Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 27, 2019)

Today’s Gospel parable reminds us that we are justified only by the grace of God. God’s gift of grace can take root in us only when we have the humility to acknowledge our need because of our sins.

The Pharisee is a very good person. He has obeyed all the laws of God. His efforts have even gone beyond the law; he fasts twice a week and pays tithes on his whole income. There is much about him that we might admire. But Jesus wants us to focus on his attitude. The man sees himself as better than the rest of people. He’s proud of his goodness.

The tax collector approaches God at a distance. He is very aware of his sinfulness, his need for God’s mercy. We’re told that his humble prayer pierces the clouds and reaches the heart of God. God does not delay in responding. The tax collector went home justified – at peace with God who reads the heart.

Honesty and humility are very basic foundations for developing a deeper relationship with God. No matter how good we strive to be in our daily living, our eternal salvation is always a gift of God’s saving grace and mercy. When it comes to pleasing God, we must learn never to become self-sufficient. We cannot earn salvation no matter how much good we do. We can only accept saving grace with great humility and respond thankfully by doing the good we are able to do each day..

Let us willingly acknowledge our need for God’s mercy each day. We can be confident that God will hear our humble prayer. Our merciful God will always lift us up and send us home justified.

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 20, 2019)

You and I are the Church because of our baptism.

As our Holy Father has reminded us, we have a baptismal responsibility to participate in the worldwide missionary task of the Church. Half the people of the world have yet to hear of Jesus’ message of salvation. We have not been called to pack up and preach the Word in foreign lands. But we can participate in the missionary task.

We can pray daily for our brothers and sisters who have chosen to minister the Word around the world. Their task is often difficult; we can pray that they do not lose heart as they minister. We can also offer them financial assistance in their task. Many of the people they serve earn less than a dollar a day. These are our brothers and sisters in need - and we can help them.

The Scriptures today speak of perseverance - perseverance in the task of preaching the Word and perseverance in praying.

The image of Moses interceding for God’s people offers us some instruction about our community prayer. As Moses became weak and weary, Aaron and Hur held up his hands. Sometimes we come to community prayer weak and weary. The voices of our sisters help us to persevere in praying.

Listening to God’s word each day inspires us as we continue our baptismal commission to live and preach the Good News.

And what about our prayers of intercession? Do we believe that God cares enough to listen to us? Do we believe that God answers our prayers, even if it’s not always the answer we’re expecting? Or do we tend to lose heart after praying a few times?

Jesus’ question to his disciples in today’s Gospel is a question put to us: When I return, will I find you faithful, persevering? Or will I find that you have abandoned your trust in my love?

How we choose to live each day is the only answer we can give. May we pray each day for those who preach the Gospel throughout the world. And may we persevere each day, trusting in God’s love for us, and not losing heart.

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 13, 2019)

The healing of the ten lepers is unique to Luke’s Gospel.

Lepers were outcasts of society because of their disease. These ten must have heard about Jesus because they risk approaching him asking for a cure. Jesus tells them to go and show themselves to the priests so they could be certified as healthy. Then they could return to their families and friends. We’re told that on the way they were cured.

Imagine how happy they must have been. They were outcasts no longer. Only one of them goes back to Jesus to thank him. Jesus’ words are filled with sadness: “Were not all ten made whole? Where are the other nine?” But he turns his attention to the one who has returned to give thanks. He reminds him that faith has been his salvation. “Go your way” and nourish your new found gift of faith.

Many times we can be like the lepers in the Gospel. We ask for healing or strength or grace. Often we’re very aware that God has given us what we need at the time. Luke is asking us: what do you do when you have received your gift? Are you thankful? Do you nourish your new found gift? Or do you keep returning and asking, never taking the time to be thankful?

Often our thankfulness is shown by the way we nourish the gifts we have already received. We can nourish our gifts through faithful prayer, through Scripture reading, through accepting patiently all that God sends us each day. We can also nourish our gifts by reaching out to others who are suffering and offering them the comfort of our presence and care.

It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t take back the healing he had given to the other nine. God’s faithfulness doesn’t change. St. Paul’s hymn in today’s second reading reminds us of this truth: “If we have died with Jesus, we shall also live with him; if we hold out to the end, we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him, he will deny us; if we are unfaithful, we will still remain faithful, for he cannot deny himself.”

Let us be thankful; our God is always faithful in caring for us.

