Saturday, January 27, 2018

1-28-18 -- 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

I think sometimes we get taken up with the demon in the gospel. We get caught by the glamour of evil and we forget that there is a man standing there.

That poor man is tormented by something. He is gripped by some force that has power over him. He has lost control. The evil within seems to want to drag him down a dangerous and unholy path.
The demon challenges Jesus but Jesus isn’t taken up by the demon. Jesus is concerned with the man who is possessed.
Jesus doesn’t judge. Jesus doesn’t condemn. Jesus doesn’t ignore. Jesus encounters the man. Jesus casts out the evil. Jesus heals the man. And the man’s life is forever changed.
This gives us hope, because there are things inside of us that are unholy. Grudges. Prejudices. Anger. Lust. Selfishness. Things that aren’t healthy. Things that aren’t life-giving.
We might be broken and hurting and in need of healing. We might be running from and avoiding our problems. We might be possessed by loneliness or fear or despair or depression or grief.
Jesus doesn’t judge. Jesus doesn’t condemn. Jesus doesn’t ignore. Jesus encounters me. Jesus encounters you.
And Jesus loves. Jesus has the power to cast out the evil that is within us.
Jesus wants nothing more than to reach out to you and to me and to remove whatever is sinful, to heal whatever is wounded.
The evil that controls the man has the power to lead the man down a terrible path. But Jesus has power over evil.
If we stay close to Jesus, if we stay in relationship with Jesus, then Jesus can protect us from all the evil lurking in the world. This is what we pray every time we say the “Our Father.” Deliver us from every evil.
When the man, possessed by the unclean spirit, encounters Jesus in the synagogue, he is healed.
We encounter Jesus in this Eucharist. We eat his body that was nailed to a cross for us. We drink his blood that was poured out for us.
When we encounter Jesus here in this holy place, we ask Jesus to heal us. We ask Jesus to cast out the demons within us. We ask Jesus to strengthen us. We ask Jesus to draw near to us and to love us.
Sometimes we are tantalized by the glamour of evil. But the demons only come to destroy. Jesus comes only to love, because love conquers all.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

1-14 -18 -- 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

January 14, 2018 - 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
The call of Samuel is supposed to be humorous. The Lord God calls Samuel but Samuel thinks it’s Eli, the old prophet calling him.

Three times this happens before old Eli realizes that it is the Lord God who must be calling Samuel. One would think that Eli, a seasoned prophet, would have figured it out sooner.

So finally, the fourth time Samuel is able to answer, “speak, for your servant is listening.”

This funny little scene should actually bring us great comfort. It took Eli three times before he realized the Lord God was calling the boy. And the boy didn’t even have a clue.

We usually don’t fair any better. Why? Because God’s voice is not the only voice vying for our attention.

Some voices are good, others are not so good. Some helpful, others destructive. Some worthwhile, others misguided. Some leading us down the right path and others tempting us to go astray.

We have to learn to tune out voices that encourage us to look out for ourselves before others, get revenge on those who have harmed us, look down on those who have less than we do, gossip, put down and belittle others, and bend the truth.

We have to learn to listen to voices that call us to grow in our spiritual life, respect the dignity of each person, act with kindness and charity and work on becoming more loving and forgiving.

Learning to recognize God’s voice takes time. We have to learn to be good listeners because God is always trying to communicate with us. God is continually trying to speak to us. God is continually trying to reveal wisdom and guidance to us.

The Lord God desires to do this in many different ways, through our scriptures, through the church, through holy people we encounter everyday and in the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds and souls.

We have to want to hear God’s voice. We have to be open to what God wants to say to us. But listening is just the first part of being a good disciple.

Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John teach us that the second part of discipleship requires action. When they hear John the Baptist say, “Behold the Lamb of God,” they begin to follow Jesus. When we hear God’s voice we also must act on it.

We are called to have a heart open to God’s voice. We are called to have the strength and courage to follow.

In this way, we, like Samuel and Eli, like Peter and Andrew, James and John, will grow into the people God desires us to be.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

1-7-18-- Epiphany, Year B

January 7, 2018 - Epiphany, Year B

Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We are all on a journey. Where we say we are going says a lot about who we are.

I am trying to finish school. I want to retire. I am looking to make lots of money. I want to get married. I’m going to be a priest.

We might all say we are looking for love. But when others look at our lives they might say we are looking for love in all the wrong places.

Our entire lives are a journey and where we are headed says plenty about who we are.

The magi in the gospel are on a tremendous adventure. They saw a bright star in the sky and they left their homes to journey to see the newborn King.

They did him homage, brought their gifts and then continued on their journey.

Did they even know they were on a pilgrimage to see God? I don’t know. More importantly, are we on a search for God?

The journey we call life can be painful, uncertain, filled with unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes we can get off track and lose our way.

But from time to time, like on this Feast of the Epiphany, we get a glimpse of the end. We see the Lord shed light upon our hearts. We see the Lord illuminate the darkness to light our paths.

We feel the radiance of the Lord fill us with peace and joy. We gather here in this holy place so that the glory of the Lord can shine upon us.

We ask the Lord of light to go before us to illuminate our paths so that we may reach the brightness of our eternal home where light overcomes darkness, good overcomes evil and life overcomes death.

The Magi searched diligently for the Christ. Their pilgrimage to see the Lord brought joy.

Life is a journey and where we are headed says a lot about who we are. Today we ask God to shine the light of Christ into our lives to guide us along the right paths.