Saturday, March 18, 2017

03-19-2017 -- 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A

Mar. 19, 2017 - 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

The woman is filled with want and desire. She knows something is missing in her life. There is a void that she is trying to fill. She is lonely.

She is trying to quench that need. So she goes to the well at midday. Women did not go to the well at midday. It was too hot. They went in the morning when it was cool.

What was she looking for at the well at midday? An eighth husband perhaps? Or yet another companion who is not her husband?

What signals does she send? What does her body language say? What kind of first impression does she make? What were the people in the village saying about her?

Maybe she was too ashamed to come to the well with the other women. Maybe they shunned her or whispered about her just loud enough for her to hear.

Maybe she was an outcast because of the manner in which she chose to deal with the wants and desires in her life.

People can be judgy, you know. Had they condemned her? Or dismissed her? Or talked about her so that her reputation was tarnished beyond repair?

She was a Samaritan and an adulteress. Jesus was a Jew and single. Typically, Jews hated Samaritans and men Jesus’ age were married.

She fully expected Jesus to either condemn or dismiss her. But Jesus doesn’t do what she expects.

Jesus accepts her. Jesus treats her with respect. Jesus patiently shows her that he can fill those wants and desires in a way that she doesn’t expect.

“The water I give becomes a spring welling up to eternal life.” “Sir I know the Messiah is coming.” “I am he.”

We are either like the Samaritan woman or we are like the judgy town folk.

On the one hand we might be trying to fill our wants and desires in some pretty unhealthy ways.

Or on the other we might be judging others for their shortcomings.

In either case, the Lord Jesus offers us another way.

We are flawed. We have weaknesses. With the Lord there is kindness and fullness of redemption. With the Lord there is acceptance and forgiveness for past failings and shortcomings. With the Lord there is love and a longing to fill our emptiness.

In the midday heat of life, the Lord Jesus offers us a cool refreshing drink of water to quench our thirst.

As a result of the Samaritan woman’s testimony many more sinners came to Jesus finding acceptance and healing. Many more had their thirst quenched with a tall glass of refreshing eternal water.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

03-12-2017 -- 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A

Mar. 12, 2017 - 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

In one week we’ve moved from Temptation to Transfiguration. Jesus calls us up the mountain to witness the Transfiguration.

To transfigure is to change, more specifically, to change the outside to match the inside. In the Transfiguration, Jesus’ outside is changed so that it matches the inside.

We get a glimpse of Jesus’ divinity. We get a glimpse of what it means to be the Son of God. The human form is transformed giving us a peek into heaven.

The message is clear: Jesus the man is also Jesus, the Son of God. This has an impact on our lives. It changes us.

For Peter, James and John, it is a special moment in time with Jesus. God shows them a vision of heaven.

We all need that special moment with Jesus. We all need that Transfiguration moment. It helps us understand who Jesus is.

This is important so that we can place greater trust in the Lord. This is important so that we can listen to Jesus with confidence.

It also helps us realize that we all need to work on transforming our outsides to match our insides.

But here’s the thing: We can’t make that special moment with Jesus happen. Only Jesus can. We can pray for it to happen. We can hope for it to happen. We can listen. We can watch. We can wait. Wait for it. Wait.

And when it happens, we have to realize it is only a moment. They all had to come down from the mountain and live in the real world.

There were many joys and sufferings to come. The Last Supper, the Agony in the Garden, the arrest, the trial, the Cross, the Resurrection.

There was the going forth to proclaim to all the world what Jesus had done for them. The Transfiguration gave them the strength to stand up and to not be afraid.

God says to us: Listen to my son Jesus. Are we listening to Jesus?

If we are, we can discover that what Paul says in his letter to Timothy is absolutely true.

The Lord is calling us to a holy life. The Lord is calling us to let our outsides match our insides. And to help us, the Book of Genesis says that the Lord blesses us.

The Lord blesses me so that I can be a blessing. The Lord blesses you so that you can be a blessing.

Are we listening to Jesus, he is telling us how he wants us to be a blessing for one another.

We pray for a transfiguration. We watch for Jesus to be at work in our daily lives. We listen. We hope. We pray. We wait.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

03-05-2017 -- 1st Sunday of Lent, Year A

Mar. 05, 2017 - 1st Sunday of Lent, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Adam is disobedient. He and his wife Eve commit a transgression. Their transgression is an act of disobedience that leads them into a world of sin. And sin leads to death.

The Serpent tempts and temptation touches us. So now the beauty of God’s creation is marred by sin and death. The Serpent is cunning. And we are easily tricked.

Jesus faces this same temptation as well. But unlike Adam, Jesus is not disobedient. Jesus is obedient. When temptation touches him he acts with righteousness.

This righteous act leads to forgiveness for our sins. The loving and righteous act of obedience restores creation.  

