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21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 23, 2015

CHANGE EVEN WHEN IT IS DIFFICULT

Our Gospel today brings to conclusion Jesus’ Bread of Life discourses.   Over the past couples of weeks we have considered the differences between believing and knowing. We have recalled how quickly we can forget all that God has done, and focused on giving everything away, so that it will be more than enough.

These are indeed hard lessons – lessons that were perhaps even more difficult for the Apostles than for us, for the implications were all the more pressing. Like those we know, they wanted to leave – some in fact did – but Simon Peter speaks for all of us when he says, “Lord, to whom or where shall we go?”

CLICK HERE for the readings for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Joshua 24:1-2, 15-17, 18; Psalm 34; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69)

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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 9, 2015

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED?

In our Gospel today Jesus tells his critics that “everyone will be taught by God.” Though I am sure they had no problem with this concept, they clearly had difficulty believing God would teach them through the young, very well known carpenter.

I wonder who God is using to teach you? I wonder if I were to ask each of you: “What have you learned about God and people?” What would you say?

Among other things, I think I would echo much of what we hear in our first reading.

Our reading picks up just after Elijah caught fire from Heaven and beat the prophets of Baal. Now he is in the desert praying for death – much like the Israelites last week.

And much like the Israelites, an angel comes to Elijah and gives him food and drink.

But here is what I love – upon giving nourishment, the Angel acknowledges the difficulty of the journey, but doesn’t take it away.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (1 Kings 19:4-8; Psalm 34; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-52)

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18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 2, 2015

OUR DAILY BREAD

How quickly we can forget the good things and dwell on the bad! In our first reading from Exodus, we hear the Israelites grumbling about their time in the desert after the Exodus. It seems they have already forgotten all that God just did for them as he lead them out of captivity.

But the Lord continues to provide – raining down bread from heaven, but there is a test as well – a test to see if they will follow the Lord’s instructions or not.

What are those instructions? To take only what you need for the day so that others may have their fill as well; and trust that God will provide for tomorrow.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Exodus 16:2-4,12-15; Psalm 78; Ephesians 4:17, 20-24; John 6:24-35)

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17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 26, 2015

5 + 2 = HALF?

There is a fundamental imperative in today’s readings: Give everything away and you will have more than you need. Keep it to yourself and you will always want for more.

You can pick any subject, any issue: and this principle will still be true.

Yes, there are finite resources, but if you worry first about what you don’t have and what you need – then you might find a ladder to climb up, but you will, most likely, find it is on the wrong wall.

The apostles asked Jesus that same question we ask ourselves and each other today: how are we going to have enough for everyone? We only have 12 and 2! It is the same question just about every family and every organization asks – we worry about what is “sustainable”. It is a word I wish I could eliminate.

Since when does the Gospel ever tell us to aim for sustainable?

CLICK HERE for the readings for 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (2 Kings 4:42-44; Psalm 145; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 6:1-15)

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16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 19, 2015

REST:  AN ARTFORM

In our Gospel today, Jesus and his apostles gathered after their work was complete. They had worked hard – so hard that they did not even have a chance to eat and so Jesus tells them to go away by themselves and rest.

Over and over, Jesus demonstrates a need for rest (even though he did not always get it) and so it seems helpful for us to take a moment and think about rest, leisure and our Sabbath moments.

Think for a moment about your favorite activities – what purpose do they serve?  Aristotle said that the best activities are the most useless.

It seems strange to say this, I know, but think for a moment about holiness. What does it look like? What actions constitute it? What gives it evidence?

The difficulty with limiting my activity is that it does not make me feel more holy. We equate more with more: more holiness requires more activity. But things are often inversed in the spiritual life.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34)

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15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 12, 2015

THE GENIUS OF THE UNQUALIFIED

There is an old saying around the topic of vocations: “God doesn’t call the qualified; God qualifies the called.” It is a perfect summary of our readings today.

First we hear about the prophet Amos. Before the Lord called him, he was a shepherd and a tree-trimmer. Then we hear from Paul, whose words today remind us that we are chosen for a purpose. Paul who once persecuted Christians, now writes words of encouragement to them.

Lastly, we hear Mark’s account of Jesus summoning the twelve to go out two by two. These fisherman and working fellows are sent – not only with many provisions, but also without any qualifications.

And therein lies their genius.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Amos 7:12-15; Psalm 85; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:7-13)

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14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 5, 2015

CONVICTION AND HUMILITY

Our readings today feature three examples of conviction and humility.

Ezekiel, Paul and Jesus all face difficulties from those to whom they are speaking, but these voices do not deter them from speaking the Word that has been given to them. And therein lies the humility: their conviction is a direct result of their humility, for they are not acting as people of power, rather as people of authority.

Many times we equate power and authority as one in the same, but they are quite different. Power comes with position; while authority is built on service and sacrifice. Power erodes relationship, while authority builds them. Power is given and can also be taken away; but authority is grown out of your own character.

Thus power people are always afraid of loosing what they have; while authority people know what they “have” is not really theirs anyway.

Conviction is the fruit of the humble servant – the man or woman who speaks and acts on behalf of others.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ezekiel 2:2-5; Psalm 123; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6)

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