Way back on January 27th, on the third Sunday of Ordinary Time – we heard these words from the beginning of St. Luke’s Gospel:
In the synagogue at Nazareth, where he had grown up, Jesus unrolled the scroll and found the passage of Isaiah where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. God has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
And Jesus said to them: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
With these words, Jesus told those in Nazareth, and he tells us – what his life is all about – what his mission statement is. . .
I thought it would be a good idea to revisit those words and that mission – because, in case you haven’t noticed – we are back to green – Easter and other feast days are over and done with — and now we begin our looooong stretch of Ordinary Time.
Beginning today, the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, we will begin a methodical count of Sundays all the way up to the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary time on November 17 – and then celebrate the Feast of Christ the King –
and then begin a new liturgical year with the season of Advent – at which point we will probably be complaining about the cold and frigid weather. . .
In most years, our methodical count is interrupted by a feast day or two falling on a Sunday: the Transfiguration here, the Assumption there, and perhaps the feast of All Saints or All Souls, the Birth of John the Baptist or the feast of Saints Peter and Paul — but not this year. Our counting is a straight shot – which means our reading of St. Luke’s Gospel is uninterrupted: from now until late November, wherever we leave off reading the Gospel on one Sunday – we will usually pick right back up reading the next Sunday—
which will give us the clearest picture possible of that mission of Jesus – which needs to become our mission:
Bringing glad tidings to the poor, proclaiming liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and allowing the oppressed to go free.
St. Luke’s Gospel is written for the underdogs of this world – those who always find themselves at the bottom of the pile, who never seem to get a break, and who always fall behind in some way.
In the coming weeks as we read some interesting parables unique to St. Luke – like the farmer who feels the need to build bigger barns, guests who attend banquets, a woman who loses a coin —
And as we meet some interesting people: like a “Good” Samaritan, a rich man and Lazarus in the afterlife, a Pharisee and tax collector praying, 10 lepers who are cured, the tree climbing Zacchaeus, and a good thief who hangs on the cross next to Jesus —- who knows — we may just find out that we are among the poor, the captive, the blind and the oppressed – who desperately need to hear the liberating message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Over the next 20 weeks – we may have a guest speaker or two, hear a good story or two, have some laughs or shed some tears —
all as we do as Jesus does today – be resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem —
and we know as well as Jesus does what awaits us there: the cross —- from which our glorious king will eventually reign.
If we are going to be successful on our journey, and most especially if we are going to be successful in our mission of proclaiming the Gospel —we have to do two things — keep our eyes, minds, and hearts focused on Jesus — and know that we do not journey alone – in fact we cannot journey alone – we need the care and support of one another —- and we will have a story about that just next week.
The color for Ordinary Time is green — and out of curiosity – I googled “the meaning of the color green” and this is what I found:
GREEN is the color of life, renewal, nature, and energy. Green is associated with meanings of growth, harmony, freshness, safety, fertility and the environment. All life-giving and Gospel oriented things and themes. . .
Now listen to this contrast: GREEN is also traditionally associated with money, finances, banking, ambition, greed, and jealousy. Not quite as life-giving and certainly world oriented things and themes.
What are we going to keep our focus on? The world and its values, or the gospel?
The world promises acceptance.
The gospel promises the cross.
The world offers flesh and flash.
The gospel offers faith.
The world says: follow everyone else and fit in.
The gospel says: follow Jesus and stand out.
The world promises to please.
The gospel promises to save.
God doesn’t want to hear our excuses – like the ones Jesus had to listen to in the Gospel –
Let me go first and bury my father — let me first go and say farewell to my family at home – our excuses might include we are too busy, we don’t have the time or the energy, we have better things to do . . .
No, God doesn’t want our excuses – God just wants a commitment from us and asks which is it going to be — the world or the Gospel??
Let’s end with a prayer from the Letter to the Hebrews:
Let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us— and persevere in running the race that lies before us — while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross and has taken his seat at the right hand of God.
May we not grow weary or lose heart as we strive to follow after Jesus. AMEN! (12:1-3)
By Fr. Matthew Brumleve
Mercy, Pope Francis says, is the very face of God. The pope also said: “Mercy makes us understand that violence, resentment, and revenge have no place in the life of a Christian.” But oh how we love those things – rather than forgiveness. . .
