Author: strose

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

In these early weeks of the calendar year and ordinary time it appears that we are being called to reflect on some of the basic elements of our faith — the elements that make up the foundation of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Last week, as we focused on the Baptism of Jesus, we learned about the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, particularly as they come through baptism. By following the example of Jesus our Baptism becomes a gateway where we are joined to and share in his life death and resurrection. That point is re-emphasized once again in the second reading from 1 Corinthian’s as we are told that we are joined — body, mind, and soul — to Jesus through this sacrament. By responding to that call our lives become a temple where he dwells. So our readings this weekend create a bridge between baptism and the varied forms of God’s call to us.

You may recall that Samuel was given to the high priest Eli out of his mother Hannah’s gratitude for God answering her prayer to be able to have a child. Eli is the high priest so Samuel has been immersed in a relationship with God and Holy ways of living since the earliest years of his life. In regard to God’s call, this story of Samuel tells us that we may not be able to discern for ourselves when God is speaking to us. It further tells us that even somebody seasoned and attuned to the voice of God may not always be able to understand when God is reaching out. While the call of God is personal and intimate it may require the assistance of the community in discerning and understanding that call. I know that for me, in regards to discerning my call to the permanent diaconate, it was the community that helped me to understand where I was being led and where God needed me to serve. This is why our connection to community and to others with a properly formed consciences is so vitally important to our growth and our call to service in Christ.

The Gospel of John tells us about the call of Andrew and Simon who later will be known as Peter. It appears for Andrew that he has been feeling the promptings of the spirit for many years and as a result has come into the company of John the Baptist. Like we discussed just a moment ago, Andrew’s call seems to come not only from a personal yearning, but from being around a community of believers. 

Simon’s call has a bit of a twist to it. Simon’s brother Andrew reaches out to him and leads him to Christ. I think in this particular instance we are being reminded about the importance of family — about the importance of our connection to those closest to us as a means of preparing our soul for hearing and responding to God’s call. It appears that through this introduction by Andrew, Simon’s life is transformed — a specific calling is understood and the focus of his life is changed.

Unlike the examples given to us in our readings this weekend, God’s call is not in most instances a single event. It is a series of events, a series of calls. For some this call may be very consistent throughout the course of their life and not change very much. For others this call may mean making radical changes in one’s life or one’s plans. Some elements of this call may be very easy while others may challenge us to grow in a direction that we had not thought about previously. Whatever that call may be, or wherever that call may lead, we have no reason to fear for God walks with us. As we have talked about on many previous occasions responding to God’s call may lead us to a joy and a fulfillment we may have never thought possible. As his people, God is communicating with us today. God is calling us today. May we possess that same grace given to Samuel so when our name is being called we can respond “speak Lord for your servant is listening”.

Readings for Sunday, January 17, 2021

Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Let us be on our guard
while the promise of entering into his rest remains,
that none of you seem to have failed.
For in fact we have received the Good News just as our ancestors did.
But the word that they heard did not profit them,
for they were not united in faith with those who listened.
For we who believed enter into that rest,
just as he has said:

As I swore in my wrath,    
“They shall not enter into my rest,”

and yet his works were accomplished
at the foundation of the world.
For he has spoken somewhere about the seventh day in this manner,
And God rested on the seventh day from all his works;
and again, in the previously mentioned place,
They shall not enter into my rest. 

Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest,
so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.


The peace of the Lord be with you.

Sometimes given our fallen world and nature we make life more difficult for ourselves than it has to be. The reading from Hebrews today reminds us that God wants us to have a life that is leading us towards His rest and His peace. It further reminds us that what often separates us from what God desires is disobedience. Obedience is not something that God desires so he can laud his power over us, no — it is more about helping us to live a life that is free of encumbrances and traps.

My hope for today is that I, that we, will have a growing desire to understand what it is that God wants for us and then seek the ways that allow us to understand how that plan will unfold.

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

Readings for Friday, January 15, 2020

The Baptism of the Lord

The third person of the Holy Trinity is a REAL PERSON! He does exist! Do you believe this?

As clear as He was to see in the flames of the Burning Bush by Moses, so He was clearly seen as a waterfall coming down from Heaven and resting upon Jesus when everyone heard the voice of the Father state:

This is my beloved Son, with You I am well Pleased!

In our second reading from Acts, it is clear that the Holy Spirit is directly linked to the life and mission of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is always with Jesus, and never leaves his side.

