Saturday, August 12, 2017

08-13-17 -- 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Aug 13, 2017 - 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We like to see things. We like to go see parades. We stand on the side of the road waiting for the parade to pass by. There is excitement and anticipation as we wait. We like to go to sports events and concerts.

We also have this desire to go see the aftermath of a natural disaster. How many of you went riding around to see the damage from last year’s historic flood?

The Lord says to the Prophet Elijah, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord, the Lord will be passing by.”

We go outside to see the storm or the heavy wind or the hurricane. We see the fires out west and the summer storms on the evening news.

But this is not how we get to see the Lord. Elijah discovered that the Lord is not in those things. The Lord is not in the wind. The Lord is not in the earthquake. The Lord is not in the fire.

In the Gospel, Jesus is not in the storm. Jesus is above the storm. Jesus is beyond the storm. Jesus is more powerful than the storm.

So it should not surprise us when Jesus comes walking on the water. The Lord is in the calm. The Lord is in the quiet. The Lord is in the tiniest whispering sound.

You know what that means? It is easy to see the parade. It is easy to go to the concert. It is easy to go outside and experience the rainstorm. But it is harder to find the Lord.

The Lord is not in the storm or the earth or the fire or the parade. The Lord is in the tiniest whispering sound.

Often, like the disciples, we are overwhelmed by the storms of life. We are frightened by the storms of life. We are terrified by the rough winds. We are rocked by the waves. We feel like we will drown.

Jesus invites us out of the safety of the boat. Come out into the storm. Come out onto the water.

Can we step out in courage to follow the Lord? Like Peter, we must muster every bit of strength, every bit of courage and step out into the storm to get to Jesus. It can be frightening.

Jesus is there, inviting us. Come to me. Come be with me.

When we realize how strong the winds of those storms of life really are and that we are beginning to sink, we must cry out, “Lord save me.”

And immediately Jesus stretches out his hand to catch us.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

08-06-17 -- The Transfiguration, Year A

Aug 6, 2017 - The Transfiguration, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

In 2001, I attended the Saint George Trek at Philmont Scout Ranch in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. During that 10 day, 100 mile trek, my crew climbed the highest peak on the ranch, Mount Baldy, at 6,000 feet above sea level.

At that altitude breathing becomes difficult and there is a sort of euphoria upon reaching the top. Mount Tabor is 1,900 feet above sea level. While not nearly as high as Mount Baldy, it is still a difficult climb to the top with an impressive view.

It took work for Jesus, Peter, James and John to get up there. Upon reaching the top they would have been winded at the very least.

It is there that they see the Divine, flames of fire, a lamp shining in the darkness, Jesus transfigured before their very eyes.

The voice from heaven gives the command, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”

We do lots of talking. We also do lots of listening. And there are so many different voices vying for our time and attention.

There are the talking heads on TV, there is Cajun Dorris on YouTube, there is Donald Trump on Twitter. Kids today have ear buds or headsets on all the time.

While we like to do lots of talking and an even greater amount of listening, I suspect we spend very little time discerning the credibility of the voices we listen to.

All those voice drown out the voice of Jesus, the beloved Son. To listen to Jesus we must be still, we must be quiet and we must stop talking.

Are we taking much time to listen to Jesus? If we are honest we probably aren’t doing too much of that. And then we wonder why life goes all wrong.

We have this tendency to blame God for all our misfortunes. But how can we do that when we weren’t even listening in the first place?

When we listen, we hear something new. I love you. You are mine. This is a message of adoption. You are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter. With you I am well pleased.

Are we climbing the Mountain of the Lord? That’s the only way to see the Divine, the flames of fire, a lamp shining in the darkness, Jesus transfigured before our very eyes.

And we are given the command, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” Are we listening to the beloved Son? Discipleship takes effort. It takes listening and seeing and climbing.

As we climb and see and listen we are transformed and come to understand that we are God’s children, that we belong, that we are loved.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

07-30-17 -- 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

July 30, 2017 - 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

What do you desire more than anything? What is the longing of your heart? Maybe you desire the Lord. Maybe you desire holiness. But maybe your desires are not so pure, not so chaste, not so holy.

Maybe we are poor and there is a longing for wealth. Maybe we have a poor self image or lack self confidence and we are longing for acceptance and popularity.

Maybe we are lonely and there is a longing for intimacy. Maybe we are weak and we are longing for power.

There are the things God expected Solomon to ask for: a long life, earthly riches and justice. We could understand if Solomon had asked for these things from the Lord. But Solomon asked for wisdom.

The readings ask us to examine our desires. Dealing with our desires can be a tough thing. On the one hand, we want what we want, we like what we like, we desire what we desire.

