Archive for November, 2010

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First Sunday of Advent

November 28, 2010

PREPARING AS A COMMUNITY

Advent is a season full of imagery, visions and dreams.  Ideas become incarnate in this season.  The words of the prophets are almost like paintings – the holy mountain, swords beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.

We have the figure of John the Baptist who baptized with water.  Even in this space, the candles we light are clear signs about how much time we have left before the season of expectation gives birth to joy.

This is a season of patient endurance, waiting, hoping, repenting and preparation.  And so I wonder how you are preparing this year?

In Isaiah, we hear, ‘All Nations shall come, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and the spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, not shall they train for war again.’

The way of the Lord is the way of community.  When we recognize our connectedness, we begin to learn the way of the Lord.  So I ask you:  what does it mean to be a community?  How are we preparing in our communities?

CLICK HERE for the Readings for the First Sunday of Advent: (Isaiah 2.1-5; Romans 13.11-14; Matthew 24.37-44)

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Solemnity of Christ the King

November 21, 2010

THE GOD OF SURPRISES

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is sneered and jeered at; he is told to save himself.

Such challenges and demands are reflective of our skewed notion of power.  Too often we believe that power is what we use to save ourselves; to benefit ourselves; to profit ourselves.

But the life of Jesus reminds us that God has a completely different notion of power.  Real power is the ability to save another; to give up for another; to profit another.

On this feast, we are reminded that this is the God of Surprises.

2000 years ago, no one would have ever imagined God would look like this crucified carpenter.  Today, I wonder what will cause us to acknowledge God as the King of Surprises.

CLICK HERE for the Readings for the Solemnity of Christ the King: (2 Samuel 5.1-3; Colossians 1.12-20; Luke 23.35-43)

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 14, 2010

WHO DO YOU TRUST?

We are just about at the end of the liturgical year, and so it should not surprise us that our readings are rather apocalyptic in nature.  Every year as our season comes to end, so too do we hear about the “end of days”

These apocalyptic texts are designed to rattle us, but I wonder if they really do?   Perhaps we have heard them so many times now or place them in the context of history that we only mildly recognize their message?

The question Jesus is asking us is where do we put our trust?  Our hope?

Remember that Christianity is really a religion of transformation and of conversion.  And the best way to define conversion is a process of detachment with yourself (and all those things that feed our own ego)

But I think too many of us believe that the detachment we must make is from our sinful ways and that is true, but I think the bigger problem is our own egos – our illusion of self-importance – because when it comes down to it – I think ultimately most of us trust ourselves more than anything or anyone else.

We are to be about the transformation of our own ego.  We are not important because of what we can achieve; rather we are important because of what we can receive.  This is what we call trust.

CLICK HERE for the Readings for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time: (Malachi 4.1-2, 2 Thessalonians 3.7-12; Luke 21.5-19)

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32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 7, 2010

WHY ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?

When I was in theology, my professor asked our class a question:  why are you a Christian?  Is it because of the good works and teachings of Christ or the fact that Jesus raised from the dead?

That is to ask:  is belief in the resurrection necessary for the Christian, or is Jesus worth following even if the resurrection is in doubt?  I ask because this is the same question presented in today’s readings.

And the answer is simple:  Despite all of Jesus’ good works and teachings, which are certainly worthy on their own, we profess Jesus as Christ because of the resurrection.  It is essential to our faith.

Our faith is not designed to explain how things work; rather our faith helps us to understand why they work.  Faith gives meaning.  This is what St. Paul is writing in 2 Thessalonians:  “May Jesus who loves us give us encouragement and hope by his grace – the grace that comes ultimately from the resurrection”

The resurrection is essential to our faith because it is how we are consoled.  It communicates that no matter how hard or bad things are, there is always redemption.

CLICK HERE for the Readings for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: (2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38 or Luke 20:27, 34-38)

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Solemnity of All Saints

November 2, 2010

BLESSINGS AND HOLINESS

Today we celebrate the Saints, but too many of us believe that it is the celebration of a chosen few when in reality it is a celebration of our common task.
Blessings are at the heart of this feast because every year, when we celebrate the saints, we hear the Beatitudes – the sermon on the mount.

Megan McKenna writes “that a blessing is a beatitude, a prayer, a cry of joy, a description of reality present and to be fervently expected, an expression of life that at its fullest is a startling reminder of eternity.  A blessing tells the truth about us and we bend to it deep within.”

Herman Hendricks writes “that the Kingdom of God means, then, to be with and identify with people, especially the threatened, the oppressed and the downtrodden; to give life to those who have none; to remove all oppressive relationships of one person over another, to liberate people from fear; not to condemn, but to give them in all circumstances a new future, and hope that brings life; to love people without distinction, without selection, without limits. . .”

Those that can –we call saints.

We are talking about holiness – not as a state, but as a continual commitment.  Put simply, holiness requires a radical change in mindset and attitude.

The heroes and heroines the world offers to young people today are terribly flawed. They leave us so empty.  To believe greatness is attainable, we need successful role models to emulate.

May we all be this for each other.

CLICK HERE for the Readings for the Solemnity of All Saints: (Rev. 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12a)

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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 1, 2010

DO SOMETHING

How many of you would say that you are happy to be a Christian?  Happy to know Christ?  How many of you would say that your lives are quite different because you know Christ than they would have been otherwise?

Prove it.

Lets summarize this Gospel:  Jesus is walking through Jericho – a very sinful place in which lived Zacchaeus, a very, very sinful man.  Now, Zacchaeus, we are told, was a chief tax collector and quite wealthy.  Today, he would be equivalent to something of one of the major drug lords – the kind of guy that preys on the weak and profits from it.

But when he heard that Jesus was coming, he climbed a tree (and he probably wasn’t wearing the kind of cloths or of the stature to be doing such a thing) to see Jesus.  And Jesus responds with desire to stay in his house – that is to say Jesus wants to know him more.

And in response to this Jesus invitation, Zacchaeus says that he will give half of his possessions away and will repay anyone he has extorted four times over!  And to all I this I wonder – what have you done lately?

If we profess that Jesus is the savior of our lives – if we profess that Jesus has changed our lives, then I want proof – the world wants proof.

CLICK HERE for the Readings for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time: (Wisdom 11.22-12.2; 2 Thessalonians 1.11-2.2; Luke 19:1-10)