5 Ordinary: February 9/10, 2019

So last Sunday – I invited you to think forward a few months – to mid-July, when we have the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

          This week, I want you to think back a couple of months  – all the way back to the 4th Sunday of Advent — December 22-23. . .

          Yes, our anticipation was running high – as Christmas was just a couple of days away – and there was still so much we had to get done…..

          And that’s a disadvantage of Advent – sometimes we are so focused on Christmas that we forget Advent is a season of watching and waiting – of preparing ourselves – more than our houses – for the coming of the Messiah.

          But on that 4th Sunday of Advent – we had a guest speaker:  the prophet Micah.  Who, among other things, reminded us that sometimes when it comes to our encountering and experiencing God – we have thoughts and feelings of being unworthy.

          Yes, the thought that when it comes to opening oneself to the great free gift of God’s love – we should be passed over – because somehow we don’t deserve such a gift.

          Peter, who we will come to know as Mr. walk-on-water and in our Catholic tradition as the 1st Pope  — is certainly caught up in this way of thinking and feeling:  “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful person.”

          But Jesus counters Peter’s thinking — and all who may be lead to believe such things (which just might include you and me) by saying:  “Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching men and women.”

          You see God, and remember Jesus is God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God —

God has a long track record of picking the most unlikely of people and allowing them to do great things. . .

          Abraham was old.

          Elijah was suicidal.

          Joseph was abused.

          Job went bankrupt.

          Moses had  a speech problem.

          Gideon was afraid.

          Samson was a womanizer.

          Rahab was a prostitute.

          Noah was a drunk.

          Jeremiah was young.

          Jacob was a cheater.

          David was a murderer.

          Jonah ran from God.

          Naomi was a widow.

And as we know, Peter, the one who walked on water and became the 1st Pope:  denied Jesus three times.

          Martha worried about everything.

          Zacchaeus was small and money hungry.

          The disciples feel asleep while praying.

          And Paul – a Pharisee, persecuted Christians before becoming one.

          If you ever feel like you aren’t worthy enough to hear Jesus’ call of “come follow me” – then remember that God has a long track record of picking the most unlikely of people and allowing  them to do great things.

          God uses flawed people (which more than likely includes you and me) to share HOPE to a broken world.  In Christ we find renewal and mending.  Jesus did not call the equipped, he equipped the called. 

And no matter what you’ve been through in life – remember that the same power that conquered the grave — lives within you.

          Remember – apart from God’s grace – we are just splendid sinners, lovable losers, miserable misfits and fantastic failures.  But with God’s grace working through us ——-each of us can succeed at being everything God intends us to be:  for all things are possible with God.  So we have no excuses to heed Jesus’ call:  come follow me!

4th Ordinary, Feb. 2/3

Last week, we heard in the Gospel of Luke how Jesus travelled back home to Nazareth – where he went into the synagogue – when he opened the holy scroll of Scripture and read from the prophet Isaiah:

          “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tiding to the poor.  To proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

                    St. Luke’s Gospel is known as the “Gospel of Mercy”.  Now while each of the other Gospels:  Matthew, Mark and John – do show the mercy of God at work through Jesus – St. Luke emphasizes this aspect of Jesus’ ministry in a profound fashion.

           It was thought that Luke was a doctor, a physician  – so Luke was accustomed to the sufferings of humanity – and so he draws from his own experiences, highlighting the Lord as a kind of “divine physician” and stressed Jesus’ tenderness, concern, and kindness.

          This mercy of Jesus culminates in Luke’s Gospel as Jesus hangs on the cross and says of his executors:  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  And to one of the thieves hanging with him:  “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”  Both unique sayings to Luke’s Gospel – because for St. Luke – no one is outside of the possibility of salvation offered by Jesus!

          How one understands the role of Jesus as the Christ shapes one’s understanding of discipleship.  Jesus is the model to be imitated.  Jesus is empowered by the Spirit, he is compassionate toward the poor and the oppressed, he heals and forgives, he prays, and he dies a model martyr’s death.

          And as disciples — we are called with an unconditional, absolute, person-centered call:  “Follow me.”

                    And there are two responses we can have – both found in today’s Gospel reading: 

          Either we “speak highly of Jesus and are amazed at the gracious words that come from his mouth” and we are moved to action to build the kingdom of God in our midst.

OR   we are filled with fury and want to drive Jesus out of town – or at least – out of our lives – and choose not to imitate the divine physician in our words and actions.

          There is a story we will hear in Luke’s Gospel – that we hear ONLY in Luke’s Gospel – which I think is one of the pivotal stories which puts all of this into perspective. . . 

Now we don’t hear this story until the middle of the summer –  July 14th — during our long stretch of Ordinary Time – and yet we are all so familiar with it — The story of the Good Samaritan.

          Let’s save ourselves some time — unless we are willing to commit to being the one, the Samaritan – who stops and helps his brother in need — instead of being like the priest and the Levite – who pass him by

–unless we are going to commit ourselves to building the kingdom by seeking out the lost and brokenhearted, those seeking to be healed or hungering for forgiveness       —then why sit here week after week – listening to the Gospel read to us???

