Saturday, December 2, 2017

12-03-17 -- 1st Sunday of Advent, Year B

Dec. 3, 2017 - 1st Sunday of Advent, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

In this three week run up to Christmas, we can lose ourselves in everything that’s wrong with this season. Christmas has become so commercialized that we can get caught up in having a completely secular Christmas.

We can get lost in Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all the promotional emails that flood our inboxes. We can forget that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ.

So the church gives us the season of Advent to remember that it’s almost the season. And the season of Advent is a time for us to watch and wait and prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ into our lives.

In order to combat everything that’s wrong with Christmas, I think we need to do something during the season of Advent to help us prepare. I think we need to do something to help us watch and wait for the coming of Jesus Christ into our lives.

I do have a few suggestions. Thanks to the generosity of our friends at Dynamic Catholic we are able to provide, at no cost to you, a book to read during the season of Advent. Copies of the book can be found at the entrances of the church. The book we’ve chosen is, “Everybody needs to forgive somebody.”

And that is so very true. Everybody needs to forgive somebody.

But not only that, we each need to be forgiven by somebody for something we’ve done. So, we could spend this Advent season working on forgiving and being forgiven.

Another thing we could do is visit our friends at Dynamic and sign up for the best Advent ever. We would then receive, via email, short Advent videos each day.

These meditational videos would be a daily reminder that Advent is almost the season, a time to watch and wait for Jesus Christ to come into our lives. This could be our daily reminder of everything that’s right with Christmas.
Or we could all make a special effort to attend the ecclesiology class this Wednesday evening at 6 o’clock in the cafeteria. I’m going to have a special Advent stand-alone class. It’s not necessary for you to have come to any of the other classes in order to come to this one.

We’re going to be looking at the two most important documents from the Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium. Studying these two documents can help us grow in our understanding of and appreciation for our Catholic faith.

If none these things speak to you, then you could just watch and wait as Jesus calls us to do.

The anticipation builds during these next three weeks, the excitement we feel waiting for a package to arrive or waiting for a guest to come. We watch and wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.

If we choose to do nothing, it’s likely that we will get caught up in everything that’s wrong with Christmas. Christmas is not a secular holiday. Christmas is a religious holiday.

Christmas is our religious celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is not about wishing others happy holidays. Christmas is about what God has done and is doing for us.

And Advent is almost the season. Advent is the time for us to remember everything that’s right with Christmas, the time when we watch and wait and prepare for the coming of the Lord.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

11-26-17 -- Christ Our King, Year A

Nov. 26, 2017 - Christ Our King, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Jesus paints a picture of the final judgment for us. There is a king seated on a throne surrounded by angels.

The king is judging and the judgment requires a separation into two groups: sheep and goats.

Sheep are domesticated. They are able to follow the voice of the shepherd. Goats, on the other hand, are undomesticated. They are unruly. They cannot follow.

So the final judgment Jesus describes is very simply about those who are willing to follow and those who are not.

And to be honest, Jesus is showing us God’s tenderness and mercy. And in showing us God’s everlasting merciful love, God sets the bar pretty low.

And for that we should be eternally grateful. For that, we should be willing to make an even greater effort.

If you notice, Jesus is not judging sins against purity. We usually put those sins at the top of our judging list.

Rather, look at what Jesus puts the top of the list: sins against charity, the corporal works of mercy.

Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Shelter the homeless. Visit the sick or those in prison. Bury the dead. Clothe the naked or give arms to the poor.

What we do for the least among us, we do for Jesus. And why do for Jesus? Listen again to what the Prophet Ezekiel says Jesus does for us.

I will look after and tend my sheep. I will rescue them when they are scattered. I will seek them out when they are lost. I will bring them back. I will bind them up. I will heal them.

The Lord Jesus, Christ our King, is tender and kind and merciful and loving to those who follow him.

