Saturday, June 27, 2015

06-28-2015 -- 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

June 28, 2015 - 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Jairus and the woman couldn't be any more different. Jairus is an esteemed synagogue official. The woman is a nameless member of the crowd.

Jairus is wealthy and influential, accustomed to having others beg him for favors.The woman, on the other hand, has spent all of her savings on doctors who have only made her condition worse.

The man is ritually pure. The woman is ritually impure. She should not be approaching Jesus. She should not be touching Jesus.

Those who are ritually unclean are like lepers and are isolated from others.

While Jairus is ritually pure, he is a very public figure who also should probably not be throwing himself at Jesus's feet.

These two folks are from very different walks of life. But somehow they both understand the need to approach Jesus, whatever the cost.

The fact that Jairus comes and throws himself at Jesus' feet shows that he's just as desperate as the hemorrhaging woman.

Jairus' friends are an obstacle to Jesus. Don’t bother the teacher any longer. You are making a fool of yourself. Come home. The child is dead.

The crowd also proves to be an obstacle for the woman. And so, let me suggest to you that there are many forces at work in our modern world that act as obstacles, attempting to keep us from Jesus.

Jesus restores life to the woman. Jesus restores life to Jairus' daughter and, through through this healing of the child, Jesus restores life to Jairus himself.

Maybe there are some in our midst who can relate to the woman, chronically ill, never well, just less sick. Savings and resources exhausted, financially and emotionally drained.

Seek Jesus with all your heart and all your soul and all your remaining strength and, when you find him, throw yourself at his feet and grab the hem of his cloak.

Maybe there are some parents in our midst who are like Jairus. Maybe there is a sick child who desperately needs healing. Or maybe the child is an adult who has gone astray.

Seek Jesus with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength, and whenever you find him throw yourself at his feet and beg for your loved one.

Maybe there are some among us who can identify neither with the woman nor the official. We fall somewhere in between.

But I daresay each and everyone of us has some spot of sickness or disease that makes us impure, unclean.

We too desperately need to seek Jesus for healing. And when we find him, we need to throw ourselves at his feet and beg for mercy and forgiveness and healing and strength.

The poor unnamed woman, who sought the Lord, found healing. Jairus, the wealthy and influential synagogue official, who sought the Lord, found healing for his daughter. And in finding healing for his daughter, he found healing for himself.

If the gospel writer wanted to include us in the story, what exactly would he have to say about us?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

06-21-2015 -- 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

June 21, 2015 - 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

What are we afraid of? What makes us anxious? What upsets us? For each of us, the answer is different. But there are things that happen to us that leave us tossing and turning at night, unable to sleep.

The storms of life affect us in the way, leaving us tossed about, frightened, anxious, out of sorts, worried and afraid. We all know that all-too-familiar feeling we get in our gut when we feel like we are going to be sick.

But the storms of life do not affect Jesus the way they affect us. Jesus is at peace, asleep on a cushion on a boat that’s being tossed about by the waves; a boat that is taking on water and in danger of being lost at sea.

Jesus is unaffected by the storms of life.

This image of a boat being tossed about at sea during a great storm is one that had been used to describe the church for many centuries. It is also an image that could be used to describe the worst times of our lives.

Surely Jesus must be present with his church and with his people. Yet, sometimes it seems that he’s fallen asleep. And we cry out, “Lord, don’t you care that we are perishing?”

Storms buffet the church. Storms buffet our lives. We get tossed about and we react with fear. What do my fears reveal about my faith? Hmm?

Do I believe and have faith that Jesus can calm the storms in my life?

Sometimes instead of turning to Jesus we just keep trying to bail water out of the ship, working frantically but getting nowhere. RIght? Right.

Jesus’ response to the storm is very different from our own. And we can learn from him. Jesus reacts with authority over the storm. Jesus controls the wind and the sea. And so, let’s take it a step further: Jesus has the power to control the storms of our lives.

When Jesus addressed the great storm, there was suddenly a great calm that was so peaceful that it filled everyone with wonder and awe.

If we allow Jesus to address the storms in our lives then there could suddenly come a great peace and we too would be filled with wonder and awe.

Jesus offers us a way forward. We can put our trust in him. But when we do, he will ask us to let go of our fears. He will ask us to place all our trust in him and in him alone.

Saint Paul tells us that, in Christ, we can become new creations. But we have to be in Christ.

If we draw near and live in him, our old anxious selves can pass away. And we can become new creations, calm, at peace, unaffected by the storms of life that come our way.

Even when Jesus seems to be asleep in the boat, if we trust in him, if we trust that he can bring about a great calm, then there will be a quieting of the storms in our lives.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

06-14-2015 -- 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

June 14, 2015 - 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

If you were to Google mustard seed, you would quickly discover that the mustard seed is not the smallest of the seeds. And while the mustard tree can grow to be quite large, it is certainly not the largest of the trees.

