Thursday, August 27, 2009

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Find today's readings here

The Lord has called us to be His people. When we accept this calling, we accept something greater than ourselves. We accept a new life, a new self and a new mind.

The gospel tells us about the things that make us unclean, icky, and defiled. These
are: evil thoughts, unchastity (improper use of sexuality), theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness(disregard for rules and morals), envy, blasphemy (irreverence towards things of God), arrogance, and folly.

When we lead a Christian life, we are called to belong to God, to follow Him and obey Him. We are strengthened in our call by God's grace. This grace comes to us to empower us to live as God's people, and enable us to do and be what we were created to do and be.

Catholics don't often speak of being "born again" or the re-birth that occurs when we become God's people. It is mentioned during the sacrament of Baptism, but not really outside of the sacrament. We should speak of it, we should proclaim it. God wills us to be reborn as a new creation, each day, and every time we turn away from Him, every time we sin. He beckons us to return to Him so that he could renew us.

The scriptures today encourage us to turn away from our old selves and the things that defile us from within. They encourage us to be renewed and to be called a "wise and intelligent people."

The second reading tells us that God gave birth to us by the word of His truth. The rebirth of our souls is a constant occurrence. A new baby is so beautiful, so precious, so spotless, so pure. God has the power and desire to return each one of us to this state. He tells us that we are born by the word of truth.

The word of God is Christ Jesus, sacrificed on the cross, His arms stretching out, welcoming us to His embrace. The truth of God is that He is waiting. Waiting for you, waiting for me, waiting for us to return to Him, rejecting the things that make us unclean and asking for the new life that only He can give.

Seven Quick Takes (Vol 2)

Please link over to Conversion Diary to check out her blog. Thanks for hosting Seven Quick Takes!

1. Prayer of the week:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding, and my entire will.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours.
Do with it what You will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace.
That is enough for me.

2. From the Saints:
"God is love" and in this phrase, as a mirror reflects a person's face, and as the sun reflects its light on the earth, so this phrase reflects in my soul that all God's works, whatsoever they are, are love alone." -St. Catherine of Sienna

3. Quote of the week:
"I am a little pencil in the hands of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world." -Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

4. Ruth was called by God to join a family. (read the story of Ruth here) After she joined the family, she bore children, who bore children until David was born. David's descendants bore children until Christ was born. Ruth didn't "know" the part she played in the story of our own salvation, but she did it willingly.

What part we have to play, we cannot say. We long to be faithful to God and love Him, learn more about Him and strive for His kingdom. We should pray that generations down can benefit from the work God is doing in us today.

5. Truth
If you give your life to God, He's going to take you at your word.

6. Pay attention in Mass:
Listen for :"Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed."
What does that mean to you?

7. Scripture of the Week:
"Even to the death, fight for the truth, and the Lord your God will battle for you." Sirach 4:28

Seven Quick Takes Friday (vol 1)

Click here to view the blog: Conversion Diary, host of 7 Quick Takes.

1. Prayer of the week:

Lord, let me know clearly
the work which You are calling me
to do in life
and grant me every grace I need
to answer Your call with
courage, love, and lasting
dedication to your will.

(found on the back of a St. Benedict Prayer Card)

2. On the Saints:
Q: Why should we ask the Saints for intercession? How can dead people pray for us?
A. What value is there in our death if we can't pray in heaven? If we are in heaven, won't we constantly be praying? If we can't then what value is there in our death? Why go to heaven if we can't pray and worship God.

3. Quote of the week:
"It is a life and death struggle - not a teaparty. If we only dabble in the divine - we make a mockery of ourselves and our God. Everything is one way or the other - nothing is by halves." -Fr. Tom Zoeller

4. Humility of humanity
Christ humbled himself to share in our humanity. So if we are to be christlike, then we must also humble ourselves to share in humanity. In communion, we do not go in order of age, importance, wealth, nor health. We are all mixed in as we wait in the line to receive communion. We eat and drink from the same cup and plate. This is the same cup that the person before us drank from: the sick, the infirm, the young, the old, the poor, the wealthy, the hero and the unknown. As we grasp that cup, we drink, we humbly share in the humanity of our church.

5. Truth
God wants what is best for you. God's best for you is not the American Dream.

6. Pay attention in Mass:
Part of the Eucharistic Prayer says, "Make us an everlasting gift to You." Can you find it this week? What does that mean to you?

7. Scripture of the Week:
"On a good day, enjoy good things, and on an evil day consider: both the one and the other God has made, so that man cannot find fault with Him in anything." Ecclesiastes 7:14

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today's readings can be found here.

The gospel of this week concludes the Bread of Life Discourse in John Chapter 6. The gospel, when included with the entire chapter of John, affirms that it is difficult for our human minds to believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life, but that we must eat this bread to gain eternal life. Many who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” The gospel also affirms that many people left the discipleship because they could not accept it. The ones who remained knew that even though it was hard to believe, Jesus was right. Which is why they said, “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

The first reading, from the book of Joshua, also demonstrates a time when a choice was made between our God and other gods. Joshua, like Jesus' disciples, chooses God,. He says, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” The people answer that God has helped them and protected them, and they would serve God too.

Tying these readings with the second reading is an interesting exercise. The reading from Ephesians is often read at weddings. It also often upsets people due to its command to for women to be subordinate to their husbands. I'm sure after that line in the gospel, many people shut down their listening ears and say, “oh no they didn't.” But I encourage all to listen to the heart of this reading.

