Archive for January, 2017

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4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 29, 2017

THE REMNANT THAT LEADS TO A NEW BEING AND A NEW ATTITUDE

As you know, we are all on a bit of a journey now.  In every way, we are a people in the midst of great transformation.  We are a people who have encountered God and are now called forth – not simply to do, but TO BE the people we are called to be.

Today’s readings offer us a powerful message as we begin to better understand our own servanthood and calling.  The Gospel is one we know as the Beatitudes, but my fear is that we do not know them as we should.   They are the most profound and fundamental lessons of Jesus – the very basic necessitates of the Christian life.  They are his teachings about how we are to live the joy that Christ promised.  They are how we live with ultimate freedom and receive the promises of God.

And yet, when I ask most people to name the basic tenants of Christianity, they do not name the Beatitudes; but rather, the 10 commandments.   Folks, let us make that correction now, because it fundamentally changes how we understand our relationship with God.  The 10 commandments were the starting place, given to the Hebrew people so that they may one day be able to receive salvation through Jesus Christ.  But they were never meant to be the beginning and the end of the Christian life; just as the law was never meant to lead us to joy on its own.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12-13; Psalm 146; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 5:1-12)

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 22, 2017

THE CALL OF SUFFERING

If you recall, last week we discussed our own servanthood – not just in action, but in attitude.  Servants are who we are – according to Isaiah, it is how we were formed in the womb.  Thus, this season of Ordinary Time is where knowledge and experience is honed into principles and values.

The same theme continues this week as we encounter Jesus calling forth Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John.  Their service, like ours, is a response to a need – a response to an invitation to be and do something greater.  And if we are to be great in this life, then it will always be that way for real greatness is never manufactured.  Greatness is bestowed and received as a result of the contribution to the needs of the people in the world around us.

And what is that need?  We hear it in our readings today:  to proclaim the Gospel for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  For we have seen a great light.  We have received joy because the burden of meaningless suffering is no longer.  Everything belongs – all has been brought into the light.  Though we may toil and suffer, it is not to satisfy the wants of another – the rod of our taskmaster has been broken.  Because of Jesus, our suffering now has meaning – for now it leads to our own salvation.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Isaiah 8:23-9:3; Psalm 27; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17; Matthew 4:12-23)

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Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 15, 2017

THE WORK OF THE ORDINARY

The Lord says it is too little for us to restore the survivors of Israel; rather, we are going to do something new.

When we lay down our lives for the sake of someone else; when we live – not just in doing, but in thinking and being – when our heart is captivated and our soul sings – not for our own needs, but for the needs of someone greater. . . then we will be a light to the nations for the salvation of God.

But this is hard, soul-wrenching work.  I mean it all sounds nice, but let me tell you. . . when you start to serve like this, it rattles you to the very core.

Perhaps that is why we hear this reading at the beginning of Ordinary Time again.  Because the name is deceiving – or at least our feeling about it is.  I mean we don’t like to dwell in the ordinary, but ordinary is where the life is.  Ordinary is where we find our routines, and where we find our routines is where we see what we really care about.  Ordinary requires discipline because you can’t just live off the emotional high or adrenaline rush.

The readings we hear in Ordinary Time are the ones about discipleship and how we actually LIVE the great extraordinary events like Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.  They are readings that happen exactly after the Gospel we heard today – after the Baptism of the Lord – after our baptism – because that is when all of this starts to occur.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Isaiah 49:3, 5-6; Psalm 40; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-34)

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The Solemnity of the Epiphany

January 8, 2017

WE ARE THE LIGHT OF CHRIST IN THE WORLD TODAY

As you know, Epiphany is not just a feast that signifies the arrival of the magi at the manager, but in a more generic sense, it is understood as a moment of revelation or insight.

I would like to suggest that there are two insights for us this year:  first, that the world is not against us; rather it is longing for a reason to pay attention.  Second, that we are that reason.

We are, as I said last week, bearers of God.  We are the Church – living stones; tabernacles in motion.  We are priests, prophets, kings and queens by virtue of our baptism; anointed by God to bring good news to the rich and the poor alike; to proclaim a year of favour; to forgive so we may be forgiven.  We blessed. . . long before we are sinful.   And it is not the sins that we confess that keep us from being who we really are – I think it is our fear that we may actually be who the Bible says we are.  Because if we allow ourselves to really believe that all those things you think keep you from God really don’t. . . then you have a responsibility to change who you will become by truly, consciously, whole-heartedly receiving what you are:  the presence of Christ in the world today.

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

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Mary, Mother of God

January 1, 2017

THE FIRST BELIEVER OF IMPOSSIBLE THINGS

At Christmas, we celebrate Mary’s belief and the fact that she said yes.  We can almost imagine Mary looking that the Angel Gabriela and saying, “Tell God, I said yes.”  And Like Mary, we say yes – by virtue of our Baptism – each and every day.  Like Mary, we say, we are servants of the Lord.  Let it be done according to your word.

Like Mary, we don’t have to figure it all out, we simply have to believe in what is already here.  And if we can do that, then we become like Mary every time we receive the Eucharist for we too bear God within us.

Like Mary, we are called to believe in impossible things.  And perhaps on our own these impossible things seem to be what they are:  impossible.  For how can we really bring about peace on Earth?  How can we be light for the world and salt for the earth?

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)