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17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 24, 2016

ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

In our readings this week, we begin with a rather remarkable exchange between Abraham and God. God has grown weary of the sinfulness of the people of Sodom and sets out to find out what kind of punishment they shall endure.   Abraham greets God and intercedes for Sodom, begging God not to sweep away the innocent with the guilty. Abraham bargains with God asking if God would relent if 50 innocent people were found. And if 50, would God relent for 45; and if 45, what about 40; and so on. . .

Abraham knows he is pushing his luck since with every bargain, he begs God not be angry for asking for a little more mercy.

In the Gospel, too, we hear Jesus stress the importance of persistence when we ask. “Ask and you shall receive; knock and the door will be opened.”

Thus, the message is simple:   our prayers to God are aided by our relationship with God.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Genesis 18:20-32; Psalm 138; Colossians 2:12-14; Luke 11:1-13)

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16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 17, 2016

THE POETRY OF SUMMER

The story of Mary and Martha is one we know well, and while most of the time, we perceive it to be about the balance of action and contemplation; I actually think it is about presence.

Think for a moment about your way here – if I were to ask you to write down 10 observations you made about the actual world, could you? Most of us can’t.

The question then becomes, if you weren’t present to the world around you, what were you present to? Can you even name it?

Does it concern you how often we walk through our day busy about everything and truly present to so very little?   That most of the time we go about our day as if we are in a fog?

You see presence is your decision about what is going to be important in your life. And yet, for so many us, I fear we make no decision at all.

There is a time to act and there is a time to pause.  The poetry of ordinary time. . . the tension created by Mary and Martha in our minds and hearts. Summer always seems to me a Marian season. It has a different rhythm – a break in our routines – though I know many who prefer to be Martha all summer long. Can we not appreciate the different seasons of life?

CLICK HERE for the readings for 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Genesis 18:1-10; Psalm 15; Colossians 1:24-28; Luke 10:38-42)

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15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 9, 2016

OUR NEIGHBOUR IS GRACE FOR OUR CONVERSION

Love the Lord your God, and treat your neighbor as yourself. And who is my neighbour?

Have you ever noticed that Jesus never answers these kinds of questions directly? Instead he tells a story. He tells a story so that we can place ourselves in the midst of our own question.

Our neighbor is the one to whom we show mercy. Literally, mercy means to “to cherish in one’s bosom, to press to one’s heart.”   Mercy, Walter Kasper writes, is the fulfillment of Justice. It concerns the concept of relationship. It is not just a single action, but an ongoing attitude and posture. And it is ultimately the grace for conversion.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Psalm 69; Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37)

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14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 3, 2016

THE KINGDOM IS NEAR

The Kingdom of God is at hand for you. It is tempting for me to just let you just sit with that statement for the next 10 minutes and say nothing else. To just let you sit in that grace. . . but since it is probably quite difficult to jump into that now, my challenge to you is to take some time today or tomorrow morning to do just that.

Because the other part of this Gospel is the necessary work (and workers) the Kingdom requires. First, we need to clarify that the work is not building the Kingdom; rather, our task is to receive it. We are not God – we do not build – we receive, with God’s grace, we restore.

Our work in the vineyard is first to recognize that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. In John’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that we will bear fruit if we remain in his love, which first means that we need to accept the fact that we ARE LOVED.

The Kingdom of God is at hand for you. Remain in God’s love – because you already are.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Isaiah 66:10-14; Psalm 66; Galatians 6:14-18; Luke 10:1-12, 17-20)

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13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 26, 2016

LIVING WITHOUT RESOLUTION

Last week, Jesus asks his disciples a definitive question:  “Who do people say that I am?”  I wonder if you gave this question any thought in your own life? Do your actions and words support your thoughts?

Because today’s Gospel picks up on last week’s question: there are implications for acknowledging Jesus as our savior. In today’s Gospel, the command to follow is complete. For Jesus, the desire to truly follow is all or nothing; and yet we know, we are too often on the fence.

There is no question that Jesus’ requirements for discipleship – for following him, can hit us as a bit harsh. For this reason, I think many of us instinctively say to ourselves that this text is not to be lived as it is heard. After all, Jesus who loves us, would really be so mean. .

But there are in fact serious questions for us to ponder.

  • How do you feel called to follow Jesus?
  • What does it mean to you?
  • What sacrifices must you make?
  • What priorities must you establish?
  • What or who distracts you from your own call to discipleship?

CLICK HERE for the readings for 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time (1 Kings 19:16,19-21, 13:1; Psalm 16; Galatians 5:1,13-18; Luke 9:51-62)

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12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 19, 2016

A HUMANIZING QUESTION

Who do you say that I am? It really is the question, is it not? But it is not the normal question. Most of us would ask questions like what do people thinking of my teachings? Or what impression am I making?

But Jesus asks, Who do you say that I am? Bishop Robert Barron claims that the whole of the Gospel hinges on this question. Jesus compels a choice the way no other religious founder does. “Either you are with me or you are against me,” he says. We either believe he is the Son of God, or we don’t. And if we do, then we must also believe all that he says – we must give our whole life to him – he has to be the centre of our lives.

And if he is not who he says he is, then he is a dangerous, misguided fanatic.

And in an era when we can seem at at times allergic to making a choice; when our preference is to keep our options open as much as possible, Jesus question can be a terrifying one indeed.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1; Psalm 63; Galations 3:26-29; Luke 9:18-24)

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11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 12, 2016

DRAMATIC GRACE

What do you believe is necessary for forgiveness?

Is there a contrast between what you are socialized to believe and the scriptures today?

In our first reading, Nathan, on behalf of God, gives this powerful, guilt-inspiring list of everything that has been done for David, and then asks why has God been rejected? Then David, repents. Then God forgives and says David will not die. Notice he did not say there would not be consequences. . .

Then we have the sinful woman who anointed Jesus’ feet – other Gospels say this is Mary Magdalene, but Luke does not.

What is it that she does that is so compelling to Jesus? Anointing with anointment? Wiping his Feet? No, it is her tears. Tears that illustrate great love.

And so I ask again, what do you believe is necessary for forgiveness? Our second reading from Galatians answers this directly: we must first receive the grace of God and then live accordingly – according to the law that God has given us.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time (2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13; Psalm 32; Galatians 2:16, 19-21; Luke 7:36-8:3)

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