Husbands are to their wives as Christ is to the Church. Christ died for His Church. He put Himself up on the cross, underwent incredible suffering, humiliation, and pain until death. Husbands are to do the same for their wives. They are to love their wives and hand themselves over to lead their wives to heaven. Husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies, nourishing and cherishing her.

Maybe this isn't your marriage, nor your parents marriage. Look around, do you see a marriage like this? Have you heard of a marriage like this? This image of marriage does not always present itself in our modern world. This image of marriage is an ideal, and it is a metaphor of Christ's love for us. In a perfect Church, we are the wife, subordinate to God and God's will for us. In turn, Jesus, the spouse, offers himself for us, and for our purification, salvation, and sanctification. He protects us, nourishes us, and cherishes us.

Our duty as the Church, as the wife of Christ, is to be subordinate, believe and trust that God will care for us. The gospel, written to conclude the Bread of Life discourse, tells us that this is hard to accept. But it also tells us that these words are Spirit and life.

Husbands and wives should examine their commitment to their spouse and their responsibilities based on these scriptures. Based on these scriptures, everyone should examine their commitment to God and Church and their responsibilities to both. If we do not believe this, if we do not act and live as the wife, the bride of Christ, how will we live? To whom shall we go?

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today's readings can be found here.

The first reading tells us that wisdom is available to all. The banquet has been set, and we are all invited to partake in the wisdom of God. The second reading tells us turn away from foolish ways: drunkenness, adultery, and ignorance. It tells us to seek God's will and be filled with the wisdom of the Spirit. The wisdom of the Spirit should lead us to make the most of every opportunity (to share the Lord with others), to speak in the words of the Lord and constantly praise and give thanks to Him.

We give Him thanks because He has given us the ultimate gift, his life. His life is given so that we may live forever.

How possible is this to believe? At times, our hears question: could the body of Christ really be present to us on the altar? Fundamentalist Christians and others who take the Bible literally tend to skim over John chapter 6, also know as the “Bread of Life Discourse.” John Chapter 6 contains in it, a constant message from Jesus himself that he IS the bread sent from heaven. Jesus tells us the following. He is the living bread from heaven. Unless we eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of his blood we shall not have life within us. His flesh is true food, blood true drink. The one who feeds on Him will have eternal life. This message combined with the words spoken at the Last Supper confirm that what is offered on the altar is the Body and Blood of Christ.

God has given us the gift of the Spirit and the Spirit's wisdom to help us believe what seems impossible to our human understanding. The banquet has been set, and we are invited to partake in the sacrifice on the altar. Whoever eats this Bread will live forever. Amen.

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Click here for today's readings!

The second reading tells us, “Be imitators of God and live in love as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us.” What a challenge. Has anyone ever imitated God? Have we created life? Have we instructed others? Have we helped the poor, the lost, the lonely? Actually... maybe we have. Some of us have children, have taught others and have assisted those in need. Perhaps we have had success in imitating God.

The reading instructs us further to imitate God and live in love as Christ loved us. The challenge grows. Have we loved as Christ loved us? Christ loved us and handed himself over for us. Are we capable of a sacrificial love such as this? Sacrificial love has the good of the other at heart. Sacrificial love asks the most of the giver and often gives nothing in return.

There may be times when we are capable of sacrificial love, but not always. Life has the ability to wear down our desire or drive to love this way. How then, do we nourish ourselves to become more capable of this type of love? “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you.” is the advice that the angel of the Lord gives to Elijah. This advice is good for us as well. The Bread of Life, Jesus, is offered for us on the altar today. The sacrifice of this Bread from Heaven is offered for us to feed us spiritually. It is offered to us freely to nourish our spirits to be able to love as Jesus loved. To nourish us to imitate God. This bread was given to us to sustain us on our earthly journey until we reach our heavenly home.

Jesus gave us his life as a sacrificial offering, a sacrificial love. The Eucharist is offered for us. It is offered to sustain us, to encourage us and to help us love sacrificially.

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

click here for today's readings

The gospel occurs the day after the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Briefly paraphrased it goes like this: “Hey Jesus, why did you leave us?” Jesus replies, “You aren't here for me, you are here for free food. Honestly, you are wasting your time if its just food you are after. You should be coming to me for something better, eternal life.” The people ask, “How do we get that? Show us a sign.” Jesus says, “I am the sign, if you believe in me, you will never worry about food and drink again.”

Do we believe because we received something from God? A job, a car, a family, a fish and some loaves while we sat in the meadow? Or do we believe because Jesus Christ was sent to earth to show us a new way. He sacrificed His body on the cross and died. Then He rose from the dead to conquer death, to destroy death! Would we, like Job, believe if we had nothing? Would we believe if we had lost everything, family, home, wealth, property, our health, and friends?

Paul's letter to the Ephesians urges us to put our old selves away, the selves that show up for free food, who believe because God has blessed us with stuff. He begs us to put away weak faith and to put away our weak and former selves. If we truly believe, we know that we have the gift of Jesus Christ. We no longer belong to this world, but to God's kingdom.