Jesus brings us God’s life. Jesus offers us God’s love. Jesus restores God’s creation. This is a tremendous gift, but sin is still a real problem.

People give in to temptation all the time. People sin. And all of our sins combined make the world a mess. Sin makes people miserable. Sin mars God’s creation.

When temptation touches our lives, how do we respond? After we’ve given into temptation, we have a tendency to mope around feeling sorry for ourselves. I am nobody. I can’t do anything right. I’m so stupid. I mess up everything

Of course, doing this is not helpful. So let us look to Jesus for another way. Jesus encourages us to push forward rather than to continue wallowing in our past sins.

How does Jesus respond to temptation?

To the first temptation of hunger and want and desire, Jesus responds with the Word of God.

The Word of God is found most clearly in our Scriptures. Reading the Bible helps us grow in our knowledge and wisdom of the Lord. When we read the Bible, God’s words sink into our hearts.

To the second temptation of a lack of trust or of blaming God because we ate the forbidden fruit, Jesus responds by saying you shall not test the God. You shall trust God.

Trusting God begins by accepting that we are God’s children, God created us and cares deeply about what happens to us. When we trust God, we come to believe that God has a plan for us that is beyond anything we could imagine.

To the third temptation of to have power and control and attention.    Jesus responds with worship. You shall worship and serve God alone.

Sunday Mass is our primary way to worship God. Is it the most important thing we do it week? It should be. When we worship God alone, the mass becomes an expression of joy, an expression of love.

Adam and Eve forget that God’s fingerprints are all over them. God fashioned them and filled their nostrils with breath.

But they give in to the tempter. We do too. But not Jesus. Jesus, by acting in a righteous way, is rewriting our story.

Jesus calls us to be faithful to God’s word. Jesus invites us to begin to trust in God again. And Jesus asks us to worship God alone.

And with that the devil departs from us and the angels come to minister to us.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

02-26-2017 -- 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Feb. 26, 2017 - 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We have a tendency to worry about silly things? So and so has a nicer car, a bigger house, a newer purse, finer jewelry, more money.

Worry and anxiety can affect the way we see and interact with others. Does so and so like me? Am I good enough or popular enough to sit at that table for lunch? Can I fit in with those people?

We worry that others might be critical. We get depressed and anxious over what others will think or say. We worry about our looks, our health, our finances, our children.

Jesus asks us why are we so anxious? We can answer him. We can go on and on, but Jesus already knows our answers.

And when we are challenged, our response often sounds something like this: I know it’s silly for me to be so worried about that.

Jesus says simply do not worry. Jesus wants us to be happy.

Well, maybe not happy. Jesus wants us to be content. Jesus wants us to be satisfied. If we spend all our time worrying we will never be satisfied.

The psalmist says let my soul be at rest with the Lord. Let my soul be satisfied with the Lord.

How do we move toward being at rest with the Lord? By moving away from worry and anxiety.

It’s one thing to say I will not worry about this or that. But it’s another thing altogether to quiet the voices in our heads, to sooth the queasiness in our stomachs, to calm our racing hearts.

What can we do to overcome all this worry and anxiety?

We can serve the Kingdom. Jesus says we cannot serve both God and mammon. Mammon, possessions, things, wealth, stuff. Stuff for us to be worried and anxious about.

We cannot serve worry and anxiety if we are serving the Kingdom.

So if we want the worry and anxiety to be gone, we must serve God alone. God who cares for us. God who provides for us. God who loves us. God who never forgets us.

How do we serve God alone? By putting God first in our daily lives. By making time daily for quiet reflection and prayer. By making time for church on Sunday, by using our God-given gifts and talents to build up the Kingdom.

As we draw nearer to Ash Wednesday and our forty days of Lent, we should take some time to think about how we are going to serve God and the Kingdom.

We often worry about silly things. If we’d be a bit more concerned about our relationship with God, then maybe there would be less worry and anxiety in our lives.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

02-19-2017 -- 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Feb. 19, 2017 - 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We are taught to treat one another as adversaries. Everything is a battle. It's me against you and someone has to win. Someone has to come out on top. Which means someone has to lose.

Our political system is that way. So are all of our sports and video games. There is one winner and lots of losers.

The relationship between employers and employees is often adversarial. Our legal system is adversarial. And sadly, sometimes the relation between a bishop and his priests can become adversarial.

When this happens, we get all worked up about who wins or we stress or worry that we will lose and our emotions spill over into anger and hatred and mean-spiritedness.

And losers today are often poor sports.

In the book of Leviticus the Lord says through Moses, I am the Lord your God. I am holy. There shall be no hatred, no revenge. You shall only love.

Our plans, our schemes, our desires, our hearts.

God says about these let no one deceive himself. God catches the wise in their own ruses. The Lord God knows the thoughts of the wise.

