Saturday, April 22, 2017

04-23-17 -- 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A

April 23, 2017 - 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church



Now that the Easter Triduum has passed and summer has not yet arrived, it's a great time to do some spring cleaning.

Our 50 day Easter season celebrates Resurrection. Spring is in the air. It's a time of new life, a time of new beginnings, a time to make things fresh and clean.

Jesus sends the Holy Spirit upon the disciples for the forgiveness of sins.

This sending of the Holy Spirit is meant to strengthen them. This forgiveness of sins is meant to transform them.

After all, they are going to have to go out into the world and tell the good news. That takes courage and strength and they are going to need it.

Don't we have some transforming of our own to do this Easter Season? Aren't the Easter Resurrection Gospels calling us to do some spiritual spring cleaning?

We can clean our hearts by forgiving others who have hurt us. We can let go of hatred and prejudice and anger.

We can clean our mouths by watching what we say. We can stop cursing and swearing. We can stop speaking ill of others. We can begin saying only the good things and kind things people need to hear.

We can clear out our spiritual closets by letting go of the past. What we've done to others and what others have done to us cannot be changed. We can only heal and move on.

We can clear out the cobwebs of our minds by not dwelling on lustful thoughts and fantasies that will never come true.

We can dust off our bodies by reminding ourselves daily that we are beautiful temples of God. We can begin to treat those temples with the respect and reverence they deserve.

A good spiritual spring cleaning can help us focus on who really matters, Jesus Christ, and on what really matters, our relationship with him.

This spring cleaning helps us get to where Thomas is, no longer doubting, no longer hiding.

Thomas needed a good spring cleaning and he got one. It turned his doubt into belief.

Thomas is now able to boldly proclaim that Jesus is Lord and God.

Sending the Holy Spirit upon us for the forgiveness of sins is intended to change us. It's intended to help us grow closer to Jesus. It's intended to help us have the courage and strength to be good disciples.

It’s spring. New life is all around us. There is nothing like a good spring cleaning to make everything new again.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

04-16-17 -- Easter

April 16, 2017 - Easter, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church



It seems to me that the world is a pretty tense place right now. Innocent people, especially innocent civilians were gassed to death in Syria.

Our Coptic Catholic brothers and sisters were bombed in Egypt while attending Palm Sunday services.

ISIS and Islamic radicalists continue to wage a jihad, a holy war, against us. Their end game includes the death of each one of us.

Tensions are rising between the United States and North Korea, and between the United States and Russia.

Elected Democratic and Republican officials have become polarized and entrenched, their rhetoric less and less civil. Their ability to lead and govern effectively is being questioned by many.

American society seems to be more and more divided, less and less charitable, more and more violent.

And while all that seems to be out there somewhere, there is a growing sense of unease and unrest here at home.

Our dependance on technology has become alarming and leads to great anxiety.

It appears that everywhere we look we find corruption and unrest, decay and destruction, violence and death.
But appearances can be deceiving.

Because the Angel of God descends from heaven, rolls back the stone, sits on it and proclaim: Do not be afraid!

The stillness of yesterday is broken. Death is overcome. The quiet is replaced with bells and music and laughter.

Darkness is overcome by light. Destruction is overcome by beauty. Depression is overcome by joy.

We let the alleluias wash over us. We let the waters of Baptism wash over us. Jesus is risen from the dead.

And we are called to come out into the light and be the children God call us to be.

So what needs to change? Whatever it is, let’s get to it. What’s holding us back? Whatever it is, Jesus has already overcome it.

As we renew our Baptismal promises, let us make a commitment to be people of the Resurrection, people who live in the light, people who go about their daily lives doing good, being kind and charitable, acting with compassion and love.

The angel calls us to rejoice. The angel calls us out of that unrest and decay and destruction and death.

The angel calls us to sing alleluia because Jesus has saved us. Death has no power here, because the Angel of God comes down from heaven, rolls back the stone and proclaims, Do not be afraid, the One you are seeking is here.

Friday, April 14, 2017

04-14-17 -- Good Friday

April 14, 2017 - Good Friday, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church




Death is in the air. You can feel it. The earth is quiet. Today is a day of mourning. Today is a day of quiet reflection. Today is a day for standing at the foot of the cross.


Jesus’ mother Mary is there. His aunt Elizabeth is there. Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary of Magdala are there, along with John, the disciple Jesus loved.


Even though we might want to, we cannot go back in time and stand at the foot of the cross of Jesus. So maybe we can stand at the foot of the crosses of others.


There are many different crosses in life: divorce, sickness, loneliness, unemployment, fear, anxiety, depression, addiction, heartache, disappointment, self-pity.


How can we stand at the foot of someone’s cross?