Now that we have the gift of Jesus, we should walk as a child of God. A very small child does not wonder where it is going or what it is doing. A very small child lives in the present moment. In this very moment, God is providing for you. Paul accuses the Gentiles as living in “futility of their minds” - in fear, worry and anxiety. In this moment God is proving for you. Paul says, “be renewed in the spirit of your minds.” Don't worry, don't fear, do not be anxious. God is providing for you right now. Perhaps not for your physical needs - mana isn't raining down from heaven, but He is providing for your spiritual needs. Jesus on the cross has given us the sign we asked for. His life, offered on the cross – for you, for this very moment.

Jesus gives us his body and blood as bread and wine. As we approach the altar, what do we think? Do we think about the substance of the bread and the wine? Do we think about the flavor or the texture in our mouths? Do we think about the people in the line? In the pew? Are we tied to the futility of our minds – the anxiety, worry and stress of the physical things?

Be renewed, brothers and sisters! As you approach the altar, God approaches you. As you lift your hands to make a throne for the host of the body of Christ, God approaches you. The minister proclaims, “the body of Christ.” Your “Amen” proclaims, “I believe this is your body. I come to you so that I may never hunger.”

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Click here for today's readings.

Today's readings are not the first times that God has fed His people with miraculous food. Even the Israelites received mana from heaven. Most of us have heard the story of the loaves and the fishes, but what of the first reading? The first and the gospel both show how God has taken what man can provide and multiplied it to feed HIs people.

Interesting to me, however, is how the second readings fits in. Paul begs us to live the right kind of life. He begs us to be humble, gentile, patient, loving and united in the Spirit. He tells us to bind together with peace. We are urged to do so because we are called to belong to God who is, " over all through all and in all".

Now imagine being in the multitude, gathered in a large meadow listening to Jesus teach. You are surrounded by 3000 men (not counting the women and the children). The heat of midday towers overhead. Jesus is teaching, telling you to love your neighbor. You are hungry. You see the small basket of loaves and fish that Jesus has blessed. Hunger. You are getting a little cranky. You could get up and go find lunch for yourself. You could fight for what is offered, taking more then the person next to you because you are hungrier than them. You don't. You are united in peace with those around you. Patience, humility, gentleness overwhelm you. When Jesus' offering comes to you, you take what you need - no more, no less.

It is in human nature to fight or try to figure out our own solutions to the problems. It is true, but hard to remember that God will always give us what we need. God takes what we have as humans and makes it so much better, larger, more amazing. Unfortunately, God often asks us to wait, in the grass, under the hot sun, while hungry and slightly impatient before he provides for us. Fortunately, we are called to belong to God. God is "over all, through all, and in all." He is the master, he knows where His help is coming from. We do not. The master of the universe will feed us if we let Him. The question is do you let God feed you or do you try to feed yourself?

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today's readings can be found here.

Two types of leaders exist: those that bring people together and those that create a divide and separate people. In Ephesians, we are told that Christ Jesus came to “break down the dividing wall” between the Jews and the Gentiles. Many of us would be considered Gentiles by blood and the law. The Old Testament law would have excluded us from God. Thank God that by Christ’s death and resurrection all humans enter into a new covenant where all have access to God.

Our Gospel tells us of Christ’s mercy and selfless leadership. Jesus and his disciples were trying to take a break from their work, he had said "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." But people wouldn’t leave them alone. They were following Him to hear what He would teach them. He tried again to move away from the crowd and recharge, but even more people came to hear Him. Jesus’ heart was moved to teach the people. Following this scene in the Gospel is the story of Jesus’ miracle of the loaves and fishes. This gospel dramatically shows the desire of Jesus, as our shepherd and leader, to take care of our physical and spiritual hunger.

The other type of leader is featured in the first reading from Jeremiah and serves as an example of God’s dislike for bad leadership. He says “Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock.” In this day and age it is almost easy to be led astray. The internet and Google easily help us find “proof” that supports a point of view that we are trying to justify.

The real authority over all is God the Father, Christ Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. This triune God has taught us what we need to know, and given us the authority over all if we only follow the utmost rule, “Love one another as I have loved you.”

God poured out his life for us and has given us leadership in our Church who have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. We must love others, love our Church, and pray for our leaders – especially our new pastor. May God grant him the gifts of leadership that he needs to lead St. Raphael’s parish to ripe pastures. May God always lead him to serve our parish and the entire Church with his special gifts. May the Lord give him the leadership to help us multiply our gifts to benefit our Church as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes. Amen.

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Today's readings can be found here

Today’s readings serve a two-fold purpose. One is to remind us that we are called by God to go out into the world and serve Him. The other purpose is to encourage us in that call.

In the first reading, from the prophet Amos, Amos was not looking to work as a prophet. His original job was shepherding and tending to sycamore trees. He was called by God and he answered that call by proclaiming God’s word to Israel. The Gospel also tells a story of being called. The disciples are sent forth by Jesus to share God’s word with the villages and towns. The instructions they receive are to go forth with what they have and nothing more.

Being called may seem a little bit frightening. It takes some bravado to tell others that they are surrounded by sin, need to repent and ask for forgiveness and that God has told them what they need to live a fuller and better life.

He has given us everything we need in order to do his will. These things are the focus of Paul’s prayer in the second reading, from the book of Ephesians. He writes that God has given us every spiritual blessing in Christ. He chose us. We are adopted by Him into His family. He has poured out His love and grace on us. We have been redeemed and forgiven. He tells us His will. He centers us with the examples of Christ (and how we should then live our lives). He encourages us to share the promise of heaven with others. He gives us hope. He seals us with the Holy Spirit and give us the promise of heaven.

