Saturday, June 15, 2019

6/16/19 -- Holy Trinity Sunday

Scripture Readings

Today we celebrate the mystery of the Holy Trinity. We have a mysterious image of a Father who creates, a Son who redeems and a Holy Spirit who strengthens and enables.

Our God is so much for us to take in that, in the history of salvation, our God presented this Divine Mystery to us in stages. 

First, God first revealed this Divine Mystery to us as a Father who creates all things. This creating force is all powerful.

God the Father is stronger and more powerful and more awesome than any other force in the world. God wants us to pay attention. God wants us to follow.

Next, God revealed this Divine Mystery to us as an only begotten Son. The Son is also powerful, but the Son expresses power in a very different way.

Jesus becomes a brother to us, a human being who walks the earth with us and knows and understands what we go through. 

Jesus embraces the great mystery of our powerlessness, the ability to submit, the ability to give in, the ability to embrace what is.
Jesus gives in. Jesus submits. Jesus redeems. Jesus saves.

Jesus says, “I want you to follow me. I want you to be servants of God like I am a servant. I want you to love others as I have loved you. I want you to do the work that is yours to do.”

Finally, God reveals the Divine Mystery to us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a mentor, a coach, a trainer, someone there with us on a regular basis. The Holy Spirit constantly comes to awaken us to the truth and then comes again and again to reawaked us.

Jesus says, “The only way for you to do the work that is yours to do is for you to allow me to send the Holy Spirit upon you. This mentor will come to you and work with you. This Holy Spirit will be the source of energy you need to submit, to give in, to do the work that is yours to do.”

There should be nothing embarrassing about making mistakes or getting lost or not being able to focus very clearly. It’s not in us to have it all figured out or to have it all together.

But it is in us to listen. It is in us to be guided. It is in us to turn to the Holy Trinity and say, “What’s next? Where do we go from here?”

Certainly, the more time we spend with our God, the more we feel God’s Divine Mystery saving us, the more we feel God’s Divine Mystery dwelling in us, and the more we feel God’s Divine Mystery changing us.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

6/9/19 -- Pentecost Sunday

Scripture Readings

We are all really different. No two of us are exactly alike. Our differences are what makes us all unique and special. One of the great human tragedies is that we are so obsessed with our differences.

We use those differences to separate and divide ourselves into groups of us and them. We use those differences to categorize and label people. We use those differences to demean and disparage others.

We use those differences to blame and to scapegoat. We even use those differences as an excuse to hate.

When it comes to our differences, God Is saying 
something different. God sends the Holy Spirit as Tongues of Fire. What do tongues do? Tongues speak. 

At Pentecost when the Tongues of Fire came upon the Apostles who were once afraid, they spoke with courage and conviction. 

Everyone who heard them speak understood even though they all spoke different languages.

The Tongues of Fire that come from the Holy Spirit proclaim that Jesus is Lord. The Tongues of Fire that come from the Holy Spirit give to each individual some manifestation of the Spirit.

If each individual is giving a different manifestation or gift of the Holy Spirit, this means that our differences are God given.

Our differences proclaim that Jesus is Lord. So God is speaking to us through our differences. And our differences are something we should celebrate.

We might be tempted to focus on our differences in a negative way. But on this Feast of Pentecost God is calling us to celebrate our differences with love. God is calling us to celebrate our differences with forgiveness.

Those whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.

We are called to recognize that God gives us different gifts. We are called to acknowledge how wonderful our differences are. 

Our different gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit come as Tongues of Fire. And those beautifully unique Tongues of Fire all proclaim that Jesus is Lord.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

6/2/19 -- Ascension Sunday

Scripture Readings

Regarding our spiritual lives, there are many decisions we can make. We can decide whether our hearts are open or closed.

We can decide whether we are willing or unwilling to cooperate with God’s grace.

We can decide whether we are tender or hardened.

We can decide whether we are open to change or stubbornly set in our ways. 

Each of us gets to choose. Each of us gets to decide.

Many of the best things God wants for us can be diminished because of our own stubbornness or because of our lack of faith or because we are lazy about the things of God. 

Notice it’s not because God’s power is weak. God created the world out of nothing. God raised his only son from the dead. God took his son up, body and soul, to be with him in heaven.

