Saturday, October 31, 2015

11-1-2015 -- All Saints, Year B

November 1, 2015 - All Saints, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We want to be part of the one hundred forty-four thousand marked with the seal of faith that John speaks about in the Book of Revelation, don’t we?

The great multitude wear white robes; they are the ones who are washed clean by the blood of the Lamb.

So the question is, how do we find ourselves in this number.” Isn’t that what we sing, “Oh how I want to be in that number, when the Saints go marching in.”

Holiness. Holiness is the answer. We need to seek holiness in our lives. For people who seek holiness, God really matters. For people who seek holiness, prayer really matters. For people who seek holiness, faith really matters.

For people who seek holiness, going to church really matters. For people who seek holiness, doing good and avoiding evil really matters.

We are God’s children. This is a wonderful gift. And as God’s children we are called to holiness. But what is holiness? To be holy is to be like God.

The Second Vatican Council says that the Lord Jesus preached holiness of life to each and everyone of his disciples no matter what their condition in life.

So the call to holiness is for everyone. In essence, we are all called to be saints.

It is a strange thing that while we would all be ready to claim that we are decent people, we would probably be far less eager to speak of ourselves as holy people.

Perhaps this is due to false modesty. Perhaps it is because we think that the only Saints are those who have been canonized by the church.

But we are called to be a holy people. Or put another way, we are called to be people who lead holy lives.

We may be poor in Spirit but the poor in Spirit recognize their reliance on God. We may mourn but we trust that those marked with the sign of faith now rejoice with the Lord.

We may be meek or shy or timid but we trust that the Lord will be our strength. We may be bullied or insulted or even gossiped about but we trust that the Lord God knows the truth.

We hunger and thirst for justice. We seek mercy and peace and we struggle to be pure of heart.

As we strive for holiness we will, over time, find the kingdom of God. As we strive for holiness we will be comforted, we will be satisfied, we will be shown mercy, and we will be called the children of God.

As we strive for holiness, we will find joy and we will find ourselves numbered among those who have been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb.

The Mass that we celebrate here today is the source of the Church’s holiness. May this Mass and the Eucharist that we receive enable us to be numbered among the great multitude of Saints, the holy ones of God.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

10-25-2015 -- 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

October 25, 2015 - 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Bartimaeus is a puzzle, a contradiction. If we can figure him out then we get a glimpse into what discipleship looks like. 

There are three major contradictions that Bartimaeus shows us and we can learn something from each of them.

Bartimaeus may be physically blind. But he is the only one who truly sees who Jesus is.

So, in the spiritual realm, the crowd is blind and it is blind Bartimaeus who sees. Bartimaeus is the only person who calls Jesus by name when he asks for healing.

Even though Bartimaeus is physically blind before his encounter with Jesus, by the end of his encounter, he is the only one who sees.

Last weekend James and John didn’t really recognize Jesus. There was nothing wrong with their eyes, but they didn’t see. The weekend before that the rich young man walked away sad because he didn’t really recognize Jesus either. Do we see any better than them?

What does Bartimaeus offer us? He offers us a glimpse into who Jesus really is, the Son of David, the Messiah, the only Son of God, the one who heals us of our blindness. Bartimaeus teaches us to see.

The second contradiction: the crowd is silent but Bartimaeus cries out. Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me. The crowd wants him to be quiet because they want to hear Jesus the teacher.

But Bartimaeus wants more; he wants an encounter. People scolded him and rebuked him and ridiculed him and bullied him and made fun of him. But that didn’t matter to him.

Bartimaeus would not listen to the crowd. He cried out even louder. Have mercy on me. His cry for mercy touches Jesus who asks: What do you want me to do for you?

Bartimaeus, who already sees, asks for physical healing. What do we ask Jesus for in our lives?

At the end of the day the crowd that is following Jesus will go home but Bartimaeus will not. Even though he was told to go his way, he will follow Jesus. He does what the rich young man cannot do.

He leaves behind his only possession, the ragged old cloak, which is his security, his warmth at night, his whole world, to follow the Lord.