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 6, 2019)

Today’s Scripture readings ask us to look a little deeper into our faith. We just heard the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith. He tells them that even a little faith has great power, because faith is ultimately a gift of God.

As Paul reminds Timothy, God has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit who dwells in us makes us strong, loving and wise. Our response to the Spirit’s presence within us is to stir that gift into a flame for living.

Jesus’ parable in today’s Gospel reminds us that living out our faith commitment is our response to God’s gift. God has gifted us beyond anything we could expect. No matter how long and how well we serve the Lord, we do not earn our way to heaven. All we can do is be grateful and show our gratitude by faithful service.

But faith demands trust. If we believe all that Jesus has told us about our God, then we must learn to trust that God’s love for us is never-ending. God loves us even in our sinfulness and he sent Jesus among us as a sign of his love for us. Jesus died and rose so that you and I can share his new life, the life of God (grace). That sharing is a gift we are freely given because God loves us. We can do nothing to earn it. All we can do is be thankful and love in return.

Trusting in God’s love means that we must learn to see everything that happens to us as part of God’s plan for our salvation. Everything that happens in life ultimately is meant to bring us to eternal union with God, even the hardships of daily striving to live as Jesus taught us. That’s the message God delivers through the prophet Habakkuk. Nothing that we encounter in this life can alter God’s final purpose for us. The prophet encourages us to be patient; God’s love for us will become clear. The person who trusts in God and lives by faith will have life to the full.

May we have the faith and trust needed to see the events of each day as coming from God’s hand. They are leading us toward eternal union with him. God’s Spirit is always with us; we have nothing to fear. Let us stir into flame each day the gift God has given us. Let us be thankful and trust in his providence for us.

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 29, 2019)

Today’s Scripture readings are a bold reminder to us: if we are women and men of faith, then we must be actively concerned about our brothers and sisters, especially the poor and less fortunate among us.

A landowner in ancient Israel was seen as God’s tenant and was expected to “pay rent” by giving alms to the poor. The rich man in today’s parable ignored the poor beggar Lazarus sitting at his own gate, so in the next life, he finds that he is in torment as Lazarus was in this life.

The dialogue between the rich man and Abraham is instructive. Abraham makes it very clear that our decisions about how we are going to live in this life affect the life-to-come. They influence how we will live in eternity.

Abraham also makes it clear that we have been given all the knowledge we need in order to enjoy eternal life with God. The Scriptures, and especially the teaching of Jesus and the celebration of Eucharist, indicate how we are to live a life that pleases God, our creator.

Pope Benedict wrote some powerful words in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist: “Our communities, when they celebrate the Eucharist, must become ever more conscious that the sacrifice of Christ is for all, and that the Eucharist thus compels all who believe in him to become ‘bread that is broken’ for others, and to work for the building of a more just and fraternal world.

Keeping in mind the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, we need to realize that Christ continues today to exhort his disciples to become personally engaged: ‘You yourselves, give them something to eat.’ (Mt. 14.16) Each of us is truly called, together with Jesus, to be bread broken for the life of the world.”

As we take a look at the way we live and decide how we will live better in our world today, we may learn from God’s word today to be more care-full about our brothers and sisters. They are our God-given ticket to eternal union with him

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 22, 2019)

We heard the Lord speak very clearly through the prophet Amos in today’s first reading: God cares for the needy and the poor.

He will not forget any injustices we may do to them. Each person is God’s child; he asks to look at each person as a brother or sister. That is how he wants us to live together.

We heard St. Paul urge us to pray for civil authorities. We are to pray that they will be good leaders, concerned for the good of each person. This helps us to live together peacefully and productively. Leaders are to promote the common good, respecting the rights of all, especially the less influential, and encouraging everyone to care for one another.

Our prayers are very needed today.

You and I know just how enterprising the worldly can be in protecting themselves and their fortunes. Jesus is encouraging us to be just as enterprising about living by Gospel values in our daily lives. It’s so easy to buy into the greed we see all around us. Jesus warns us: you can’t serve two masters.

This weekend has offered us an opportunity to reflect on gospel values in married life and in our community living. It is our hope and prayer that you will choose to listen for the voice of God in each other and in the Church and choose to serve our God who is loving and compassionate to all of us. If each of us will take the time to listen in prayer each day, we will have the strength and courage we will need to be enterprising in gospel ways - ways that will reflect the love and compassion of God to each of our brothers and sisters.