But on the other hand, our desires can become unruly. They can get out of hand. And when that happens, they begin to control us. Sometimes our desires are not so good. Sometimes they run amuck.

In Jesus’ parable, the characters have a desire for something that is very precious. And in both cases that something brings earthly wealth. Once you possess a pearl of great wealth or a buried treasure, you are rich by the world’s standards.

Jesus says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like this. So, the Kingdom of Heaven brings about earthly wealth? No, of course not.

The Kingdom of Heaven brings about heavenly wealth. The Kingdom of Heaven brings eternal life with God.

So, it seems to me that Jesus isn’t saying earthly wealth is bad. He is saying heavenly wealth is better, it is what our hearts should desire. It is something that should be sought after, like a pearl of great price or a buried treasure.

Do we seek the Kingdom of Heaven? Do we desire a closer walk with the Lord? What are some ways that we seek the Kingdom?

Ask something and I will give it to you, the Lord tells Solomon. What do we ask from the Lord?

Do we ask for wisdom? Do we ask for better control of our desires? How can we begin to tweak our desires? Do we ask for and long for the Kingdom of Heaven?

I may be poor and ask the Lord for wealth, but I cannot let that wealth control me. I may be insecure and ask the Lord for confidence but I cannot let that confidence become cocky or arrogant.

I may be lonely and ask the Lord for intimacy but I cannot let sexual prowess replace intimacy. I may be a victim and ask the Lord for justice against my enemies but I cannot let that justice become vengeance.

Dealing with our desires can be a tough thing. What do you desire most? What do you ask of the Lord?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

07-23-17 -- 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

July 23, 2017 - 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Good and bad are together everywhere in the world. Remember school? There were good and bad people there. There was the school bully but there was also that quiet guy who never fought back.

And what about work? There are good and bad people there. There’s the person who is honest and trustworthy and helpful and the person who is willing to lie and steal and cheat and make trouble for everyone.

It’s even in the church. There are good and bad priests and bishops.

But the good and bad is not just out there. It’s in here too. There is good and bad in each of us.

There is a struggle going on inside us all the time. Right?

Sometimes we give the evil out there more time and attention than it deserves and we fail to pay attention to the bad inside.

Jesus’ parable of the weeds and the wheat challenges us to pay attention to the weeds within. But Jesus cautions us about trying to pull up all those weeds.

What happens when people want to grow in their spiritual lives? I think they try to pull up all the weeds and when they do that, some wheat comes too.

For a time everything appears to be ok, better than ok. They seem to have made some progress in their spiritual life.

Then what happens? After some time, the weeds are back with a vengeance. Sound familiar? I’ve seen it over and over again and I’ve even experienced it myself.

Let’s look at the parable again for some insights. The weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest. They must grow together side by side. If the weeds are pulled, the wheat might be pulled as well.

The Lord is patient with us allowing us time to pay more attention to the life-giving wheat rather than the life-choking weeds.

God gives us time to show that we choose wheat over weeds, good over evil. We should focus on the wheat, concentrating our efforts on improving our lives for the better.

We could pay less attention to the weeds and more attention to the wheat. If we are working hard on doing what is good and right and just, we don’t have as much time to fall into temptation.

As this happens, the wheat becomes stronger and richer and produces a bountiful harvest.

And the weeds are eventually collected, thrown on the fire and burned.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

07-16-17 -- 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

July 16, 2017 - 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Only God brings about the Kingdom of heaven. Only God brings creation into being. Only God sends the rain. Only God makes the sun shine. Only God make the crops grow.

God is powerful. God is the source of all creation. God is so powerful that, in the Book of Genesis, when God speaks, things come into being.

The Prophet Isaiah speaks for the Lord. Thus says the Lord: My word goes forth from my mouth and shall do my will, reaching the end for which I sent it.

So, the Word of God is powerful. And the Word of God asks us three questions this weekend.

First, what sort of soil are we? The sower is sowing the Word of God. The sower is proclaiming the Good News that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. Jesus says knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven has been granted to those who hear.

But not everybody wants to hear the Good News. Sometimes it seems irrelevant or too challenging. Or we’re too self-absorbed or busy to listen.

We close our ears so that we cannot hear. We close our eyes so that we cannot see.

Those who are good soil give the word a hearing, allowing it to sink in and take root.

We need to cultivate a posture of prayerful, attentive listening to allow the Word of God to sink into our hearts.

Which leads us to the second question. What sort of seed are we? A seed falls to the ground and dies. Only in this way does it sprout to life again and produce fruit or grain or vegetables.