God does not call the prepared. Amos was a shepherd who was called forth to proclaim God’s word to Israel. The disciples were fishermen, and a tax collector, political activist and an account. God called them forth to serve him. He calls us as well. God does not call the prepared, he prepares the called. Go. You are sent.

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Click here for today's readings

I understand why my child cries, because life is hard. And it just gets harder as we get older. We scrape our knees, we have to go to bed before we feel like it, we have to get up too early in the morning. Sometimes even worse things meet us. Our parents get divorced or separate. Our parents stay together and fight. We fight with our best friends. People we think are our friends abandon us. We struggle through the angst and humiliation of junior high school. In high school we've got trouble dating and with grades. We wonder, what am I supposed to do when I grow up? College? Travel? Work? Which college? Which career? How will I pay the bills? Where will I live? How will I survive in this world? What? My mother has breast cancer? What? My father had a heart attack? What? My brother is getting deployed to Iraq? What?

St. John of the Cross wrote of a dark night of the soul. The dark night is a time centered on doubts about ones faith, not believing in God or questioning religion. This time is extremely hard and could result in a total loss of faith. St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Paul of the Cross and Mother Teresa of Calcutta all experienced this dark time of faith and they are considered supremely holy people.

We are called to be holy. Sometimes the journey of life and holiness can take us through dark places: death, illness, disease, war, hurt within families, extreme self doubt. Many of us have experienced times when we though we could not go on living, or we thought God had completely abandoned us, or we didn't see the point of religion, or faith, or believing in goodness at all! But during the entire time, God is with us. He is spiritually bringing us along, gently patting us on the back, wiping away our tears. He is whispering encouraging things in our ears and helping us pick up the broken pieces to become whole again. With patience, our dark nights are times of transformation, resulting in a new, more renewed faith when the light shines again.

The poem "Footprints" by Mary Stevenson describes this situation quite perfectly, when it says, “'But I have noticed during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why when I needed you most, have you not been there for me? ' The Lord replied, 'The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you.'”

God carries us through all of the hard times, and through every dark night. It is for this reason that God told Paul," My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." When we can no longer rely on ourselves, we tend to rely fully on God. It is our job to remember God's words in the hard places. We are strong because during our weakness, we allow the Master of the Universe to guide our lives with his love and strength. We should also remember Paul's anthem, "for when I am weak, then I am strong." and make it our own.

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Click here for today's readings.

The second reading urges us to go further in our faith then we had before. We may have come to mass today, we may have prayed, worshiped and loved our neighbor. But do we give freely of what God has given to us? We need to take from our abundance and give to others, and when others have more, they shall give to us. Abundance is not always in the form of money or goods, it can come in the form of love and compassion. Even a child knows this rule. When they see someone sad, they have innate ability to feel the sadness and comfort their neighbor out of the abundance of their love.

God made us to be everlasting. In the garden of eden, we were made to live forever. Desire, want, and greed, prompted by the serpent drove mankind to take from the forbidden fruit and death was the punishment. However, if we are born again in Christ, then we are free from death. Should we not also be free from desire, want and greed? If we have much, let us give it to those who are in need. If we have little, let us share what we can when we can. If we always shared what we had, then those without would not need to desire, want nor feel envious of what others have. They would know that if their neighbor has something that they would like, they only need to ask, and that neighbor will share with them.

Last week, we examined God's might and power over all creation, and placing our trust in God's providence. We also had the opportunity to sign letters to our congresspersons regarding policies that would fight worldwide poverty. After the 6 o'clock mass, there was another opportunity to address poverty. A man was standing outside of church with a sign that asked for help for him and his children. He had lost his job and could not pay his rent. His older daughter was at the exit of the parking lot. It is challenging to see people begging, but especially outside of our church, and especially when we had just been asking others to help fight poverty. How did we respond as a community to this man and his family? Did they go home hungry that night? Did they lose their apartment? I don't know. What I do know is that God has showed us the ultimate sign of generosity. God has asked us to respond accordingly. Our abundance must meet the needs of others.

In the Gospel, Jesus performed many miracles, and we are challenged to do the same. Giving of ourselves can help make miracles happen. This week, I leave you with a prayer written by St. Teresa of Avila, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion is to look out to the earth, yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good and yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now.”

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Click here for today's readings.

In Job, God describes his mighty works of bringing forth water to the earth and marking its boundaries. This reading provides an illusion to both the creation story and to the great flood of Noah's time. After the flood, God promised not to destroy the world again with a flood and he marked his promise with the bow in the sky. This was the first covenant that God ever made with mankind.

Water has the ability to bring, renew, and destroy life. By the waters of baptism we die to our fleshly lives and are born again into our spiritual selves. As the second reading tells us, whoever is in Christ is no longer a man or woman or child, but a new creation in God. Our old selves of fear, worry, doubt and shame should have passed away and we should trust in God's providence. The love that Christ has for us should bring us comfort and strength because we know Christ not as an earthly man, but as our Savior who loved us enough to die for us. As a baptized believer in Christ, we are born again into this spirit and should be free of fleshly cares.
However, to trust in God is not always easy. We have to put away our own thoughts and desires so that we can follow God's. We cannot view the world as the world views it – with fear and worry. We must view the world as God sees it – with love and the greater plan in mind. At times, our faith allows us to do this.