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 15, 2019)

This morning we have had the opportunity to listen to a whole chapter of Luke’s Gospel. It contains the core of the Good News - the merciful forgiveness of our God.

Jesus is eating with sinners, an obvious problem for the religious leaders. Jesus’ actions are a parable in themselves, showing how much God loves sinners. God’s joy in the repentance of one sinner is so very clear. Then Jesus tells the story of the two sons.

The younger son is the obvious sinner and humbly receives the generous forgiveness of his father. But it is clear by the end of the story that the elder son is in an even worse state - not only is he unable to forgive his brother but he has estranged himself from his merciful father as well.

When we take the time to be honest before God, all of us realize that we are like the younger son, sinners in need of God’s merciful love. But we might ask ourselves if we don’t, at times, react as the elder son did, resentful that God also forgives the “greater sinners” around us. It’s so easy to fall into certain self-righteousness. Here we are trying to “be good” and others don’t seem to be struggling as we are. Very subtly, we begin to look down on others as if we are better than they are.

Humility is the recognition that I am unworthy of the great love God has for me. All of us are. Each of us has received God’s generous mercy again and again in our lives. Our only proper response is gratefulness and joy.

The Gospel story leaves the elder son’s response hanging. Will he recognize the younger sinner as his brother and welcome him home as his father has already done?

How would you or I respond? That’s the question for us in today’s Gospel. Will we be so grateful for our own experience of God’s amazing mercy that we will rejoice when any brother or sister returns home?

As the father reminds us: “We have to celebrate! This brother or sister of yours was dead and has come back to life; was lost, and is now found.”

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 8, 2019)

How many of you felt a little uneasy as you listened to today’s Gospel? I would hope that most of us were a little uneasy as we heard Jesus’ challenging words to anyone who chooses to follow him as a disciple.

From the very beginning, Jesus tells us that he is not offering us an easy way of life. He is asking us to be like him - focused on doing the will of the Father no matter the cost. We know that this focus took him away from his family, cost him the lack of material comforts, and eventually brought him to the cross. If we choose to follow him and focus our lives on doing the Father’s will, then we too may have to make choices in our relationships.

We may have to renounce some material comforts, and certainly we will have to carry our own crosses in this life. Jesus is telling us that we must sit down and calculate our willingness to make these choices and our courage to follow them through.

It’s very easy to listen only to the challenge in Jesus’ words, and forget that he spoke them out of love for us and for his Father. He has told us often that he will never ask us to do anything on our own. He will always be with us and provide the grace we will need to meet the challenges. Any challenge will be only a bump on our road to eternal union with God.

That is why we heard Solomon’s prayer for wisdom in today’s first reading. His prayer must become ours. The Holy Spirit gifts us with wisdom that will enable us to see the events of life from God’s perspective. Wisdom enables us to trust that everything that happens to us is in some way part of God’s plan for our salvation. He will give us whatever we need to be faithful.

We pray this morning and every morning for the wisdom and the courage we need to answer Jesus’ challenging call to discipleship. May we learn to depend on grace for the strength we need to live out our response.

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 1, 2019)

Today’s Scripture readings encourage us to ask ourselves: am I humble, a virtue that finds favor with God?

As we know, St. Francis de Sales considered humility the acceptance of who I am in the eyes of God. I would imagine none of us has to be reminded that we are sinners. We’re often all too conscious of that fact.

We don’t always remember that Jesus came to earth to tell us sinners that our Father loves us. Jesus chose to die on the cross to save us from our sins and he rose to share his new life with us. Through our baptism, Jesus has made us his brothers and sisters - adopted children of his Father. We are now “graced sinners,” loved by our God. When I am thankful that I am a “graced sinner” in the eyes of God, then I am practicing true humility.

All that we are and all that we have is gift -- a gift of God’s love for us. When we accept that fact, then we can follow the advice Sirach offered us: “Conduct your affairs with humility.” That will mean recognizing our own dignity as we go about our day. It will also help us to realize that the same dignity is God’s gift to every person we meet.

God is choosing to live and work in me; God is also choosing to live and work in you. As I respect and honor God’s presence in me, so I must try to respect and honor God’s presence in you. This is the kind of humility we are asked to live today.

Remembering that I am a sinner will keep me aware of my limitations; remembering that I am graced will help me to trust in God’s providence for me. Remembering that I am a sinner will keep me from judging others; remembering that I am graced will move me to reach out to others who are suffering. Remembering that I am a sinner will lead me to call on God’s mercy frequently; remembering that I am graced will lead me to be thankful often during the day.