There once was a little boy, Johnny, who was visiting his grandparents on their farm. And his grandfather gave him a slingshot to play with out in their vast woods.
The boy practiced shooting his slingshot every day – but he could never hit what he was aiming at – trees, stumps, tin cans on fence posts. . . all were missed – why, he probably couldn’t even hit the side of the barn!
Getting a little discouraged after a week, he decided to give up on the slingshot.
But as he neared the house from walking back from the woods that day – he saw his grandmother’s pet duck. Just out of impulse, he picked up a rock, put it in the slingshot and let fly at the duck – most to his surprise – he hit the duck square in the head and killed it.
Johnny was shocked and scared. . . it was his grandmother’s pet duck! In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the woodpile – only to see his sister, Sally, watching. Sally had seen what had happened – but said nothing.
Until after lunch that day – when Grandma said, “Sally, help with the dishes.” And Sally said, “Grandma, Johnny told me HE wanted to help with the dishes, don’t you Johnny?” And she quietly whispered to him, Remember the Duck. . .
So Johnny helped with the dishes. Later, Grandpa said, “let’s go fishing.” Sally and Johnny were both ready to go – until grandma said, “I need Sally to stay and help me clean the house.” And Sally said, “Oh no, grandma – Johnny will be more than willing to say and help, won’t you Johnny?” As she quietly whispered, Remember the Duck. . . So Johnny stayed, and Sally went fishing with grandpa.
After several days of doing BOTH his chores and Sally’s, Johnny could not stand it anymore. He went to his Grandmother and confessed that he had accidently killed the duck. She knelt down, gave him a hug and said, “Sweatheart, I know. I was standing at the window and saw it all. But because I love you, I forgave you. But I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you. . .”
Something like that happened in today’s Gospel – and happens in our lives. There was, you recall, a campfire. Around it, Peter, Jesus’ hand-picked leader of his group, denied him three times – and with swearing and cursing at that!
Then, loaded with guilt, Peter bolted from the fire and fled into the dark streets of Jerusalem. Still enslaved by his guilt, he apparently just wanted to go back to what he knew best — fishing — rather than doing that fishing for men and woman as Jesus had invited him to do.
That’s where we find him in today’s Gospel. Then, as we heard, Peter unexpectedly found himself around another campfire. This time he had the chance to affirm his love for Jesus three times – and Jesus, who was wondering just how long his guilt would make a slave of him – embraced Peter and forgave him – and set him free — just as Johnny’s grandmother did for him.
But this should not surprise us. Mercy was Jesus’ name and forgiveness was his game – not revenge. And hopefully we can all nod in agreement and be filled with gratitude that Jesus will give us a second chance as well, no matter what we do. . .
For Jesus, there is always another campfire around which to set things right – for all of us. And it is only when we are liberated from our fear, our guilt, our pain and confusion – that we can do what Jesus asks of us – just as he asked Peter:
LOVE ME: BY FEEDING MY LAMBS, BY TENDING MY SHEEP, BY FEEDING MY SHEEP – that is how we are called to follow after Christ.
And we cannot do that if we are carrying around the weight of the past – being held back by grudges, or seeking to harm or retaliate against another – by reminding them of the ducks they have slain. . .
Mercy: is the very face of God. We show mercy to others by forgiveness, and through love:
Feed my lambs.
Tend my sheep.
Feed —- my sheep.
Come, let us follow after the Lord.
By Fr.Matthew Brumleve
During the Jubilee year of 2000: Pope John Paul II designated this 2nd Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.
On this Sunday, and throughout the Easter season and in fact – throughout our lives — we are invited to take up the strength of grace that comes to us from the mercy of God – and show that mercy to others.
THAT is a direct command which always comes to us in the Gospel on the 2nd Sunday of Easter. Jesus says to the disciples [and to us]: “As the Father has sent me, so I also send you.”
After saying this, Jesus then entrusts them with a special task, telling them: “receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive — are forgiven.”
This is the meaning of mercy that is presented to us by Christ: forgiveness. Not carrying around the weight of the past – not to be held back by grudges, not seeking harm or retaliation of another — but forgiveness.
The first task the risen Christ gave to his followers is to forgive one another. . . This commission is to be a concrete and visible sign of Christ’s mercy.
