h1

3rd Sunday of Lent

March 19, 2017

FACING OUR PAIN

“Bear your share of hardship with the strength that comes from God for God has called us into a holy life, not according to OUR works, but according to God’s Grace.”

A holy life, we said is to live in love with the Love (God) who has loved us first.  Love, when lived with a pure heart, allows us to let go of everything else so that only God remains.  And while God is that love, the way we love is unique to each of us.

But it would be niave to think that a holy life is a life filled with the ecstasy of God’s love.  So many of the saints speak of the “dark night”, even Pope Francis spoke of this about a week ago as he reflected on his own life.  In our first reading the Israelites revolted against Moses and God because of the difficulties that did not seem to stop even after their “deliverance”.

So how do we respond when the darkness falls?  Do we fall victim to fear?  Do we harden our hearts so that they are protected from the pain?    Or can we live with the hope of St. Paul – the kind that does not disappoint?  Can we live with a hope that will allow us to be lead into new places . . . rather than simply veil our own fear and cynicism?

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 3rd Sunday in Lent (Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42)

h1

2nd Sunday of Lent

March 11, 2017

A HOLY FAST

How do we return to God with our whole heart?  How do we recognize the blessings that we have already received?  How do we live and move and have our being . . . with God – not because that is what we are supposed to do or out of some kind of obligation, but because it is our true desire?

These are the questions that frame our Lenten journey thus far.  And these are the questions which offer us a particular lens through which we will more clearly see the Gospel.

Peter, James and John journey with Jesus to the top of the mountain, where they were able to see him for who is truly is; and how do they respond?  (with fear)  Remember what we said last week – it is fear that keeps us from participating in the divine life more than anything.  We are so terribly afraid of losing control, among other things.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 2nd Sunday in Lent (Genesis 12:1-4, 3:1-7; Psalm 33; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9)

h1

1st Sunday of Lent

March 5, 2017

REQUIRED OR DESIRED?

If you heard my homily on Ash Wednesday, you know that I am advocating for a particular kind of exercise this Lent:  one of spiritual amnesia.  That for 40 days, let us forget everything we have ever been taught about God, the Church, and Spirituality.  For 40 days, let us forget the rules and prayers we have learned – let us forget them so that we may rediscover them again.  Let us forget all the things that keep us from God – the baggage we carry, the ego – let us let all of it go so that we may return to God with our WHOLE heart.

Now with that in mind, let us approach the scriptures again.  We find Jesus hungry and tired, now having fasted for 40 days and nights.  He is tempted with food, power, and idolatry.  So let me ask you:  how do you define a temptation?   (When something looks good, but isn’t)  Now, how do you define sin?  (something that keeps us from God’s grace – something that causes us to reject God)

Now usually we have these lists of things that keep us from God – variations of the seven deadly sins – these are usually the things we confess over and over.  But this week, I would like us to consider, not the obviously bad things, but the things we think are good.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 1st Sunday in Lent (Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Psalm 51; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11)

h1

Ash Wednesday 2017

March 1, 2017

STARTING OVER

No that long ago a woman came to see me.  It was a conversation that I have had many times before – though under many different circumstances.  She was searching for meaning to her own suffering and had come to see me as a result of a friend’s recommendation, but she also defined herself as an atheist.  “Why would God, who you claim is loving, also want us to suffer?”

The question is a good one – in fact, if we were to sum up the scriptures, I think that is THE question of the Hebrew people.  And it is a question I think we would do well to consider at the beginning of a season that is often associated with suffering, penitence, and abstinence.

So here is how I would like to answer this question:  Tell me everything you know about the God you don’t believe in.  . . . And if we were to have this conversation, I would most certainly tell you that I don’t believe in that God either –  because most people I have this conversation with have an image of God that is really not worth believing in.

CLICK HERE for the readings for Ash Wednesday (Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 51; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18)

h1

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 26, 2017

SETTING THE STAGE

Our readings this Sunday give us the set up for Lent, which begins this Wednesday.  However, I would like to take just a moment to recapture the journey we have been on up until now, for we have been in the little moment of ordinary time since January.

Ordinary time, we said so many weeks ago, is where our knowledge of God is honed into our principles and values.  It is where we develop our habits and behaviors.  Ordinary time is where we find our routines, and our routines is where we really see what we care about.  There is no emotional high that comes from the extraordinary seasons and events of our faith.

These past few weeks, it is when we have learned about being servants, the people of the beatitudes, salt, light.  It is when we have considered own righteousness – that way of living in right relationship with God and our neighbour – love them both so that we may experience our own inner transformation.

Thus, we began with a question about how I am called to serve, is now (hopefully) a question about how am I to love?  . . . which brings us to today.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Isaiah 49:14-15; Psalm 62; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34)

h1

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 19, 2017

LOVE PERFECTED

Last week, we continued our theme of learning how to be the people we are called to be with a renewed understanding of righteousness – that idea of being in right relationship.

It seems to demand that we let go of these illusions about ourselves, God and other people.  That the tenants of our relationship are not so clearly defined the parameters that we have used, but that living with righteousness means to live in love, which is necessarily and always communal.

But as we hinted at last week, if we are to live the Gospel calling to love our neighbor as “God makes the sun rise on the good and the bad; and the rain fall on the just and the unjust” – then we must reconsider the very nature of love, lest we fail to live it fully.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18; Psalm 103; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23; Matthew 5:38-48)

h1

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 12, 2017

OUR CAPACITY FOR LOVE

In our Gospel today, Jesus tells us that unless our righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees, we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Righteousness, it seems to me, often carries a bit of weight, but it is best understood as “right relationship”.  In other words, unless we are in right relationship with God, we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  It makes sense, but it helps to flesh this out a little more.

We have been challenged by the Gospel in this vain over the past few weeks.  It has called us to be servants, people of the Beatitudes, Salt and Light . . . and NOW the Gospel is calling us to a greater degree of righteousness than that of our teachers and leaders!

As I said a few weeks ago, what we have received is but a starting place.  Our ancestors received the law, but it alone was not given to save us.  What Jesus is now offering, not only saves but brings us joy.  The challenge is to move beyond our own legalism.  To move beyond a fear of punishment.  To go beyond a sense of obligation.  The sacrifice that Christ demands does not just transform our suffering, but ultimately allows us to live with a freedom and joy that often seems out of reach.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Sirach 15:15-20; Psalm 119; 1 Corinthians 2:6-10; Matthew 5:17-37)