Archive for January, 2016

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Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 31, 2016

ANOINTED FOR MERCY

In today’s Gospel, we hear that the Hebrews became furious with Jesus, but it is not for the reason most people think.  They became furious because of the examples that Jesus used to explain that God’s offer of salvation through the prophet Jesus was not restricted to them. They are not the people who can claim special treatment over and above everyone else.

The widow Zaraphath in the land of Sidon who fed and protected Elijah. Rather than send one of the 7000 widows, God sent a Gentile who was outside of Israel’s borders. The fact that she came from Sidon was even more insulting to the Hebrews for this was the centre of Baal worship.

Then we have Naaman, the Syrian, who was a great military commander during the time of Elisha. However, he was prideful, stubborn and plagued with leprosy. He believed that Elisha, who was a simple man to any outsider, should serve and heal him because of his status, and his pride almost cost him his life had it not been for a young servant girl who convinced him to humble himself.

Naaman was saved because of his humility – because he chose to believe in the healing power of a simple man.

The stories of Zaraphath and Naaman would have been well known to the Hebrews and so when Jesus uses them as a response to their questions about Jesus’ authority and ability, Jesus was making a strong statement about God’s plan for salvation.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19; Psalm 71; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13; Luke 4:21-30)

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 23, 2016

A STORY OF THE WILLING

In our first reading, the priest gathers an assembly around him so that they may listen to the Torah; so that they may listen to their own story; their ancestry. They listened so that they would not forget who they are. In fact, we are told they stood and listened from dawn until noon. (and you thought you had to endure a long homily!)

But there is a reason for this: you see the people had just returned to Jerusalem after the exile. When they left, their city was a thriving place – their home, but now they have returned to a city destroyed by war. We are told that Ezra read from the place that WAS the Water Gate, but it is no longer there.

It would be as if you went home tonight and found your home burned by fire. . . actually, if you went home and found your entire neighborhood. . . this entire city destroyed to mere shambles.

The Hebrews had lost their identity. All they had were stories. And what did those stories tell them?

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Nehemiah 8:2-4, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; I Corinthians 12:12-30; Luke 1:1-4, 4: 14-21)

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The Baptism of Our Lord

January 10, 2016

BALANCING ON THE SURFACE

What does it really mean to belong to and with God? What does the decision to belong say not only about me, but about the One who calls me to belong? What does it say about God’s power, God’s mercy, God’s excess?

It seems so impossible to imagine how you can be loved so completely. . . without lessening the love of anyone else. And yet that is what God says to us – just as God say to Jesus: “You are my beloved, in you I am well pleased.”

And if we can possibly comprehend this. If we can imagine what it is like to balance our lives on such an immense swell of power and life. . . how do we respond?

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Baptism of Our Lord (Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 29; Acts 10:34-38; Luke 3:15-16, 21-22)

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The Epiphany of Our Lord

January 3, 2016

WHAT IS OUR LIGHT AND OUR GIFTS?

Beyond the images and personalities of three wise men from the east who come to pay Jesus homage is the narrative that every nation of earth will come to adore Jesus. “That nations shall walk by his light and shall be radiant and their heart will throb and overflow.”

And yet we live in a world that goes about its way, while we – a simple few in comparison – gather here; and I wonder why can’t they see what we see? How do they just miss this?

Of course, it isn’t a new problem – after all – it was only three wise men who came out of the many who could have.   Still, it seems to me that this feast gives us reason to consider two questions: what lights our way? And what gifts we bring?

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

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The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

January 1, 2016

MOTHER OF COMPASSION

There is a line in the Memorare prayer that says, “Never was it known, that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored they help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.”  They are some of the most beautiful words that we pray for Mary has been the one – more than any other – who been a model for compassion.

But as you have heard plenty of my words this season, I would like to elaborate on Mary’s compassion with a story told through the lines of Untie the Strong Woman written by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. The story you will hear from this book is a story told in her own family by a woman “who hands smell of bread dough and roses” – according to her the two fragrances are the scents of heaven.

It is a story with a little levity and a little more colour – after all Mary’s grace is never offended by those who call to her and humour is certainly one of the more important attributes to the spiritual life.

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)