Let us be humble before the Lord and with one another today. Sirach assures us that we will find favor with God.

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 25, 2019)

During the last month, Jesus has been reminding us that being his disciple isn’t easy.

It takes courage and commitment. It isn’t enough to eat and drink with Jesus on Sunday and listen to his words. Discipleship is a daily way of living. We must make an effort to live what we have heard from Jesus. And, as Jesus nourishes us, we must be willing to nourish each other.

Today’s second reading offers us a very needed reminder as we struggle each day to be a disciple. Our God created each of us because God is love. Everything that we experience in our life is part of God’s loving providence for us – even the difficulties and trials.

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews encourages us not to forget this basic truth. As we heard, the writer compares God’s care for us to a parent’s care. A loving parent disciplines a son or daughter for loving reasons – to help the child grow as a person. Our loving God treats us in the same way.

In order to be able to appreciate this truth, we must first be willing to accept as true that our God loves us with an everlasting love. God’s great desire for us is that we be one with God, right now here on this earth and forever in eternity. When we learn to accept that God’s everlasting love is the reason we exist at all, then we can begin to appreciate God’s presence in our life.

In light of God’s providential care for us, St. Francis de Sales encourages us to accept whatever comes to us as coming from the hand of our good God whose only purpose is to make us merit from these happenings so that God can reward us out of the abundance of divine love. Everything in our life contributes to our growth with God in holiness.

In order to live this way, we must learn through prayer to develop a great trust in God’s providential love for us. As we grow in our trust, we will be able to strengthen our drooping hands and our weak knees, and walk more surely with our God on the path that God has lovingly set for us.

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 18, 2019)

During the past several Sundays, the Church has presented us with some of the challenges we will face as disciples of Jesus.

We will have to learn to let go of our possessions, and even of our desire to possess. Jesus calls us to be generous, sharing whatever we have with those who are in need. Last Sunday, we were cautioned to be watchful and ready. Jesus will come to us in ways that will surprise us. And today, Jesus tells us that our efforts to be faithful disciples may cause dissension, even in our families.

All of us would like to believe that following Jesus would lead us to peace. Jesus is telling us very clearly that that may not be the case. We have only to look at Jesus’ life. It wasn’t the case for him – and he is Lord and Master and could have done something about it.

Long before Jesus, the prophet Jeremiah suffered because of the message God gave him to deliver to his people. Despite his suffering, Jeremiah continued to call the people to hear God’s word to them.

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that we are part of a long tradition of witnesses to God’s faithfulness. We are encouraged to persevere in running the race that lies before us, while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. As we heard: “For the sake of the joy that lay before him, Jesus endured the cross and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.” Jesus’ example is meant to give us hope so that we will persevere.

Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus each day! That becomes our way to keep focus as we go about our daily living. We ask Jesus to be with us as our strength. We ask him to show us the way to our Father’s home through the ups and downs of life.

When we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, when we let him live in us, we can be sure that whatever fire we may have to enter in our life, we will always emerge more purified, like fire-tried gold. Jesus is at our side.

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 11, 2019)

Jesus has desired from all eternity to meet us here at this sacred meal.

He invites us to sit down with him and listen as he tells us about our Father’s love for us and what our Father desires for us. He will also tell us how we can respond to our Father’s loving care for us.

Jesus offers us the example of Abraham and Sarah, our ancestors in the faith, in today’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews. He tells us that we have faith when we accept our God’s word as the truth, confident that what God says will become a reality.

Both Abraham and Sarah did just that: They left their homeland for a new land that God promised. They accepted God’s word that they would have a child even though they were old. They were willing to sacrifice their son Isaac who was the only evidence they had of God’s promise of many descendants. And God gave Isaac back to them as a sign of the truth of God’s word to them and as a witness to their confident hope.

Jesus offers their example to us as a reminder. He tells us not to be afraid. Our Father is pleased to give us the kingdom. He invites us to place our trust in our Father’s promise, to make our heart’s only desire the treasure we have been promised and given.

The sign of our confident hope will be our willingness to be prepared each day: prepared to seek our Father’s will for us each day and do it lovingly; prepared to live with Jesus at our side each day, talking with him about our day and listening as he talks to us, often through the people and events of our day; prepared to care gently for each person we will meet today.

