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22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 31, 2014

OUR LIVING SACRIFICE

Our readings tell us today that whoever wishes to follow Jesus must deny themselves – they must lose themselves – they must offer themselves as a living sacrifice.

Such sacrificial language is at the heart of our faith – and it sounds nice – but when it happens to us – when we are truly sacrificed and suffering – I think most of us feel like Jeremiah in our first reading: we feel duped – like God confused us with somebody else because. . . . this was not what we had in mind.

We question, like Jeremiah questioned: How could God, who claims to love me, allow for such violence against my heart and soul? And like Jeremiah, perhaps we want to turn and run away from God and all concerned with religion, but the void it leaves burns like a fire in our heart.

And so we ask ourselves why it is necessary that we deny ourselves in order to follow Christ? Why must we suffer as Christ suffered? Does God really demand that we make a sacrifice to win our salvation?

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm 63, Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27).

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21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 24, 2014

WHO DO YOU SAY. . .

Paul writes to the Romans that God can be strange and hard to understand: How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways. St. Augustine agreed, for he said, “if you understand, then that isn’t God.” Likewise St. Thomas Aquinas said, “whatever can be known or understood, that is less then God.”  Elsewhere in scripture, the Prophet Isaiah said, “so high as the heavens are so are high are my thoughts above your thoughts and my ways above your ways.”

And yet scripture also tells us that God is not distant from us. Psalm 139: Lord, you search me and you know me. God is also intimate with us. Jesus: God knows every hair on your head. Isaiah also said, “Could a mother forget her child? Even if she does, I will never forget you.”

This intimacy is modeled in our Gospel today. In answer to my earlier question, Peter describes Jesus as the Messiah, which we know as the “Great Confession.” Jesus describes Peter the Rock.

So we might ask ourselves, which is it? Can God be known to us and yet so misunderstood?

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Isaiah 22:19-23; Psalm 138; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20).

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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 9, 2014

THE ROCK THAT WOULDN’T SINK

In our Gospel today, Peter has a dangerous conversation with Jesus – one that I would bet most of us have had a well.

“Lord, IF it is you, then command me to come to you on the water.” Lord, IF. . .  if you love me, if you are there, if you want me to, if you care for him or her. Lord, IF this, then. . . and our expectations follow.

Ever said this? (And how did it work out?) I imagine a lot like it did for Peter. We approach the conversation thinking that God will take some sort of action – in Peter’s case that he would give him the ability to walk on water along side Jesus. Peter expected, as most of us expect, that Jesus would do this for him, but much like we discussed last week – rather than do it for him, he shows Peter what he is capable of.

Again, Jesus refuses to do it all, but responds to Peter’s demand of his own. So too with us, any time we find ourselves saying, “Lord, IF. . .” then know that the Lord will respond by requiring something more of you.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (I Kings 19:9,11-13; Psalm 85; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:22-33).

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18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 3, 2014

TURNING TO GOD THROUGH ONE ANOTHER

Today’s readings offer a clear message: Come to me, everyone, for there will be nothing that will ever separate us, and the little you have will be enough to care for everyone near to you.

Amidst the beautiful message from Isaiah, I am wondering if you heard the rather potent question? For thus says the Lord, Come to me, you who are searching; Come to me, you who are struggling to find work; Come to me you who are suffering; Come to me you who are weary. Come to me, any one who is searching for a life what is life-giving and I will remind you of how much I love you.

And in the midst of all that, the Lord questions, if all that you must do is come to me, why do you spend so much energy and time in search of anything else?

In the Gospel we start to see how much is possible with God. On our own, such odds seem insurmountable, but with God, we have enough to satisfy.

But here is an often overlooked detail in this story of the multiplication of the loaves. It was not God an one apostle that did this. It was God and many apostles.

We will only turn to God if we learn to turn to one another.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Isaiah 55:1-3; Psalm 145; Romans 8:35, 37-39; Matthew 14:13-21).

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17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 27, 2014

WISDOM AND ACCOMPANIMENT 

According to our readings today, one might could summarize wisdom as the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price.  Once we have found wisdom, then we will know the love of God and all things will be understood as the glory of God.

But how do we receive or come to know this wisdom?  And what do we do with it once we have known it?

As the encyclical, Evangelii Gaudim, speaks of it – with wisdom, we will engage in the “art of accompaniment” and remove our sandels before the sacred ground of the other. We will listen to them knowing that they are helping us to listen to God.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (1 Kings 3:5,7-12; Psalm 119; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52).

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16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 20, 2014

LIVING WITH THE WEEDS

You have heard me say many times before that, for those who believe, there is always a resurrection.  Suffering is never without meaning; pain is never without healing; mistakes are never without redemption.

In today’s first reading, Wisdom tells us that we have “good ground for hope:  for God gave us the ability to repent from our sins.”

But some would ask, why did God give us the ability to sin at all?    Or to put the question in the context of the Gospel, why does God allow for the weeds?  After all, God is God – why wouldn’t God just create a world with only wheat?  Why must we struggle and toil?  Why must good struggle against evil?

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Wisdom 12:13, 16-19; Psalm 86; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13:24-43).

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15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 13, 2014

PREPARING FOR A HARVEST

Usually, when I think about this Gospel, I ask myself about the seeds I am sowing in my own life? Are they seeds that produce fruit and food for nourishment? Or do they grow into weeds that choke off what would otherwise give life? When these seeds mature, what kind of harvest will they produce?

These are. . . good, necessary, provocative questions; but they are not my focus today. Today, I would like to talk about the soil. If the Word of God is the seed, then we become the soil – not just me or you – but WE. All of us. Individually, we have enough soil for A seed to live; but together, we have enough soil to produce an abundant harvest. And indeed this parish community is upon very, very fertile ground. Which means that we have a responsibility to plant well so that the Lord may reap an abundant harvest.

Over the past year, I have been planting seeds here and there – asking questions about what kind of parish community we want to be. By now we are all aware that our community is growing – new condo developments are getting higher all the time and more people are coming to this parish to feed on the word of God and Bread of Life. Where many parishes are getting older and slowing dying, St. Basil’s is getting younger and thriving.

This Sunday, you are given an invitation.   I don’t believe in burdening you with unnecessary pressure, but I do want to raise your awareness through the invitation of the Gospel today.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 65; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23).

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