have been born with a call
a call that we must answer, and a journey we must make..
God has a plan for all of us
God needs us like he needed the Magi to witness to his Son born in a manger.

In order to respond to that call, each of  us must be willing
to leave our home and our family and those things which give us security and make us comfortable.

To answer God’s call, the call of the star we must be willing let go of our security and to make our way into an unknown future.

Sure there will be risks on our journey and obstacles along our path

There will even be detours and wrong turns and maybe even dead ends that will mean we will have to turn around and start over.

There will also be other people, each pursuing their journey, some of  them will  be helpful, while others may deter or delay our progress.

Notice the self serving role that Herod played in today’s Gospel narrative.

On our journeys, we too will encounter Herods.
Their deceptions may fool us; their manipulations may even cause us to lose our way.

Along with the Herods, however, there will be helpers who support our journey.
we must allow ourselves to be guided by the light of faith.

You know as I look out in our Church I can see that some are at the beginning of their journey.

Some are half way home I hope I’m over halfway

And some in our pews are towards the end of their journey cramming for their final exams of life.

Many of them carry the burden of sickness or loneliness

This week I will spend a beautiful evening with some of our college kids
The excitement they always have as they start their journey is incredible and life giving.

No matter where we are in the journey our faith teaches us that we must do our best to faithfully answer the God’s call and follow God’s plan.

Don’t worry we have what it takes
God would not call us to do something beyond our ability

Like Magi we all have gifts
Like Magi may we generously share them with God and with those in need.

In this New Year Let listen carefully to God’s call
Let us ask ourselves what God wants from us,
What God  needs from us.

And then like the Magi let us faithfully continue or begin our journey our search for God and God’s will with generous hearts


January 1st - The Feast of Mary the Mother of God

The day the Angel came probably started like any other day for Mary
She began the day a young woman who was  engaged to Joseph but
She ended the day as the Mother of God.

Mary’s yes to God shows all of us how  much our life can be changed if we say yes to God.

I don’t know about you but it will take me a couple of weeks to stop writing 2015.

Luckily this year it’s easy to change a 5 into a six

It’s important to remember that while we don’t change the number of the year with each new day.

Each new day is really the beginning of a new year.
and each new day is a new chance to change.

Each new day and each new year is a new chance to say yes to God like Mary.

Each new day and each new year is a new chance to forgive
To be more generous with our resources and our life.

Each new day and each new year is a chance to let go of old hurts, hurts that we’ve carried for way too long.

If you’re carrying something from the past that hurts you
pray God for the grace to let it go just let it go…
carrying all of of those feelings around doesn’t help you or the people that hurt you.

Each new day and each new year is a chance to live healthier and happier lives.

Each new day and each new year is a chance to live holier lives
This year in particular we have a chance to both experience the loving mercy of God and share the loving mercy of God with others

Yes this year the church is calling us to be more merciful ourselves.

Merciful to those who hurt us
Merciful to those who just can’t seem to get their act together.
Merciful to those who are addicted
Merciful to those who deep down are so disgusted with themselves that they don’t think Mercy is even an option for them.

As we start this new year and as we start every new day we have reason to hope for a better live.

Just like Mary’s  life was radically change with her simple yes
our live can be radically changed with our Yes to God.
Happy New Year Everyone !