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.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

05-07-17 -- 4th Sunday of Easter, Year A

May 07, 2017 - 4th Sunday of Easter, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Sheep are smarter than everyone thinks they are. They exhibit herd behavior, which means that they instinctively know there is strength in numbers. They stay together for protection.

They are social and playful. They use all five senses. They know how to follow the leader.

They have the ability to recognize the face and the voice of their shepherd. They know their shepherd and they follow.

The shepherd’s task is to tend to and protect the sheep. The shepherd walks ahead and calls the sheep. The sheep follow because they recognize the voice.

The shepherd has a unique relationship with the sheep. The shepherd provides for the sheep. They are fed and watered and sheared and protected by the shepherd. The shepherd is a familiar figure.

Jesus says that he is the Good Shepherd. So then, everything that is true of the shepherd is also true of Jesus. Jesus provides for us. Jesus protects us. And if Jesus is the Good Shepherd, then his task is to tend to the good sheep.

If we are to be the good sheep, then we need to be able to say with confidence and faith: the Lord is my shepherd.

In Psalm 23 we learn that the Lord is my shepherd. The Lord guides my steps along the right path. The Lord walks with me though the dark times giving me courage. The Lord anoints my head with oil. The Lord refreshes my soul.

In the Gospel Jesus seeks the sheep as he calls out their names. Jesus serves. Jesus sacrifices. The Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Jesus knows his sheep. They recognize his voice. He calls them by name and they follow him.
Now, let’s be clear, just because Jesus knows all the sheep by name doesn’t mean they follow.

Look at the Pharisees. They refused to listen. They refused to follow. And Jesus accused them of being thieves and robbers who steal and slaughter and destroy.

We need to learn to recognize Jesus’ face. We need to learn to recognize Jesus’ voice. We need to learn to follow the Good Shepherd. We need to return to the Good Shepherd when we hear him call out our names.

In this way, we will have life and have it more abundantly. In this way, goodness and kindness will follow us all the days of our lives and we will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

04-30-17 -- 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A

April 30, 2017 - 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Something terrible has happened to them. They had gotten their hopes up but those hopes have been dashed.

Now, looking all downcast and feeling sorry for themselves, they are going home. And, as they walk along, they are trying to process the whole thing.

They are replaying everything over and over, wondering what they could have gone differently, wondering if they made the right choices.

We do this all the time, don’t we? Things happen to us. Bad things. Downcast and depressed, we try to talk through those things. We process them out loud over and over.

But most of the time, when we do this, we get nowhere. We sort of wallow in the mess. And, if we are not careful, we begin to enjoy how others feel sorry for us.

The disciples on the road to Emmaus really aren’t getting anywhere either. They are walking away. They are done. And they are wallowing in self-pity.

That’s when this stranger, a fellow traveler, begins to walk along with them. And what do they do? Probably the same thing we would do. They start telling the story of all their woes.

We were hopeful. We were excited. But our hopes were dashed when our leader was crucified. We’ve been crushed and now we are going home.

What does Jesus say to that? Oh how foolish you are. How slow of heart to believe.

Next Jesus does two things. First, he breaks opens the scriptures for them. He takes the time, while they walk along, to explain the sacred texts in a way that they can understand.

Then he breaks the bread. And at that moment they recognize him.

Don’t these two things sound familiar? They should because they are the two things we do here week after week.

We read the scriptures and have them explained to us. Then we take, bless, break and share the bread. We believe the bread becomes Jesus’ very body. In this way, we recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

These things have a profound effect on the two disciples. They are no longer downcast. They have the courage and the strength to return to Jerusalem. Their lives are forever changed.

The road to Emmaus is a lot like our lives. It is a journey. Our lives are a journey. This is the sacred place where we come to have the scriptures read and explained to us. This is the sacred place where we come to recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

And this is where our lives are changed forever, giving us the courage to be good disciples, giving us the strength to get up and go on.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

04-23-17 -- 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A

April 23, 2017 - 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Now that the Easter Triduum has passed and summer has not yet arrived, it's a great time to do some spring cleaning.

Our 50 day Easter season celebrates Resurrection. Spring is in the air. It's a time of new life, a time of new beginnings, a time to make things fresh and clean.

Jesus sends the Holy Spirit upon the disciples for the forgiveness of sins.

This sending of the Holy Spirit is meant to strengthen them. This forgiveness of sins is meant to transform them.

After all, they are going to have to go out into the world and tell the good news. That takes courage and strength and they are going to need it.

Don't we have some transforming of our own to do this Easter Season? Aren't the Easter Resurrection Gospels calling us to do some spiritual spring cleaning?

We can clean our hearts by forgiving others who have hurt us. We can let go of hatred and prejudice and anger.

We can clean our mouths by watching what we say. We can stop cursing and swearing. We can stop speaking ill of others. We can begin saying only the good things and kind things people need to hear.

We can clear out our spiritual closets by letting go of the past. What we've done to others and what others have done to us cannot be changed. We can only heal and move on.

We can clear out the cobwebs of our minds by not dwelling on lustful thoughts and fantasies that will never come true.

We can dust off our bodies by reminding ourselves daily that we are beautiful temples of God. We can begin to treat those temples with the respect and reverence they deserve.

A good spiritual spring cleaning can help us focus on who really matters, Jesus Christ, and on what really matters, our relationship with him.

This spring cleaning helps us get to where Thomas is, no longer doubting, no longer hiding.

Thomas needed a good spring cleaning and he got one. It turned his doubt into belief.

Thomas is now able to boldly proclaim that Jesus is Lord and God.

Sending the Holy Spirit upon us for the forgiveness of sins is intended to change us. It's intended to help us grow closer to Jesus. It's intended to help us have the courage and strength to be good disciples.

It’s spring. New life is all around us. There is nothing like a good spring cleaning to make everything new again.