God is all powerful. God can do all things. But God is not going to force himself upon us. So often we find ourselves waiting for God to do something for us. But God is really waiting for us to be open to what the Holy Spirit wants to do in us and through us. 

Jesus tells the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit who will give them everything they need to continue their calling.

They need to wait. They need to be ready. They need to be open. They need to be willing.

The same can be said about us. But we may be waiting for all the wrong things.

We may be waiting for God to change things around us. We may be waiting for God to change the people who trouble us. We may be waiting for God to get us a better job. We may be waiting for God to find that someone special for us. 

But are we waiting for God to send the Holy Spirit to change us on the inside?

We can decide whether our hearts are open or closed. We can decide whether we are willing or unwilling to cooperate with God’s grace.

We can decide whether we are tender or hardened. We can decide whether we are open to change or stubbornly set in our ways. 

Each of us gets to choose. Each of us gets to decide.

God wants to do wonderful things in our lives. God wants to change our hearts. We can decide to wait. We can decide to be ready. We can decide to be open. We can decide to be willing to receive all that God wants for us.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

5/26/19 -- 6th Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we see the church struggling. You see, the early Christian communities were made up of Israelites and Gentiles.

The Israelites, the Jews, were tied to all their Jewish laws and customs and rituals. The Gentiles, on the other hand, never did practice the same rituals or follow the same laws as the Israelites.

So the Jews considered the Gentiles impure, unclean, not close to God. Then the shock comes with Jesus. Jesus is interested in teaching everyone. He doesn’t put the Israelites in a different category from the Gentiles. In Jesus’ eyes, they are all equal.

Jesus taught them that God loves everyone no matter who they are or what tribe or nationality they belonged to.

Once the Jewish Christians saw that the Gentile Christians were receiving the same gifts of the Spirit, they came to understand that they could not burden the Gentile disciples with the very laws and customs and rituals they themselves struggled to follow. 

This was a very difficult decision for them to make. As the early church struggled with this issue, they did not struggle alone. The Holy Spirit was with them, prompting and leading and guiding.

We also struggle in our lives. And the message from scripture is clear. Do not be afraid. Do not be troubled. Do not be anxious. Do not be worried. 

God is inviting you and me into situations that are over our heads and situations that we cannot possibly handle by ourselves.

Why else would God keep saying, do not be afraid? God wants us to be vulnerable and open and receptive to the grace of the Holy Spirit at work in us and through us. 

Finding ourselves in situations where we are not comfortable or situations that we are not sure we can handle creates anxiety. And so we struggle. But we do not struggle alone.

Jesus promises to send peace. Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit. Jesus promises to be with us so that what we are called to do, we are not called to do alone.

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you.
We do not have to go through life without any help. 

And so we seek Jesus. We cling to Jesus. We embrace Jesus. We long for the peace that Jesus sends. And we pray for an outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to rescue us from the struggles we face in our lives.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

5/19/19 -- 5th Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings

In the gospel Jesus calls us to love one another. But he gives us a very specific instruction on how he wants us to answer this call. Love one another as I have loved you. Love one another in the same way that I have loved you.

Jesus shows love by teaching the disciples. We love like Jesus when we teach our children.

Parents have the responsibility of teaching their children. But as a community of faith it is our duty to assist them.

We show love by teaching our children right from wrong. We show love by teaching our children proper respect for authority. We show love by teaching our children how to pray. We show love when we teach as Jesus taught.

Jesus shows love by healing the sick. We love like Jesus when we care for those in our lives who are sick. We care for the sick by taking them to the doctor, by making and delivering home cooked meals, by helping with everyday chores when they are unable to do so. 

We show our love for the sick by simply being present at the bedside of one who is dying. We show love when we care for the sick as Jesus did.

Jesus shows love by comforting those who mourn. We love like Jesus when we comfort those who mourn.

We show love by visiting those who are grieving, by extending a helping hand, by writing a sympathy note or by listening instead of giving advice. We show love when we comfort those who mourn as Jesus did.

Jesus shows love by feeding the hungry. We love like Jesus when we feed the hungry. 

We show love by helping out at the soup kitchen or by giving to Food for the Poor or any other charitable organization that feeds the hungry. Yes. But we also feed the hungry by sharing meals with our loved ones. We show love when we feed that hungry as Jesus did.