In the Gospel of Mark, earlier in the day the disciples had heard many parables from Jesus regarding faith taking root and growing (the parable of the sower, the seed upon rocky ground, and the mustard seed parables). The storm was an opportunity for their seeds to take root and bloom, but the seed did not take root and their faith in Jesus faltered. They weren't able to trust him, they feared their destruction in the storm. Even though they doubted and were afraid, Jesus acts to calm the seas. He shows his authority over nature just as God did in the creation stories, just as God did for Noah's family, and just as God described his power to Job.

Anxiety can keep us from the true peace that Christ offers us. Faith in God's providence can bring calmness into our lives. When we fear the world around us, we remember the words of the apostles, but have faith as we cry out to the Lord, “Do you not care that I am perishing?” Ask and you shall receive. The Lord will provide for your needs. Trust Him.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Click here for today's readings.

The first reading from Exodus gives us the laws of God and a covenant. Under these laws, mankind still sinned. Jesus's sacrifice opened a new covenant, that we would have God's word written on our hearts and be free from sin. While the first covenant was marked by the blood of bulls and goats, the new covenant is marked by the blood of Christ. The reading from Hebrews asks, “If the blood of goats and bulls .. sanctified those who were defiled... how much more will the blood of Christ... cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God?”

The body of Christ was given as a sacrificial gift to us. We were not deserving of such a gift, yet he gave of himself totally, freely, faithfully, fruitfully and unconditionally. He gave his entire self out of love for us and so we could be free from sin and worship God. He did not give of Himself partially, he gave us Himself fully, and continually. He left us Himself in the Eucharist so He could be with us until He comes again. On the altar, the bread and wine is transformed by God into body and blood to renew the covenant.

Even now, Jesus offers himself fully to us. On altars around the world the sacrifice is offered continually in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a gift that God has given to us so we can always see the redeeming power of Christ's love. We are invited to receive this gift every day, not just on Sundays. As God transforms the bread and wine into the body and blood, he is also transforming each one of us. By receiving the gift of the most holy Eucharist, we open ourselves to God's transformative power. Our hearts, minds and souls are being renewed and changed. Receiving the Body of the Lord is more than a personal act, it leads us love for our neighbor.

The reception of the body and blood of Christ Jesus is complimented by our worship and adoration of his body in the form of Eucharistic Adoration. On this feast day of the Body and Blood of Christ. I encourage you to spend time praying and thinking about the Eucharist and what you receive when you stand in the communion line. The body of Christ is not a symbol, it is our salvation.

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Click here for today's readings.

Today is the feast day of the Most Holy Trinity. We are so fortunate to have a triuune God. God the Father has great things planed. He planed and created the world we live in, each one of us and the life that we are leading. God the Son showed us how to live with his body. Jesus worked with his hands to heal, to bring peace, to forgive, and to comfort. God the Spirit encourages us, excites us to action, makes us listen, and brings us joy, comfort and hope. The three make up the complete God which we love so dear.

Today's readings are so incredible and uplifting. The first reading tells us that we are God's own people, a holy nation, set apart and that we should follow the commandments of God. The psalm proclaims God's goodness exclaiming that the earth is full of his unfailing love. He created the heavens and the earth. He watches over us, keeps us from death and and keeps us alive during hard times. The Psalm proclaims the need for the Lord's saving power. He is our help and our hope is in the Lord. The second reading reminds us that we are God's children. We are beloved by God. His guidance in the form of the greatest commandment, love God and neighbor, was written on our hearts. Therefore we are entrusted to love.

The gospel is so beautiful, it exclaims the beauty of our commission. Even though the apostles doubted, and even though we doubt God, God still trusts in us. He has given us a great commission. He will not leave us. Even though we may leave him, ignore him, turn away from him. He always walks before us, leading us to His will. His will is that we would share the love given to us with all of the earth.

We should not be afraid, our God is our dear father. God has prepared a place for us, a special place in heaven, but also a special work on earth. His spirit gives us protection, love, and encouragement for the journey. In the end we inherit the kingdom, but in the now, we are led by the Spirit as Christ was led. Jesus was not alone in his time on earth, and we are not alone. Just as the Father led his son to show his love for us by suffering on the cross, God leads us to our own expression and love and subsequent suffering. The love and suffering leads to sanctification, and to the glory of God.

As God's children, I encourage you to not doubt what God has done. Keep his commandments and trust him. He is taking care of you. He asks you to love Him and love others. He is your father. The first reading asks, “Did anything so great ever happen before?” No, it never has, and we are truly blessed.

Feast of Pentacost

Speaking in foreign tongues is the first big manifestation of the Holy Spirit. The apostles, so filled with that fire, went out and began speaking in languages they had never learned and never heard. The Spirit was able to work through them to speak to the many visitors who had gathered. How many times in your life have you wanted to share a supportive, loving or kind word with another person, but didn’t know what to say? Sometimes the right words feel awkward or forced. However, if we seek the support of the Holy Spirit, God is able to work through us to speak a word to that person. In Lent, we read “The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, That I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them." (Isaiah 50). Well, the Holy Spirit gives us that power!

The Holy Spirit didn’t just come to comfort us, it came to help us in the Missionary and Apostolic work of the Church. We should be praying that God’s word would always be at the tip of our tongue and that we are able to speak in foreign tongues. This doesn’t mean to speak in Chinese, Spanish or French, although it could. This means to be able to speak teenager if you are an adult, to speak angry neighbor if you are a calm one, to speak support and comfort, motivation and healing, guidance and reproach.