Let us pledge during this holiday season, to listen more carefully to his voice and to be more attentive to the least in our midst.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

11-19-17 -- 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Nov. 19, 2017 - 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

The writer of the book of Proverbs says that a worthy wife has value far beyond pearls. Pearls are very expensive. There are precious. They are prized possessions. Is it just a worthy wife that the writer is saying is so valuable?

Or could the writer be giving us an example? Could the writer also be talking about a worthy husband, or a worthy son or daughter, or even a worthy friend?

Love, appreciation, generosity, charm, helpfulness and kindness are all prized possessions. These characteristics are precious.

We all want that. We want to be that. I want to be a worthy pastor. I am not, but I want to be.

You want to be a worthy friend or a great wife or a treasured husband. Yes?

Yes, of course. In reality, maybe not so much, but deep inside that is what we want. There is a desire. Or at least there should be.

The Psalmist sings, blessed are those who walk in the ways of the Lord. They shall be fruitful.

We want to be fruitful. Better yet, Jesus wants us to be fruitful. That’s why he tells us the parable of the talents.

Jesus has called us and entrusted his possessions to us. Our children, our husbands, our wives, our parents, this parish church. These are very precious to the Lord.

So what do we do with these? This is very important. We have been entrusted with much. We cannot say peace and security. I will sit back and do nothing for everything has been taken care of for me.

No. We must be vigilant and take good care of the possessions Jesus has given to us. Of course we are not there yet. We are not yet worthy wives. We are not yet worthy husbands. We are not yet worthy friends. We are not yet worthy children. We are not yet worthy pastors.

But that’s no reason for us to stop trying. We are on our way and the effort we make is never overlooked or tossed aside. And we must continue to struggle to do better. Jesus has entrusted his very own possessions to us, and we must work vigilantly to be good stewards.

So that when the time comes, Jesus will say to us as he said to so many before us, well done my good and faithful servant.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

11-05-17 -- 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Nov. 5, 2017 - 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

The Scribes and the Pharisees want to be noticed. They want seats of honor. They want fancy titles. Look at me, I’m important. I’m somebody.

They are puffed up and full of themselves. They are arrogant and boastful. They want others to bow down and defer to them.

But Jesus says don’t be like that. Don’t follow their example. Be humble instead.

Humility is having a modest view of our own importance. Humility is freedom from pride and arrogance.

But humility is not weakness. Humility requires character and strength. It is more difficult to be humble than it is to be arrogant.

The proud always want to do something that will gain the admiration of others. However, one who is secure does not need to gain the admiration of others. One who is secure is free to do what is good and right and just.

So a humble person is a happy person. A humble people is thankful. A humble person is helpful. A humble person is tender. A humble person is kind.

Humble people don’t feel a need to boast and to brag. Humble people put others before themselves. Humble people see everyone as equal.

The Pharisees and the Scribes are not humble. They think they are better than everyone else. Jesus says don’t be like them.

Jesus says, be humble and be kind.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

10-29-17 -- 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Oct. 29, 2017 - 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

How do people become mean? People who are violent, people who are angry, people who are mean, people who are bullies?

What happens inside a person to make that person so hateful, so twisted? I can’t believe that a person is born that way. God doesn’t make people that way.

Could it be that people become mean because they feel like they are in competition with others? Could it be that people are mean because they feel like they are less than and have to make others look worse to feel good about themselves?

People who feel a need to measure up, people who are jealous might become mean as a result of this perceived injustice.

They feel wronged and have to do something about it. Instead of improving themselves, they choose to tear others apart. After all, it’s easier.

I know of several priests and seminarians in our diocese who have been victims of this kind of attack. Someone in the church, a priest, a deacon, a seminarian, an employee has felt so threatened by that person that they actually made a real attempt to get rid of him.

In some cases character and reputation had been maligned so badly that the person had to appear before the bishop to try to defend himself against the attacks, all lies, completely fabricated, designed to destroy.

In many cases, though not all, the attacker has either eventually left the church or has been removed from ministry. And I promise you, that sort of behavior is not unique to the church.

