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Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 15, 2017

THE WORK OF THE ORDINARY

The Lord says it is too little for us to restore the survivors of Israel; rather, we are going to do something new.

When we lay down our lives for the sake of someone else; when we live – not just in doing, but in thinking and being – when our heart is captivated and our soul sings – not for our own needs, but for the needs of someone greater. . . then we will be a light to the nations for the salvation of God.

But this is hard, soul-wrenching work.  I mean it all sounds nice, but let me tell you. . . when you start to serve like this, it rattles you to the very core.

Perhaps that is why we hear this reading at the beginning of Ordinary Time again.  Because the name is deceiving – or at least our feeling about it is.  I mean we don’t like to dwell in the ordinary, but ordinary is where the life is.  Ordinary is where we find our routines, and where we find our routines is where we see what we really care about.  Ordinary requires discipline because you can’t just live off the emotional high or adrenaline rush.

The readings we hear in Ordinary Time are the ones about discipleship and how we actually LIVE the great extraordinary events like Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.  They are readings that happen exactly after the Gospel we heard today – after the Baptism of the Lord – after our baptism – because that is when all of this starts to occur.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Isaiah 49:3, 5-6; Psalm 40; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-34)

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The Solemnity of the Epiphany

January 8, 2017

WE ARE THE LIGHT OF CHRIST IN THE WORLD TODAY

As you know, Epiphany is not just a feast that signifies the arrival of the magi at the manager, but in a more generic sense, it is understood as a moment of revelation or insight.

I would like to suggest that there are two insights for us this year:  first, that the world is not against us; rather it is longing for a reason to pay attention.  Second, that we are that reason.

We are, as I said last week, bearers of God.  We are the Church – living stones; tabernacles in motion.  We are priests, prophets, kings and queens by virtue of our baptism; anointed by God to bring good news to the rich and the poor alike; to proclaim a year of favour; to forgive so we may be forgiven.  We blessed. . . long before we are sinful.   And it is not the sins that we confess that keep us from being who we really are – I think it is our fear that we may actually be who the Bible says we are.  Because if we allow ourselves to really believe that all those things you think keep you from God really don’t. . . then you have a responsibility to change who you will become by truly, consciously, whole-heartedly receiving what you are:  the presence of Christ in the world today.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Solemnity of the Epiphany (Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12)

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Mary, Mother of God

January 1, 2017

THE FIRST BELIEVER OF IMPOSSIBLE THINGS

At Christmas, we celebrate Mary’s belief and the fact that she said yes.  We can almost imagine Mary looking that the Angel Gabriela and saying, “Tell God, I said yes.”  And Like Mary, we say yes – by virtue of our Baptism – each and every day.  Like Mary, we say, we are servants of the Lord.  Let it be done according to your word.

Like Mary, we don’t have to figure it all out, we simply have to believe in what is already here.  And if we can do that, then we become like Mary every time we receive the Eucharist for we too bear God within us.

Like Mary, we are called to believe in impossible things.  And perhaps on our own these impossible things seem to be what they are:  impossible.  For how can we really bring about peace on Earth?  How can we be light for the world and salt for the earth?

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21)

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Christmas 2016

December 25, 2016

NEWS OF GREAT JOY

In his encyclical, Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis wrote, “Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence.”

Today we hear news of great joy.  But what is joy?  Does that mean happiness?  Does that mean no suffering or sadness?

Desmond Tutu said that joy is a way of approaching the world.  I think it is a deep-seated sense that there is meaning in everything.  That we are not victims of fate, but that we are being lead – if we can only surrender our ego long enough to listen to the voice of God in our own hearts.

CLICK HERE for the readings for Christmas (Isaiah 9:1-6; Psalm 96; Timothy 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14)

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4th Sunday of Advent

December 18, 2016

TRUSTING IN THE STORY

Over the past four weeks we have focused on our story as part of a much larger narrative.  We have recognized that our story is a generational one – a story that began long ago with people like Jacob who, for a time, fought with God, but then trusted himself to be lead into a new land and new relationship.

The stories of our ancestors is one of persistence – the kind that makes space for grace to complete the incomplete and real the unrealizable.

They are stories of impossibilities becoming possible because of the trust that they had in God and in each other.

CLICK HERE for the readings for Fourth Sunday of Advent (Isaiah 7:10-14, 10; Psalm 24; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-24)

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3rd Sunday of Advent

December 11, 2016

A RESPONSIBILITY FOR GENERATIONS

Over the past few weeks (months really), we have been encouraging you to better understand and articulate why you come to your pew.  For years, whenever I ask – especially lifelong Catholics – why they come to Mass, they give me an answer concerning obligation or nostalgia.  But it has to be more than that, and so I repeat Jesus’ question to you:  what did you come here to see?

What are we doing now to ensure that our friends and children will have an opportunity to know what we have known?

Do we make the sacrifices necessary so that what we have inherited due to the sacrifices of others may be known to the next generation?  Do we know enough about our faith to articulate it to others?   Do we know enough to shout it to those who journey in the wilderness of the city with us?  Do we know enough to prepare a path for those who don’t feel they can come here:  the ones who feel the church has abandoned them?

Can we give sight to those blinded by the poor behavior of those who claim to represent God?

To those who have been made lame by their own hurt?

To those made deaf to the voice of God because of the noise of their own busyness?

To those who have felt like lepers outcast from belonging?

To those who have died in meaningless suffering, whose misery is too often spiritualized rather than contemplated?

How do we prepare a path for them?  Because in doing so we prepare a path for ourselves.

CLICK HERE for the readings for Third Sunday of Advent (Isaiah 35:1-6, 10; Psalm 146; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11)

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2nd Sunday of Advent

December 4, 2016

BEAUTY WILL SAVE THE WORLD

St. Paul tells the Romans:  Whatever is written in the scriptures was written for our instruction.  That they may teach us endurance, and give us encouragement so that we may have hope.

But that hope is also given a particular directive:  it is the hope that we may learn to live in harmony with one another – even if we believe to be different.

It is as we spoke about last week:  God loves diversity, and should we have the ability to see the Creator beyond attributes that make us different, we will see an even more beautiful unity in the diversity.

CLICK HERE for the readings for Second Sunday of Advent (Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12)