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26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 25, 2016

JUDGEMENT REVERSED

Our Gospel this week follows last week’s Gospel, and it is almost as perplexing and complicated.

We find Jesus retelling a story to the Pharisees about a rich man who declined to help the poor man, Lazarus.

When the rich man died, he went to Hell and saw the poor man Lazarus off in the distance at Abraham’s side. The rich man begged to be saved, but now it was his turn to be denied. Furthermore, Abraham denied the rich man’s request to warn his family of the doom that would befall upon them should they not heed the cry of the poor.

Like Jesus, Amos, in our first reading, is also frustrated by the complacency of the wealthy. And so we wonder: are we to conclude that the wealthy have no chance of heaven?  Or that their wealth works against them at a supernatural level?

No. Rather it is invitation to continue to line of questioning and reflection we discussed last week about the accounting of the resources and gifts we have: are we mindful of them? Are we using them for the benefit of others, or just our own?

CLICK HERE for the readings for 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Amos 6:1, 4-7; Psalm 146; 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16: 19-31)

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25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 18, 2016

GATHERING OUR GIFTS

The question the Gospel poses to us is what have we been entrusted with? Are they small things? Big things? Are they things of this world or things of the next? The Gospel is a confusing one to be sure – even the commentaries speak of confusion trying to make sense of Jesus’ intention as it seems odd to offer praise for someone who did wrong. But it is all about waking up, paying attention – much like a pain in the chest, or a warning light on the car.

Everything is a gift, given to us, for a finite amount of time, so that it may be transformed, increased and then passed on to others. But we forget this and we get comfortable and complacent – until something happens. . . Of course, it would be better to be proactive or in the case of our steward to do his job so well that he wouldn’t ever get fired.

But he does and he take drastic action in hopes of surviving. He hatches this morally questionably scheme so that, if anything, he will have some friends when he is unemployed. But rather than be punished, he is praised for his decisive action.

What does it take for us to be shaken out of our comfort zone? What will it take for us to take action?

So it is fitting that the person in question is s steward – one that cares for the assets, resources, treasures and gifts of a organization or person – because that is really what we are talking about isn’t it? How do we use the gifts we have been given? How do we understand our treasures?

CLICK HERE for the readings for 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113; 1 Timothy; Luke 16:1-13)

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24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 11, 2016

RECOVERING WHAT WAS LOST

There are two sides to our readings today. One the one side, we find ourselves, like Jesus, searching for the part of us that is lost – our childlike innocence; our humility; our sense of awe and wonder; happiness and joy; or perhaps a feeling of belonging.

How often do we long for what once was. . .

In one sense, this is so very healthy so long as we recognize that our origin is in our blessings. For all of our talk about original sin; the reality is actually an original blessing. . .  We are first and foremost: holy. Loved. Sons and Daughters of God.

So if we are to seek what is lost; let us seek that. Let us seek our original blessing. Let us seek what is known to our soul, well beyond the construct of our own mind and ego. Of course, that will mean that the lessons of humility, trust, letting go, suffering, and joy – those lessons that we have been reflecting upon the last few weeks are going to be so very important.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14; Psalm 51; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-32)

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23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 4, 2016

THE IMPORTANCE OF LETTING GO

Before we listen to our readings today, it is very helpful for us to consider what we have heard over the past few weeks. Two weeks ago, Jesus was asked how many would be saved? The Apostles are beginning to understand the gravity of their path as they make their way to Jerusalem.

If you recall, rather than answer directly, Jesus tells them to strive to enter through the narrow door. Do not worry about the end result – trust in God and your suffering will be turned into joy.

Last week, we recalled the parable to the guests at the table. We said that we practice humility here – every time we accept the invitation of Christ to become bread for the world.

For the sake of joy, we learn to trust through our sufferings. For the sake of love, we are humbled and then exalted.

If we are to be a disciple, we will endure great suffering, but so shall we also experience great joy. You cannot expect to find joy in this life if you cannot first let go of the control you have over it. This is why the context of this reading as part of the past few weeks is so important: we have to trust, but we also have to do our part. God cannot let go for you – you have to do that on your own. It is simply foundational.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Wisdom 9:13-18; Psalm 90; Philemon 9-10, 12-17; Luke 14:25-33)

 

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22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 28, 2016

THE HUMILITY OF GOD

Last week, we considered what it means to be saved. We said that we are insomuch as we trust in God’s love for us. But love always humbles us. Love is what makes us vulnerable and exposes the illusions we carry about ourselves. It demands surrender because ultimately we have to realize that we cannot save ourselves – that we are not our own saviours.

But also remember that what you have received is not simply for you. It is a gift to be shared; a grace to strengthen you so that you may be that same bread for the world. As a result of this gift – of your ability to receive the invitation – you are no longer defined by your sinfulness. No, simply by your ability to receive, you are now holy for God dwells within you.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Sirach 3:17-18, 20,28-29; Psalm 68; Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24; Luke 14:1, 7-14)

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21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 20, 2016

WHERE SALVATION LIES

Our readings today, when heard and reflected on as a collection offer a great deal for us to consider: First, we hear in Isaiah that every person on earth is going to see the glory of God – even those that do not know God. Everyone will proclaim the glory of God – in one way or another.

Then we hear in Hebrews that the Lord disciplines those who the Lord loves. It is an echo of our message last week – that for the sake of joy, Christ endured the cross. For today we hear: At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.

So it seems that God is going to bring people together and then they will endure a particular discipline. That the people who will give glory to God will do so as a result of the training they receive.

Which is why the question asked to Jesus in the Gospel is not so strange after all: will only a few be saved? How many will actually endure this training?

But notice Jesus does not answer the question; rather, he says don’t worry about the end result, strive to enter the narrow gate. Your salvation lies there – in the struggle, in the attempt.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time (Isaiah 66:18-21; Psalm 117; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30)

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20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 14, 2016

FOR THE SAKE OF JOY

Our readings this week are challenging. They speak of the difficulties that arise once we trust God with our heart. The division in our Gospel is not because God wants us to be odds with one another; rather it is the natural consequence that occurs when we decide to make a change in our lives – when we make a choice for a love that doesn’t start with our own efforts.

What once worked no longer does. What used to be peaceful is now unsettling.

But alongside these dramatic words and even more dramatic images is a hope-filled invitation. The letter from Hebrews in our second reading helps us to focus lest the difficulties become too great a distraction.

Keep your eyes and heart fixed on Jesus. He is the way. He is the example. This is what you heard: For the sake the joy that laid before him, he endured the cross. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.

For the sake of joy. . .  What are you willing to sacrifice for the sake of joy? What are you willing to endure?

CLICK HERE for the readings for 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10; Psalm 40; Hebrews 12:1-4; Luke 12:49-53)