Think about all the injustices at school or in the workplace. Think about all the injustices you’ve seen because someone was mean to someone else. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I don’t have to totally destroy a person to make myself look good. We don’t have to do that. We destroy ourselves in the process. It is better for me to work on myself rather than tear down someone else.

The Lord says in the Book of Exodus, you shall not molest or oppress, you shall not wrong the weak. If ever you wrong them and they cry out, I will surely hear them for I am compassionate, says the Lord.

If I am generous, I will receive generously from the Lord. If I am compassionate, I will be shown compassion by the Lord. If I am kind, the Lord will treat me with kindness.

If we practice these things, we become these things. This is what the Lord means when he says love your neighbor as yourself. It means we are called to live with charity in our hearts, kindness in our souls, and good thoughts in our minds.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

10-22-17 -- 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Oct. 22, 2017 - 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Jesus says give to God what belongs to God. So our gospel reading this weekend asks one question. What belongs to God? Some part of my time? Some part of my talent? Some part of my treasure?

No! Everything belongs to God. God wants everything. God wants all of me. God wants my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole life, my every prayer, my every thought, my every action. God wants it all.

The famous Catholic writer Matthew Kelly, founder of Dynamic Catholic, says that God wants me to become the best version of myself.

When our hearts are divided, we cannot become the best versions of ourselves. When our hearts are divided, we cannot give everything to God. We are pulled this way and that.

And if we are being pulled this way and that, we have trouble giving God just one hour of each week. And that means we aren’t even close to giving everything to God.

So we’ve got work to do. Are we gonna get it perfectly right?

No. Should that stop us from even trying? That would just be lazy, or apathetic, or even irresponsible.

We come to Mass each week to learn how to give God everything. We come to confession to get rid of the trash in our lives that keeps us from giving God everything.

The more we give to God, the more open we are to receiving what God wants to give to us. God’s grace. God’s guidance. God’s forgiveness. God’s mercy. God’s love.

The Prophet Isaiah teaches us that the Lord is God and there is no other. The Lord grasps my right hand. The Lord opens doors before me. The Lord calls me by my name.

Paul echoes this by reminding me that I am called. I am chosen. And you are called. You are chosen. For faith. For hope. For love. You are called to become the best version of yourself.

God loves us and wants our whole lives to be a response to that love.

Jesus says give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Giving to Caesar does means taking care of all of our civic responsibilities so that we can live in a functioning society.

But we must always remember that Jesus also says to give to God what belongs to God. And what belongs to God? Everything. Everything belongs to God.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

10-15-17 -- 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Oct. 15, 2017 - 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

The invitation has been extended. The invitation is from God. Many people have been invited. But none of the intended guests want to take part in the feast.

Why? Well, many people have made all kinds of excuses. Some say they have other things to do. Others are indifferent. And a few are even annoyed.

God is good to us. God freely offers friendship. God freely offers joy. God freely offers salvation. God freely offers an invitation to the banquet.

What kind of banquet? Isaiah describes it as a rich feast. Rich food and choice wines for all peoples, juicy rich food and pure choice wines; a banquet where death will be destroyed; a banquet where God will wipe away the tears from every face.

This is the great feast for those who say yes to God’s invitation. It is a banquet of salvation, a banquet of redemption, a banquet of forgiveness, a banquet of love.

When so many make excuses and do not accept the invitation, God is not discouraged.

God doesn’t get upset. God doesn’t throw a fit. God doesn’t cancel the feast.

No, what does God do? God simply invites some more people. God invites everybody.

God simply sends the invitation to the ordinary, to the poor, to the marginalized, to the neglected, to the forgotten, to you and to me. All are invited without distinction.

Everyone is given the opportunity to respond to the invitation. We are called. We object, sometimes with our “I’m not worthy” excuse. God doesn’t want to hear our excuses. God wants us to accept the invitation.

Saint Paul tells us that God will supply whatever is needed to accept the invitation. I can answer the invitation because I can do all things in the Lord who strengthens me.

The invitation has been extended. The invitation is from God. Many people are invited. What are you going to do?