Saturday, July 15, 2017

07-16-17 -- 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

July 16, 2017 - 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Only God brings about the Kingdom of heaven. Only God brings creation into being. Only God sends the rain. Only God makes the sun shine. Only God make the crops grow.

God is powerful. God is the source of all creation. God is so powerful that, in the Book of Genesis, when God speaks, things come into being.

The Prophet Isaiah speaks for the Lord. Thus says the Lord: My word goes forth from my mouth and shall do my will, reaching the end for which I sent it.

So, the Word of God is powerful. And the Word of God asks us three questions this weekend.

First, what sort of soil are we? The sower is sowing the Word of God. The sower is proclaiming the Good News that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. Jesus says knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven has been granted to those who hear.

But not everybody wants to hear the Good News. Sometimes it seems irrelevant or too challenging. Or we’re too self-absorbed or busy to listen.

We close our ears so that we cannot hear. We close our eyes so that we cannot see.

Those who are good soil give the word a hearing, allowing it to sink in and take root.

We need to cultivate a posture of prayerful, attentive listening to allow the Word of God to sink into our hearts.

Which leads us to the second question. What sort of seed are we? A seed falls to the ground and dies. Only in this way does it sprout to life again and produce fruit or grain or vegetables.

Do we die to ourselves so that we can live for Jesus? What sort of harvest do we produce? A rich, bountiful harvest bearing good fruit?

And finally, what sort of sower are we? Do we attend to the Word of God or do we allow the religious professionals, priests and nuns and monks, to do all the work.

The world is hungry for the Word of God. The world is in desperate need of the Word of God. But how can we expect a rich harvest if we keep the seed to ourselves?

God’s power sends the rain and makes the plants grow. But the sower has to do the work of preparing the land and sowing the seed and gathering the harvest.

The Kingdom of heaven will come. And because God is powerful and God’s word is effective, God will bring about the Kingdom. What are we doing to help make it so?

The sower went out to sow, and as the sower sowed, some seed fell on rich soil.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

07-09-17 -- 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

July 9, 2017 - 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We go looking for secret knowledge all the time. We want to know if there are really some secret gospels that hold the key to happiness.

We go searching for the fountain of youth. Will this product or that one really make me look younger or feel better?

We want that special diet pill that will make us lose weight fast or that special powder that will make our muscles grow bigger.

But those things are always too good to be true, aren’t they?

Jesus says take my yoke and learn from me. Jesus wants to teach us how to find happiness in this life and in the life to come. There are two parts to this. Take my yoke and learn from me.

First, take my yoke. Jesus’ yoke may be easy, but it is still a yoke. A yoke is used to make a plow animal go where you want it to go.

Taking Jesus’ yoke means going where Jesus wants us to go, and doing what Jesus wants us to do, and living like Jesus wants us to live.

Second, learn from me. What lesson does Jesus want to teach us. We read from our sacred scripture week after week searching for the lessons Jesus wants to teach us.

In the first reading this weekend the prophet Zechariah says that the Savior is meek, riding on a donkey.

Riding on a donkey is nothing fancy, no chariot, no horse drawn carriage. Riding on a donkey is humble and simple.

Zechariah goes on to say that this simplicity brings about peace and joy.

Jesus in the Gospel says that knowledge of God is revealed to little ones, the childlike, those who are meek and humble.

Little ones see and experience everything as if for the first time. There is wonder and awe in their eyes as they look at creation.

Saint Paul says they are filled with the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God brings joy and peace.

Our lives are complex and we are too proud. We need to learn to be meek and humble of heart. We need to learn to be more simple. This simplicity would lead to greater joy and peace in our hearts.

Can we begin to uncomplicate our lives? We need to learn to be meek and humble of heart. We need to learn to be more simple. This simplicity would lead to greater joy and peace in our lives.

The prophet Zechariah says that our Savior comes to us simple and meek and humble bringing peace and joy.

Our Savior comes saying take my yoke and learn from me. My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Learn from me and you will find rest for yourselves.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

07-02-17 -- 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

July 2, 2017 - 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

The woman in the Book of Kings provides assistance to the prophet Elisha. She doesn't do it for a reward. She does it because she knows it's the right thing to do.

She's not expecting some kind of payment for her kindness. She is being generous just because. She knows Elisha is a prophet of God and she knows that, as a prophet, his life is difficult. She wants to make his life easier. So she shows him a great kindness.

