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July 24, 2014

Thursday in the 16th Week of the Church Yearlast supper 1

Saint for the day: St. Kunigunde (1224-1292)

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Jeremiah 2: 1 … 13

Psalm 36

Matthew 13:10-17

 

“To them that have, more will be given them.” (Matthew 13:12)

In the photograph, above, it’s easy to see that the apostles were gathered around Jesus at the Last Supper. “Much was being given to them…” However, it’s important to notice that Judas is the only one who is turned away from the face of Jesus and the only one without a halo. Much was being given to those apostles as it is being given to us. But we always have the possibility of turning away from that love and that gift. Free choice is always there and we can always turn it down. Sometime back I remember hearing that astrophysicists had discovered “the God particle” deep in space. Yet, as far as I know, nothing much has come of this discovery. In today’s Gospel Jesus tells his disciples “Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven has been granted to you but not to them.”

And the disciples are sent out by Jesus to proclaim the Kingdom by bringing sight to the blind and hearing to those who the bridgeare deaf to the wonders of God. It’s interesting to note that Jesus doesn’t send them out to explain the wonder of God but, rather, to open the eyes and ears of those who cannot see or hear.When something is explained (the word means ‘flattened out’) something is lost in the translation and we lose the mystery of God’s presence. We are not expected to find the “God fog pathparticle” or to unravel the mysteries of creation but simply put, to encounter the wonder of God’s love and mercy for His people. St. Thomas Aquinas says, “no one goes after evil for evil’s sake, but only when they perceive it as good.” The Israelites in the desert didn’t follow pagan ways because they were wrong, but sought Baal thinking that this God might be better than Yahweh who appears to have left them in this desert wilderness.

In the Gospel Jesus tells why he uses parables, so that hearing they may not understand and seeing they may not comprehend.” Then He lays out this harsh statement: “To them that have, more will be given. To them that have not, even what they have will be take away.” On the surface these statements seem cruel but I think that we have to approach it from another angle and see that God begins to feed us with “spiritual milk” and we need to grow with that food at first. If we balk at “this wretched milk” we will find ourselves out in the “weeping and gnashing” area but if we stay in close contact with our God he will gradually give us more and more of the necessary means to grow in His love.   It's kind of like when the fog lifts over the Golden Gate Bridge on or the path we are walking on.  Amen!

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July 23, 2014

Wednesday in the 16th Week of the Church Year

Saint for the day: St. Bridget (1303? - 1373)grace 2

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Jeremiah 1:1, 4-10

Psalm 71

Matthew 13:1-9

“Jesus told them this parable: ‘A sower went out to sow and some seed fell on the path … some fell on rocky ground … some fell among thorns … but some seed fell on rich soil, and produced … a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

These words from today’s Holy Gospel must be important for us to hear since we just heard this same scripture two Sunday’s ago! So, rather than just saying, “Ho, hum! Heard that before…” we need to look closely to see how it still speaks to us. I think the bottom line might be that we need to be careful about how we put ourselves into this parable. It’s not so much a matter of trying to see which of the examples given reflect our lives but to perhaps see that there are times when we might be one or the other or even all four. I don’t gracethink it would be difficult to look at our own lives and see how we let the love and mercy of God enter into our day-to-day experience of journeying with Jesus. But we also need to look at what robs us of the hundred fold yield that Jesus wants to give us? If God “gifts us” with the faith and we just let is sit there on the edge of our lives; not actively receiving it and making it a part of our faith walk then it is useless. I think I can let you continue on your own to see how this parable might apply in your own lives. Remember: our “journey of faith” is not a “once-in-a-lifetime-event” but an on-going way of life that must be nurtured by God’s love on a regular basis. You can use the parable of the “Talents” to help you see that the gift of faith is a two-way-street that requires each of us to – not only receive, but, also to act on. God’s love and mercy are always being poured out to us but it’s up to each of us to allow God’s love to reach into the depths of our lives where it can yield the “Hundred-fold” return. I love the last line of this Holy Gospel: “Whoever has ears ought to hear!” If we go back to the opening verse of St. John’s Gospel we hear: “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God. And the Word was God!” This is what we all need to “hear” and grasp and make real in our lives in order to produce that hundred-fold yield. Amen!

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July 21, 2014

Monday in the 16th Week of the Church Yearwalking 2

Saint for the day:   St. Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619)

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Micah 6:1 … 8   -   Psalm 50   -   Matthew 12:38-42

“You have been told – what the Lord requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

walkingThese words, quoted above, from the end of our first scripture reading from the Book of the Prophet Micah, hold the essence of our call to follow God/Jesus: “… to always do what is right; to love – e.g. pursue – goodness; and to humbly continue your journey with God.” Take a moment to let these words sink in. It begins with the admonition “to always do what is right.” Notice that it doesn’t say, “to do what is popular” or what everyone else is doing. It makes me think, “How can anyone shoot down an airliner, taking innocent lives, and say that it is right?” Try to think what it means to “love goodness.” Is it even possible to “love goodness” and do evil at the same time? I don’t think so. I think those words of St. Thomas Aquinas are key: “nobody chooses evil because it is evil. They only choose it because they perceive it as a good.” That’s where the words of St. Paul come into play: "...let your minds be renewed in the mind of Jesus.” (A paraphrase of Romans 12:2ff) In fact all of chapter 12 of Romans is a good parallel to the thoughts I am talking about today.