Jesus tells us: much will be expected of the person entrusted with much. You and I have been given much by our God. Let us be worthy of the trust our God puts in us as his beloved children.

Let us take what Jesus tells us at this meal and live it out today – and every day. He is here to strengthen us to do just that - for he gives us his Body to eat and his Blood to drink.

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 4, 2019)

Today’s Scripture readings call us to do some reflecting on the way we live as a baptized follower of Jesus.

St. Paul reminds us that we have been given a share in the life of Jesus by our baptism. We are called to focus our way of living our daily life in a new way - a way that is influenced by Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. As Jesus has told us: the only thing that gives our life here on earth ultimate value is remembering that life is a gift of God and it is given to us to lead us to eternal life with God.

With that perspective in mind, we can appreciate the viewpoint of Qoheleth in today’s first reading: “All things in this life are vanity” - a mere breath, a vapor - transient and ultimately empty. All the hard work and worry we may put into accumulating things here on earth - what will it ultimately matter when we come to die? The Lord isn’t going to ask us: “How much did you make during your life?”

He will ask us: “How much did you love?”

And our willingness to love flows from the new life given to us in baptism. Because we share the life of God, we are able to love as God loves. If we choose to live and love in this manner, then the way we live will be different from the way those live whose only concern is this world and all it has to offer.

In order to live and love as God does, we will have to learn to discipline our choices to follow the lead of grace. And grace will call us to rise above evil desires, passion, lust and uncleanness. Lying has no part in anyone who genuinely loves. Neither does prejudice nor discrimination. Love is about treating everyone with dignity and respect - as brothers and sisters who are the image of the Creator.

All of us can benefit from some prayerful reflection on today’s word from our God. May our reflection lead us to grow in knowledge and grace. May we be formed anew each day in the image of our Creator. Then our daily living will help us to grow rich in the sight of God and bring us ultimately to share his life forever.

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 28, 2019)

St. Paul asks us to reflect on the wonderful gift of redemption that is given to us as a result of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

We are sinners, but God’s love for us pardons all our sins and gives us new life in Jesus - a sharing in the very life of the risen Lord. Because of this sharing, we are able to approach God in prayer as Jesus did. We can call God “Father.”

In our thankfulness, we want to hold God’s name as holy and we desire, as Jesus did, that the kingdom of God become present in us. Our requests must be simple:

• Give us the bread we need for today: food for our bodies and the bread that makes us one in Eucharist.

• Forgive our sins each day because we are willing to forgive the sins of one another.

• Keep us safe and strong in our faith until the end.

Jesus tells us more about our praying: “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.” Jesus never tells us what to ask for; all he tells us is that our Father will give us the Holy Spirit - his abiding presence in us and among us. What he is saying is that God will give us himself; he is the only good we will need.

God’s one desire for each of us is that we be his children, trusting in his goodness. When we learn to pray with trust, then we will also learn to see the goodness of our God in whatever comes to us in our daily lives. The Spirit within us will give us the strength and courage we will need to handle the situations of our life-journey.

Nothing will be too much for us to handle, because everything is coming to us from the hand of our Father whose only purpose for us is union with him, true happiness.

Jesus teaches us how to pray. How we pray really does make a difference in how we live. May each of us learn to ask our Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit and then trust that he is with us as we go about our day. He will give us everything we need - for we are his children whom he loves with an everlasting love.

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 21, 2019)

Today’s Gospel story is so familiar to us that it’s easy to miss how extraordinary it is.

Jesus is going against all the cultural conventions of his day. He is a guest at the home of unmarried women - unmarried men didn’t do that. He allows a woman to serve him - notice that Abraham served the guests in today’s first reading. And Jesus is teaching Mary, a woman - in Jesus’ day, only men were disciples.

While the circumstances of this event are unconventional, so too is its message. Poor Martha is very busy about all the tasks of hospitality that is a very important virtue in the Middle East. I’m sure we can all identify with her when she’s upset that her sister isn’t helping her to be hospitable.

Jesus gently reminds her that her anxiety, her upsetment, has distracted her from what’s really important in hospitality - listening to her guest. Hospitality first and foremost concerns making the guest feel welcome - feel at home. It’s hard to do that if we don’t take the time to sit down with the guest and listen to whatever he or she has to say.

Today’s story of Abraham’s hospitality reminds us that God is present in every guest. We can reverence his presence by listening to one another. We might be surprised at times by what we hear!

