8 Ordinary Time

Jesus knows human nature so well — he knows how easy it is for us to see the weaknesses and faults of other people — but how hard it is to see those same things in ourselves.  Each of us has a plank in our eyes which blinds us to our faults – while they are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with us – or worked in the same office. . .

Once there was a young monk who committed a serious fault.  Immediately, the older members of the community assembled to pass judgement on him.  However, they would not proceed until their abbot joined them. So they sent the message that they were waiting on him.

The abbot stopped work at his desk and took up an old basket which had many holes in it – filled it with sand, and left his office to meet up with the assembled monks — all the while leaving a trail of sand in his wake – which was leaking out of the holes in the basket.

The elders of the monastery came to meet him and asked him what the reason for the trail of sand was all about – after all, someone was going to have to sweep it up!

The abbot calmly and quietly said:  “my sins are running out behind me. Everywhere I go I leave a trail of faults after me –

only most of the time I don’t see them myself.  And yet today, you want me to sit in judgement on my brother. . .”

On hearing the story, the older monks felt ashamed of themselves.  They quickly pardoned their brother and life went on in the monastery.

Without realizing it, we can become professional fault-finders and critics.  But fault-finders and critics are not the ones who change the world. . .

Jesus tells us to take the beam out of our eye first – and then we can think about removing the splinter from our neighbor’s eye.  We must put our own house in order before daring to try to put someone else’s house in order.

If we neglect this — then we are judging others not to bring about good in their lives, but only to feed something within our own lives – like jealousy or pride.  There are few things that give as much satisfaction to the ego as pointing out the mistakes and faults of others!

But oh how anxious we are to correct others!  If only we could tell someone else their faults – life would be so much better for all of us!  When we think like this, we are thinking only of ourselves. But how we hate and dread being corrected ourselves!  We find it unbearable – especially if it is done by certain people in our lives.

An old sailor who had a pack-a-day smoking habit, took his pet parrot to the vet when it developed a persistent cough.   He was worried that the second-hand smoke had damaged the parrot’s health. He had the vet examine the bird and after a thorough check-up, the vet determined there was nothing wrong with the parrot —- it had merely been imitating the constant cough of its smoking master.

Pseudo-religion, which Jesus calls hypocrisy – is forever trying to make other people better.  True religion –which Jesus consistently calls us to — tries to make only oneself better. And perhaps in making oneself better – making those around them better.

Be merciful, just as your heavenly Father is merciful.  Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.  Forgive and you will be forgiven.

What wonderful thoughts to carry with us into Lent!

6 Ordinary Time

“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.  He 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.”

Remember in St. Luke’s Gospel:  this is Jesus’ mission statement:  who he is and what he stands for. It is so clearly exemplified in Luke’s Parable of the Good Samaritan which will hear later this year.  This is Jesus’ mission of mercy — and he invites us, his disciples, to “follow me.” – that is, he wants his mission to become ours.

One excuse we might give for declining Jesus’ invitation – is that we don’t feel worthy enough or qualified enough to follow him.  Hopefully we did a good job of de-bunking that excuse last week —

for when the grace of God is at work within us — all things become possible.  We can join the long list of the most unlikely people God chooses to do great things:  because it isn’t the equipped that are called – it is the called that are equipped.

Just like in our day – Jesus faced people with a radical choice:  to live by the values of the world (the pursuit of money, pleasure, popularity, power, prestige) OR to live by the values of the Kingdom of God  —

which he clearly continues to lay out for us today:  poverty of spirit, cleanness of heart, capacity to show mercy, and the ability to suffer in the cause of right. .

Today we begin reading what is known as St. Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain” which continues for the next couple of weeks – until we begin the season of Lent.  We are often cheated out of hearing these readings every three years – because by now, we have usually started Lent: it has been nine years since we have heard these particular readings. . .

So over the next couple of weeks – we hear some radical stuff – love your enemies, pray for those who mistreat you.  Stop judging and you will not be judged. >>

Don’t complain about the splinter in your neighbor’s eye all the while having a plank in your own.  All coming down to the choice we can freely make: building the house of our lives on the solid rock of Christ – or the shifting sands of the world. . .