Today, in Pope Francis – we have a Pope who never tires of talking about mercy. “Mercy,” the Pope says, “is the face of God.”
I can do no better today than to simply read some of Pope Francis’ quotes on mercy – pausing after each one to let it soak in a bit – and then we will end with an appropriate response to mercy – singing.
Pope Francis says:
“Jesus kept his wounds so that we would experience his mercy. This can strengthen us and give us hope.”
“Let us never forget that mercy is the keystone of the life of faith –and a concrete way with which we give visibility to the Resurrection of Christ.”
“We are all sinners but God heals us with an abundance of grace and mercy and tenderness. We are called to go and do likewise.”
“Mercy is a verb – not a noun: we have to show mercy in order to receive mercy. We cannot meditate on mercy without it turning into action.”
“Start by feeling compassion for the poor and the outcast – then surely you will come to realize that you, yourself, stand in need of mercy.”
“Mercy warms the heart and makes it sensitive to the needs of our brothers and sisters. Mercy commits everyone to being an instrument of justice, reconciliation and peace.”
“For it is by mercy that the Lord forgives our sins and gives us grace to practice acts of mercy in God’s name.”
“Mercy makes us understand that violence, resentment, and revenge have no place in the life of a Christian. The first victim is whoever lives these sentiments – because it deprives them of their own dignity.”
“The most important thing in the life of every man and woman is not that they should never fall along the way – the important thing is always to get back up – not staying on the ground and licking your wounds. God’s mercy helps us to do that – to get back up — and our mercy can help others do it.”
“If our hearts are closed – if our hearts are made of stone – the stones quickly find their way into our hands and we are ready to throw them. So open your heart to mercy – -and let go of the stones.”
“God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking God’s mercy,”
“Let the church always be a place of mercy and hope – where everyone is welcomed, loved, and forgiven.”
After meditating on mercy – how can we keep from singing? So I invite you to turn to #494 in the hymnals to learn a simple refrain. . .
Mighty Spirit of our Lord. . .
Give us faith to live your word.
You have loved us as your own. . .
Make us turn to you alone.
May we be a blessing true. . .
Christ as Lord of all we do.
Be the fountain of each soul. . .
Flow in us and make us whole.
Make us children of your light. . .
As your gospel shining bright.
God who lives beyond our death. . .
Love as near as every breath.
As the mystic St. Faustina taught us to pray:
For the sake of his sorrowful Passion – have mercy on us and on the whole world. AMEN!
By Father Matthew Brumleve
On behalf of myself and our deacons: Jim Koger and Mike Lewis,
Our Principal: Kaci Monaghan.
Early childhood director: Mary Ragan
Liturgist and financial coordinator: Robin Lamb
Religious Education Director: Jean Folken
Office Administrator: Lisa Angotti –
And anyone else I may be forgetting about –
I wish all of you a happy and holy Easter! We are glad you chose to spend part of your day with us here at St. Patrick – and hope you get to spend the rest of your day with family and friends:
Enjoying some good food, a little candy, perhaps an Easter egg hunt – but most especially just enjoying each other’s company.
The resurrection of Jesus calls us to NEW LIFE – and so may you find the strength and grace you need in this liturgy and in this Easter season – to be a witness to the resurrected Christ in your home, your place of work, here in the parish – and in your schools and neighborhoods. And to this we say: ALLEULUIA!
It was Art Linkletter who first told us years ago – that kids say the darndest things. And if we need proof of this – here are a few examples:
** An exasperated mother, whose son was always getting into mischief, finally asked him: “Carl, how do you ever expect to get into heaven?”
The boy thought it over for a moment and finally said: “Well, I’ll just run in an out //and in and out// and in and out – and keep slamming the door – until St. Peter finally says, ‘For heaven’s sake, Carl, either come in or stay out,’ —and then I’ll just stay in!”
**After listening restlessly to a long and tedious homily, a six year old boy asked his father what the priest did the rest of the week. “Oh, he stays pretty busy,” his father replied.
“He takes care of Church business, visits the sick, helps the poor. . . and then he has to rest up. You know — Speaking in public isn’t an easy job.”
The boy thought about that, and then said, “well let me tell you – listening in public— ain’t an easy job either!”
** A Sunday school teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan, in which the man was beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the side of the road.
