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16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 23, 2017

CAN YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE?

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?

Our Gospel provides great insight:  if you pull up the weeds, you may also pull up the wheat.  As St. Thomas Aquinas put it:  you cannot have certain goods without evil.  The lion, he gives as an example, does not live without the death of another; therefore you cannot avoid the loss of life.  Likewise there is no virtue of the saint with the tyranny of evil.

As I look to my own life, it is easy to see how the events of my past have prepared me for today.  I grew up with a mother who suffered from illness; and there is no question that it helps with live with greater compassion today.  Any temptations to judge others are quickly offset by the judgement I have felt from my own mistakes.  Before I ever had the chance to forgive others, I experienced forgiveness.  Before I could offer the sacrifices now freely offered, I benefitted from the sacrifices of others – even if they never knew my name.

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 16, 2017

MAKING GOOD SOIL

Good soil, just like us, has to rest so that it can receive the seeds and properly nourish them.  Good soil also requires variety.  You see, certain plants require certain nutrients.  If you plant the same crops year after year, then the soil looses those particular nutrients, so farmers rotate crops so that different nutrients are used.  And not all soil is good for all crops.  As we know, certain regions of the world are known for certain produce.

Lastly, soil requires its own maintenance – in addition to being rested and rotated, it needs fertilizer and water if it is to receive the seeds thrown upon it and host new life.

Which brings me to you and I.  You have heard this parable enough times to know that God is the sower; the seed is God’s grace is word, sacrament and deed; and we are the soil.

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

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14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 9, 2017

REST

What things or experiences give you the greatest joy?

It is the simple ordinary things that bring us joy is it not? Then why do we spend our lives making them so complicated? Why do we keep adding stuff? Why do we keep working so hard to earn a status or purchase something that doesn’t really make us happy?

“Come to me you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.”

Rest. In the biblical sense, rest does not mean sleep. Rest means time away from our own ego.

Why is it that a child will understand the ways of heaven, but the “wise and learned” do not? Because they don’t have as much ego.

It is not that knowledge is bad, but it is how we use our knowledge. The problem Jesus has with the wise is that they often use their knowledge to better themselves over other people. As we get older, we turn to power and performance rather than vulnerability and presence, as we relate to others.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Zechariah 9:9-10, Psalm 145; Romans 8:9,11-13, Matthew 11:25-30)

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Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Basil’s

June 7, 2017

IN GRATITUDE

The readings we have heard are those of the day, and at first, they may seem out of place for a Mass of Thanksgiving such as this, but I can assure you they are – in fact – most appropriate.  Some how, Scripture always is. . . once we allow ourselves to be taught rather than think we have something to teach.

It is the Psalm that guides our interpretation this evening:  “The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord”  it is easy to see how this can be applied to Jesus, but since you most likely don’t know much about Tobit, I would like to explain why his witness is so appropriate for us this evening.

Tobit lived in Nineveh under the reign of King Sennacherib – who was a great military leader, ruled with a steel fist, and built the city into a modern marvel at the time.  However, as you know, in its quest for greatness, the city fell far away from God.

Tobit was a righteous man who not only remained faithful to God when all else fell to worshipping idols, but also had a great reverence for the souls of the just, burying those slain by the King.  For this, he was stripped of his properties and exiled.  After a long period he was allowed to return, which is where our reading picks up.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Tuesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time (Tobit 2:9-14, Psalm 112; Mark 12:13-17)

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Pentecost 2017

June 4, 2017

CHANGED

As the father has sent me, so I send you.   As I was sent, so you are sent.  As a result of what you have learned, of the relationship that you have known, you are to go out and share your experience of God.

I do not think there is a single person is this church who is not aware of the overlapping messages presented to us today, for we are aware of what this commissioning means for us a global, universal church as well as what it means for us as a parish.

Over the past four years, we have had a remarkable experience of church – this is as true for me as it is for each of you.  The temptation is, for us, just as it was for the disciples – feeling that they could not recreate it, the disciples wanted to return to what they knew before.  It was easier for them to go back to their old lives, to be satisfied with what existed before they met Jesus.  And they tried – they just couldn’t do that.

Because how can you be satisfied with once was when you have lived for what is possible?

CLICK HERE for the readings for Pentecost (Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-14; John 20:19-23)

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The Ascension of the Lord

May 28, 2017

RISING PAST OUR LONELINESS

The Ascension is most closely related, in meaning, to Christmas, for both are incarnational.  At Christmas, what it means to be God became fully a part of what it means to be human.  In Jesus, the human and divine become united in the person and life of one man.  That’s what happened in Christmas.

At the Ascension, this human being – the person and the resurrected body of Jesus – became for all eternity a part of who God is.  The life of a single human being is forever joined to the life of God the Father, the one who created the heavens and the earth.

It was not the spirit of Jesus or the divine nature of Jesus that ascended to the Father.  It was the resurrected body of Jesus: a body that the disciples had touched, a body that ate and drank with them, a real physical, but gloriously resurrected body, bearing the marks of nails and a spear.  This is what ascended.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Ascension of the Lord (Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:17-23; Matthew 28:16-20)

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6th Sunday of Easter

May 21, 2017

LOVE & PROMISES

Our Gospel today speaks of actions and consequences.  It speaks of love and promises.  But it is our second reading that offers us a path about how we are to love God and one another, and how we are to keep God’s commandments.

John tells us in the Gospel:  If you love me, you will keep my commandments; and you will be sent the Holy Spirit to guide you, because the world will not always understand what you are trying to do, or why you are trying to do it.

Of course, like everything else in the spiritual life, we must be open ourselves to receive the Spirit, which often requires a great amount of trust, and careful attentiveness.  To understand the presence of the Spirit; to understand that we are not alone, requires a particular kind of unlearning and retraining of the senses – which is why we come here.  Here we learn how to see and hear beyond the senses.  Here we train our heart to feel the presence of God.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Acts 8:5-8,14-17; Psalm 66; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21)