Saturday, January 28, 2017

01-29-2017 -- 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Jan. 29, 2017 - 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

The Beatitudes describe for us a God who is alive and active in the world. When we witness division and hatred, it can be difficult to remember that God is present. So where do we find this God who is active and alive?

Jesus says that we find God in the poor in spirit. Who are the poor in spirit? Perhaps those who are depressed or feeling down are poor in spirit. Or maybe it is those who have lost the will to go on.

It can also be those of us who have a poor self image or who haven’t learned to love and accept ourselves. God is with those who are poor in spirit and gives them the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus tells us that we find God in those who mourn. Those who mourn are deeply afflicted with a loss that has the power to overwhelm.

When I think of my high school friend who was murdered thirty years ago I am still overcome with grief and a deep sense of loss. God is with us in such moments to comfort us.

Jesus says that we find God in those who are meek. The meek are often taken advantage of by the strong. The meek can seem like losers, but Jesus says that justice will be theirs in the end and they will inherit the land.

Jesus tells us that God is among those who hunger and thirst for justice. Those who see injustice in the world and struggle to correct it reveal God’s presence in our midst.

Saint Paul says God chooses the foolish, the weak, the lowly. So when we look towards those that the world seems to despise, it is there that we see God alive in the world.

By giving us the Beatitudes, Jesus has told us what we need to do if we want to bring God into the world.

Jesus says that God moves and works among those who show mercy. When we act with mercy toward others, God is at work in us and through us. Our acts of mercy are Godly acts.

Jesus says that God moves and works among those who are clean of heart. The clean of heart are pure. The clean of heart are innocent. If we act with honesty, kindness, and integrity, we show that God is alive and working in our world.

Jesus says that God moves and works among those who bring peace. We reveal God when we encourage forgiveness and reconciliation and when we model that same forgiveness in our own lives.

Jesus says that God moves and works among those who are persecuted, those who carry the cross with Jesus. God is with the weak and the powerless. God is on the side of the poor.

God is always on the side of those who have no one to defend them. God is always on the side of those who seek justice and are pure of heart.

If this is where God is found, it is also where we should be found. We should be on the side of justice, walking with the poor, the weak, the defenseless and the persecuted.

Zephaniah the prophet tells us to seek the Lord, to seek justice, to seek humility.

When we seek, we find a God who is truly active in our lives, a God who is not dead, a God who is truly alive in our world.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

01-22-2017 -- 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Jan. 22, 2017 - 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Jesus has the power to walk into Andrew and Peter’s lives, say three words, and they get up and follow him. “Come after me.” And they do it immediately, with no hesitation.

Their lives are radically changed at that moment. They leave behind everything and they begin a new life.
The prophet Isaiah describes for us what happens when we answer the call to follow Jesus? The yoke that burdens us is smashed. The anguish that consumes us takes flight.

The prophet speaks of the transforming power of the Lord. There is no darkness, no gloom, only light. There is great rejoicing and abundant joy.

Jesus, after calling the Apostles, teaches them to work together. He assembles a motley crew and then calls them to be one family. There are squabbles among them, who is the greatest, who sits at the right and at the left.

As Paul cites in his letter to the Corinthians, Christians have always been a motley crew and as a result division tends to creep in.

Paul writes to the Corinthians because they are dividing into factions. The disciples of Jesus are saying things like I belong to Paul or I belong to Apollos or I belong to Cephas,

We see this today. Instead of focusing on Jesus, we focus on the personalities of some of Jesus’ modern day apostles. I like John Paul II or I prefer Mother Angelica or I follow Cardinal Burke or Cardinal Lacroix or I belong to Francis.

When we act like this, we divide the Body of Christ and act in a very un-Christian way. There should be no division among us. We all belong to Jesus Christ.

We all must answer the call to follow. And when we answer the call we become Apostles.

Do we answer the call perfectly? Of course not! Sometimes I am inadequate in my attempt to answer Jesus’ call.

We all are. We are sinful, selfish, weak, broken. We are too attached to our own ways or to our possessions.

Because of our sinfulness and poor life choices, we don’t always answer the call. And when we do, we don’t always answer perfectly. So what?

In my experience, my life is always better, I am always happier when I am trying to be an Apostle.