She described the situation in vivid detail so her students would be drawn into the drama.
Then she asked the class, “If you saw a person lying on the roadside all wounded and bleeding – what would YOU do?
A thoughtful girl broke the hushed silence by saying, “I think I would throw up!”
And finally, for any friends we may have from Minnesota – and I think we have a few — A little girl from the twin cities came home from Sunday school with a frown on her face and a real attitude. . .
“I am NEVER going back there anymore,” she declared. “I don’t like the Bible they keep teaching us from.”
A little worried, the girl’s mother asked: “Why not?”
“Because,” said the little girl, “the Bible THEY use is always saying St. Paul this – St. Paul that. You would think that every once in a while –they could say SOMETHING about Minneapolis!!!”
There is a reason for telling such things on Easter Sunday – because I think above all else – Easter is a day for LAUGHING. . .
LAUGHING at the folly of the scribes and Pharisees and Roman officials — who thought they could silence the message Jesus was proclaiming – by silencing the messenger. . .
LAUGHING at the naiveté of the Pilate and the guards – who thought a stone – even a very big one – could contain the risen Lord.
LAUGHING at either the fear of the lack of faith on the part of the disciples that kept them hidden away – while women went to the tomb as the first day of the week was dawning.
LAUGHING perhaps even at ourselves who continue to think all of this is just too good to be true.
Yes, on Easter – we can laugh at darkness, laugh at sin, laugh at death, laugh at the power of evil: BECAUSE JESUS HAS BEEN RISEN FROM THE DEAD!
LAUGH because the TOMB IS EMPTY – the long reign of sin and death have ended!
LAUGH because our salvation has been won FOR US – we don’t have to do anything to earn it!
LAUGH for life is now perfected in Jesus the son!
AND OUR RESPONSE TO THIS CAN’T HELP BUT BE:
Alleluia, alleluia. Alleluia! Happy Easter!
By Fr. Matthew Brumleve
First of all, I want to say congratulations to Sarah – who will be Baptized tonight,
And Jennifer – who will be making a profession of faith. And hopefully you realize what we do tonight just marks the beginning of your journey in our Catholic faith – not the end – because our journey with the Lord is life-long — and ends when we gaze face to face at Christ in heaven.
I welcome all those who have come to be with you both this evening – and with the faith community of St. Patrick as we celebrate this solemn vigil tonight. And, of course, I wish all of you a happy Easter.
In however God led you here tonight – I am glad you are with us — and hope you experience something in this liturgy which re-ignites the flame of faith in your heart so you can run from this place and boldly proclaim by your words and actions – the good news of Easter.
At the foot of my parent’s bed all throughout my life – there was a cedar chest – given to my mother years ago by her parents — as a hope chest.
So it was once filled with sheets and linens and I suppose pots and pans — all the things she would eventually need to set up her own household.
All those things were taken out – when her hope was fulfilled when she married my father in 1953.
That one-time hope chest then became a secure place for storing such things as photo albums, cast off baby blankets, war medals awarded to my uncles – and many other family treasures and heirlooms.
For well over 30 years — whenever I would go home, I would spend some time – exploring our family’s history by exploring the contents of that cedar chest. All of those precious items allowed me to connect to those who had gone before me – and gave me a sense of belonging.
As Christians – we spent some time tonight – a lot of time, really – exploring our family’s history by opening up our cedar chest – the Bible: both the Old and New Testaments. . .
We have listened attentively to the Word of God – in order to connect to those who have gone before us –so that we can have a sense of belonging.
We have read and sung more from the Scriptures tonight – 9 different readings plus the singing of Psalms – then we normally read in almost a month of Sundays!
And when we read from Scriptures – we always hear a consistent message: God loves us!
Tonight our cedar chest of readings from Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Baruch, Ezekiel, Romans, and Luke – spans roughly 2,000 years of time.
Near the bottom of the cedar chest – is the second reading from Genesis telling us of Abraham’s test from God which occurred some 75 years or so AFTER Abraham was first called by God: placed historically by scripture scholars around the year 1,800 BC.
And the top layer of the cedar chest — contains St. Paul’s letter to the Romans written around 57 AD – right before he is taken in chains to the great capital city of the Empire. And the Gospel of Luke, probably reaching its final written form around 85 AD.
