Saturday, June 25, 2016

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year C - 2016

While Jesus was with us he was a very charismatic and caring person and many were moved by his words and inspired by his actions.

So it’s natural that people wanted to follow him,  
They wanted to live like he lived and practice what he preached.
They wanted to be his disciple.

In today’s Gospel we have four different passages which speak about following Christ and explain the cost of being his disciple.

The stories or encounters described in the Gospel probably did not happen all at once The writer of the Gospel of Luke grouped them together to teach us about what is necessary for discipleship.

In the first little story the disciples ask Jesus if they should call down fire fire on a samaritan town that refused to welcome him.

Jesus quickly rebuked them. When did Jesus ever call down fire on anyone ?
You see the only way a person can become an authentic disciple of Christ is when their heart is change.

You can’t bully or punish someone to faith.
This is a grave mistake which the church in its zeal for souls has made over and over again throughout history.

The only we can bring a person to faith is by loving them and giving them good example.

The second person who wants to follow Jesus, doesn’t really know what the cost of discipleship will be.

Jesus reminds him "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the I have nowhere to rest my head."

You see some people think that following our Lord is going to make them rich or give them power and influence.

Trust me usually the opposite is true.  

Despite what the televangelists may tell you Jesus never promises prosperity to his disciples the only promise he makes is the cross.

The cross which he willing carried for the salvation of the world.

When Jesus invites another person to follow him the man responds ”let me bury my father first.”

At first Jesus response to the man seems harsh, until you understand what the young man was really saying.

You see  the greek scholars tell us that the man was really saying “let me follow you once my father is dead.” But from the text we don’t even know if his father was old or infirm.

The reality of the young man’s response is this. Yes, he wants to follow Jesus but only when it is convenient for him, not necessarily when Jesus calls.

Jesus tells the young man and us that when God calls we need to respond period.

Discipleship depends on God’s time not on our time.

When a child is really sick or in desperate need no one can imagine a Mom or Dad responding I’ll get to you when it’s convenient to me.

Like love compels them to act right away so should love compel us to answer God’s call when he calls.

Finally, one last person who wanted to be a disciple said “let me go and say goodbye to my family.” It seems like a reasonable request. And indeed the prophet Elijah in the first reading allowed Elisha to go say good by to his family

But when you think about it
No one can really move forward while looking backward.

Once our heart is fixed on discipleship, then that is where we must place all of our efforts.

It is impossible to have our feet in two worlds and serve them both well.

And so dear friends all of us are here or all of us should be here because we want to be faithful followers of Christ faithful disciples.

Let us never expect to profit from our discipleship.
May our love and the gift of our lives be completely free not expecting anything in return.

Let us never try to bully or shame someone into faith.

May people be brought to faith because of our good example and the generous way we share our lives with others.

Let us answer God’s call when he calls, when he needs us,  or when his people need us.
Not when we don’t have any better offers or when it is convenient to us.

Finally, once we say yes to God may it be a firm “yes” a positive “yes”.
May we be single hearted in our service to God’s Kingdom.

We can’t serve our own interest and Gods’
There is no looking back once we say Yes to our Lord.

We are sitting here today in these pews because men and women of every generation  have selflessly said yes to God’s call.

In this time of confusion, when so many things are changing and uncertain.

In this time when there seems so much anger and angst about how things are going.

We don’t need more angry people.

The world and future generations need a selfless humble  church

with selfless humble people ready and willing to give their lives away to God and his people and build up God’s kingdom

May we too follow him with generous hearts. Amen

Sunday, June 12, 2016

12th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C - 2016

And Jesus turned to his disciples, and asked.

“Who do people say that I am?”

He was asking them..
Do people know who I am?
Do they get it?
Do they know how much I love them?
Do they know I will be willing even to die for them?

And Do they really know what it means to follow me?

As the disciples responded it became obvious that many people didn’t get it, or didn’t know who Jesus  was.
Some thought he was John the Baptist who had come back to life, others thought he was Elijah or some other prophet.

After over two years of preaching about God’s love and healing
people knew Jesus was someone special,
but they just didn’t understand who he was and what he had come to do.

And then Jesus turned to his dearest friends  and he looked them in the eye and he said.

“And You who do you say that I am?”

At first all of them were afraid to answer,
They were afraid to show their cards lest they give the wrong answer.
They were probably confused too, only Peter had the courage to step forward and say “You are the Christ” or the Messiah

With those simple words, that profession of faith, Peter confirmed his belief that Jesus was indeed the Messiah the long promised savior of the world.

Jesus did not deny he was the Messiah but he simply told them not to tell anyone, why?

The title Messiah had come to mean so many different things over the centuries.

  • Some thought the Messiah would restore a Godly or Holy King to Jerusalem.

  • Others thought that the Messiah would establish a Kingdom of justice and peace and prosperity.

  • Others thought that the Messiah would be a warrior king who would defeat the Roman and drive them out making Israel the most powerful country in the world.

No one thought that the Messiah would have suffer and die for the salvation of the world and yet that’s exactly what Jesus would do.

So as soon as Jesus admitted to his closest friends that he was indeed the Messiah he told them that he would have to be rejected, suffer and die.

And he told them that If they really believed that he was the Messiah
and if they really wanted to follow him,
they too would have to be willing to suffer and possibly even die for love.

When Jesus said that he wasn’t just speaking to the twelve.
He was also speaking to us.

Jesus doesn’t promise a new political order.
Jesus doesn’t promise us justice and peace.
Jesus has already come and there sadly the world is still rocked by violence and suffering.

All we have to do is look at the tragedy in Orlando and the violence all over the world to understand that.

