Fifth Week of Lent Reflection – 2017

Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise.’  Martha said to him, ‘I I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day’  Jesus told her,

‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and in me will never die.’

I think that in many ways, the above statement by Jesus is among the most powerful in Saint John’s Gospel.  It is indeed, the “Good News” that a suffering, weary world is waiting for, yearning for.

I feel, however, that these words give more than hope for eternal life, after death.  For those of us weighed down by the life’s heavy burdens; we will rise!  For those of us threatened by persecution and discrimination; we will rise!  For those of us who are in depression and despair; we will rise!  By the love and power of Christ; we will rise!


First Sunday of Lent – 2017


Since last Wednesday, “Ash Wednesday,” the Catholic Church, along with other Christian churches, began a 40 day period of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.  This leads up to Holy Week, and the commemoration of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Today, the First Sunday of Lent, the sanctuary of our church is decorated in somber, purple; with no flowers.  We process in, not with hymns, but chanting prayers, begging for God’s mercy; and for the intercession of the saints.

The scripture readings for today, first tell of how our first parents, gave into temptation, and brought sin and death into the world.  Then  we hear the Gospel, the “Good News,” of how Jesus resisted temptation, and began the journey that would lead to our liberation.  

So how will we spend these days of Lent; will we intensify our spiritual lives? Will we “repent and believe the Good News?”  Will we be lights to a world so threatened by darkness, by hate, and violence.  Let us “prepare the way of the Lord, and be witnesses of the power of His Love!

Someday

“Someday,” is a word with many uses.  It is used by those of us who prefer to put things off; “Someday, I will learn to paint.” Someday, I will lose weight.” “Someday, I will become that better person.”  Life challenges us to not wait for someday, but to begin now to be all we can be.

In the life of faith, also, we use the word: “Someday.”  How many of us make promises to God? That someday, we will have a deeper prayer life.  That someday, we will become better Christians.  Jesus challenges us to begin today; that “someday,” becomes “now.”

Feast of All Saints – 2016

Blessed be God, in His angels and in His Saints 

Today, the  Church recognizes all those unknown individuals, unknown,  except by the Father, as saints.  These are those persons who strived to lead a lives of holiness; living the Gospel life.  Their struggles and their successes, maybe seen by only a few; still can provide quiet inspiration for us all.

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time – 2016

 

millaisthe_pharisee_and_the_publican_tateSirach 35: 12-14, 16-18

2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18

Luke 18: 9-14

 

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we read the parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector, who both go up to the Temple in Jerusalem to pray.  Jesus tells us about how the Pharisee “took up his position.”  Jesus hints that this Pharisee had a designated spot, probably in a prominent place in the Temple Sanctuary.  Jesus has the Pharisee, in his prayers, tell God of the “good” he has done during his life; how thankful he is, that God did not make him like the rest of humanity, especially that (ugh!) tax collector in the back of the Temple courtyard.  Jesus, in his tale, turns our attention to that tax collector; who many in Israel of this at time, considered a thief and a traitor.  This tax collector is on his knees, bent over, not daring to raise his eyes.  His only prayer is: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”  Jesus then must have shocked his audience when he declared that the tax collector left the Temple area justified, but not the Pharisee!  It all has to do with humility.

Humility is somewhat of a dirty word in our society.  Our social media, our TV programming, our magazines, are full of stories of people who really make a big deal of themselves. In no way could it be said that they are being humble. Those seeking a job, are always told to present yourself in the best possible light; really sell yourself and your skills to a possible employer.  There is no room for being humble in that scenario.  Or is there?  What I mean is that to be humble, is not that we let other people walk over us; but that we acknowledge our true self, the self that was created by God.  We acknowledge all the gifts and talents we possess, were given to us by the God who loves us.  We acknowledge that everyone else around us, has been similarly blessed with unique skills and talents.   And to be humble, is to also acknowledge that at times, we may have misused those skills and talents. And we acknowledge that we need the healing power of the Father’s forgiveness.

Jesus is calling on us to remember who we truly are; what our relationship with God truly is.  In a certain way, Jesus is echoing the words of the prophet Micah: “You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you; Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with you God.” (Micah 6:8)

 

 

 

 

Passionate for the Way of the Lord!

fireThe parish in which I serve as a deacon has been blessed with a strong attendance at our Sunday services.  However, a good number of our congregants are getting on in years; there will come a time when they will no longer be with us.  And I do not see many young people joining us.  This situation is becoming common throughout this country; this is true in Europe.  There has been a call for a “New Evangelization;” but what does that mean?

There is already out there a plethora of programs, “how to” books, DVD’s and CD’s; all offering an approach that is sure to draw new members.  Most are based on experiences of pastors, lay teachers, and other speakers.  And many of them are fine, and may offer a short term solution.  However, no approach will offer long term success, if it does not awaken a passion for God; a passion for the Word and Sacrament; a passion to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, right here,right now.  To ignite that passion, and more importantly, sustain it; we must open ourselves the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.  Have a passion for reading and meditating on Scripture frequently, let it speak to us, let it excite us, let it inspire us.  Then, be passionate in prayer, both as an individual, and as part of a worshiping Eucharistic community.  Because, only in Christ, will we experience the great love  of the Father for ea h of us.  Only in Christ, will we find the strength to change our lives.  And through the Holy Spirit, will we receive the grace which set our hearts on fire.

It is then that we will have the passion to go out and “make disciples of all nations.”  However, most of us will not be called to preach with words, but by actions.  Like Francis of Assisi, we must have within us, a passion for healing the sick; giving care to those stressed out by life; welcoming the stranger.  In other words, we must be passionate about giving mercy to a suffering, alienated society.  We may be called in many different and various ways to do this; we may not be very good at it at first, but it only takes small steps, that will grow into bigger steps.

The first followers of Jesus, inflamed by the Holy Spirit, were passionate for living and proclaiming the Good News.  And they drew thousands into the faith.  Let us have the courage to become flame, to become passionate for Christ; and see what miracles we can achieve!

Passionate

Exultation of the Holy Cross

On August 14th, throughout most the Christian world, churches commemorated the finding of the True Cross.  It was found under the leadership of St. Helen, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, during her pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  Miracles confirmed it’s authenticity; it’s wood was divided between the Churches in Jerusalem, Rome, and  Constantinople.

Those Romans who had been around during the old Empire, would have shake their heads; seeing a symbol of punishment and death, become a symbol of life and hope.

We all have our own crosses, that we have to bear, that we have to live with.  Jesus Christ calls on us to take up our crosses daily and follow him.  When we open ourselves to his Spirit; we discover that we are not only following him, but he is walking with us.  He is there, helping us bear the burden, helping us, giving us hope.