Saturday, November 26, 2016

11-27-2016 -- 1st Sunday of Advent, Year A

Nov. 7, 2016 - 1st Sunday of Advent, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We lead very scheduled lives today. And we are on the go all the time. We get caught up completely in the activities of daily living.

There’s the time to go to school and the time to go to work. We have to make it to this appointment and that event.  It seems like we never stop.  We go, go go.

We can get so busy that we become overwhelmed and our sensitivities are deadened. When this happens, we are not alert, we are not awake, we are not really paying attention.

So we end up going through the motions and then, suddenly, life becomes a chore. To reward ourselves or to just cope, we become self-indulgent. And that self-indulgence usually leads us into sin. I deserve this, we say.

Getting too caught up in our daily activities can leave little room for God, little room for prayer, little room for self-reflection, little room for peace.

The readings on this First Sunday of Advent call us to be alert to God’s nearness, to be instructed in God’s ways and so to walk in the light of the day instead of the darkness of the night.

Doing this allows us to find peace in our crazy lives.  So, in essence, we are told to wake up and find the path of peace. There is a path of peace for each of us. And, in finding it, we are called to choose it.

We have the ability to make peace in our part of the world. And there are things we can do to find peace this Advent.

Is there a conflict at work, in our church community, at the place where we volunteer, or in our family? There is a way to peace. Sometimes we have to work to find it.

It may involve letting go of some past hurt or forgiving some transgression or accepting forgiveness for some slight.

It may involve staying awake or paying attention. It may involve lifting someone up in prayer or doing an anonymous good deed for someone who cannot possibly repay.

In the midst of our busyness we are also called to find peace within.

We might do this by meditating on the scriptures or praying the rosary or sitting quietly with God letting love and peace and serenity wash over us.

Even though we live very hectic lives, even though we are caught up in the activities of daily living, we are still called to love.

We are still called to serve. We are still called to recognize the face of Christ in everyone around us.

We are called to climb the Lord’s mountain. We are called to make a place for peace and quiet and simplicity in our hearts.

And so on the FIrst Sunday of Advent, we invite the Lord Jesus to come to us as our Prince of Peace. We ask the lord to show us the path that leads to peace.  And, we beg the Lord to take a place in our hearts and to live there forever.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

11-20-2016 -- Christ the King, Year C

Nov. 20, 2016 - Christ the King, Year C 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We no longer have a clear understanding or concept of kingship. So what do we do with this feast of Christ the King? How are we to understand Jesus as our king if we have no experience of kings?

There is the queen of England, but she's just a figurehead. Her role is merely ceremonial. She holds no power.

There is our president. He is very powerful, but he's not really a monarch; he's not really a king. He's an elected official.

There are dictators in our world, but they are not really kings either. And they are in far-off distant lands.

So when we think of mighty and powerful kings on this earth, we really don't have good examples to help us understand kingship. We only stories that tell of kings from days past.

Then there's Pope Francis. He really is a benevolent dictator when you think about it. And by being elected the supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church he is a sharer in the kingship of Christ.

But he is not what comes to mind when we think about kings. He is not a typical king. He is not a typical ruler. But Jesus isn't a typical king either.

Why? Because Jesus, from the cross, acts as king by forgiving those who were killing him.

Jesus, from the cross, hears the prayer of the dying thief. Jesus, from the cross, provides for his mother and his beloved disciple by giving them to each other.

Jesus, the Christ of God, the king of the Jews, the beginning and the end, the first born from the dead, the anointed Shepherd sent from God the Father, delivers us from the kingdom of darkness and transfers us to the kingdom of light.

Jesus makes peace by the blood of the cross. Jesus offers redemption and forgiveness of our sins by the blood of the cross. Jesus is king through the blood of cross.
And Jesus' kingdom is a kingdom of peace and justice and love. Jesus' kingdom is paradise.

As we close this Year of Mercy, can we let Jesus Christ be our priest, our prophet, our king. As priest, he offers us the sacrifice of the Last Supper, his very body and blood to nourish us and strengthen us.

As prophet, he calls us to change our ways, to turn from sin and choose to do good. As king, he deserves our reverence and respect.
As king, he inspires Pope Francis to govern his church on the earth.

Maybe it's good that we no longer have a clear understanding or concept of an earthly king. Having earthly kings lording it over us would make it difficult for us to accept Christ as our king.