Jesus doesn’t promise us prosperity if we follow Him. The televangelists who promise prosperity if you contribute to their work do so much damage to the Gospel.  

Jesus makes us two promises the Cross and Heaven
You see He understands the only way to save to world is to be willing to suffer for it.

And so good people when he asked the disciples “Who do you say that I am.”
He was also asking us the same question

and when he told them that they had to pick of their crosses and follow him..
He was also challenging us to do the same and to follow him.

They way we respond to Jesus’ call to pick up our crosses and lose our live for love will determine what kind of families we will raise,

What kind of schools we will have and communities we will live in.
Our willingness to pick up our crosses  and sacrifice for others will determine
What kind of country we become,
And what kind of world we will leave for our children .
It will also determine how we will spend eternity.

As Jesus said only by giving our lives away
Can we save them.

Only by picking up our crosses can we call ourselves faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

You know we can hide in our creature comforts for a while but anyone who has ever really loved knows that love really means giving our lives away. Day in and day out.

Today is Father’s day
My Father taught me how to be a man
He taught me how sacrifice for your family
He taught me how to go to work when he didn’t want to and put up with all kinds of crazy people.
He ingrained in me, never to be satisfied with job half done of done poorly.
When I was a little boy I knew that I was always safe when I was with him or in his arms.  When I watched him take care of us and his aging Mom Grandma Susie

I knew He knew all about suffering love.
And most of all like my Mom he taught me about God’s love and God’s call.
He never ever missed Mass. We always went to confession as a family.
He was the first one into the confessional and I never forgot that.

I wondered what a perfect man had to say…

Let us pray for our Fathers..

Prayer for Fathers’ day

God our Father, We give you thanks and praise for fathers young and old.

We pray for young fathers, newly embracing their vocation; May they find courage and perseverance to balance work, family and faith in joy and sacrifice.

We pray for our own Fathers who gave us life

We pray for fathers around the world whose children are lost or suffering;

May they know that the God of compassion walks with them in their sorrow.

We pray for men who are not fathers but still mentor and guide us with fatherly love and advice.

Bless, encourage them, help them always Lord

Sunday, June 05, 2016

11th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C - 2016

May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts,

Today’s gospel is very moving...
Let’s look at all three people involved.

The woman was a tired soul, a wounded soul, a sinful soul who had finally had enough.

She realized that she needed to live a better life and she understood that the only way she could get a fresh start was by publicly atoning for her public sins.

And so in a very dramatic way she came to the house of the Pharisee to ask forgiveness of Jesus and begin a new.

No one told her what to do or how to say I’m sorry she chose the way.

You know people sometimes convince themselves that sin is glamorous, or fun, or pleasurable, and it may be for a moment,
but once sin takes hold of you heart, once sin  wraps itself around your soul,  it is often painful and humiliating and degrading and most of all lonely.

Whenever I’ve talked to a person who has danced with sin for a while I am always so saddened by how lonely they are.

You see when we sin we usually chose ourselves at the expense of others and many times our sinfulness hurts our relationships.

It’s next to impossible to sustain relationships with a person who is dupped or taken by sin.

When you look at Jesus in the Gospel you notice that even though he didn’t tell the woman what to do he didn’t stop her either.

When you read the Gospels and come to know Jesus a little it is very doubtful that he would have asked the woman to wash his feet. Sometimes he forgave people before they even asked for forgiveness.

He knew that she wanted and desperately needed forgiveness.

He knew she had lived a sinful life and had made horrible choices

He knew that she needed to say I’m sorry in a very public way and so he let her anoint his feet.

He didn’t push her away or rebuke her even though he knew it might cause a scandal.

And when she had finished her gesture, her apology, he forgave her publicly.

This Gospel shows us that Jesus is the mirror of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Finally the pharisee who considered himself a righteous man before God . yet he immediately jumped to conclusions...

He was sure that Jesus was a false a prophet because he allowed the sinful woman to anoint his feet.

He was sure that the woman was a public sinner not worthy of mercy and forgiveness.

He was wrong in all his judgements.

He was wrong about Jesus because by allowing the woman to say she was sorry and by forgiving the woman Jesus showed us that God was merciful and that God loved sinners.

He showed us all that forgiveness is possible no matter what the sin or transgression.

He was wrong about the woman because while she may have been a sinner at one time God’s grace and God’s mercy had inspired her to change her life and she took concrete steps to do it and ask forgiveness in a very public way.

With God’s forgiveness with God’s mercy she was a new creation. What was in the past was in the past.

And finally He was wrong about himself.
He was not righteous before God or man

He judged others. He put them in a box and refused to let them out.

He knew nothing of God’s mercy and God’s love which all of us are called to imitate.

There is a lot in this gospel for all of us to ponder

How often do we fool ourselves into thinking that we are better and more righteous than others and look down on them.

How often do we say I’m sorry, or make amends for our poor choice and angry words, and selfish actions ?

Many of us fly off the handle and then cool off and act if nothing happened.

How often are we rich in mercy and compassion.

I think we all know in our hearts that to be forgiven you have to ask for it.
The woman in the story was a great sinner who became a great saint.. because she asked for forgiveness  How about us.  Which of these three people are we.
Prayer for Fathers’ day

God our Father, We give you thanks and praise for fathers young and old.

We pray for young fathers, newly embracing their vocation; May they find courage and perseverance to balance work, family and faith in joy and sacrifice.

We pray for our own Fathers who gave us life

We pray for fathers around the world whose children are lost or suffering;

May they know that the God of compassion walks with them in their sorrow.

We pray for men who are not fathers but still mentor and guide us with fatherly love and advice.

Bless them Lord