And because she is not looking for a reward, the Lord God sees what she has done, and the Lord God rewards her. The longing of her heart is fulfilled and she gives birth to a son as a reward for her kindness to the prophet.

The Lord God is the one who rewards her. The Lord God sends her a son because of her yes.

If we do good, not looking for reward or payment, the Lord God sees and we are rewarded for our good deeds.

Jesus says that if anyone performs even the smallest of service to another, they will not lose their reward.

But Jesus also says we can’t do the good deeds with the reward in mind. If we do, we are already repaid.

Now our hospitality might not be in the form of a meal or a bed for the night or a cup of cold water to drink.

It might be a simple greeting, an offer of help to someone in need, an act of kindness, a supportive shoulder, an encouraging word, a kind thing done for the sake of being kind, a good thing done for the sake of being good.

If we receive Jesus, then we receive God the Father who sent him.

And that is exactly what we do here at Sunday Mass. We celebrate the Eucharist. We receive Jesus’ very body and blood sacrificed for us, given to us a as a generous life-giving gift.

We welcome Jesus into our lives and into our hearts. We ask Jesus to help us be good and kind and merciful.

We ask Jesus to help us learn how to receive a prophet, to give of ourselves in service to others and so receive a prophet’s reward.

The woman in the Book of Kings provides assistance to the prophet Elisha. She is rewarded with the longing of her heart, the birth of a son.

What great kindness do we show not expecting anything in return?

Jesus who sees what is done in generosity and kindness will repay us.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

06-25-17 -- 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

June 25, 2017 - 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

There are many things we might be afraid of. We are afraid to profess our faith in public. We go pale when someone asks us to lead a prayer before a gathering.

We are afraid to ask someone not to use foul language or tell dirty jokes in our presence. We are afraid to tell our friends when their behavior is foolish.

We are afraid that the violence that is out there may one day visit us here. We are afraid of losing our jobs.

We are afraid to take the keys away from someone who’s had too much to drink.

We are afraid of growing old or getting sick. We are afraid of dying.

We are afraid of standing up to our kids and making them mind us.

We are afraid of the secrets that we keep.

Consider the time and energy we waste being afraid. We fear many things and those fears separate us from God.

That’s right, our fears separate us from God.

That’s why Jesus says, no less than three times in today’s gospel, do not be afraid.

Why so many warnings? Because God knows that if anything trips us up, it will be fear.

All through the gospels, the disciples are warned to not be afraid.

They are told not to fear at the empty tomb. They are told not to be afraid when Jesus walks on the water and calms the storm. They are told not to fear when Jesus appears in the locked room.

They are told not to worry about what to eat or what to drink or what to wear.

As we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, can we bring Jesus our fears? Can we place them at the foot of the altar and then leave them there?

If we do not, then we take them with us when we leave here. We take them with us back into the world. And they separate us from God.

With every hair on our heads counted, we are told that we are loved, we are cared for.

Even when the darkness comes, we have nothing to fear. The Lord is with us rescuing us from darkness and leading us into the Kingdom of Light.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

06-18-17 -- Corpus Christi, Year A

June 18, 2017 - Corpus Christi, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

With obesity on the rise in our nation and around the world, it’s very unlikely that we are ever truly hungry, at least for food.

But in our times, when our social and personal interactions are ever increasingly filtered through smartphones and social media, we seem to have a hunger for many things, other things, besides food.

We are hungry for love. We are hungry for acceptance.
We are hungry for affection. We are hungry for belonging.
We are hungry for good health. We are hungry for happiness.

Yet we devour all the wrong kinds of things to fill these hungers.

We stuff ourselves with food.
We drown ourselves in alcohol.
We hook up with others using online apps.
We deaden the pain with pills.
We try to quench our desires with porn.

Nothing satisfies. Nothing satisfies. So we continue devouring all the wrong things until we are stuffed.

On this Feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord, Jesus offers love.

Jesus offers acceptance. Jesus offers belonging. Jesus offers healing. Jesus offers happiness.

Jesus looks lovingly into our eyes and says: My body is for you. My blood is for you. I give my life for you.

I know sometimes coming up for communion doesn’t feel like Jesus taking ours faces into his hands, holding us close, looking into our eyes and saying to us, “I am for you.” But that’s exactly what is happening.

