Saturday, February 20, 2016

2nd Sunday of Lent Year C -2016

May the Peace of Christ reign in our Hearts.

Do you remember when you met your husband or your wife?
Do you remember when you started to wonder if this was going to be something extra special?

Remember how your heart beat a little quicker?

Do you remember when he proposed and she walked down the aisle?

Do you remember when you held your first child for the first time?

Of course you do.

You remember all of those things because they were special moments in your life.

Everyone has special moments whether you are married or single, young or old, we all have special moments which warm our heart and bring a smile to our face.

And sometimes when the waves of life get a little rough
sometimes when we just seem overwhelmed,
we look back to those moments
and we hold onto them because they give us comfort and hope.

Yesterday I went to anoint an elderly man his wife was their and still pretty spry. The first thing she did was take me by the hand and show me a picture of her wedding 67 years ago. And they she said with a tear in her eye it was a wonderful day and it has been a wonderful life.

We don’t really know where the Transfiguration happened. Tradition says it happened on Mount Tabor in Israel but the scriptures never give the place.

We know that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.

We know that Jesus had just foretold that he would have to suffer and die.

And while they didn’t really understand the Apostles, were probably sad and confused.

And so it is in this context that  Jesus took Peter, James and John up a mountain and he gave them a glimpse of his glory.

He allowed them to see and experience for the briefest moment the glory of his divinity.

And he did this so that later when everything seemed to be falling apart
they would have a special moment an incredible memory to hold onto.

The disciples never forgot what happened that day on the mountain and no doubt this is what Jesus intended.

John would later write, “We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only” (John 1:14).

In his second letter Peter also wrote of it, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.’

Peter James and John eventually shared the experience of the Transfiguration with the other disciples, and we know about it today because of their witness.

Hopefully there are also special moments in our relationship with God.

That day we received our first communion or confirmation,
that time we went to Mass and it seemed that the priest was talking just to us, that retreat we made.
That special moment when we went to a quiet church during the week and felt God’s presence.

Maybe, it was that special confession when we experienced for the first time the loving tenderness of God’s mercy.

God knows that there will be moments of struggle in our lives.
God know that we will have our doubts.

God wants us to have memories to hold onto when struggles come so God wants to give us special moment to hold on too.

Sometimes people tell me. Father I can’t remember experience God presence in my life.

It’s important to remember that Peter James and John would never have witnessed the Transfiguration if they had not walked up the mountain.

They didn’t say the mountain is to high,
They didn’t say I have something else I have to do etc.
Jesus called and they followed.

In order for us to have these special moments or mountain moments
We have to open our hearts to him.

We have to be willing to get to know him just like you had to slowly open your hearts to the person God gave you to love.

If you saw your future wife/husband but you never said anything to him or her
and you didn't’ take the risk and make the effort to get to know them
your whole life would be different.

It’s the same with our relationship with God

Lent is the perfect time to give God a little more of our lives.
To go a little deeper in our faith
To sacrifice a little more and concentrate on the needs of others a little more

If we let God near to our hearts and follow him up the mountain like Peter James and John our lives will never be the same.

The message of the Transfiguration is simple.

Jesus wants us to see His glory the choice is ours.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

1st Sunday of Lent Year C - 2016

May the Peace of Christ reign in our hearts.
Every first Sunday of lent the Church encourages us to reflect on the temptations that Jesus faced as he began his public ministry.

Looking at Jesus life we see that..
Even at the age of 12 Jesus  realized that he had a special relationship with God and just like any precocious 12 year old, he wanted to jump into manhood and be about his father’s business.

Just like any good parent Mary had to reign him in and she did. 
And just like any good kid he listened to her.

Around 18 years later when he was 30 the scholars tell us that Jesus was probably stirred by the preaching of John the Baptist and went to be baptized in the Jordan
In doing so he accepted the mission that the Father had for him.

In the synoptic Gospels the temptations follow the baptism
because in the desert Jesus had to figure out how he was to accomplish the awesome task of saving the world or what kind of Messiah he would be.

The three temptations are not complicated. (We all know them too well)

The  first is simply to turn the stones of the desert into bread. 
Jesus could have done this easily if he wished.

In other words the devil tempts Jesus to provide the world with all it’s earthly needs.
Bread to the hungry 
Health to the sick 
In other words the devil is saying. 
Give mankind everything we want and they will worship you.
It is a pretty shallow temptation. 

We all know that the more we have the more we want.
That’s precisely one of the most pressing problems in our world today. 
The countries and people who have all that they need and all that they want
have slowly but surely pushed God from their lives. They (or we) don’t need Him.

Western countries, affluent countries have empty churches  and their cultures glory in becoming more and more secularized. 

Remember what Jesus said “it is hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”

The second temptation is sadly one which the people of God or the Church has succumbed to for centuries.

The devil shows Jesus the whole world and promises that he can rule over it  with power if he compromises and agrees to permit just a little evil.

The devil it tempting Jesus to bring the world to faith through force and coercion, rather than a change of heart.

The Church has had to battle this temptation since Constantine converted in 325 and brought the Roman Empire with him.

For centuries the church  was enmeshed into the political power and intrigue of the world.

We had armies, and worldly power, and influence.
But alas we all know it was also used to oppress and to dominate to defeat and to conquer.

We all know that worldly power corrupts.

Jesus did not choose worldly power or influence to bring the world to salvation he chose the Cross or suffering love, sacrificial love.