First, we can show up. We can be present. Mary, Elizabeth, John, Mary and Mary are there standing at the foot of the cross. They are in terrible pain and agony, but they are there.


Where are the others?


We cannot run away from the crosses in our lives. We must show up and stand there in grief and pain and agony.


Next, we could take our cue from last night. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as an example. As I have done, so you must do.


We could perform acts of kindness for those nailed to the cross. Little things done, not out of obligation, but out of care and concern and love.


And finally, when someone has been nailed to the cross, we should say little. We cannot take the pain away with our words. So we should take our cue from today and be quiet.


We just need to show up. We don’t need to talk over the hurt.


Today there is stillness. The earth is quiet. Death is in the air.


Today and tomorrow are not days to fill with activities. They are days of mourning. They are days of death. They are days of quiet reflection.


They are days of thinking about how we can better connect our lives to the Passion, Suffering and Death of the One who died on the Wood of the Cross for us.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

04-13-17 -- Holy Thursday

April 13, 2017 - Palm Sunday, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church



By washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus is taking the role of the house servant. But Jesus is not washing their feet out of obligation. Jesus is washing their feet out of love and care and concern.

Jesus is also washing their feet to make a point, to teach an important lesson. As I have done, so you should do.

How can we wash the feet of others? Through acts of kindness, not done out of obligation, but out of love and care and concern.

Acts of kindness should done without expecting reward or recognition and no deed is too small.

Opening the door for someone.
Putting a smile on someone’s face.

Picking up a nail in the road or trash on the side of the road.
Taking out the trash or doing the dishes or washing the clothes.

Expressing to someone how special they make you feel.
Donating money to a worthwhile cause or a reputable charity.
Cleaning out your closet and giving gently worn clothing to the needy.

Volunteering for a civil or church event.
Doing something good for the environment.
Paying for the next person’s order at the drive through.

Visiting the nursing home.
Having a conversation with that person who is socially awkward.
Defending the person who gets bullied all the time.

Donating blood.
Babysitting for free so a young couple can have a night out.
Tipping the waitress generously for doing hard work for very little pay.

Giving to the homeless some food to eat.
Putting together a basket of treats for someone who has lost a family member, then delivering it when most people have gone back to their daily lives.

Offering your elderly neighbor a ride to church or to the store.
Surprising someone with breakfast in bed.

Saying I love you to someone you care about.
Forgiving someone who has hurt you.

All of these are just examples of doing what Jesus did, thinking of others first, putting others first, doing for others first.

Jesus teaches us by example: as I have done, so you must do. We learn from watching Jesus, we learn from listening to Jesus.

But Jesus doesn’t just teach by example. He does so much more. At the Last Supper he takes bread and says, “this is my body for you.” He takes wine and says, “this is my blood for you. Eat and drink.”

Jesus knows we can’t follow the example he has set on our own. We need his help. So he gives us the gift of the Eucharist.

When we receive the Eucharist, we receive Jesus’ very flesh and blood, his very life given as spiritual food which gives us courage to do what he calls us to do.

Tonight as we celebrate the Last Supper of the Lord, may we learn from Jesus’ example. And tonight as we celebrate the Last Supper may we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus as nourishment, as strength, as spiritual food.

We are given this food for the journey so that we can all do as Jesus has done: wash the feet of others through acts of kindness, not out of obligation, but out of love and care and concern.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

04-09-2017 -- Palm Sunday, Year A

April 9, 2017 - Palm Sunday, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church



There are many prophecies in the Old Testament regarding the coming of the Messiah. At the time of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem these are some of the prophecies that had already been fulfilled:

The Messiah would be a descendant of King David. Jesus of Nazareth was born in the line of King David.

A great star arose in the sky as Jesus was being born in Bethlehem. This was to be the sign of the arrival of the Messiah.

When Jesus rides into Jerusalem at Passover astride a donkey, he is sending a powerful message.

The Prophet Zechariah wrote, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Should aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you. Triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

At the time of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, these are some of the prophecies that had yet to be fulfilled:

Jesus of Nazareth will be falsely accused of crimes he did not commit. Psalm 27 says “false witnesses have risen against me.” Psalm 25 says “malicious witnesses rise up.”

Jesus of Nazareth will be beaten. The Prophet Micah tells us that with a rod they will strike the ruler of Israel upon the cheek.

Jesus of Nazareth will be spat upon. The prophet Isaiah says “I gave me back to those who struck me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from insults and spitting.”
Jesus of Nazareth will be stripped and soldiers will throw dice for his clothing. Psalm 22 says they divide his clothes among themselves and for his garment they cast lots.

Jesus of Nazareth will be crucified. The Prophet Zechariah tells us that when they look on the one whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him.

