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Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

May 17, 2015

POWER & GIFTS

In both our first reading and Gospel, we hear that the Apostles saw, but then it took forty days for them to learn. Jesus stayed and retaught them everything. Even still, they looked to him to restore the Kingdom of Israel. They wanted answers, but instead, Jesus gave them power.

They are witness, not to answers, but to the power of the Holy Spirit. It is good for us to remember this. How many times do we look up in the sky, just like they did, wanting answers. Why did this happen? Why won’t you hear my prayers? Why did could he or she not stay? Why won’t they listen? And so on. . .

God gives us power, not answers. But power is not the only thing Jesus gave his apostles. He also gave them each other. Paul reminds the Ephesians of this in our second reading: grace is given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Ascension (Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; 1 Ephesians 1:4-13; Mark 16:15-20)

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Sixth Sunday of Easter

May 10, 2015

A JOYFUL SURPRISE

There is a Peanuts comic strip I enjoy depicting Charlie Brown who asks Linus what he wants to be when he grows up. Linus replies, “Outrageously happy!”

This is what Jesus wants for us. Our Gospel, and in fact, so many of the Biblical authors speak to this. Sirach gives counsel on labour, wealth and life: My child, treat yourself well, according to your means… Do not deprive yourself of the day’s enjoyment” (Sir 14:11, 14)

Life is meant to be enjoyed – that is what it means to live in the love of God. How many different ways has Pope Francis essentially told us that a sad Christian is a bad Christian?

Remain in my love, keep my commandments. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. But joy is more than just happiness.

CLICK HERE for the readings for Sixth Sunday of Easter (Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17)

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Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 3, 2015

SPRING GARDENING

You have heard say many times now, that the spiritual life is all about letting go. Our Gospel today exemplifies this: for we are told that every branch of ours that does not bear fruit, will be pruned and burned. And even those that do, will also be pruned so that they can bear more fruit.

In this season of possibilities – the rich period of new birth, we are challenged to understand that it is also a season of pruning.

It is a metaphor we understand well, especially during this time of year. Many of us are preparing our own little gardens for the upcoming summertime. Here on campus, I have watched Joe and Miguel and others begin to prepare the grounds: it starts with cleaning – removing everything that is dead and getting rid of all the trash. Spiritually, it is similar to what we try and do during Lent.

Spiritually, this season of looking at what we already have is what happens now – in the Easter season. It is also a time nurture the soil and prepare it for planting. We start to consider what kind of garden we would like this year.

CLICK HERE for the readings for Fifth Sunday of Easter (Acts 9:26-31; Psalm 22; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8)

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Fourth Sunday of Easter

April 26, 2015

UNITY, PROTECTION & RELATIONSHIP

This is Good Shepherd Sunday. It is rich with imagery and meaning, and describes the role of the shepherd.

There are three roles of the Good Shepherd in our Gospel:  To unify, protect and relate. Unification and protection concerns our giftedness and generosity (as community and individuals).

But we cannot effectively do this unless we are willing to be changed by this relationship and be held accountable to each other for the possibilities – the choices we make to bring the quality of the Gospel more intensely into our lives.

CLICK HERE for the readings for Fourth Sunday of Easter (Acts 4:8-12; Psalm 118; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18)

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Third Sunday of Easter

April 15, 2015

PEACE & MINDFULNESS

Today’s Gospel is much like last weeks. Once again the Apostles are troubled and fearful. Once again, Jesus offers them peace. And once again, he shows them his wounds.

I read this past week that Jesus show us his wounds, so that we can show him ours. Because until we do, we will not know peace. . . .and I am not talking about the kind of peace where everything feels great. I am talking about sacred peace – the kind that reminds us that our troubles are not going get the best of us. Because, if you think about peace usually comes about from some sort of compromise.

The peace that Christ offers does not mean we get all that we want; rather, it requires that we give up our expectations and learn to accept what is.

CLICK HERE for the readings for Third Sunday of Easter (Acts 3:13-15,17-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 2:1-5; Luke 24:35-48)

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Second Sunday of Easter

April 12, 2015

HEALING COMMUNITY

When I was in seminary, I was required to take philosophy. For the most part, those particular studies hurt my head, but there were a few things I learned. One class in particular was entitled: epistemology. It concerns the study of knowledge itself. How do we know anything? And what can we say we know?

The answer: practically nothing. Our lives are built upon beliefs – many of which we take for granted: you go to bed assuming you will get up, but you may not. You flip a switch assuming the lights will come on, but it may not. You turn the faucet assuming water will come on, but it may not. In a city like ours, the level of belief is even higher because we expect certain behaviours from people and infrastructure in order for each of us to get along and function so highly in such a small space.

So you see, I don’t think faith is an issue for our society. As you will find, I think it is forgiveness. We live with a lot of faith – we just don’t call it that. We like to think we are in control, but control is probably the greatest illusion of our age.

I think this is why the Church places the doubt of Thomas in the Gospel against the idea of community in our first reading. Community saves us from the belief that we are in control. It saves us from our doubt. It saves us from ourselves.

CLICK HERE for the readings for Second Sunday of Easter (Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 118; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31)

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The Resurrection of the Lord (Easter Sunday)

April 4, 2015

FROM FEAR TO BELIEF

We need others around us to share in our belief. In the encyclical Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis writes, “Faith is necessarily ecclesial; it is professed from within the body of Christ [the church] as a concrete communion of believers. It is against this ecclesial backdrop that faith opens the individual Christian towards all others.”

There are two great lessons in our Gospel today:  We need a personal experience with Christ if any of this is going to make sense; and we cannot have a true experience of the resurrection in isolation. We need the church to help us understand – to create the opportunity for an encounter with the Risen Christ. And so the two lessons connect to each other.

CLICK HERE for the readings for Easter Sunday (Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalm 118; Colossians 3:1-4; Mark 16:1-7)

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