We as fellow Christians experience the reality of the Holy Spirit in four distinct ways: God’s Love, New Life, Justice, and Holiness.

God’s Love

When you truly love another, don’t you feel the bond between you as being more than human interaction and/or contact? The relationships that we value, honor, treasure, etc. — don’t we give ourselves over to feeling God’s unconditional and all-powerful love in our hearts?

New Life 

In the Nicene Creed that we pray each weekend, it states:

We profess the Holy Spirit to be the Lord, the giver of life.

When we welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives, we experience a profound newness of life — a vitality, an improved relationship with God, a new sense of direction, and simply being at peace.

Justice

When we are open to the Holy Spirit in our lives, we feel compelled to work for the sake of others. We gain courage to do what is right on the behalf of others.

Holiness

The Holy Spirit gives us the gifts we need to respond to the gifts that we received at our baptism. The more that we know God, the more we seem to need Him in our lives.

You are probably wondering how to get close to the Holy Spirit? The answer is pretty simple, just ask Him!

Come, Holy Spirit, Come! 

Pour out the love of God into my broken heart; I need it. 

Pour out mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness, and help me hear the words:

You are my beloved child.


Eric Wight writes the following joke, (and I won’t be surprised if no one gets it): 

One winter morning, an employee explained why he had shown up for work 45 minutes late. 

It was so slippery out that for every step I took ahead, I slipped back two.

The boss eyed him suspiciously.

Oh yeah? Then how did you ever get here?

He said,

I finally gave up, and started for home.


Sometimes our lives can feel the same way, no matter how good our intentions are, we seem to struggle to move forward. No matter what our situations may be, I encourage you to simply ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and the grace to move forward. God calls us to be renewed in his very own life. Let us together approach the Altar of the Lord.

Readings for Sunday, January 10, 2021

Friday after Epiphany

It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was;
and when he saw Jesus,
he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said,

Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.

Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said,

I do will it. Be made clean.

And the leprosy left him immediately. 
Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but

Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing
what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.

The report about him spread all the more,
and great crowds assembled to listen to him
and to be cured of their ailments,
but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.

Luke 5:12-16


The peace of the Lord be with you.

As I read the Gospel passage today two things really stood out for me. The word will and the word pray. How often do we think about our will and its health and condition?

God gave us free will as a means of directing our lives — as a means of making choice, and as a means of experiencing freedom. A will that is healthy, I believe, is one that is aligned in purpose and intent with what God has in store and in mind for us. That’s where prayer comes in. Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer and perhaps that’s what kept his will aligned with the will of the Father.

The culture that I have grown up in places a great deal of emphasis on directing ones own life, but as I enter into this new year, I am hoping to be directed more by God’s will for me. Today, I have learned that prayer is a prerequisite for maintaining contact and doing the will of God.

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

Readings for Friday, January 8, 2021

Thursday after Epiphany

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region. 
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day. 
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. 
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

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.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. 
He said to them,

Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing. 

And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.

Luke 4:14-22


The peace of the Lord be with you.

Have you ever been around an individual who had a magnetic quality about them? The few times I have been around such people they have made feel comfortable, understood, and appreciated.

The Gospel reading today gives the impression that those hearing Jesus in that setting had much the same experience. Even though they did not fully understand who this was, they felt God’s awe inspiring presence. Since the time of his ascension Jesus has been walking with us and advocating for us. May we be filled with awe and comforted by his peace.

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

Readings for Thursday, January 7, 2020

Memorial of Saint John Neumann, Bishop

Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only-begotten Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

1 John 4:7-10


The peace of the Lord be with you.

It’s common to wonder what the purpose of our life is. While it is true that each of us is assigned or given a specific task, there is also a more general purpose to our life.

Our first reading this morning reminds us that our purpose is to love and to serve God. They are one in the same. While there is no harm in working towards excellence, I was reminded by another reflection this morning that we must be careful about our ambitions. Our life is really not about us, but about using the talents that we have been given for the purpose of service to God and others. May we be given the grace to do both well.

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

Readings for Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

the people who sit in darkness
have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.

Matthew 4:16

The peace of the Lord be with you.

Our Gospel passage today reminds us that to be a Christian we must tell people the good news of our redemption, as well as offer comfort and support to those who are suffering.

Such a fitting Gospel passage today as we celebrate the feast of Saint Elizabeth Anne Seton. Saint Elizabeth Anne Seton provided some of the first charities for the care of the poor in the United States. She also helped form some of the first free schools which allowed underprivileged children to have an education. As we enter into these first days of 2021, may Jesus and the Saints inspire us to bring comfort and reassurance to all in need.

