Saturday, May 19, 2018

5/20/18 -- Pentecost

Scripture Readings

In the Book of Genesis, the activity of the Holy Spirit is inseparable from the work of God. It is the Spirit that is hovering over creation bring order from chaos. The Spirit is the very breath that gives life to humanity. 

In the Book of Exodus, it is the Spirit who engraves the stone tablets at Mt. Sinai

There are examples of the Holy Spirit at work throughout the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit takes possession of Gideon. The Spirit grants Samson extraordinary strength.

The Judges settle disputes, answer questions, solve problems and comfort people all through the power and working of the Holy Spirit.


The Prophet Isaiah tells us that the Spirit anoints the Servant of God. Other prophets are filled with the Holy Spirit as they announce the coming of the long awaited Messiah, the consolation of Israel.

Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna are not surprised when the Son of God becomes flesh in the womb of a virgin through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist announces that the coming Messiah will baptize with the Holy Spirit and when he baptizes Jesus in the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus in the form of a dove. 

It is that very Spirit that drove Jesus into the desert wilderness where he fasted and prayed for forty days.

At Pentecost the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary and the Apostles in the Upper Room as tongues of fire.

Even today the Spirit still moves, sometimes in a gentle whisper and sometimes as a roaring wind which we hear, but cannot tell from where it comes or where it is going.

The Holy Spirit purifies, illuminates, cleanses, refreshes, consoles, heals, strengthen and anoints. The Holy Spirit gives the gifts of peace, hope and love.

The Holy Spirit is omniscient, eternal and holy. The Holy Spirit teaches, testifies, judges, witnesses, intercedes, reveals, speaks and glorifies God.

The Holy Spirit is the way that the Holy Trinity of God touches and transforms over lives today. 

And so at this Eucharist, we call down the Holy Spirit to transform simple gifts of bread and wine into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus.

This Eucharistic miracle makes us sharers in the divine life Jesus offers. 

And so we call down the Spirit to hover over us, to fill us, to comfort us and to enlighten us so that we have the grace and the strength and the courage to become the children God is calling us to be.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

5/11/18 -- Ascension

Scripture Readings

You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and to the end of the earth. Be my witnesses. How? How can we be witnesses to the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ?

We think that being a witness to Jesus must be an extraordinary thing reserved for priests or nuns or saints. But nothing could be further from the truth. 

Usually witnessing to Jesus is not something incredibly difficult. We don’t have to discern for years. We don’t have to ask again and again. “What is Jesus asking of me?”

We simply have to do what we are supposed to do; by living our everyday lives with honesty and integrity; by being people who live with faith, hope and love in our hearts, and with generosity and charity in our actions.

Even though Jesus has ascended and is seated at the right hand of God the Father, the presence of Jesus is powerfully at work in our world through good people like you and me; people who are inspired by the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Witnessing to Jesus Christ in our everyday lives means choosing hope over despair, generosity over greed, and mercy over vengeance.

Witnessing to Jesus Christ in our everyday lives means choosing kindness over cruelty, compassion over judgment, and love over hatred.

Witnessing to Jesus Christ in our everyday lives means choosing life over death. This is how we bear witness.

Jesus calls us to witness to our brothers and sisters. Jesus calls us to witness to our friends and to our coworkers. Jesus calls us to witness to our spouses, to our children and grandchildren not in some extraordinary, heroic way, but in our everyday actions.

Yes, some are called to witness in heroic ways. But the vast majority of us are called to witness with the everyday events of our lives by becoming the beautiful, loving, and caring people Jesus has called us to be.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

5/6/18 -- 6th Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings

John Robert Fox was a first lieutenant during the second world war. He was directing artillery fire in Italy when a large German force moved on his position. Fox called a final artillery strike on himself. His body was found next to hundreds of dead German troops.

Arland Williams was a passenger on Air Florida Flight 90 when it smashed into a frozen lake. Twenty minutes later a helicopter arrived to rescue survivors. After getting one man to safety, Arland gave the life ring to the passenger next to him. 

The helicopter came back a third time, and again Arland gave the ring to someone else. When the helicopter came back again, Arland was dead.

When Ryan Arnold’s brother Chad needed a liver transplant, Ryan immediately checked to see if he was a compatible donor. Ryan died following the procedure but the transplant was a success ensuring that his brother Chad would live.

Gianna Molla was pregnant with her fourth child when doctors discovered a cancerous tumor that needed to be removed. 
The surgery would mean her unborn child would not survive. She wanted her baby to live. Gianna died seven days after her baby girl was born.

Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Franciscan priest who was arrested and imprisoned during the German occupation of Poland. When ten prisoners escaped, ten more were randomly chosen to starve to death. Father Kolbe volunteered to die at Auschwitz in the place of a stranger.

When the floods ravaged the Philippians in 2009, 18 year old Muelmar Magallanes decided that if nature was going to kill people, it would have to get through him. He tied a rope to his waist and rescued his entire family. Then he rescued his neighbors and then his other neighbors. 

Exhausted after rescuing as many as two dozen people, Muelmar saw a mother and baby being dragged by the current. With no regard for danger he lept once more into the water to rescue the mother and child before finally succumbing to the current.

Their lives were just as precious as yours and mine. Their lives were cut short by a decision to love. They were all ordinary folks testifying to the extraordinary power of love.

Not the “I love pizza” or “I love ice cream” or “I love New York” kind of love. Nope. The “Jesus” kind of love. The “I would give my life for you” kind of love. The “God” kind of love. The love that gives without counting the cost. 

Saint John says, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God.”

Love that gives without counting the cost is of God.

Love that sacrifices itself for another is of God.

Jesus loves us so much that he sacrifices himself for us.

Jesus calls down artillery upon himself to save us. Jesus hands us the life ring every time. Jesus ties a rope around his waist and rescues us from the ravaging flood. 

Jesus dies is Auschwitz again and again in someone’s place. Jesus doesn’t just give part of his liver; Jesus gives us his very body and blood. 

Jesus calls us to love with this kind of love, a love that sacrifices itself for another. This I command you: love one another.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

4/22/18 -- 4th Sunday of Easter



When our pilgrim group was in Avila at the convent founded by Saint Teresa of Jesus, the first woman to be proclaimed a doctor of the church by Pope Paul VI, we were told a wonderful story about an experience Saint Teresa had there.

One day when she was the prioress of the convent, she found a young boy running about in the convent. You understand, the convent Teresa founded is a cloistered convent. 

Even to this day, the sisters have little to no contact with the outside world. Their lives are filled with work and prayer.

She asked the little boy, “Who are you?” “He answered her with a question. He asked, “Who are you?”

She said, “I am Teresa of Jesus. “The boy replied, “Well I am Jesus of Teresa.” And with that the boy vanished.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is at work in the hearts and minds of people everywhere, in every time, in every place. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is at work in the hearts and minds of all of us.

We are all his. And he is ours. Every one of us belongs to Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Every one of us is part of the flock.

We all belong, one family, one flock, one body, one church, one faith, one baptism.

In our Eucharistic prayer we pray that by sharing in the body and blood of Christ we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, becoming one body, one spirit in Christ.

When God looks upon us, all God sees are his beloved children, each and everyone. God doesn’t put us into categories of good and bad. God doesn’t favor some and not others. God doesn’t speak to a few and abandon the rest. 

Like the sheep who listen for the voice of their shepherd and follow, we have to listen for the voice of Jesus calling us to follow.

We live in a noisy world where we are bombarded with many different voices telling us many different things. We have to be quiet long enough to hear Jesus’ voice.

And once we hear his voice, we begin to recognize it. The more we listen, the easier it is to hear him when he calls our names.

We all belong to Jesus, the Good Shepherd. He knows us. He calls us by name.

When Teresa of Jesus asked the little boy his name, he said he was Jesus of Teresa. She was Teresa of Jesus. 

I am Rusty of Jesus. Who are you? And do you recognize Jesus’ voice when he calls you? Because he does call you.


Saturday, April 7, 2018

4/08/18 -- 2nd Sunday of Easter



Today the risen Lord appears to the disciples and says “Peace be with you.”

Jesus gives the gift of peace. Jesus’ gift of peace is so much more than the absence of conflict. Jesus’ peace is given so that the disciples don’t stay huddled in the upper room.

Fear has paralyzed them. But Jesus has a mission for them. To accomplish Jesus’ mission, they must first overcome their fears. Jesus’ peace brings courage and strength and resolve.

Jesus’ peace is given so that the disciples can go out into the world and be peacemakers. 

Jesus’ peace is given so that they have the strength and the courage and the resolve to go out into the world and proclaim that God raised Jesus from the dead.

Jesus’ peace requires something of us as well. Jesus’ peace is centered not on being nice but on doing what is right and just, treating people with kindness and dignity.

Jesus’ peace is a reconciling peace. Jesus forgives sinners and then sends those forgiven sinners out to forgive others. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.