          Accept – in doing that – maybe our hearts will eventually  be softened to accept that unconditional, absolute, and person-centered call:  COME FOLLOW ME!

3rd Ordinary: January 26-27, 2019

Deacons Jim Koger and Mike Lewis preached:  so no homily to post.  Fr. Matthew made the following remarks after Communion to mark Catholic School Week:

In what I consider an under-rated, and under-

used document of Vatican II – The Declaration on

Christian Education – dated October 28, 1965, we

read:

“Parents are, in fact, the first and foremost educators of their children within a family atmosphere animated with love – providing a well-rounded formation.

The family can be called the first school of those social virtues that every society needs.

The Christian family is enriched by the grace of the sacrament of marriage and is the place where children are first taught to know and love God and to know and love their neighbor.

Here they come to understand human companionship, here they are introduced to civic life and here they are initiated into the parish community.”

And I want to say:   WOW – you parents, and grandparents, have a huge role to play in your children’s lives.  And that is why, if you remember, you were given a special blessing at the end of your child’s baptism – because they church realizes how awesome, and difficult, your role is.

And that is why this Church document continues:  “And while the family is basic, it also needs the help of the wider community and society which oversees the work of parents and provides assistance to them.

And while the family and society have these roles, the Church, too, has a role in helping provide the kind of education through which all know Christ and develop their full humanness.”

So parents, and grandparents – you do have an awesome and difficult and important role to play in the lives of your children.  And our parish of St. Patrick is here to help you:

1st – in providing good and meaningful liturgies Sunday after Sunday – that helps shape all of us – adults and children – more and more into the image and likeness of Christ.

2nd – in providing our Children’s Faith Formation on Sunday mornings – that nurtures and develops your child’s sense of faith.

And 3rd – in providing a Catholic School, where every day, your child is challenged, inspired, and empowered in their faith — so they can serve.

As we celebrate Catholic Schools week – may we all realize the important task we all have in passing the faith on from one generation to the next.

May we appreciate the distinct roles all of us have in the task of education and formation.

Let us be thankful for those who give of their time, talent and treasure to support our parish’s role in these endeavors.

And may we be ever thankful for those who dedicate their lives to this ministry in the Church, and in particular – within our parish.

 

St. Patrick:  pray for us – and as our school children add every morning:  BECAUSE WE NEED IT!

Baptism of the Lord: Jan. 12/13, 2019

It was bedtime for six-year old Maria.  Her dad was at the computer, finishing up a report due at work the next day.

After a few minutes, he realized Maria was standing next to him.  “Honey, what do you need?”  He asked.  “Daddy is kind of busy.”

“It’s bedtime, Daddy.  I came to say goodnight.”

Still keeping one eye on his work, he gave Maria a hug and a kiss.

“Good night, sweet pea.  Sleep tight.  I love you.  Now off to bed,” Dad said, quickly returning to his report.

Again, after a few minutes, he realized Maria was still standing next to him.  “Honey, I gave you a hug and kiss.  What do you want now?”

Little Maria said, “Yes, Daddy.  You did give me a hug and kiss.  But you really weren’t into it.  How about doing it again, but this time give me your full attention.”

If we claim to be among Jesus’ followers, then Jesus demands that we be “into it” with him – that we give him our full attention – not just our passing thoughts from time to time – as we keep ourselves focused on something else.

True discipleship demands a constant awareness of God’s presence in our lives – true discipleship compels us to seek the presence of God in all things.

Today we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus – the official close to the Christmas season.  But as we celebrate Jesus’ baptism – we are called to remember our own Baptism – when three things happened to us after the life-giving waters of Baptism were poured over us:

We were anointed with the Oil of Chrism: and reminded that just as Christ was anointed priest, prophet, and king – so, too, are we. . . which in part means we strive to make ourselves, and those around us – holy.  >>

We accept the call to announce the good news of the kingdom by comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.  And we are good stewards of all the things God has loaned to us for our time here on earth:  every quality and skill, every kind and generous impulse, every material things we possess and every holy thing that dwells in our hearts and minds.

The second thing that happened to us at the time of our Baptism – was that we were clothed in a white garment – and asked to see in it – the outward sign of the change that took place within us – our dedication to Christ – and asked to keep our Christian dignity unstained – on our journey toward the kingdom of God –

which demands a constant awareness of God’s presence in our lives – and not just our passing thoughts from time to time.

And third, we were given a candle lit from the Easter or Paschal candle – symbolizing the light of Christ – and were challenged to walk always in the light of Christ, rather than in the darkness of sin – something which, again, compels us to seek the presence of God in all things.

 

Last week we were told that the Magi were “overjoyed” at finding Jesus in Bethlehem.  May we always be “overjoyed” at being called to follow Christ as a priest, prophet, and king.

And, like the Magi, may we always “search diligently” for Christ in our lives – so that we can always walk in his wonderful light – rather than in the darkness of sin.

To do both of these things – will require that we be “into it” with Jesus – that we give him our full attention – and not just our passing thoughts from time to time – as we keep focusing on something else, rather than him.

This is certainly a new year’s resolution fit for us all. . .

Christ our Light. . .