Saturday, November 17, 2018

11/18/18 -- 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Watching the evening news or paying too much attention to social media can be very distressing. We see anger and hatred, mean spiritedness, protests, trials and tribulations.

It might seem that the world is falling apart and social stability is coming unraveled. We have a tendency to get caught up in all this negativity and it can consume us. 

This focus on doom and gloom can overwhelm us. But we must realize that this has happened throughout all of human history.

If we become to caught up in this doomsday thinking we can begin to lose sight of hope. This leads to anxiety and depression and despair. Often we go through periods where we feel everything is crumbling. 

Instead of all this negative thinking, wouldn’t we rather think of ourselves as God’s elect, God’s chosen ones? Wouldn’t we rather have our sins taken away by participating in Jesus’ sacrifice? 

Wouldn’t we rather be guarded by the Archangel Saint Michael? Wouldn’t we rather see the Son of Man coming on the clouds?

The Book of Hebrews says that the sacrifice of Jesus is offered for the forgiveness of sins.

There is someone who has stepped into history to absorb all of this negativity. There is someone who says, “I am offering myself in sacrifice for all to overcome all that is evil.” That’s an extraordinary thing. The sacrifice of Jesus is offered so that we can be part of God’s elect. 

We are told that God will gather the elect and Michael will guard the elect. We are the elect. Or at least we can choose to be God’s people by loving God and our neighbor.

It is much more important to Jesus how we live in this world rather than what will happen to us when this world ends.

It’s as if Jesus is saying to us, “I want you to be alert. I want you to be fully alive, to live fully alive. I don’t want you to be alarmed about what happens around you. I don’t want you to be be afraid. 

“I want you to be my elect. I want God my Father to gather you and Michael the Archangel to protect you. I want you to be filled with gladness and thanksgiving.”

Watching the evening news or paying too much attention to social media can be very distressing.

But if we stay close to Jesus and accept the sacrifice he offered for us then we are protected from all the doom and gloom around us. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

11/11/18 -- Feast of St. Martin de Tours

Can you tell me what scene the painting in the sanctuary is depicting? Anyone who comes to church here with any regularity should be able to describe that painting to any visitor. The painting is our patron, Saint Martin. He is shown as a Roman soldier on his majestic war horse.

As a young soldier, Martin encountered a beggar. The beggar was naked and it was very cold. So Martin removed his cloak and with his sword, cut it in half. He gave half to the beggar. That night Martin had a dream. Jesus appeared to him wearing the cloak. At that point Martin became Catholic.

In 371 the city of Tours needed a bishop. The people wanted Martin, but Martin did not want the job. The people tricked him. They told him someone desperately needed the anointing of the sick. 

Martin rushed out as quickly as he could. He discovered their plot and tried to run. But to no avail. He was eventually persuaded to become their bishop.

Martin established parishes in his diocese, he cared for the sick and the needy, he upheld the faith and opposed of the death penalty.

Martin was anointed with the oil of gladness the Prophet Isaiah speaks about. As Martin cuts his cloak to help the poor beggar, Martin points us to Jesus. Jesus is the light in our darkness. 

Jesus anoints us with the oil of gladness so that we might give food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty. Many of you volunteer at the soup kitchen here in Saint Martinville to do just that.

Jesus anoints us with the oil of gladness so that we might welcome the stranger. Here in this majestic historic church we understand that there are no strangers among us and we have a belief that here at God’s house all are welcomed.

Jesus anoints us with the oil of gladness so that we might care for the sick and the dying. There is a group of parishioners who regularly go out and visit the sick bringing them Jesus in the Eucharist.

Jesus anoints us with the oil of gladness so that we might visit those in prison. Someone goes each week to the jail here to bring communion to those imprisoned who long for Jesus.

We, as a community of faith under our patron Saint Martin, do all these things and so much more. The Gospel today is a reckoning, an accounting where those who do for others are separated from those who do only for themselves.

We who do for others are anointed. We let our light shine in the darkness. We cut our cloak and give half to the poor beggar. In this way, Jesus comes to us saying: what you do for the least, you do for me.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

11/4/18 -- 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Sometimes we focus all our attention on trying to love our neighbor and forget there is another commandment that is first.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength.

But today it seems that more and more people simply stop loving God. And there are lots of reasons why this happens.

The death of a child or a spouse can leave one overwhelmed with grief. How could God let this happen? Personal illness can also leave someone with little love for God. God I prayed to you for healing but it hasn’t come.

A personal struggle with drug addiction or substance abuse by a loved one can leave us confused and hurting. Being a victim of abuse can leave us downright angry with God.

We witnesses senseless suffering and brutality and hatred in the world and we wonder: how could this have been created by a loving God.

Troubles suffocate us. Worries entangle us. Grief overwhelms us. Anger and hatred destroy us. Illness consumes us. It’s hard to love God when all this is happening around us. And so we tend to blame God for all our misfortunes.

This is the very reason for the commandment. The times when it’s most difficult to love God are the very times that we need God the most.

We are a mess. Our lives are a mess. Our families are a mess. Our church is a mess. The people around us are a mess.

Why? Our bad choices. Their bad choices. Everyone’s bad choices. But God will not take away our free will, even in the midst of our bad choices.

God wants us to choose love freely. God wants our trust, our time, our obedience, our love, our worship. But God wants those to be given freely.

We sing the Gloria every Sunday. We praise you. We bless you. We adore you. We glorify you.

With all my heart. With all my soul. With all my mind. And with all my strength.

The commandment requires everything. And when we are giving everything, then God can work.

And I know this is true because I’ve seen many examples of everyday miracles all around me. On mission. On pilgrimage. In people’s lives in each parish I’ve served. 

There may be legitimate reasons why people might stop love God. 

But when people are healed and relationships are restored and grief overcome and prayer answered all because of faith and hope and love, then we see why loving God is the first of all the commandments.