Jesus shows love by giving of himself to the point of death. We show love like Jesus when we give of ourselves.

We can give of our time by volunteering somewhere. We can give of ourselves by sharing our God given talents with this community. And we can give of our treasure by supporting the work of Saint Martin de Tours Church through our Sunday offerings. 

We can also give of ourselves by offering a kind word, or by asking, “How can I help?” and then being willing to listen to the answer.

Loving like Jesus loves is about shifting the focus away from ourselves. If all we think about is ourselves, we are going to be a pretty miserable and lonely. 

If we truly want to be happy in life, we have to care about the needs of those around us, we have to love as Jesus loves.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

5/12/19 -- 4th Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings

Anyone who has watched the news on television lately knows that the world is full of voices clamoring for our attention. 

Politicians yell and scream at each other, accusing one another of the most vile things. People cry out exposing racism and corruption and violence. We see videos of road rage, shouting matches, street fights, and disagreements of all kinds.

There’s plenty of blaming, belittling, and berating. These voices are deafening. They agitate us. They upset us. They anger us. They provoke us. They distract us.

It’s a noisy world that we live in. Add to that all the sound bites, itunes, and white noise that we are exposed to everyday.

Jesus’ voice is so different from all these other voices. Jesus’ voice is easily drowned out if we are not really paying attention.

And we may need help discerning Jesus’ voice. We might even wonder, “Does Jesus still speak today?” Yes, of course. In more ways that we realize.

Every word of the gospel is Jesus’ voice speaking to us. “My sheep listen to my voice. In know them and they follow me.

The sheep who listen do what? Follow. But how can we follow Jesus if we are not listening to his voice?

We can express our love for Jesus by silencing our own voices. We can express our love for Jesus by listening to his voice. We can express our love for Jesus by following.

But how do we know we are hearing Jesus’ voice? Well in some cases it’s obviously Jesus and in other cases we need to discern.

Jesus’ voice drew us here today. Jesus’ voice speaks to us in this liturgy. Jesus voice speaks to us in our reading of the scriptures. Jesus’ voice speaks to us in this homily.

Jesus’ voice speaks to us in the prayers at mass. Jesus’ voice speaks to us in the songs we sing in church. 

Jesus’ voice can also speak to us in the silence of our hearts or through the voice of another, or through a series of events that we experience or even through nature. 

So when we are not sure it is Jesus, we need to look for confirmation.

We bear fruit when we do what Jesus asks of us. We find peace when we do what Jesus asks of us. There is balance in our lives when we do what Jesus asks of us. These are the signs confirming that we are hearing Jesus clearly and that we are following.

There may be lots of voices in this noisy world clamouring for our attention, but the only voice that brings peace and justice, the only voice that brings love and forgiveness is the voice of the Good Shepherd calling us to follow.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

5/5/19 -- 3rd Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings

Imagine you are thinking everything is ok between you and Jesus and Jesus comes sit by you, says your name and then asks, “Do you love me?”

You answer like Peter. “You know that I love you.”

Now it’s a bit of an academic exercise. And maybe we are not masterful at the art of meditation or spiritual imagination. 

However, imagine your child or your spouse or your parent or the person you love the most or care about the most drawing near to you, calling you by your name and asking you the same question.

“Do you love me?” There’s a little sting to the question now, isn’t there? Mom, son, honey, “You know that I love you.”

The question comes again, “Do you really love me?” Now there’s that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. 

Show me that you love me. Prove to me that you love me. Confirm that you love me. I want to see that love in your actions.

Jesus is inviting Peter to make up for his three denials. Yes. But it is so much more than that. Jesus is inviting Peter to follow. And at the heart of following Jesus is love and action. 

We are invited to love Jesus with a deep abiding love, a love that is incredibly good and valuable, a love that gives us a sense of importance and self-worth. 

Filled with this deep abiding love we recognize that Jesus is inviting us to articulate this love through our actions. After all, actions speak louder than words.

It’s one thing to answer the question, “Do you love me?” It’s another thing entirely to go out into the world and live that love with humility, to share that love with kindness, to show that love with patience, to be that love with gentleness.

Love in action: a smile, a gift, a helping hand, a prayer, a hug, a gentle touch, a home cooked meal, a listening ear, flowers, an encouraging word.

Today Jesus comes close by and ask us the question, “Do you love me?”