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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)

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1st Sunday of Advent

November 26, 2016

CREATING ROOM

You know it is said the most accidents happen in areas that are familiar to us – in our own home, in the surrounding area of our house – places that are routine.  Because it is so familiar we function in a type of auto-pilot and we stop being aware because we know what to expect.

May I suggest this same danger is present in Advent . . . because it is familiar.  We know the story – 4 weeks, then Christmas.  Sure, we are told to stay awake, but all these stories have become . . . stories.  We have heard them before and we will hear them again.  They have become part of the routine of our year and worship.

If you recall a few weeks ago, I spoke about this difficulty.  I asked how we put ourselves in the mindset of our ancestors; about how we feel their sense of despair, anxiety and frustration.  Because unless we can do this, then I fear we miss the potency of Advent in our lives today.

CLICK HERE for the readings for First Sunday of Advent (Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44)

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The Solemnity of Christ the King

November 20, 2016

THE RULE OF MERCY

It is easy to miss the significance of our first reading today, for in only a few lines, it references a defining series of events in salvation history.  It ends with the anointing of David as King of Israel.  This would prepare the way for Christ, who we celebrate as King today.  But David also represents a painful lessoned learned for there was a time when the people wanted a King of their own making rather than one of God.

God warned them that their desires would lead them astray – their desires to be like other countries.   But rather than trust in God, they trusted in their own.  And for a time, all was well, but as with all relationships – this distancing is so very subtle.  But God did not abandon them.  God brought them back.  David represents that come back moment – A king of their own and anointed by God.

But of course, David was flawed as well – as we all are.   Even the best of leaders will never be our savior.  It is the simple and powerful message of this solemnity.

But this solemnity and that message also always leaves me with a basic question:  why do so many people continue to look for salvation and solace outside the Church?  Why is our relationship with God so often decentered by other relationships – with people, work, activities and the like?  We could also ask why we look to politicians, CEO’s, and priests as our saviors?  Even in our entertainment, we flock towards the super heroes to protect us from evil.  All of this seems to absolve us of our own responsibility to act.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Malachi 3:19-20; Psalm 98; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12; Luke 21:5-19)

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 12, 2016

ANXIOUS TRUST

Every year about this time, our readings take on an especially apocalyptic tone. Like many of you I am sure, I must confess that I read through these readings a bit differently in the wake of recent events. Regardless of your opinions or preferences in the recent US election, it is hard to ignore the anxiety that is now present within that country and around the world.

It is this kind of anxiety that is present in our Gospel as well.

Jesus is telling us that the day will come when God will seem to disappear; when Jesus will be silently in the grave; when our prayer seems dry and barren.

Perhaps in our marriage, our employment, our vocation, our environment – in some way – for reasons quite unexplainable to us – the lives we have worked so hard to build – the ideals we have tried so hard to hold on to – they will all come down not leaving one stone unturned.

So how are we to respond? Do we journey through life filled with anxiety as we wait for misery to strike? No, for Jesus tells us that we cannot prepare for what may come, but we are to trust that we will be given all that we need for the moment.

And herein lies the question and the lesson: In what do we put our trust? Is it in the temple of our lives that we have built? In our accomplishments, our abilities, our relationships? Or is it in God?

CLICK HERE for the readings for 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Malachi 3:19-20; Psalm 98; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12; Luke 21:5-19)

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32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 6, 2016

THE MEANING OF THE RESURRECTION

Many of you have heard me say that the resurrection changes everything. It literally reshaped the human consciousness. Even those who have no belief in it cannot deny the impact of Christianity around the world; which is to say the impact of the resurrection.

For what else would inspire so many millions of people? As good as Jesus’ works and teachings are, there have been many others who did much of the same. But the definitive mark of Jesus is the resurrection.

Now in previous homilies, I have spoken about the theological understandings of what we believe our glorified bodies will be like, as well as the temptations to want to rationalize the differences between the Sadducees and Jesus’ teachings concerning life after death.

But for the past few weeks, we have been encountering scriptures that tell us everything and everyone belongs. That God is not deaf to our cries for help. That the vision is always pressing on to fulfillment. That our prayers never go unanswered, but they can take time while our defensiveness and ego finally calm down enough to be open to the answer that we really need.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14; Psalm 17; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38)

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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 30, 2016

UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTERS

Last week, we encountered the Pharisee and the tax collector through a parable Jesus told to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.

If you recall, that Pharisee was prideful, divisive and exaulted himself. The tax collector – a so-called sinner – on the other hand, humbled himself before the Lord. This very hopeful message is continued this week in our first reading.

From Wisdom we hear that the Lord has mercy on everyone and loathes nothing that has been made. If it exists, then it is of God.   It is for this reason that Jesus calls out to Zacchaeus in the sycamore tree. And in return Zacchaeus promises to return to the Lord four times over.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Wisdom 11:22-12:3; Psalm 145; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2; Luke 19:1-10)

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30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 23, 2016

MERCIFUL JUSTICE

I find great comfort in our first reading today: The Lord is a God of Justice, who knows no favourites. The Lord is not deaf to the cries of the poor. The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds and it does not rest until it reaches its goal, nor will it withdraw until the Most High responds.

But don’t we wish that God would respond sooner??? Like St. Paul, we too our often poured out like a libation. We are spent until we ready for the Lord’s response – a response that undoubtedly will not be what we first had in mind, but no matter – now any response is fine.   At least we will know; at least we can act with purpose.

I once heard it said that Justice is what love looks like in public. But we have such a difficult time loving – especially when love is accompanied with waiting. Oh, it is easy to love when we want to love, but when we have to wait for love – that is so very hard indeed. But that is also when we learn to trust. That is what stretches the capacity of our heart to breathe life into parts of us and of the world that we didn’t even know was there.

CLICK HERE for the readings for 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14)