The scriptures give us a clear understanding and concept of Christ our King. A king who gives us wisdom and strength. A king who brings the honor and power and glory. A king who forgives our sins and welcomes us into his kingdom of paradise.

Today we kneel before Christ our King and ask him to watch over us his loyal subjects, to protect us, to keep us safe, to love us and to always draws near to him, who lives and reigns, forever and ever.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

11-13-2016 -- 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Nov. 13, 2016 - 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We live in a time of global instability. It feels a lot like what Jesus is describing in the gospel.

There are earthquakes in Italy, famines in Africa, Zika in South America and Miami. It seems that the cold war is back on with Russia.

There is war in Syria and Iraq. The entire Middle East is a tinder box waiting to explode. Catholic Christians in Muslim countries are being dragged out into the streets and killed.

Gun violence is on the rise in our country. We live under the constant threat of random acts of terror. There are many complex contributing factors in this rise of violence. But the reality is that there is social upheaval and instability.

A local politician said this in a recent tv commercial, “I believe love is the answer but you ought to own a handgun just in a case.” That says it all.

We have recently discovered that racism is alive and well in our country.

South Louisiana was devastated by flooding rains exacerbated by overdevelopment.

In this time of violence and chaos and bloodshed it is easy to become overwhelmed. It is easy for us to lose our way. It is easy for us to become pessimistic. It is easy for us to lose hope.

It is easy for us to be swept up in the general tumult and become aggressive and antagonistic to everyone around us.
What does Jesus say? These things are bound to happen. Do not be terrified.

Now, what do we do with this? How can we not be terrified? Being terrified is easy. Following Jesus is harder. Jesus says over and over again, “Do not be afraid. I am with you.”

Hostility from others is no excuse for us to be hostile ourselves.
We are to persevere in goodness and holiness.

Sometimes the goodness of humanity can be so difficult to see that we may even begin to question God’s presence. So, as we close this Year of Mercy we ask God to look mercifully upon us and the mess we’ve made.

I suspect one of the lesson for us to learn is that what is man made will eventually crumble and fall. The things we humans create will all pass away eventually.

But what comes from God will endure forever. What God creates lasts forever.

Sometimes we place too much faith and hope and trust in our human institutions.

This can leave little room for God. As we bring this Year of Mercy to a close, we need to make room for God. We need to feel God’s healing rays of mercy and love upon us.

There may be earthquakes, famines, plagues, guns, smoke, fire, carnage, destruction, bombardment all around us.

But Jesus says, “Stand tall and do not fear for not a hair on your head will be destroyed.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

11-6-2016 -- 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Nov. 6, 2016 - 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We lose loved ones unexpectedly. A loved one is killed in a tragic car accident or a boating accident or some other accident.

We lose loved ones to cancer or some other disease. Sometimes death comes slowly with great pain and sometimes it comes like a thief in the night.

We lose friends, siblings, parents, children, spouses. Some die of old age, some die too young, some die from suicide brought on by mental illness.

The pain we feel when we lose someone close may ease with time but it never goes away. We are left in grief and sorrow wondering how to cope.

The readings this weekend deal with loss, with death and dying.

We are confronted with this scene from the Book of Maccabees, A Jewish mother and her seven sons are arrested and tortured. They are ordered to eat pork which is in violation of their religious dietary regulations.

One by one they are tortured and killed in front of the others by order of the pagan king.

We are told that they acted with great courage. How can this be? They can only accomplish this great act of courage because of their belief in the resurrection of the dead.

Listen to the answer the fourth brother gives. “It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up.”

Our God is not God of the dead. Our God is God of the living.
Death does not have victory. Death has done its worst and has not won.

Our God is greater than death and greater than the tragedies that threaten to destroy our lives.

In our creed, which we recite every Sunday, we say, “I believe in the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.”

There is no marriage and remarriage in heaven because there is no death in heaven. In heaven all are alive in Christ.

The proof of this is Jesus’ own resurrection.

This should give us the courage we need to face the deaths of our loved ones.

We need courage to face death; we need strength to face death; we need grace to face death, and we need hope so that we can overcome the grief we experience.

We believe that death is not the end. Death does not get the last word. Death does not have the final say.

Our God is the God of the living. In God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, all who believe are are alive.