Bartimaeus’ discipleship is a result of Jesus’ mercy. And through Bartimaeus’ encounter with Jesus, he can do what the rich young man cannot. Bartimaeus shows us the way to discipleship.

The gospel call is to be like Bartimaeus. We are challenged to fling off our possessions, receive the healing mercy of Jesus, and in faith and with courage, step out and follow, regardless of what the crowd says.

Bartimaeus is a master of contradictions. He is blind but is the only one who sees who Jesus truly is. He is told to be quiet but he yells and cries out even louder. He is told to go his way but instead he follows.

Through Bartimaeus Jesus teaches the crowd. Bartimaeus does what Jesus wants us all to do.

Can we see who Jesus truly is? In recognizing Jesus as the one who heals us, can we cry out to the Lord for mercy? And finally, after being healed, can we step out into a world of contradictions and follow?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

10-18-2015 -- 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

October 18, 2015 - 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We tend to spend a lot of time comparing ourselves to others. We have national rankings for almost everything. We rank our cities. We rank our colleges and universities. We rank our hospitals. We rank our sports teams. Sometimes we even rank our churches.

On a personal level, we compare ourselves to others all the time. We want to know how we stack up.

Who is the best? Which team is number one? Who is the richest? Who gets paid the most? Who is the most popular? Who is the most beautiful?

Everything is a competition. And we typically respond in one of two ways.

The First Way: I want to be the best. I want to be number one. I want to be on the winning team.

The Second Way: I am nothing. I know that I am a nobody. I know that I am at the bottom of the heap so why should I care about anything.

The Apostles James and John wanted to be the best. They wanted to be ranked first among the Apostles. And they wanted Jesus to be on the winning team.

They were ready for Jesus to be the King of Jerusalem. They were ready to lead the charge to drive out the Romans. They wanted power and authority.

Jesus makes it clear that life is not a competition. It’s not about winning and losing. Living this way is not graceful and it’s not peaceful. It places us in a combative mode all the time.

Jesus warns that it should not be so among us. Whoever wishes to be great among you will be the servant. Whoever wishes to be first will be the slave.

Taking upon ourselves this attitude of service takes us out of the competition. I cannot both serve you and compete against you. If I am truly serving someone then I am not, at the same time, trying to be better than the one I am serving.

Serving others is about loving. Serving others is about caring. Serving others is about stepping outside ourselves for the good of another.

Serving others means choosing a cause and caring for some in our civic community. There are those in our community who respond to the Lord’s call to serve by working with Wounded Warriors, Food for the Poor, Habitat for Humanity, Saint Joseph Diner.

Serving others also means doing our part to take care of this local church community of Saint Martin de Tours. It means volunteering time to help.

We have wonderful servants among us who lector, those who serve as Eucharistic ministers, our sacristans, ushers, our volunteers at the June 2 celebration and all those who are helping us prepare for the Cardinal’s visit on November 11, the Feast of our patron Saint Martin de Tours.

These local servants have no need to get caught up in the competitive game of who’s the best, who gets to sit next to Jesus, who’s the winner, because they are serving along side of the Lord in their daily lives.

Serving others is about relationships not rankings. We spend a lot of time comparing ourselves to others. When we do there are winners and losers.

Jesus says it shall not be so among us. Jesus calls us, not be be winners or losers, but to be servants who go about doing good and loving others.

Jesus calls us into a relationship, not a contest. In this relationship, the only winners are those who love and serve others. How will we respond to this invitation? How will be love and whom will we serve?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

10-11-2015 -- 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

October 11, 2015 - 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

The young man ran up to Jesus. There was an urgency. The young man knelt down before Jesus. There was a deep respect.

We must understand that the young man who approached Jesus was a very good man. This young man loved God very much and followed the commandments.

The gospel writer takes the time to tell us that Jesus looked at the young man and loved him. Jesus desired more from the young man. Jesus wanted a deeper relationship with the young man.

