Archive for February, 2016

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Third Sunday in Lent

February 28, 2016

PURPOSE AND PRODUCTION

On the surface one might be tempted to think this Gospel is about productivity. If the fig tree doesn’t produce, it will be cut down. But it is not about production; rather this Gospel is about purpose.

Because if it was about production, then the sins of the Galileans would in fact lead to their suffering, but this is not the case. Suffering simply occurs – for reasons often quite unknown to us. Suffering is not a product of something else – (at least not the existential kind of suffering for there is suffering that comes from bad behaviors but that is not what we are talking about here)

The question is not “why?” as if one thing must always come from another. The question concerns purpose. What, for example, is the purpose of suffering? Or in the case of the fig tree, it is not cut down simply because it does not produce; it is cut down because it has no purpose if it cannot produce. It is, after all, called a fig tree for a reason. . .

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Third Sunday in Lent (Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15; Psalm 103; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9)

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Second Sunday in Lent

February 21, 2016

OUR POTENTIAL IN THE PRESENCE

In our first reading, God once again makes a promise to Abram. God has already promised him land, which Abram has yet to see; and now God has promised Abram descendants that will be as numerous as stars in the sky.

However, the difficulties of Abram’s life have caused him to doubt and so he questions God. The reading we hear are the Lord’s instructions to Abram so that he may know the God’s promises are true. In the end, Abram receives his confirmation in a dream.

Our second reading is an explanation of the Gospel, in which Luke tells the story of the transfiguration – where Peter, James and John see Jesus transformed before them while they were fully awake.

And they are so taken by the full revelation of Jesus’ divinity that they request to stay on the mountain; however, something happens that scares them.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Second Sunday in Lent (Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 9:28-36)

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First Sunday of Lent

February 13, 2016

SIN’S SILVER-LINING

Every year we begin Lent with the story of Christ’s temptations. Christ, who did what so many of us don’t often do so well – resist the lures of power and greed.

In our first reading, Moses speaks to people reminding them what God had done for them: how God heard their cry and made them a strong nation, rich with all that they needed.

It is for this reason, that the people are reminded that they should return to God a portion of what they have received, so that they do not take what they have for granted – so that they do not forget that all they have is a gift.

But like ourselves, we know they forgot. How often I think that we have not come so far from our ancestors. That very first sin was a belief Adam and Eve could be god’s of their own making. Unlike Christ, they did not do so well in resisting the temptations of power and greed. You could say that is was because it so concealed so well. It looked like something good, but it was anything but.

We have the same problem today, do we not?

CLICK HERE for the readings for the First Sunday of Lent (Deuteronomy 26:4-10; Psalm 91; Romans 10:8-13; Luke 4:1-13)

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Ash Wednesday 2016

February 10, 2016

THE GRACE FOR CONVERSION

“Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is God, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.”

20th century theologian Fr. Romano Guardini once wrote “I will not only let myself be questioned at the last judgment, but I would also have questions. Why, O God do you allow for these awful roundabout ways to salvation, why the suffering of the innocent, why so much wrong?”

On this day, when we are asked to repent – when we literally where what our mortality will eventually become; and at the same time be reminded that we are defined ultimately – not by that mortality – but by our divinity; do we first need to reconcile ourselves with a God that we do not completely understand or perhaps even more completely disagree with?

Because if we are honest, dare I say that most of us hold a terribly flawed understanding of the divine. Not only do we need to ask God why has such suffering been allowed to endure – why is all this repentance ultimately even necessary – could not God have kept us from sin in the first place?

But we must also ask about the implications of believing in an all-knowing; all merciful; all-loving God? What if mercy and love trump all? And if we knew that, would we be here, in this place, now?

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)

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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 7, 2016

LEARNING TO LISTEN AND LIVE WITH HARMONY

Our readings remind us that we are all called for a purpose. All of this is for us, but not for us alone. We are meant to take what we have received and pass it on to others. We are fishermen and women; we are prophets of a future that is not our own; we are witnesses to a Kingdom we have yet to see; we are believers – not knowers. . . and that is enough.

Like Isaiah in our first reading, we have felt the Lord’s mercy, and like Isaiah we cry out, “Here I am – Send me!” Right? Right???   Or do we say, “Here I am . . . send her!”

How many times are we like Simon Peter, falling on our knees in sinfulness rather than standing up in grace?   Folks, Jesus is calling for you to stand up and be counted.

So we are going to speak about something that I have been wanting to speak to you about for a long, long time:  why we sing at Mass and how to sing better!

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 138; I Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11)