We are called to testify what we have seen and heard about God. We are called to speak to others on God’s behalf. Jesus doesn’t walk on this earth anymore, but we do. We walk with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit wants to work through us to reach others. We must testify what we know about God so that others may hear and benefit. The Holy Spirit has the power to speak through us to others, but we must ask the Holy Spirit to come into our lives and work in this way.

Finally, we shouldn’t feel bad if we don’t testify in the ways we see others testifying. Not everyone can be a priest, not everyone can stand on the corner and read scripture to strangers as they walk by. However, we can share with some of our friends and family a story of how God has loved us, how God has helped us, how God has saved us, taken us back, or brought us into His glory. These are the stories we are meant to share with others.

The psalm proclaims, “When you send forth your spirit, they are created, 
and you renew the face of the earth.” Well, God has sent forth his Spirit. We have been created and blessed by Him. In sharing our stories with others, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can share the love that God has shown to us. In this way, the face of the Earth can be renewed.

The Feast of the Asecension

While Easter is the most important Holy day of our Church's year, the Feast of the Ascension is a very important Holy day for us as well. Today's readings are full of excitement. Not only do they describe the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, but they also describe the responsibilities of all Christians and encourage our work. Without out the readings of today, we may have never heard the word of God. Today's readings remind us of our job as believers and followers of Christ. We must go out and spread the Good News to the ends of the Earth. Without today's readings could have been a branch of Judaism who believed that the Messiah had come, but with today's readings we become followers of Christ strengthened in our journey by the power of the Holy Spirit.

There are so many riches in these readings that I will just point out a few. In Ephesians 1, the Paul prays that "the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call." He is praying that we will not be sad and burdened by life, but look towards the hope of eternal life that Christ promised. In another option for today's second reading, Ephesians 4, Paul urges "you to live in a manner worthy of the calling... with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, ... through the bond of peace," Paul is encouraging us to live a life of forgivness and love. (The theme of the Easter season, remember?)

Love and forgiveness are the heart of the life on earth that Christ wanted for us all. God has given us such amazing gifts and abundant grace. We should ask for this grace when we are temped to not love, and to not forgive. He will give us the grace we need to forgive
and love, even for the biggest and hardest things to forgive and the hardest people to love. I promise. Jesus promises.

Finally, the gospel tells us that if we believe and are baptized we are saved. Too many Christians would stop there and say, "I'm baptized, I'm in!" The lines following these tell us that signs will accompany those who believe: driving out demons, speaking new languages, picking up serpents and drinking deadly things but not coming to harm, healing the sick. Wow! Have we done that? Well, have we helped someone drive out the demon of doubt, despair, sadness? Have we helped a friend? Have we been able to give someone encouraging words when we really didn't know what to say? Have we come close to a dangerous topic, person or event only to pray for the strength to make it through it and then made it through it? Then we have seen some of these signs. Perhaps we are saved. The love and forgiveness that we act on as we follow Christ will lead us to these signs and wonders. Pray for the grace to love and forgive and pray for the grace to see these signs.

6th Sunday of Easter

In today's readings we learn that all who hear God's word and obey it are welcome to the salvation offered by God. We are also reminded of the reoccurring theme of the Easter season: obey the commandments and love one another.

Some people might view the 10 commandments as a "do not do" list that God gave to Moses. However, the list of commandments are really guidelines that teach us how to love. The first three commandments show us how to love God and the final seven show us how to love others.

The second reading tells us, "God is love." Therefore, God equals love and love equals God. Did you ever think of that before? Not that God is love, but that love is God.

God is the source of love for the whole world. Just as water cycles around the world in clouds, rain, rivers, oceans and into clouds again, God's love cycles through us and our neighbors. As we love, we are really spreading God and sharing God with others.

Part of God, part of love, is forgiveness. The second reading tells us, "God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him." When we hold a grudge or will not forgive another person, we withhold love from them. When someone is angry with us, or holding something against us, they withhold love from us. In these instances, both parties
are losing the heart of the relationship with each other and they are without the life of the other.

When Jesus died to free us from sin, it was to open us to love and forgiveness, and introduce us to God the Father as pure love. He died for us to show us a better love than the love we often live. In the Gospel, Jesus instructs us to "remain in His love". We must remain with God to be able to love others and be forgiving. In his commandments, God isn't trying to hold us back or squash our zeal for life, he is trying to help us live more fully. Jesus tells us to remain with Him so that our "joy may be complete." He summarizes the one lesson that we need to hear over and over again by saying, "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you."

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day. Mothers are a wonderful example of love in action. A mother with her new baby does not just say, "I love you" but she will feed, wash and change the baby. She will keep him warm and cuddle him to quiet his tears. A mother will clean the scrapes and kiss the wounds of her toddler. A mother will pick up the toys and help with the math homework of her student. A mother will listen to the angst of her teenager and help pick out clothes for the prom. A mother will help pack and fold clothes as her baby goes off to college, or war, or to be married. In all of these things she says, "I love you." The fruit of her love is her child and her child's life.

Today let us love our mothers back with our actions, not just our words. Let us bear fruit for our mothers and do something wonderful for them. Happy Mother's Day.