Jesus of Nazareth will be crucified and yet not a bone of his will be broken.

The book of Exodus says this about the passover lamb: It shall be eaten in one house. You shall not take any of the animal outside. You shall not break any of its bones.

The book of Numbers says they shall leave none of it until morning, nor break a bone of it. The Passover Lamb must be completely eaten at the Passover Supper and none of its bones can be broken.

Jesus of Nazareth will be crucified at the same time that the Passover Lambs are being slaughtered in the Temple and Psalms 34 tells us that not one of his bones will be broken.

Jesus of Nazareth will be taken down and placed in a tomb.

The book of Deuteronomy says that the corpse must not remain all night upon the tree. It shall be buried that same day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse.

It is the sabbath. Passover week has begun. Jesus of Nazareth has less than five days to live.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

04-02-2017 -- 5th Sunday of Lent, Year A

April 2, 2017 - 5th Sunday of Lent, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church




Lazarus is in the tomb. He is dead. His body is decaying. It is finished. Lazarus’s body already reeked of decomposition when Jesus ordered that the stone be rolled away.


And as bleak as the situation looks, Lazarus is raised up again. Jesus stands at the entrance of the tomb, calls out to him and gives him another chance.


We die inside. Things in our lives happen to us that leave us looking like the walking dead, decaying, finished.


Some people have given up on life, so much so that they just as soon be placed in a tomb.


All too often when we hear this Gospel miracle, we focus on the ways that we die:


Our our poor self image, poor self esteem and lack of self acceptance; our poor communication skills which lead to messed up relationships.


Our national addiction to pornography and our need to post naked selfies on instagram and the internet.


Rampant drug addiction decimating many communities; death of family and friends which leads to grief stricken depression.


Our own sickness or the illness of someone we love; unemployment or underemployment or financial troubles.


I’m sure there are many other ways we can shrivel up and die inside. We can’t sleep. We can’t eat. We feel sad or angry or lost or confused. We are numb. We are empty inside.

Instead of focusing on how we die, we should focus on ways that we can reach out, take Jesus by the hand and rise again. This should be our earnest desire these last two weeks of Lent.


Jesus raises us up again and gives us another chance. Jesus calls us to new life. Jesus’ healing power challenges us to focus on ways we rise again.


And it doesn’t have to be some great thing. It can be simple things really: hugs, smiles, good deeds which lead to greater kindness, charity, joy.


Lending a helping hand or saying encouraging word or some other nice thing costs us very little and fills the world with more love.


Lazarus is unbound, unwrapped. So are Martha and Mary. They were lost is anger and grief. They are also healed and given new life again.


Lazarus begins again. Martha begins again. Mary begins again. Let us begin again. Let us make a fresh start.


Jesus calls us out of the tomb to start over. Jesus calls us out of the tomb to reboot. Jesus calls us out of the tomb to refresh and renew and recreate ourselves.


If there is anything holding us back from this new beginning, it is not the Lord. He calls us out of the darkness of the tomb.


We hold ourselves back. We live in fear. We live in shame. We live in grief. We wallow in sickness.


But this is not what Jesus desires. Jesus desires new life. Jesus stands on the threshold of the mess we’ve made and cries out to each of us:

Come out and begin again. Come forth and have new life.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

03-26-2017 -- 4th Sunday of Lent, Year A

Mar. 26, 2017 - 4th Sunday of Lent, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church



The blind man’s eyes are opened. He was once in complete and total darkness and now he can see. His world has opened up.

He now interacts with everything and everyone around him in a different way. His is now a world of new experiences.

Our physical sight is so important. It’s one of the main ways that we interact with the world around us. And yet we take it for granted.

The blind man’s life is forever changed because he can now see. If we look more carefully, we discover that there is something even more important happening in his life.

He now sees with the eyes of faith. The Pharisees question him about the one who healed him, “What do you have to say about him?” His answer is insightful, “He is a prophet.”

The man who was blind and now sees recognizes that the one who made him whole, the one who healed him, comes from God.

I do believe, Lord.

Notice if you will that the healing takes place on the Sabbath, the Lord’s day. This is not by chance, but by divine design.

While our physical sight is so important, we are healed on the Lord’s day. We are given our sight on the Lord’s day.

We bow down and worship on the Lord’s day. We say, “I believe” when we recite the creed on the Lord’s day.

What are we looking to see with our eyes of faith?

Are we looking to see Jesus present in the Eucharist? I can only see with the eyes of faith that Jesus is truly present in the bread and wine.

Are we looking to see Jesus present in the minister at the altar? This can be difficult. I can only with the eyes of faith that Jesus is present in the priest who stands “in persona Christi,” in the place of Christ.