Like St. Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount – because Matthew says:  “when Jesus saw the crowds he went up the mountain and began to teach them” – St. Luke’s Sermon on the Plain – because Luke says:  “Jesus came down with the Twelve and stood on a stretch of level ground” —– both begin with a version of the Beatitudes.  

But there are differences.

Where Matthew has eight Beatitudes, Luke has only four – which he contrasts with four WOES:  which is keeping with his uncompromising style when it comes to following Jesus – the language of Luke is always much more direct and hard-hitting.

Matthew’s Beatitudes propose a set of attitudes which reflect the spirit of the Kingdom – qualities to be found in the truly Christian and human life.  

Luke, on the other hand, speaks of material conditions in this life which will be overturned – much like we hear in Mary’s Magnificat – found only in Luke’s Gospel:  “God has shown might with his arm – dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

 He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.”

Radical  stuff!

Again, Luke’s Gospel is known as the Gospel of Mercy. . .  which Pope Francis said is essential in living the Christian life – -because it not only allows us to understand ourselves and God better – but it also prompts us to recognize and help those in need.

Mercy, the Holy Father says, “makes us understand that violence, resentment and revenge have no place in our Christian lives, and the first victim is whoever lives these sentiments – because it deprives them of their own human dignity.”

Additionally, mercy allows us to open the door of our hearts and draw close to those who are “alone and marginalized, recognizing those in need and finding the right words to say to comfort them.”

Luke, in his Gospel of Mercy, gives us many stories that are found only in his Gospel to illustrate his radical ideas:

The sinful woman who bathes the feet of Jesus (7:36-50)

As we already know — the parable of the Good Samaritan (10:29-37)  

The parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and the lost or prodigal son (15:1-32)

The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector at prayer (18:9-14)

The call of the tax collector Zacchaeus (19:1-10)

Jesus’ prayer on the cross for the forgiveness of his executioners (23:34)

And Jesus’ words of mercy to the “good thief” (23:39-43) “today you will be with me in paradise.”

All show that no one is outside of the possibility of salvation — offered by Jesus.

I think St. Luke wants to accomplish a couple of things by his radical nature –

1st he wants us to know that there is a cost in following Jesus – being a Christian will not make us popular people – because we are living our lives by a different set of values than everyone else may be living theirs.

2nd – that the choice of following Jesus is not something we make once – and then are finished with – but the choice to follow Jesus requires a commitment from us every day — to seek out the lost and the brokenhearted and those wanting to be healed or those hungering for forgiveness.

And that 3rd – both of these require our full attention – and not just our passing thoughts from time to time as we keep ourselves focused on something else.

Radical thinking – more precisely – radical being and radical acting.  So are we going to commit or not? Or do we now have the excuse we have been looking for – not following Jesus – because we don’t want to go where he leads?  But if we are unwilling to go where our leader, our Good Shepherd wants to lead us — we cannot call ourselves a Christian!!!!!!

Blessed are you who are poor.

Blessed are you who are hungry.

Blessed are you who are weeping.

Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, and denounce your name as evil – simply because——— you follow after me. . .

Ms. Monaghan’s Message

Good morning St. Patrick families! I woke up this morning a little flustered realizing it’s Friday and not Tuesday as I had in mind it to be.  These snow days have really thrown me off!  But, I realized, how truly grateful I am for the opportunity to wake up each day and walk through the doors of St. Patrick School.  Please see the link below for my message this week.  I hope to see our girls and their special guys at PTO’s “Ties and Tiaras” dance tomorrow night!  Have a great weekend, Kaci Monaghan Principal St. Patrick Schoo www.smore.com/2195q-ms-monaghan-s-message-feb-22 

Ties and Tiaras

Dear St. Patrick families. Our annual, “Best Guy/Best Gal Father/Daughter” dance is this Saturday, Feb. 23!  Dads, Grandpa’s, Uncles, Brothers, Cousins, and Friends, you don’t want to miss out on this special evening where you can treat your little princess to a night of fun!  This year, we will have dinner, dancing, and lots of fun! You can purchase advance tickets in the school office, or just pay at the door!  Whatever you decide to do, we hope to see YOU there!! Kaci Monaghan Principal St. Patrick School

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!