5th Sunday of Easter

Luckily, lovingly, God is the vine grower. He tends to us branches. He sees the branches that are withering from thirst and he gives them a boost with water. He sees the branches that are burning from heat and gives them the mercy of shade. He also sees the branches that are bearing fruit. He waits until the fruit is ripe and heavy before he picks it. God also prunes some branches. He cuts them down so they will bear fruit in the future.

Have you ever been pruned? Have you ever felt that God was cutting you down or holding you back? It is hard to come to terms with pruning sometimes. Why would God prevent you from doing something that you wanted to do? Why would He give that job to someone else? Why would He let your boyfriend or girlfriend break up with you? God is the vine grower, and he knows the end result. He knows the fruit you will bear. If you took that first job, then you wouldn't have applied to the position where you were able to change people's lives by your work. If you had stayed with that boyfriend or girlfriend, you wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet your real true love, the spouse that God had planned for you before you were born. He knows what He is doing.

He sent Jesus Christ to this earth to guide us and give us hope. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. We must root ourselves in the vine that God provided. Jesus says, "without me you can do nothing." If we live apart from Christ, then we are like the branch that has broken off of the vine and fallen to the ground. Where are our roots? Where will we get water and nutrients with nothing holding us in the soil? Even if God tried to water us, we couldn't receive it without the vine. We are dead without the vine. We are dead without Jesus Christ.

Today's second reading gives us hope for staying on the vine when it says, "Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them," In order to stay on the vine, we must keep his commandments. The greatest commandment (Matthew 22) is to "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'," Love is the key to staying on the vine. The second reading tells us how to love too. Saying, "I love you" is simply not enough. We must act out our love through service to God and to one another.

4th Sunday of Easter

So often we wonder what we mean to God, what He is doing with us or where He is leading us in our lives. Today's readings should give us hope. Jesus Christ should be the cornerstone of our foundation. The rock on which we stand. But when we want to move, where should we go? God has provided us a shepherd to guide us. The sheep do not lead themselves, the shepherd guides them to rich meadows full of grass to eat. He also leads them away from the dangerous predators who would kill or harm the sheep. But we are not sheep, and we know that. The second reading assures us who we are, which is the children of God.

Knowing these things is comforting, but still we wonder, “What is God doing with my life?” We can say, “Last year I did this good thing” or “Right now I am doing this.” or “One day, I hope to do that” but still we do not know what God wants from us. Today's second reading offers assurance. “Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.” This letter to John assures us that we aren't supposed to know. Perhaps the accumulation of our life's work will be revealed to us in the end. The reading says, “We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” We will know where God led us, and what we did for Him when we see Him. Is this when we get to heaven?

In our entire lives, we have so many opportunities to do God's work. Sometimes it is easier to look for the big thing to do, the hurricane victim to rescue or the mission trip to go on, than it is to do the small thing, loving your neighbor or giving 35 cents to the homeless guy. Not everyone can do the big things, but all of us can do the small things. Will the most important thing we did in our entire lives be a big thing or a small thing or many small things? Perhaps the accumulation of our lives is to smile at that one person who will go on to change the world. Perhaps the $20 donated to the mission trip car wash fundraiser didn't seem like much, but it helped 25 students get that much closer to Honduras. In those 25 students, maybe one needed the trip desperately so God could crack their hard shell and shine His light into their life. Perhaps that one student became a priest who goes on to lead many parishes and speak to the hearts of thousands of people. That $20 doesn't seem so small now, does it?

We can all work for God, we may not know how our actions change others, but there is a change. If we live as God's children, let the Shepherd guide us, and stand on the Rock then we shouldn't worry if we are doing the right thing for God. He won't let us do anything else.

Divine Mercy Sunday

For whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
 And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
 Who indeed is the victor over the world
 but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5: 4-5)

What does it mean to conquer the world? This scripture is not referring to world domination like the goal in board game Risk. It is referring to our more personal world and the things we deal with on a daily basis: work, home, self, family, friends, coworkers, money issues, grief, fear, illness, uncertainty, death, disability, trauma, etc.

One very good example of this is the death of Fr. Bill. As a community our hearts are saddened, but we have the faith that he is with God in heaven. We could be consumed in grief, but we should be filled with joy because he is receiving the reward of his life. Conquering the world with our faith may be easy with the passing of a holy person, but it can be done in other types of situations too.

When struggling with the overwhelming situations of daily life, its important to remember that God wants what is best for us. Ever since He placed mankind in the Garden of Eden, God designed the world to give us the best. It is our own foolish human nature that leads us away from the best things that He has planned for us. It is our weakness of faith that lets life defeat us sometimes. When we are tempted to declare defeat, that’s the world that we need to conquer with our faith.

Sometimes it is hard to love our neighbor, enemies, and even our family. Sometimes it is hard to believe that God wants what is best for us when there is a pile of bills to be paid and no money in the bank. The same is true when a loved one has a disability or is in the hospital with little chance of recovery. Again this is true when dealing with defeat and failure of best laid plans. It is hard to believe when hearing the news of war, famine, and horrors in distant countries. However, God does want what is best for us.

When the world tries to defeat us, having faith in God’s plan, faith in heaven, and faith in his providence will help us conquer our world. Who indeed is the victor over the world
 but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? Belief in Jesus is belief in the words he preached, belief in our community, belief in heaven and through these things, belief that God will provide and lead us to what is best .


