Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

For over 80 years now the Serenity Prayer has been used by many twelve-step programs, it is written by Reinhold Niebuhr:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

We can change some things, but not others. Honesty and courage help us to know which is which and not to shrink from whatever we can change.

I love this Gospel passage from Matthew, note the very first line: Jesus addresses his question to the chief priests and the elders (the people that have power and influence over other people’s lives). Jesus isn’t happy with them at all! He sees that they don’t practice what they preach. Can you imagine what they are thinking when they hear Jesus state that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before them?  Oh yeah, definitely a should’ve had a V8 moment for sure! Tax collectors and prostitutes heard John the Baptist say “Repent, and change your ways, and know of God’s love for you!” And they did! And yet, even when the chief priests and elders witnessed this fact, they refused to change. They didn’t see any need to repent.

Change is not easy; in fact, it is extremely hard to do.  

Joke of the weekend:
Written by Norm Schmitz

The burial service for the elderly woman climaxed with a massive clasp of thunder, followed by a bolt of lightning, accompanied by even more thunder. “Well,” said her husband to the shaken pastor when it ended, “she’s there.”

Many of us could easily fill in the blanks of this sentence: “If only someone else _______________ (fill in one or more names) had done __________, then my life would have turned out much better.” We are, however, not nearly as likely to say, “If only I had done ____________, then my life would have turned out better.”  

People become adult Christians not simply by reaching a certain age but, more importantly, by accepting the responsibilities flowing from their Baptism as disciples of Jesus and by integrating into their faith life’s highs and lows.

In our freedom of choice, we have the ability to change, and if we’re willing and have the courage, then we are able to repent, and make that change.

God is calling each of us to change daily, just a little bit. Did you ever tell someone “Don’t change, I like you just the way you are.”? And, from that moment on they have no choice, but to change.

Hopefully, the homilies that have been given by me and Deacon Steve have had an impact on you, as we journey together, on this ever-changing thing we call life.

Readings for Sunday, September 27, 2020

Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Rejoice, O young man, while you are young 
and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart,
the vision of your eyes;
Yet understand that as regards all this
God will bring you to judgment.
Ward off grief from your heart
and put away trouble from your presence,
though the dawn of youth is fleeting.

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,
before the evil days come
And the years approach of which you will say,
I have no pleasure in them;
Before the sun is darkened,
and the light, and the moon, and the stars,
while the clouds return after the rain;
When the guardians of the house tremble,
and the strong men are bent,
And the grinders are idle because they are few,
and they who look through the windows grow blind;
When the doors to the street are shut,
and the sound of the mill is low;
When one waits for the chirp of a bird,
but all the daughters of song are suppressed;
And one fears heights,
and perils in the street;
When the almond tree blooms,
and the locust grows sluggish
and the caper berry is without effect,
Because man goes to his lasting home,
and mourners go about the streets;
Before the silver cord is snapped
and the golden bowl is broken,
And the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the broken pulley falls into the well,
And the dust returns to the earth as it once was,
and the life breath returns to God who gave it.

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
all things are vanity!

— ECCL 11:9-12:8

The peace of the Lord be with you. Once again the Old Testament reading reminds us of the stages of life. It particularly tells us to enjoy the days of our youth as these days will pass by quickly.

The days of our youth are days in which we are formed and made ready for the work which lays ahead of us. Some of these days will be glorious and others will be challenging allowing us to grow in new ways. This process is not only true for people, but also for communities and societies.

Throughout this process, it is important that we remember those things that are timeless and eternal. At the foundation of youth and all other stages, is the love of God who as the text above says makes our lasting home.

Today may we blessed to see the glory of God shining in the world through the various stages of life and making us ready for the life to come. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Saturday, September 26, 2020

Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every thing under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

What advantage has the worker from his toil?
I have considered the task that God has appointed
for the sons of men to be busied about.
He has made everything appropriate to its time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts,
without man’s ever discovering,
from beginning to end, the work which God has done.

— ECCL 3:1-11

The peace of the Lord be with you. This  piece from the Scriptures is so timely for things that are happening in our world today. It reminds us as history unfolds there will be a variety of things that will occur many of which will seem nonsensical and unnecessary, but as we’ve talked about in the past, none of us on the human side of things has the mind of God nor fully understands his ways. I guess that’s the reason they call it faith rather than knowing.

Holy Trinity I trust in you.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Friday, September 25, 2020

Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority
over all demons and to cure diseases,
and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God
and to heal the sick.
He said to them,

Take nothing for the journey,
neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money,
and let no one take a second tunic.
Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.
And as for those who do not welcome you,
when you leave that town,
shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.

Then they set out and went from village to village
proclaiming the Good News and curing diseases everywhere.

—Luke 9:1-6

The peace of the Lord be with you. There are so many layers to our Gospel today. One message of the Gospel today is that to be a follower Jesus means to be sent. Another meaning in the Gospel is that to be a follower of Jesus is be one who heals and tells others about the goodness of God. A third message is that to be a follower of Jesus means to be one who puts their trust in God for ones sustenance.

So today may the grace of God be with us and aid us in all our endeavors for the betterment of the world and the glory of God. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Tuesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him
but were unable to join him because of the crowd.
He was told,

Your mother and your brothers are standing outside
and they wish to see you.

He said to them in reply,

My mother and my brothers 
are those who hear the word of God and act on it.

The peace of the Lord be with you. Family has a lot of definitions and variety. As I grew up, close friends of my mom and dad were referred as aunt or uncle although they had no blood relationship to our family. In the Gospel today, Jesus broadens the definition of family beyond blood lines to those who follow the ways of God. If you think about this it makes a lot of sense as we have a common point of origin. Jesus makes the point that it is the desires of our heart that truly makes us daughters and sons of the most high. This is how we truly bear our family resemblance.