The point I wish to make is not the exact span of time covered by the readings – which leads some to estimate the age of the world – but my point is the consistency of the story line within this broad range of readings…. The story that has repeated itself well over 2,000 years and will continue to repeat itself in our brief life span — and repeats itself in the very fabric of our individual faith lives.
That story line is:
In love, God reaches out to his people.
People respond to God’s love.
People get distracted by other things and stray from God.
God doesn’t give up and reaches out a 2nd, 3rd, and a 4th time – in love. God never gives up on us!
The question that comes to my mind is: I wonder if God ever gets tired?
Tired of you, tired of me, tired of all his created beings – who just can’t seem to stay focused or committed to him for very long. . . and stray off on their own – leaving home with their bags packed, always in search of greener pastures – but often times ending up in the slop of the pig sty. . .
And that is an easy question to be answered based on 2,000 years of Scripture: NO:
God never tires of extending his love, his mercy, his forgiveness, his grace – because God desires nothing more than to spend ALL eternity with each and every one of us. And so God wants to connect with us – to claim our hearts as his own – and so reaches out again, and again, and again.
THIS IS GOOD NEWS!!
We follow a very strange God – a God who lavishes —-lavishes—such extravagant love on each one of us. A get down on your knees God who does anything he needs to — so as to gain our attention AND capture our hearts: A God who does not even withhold his OWN SON from us – allowing him to be crucified for our sake.
The one who embraced the cross – rather than run from it.
The one who willing laid his hands upon the wood of the cross – instead of fighting it.
The one who willingly handed over his spirit – so that we might have that same spirit PULSING within us.
Jesus’ very spirit – who gives us life. Gives us courage. Gives us strength and confidence.
And the best news of all – is that not even a tomb with a huge stone at the door —could hold back God’s love for us!!!
NO – as the women who go to the tomb at daybreak on the first day of the week find out — the stone is rolled away from the tomb so that we could get in – and see that DEATH HAS BEEN ROBBED OF ITS POWER!!
The stone is rolled away – so that we could get in — and see that a new world order has begun – so that we could see the truth of Jesus words: “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up!”
The stone is rolled away – so that we could get in — to see, and hear, and experience that by his cross and resurrection, Jesus has set us free. Free from sin. Free from death. Free from our old ways of doing and being.
Free from all those things that may hold us back and distract us from following Jesus with all our minds and all our hearts – and keep us from loving our neighbor as ourselves.
The stone is rolled way — freeing us from all those things that keep us locked up in fear – than reaching out in mercy, and compassion, and forgiveness.
YES – the greatest news of all — is that the TOMB IS EMPTY.
And there is only one way of responding to such good news: alleluia – alleluia — alleluia!!
A life without pain seems like a good idea. No one in their right mind likes going through pain — it’s annoying and debilitating. That’s why we prefer things that don’t cause us discomfort.
But is a pain-free existence all it’s made out to be? I’m not quite sure when you consider a list of things to keep away from if you want a pain free life. To avoid pain:
*Don’t fall in love or commit yourself to someone.
*Don’t become a leader of any kind.
*Don’t give your opinion on anything important.
*Don’t set high standards for yourself or aspire to be the best at anything.
To avoid pain:
*Don’t try to help people, especially those most in need.
*Don’t take risks that may involve making mistakes that others may notice.
*Don’t listen to all the reasons to try something, but take heed of all the reasons not to.
*Don’t have kids, especially ones that grow up to be teenagers.
*And certainly to avoid pain, one should not try to make the world a better place. . .
We all began Lent in the quiet and desolation of the Desert. Lents ultimate end will be in a garden – where we will discover the tomb is empty.
Between now and then – during this Holy Week, there is a lot of pain. . . but the pain, cannot be avoided.
Motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, once said: “We will all suffer one of two things, either the pain of discipline, or the pain of regret or disappointment.”
The word discipline comes from the word disciple – which is Latin for pupil – one who follows after.
Let’s come to our senses – and make the commitment to follow after Jesus – to be his faithful disciples – to endure the pain of discipline — rather than the pain of regret or disappointment. Because whether we like it or not: there is no pain-free way to the garden of resurrection and new life.
Maybe it’s best for us this week to remember these words of Winston Churchill: “When you are going through hell, just keep going.” That’s certainly what Jesus did — as he set all the captives free.