The Lord God knows our plans, our schemes, our desires, our hearts. We cannot hide from God.

Even though God catches us in our own ruse, in our own scheming, God is still kind and merciful.

Today we see so much violence and hatred in the world, so much eye for eye, so much tooth for tooth.

And all too often it's over stupid little nothings.

The Lord Jesus says offer no resistance to one who is evil.

The Lord Jesus says turn away from those who strike. The Lord Jesus says give to those who ask. The Lord Jesus says to love those who hate.

The Lord Jesus desires us to get to a place where there are no more plans and schemes. A place where all we feel is love forever. All we feel is mercy forever.

There has to be a movement away from what divides us. There has to be of movement away from it makes us different.

We have to move toward seeing the goodness in each person. We have to move toward seeing the struggle in each person.

We have to move toward seeing the insecurity in each person. We have to move toward seeing the weakness in each person.

Only then can I begin to see that you are just like me and I am just like you and that there can be no revenge, no hatred. Only love is love is love is love is love.

The Lord is love. The Lord is mercy. Hatred falls away. Revenge falls away. And there is only love. Love forever.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

02-12-2017 -- 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Feb. 12, 2017 - 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

After almost six years of being together, many of you have discovered that my YES means YES and that my NO means NO.

Now this is a difficult thing to do: letting YES be YES and NO be NO. And sometimes it’s a difficult thing to take. I know that. But isn’t it better to know where you truly stand?

I think so, because the Lord wants our YES to mean YES and our NO to mean NO. When we bring our prayer to the Lord, the Lord wants honesty and humility.

To help us be honest and humble, the Lord sets before us choices.

Good and Evil
Life and Death
Keeping the Commandments or Breaking the Commandments

The Lord wants us to choose. And we know which side we are supposed to choose. But it is more than just a legalistic choosing of one side or the other.

Jesus also wants to know what’s happening inside. Jesus wants to know what is happening in our hearts.

It’s not just you shall not kill. It’s you shall not kill with your heart. No anger. No resentment. No jealousy. No mean spiritedness. No harsh words.

It’s a terrible thing to see one person kill another person’s spirit with cruel words.

What is a better choice? A better choice is to recognize that God is the creator of every human person. And as a result, every human person should be treated with respect and dignity. We should struggle to kill ‘em with kindness and be more charitable in our thoughts and speech.

It’s not just you shall not commit adultery. It’s you shall not commit adultery in your heart. No lust. No manipulation for personal gain. No using someone for personal pleasure. No toying with another’s emotions.

Sometimes we use others for a moment of pleasure. This manipulation, this violation can leave scars that take years to heal.

What is a better choice? A better choice is to be clean of heart, to struggle to avoid the temptation to look lustfully at others. Again, to see everyone as a human person, not as some object to be had or conquered.

It is difficult to let our YES mean YES and our NO mean NO.
When our YES means YES and our NO means NO, we stand on the side of truth, we stand on the integrity.

When we choose life, when we choose good, when we keep the commandments, we stand on the side of the Lord.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

02-05-2017 -- 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Feb. 5, 2017 - 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Are we bland? Have we lost our flavor? Have our lives become less than exciting?

Are are dim? Have we lost that inner light? Have we lost our way? Are we lost in the darkness of sin?

Well, unlike salt from the parable, Jesus never throws us out. And unlike the lamp, Jesus is never hides us.

No. Jesus calls us to be salt and light. “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.”

Not only does Jesus call us to be salt and light, he is himself. Christ is our salt. Jesus salts us and flavors us with his love. Christ is our light. Jesus lights the way. He shines in us and through us.

Isaiah tells us that if we are salt and if we are light, when we cry for help the Lord will say, “Here I am.”

We want that. We want to know that the Lord hears us, that the Lord is near us, that the Lord answers our cry for help.

Isaiah also tells us to share our bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed, clothe the naked. He is suggesting ways for us to let our light will break forth.

When we are salt, when we are light, we let our good deeds shine, we let our good deeds flavor.

This is a wonderful thing.

Think of the people who have flavored your life. Think of the people who have spiced up your life.

Think of the people who have lifted up your heart. Think of the people who have stood by you through the difficult patches.

Being salt helps us bring flavor into the lives of the people we care about. Being light helps us illuminate our lives and the lives of those around us.

I could give a list of the good deeds we could do, but I think we have to discover our own good deeds for ourselves.

Jesus is our example. We look at his life: good deeds, kind acts, cheerful and encouraging words, honesty, helpfulness, charity, care, concern, forgiveness.

We receive Jesus in the Eucharist, Jesus who is salt, Jesus who is light, Jesus who is bread, Jesus who is wine.

Receiving Jesus gives us the grace we need to let our light shine before others.

When the salt flavors, the food cannot be bland. When the light shines, the darkness cannot overpower it.