The young man asks the question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus is actually saying to the young man, “you’ve done all the things you need to do to inherit the gift of eternal life.”

The answer is simple, “Keep the commandments.” Do not lie. Do not steal. Do not commit adultery. Honor your father and mother.

But that was not enough for the young man He desired more. He longer for a closer walk with the Lord. “What more must I do?”

Jesus responds, “Go sell all your possessions, give to the poor and come follow me.”

In essence, Jesus is saying, “I am calling you to be a better version of your yourself. I am saying you can do better than that. I am calling you to come and follow me.”

What can I do to inherit eternal life? Nothing. You can’t do anything to earn eternal life. It is a gift. In giving us this gift, God has acted in love. What God expects in return is the gift of love.

That’s what Jesus wanted from the young man. Jesus was looking for the young man to share his life with others, to share his wealth with others, to share his possessions with others.

Let us look at the obstacles to a good response? Possessions. The problem with riches is not that they are riches. The problem with riches is that we make them precious. Jesus says our love for God must be first.

Can we approach Jesus with some urgency? Can we kneel down before him out of respect?

And can we accept the call to share our life with others, to share our wealth with others, to share our possessions with others and then follow the Lord.

The young man walks away sad. Let us not walk away from Jesus’ invitation. In this way, we will be given the gift of eternal life.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

10-04-2015 -- Respect Life Sunday

October 04, 2015 - Respect Life Sunday
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

In the Book of Genesis, the Almighty God creates out of nothingness. The Lord God creates the heavens and the earth. And on the earth, God creates Adam, which is really a poor translation of the Hebrew.

Adam is not a proper name. God creates the adam. The adam literally means the person of the earth made from the dirt.

Then from the rib of the person made from the dirt of the earth, God creates the woman. The word rib in Hebrew means side. One side becomes the woman leaving the adam a one-sided man.

One of the lessons the Book of Genesis is trying to teach us is that we human beings are essentially incomplete without each other.

We all depend on the Creator for our very existence. And we are placed on this earth together, not as individuals.

Today is Respect Life Sunday. On this day we remind ourselves that we are all children of God who were called to respect the dignity of each and every human being.

But we don't realize our dependence on God the creator anymore. We are over confident in our own power. We forget that our actions have consequences.

Some 30 years after Roe vs. Wade, we have a generation that has never known a world without the tragedy of abortion. And the great tragedy of Roe vs. Wade stretches far beyond abortion. The consequences are staggering.

The Roe vs. Wade decision allowed the definition of human life to become flexible.

When we decide who is human and who is not we play a very dangerous game. We pretend to be God.

Playing God we say, “Those who are unborn are not yet human persons, so they no longer require protection.”
Playing God we say, “Those who were terminally ill are going to die soon, they no longer are productive, so they are expendable.”

Through abortion we have tinkered with the beginning of life
and through euthanasia we have tinkered with the end of life.

And now with stem cell research we are tinkering with the very cell structure of human life. We are tinkering with God's creation.

The right to life is the most basic and fundamental right. It must be defended from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death, whether healthy or sick, handicapped or whole, rich or poor.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Gospel of Life. It invites us to live a new life in Christ. It invites us to live with abundant respect for human dignity, respect for God's creation.

Our witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ shines most brightly
when we demand respect for each and every human life,
including the lives of those who fail to show respect.

The Gospel of Life must be proclaimed and human life must be defended, in all places and at all times. This is something we must do if we are to be authentic disciples of Jesus Christ.

Laws that permit us to tinker with God's creation, laws that permit abortion, partial birth abortion, physician assisted suicide, euthanasia, and capital punishment are profoundly unjust.

They lead us down a path of death and destruction. We should work peacefully and tirelessly to oppose them and to change them.

We cannot continue to sit idly by while there are such
fundamental violations of human rights in our land,
fundamental violations of human rights here in our community.

We American Catholics have been changed too much by our culture, and we have not changed our culture enough.

We are the beings made from the dirt of the earth. And we are meant to live together. Living together, we must respect the dignity of each and every one of God’s adams and eves.