When the S & P’s ask Jesus for a sign he gives them the “sign of Jonah” which is basically putting your own life on the line. Jesus, as Son of God, could have easily “zapped” anybody who didn’t think the way He did. But that’s not what He did. Rather, He laid down his own life – death on a cross – that we would have access to life everlasting. Try to have an image of what it means to “walk humbly with God.” In those four little words you should be able to grasp the essence of what it means to be a believer: we don’t walk ahead of God or behind God. We are told to walk with God. If we are holding hands with God it would be difficult to also do evil at the same time. I can’t help but think of the “freedom marches” with lines of people all holding hands, trying desperately to be people of peace. Now, go back up to the top of today’s reflection and slowly read those words again:

“Only to do the right and to love goodness and to walk humbly with your God.” If you go back to the line just above what I quote here you’ll read: “this is what the Lord requires of you. It’s written in the singular, present perfect sense of the words. Just think what our world would be like if each one of us tried to do that with just two other people. What a wonderful world it would be! Amen!

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July 22, 2014

Tuesday in the 16th Week of the Church Yearraised up

Saint for the day: St. Mary Magdalene

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Micah 7:14 … 20

Psalm 85

John 20:1 … 38

The Icon pictured above is often mistaken as the Resurrection of Jesus

when, in fact it is the decent of Jesus into the regions of Hell.

 

 St. Mary Magdalene, often called the “Apostle to the Apostles,” is the subject of many overlapping stories down through the ages. Scholars have often confused her with other Marys in the Gospels. Yet, the one fact that is paramount is today’s Holy Gospel according to St. John in which she is the first one to encounter the Risen Jesus. And the one fact that is important for us to note is that she only realizes that – the man whom she thought was a gardener – is recognized when He calls her by name. We can’t overlook the fact that this encounter takes place in a garden and – in a sense – removes the curse of our first parents. The  icon picutred above shows  a tomb with the stones removed, which many mistakenly think is Jesus being raised. It is, in fact, Jesus freeing Adam and Eve who have been sleeping in Hades awaiting their own resurrection. Jesus stands triumphant on the top of the cross  as he helps all the holy men and women - along with Adam Noli Me Tangereand Eve - enter into the glory of Heaven. Today's Gospel encounter of Mary Magdalene and Jesus has every element of a Baptismal ceremony. Think about that connection: what is the first thing that is asked of parents who bring their child for Baptism? “What do you want?” And, “what name do you have for this child?” In today’s Gospel the Resurrected Jesus, who is not recognized by Mary, asks her those same questions and she has her own, private “epiphany moment” when Jesus calls her by name. There’s an old Gospel hymn that begins, “I heard the Lord call my name listen close you’ll hear the same.” In the Garden of Eden, God calls out to Adam and Eve who run and hide. In today’s Gospel Garden, Mary Magdalene comes to recognize the resurrected Jesus when He calls her by name. Then, she does what any of us would have done: she grabs on to Him in an effort to make this revelation moment last. But He tells her not to cling to Him but, rather to go and tell the disciples that He is going to complete His mission. And there we have it! Back to square one.

“Go out and announce what you have seen… I will be with you always … but out there on the way to the Kingdom.”

Close your eyes and let this familiar Gospel come alive for you. Put yourself into the scene and imagine that you are the one looking for Jesus. Let His calling you by name be a key that unlocks your hardened heart and frees you from all your doubts. This is what turns you from a saddened, disappointed mourner into a disciple eager to spread the Good News.  Amen.

“Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin … who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency.” (Micah 7:18-19)

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July 20, 2014

16th Sunday of the yearwheatsower

Wisdom 12: 13…19

Romans 8:26-27

Matthew 13:24-43

"The Kingdom of Heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field - expecting a good yield."

These opening words to today's Holy Gospel plants the seed for three images of Heaven: the wheat and weeds; the mustard seed; & the leaven & dough. Jesus gives His followers three different choices in ways that they might come to understand the desire that God has for all people to come into the kingdom of Heaven. This invitation is given to all the people who have not always been faithful to the covenant - who have been committed at one time and fickle at another (wheat & weeds); to the poor and insignificant of the world – the little people (the mustard seed) and those “rolling in dough” the ones who are puffed up (the leaven) and think they have already “made it on their own “ and that are still needing God’s kneading to add that little extra push to make it all work.

As is usually the case, we are, at various times in our lives in one or another of those images. We commit to follow Jesus and then drift away. We have periods when we think ourselves too insignificant to be of any worth in the larger picture of   Salvation history and – the category where most of us spend the greater part of our journey - self-reliant and comfortable being a “pancake” when God would have us be a huge, delicious Bundt Cake! The choice is always there and God doesn’t force His presence on us. “Life is a banquet and most poor sob’s are starving to death!” Pardon “my French” but it’s a quote from “Auntie Mame!” Amen?

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