What we have to understand is that Jesus is not at all concerned with these facts. Jesus is trying to paint a picture for us. He's giving an illustration to make a point. So, what's the point?

Well, for starters, the seed is very small in comparison to the tree. And somehow the seed when planted in the ground grows to become a strong, sturdy tree. How this happens is one of the mysteries of God's majestic creation.

What begins as the smallest little bit of a thing, when planted and watered and nurtured, grows and develops and becomes well-rooted, strong and sturdy. Jesus says, faith is like that! God the Father plants the seed of faith in the hearts of all his children.

The seed of faith planted in our hearts is like the mustard seed. It takes just the smallest amount of faith. Just a little bit.

In baptism, the seed is watered. At the Eucharistic table, the seed is fed by Jesus' body and blood. The seed is nurtured with reconciliation and compassion and healing. The seed is warmed by the fire of love.

Then slowly, over time, almost undetected, that little seed of faith in us sprouts and grows to be like the majestic cedar or sturdy cyprus or grand oak or tall pine.

Our tiny faith can grow to be strong, well-rooted, unshakable. And it only takes the smallest amount.

Isn't that wonderful for us humans. Why? Because we have our questions, the what ifs and whys of life. We have our doubts and fears, our desire to seek out facts and our need for proof.

But Jesus doesn't give us facts and he certainly doesn’t give us proof. Jesus gives us an illustration. He says even if our faith is so small that it is merely the size of a mustard seed, all is not lost. That little bit is enough.

Jesus is really echoing the words of the Prophet Ezekiel. Listen again to what Ezekiel says about trees in the first reading. The Lord brings low the high tree and lifts high the low tree. The Lord withers the green tree and makes the withered tree bloom.

The Lord is saying, I will lift up the lowly. I will feed the hungry. I will comfort those who are suffering. I will give new life to those who are anxious and depressed.

Jesus looks with favor on those who struggle with their faith. Jesus look with favor on those who question and doubt. Jesus look with favor on those who suffer and mourn.

So let us rejoice today and be mindful that faith the size of a mustard seed can already be found in all our hearts.

If we nurture and feed this little bit of faith with Jesus' body and blood in the Eucharist we share here today, then it can grow and become unique, beautiful, majestic, strong and sturdy.

Our little bit of faith can grow to become just like the cedar, just like the cypress, just like the oak, just like the pine. And it all begins with faith the size of a mustard seed.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

06-07-2015 -- Corpus Christi, Year B

June 7, 2015 - Corpus Christi, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

There were many people who had a role to play in preparing for the Passover meal Jesus shared with his disciples.

There was the man carrying a water jar. Men never carried water jars. That was the woman's responsibility. So why was this man carrying the water jar? Was it a secret signal for the disciples so as not to attract too much attention.

There were the two disciples who went to find the man. There were the people in the man's house who had prepared the upper room. That was the one who purchased the lamb. There was the one who slit the lamb’s throat. There were the ones who prepared and cooked the entire Passover meal.

The Passover meal takes place in a large upper room. Were only the 12 disciples in attendance or were the other followers of Jesus also there? We don't know the answer to that question.

Maybe all who participated in preparing for the meal also shared in it with the Twelve seated closest to the Lord at the meal.

Either way many people played a part to make the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples happen.

It's the same in our society. We need food for our bodies. Think of all of the people who play a part in putting food on our tables. It's only made possible by many different folks working together.

We'd like to think we can do it all by ourselves. But, the truth is, we need the community. We don't all live on self-sustaining farms.

Many have to play a part to make the work of feeding us all possible. And when we work together things are so much better for all of us.

It's the same with our spiritual lives. We need to feed and nourish our spiritual selves. This is made possible by the entire community of faith working together. I cannot do it by myself, nor does the church expect me to. We all have a role to play to make our spiritual lives richer.

Last Tuesday evening Bishop Jarrell joined us as we rededicated this sacred church building to the Lord. He was very complimentary of the good work we have accomplished here.

There were some 60 or more volunteers from this church parish who worked hard to make last Tuesday happened, to make it such a wonderful spiritually uplifting events for all of us.

Just like the Last Supper with Jesus, there are so many of you who work so hard and so tirelessly behind the scenes so that what happens here can continue.

And what happens here? Quite simply: the Last Supper. We take the gifts of bread and wine and they become the body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He gives us his entire self, his entire being is nourishment as food for our pilgrim’s journey.

Many in our society today think they can take care of their spiritual needs alone. It’s just them and Jesus. Some are successful, many are not.

We benefit greatly from the meal we share here today: the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, given that we might live.