There is also a wider lesson in the story. Always wanting to be busy about serving and becoming anxious about it are traps for the disciple. In order for our serving to have its greatest benefit, we must first take time just to be with the Lord in prayer - listening to whatever he may have to say to us. Our effort to listen first keeps our service focused on sharing the Lord’s love in all we do.

Hospitality, a welcoming attitude, is a great virtue in a disciple. Taking the time just to be with a person allows the Lord’s love to touch them. May each of us learn a valuable lesson from listening to the Lord’s instruction to Martha today. May our welcoming attitude to all we meet today bring them a greater sense of being loved by our God, of being at home.

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 14, 2019)

In today’s second reading, St. Paul tells us that Jesus was first in the mind of God when he created the universe.

God decided to unite himself with creation in the person of Jesus. Everything has been created through Jesus and for Jesus. And Jesus has reconciled everything to God through his blood shed on the cross. Jesus is the image of the invisible God; because Jesus has shared our human life, every human person has dignity as an image of God.

That is why it is so important that we understand today’s Gospel parable. Jesus is telling us how we are to live as an image of God - loving God with our whole being, and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.

The parable we have just heard is meant to shock us into realizing the extent to which we are to love. Because we all share the dignity of image of God, we are to love as God loves. There is to be no limit to our love. “Neighbor” is a way of acting, and not a person located outside of us. “Neighbor,” then, is the way I treat anyone I meet - whether I know them or not, whether I like them or not, whether I consider them friend or foe.

Jesus’ point is made when the lawyer identifies the Samaritan as the “neighbor” in the parable – “The one who treated the injured stranger with compassion.” Like the lawyer in the Gospel, all of us ask: “What must I do to inherit everlasting life?” Jesus tells us: “Go and do the same.”

The challenge is great. It calls us to be mindful each day that “I am the image of God and I am called to love today as God loves.” The law of love is written on our hearts from our very creation as an image of God. The more my heart beats with the love of God, the more I will strive to be neighbor to everyone who crosses my path each day.

Each person I meet calls me to be the best person I can be - to image to them as the love of the God who loves them. That’s enough challenge for any of us. Trying to meet that challenge each day will assure us of our inheritance - everlasting life with our God. Let us be renewed at this Eucharist and go forth to be compassionate neighbor today.

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 7, 2019)

Imagine for a moment what those early disciples must have felt like as Jesus sends them out on their first mission to announce: “The reign of God is at hand.”

He sent them to prepare the towns and villages for his coming. They were to proclaim “peace” everywhere they went. And he gave them power to cure the sick.

Marvelous things must have happened on their journeys because they come back overjoyed with their experience: “Even the demons are subject to us in your name.”

Jesus shares their joy, but he warns them: don’t get so caught up in the power you have that you forget that you are disciples who have been created anew by placing your faith and trust in me. I am the source of your salvation; any power you have comes from me.

St. Paul learned that early in his ministry. We hear it echoed in his letter to the Galatians: “May I never boast of anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This kind of humility is key to the effectiveness of Jesus’ disciples.

Any good that we are able to do happens primarily through our cooperation with God’s grace. That is why we are urged to put our gifts at the service of the Church. Sharing our gifts for the good of one another enables us to grow, not only in our love, but in our humility.

Jesus sends us out into the world every day to announce by the way we live that the reign of God is here. We must try to bring Christ’s peace to everyone we meet and everything we do. We can do that best when we begin our day by remembering God’s presence in us and asking for the grace to live this day well as a faithful disciple.

We may often feel like lambs among wolves; Jesus told us we would. That’s all the more reason to stay focused on the presence and grace of God within us. He will give us what we need to be good news to the world around us. May we learn to boast in nothing but the cross of Jesus. From him comes the saving power of grace.

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (June 30, 2019)

Today’s Scriptures are a strong reminder that following Jesus is a challenge.

We heard St. Paul tell us: Jesus has set you free to love. Live by the Spirit; don’t become slaves of the world again. Paul is echoing Jesus in today’s Gospel: if you want to follow me wherever I go, don’t seek security in this world. Once you set your hand to proclaiming the kingdom of God, don’t look back at what you have left behind.

Jesus reminds us that journeying with him will take us in one direction - to the cross. We must be willing to complete the journey with Jesus if we want to share in his glory.