Jesus gives peace to the people who had denied and betrayed and abandoned him not so long ago and then sends them out to be peacemakers.

Jesus also breathes the Holy Spirit on them. The Holy Spirit dwells in their hearts so that Jesus is with them always, leading and guiding. 

Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on us today and calls us to be peacemakers, peacemakers in our homes, with our families, peacemakers at school, with our friends, peacemakers in our community and in our world.

The first reading gives us an example of the early church trying to live in the peace of Christ. They were of one mind and heart. 

They shared everything with each other so that no one was needy among them. They found peace in working together.

We are called to be peacemakers who are not overcome by fear, peacemakers who speak truth with love, peacemakers who control our anger, peacemakers who work for the common good.

Today the risen Lord appears to the disciples and says “Peace be with you.” May we continue our work of becoming the peacemakers Christ our Risen Lord desires us to be.


Sunday, April 1, 2018

4/01/18 -- Easter Sunday


This morning all we have is an empty tomb. When Mary Magdalene stood at the tomb she didn’t encounter some perfect radiant glowing Risen Christ. Peter and John entered the tomb and all they found were burial cloths.

They did not yet understand that God had raised Jesus from the dead. 

We come here this Easter morning because we believe in the resurrection. We believe that Jesus is God’s only begotten son.

Jesus who went against the establishment, Jesus who insisted that the Kingdom of God was near, Jesus who touched the lepers and made them clean, who healed the blind, who said the first shall be last and love your enemies, Jesus who called a little band of misfits to follow…

If we believe that Jesus is who he says he is, God’s only begotten son, then we are left with an empty tomb because God raised his only son from the dead.

Our God has done as God has promised. Our God has saved Jesus. God has raised Jesus from the dead. And we come here because we want the Resurrection to have an affect on our lives.

Why? Because life is messy. The resurrection doesn't fix the messiness of life. We have to fix the messiness of life. The resurrection gives us hope. The resurrection gives us strength. The resurrection gives us grace.

The resurrection gives us the grace to face our pain and suffering. The resurrection gives us the strength to overcome our grief and sorrow. The resurrection gives us the courage to face our disappointments and struggles.

The resurrection heals our broken hearts. The resurrection rescues us from the darkness of sin and death and raises us to new life in Christ.

Christ is our light. We are joined to Christ in the waters of baptism and those waters are sprinkled upon us to remind us that our God saves us and raises us to new life. We are joined to Christ by receiving his body and blood in the Eucharist. 

This morning we may only encounter an empty tomb but that empty tomb points the way to the Risen Christ, Christ our light.

This morning is about our salvation. This morning we sing our Alleluia with joy because once again our God has come to save us.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

3/31/18 -- Holy Saturday


Tonight all we have is an empty tomb. When Mary Magdalene stood at the tomb she didn’t encounter some perfect radiant glowing Risen Christ.

All she had was a young man with a message telling her where to look to find the Risen Lord. We come to this Holy Shrine looking to find the Risen Lord.

We come here on this holy night because we believe that Jesus is God’s son.

Jesus who went against the establishment, Jesus who insisted that the Kingdom of God was near, Jesus who touched the lepers and made them clean, who healed the blind, who said the first shall be last and love your enemies, Jesus who called a little band of misfits to follow…

If we believe that Jesus is who he says he is, God’s only begotten son, then we are left with an empty tomb because God raised his only son from the dead.

Our God has done as God has promised. Our God has saved Jesus. God has raised Jesus from the dead.

Not only Jesus, This is what God does. Our God saves. Our God restores. Our God lifts up to new life.
Our God has saved throughout all of salvation history. That is the story we tell tonight. The readings speak about salvation.

Our God saved Isaac from his father’s attempt to slay him. 
Our God saved Abraham from the grief of losing his only son.
Our God saved the people from slavery in Egypt and led them to the promised land.

Our God still saves. Our God saves us from our pain and suffering. Our God saves us from our grief and sorrow. Our God saves us from disappointments and struggles.

Our God saves us from broken hearts. Our God saves us from illness. Our God rescues us from the darkness of sin and death and raises us to new life in Christ.

Christ is our light. We are joined to Christ in the waters of baptism and those waters are sprinkled upon us to remind us that our God saves us and raises us to new life. We are joined to Christ by receiving his body and blood in the Eucharist. 

Tonight we may only encounter an empty tomb but that empty tomb points the way to the Risen Christ, Christ our light.

Tonight is about our salvation. Tonight we sing our Alleluia with joy because once again our God has come to save us.