Why? Because Jesus already knows that I am a sinner, and still Jesus calls me to be the best version of myself. Jesus calls me to use my gifts and talents, to build up the Body of Christ. Trying is better than not doing anything at all.

It has almost always been my experience that my life seems to be appreciably better when I am cooperating with Jesus instead of working against him.

So when Jesus walks into your life, and Jesus does walk into your life, and speaks those three words, “Come after me,” what do you do? Immediately, the Apostles left everything and followed him.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

01-15-2017 -- 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Jan. 15, 2017 - 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Jesus has come to John the Baptist and asks to be baptized. At first John does not recognize that Jesus is the Son of God.

However, through his encounter in the Jordan River, John has come to discover who Jesus is.

The discovery is confirmed by the Holy Spirit who descends upon Jesus like a dove from heaven.

Now John wants to share this good news with us. So John points the way to Jesus. John wants us to know Jesus. John wants us to recognize Jesus.

In revealing Jesus to us, John tells us of Jesus’ identity and mission. Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.

John identifies Jesus as the Lamb of God. It was Jewish custom for a lamb to be offered in the Temple to take away the sins of the people. Jesus’ own sacrifice replaces the lamb sacrifice in the Temple.

John also reveals Jesus’ mission. Jesus is the one who takes away the sins of the world.

Jesus is offered as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the people, so that the innocent lambs no longer have to be sacrificed in the Temple.

As we continue to journey into this new year, we are going to begin again to tell the story of the shepherd who becomes the sheep, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

And as we tell the story again, we come to know the Shepherd more deeply. By learning more about Jesus’ identity and mission, we also come to discover something about ourselves.

Listen again of God’s love for us in the first reading: It is too little for you to be my servant. I will make you a light to the nations.

We are light. We are goodness. We are love. The Holy Spirit descends upon us and makes us the chosen ones of God.

And Saint Paul in the second reading tells us that we are holy. We have been sanctified by the blood of Jesus shed for us.

Jesus is forgiveness for our sins. This tells of God’s great love for us.

Jesus sacrifices himself for us. When we gather here for worship it is Jesus who is placed upon the altar.

Not only does Jesus give himself for the forgiveness of sins. He also gives himself as food for the journey.

We eat his body and drink his blood to give us strength, to make us holy.

And John, by revealing Jesus to us, gives us the opportunity to draw closer to Jesus. We come to a greater understanding of his identity and his mission.

And by drawing closer to him our sins are forgiven and our lives are changed.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

01-8-2017 -- Epiphany, Year A

Jan. 8, 2017 - Epiphany, Year A 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

The Magi were stargazers. The Magi were travelers. The Magi were foreigners. They were not Jewish. In other words, they represent all the different people of the earth.

We are not Jewish. So, when we walk into the manger scene, we are like the Magi. We are foreigners.

Because the Magi represent everybody, everybody can come to the manger to see the Christ child.

This is where our word Catholic finds its beginnings. Catholic means universal. Everyone is invited. Everyone is included.

So as we begin this New Year, can we look to the Magi to help us with our Catholic faith? We can reflect on what they did. Then, we can try to imitate them. In this way, we become like them. We become wise.

What did they do? They came bringing gifts. They came to adore. And then, they went home by another way.

They came bringing gifts. Their gifts were expensive and precious and meaningful.

What do we bring? Each one of us has has something to offer. What gift has God given to you for you to share with us? We come bringing gifts.

They came to adore. They kneel. They adore. They bow their heads. They pray. They recognize that there is one who is mightier. There is one who deserves their adoration.

We come to adore. As Catholics we come here to listen to the Scriptures and to celebrate the Lord’s Supper and to lift our voices in Songs of Thanksgiving and Praise. That’s what we do Sunday after Sunday. That’s how we adore.

They go home by another way. Having been warned in a dream of Herod’s plot. They return home by another route.

They traveled a great distance to behold the Christ child. Their lives were forever transformed by this encounter with the Lord.

We travel rather short distances in comparison. And we have the rich opportunity to come here over and over again.

We should leave here changed. And so when we depart from here, we go home having been changed. In other words, we go home another way.

We come bringing gifts. We come to adore. We go home having been transformed. We go home another way.

By doing this, we truly become wise.