Our problem as human beings is often our focus. When we think of what we are by our baptism and profession of vows–members of the Body of Christ, sharers in the life and mission of Jesus, the presence of Jesus in our world –then we want to give ourselves to the work of the kingdom; we love and forgive and show compassion.

But too often we let our minds and hearts focus on other very natural desires –desires for security, for intimacy with family and friends, for acceptance by others –and, “looking back,” we take our hands from the plow and forget Jesus’ call to save the world with him. We can help ourselves to focus more on Jesus and our call if we learn to consciously remember Jesus’ presence with us as we begin each new activity of our day. Just a momentary prayer can keep us focused.

Jesus is calling us to a love gentle enough to endure all things without violence, a love strong enough to stand against the whole world in loyalty to the work and ideals of the kingdom of God. We know that we cannot love this way by ourselves.

Jesus has promised to be with us at every moment of our life. His Spirit will prompt us in our efforts to love as Jesus loved. The challenge is great; even greater is the grace Jesus will give us to meet the challenge. Let us refocus ourselves today at this Eucharist.

Jesus is here; let us take him with us; let us journey with him. He desires to lead us back to our Father.

The Body and Blood of Christ (June 23, 2019)

Today’s second reading gives us the oldest written account of the origin of Eucharist.

St. Paul reminds us that Eucharist is intimately united with the death of Jesus.

We heard him tell us: “Every time we eat this bread (Jesus’ body) and drink this cup (Jesus’ blood), we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes again.” That means that each time we share in this Eucharistic meal, we express our willingness to share in the death of Jesus - a willingness to join him in giving ourselves for the sake of others.

Luke’s gospel reminds us that Jesus cared about feeding the many hungers of the people he served. He fed their bodies with bread, but he also fed their spirits with healing.

Do we always remember the grace and responsibility we accept when we eat and drink? The bread and cup we share are one - the body and blood of Jesus. Therefore, we who eat it must be one - forgetting ourselves completely and living for the happiness of others. Do we take care about that responsibility as we leave the Lord’s table and go about our daily living?

The Eucharist is the graced means given to us to fulfill our purpose in life - letting Jesus come alive in all we say and do. The Jesus whose body we eat and whose blood we drink is the same Jesus who is in us as we go about our day. Do we let the gentle, humble, compassionate, forgiving Jesus come alive in us in the circumstances of daily living, reaching out through us to touch others? Or do we tend to forget and let self-interest and self-gratification come alive instead?

We all give thanks each day for the gift of Eucharist we celebrate and receive. Perhaps today’s celebration can remind us once again in our humanness that the gift we receive in Eucharist - Jesus himself - is the Jesus we carry with us during the day.

May each of us learn more and more to share Jesus living in us with everyone we encounter today and every day. In this way, we continue Jesus’ work of feeding the hungers of our sisters and brothers.

Trinity Sunday (June 16, 2019)

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals to us the intimate life of our God: three distinct persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), equal in majesty, undivided in splendor, yet one Lord, one God.

We hear Jesus telling us that the action of the three persons is one. Jesus is Wisdom incarnate - the Word of God become flesh, human like us. Whatever he speaks, he has heard from his Father, and whatever the Spirit will speak he has heard from Jesus. Together our God has created all that is, and together our God has willed and brought about our salvation.

As St. Paul tells us, “now that we have been justified by faith, we are at peace with God through Jesus. Through him, we have gained access to the grace in which we now stand.” That grace is God’s gift of making us sharers in the very life of the Trinity. “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” The Spirit present in us is the source of our peace with God. He is also the source of our hope - our confident assurance of complete union with the Trinity in the fullness of life to come.

While our sharing in divine life is very personal, it is also communal. Because we share the one Spirit, we are part of one another in the Body of Christ. Therefore the love we have for God is the same love we must learn to have for one another. How we live with one another as Christians ought to reflect in a very real way the unity of Persons in our God. Our unity with one another is possible because we share the same love of God, which Paul told us “has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”

What a wonderful gift we have been given in our baptism! Each day, you and I can be the continuing revelation of God’s loving presence in our world. When we struggle each day to live as Jesus taught us to live, when we have confidence in Jesus’ promise to be with us each day, when we try to love one another as Jesus has loved us - we are giving witness to the reality of our triune God who has created us out of love, redeemed us by his love, and made us one with him in love.

Let’s recommit ourselves today to our baptismal mission as Church. May the way we live our faith continue to touch the hearts of those around us and turn them and us more fully toward our loving God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.