Are we looking to see Jesus present in the congregation? I can only see with the eyes of faith that Jesus is present in each and every person who is here.

Seeing with the eyes of faith changes everything. We begin to see Jesus present in others and begin to treat them with greater respect and greater charity.

The man born blind is now healed and made whole. He can see with eyes of faith. He now interacts with everyone and everything is a different way. This has led to his belief that Jesus is the Son of God.

As we begin to see with eyes of faith, a whole new world opens up to us. And our newfound faith and belief in Jesus as the Son of God takes us out of darkness and into the light of day.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

03-19-2017 -- 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A

Mar. 19, 2017 - 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church



The woman is filled with want and desire. She knows something is missing in her life. There is a void that she is trying to fill. She is lonely.

She is trying to quench that need. So she goes to the well at midday. Women did not go to the well at midday. It was too hot. They went in the morning when it was cool.

What was she looking for at the well at midday? An eighth husband perhaps? Or yet another companion who is not her husband?

What signals does she send? What does her body language say? What kind of first impression does she make? What were the people in the village saying about her?

Maybe she was too ashamed to come to the well with the other women. Maybe they shunned her or whispered about her just loud enough for her to hear.

Maybe she was an outcast because of the manner in which she chose to deal with the wants and desires in her life.

People can be judgy, you know. Had they condemned her? Or dismissed her? Or talked about her so that her reputation was tarnished beyond repair?

She was a Samaritan and an adulteress. Jesus was a Jew and single. Typically, Jews hated Samaritans and men Jesus’ age were married.

She fully expected Jesus to either condemn or dismiss her. But Jesus doesn’t do what she expects.

Jesus accepts her. Jesus treats her with respect. Jesus patiently shows her that he can fill those wants and desires in a way that she doesn’t expect.

“The water I give becomes a spring welling up to eternal life.” “Sir I know the Messiah is coming.” “I am he.”

We are either like the Samaritan woman or we are like the judgy town folk.

On the one hand we might be trying to fill our wants and desires in some pretty unhealthy ways.

Or on the other we might be judging others for their shortcomings.

In either case, the Lord Jesus offers us another way.

We are flawed. We have weaknesses. With the Lord there is kindness and fullness of redemption. With the Lord there is acceptance and forgiveness for past failings and shortcomings. With the Lord there is love and a longing to fill our emptiness.

In the midday heat of life, the Lord Jesus offers us a cool refreshing drink of water to quench our thirst.

As a result of the Samaritan woman’s testimony many more sinners came to Jesus finding acceptance and healing. Many more had their thirst quenched with a tall glass of refreshing eternal water.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

03-12-2017 -- 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A

Mar. 12, 2017 - 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church



In one week we’ve moved from Temptation to Transfiguration. Jesus calls us up the mountain to witness the Transfiguration.

To transfigure is to change, more specifically, to change the outside to match the inside. In the Transfiguration, Jesus’ outside is changed so that it matches the inside.

We get a glimpse of Jesus’ divinity. We get a glimpse of what it means to be the Son of God. The human form is transformed giving us a peek into heaven.

The message is clear: Jesus the man is also Jesus, the Son of God. This has an impact on our lives. It changes us.

For Peter, James and John, it is a special moment in time with Jesus. God shows them a vision of heaven.

We all need that special moment with Jesus. We all need that Transfiguration moment. It helps us understand who Jesus is.

This is important so that we can place greater trust in the Lord. This is important so that we can listen to Jesus with confidence.

It also helps us realize that we all need to work on transforming our outsides to match our insides.

But here’s the thing: We can’t make that special moment with Jesus happen. Only Jesus can. We can pray for it to happen. We can hope for it to happen. We can listen. We can watch. We can wait. Wait for it. Wait.

And when it happens, we have to realize it is only a moment. They all had to come down from the mountain and live in the real world.

There were many joys and sufferings to come. The Last Supper, the Agony in the Garden, the arrest, the trial, the Cross, the Resurrection.

There was the going forth to proclaim to all the world what Jesus had done for them. The Transfiguration gave them the strength to stand up and to not be afraid.

God says to us: Listen to my son Jesus. Are we listening to Jesus?

If we are, we can discover that what Paul says in his letter to Timothy is absolutely true.

The Lord is calling us to a holy life. The Lord is calling us to let our outsides match our insides. And to help us, the Book of Genesis says that the Lord blesses us.

The Lord blesses me so that I can be a blessing. The Lord blesses you so that you can be a blessing.

Are we listening to Jesus, he is telling us how he wants us to be a blessing for one another.

We pray for a transfiguration. We watch for Jesus to be at work in our daily lives. We listen. We hope. We pray. We wait.