So today let us live out this legacy of love as we take up our daily work using our talents to make the world a better place in His name. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the last week we have added a member to our household. She is about 11 weeks old and her name is Maggie. Maggie is an English Springer Spaniel. She is beautiful and full of fun but here is the problem: Maggie thinks like a dog not like a human. There is really nothing wrong with her natural inclinations — that is, if she was going to be living primarily with other dogs, but her life will mean having more time with people rather than other dogs. So we are learning how to communicate with each other. She has taught us how recognize when she has to go out, when she is tired, or when she is hungry. We are teaching her how to recognize when we want her to pay attention to us, and the rules for living in our house. We have not been her only teachers — our cat Mattea has also lent a hand by helping her to understand that furry objects that hiss and growl often come with sharp claws that make noses sting. 

As I was watching Linda this morning doing some training with Maggie, it struck me that this is what our readings are telling us this weekend: that we are human and that we do not naturally think or understand the ways of God. It appears that this was the case even before the fall from our true human nature. From the very beginning, God was instructing Adam and Eve how to conduct themselves so we could have a good relationship with each other and with Him. God is a very patient, caring teacher, but also a detail-oriented teacher. 

The readings from Isaiah offer words of encouragement as they tell us to seek the Lord while he may be found, to learn His ways and to walk away from those things that are destructive, thus robbing us of the fullness of life.

Saint Paul in our second reading describes how the more he began to understand the ways of God, he realized the purpose of our life affords us an opportunity to serve God and teach others about God’s goodness. And even death will not end our lives, because though actions of Jesus and our faithfulness to God’s ways, our souls will finally find their place of rest in our eternal home. 

It is to that end — for the salvation of souls — that the Gospel reminds us that God wants absolutely no soul to be lost to darkness or deprived of His friendship. Like the laborers who were called earlier in the day, God would like us to hear and accept his invitation early on so that we can experience the gift of his closeness as we live out our days here on earth. God also understands that there are conditions and things that injure some souls. These wounds may hinder, block, or prevent a person from being able to receive him. In very severe cases like this it may only be in the final hours of life that the soul is prepared and ready to receive His love. God still wants us, even when do not want Him and actively reject Him.

You are here today because you have heard that call and have accepted Gods invitation to friendship. We are all familiar with the tools that God has provided us so that we can learn about his ways. Despite our many ways of communicating with each other, there is still a lot of misunderstanding, confusion, and a complete lack of awareness that such tools exist. Our understanding, our friendship, our desire to seek to understand and to see each other are like those little bits of cheese we have been offering to Maggie. These are actions open doors to communication, to relationship, and encourage the soul to seek the ways of God.

Readings for Sunday, September 20, 2020

Friday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another,
preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Accompanying him were the Twelve
and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities,
Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza,
Susanna, and many others
who provided for them out of their resources.

— Luke 8:1-3

The peace of the Lord be with you. Today we get a glimpse into the everyday life of Jesus during his ministry. There’s definitely nothing very glamorous about his life at this stage. It appears from the text that it was a very focused life. His life was focused on healing and teaching, as well as proclaiming the coming of the kingdom of God.

There is a simple beauty to a way of life like this. Yet, from this simple form of life, came the greatest gift the world has known, the effects of which, are eternal. Like Jesus, most of us will be called to a simple life, but great things can be achieved as we do the the will of God. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Friday, September 18, 2020

Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,

Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven;
hence, she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.

He said to her,

Your sins are forgiven.

The others at table said to themselves,

Who is this who even forgives sins?

But he said to the woman,

Your faith has saved you; go in peace.

— Luke 7:44-50

The peace of the Lord be with you. Today our Gospel demonstrates how powerful an encounter is with our Lord. It further demonstrates the great power of forgiveness as well.

The text does not identify this woman by name but it’s pretty evident that she has a bit of a reputation — she seems to be well known by those present. It also does not really give the backstory about how she might have first met Jesus or heard his words. What it does stress is that she began to see her self in a different light, either from this exact moment or from something that had happened before. At that moment she is transformed; she is changed and she is very grateful. From her gratitude she expresses great love for Jesus and I suspect that love will be carried into other areas of her life as well.

What is demonstrated here is metanoia, the transformation that occurs from an encounter with the living Christ. May we all be deeply touched, changed, and transformed — and may we then carry that message of hope out in our daily lives. In the name of the Father, the Son on and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Thursday, September 17, 2020

Memorial of Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian

Jesus said to the crowds:

To what shall I compare the people of this generation?
What are they like?
They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,

‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance.
We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’

— Luke 7:31-32

The peace of the Lord be with you. Sometimes I find myself in a space where I know I am longing for something but cannot figure out what the need is.

Today in our Gospel passage, Jesus seems to see this longing in those who surround Him. He implies that God also sees this longing and tries to fulfill their needs, but it does not seem to fill the void or meet their expectations. Perhaps one way to address this all too common problem is to relax our expectations and our desire to be in control. Perhaps another way to address this is to set aside our desires and ask for the grace to be filled by what God wants for us versus what want for ourselves.

Today I pray for the grace to follow where God leads, dance to the music he plays, and be filled with awe for how He is working in us today. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother,

Woman, behold, your son.

Then he said to the disciple,

Behold, your mother.

And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

— John 19:25-27

The peace of the Lord be with you. The cross of Jesus makes us one, united in his sacrifice. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, the tribes of Israel are called back and we are a single family again — as was intended from the beginning of time in the garden of Eden.

Today, with all the division, it is hard to see this supernatural reality. This happens as we wander further away from the love God — who is our common point of origin, who gives our humanity its dignity.

Through the grace of God, may we work for unity and equality for all our human family. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Tuesday, September 15, 2020