While I was in New York, I had the good fortune of seeing the revival of the award winning Broadway musical, Miss Saigon.

It is the love story of a Vietnamese woman who falls madly in love with an American soldier. And he falls for her as well. As fate would have it, Saigon falls and she is left behind.

He is forced to return to America heartbroken. In time he moves on. But she does not. She gives birth to his son.

There is a moment at the end of act one where she sings a heartbreaking love song to her son. I’d give my life for you. And eventually, she is forced to do just that.

Jesus is our love story. I give my life for you.

Jesus gives his life for you. Jesus cradles you in his arms. Jesus looks into you eyes and says, “I give my life for you.”

At this Eucharist we taste love. At this Eucharist we touch love.

When we come to realize this, when we come to understand this, then we realize that we are loved and accepted. We belong and there is no need for anything else.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

06-04-17 -- Pentecost, Year A

June 4, 2017 - Pentecost, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

In our readings this weekend, we see two distinct groups of people. There are the People of Babel and the People of the Spirit. The People of Babel want what they want, while the People of the Spirit want what God wants.

The People of Babel seek their own will. They seek to build a monument to themselves.

Listen to them again. Come, let us build a tower reaching to the sky so we can make a name for ourselves. They labor only for themselves, for their honor or glory or comfort or legacy. Whichever it is, the result is the same.

And what is the result of all their labors? They are scattered and confused. All their hard work comes to nothing. And they must start over.

On the other hand, the People of the Spirit recognize their own weaknesses. They search their hearts and readily admit their shortcomings.

We do not know how to pray as we should. But because of their humility, the Spirit intercedes for them.

What is the result of their search for God? They have hope and they are saved.

Sometimes we are scattered and confused. Sometimes all of our hard work comes to nothing and we are forced to begin again. This is a sign to us that we are probably thinking and behaving like the People of Babel.

We are seeking our own fame and fortune. We are seeking our own will. We are seeking to build a monument to ourselves. This, of course, never ends well.

If we want to end all this confusion, if we want all of our hard work to come to come to something, to come to fruition, then we have to become People of the Spirit.

We have to allow the Holy Spirit to come to our aid. We have to invite the Holy Spirit to intercede for us.

We can begin by seeking what God wants for us instead of always doing only what we want.

Through prayer, we can begin to discover God’s will for us. Through prayer, we can begin asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance.

Today on this Feast of Pentecost let us search our hearts to see if we are People of Babel or People of the Spirit.

The People of Babel end up scattered and confused while the People of the Spirit have hope and are saved.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

05-14-17 -- 5th Sunday of Easter, Year A

May 14, 2017 - 5th Sunday of Easter, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We are created as God’s beloved precious ones. In baptism, we become sons and daughters of God the father. And that’s a transformation that happens from the inside out.

As children of the father, we are brought into the Catholic Church. Until Jesus’ dwelling place is ready and he comes to take us home, we have a temporary dwelling place here. We have a place where we belong. We have a place at the table now.

This is our dwelling place. No matter where we go in the world we will always have this family. No matter what we go through in our lives we will always have this family. And even when we mess up terribly, this family of the church is always ready to take us back.

No matter what, we always belong here. This Catholic Church is our temporary dwelling place until we reach our eternal home.

It is here that we can have an incredible encounter with Jesus. Jesus wants nearness. Jesus wants closeness. I desire to take you to myself so that where I am you will also be.

There are many ways for us to begin to have this closeness to Jesus. We can start by coming here often. This is God’s dwelling place here on earth. And Jesus his only son, our brother, is the cornerstone of this edifice.

This is only a foretaste of the magnificent dwelling that is being made ready in heaven.

It is here that we learn Jesus is the way. It is Jesus who will get us to the eternal dwelling place that is being prepared. We are called to be men and women of the way.

It is here that we learn Jesus is the truth. Jesus gives an example of radical honesty. We are called to be men and women of the truth.

It is here that we learn Jesus is the life. When we feel forgotten, lifeless, unimportant, we can come here and reach out and take Jesus by the hand and he will restore us to new life. Jesus wants to share his life with us. We are called to be men and women of life.

Jesus is the cornerstone of this magnificent shrine. And Jesus desires closeness. Jesus longs for us to come here and be with him.

And when we come here, we belong. When we come here we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, the sons and daughters of God the most high, who calls us out of darkness into his wonderful light.