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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)

 

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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 7, 2016

THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TESTING AND TRUSTING

For where you treasure is, there also will your heart be.

But here is the thing about treasure. . . it is usually not in plain sight, it can hard to find, and when we finally find it, our temptation is to keep it safe – to hide it from others.

Indeed, I think our hearts are very much like treasure. Their secrets take a lifetime for us to discover. We search to understand what it wants, but the heart can be so very evasive. Too often, it is buried underneath layers and layers which, quite unknowingly, created as a result of our own fears.

And how often do those same fears convince us to keep hidden – to protect – that which we have found? Do we prefer to keep our heart hidden rather than let it be truly seen. . . or even more so. . .to let it be truly shared?

CLICK HERE for the readings for 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Wisdom 18:6-9; Psalm 33; Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; Luke 12:32-48)

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18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 31, 2016

FROM VANITY AND GREED TO TRUST AND GENEROSITY

A few weeks ago, I spoke about the poetry of ordinary time – this season when we, in a sense, have permission to slow down and enjoy the blessings of life.   For so much of the year is spent achieving and accomplishing – this is a season, if we allow it to be, of reflection and experience.

Last week, I spoke about prayer – not as what we do to change God’s will, but what we do to change ours.

And this week, that message continues. Our readings issue a series of warnings about the attitudes that keep us from truly knowing God. Under the guise of vanity and greed; they are connected to something far more subtle: fear and control.

If we are to embrace the Christian way of life – to embrace the love of God – then we must learn to trust.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Ecclesiastes 1:2,2:21-23; Psalm 90; Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11; Luke 12:13-21)

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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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