Hosanna He is risen! Easter is the most important holiday in our church year, every thing that we do and believe as Christians centers around this holy day. Jesus’ teachings and his entire life can be summed up in his sacrifice on the cross which triumphed over death and gave eternal life to all who believe. Jesus loved us so much that he was willing to give his life so that we might have life. His death and resurrection teach us to follow what he has done and to love so much that we would be willing to give a sacrifical love to others. We must love so much that we would be willing to give our lives so that others may have life. Everything in our faith can be summed up with this life-giving love.

How has Jesus given life to us? How can we give that life to others? How can we love someone so much that we could give our life for them? How are we life giving? Is it through our marriages or chaste relationships that respect the life-giving power God has given us? Is it through our children? Do we give life by holding our tongue when we have a potentially hurtful opinion? By encouraging the best in others? By showing kindness to someone we dislike? By forgiving people who have hurt us the most? By seeking forgiveness when we have hurt others?

Sometimes living a live-giving love can seem difficult or even impossible! In order to give something away to others, we must have received it first. Just as we would prepare for a race by exercise training and proper nutrition, we can do the same to prepare to love others as Christ taught us. Every day in Catholic churches around the world, Jesus’ sacrifice is celebrated on the altar. We can draw the strength we need in order to be life-giving from the sacrifice that is re-lived on the altar at Mass. Receiving the Eucharist is the way that we can strengthen and nourish ourselves to live as Christ lived and love as Christ loved.

Palm Sunday

“The Lord God has given me a well trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary.” Jesus knew how to speak to the weary and reached out to them again and again. This week in scripture, he speaks to the woman who anoints Him with oil from her alabaster jar, to Peter who denies Him, to his disciples as He washes their feet, as He heals the cut ear of the man who came to arrest Him, to the women on His walk to Calvary, to His mother as she stood at His feet, to the thieves on the cross, and to us. His speaks with understanding, love and forgiveness.

I know what it is like to carry the burden of sinning against God, others and myself. I am consumed by my sin. How could I have done things differently? Will everyone find out? What will they think of me? What relationships have I ruined? How will everyone react to me now? My sins have a way of making me weary.

I know my sin could easily become a trap of doubt and despair, but I also know that I have a Savior who loves me and who wants me to return to Him, and return to who I am – a child of God. When Jesus died on the cross, it wasn’t just for all of the people alive at that time; it was for me - today. It was for you - today. He died on the cross to free us from sin by offering us forgiveness. Like the thieves who hung beside Him, we have two paths to take. We can refuse His sacrifice and deny what He offers us. Or we can realize who He is, what He has done for us and ask for forgiveness.

Asking for forgiveness is difficult for many people; however our Church has designed a way to help us. It is called confession, because we put a name to what shames us, and to how we have hurt God, our neighbor and ourselves. This sacrament is also called penance which is a desire to be forgiven. Don’t we all desire to be forgiven and reunited with the ones we love? This sacrament is also called reconciliation because that is what we want most, to be reconciled to God, our neighbor, and ourselves.

In our church Jesus hangs on the cross above the altar. His arms are open. His arms are waiting to embrace us. Jesus was and is always willing to forgive us. Will His gift go unopened? This last week of Lent we have an opportunity to open this gift. Tuesday, April 7th at 7:30 pm, our parish is providing a reconciliation service with over 20 priests, who will put on Christ to hear our confession and help us reconcile ourselves to Him. Our Church is also providing the opportunity to reconcile ourselves after the 9:00 am mass on Tuesday, and on Saturday at 3:45 pm.

Aren’t we tired of carrying around our sin? Jesus had words for the weary. Will we hear them? He has given us such a marvelous gift by his death and resurrection. Will we be like the bad thief on the cross and deny this gift or will we be like the good thief and open it?

Fourth Sunday of Lent

The Old Testament often tells the story of a people who have been abandoned by God, enslaved and exiled from their promise land. They received this punishment because they refused to obey the law, defiled the temple and scoffed at the prophets who tried to show them the error of their ways. While abandoned, enslaved, and exiled, they cried and mourned because they realized the need to repent and turn back to God.

Our participation in Lent should also tell this story. How many times in our own lives do we feel abandoned, enslaved and exiled from God? Why do we feel this way? Is it because we have turned away from his law, denied the teachings of the Church, or told those who challenge us to “get out of our face”? Reading the gospel may make us realize that we too love the darkness instead of the light. We may not want our darkness to be exposed – and that is why we continue to make a half-effort of our faith.

However, as we open ourselves to God and his teachings, we step closer to truth and light. We step closer to freedom. We step closer to who we truly are. In the second reading from Ephesians, it says that we are God’s workmanship, we are his masterpiece. We were created for good works that God prepared for us.

God made us for a reason, and that reason was to do good on this Earth. If we constantly turn away from God, then we miss out on the opportunity to love others and do the good things he has planned for us to do. If we turn away from who we are, God’s masterpiece, then we turn towards a distorted, shadowy self. Who wants to be that? Who wants to be a masterpiece that is hidden, tarnished, dusty or forgotten? Who wants to waste their time here on Earth trying to do the right thing, but always missing the bar because we are not open to God’s plan for us?

I want to be something glorious, a beautiful creation of God – and I know that I am. However, in order to really, truly be that masterpiece, I must look for Him, follow his law, seek the truth, and embrace those who challenge me. This is the essence of Lent: walking away from the darkness in ourselves into the light of Christ, into a more perfect self, and embracing the masterpiece that we are. When we do this, we can begin to do those good works for which we were created with the help of God’s grace.