Do we die to ourselves so that we can live for Jesus? What sort of harvest do we produce? A rich, bountiful harvest bearing good fruit?

And finally, what sort of sower are we? Do we attend to the Word of God or do we allow the religious professionals, priests and nuns and monks, to do all the work.

The world is hungry for the Word of God. The world is in desperate need of the Word of God. But how can we expect a rich harvest if we keep the seed to ourselves?

God’s power sends the rain and makes the plants grow. But the sower has to do the work of preparing the land and sowing the seed and gathering the harvest.

The Kingdom of heaven will come. And because God is powerful and God’s word is effective, God will bring about the Kingdom. What are we doing to help make it so?

The sower went out to sow, and as the sower sowed, some seed fell on rich soil.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

07-09-17 -- 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

July 9, 2017 - 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We go looking for secret knowledge all the time. We want to know if there are really some secret gospels that hold the key to happiness.

We go searching for the fountain of youth. Will this product or that one really make me look younger or feel better?

We want that special diet pill that will make us lose weight fast or that special powder that will make our muscles grow bigger.

But those things are always too good to be true, aren’t they?

Jesus says take my yoke and learn from me. Jesus wants to teach us how to find happiness in this life and in the life to come. There are two parts to this. Take my yoke and learn from me.

First, take my yoke. Jesus’ yoke may be easy, but it is still a yoke. A yoke is used to make a plow animal go where you want it to go.

Taking Jesus’ yoke means going where Jesus wants us to go, and doing what Jesus wants us to do, and living like Jesus wants us to live.

Second, learn from me. What lesson does Jesus want to teach us. We read from our sacred scripture week after week searching for the lessons Jesus wants to teach us.

In the first reading this weekend the prophet Zechariah says that the Savior is meek, riding on a donkey.

Riding on a donkey is nothing fancy, no chariot, no horse drawn carriage. Riding on a donkey is humble and simple.

Zechariah goes on to say that this simplicity brings about peace and joy.

Jesus in the Gospel says that knowledge of God is revealed to little ones, the childlike, those who are meek and humble.

Little ones see and experience everything as if for the first time. There is wonder and awe in their eyes as they look at creation.

Saint Paul says they are filled with the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God brings joy and peace.

Our lives are complex and we are too proud. We need to learn to be meek and humble of heart. We need to learn to be more simple. This simplicity would lead to greater joy and peace in our hearts.

Can we begin to uncomplicate our lives? We need to learn to be meek and humble of heart. We need to learn to be more simple. This simplicity would lead to greater joy and peace in our lives.

The prophet Zechariah says that our Savior comes to us simple and meek and humble bringing peace and joy.

Our Savior comes saying take my yoke and learn from me. My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Learn from me and you will find rest for yourselves.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

07-02-17 -- 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

July 2, 2017 - 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

The woman in the Book of Kings provides assistance to the prophet Elisha. She doesn't do it for a reward. She does it because she knows it's the right thing to do.

She's not expecting some kind of payment for her kindness. She is being generous just because. She knows Elisha is a prophet of God and she knows that, as a prophet, his life is difficult. She wants to make his life easier. So she shows him a great kindness.

And because she is not looking for a reward, the Lord God sees what she has done, and the Lord God rewards her. The longing of her heart is fulfilled and she gives birth to a son as a reward for her kindness to the prophet.

The Lord God is the one who rewards her. The Lord God sends her a son because of her yes.

If we do good, not looking for reward or payment, the Lord God sees and we are rewarded for our good deeds.

Jesus says that if anyone performs even the smallest of service to another, they will not lose their reward.

But Jesus also says we can’t do the good deeds with the reward in mind. If we do, we are already repaid.

Now our hospitality might not be in the form of a meal or a bed for the night or a cup of cold water to drink.

It might be a simple greeting, an offer of help to someone in need, an act of kindness, a supportive shoulder, an encouraging word, a kind thing done for the sake of being kind, a good thing done for the sake of being good.

If we receive Jesus, then we receive God the Father who sent him.

And that is exactly what we do here at Sunday Mass. We celebrate the Eucharist. We receive Jesus’ very body and blood sacrificed for us, given to us a as a generous life-giving gift.

We welcome Jesus into our lives and into our hearts. We ask Jesus to help us be good and kind and merciful.

We ask Jesus to help us learn how to receive a prophet, to give of ourselves in service to others and so receive a prophet’s reward.

The woman in the Book of Kings provides assistance to the prophet Elisha. She is rewarded with the longing of her heart, the birth of a son.

What great kindness do we show not expecting anything in return?

Jesus who sees what is done in generosity and kindness will repay us.

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.