The last temptation is to demand a sign from God or to force God’s hand.

The devil quotes scripture and says put yourself up in the parapet and throw yourself down and make God save you because in the scriptures He promised he would.

This temptation is an attempt to in a sense coerce God and impose our will on God’s will

Think about it…
If God gave us irrefutable proof of his power and majesty by doing everything we wanted or demanded when we wanted it would we be free to choose Him?

Without the possibility of doubting we would not have the possibility of believing
or choosing God or even of loving God?

Even with the greatest extraordinary signs from God, look at the wonders of creation… doubt always slowly returns into our lives.

Sadly doubt is part of our fallen nature all of us have to live with it and wrestle with it. 

We will never be free from doubt until we rest in the loving arms of God for all eternity.

So what does this all have to do with us.
First of all we have to ask ourselves… 

Have we given into the temptation to want more and more and more and more and more and better and better and better?

Do we really think if we had a better job or a bigger house or more money in the bank that our life would be any holier and more loving ?

Our affluence has gotten us … more suicides, more drugs, more broken homes, more shootings in school etc. etc. etc.

Experience has shown us that having more and more and more just doesn’t work.

And as far as the second temptation is concerned
everyone who has ever had a broken heart
knows that Love can’t be forced it must be freely given.

Just like Jesus did not give into the temptation to force people to believe we should never try and force our love or our faith on someone.

When parent uses their power to coerce proper behavior from their children it’s a disaster.

Rather a parent has to patiently woo them with their unconditional love, many times long suffering love.

That’s what Jesus did, he didn’t use his power to force us to believe he gave his life for us to show us how much he loved us.

Finally today’s Gospel calls us ask ourselves if we regularly try and put God to the test or force His hand.

Are we the kind of people who say, “ If you love me you will”

Let’s ask ourselves do we trust that no matter what our petition God will give what we need when we need it and what is best for us?

Do we really think we know better than God what is best for us and best for the world?

Holy ones, temptations will come and temptations will go.
We all have been tempted, are tempted and will be tempted… get used to it.

As we saw today Jesus himself faced his temptation with faith.

Every time we are able to overcome a temptation we are so much more able to face it the next times it comes around.

This lent may we work every day to face our own unique temptations calmly and overcome them without fear trusting in God’s love

That’s what Jesus did and that’s what we should do too.


Saturday, February 06, 2016

Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year C - 2016

Today is one of those Sundays when there is a clear thread or theme  through all three readings.

Isaiah was a simple temple priest, he was skilled in assisting in the temple.

It was a comfortable life.
He knew what he was supposed to do and how he was supposed to do it.

Then one day somehow he found himself in the very presence of God.

And as he gazed on the awesome power and love of God he came to understand his own sinfulness.

And he exclaimed, “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips.”

And yet God still called him Isaiah responded  “Here I am send me.”

Isaiah left his comfortable life in the temple and became one of the greatest Old Testament Prophets who ceaselessly proclaimed the God’s Word.

The scholars tell us that Isaiah was so respected that parts of the book attributed to him in the Old Testament weren’t even written by him.

The authors of those chapters prefered to give him the credit because they felt their work would be more respected if people thought that Isaiah wrote it.

St. Paul the patron of our Church was a very faithful Jew, a Pharisee, radical in his observance of the law.

He was so radical infact that he made it his mission to persecute  the early church because he was afraid that the followers of Jesus  were watering down the covenant.

Like Isaiah one day on the road to Damascus Paul encountered the light of God’s love. The moment was so strong he fell of his horse.

Paul recognized that much of what he had dedicated his life to was wrong.

In the second reading today we heard him say.
“I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”  and he was probably right.

Yet God called him and because of his skills and talents he was able to proclaim the message of the Gospel to the world outside of Israel.

Without Paul the early church may have remained a small sect of Judaism.

Finally in Gospel today we encounter Peter.
Peter had a good heart though he was more than a little rough around the edges.

Sometimes Peter got it right other times he completely he got it wrong.

On one occasion in same conversation Jesus said to Peter... Blest are you Simon son of Jonah and a couple sentences later he said to Peter get behind me Satan. Peter was indeed rough around the edges.

Then one day after fishing all night he and his men were cleaning up.
Jesus asked him to put out into deep water.

Even though it made no sense. even though they were exhausted,
Peter took a risk and agreed.

When he saw  the abundance of fish they caught he knew had seen a miracle.

He knew he was in the presence of someone holy.

His first response to that miraculous moment  was simple to say
“Depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man
and he probably knew what he was talking about.

Yet Jesus called him  and made him the first chief shepherd of the Church and Jesus even gave him the keys to the kingdom.

And Jesus did all of these things knowing that Peter would eventually deny him three times.

Three men all sinners all unworthy,
Isaiah the comfortable temple priest,
Paul the proud and arrogant Pharisee,
Peter the strong impetuous man who often spoke and acted before he thought.

All of them were called by God
All of them did great things
All of them played a key role in the proclamation of God’s Word to the world.

Yes God does call sinners…
He called me and I’m not the only sinner in this Church
He also calls you

Today’s readings show us how God can make use of the most unlikely people to fulfil the divine purpose.

But like Isaiah, Paul and Peter we have to be willing and courageous to say yes.

Even when it means we leave our comfortable life like Isaiah,
even when we have to admit that everything we’ve done up to know has been wrong like Paul,
even when we know that we are sinners like Peter.

The question remains when God calls will we answer?