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Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday)

April 14, 2017

HUMAN HOLINESS

Thomas Merton once wrote that Holiness is not becoming less human, but more so.  With that in mind, I would like us to begin by refocusing our thoughts from our typical notions of “Holy Week”, to the most dramatic and fullest expression of a “human week”.  Because these past few weeks, I wonder if we have lost some of the meaning of Jesus’ example for us because we have focused too much on the divinity rather than the humanity of these moments?

I wonder, if we acknowledge the humanity of Jesus, what happens to our own call to love, serve, surrender and sacrifice?   I wonder if we acknowledge the humanity of Jesus, especially over the next few days, if we do not by consequence, acknowledge our own divine potential?

CLICK HERE for the readings for Holy Thursday (Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14; Psalm 116; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-15)

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5th Sunday of Lent

April 2, 2017

RAISING MEANING

Let me begin by placing this story in its context:  John places the raising of Lazerus just before Jesus enters Jerusalem.  It is the last great event before Jesus begins his final journey to the cross.  Not even Jesus could escape suffering . .  . nor can we.

You have heard me say it many times before:  there is no resurrection without a crucifixion.  The lesson of Jesus and Lazarus is that death DOES come.   Suffering cannot be avoided.  It is part of humanity.  God does not prevent it; rather God is there with us. . . until we are ready to truly live.

And God is there with us, which is the second great lesson of our story.  In our Gospel today, we hear the infamous shortest line of the Bible:  Jesus wept.  No elaboration is necessary.  Nothing more needs to be said.  Jesus felt the pain of his dear friends Mary and Martha.  He felt their suffering.  In two simple words, we learn that God is not absent from our sorrows, difficulties and loss.  Though it may seem God is far away, God enters into our most difficult moments and FEELS – right there with us.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 5th Sunday in Lent (Ezekiel 37:12-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45)

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4th Sunday of Lent

March 26, 2017

MIRACLES IN MOTION

We began Lent this year with an invitation to a “spiritual amnesia” – a moment to forget everything we think we think we know about God and Catholicism for a moment, so that we may return to God with our whole heart – so that we may return to our Faith free from all of the baggage we have accumulated over the years.

That invitation gave us an opportunity to rediscover why we fast, give alms and pray.  And now that we have done that, the Gospel invites us to consider what or who we are blind to?  Four weeks into Lent, what continues to keep us from returning to God with our whole heart?

Though the Gospel focuses on the healing of the blind man, I think the real focus for many of us are the actions of the Pharisees – not to say that we would be so callous, but we are women and men who stand before miracles on a daily basis . . . and yet how often do they reshape our consciousness?

CLICK HERE for the readings for the 4th Sunday in Lent (1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)