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

Readings for Monday, January 4, 2021

The Epiphany of the Lord

Richard Schuler writes this:

Sign seen outside the Lighthouse Baptist Church in St. Louis:

If you’re looking for a sign from God, this is it.

When we are poised with a difficult decision in our life, don’t we all say to God: “just give me a sign!” I know I do. Back in 1984, after my first month in college seminary in Ogdensburg NY, I was really struggling with fitting into Catholic schooling for the first time in my life, and I remember sitting in the chapel, asking God just to give me a sign. Later that afternoon, I was in a car accident that should have killed me, but I walked away without even a scratch, even without wearing a safety belt. I was perfectly healthy, and yet without a vehicle to drive back to New Hampshire, even if I wanted to. I remember being in chapel later that day, and saying to God, “That was not the sign I was looking for!”

And God does enlighten us along our journeys, doesn’t he? Many times, in some very unexpected ways or through the words of a complete stranger.

In today’s Gospel from Matthew, we hear the story of the Epiphany, in which wiseman come a very long way, bringing with them some very odd gifts. Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. We all know by now that these gifts represent kingship, divinity, and redemptive suffering.

These wisemen traveled following a sign from God, a star. Which means they traveled by night. Once that star stopped, the wisemen knew exactly where to go. Once they witnessed the baby Jesus, their lives were forever changed.

If we are ever lucky enough to witness a ‘sign’ from God, and we’re willing to take the leap of faith and follow, even in our darkness, to where God wants us to stop and witness something awesome, may our lives be ever changed for the better!

Amen!

Readings for Sunday, January 3, 2021

Solemnity of Mary

David Coverly from Creators Syndicate writes the following:

God: 

Whew! I just created a 24-hour period of alternating light and darkness on Earth.

Angel:

What are you going to do now?

God:

Call it a day.


In our Old Testament reading from Numbers, the people Israel finally set out for the promised land. They had been at the base of Mt. Sinai for approximately a year. During that one-year period, the people were being formed into a society, a nation, as children of God. Structure was being introduced by forming the military, the priestly class, the educators, etc. — all would serve a purpose, and all would benefit from God’s protection and his generosity. In this reading God prepares a special blessing upon the tribes of Israel.

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, Paul reminds us that Jesus was born into our humanity, in order for all of humanity not to be enslaved by their sins. Basically, He (Jesus), is giving us a way out of enslavement by the forgiveness of our sins, in order for us to live fully by our new inherited freedom. Free as adopted children of God.

In the Gospel of Luke, we hear of God’s message being delivered by an angel to shepherds (simple folk), not to whom you might expect. The shepherds go directly to Bethlehem and reveal the message to Mary and Joseph, that their new-born child is the Messiah and Lord. The shepherds have played an important role in making the message known.

Older Catholics would remember this holy day as the circumcision of the Lord. The circumcision of Jesus is important because it symbolizes his official incorporation into Israel. Jesus is now considered an “insider,” one who has come to save his people. His given name is important. It means, “God saves,” describing not only who he is, but also what he does. It was in 1969, that the holy day’s name was changed to the Solemnity of Mary, meaning Mary’s divine maternity.

On Thursday at 8:00 a.m. I was watching the fireworks on tv from Australia as 2021 officially entered in. I wonder, what will 2021 be like? Hopefully different than 2020!

Will Rogers once said: “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”

We call a birth after a pregnancy, a “delivery.” When Mary delivered Jesus, we see “delivery” as a “transfer,” or a “handing over.” She delivers to us the “deliverer!”  

Whatever 2021 ends up bringing us, may we place our trust in the one who truly delivers us. Believe that we are God’s adopted children. And live under God’s protection and generosity.

Amen!

Readings for Friday, January 1, 2021

The Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas

There was a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. 
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. 
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. 
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee,
to their own town of Nazareth. 
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.

Luke 2:36-40


The peace of the Lord be with you.

Today we celebrate the sixth day of Christmas with six geese a laying. The six eggs of the geese represent fertility — the maintenance of the created world and the life that is to come. Each of us, each day, receives a call from God that prompts us to do our part for the maintenance and health of the world. In our reading today, the prophetess Anna shows great conviction to her call and her ministry as does the family of Jesus.

As we approach the coming of the new year may our ability to hear and our resolve to carry out our part in the world be strengthened and filled with grace. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Wednesday, December 30, 2020