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First Sunday of Lent

Our first reading from Genesis always reminds me of the old joke of why fishing off the side of the Ark was not allowed by Noah. His family stated: “Why Not!”  (You know the answer!) that’s right, because he only had 2 worms!

Let’s look at our gospel first. It’s short, but it really does set the foundation as we begin our Lenten journey together.  

The Spirit DROVE Him out into the desert! The word ‘drove’ suggests that he was being forced to go. This same Spirit who was made present at His baptism. It is sort-of like what we have been experiencing for the last 12 months, it feels like we have been in a full-year of Lent. And now, the Church is forcing us to go to the desert once again. Lent offers us a ‘desert’ experience. God and the Church is telling all of us, that the next 40 days are needed.

Israel was ‘forced’ to spend 40 years in the desert, and they gave into temptations many times along their journey. Jesus spends 40 days in the desert and remains strong and defiant against all temptations. Those temptations were real!! You may be thinking “well, there’s a big difference between 40 years and 40 days!” Okay, so if 40 days are so much easier, then I’ll have no problem keeping to my Lenten sacrifices. I can see it now; I can’t wait to do my grocery shopping for the first time this Lent… “Do I skip the candy, cookie, and ice cream aisles, or do I simply speed up my grocery cart as I pass through?” “Why does steak always seem tempting on a “Friday” during Lent? Etc., etc., etc.

The Gospel continues, John the Baptist has done what he is supposed to do…The Baptist, the Prophet, and the Herald! 

Jesus begins his ministry by proclaiming that the world needs to repent and announces that The Kingdom of God is at hand. When we received ‘Ashes’ on Ash Wednesday, the prayer that I stated was:

Repent, and Believe in the Gospel!

Basically, it translates into acknowledging who we are (sinners), and acknowledging who God is (the One who loves us and offers us a way out of our sinfulness).

In Genesis we hear of the Covenant between God and Noah (and his descendants) that the sign of the ‘Rainbow’ would always remind them that God was with them and that they would have no need to fear him.  

The Gospel (The Good News of Jesus) gives us the Final Covenant, marked by the Cross and the Eucharist… acts of love and forgiveness!  

As 1 Peter states: 

Jesus, the perfectly just one, died for the sake of unjust humanity. But he has won the victory over death.  

God saved Noah and his family in the days of the flood. By the grace of God, we are saved through the waters of Baptism. 

We pray to God to change us as God sees fit this Lent, drawing us ever closer to unity with God’s will.

We’re in this desert together, continue to pray and support one another.  Think about attending the Stations of the Cross on Fridays at 6pm. Possibly attend the Divine Mercy Holy Hour on either February 28th or March 28th.  Or just come by our church and sit before the Blessed Sacrament in our Tabernacle. Saint Rose is open 7am to 7pm, 7 days a week. Or think and pray for those confined to their homes or places of residence, where they have been for the last 12 months.

When our Lenten Journey is over, when we come out of the desert, let us together proclaim with our entire being:

The Kingdom of God is at Hand!

Readings for Sunday, February 21, 2021

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,

Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.

At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father 
and followed him.

Matthew 4:18-22

The peace of the Lord be with you. Both readings on this feast of Saint Andrew focus on the call of Jesus. Acknowledgement of this call is the basis for belief — and belief informs our actions. Our actions and belief allow the graces of God to flow into and through our lives. These graces enrich the soil of our being which makes our lives fertile places where acts of love and charity can prevail in His name.

So may this season of Advent be a time where we renew our commitment to this call, remove those unhealthy distractions and ready our souls for the birth of Emmanuel… God with us.

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

Readings for Monday, November 30, 2020

Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?

He answered him,

Why do you ask me about the good?
There is only One who is good.
If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.

He asked him,

Which ones?

And Jesus replied,

You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother;
and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

The young man said to him,

All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?

Jesus said to him,

If you wish to be perfect, go,
sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me.

When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad,
for he had many possessions.

— Matthew 19:16-22

The peace of the Lord be with you. Today Jesus has a conversation with a man who apparently has longed to be holy and to do what is right since the earliest years of his life. Some commentary suggests that he was being a bit arrogant, but it’s really not clear from the text what was motivating his question. It seems that Jesus takes his desire to do what is right and holy at face value, so I would suggest we need to think about the context of this reading in that light.

The stumbling block that Jesus and this young man identify is that he has many possessions and is reluctant to give them up. It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t say to him that his possessions were evil, but that it would lead him to greater holiness if he were able to let go of the importance they held in his life. It’s also interesting that the young man walks away sad because he continues to struggle with this burden. Why didn’t he ask Jesus for help? Perhaps that’s the true lesson here. When our hearts actually desire to be more godlike in our life, and we find ourselves struggling, maybe it’s precisely at that moment we need to ask God and the community of believers for their assistance. Christianity is a communal movement and we believe that the progress that we make comes in correlation with the grace that is poured out upon us by God.

Heavenly Father, you know the desires lying in the deepest recesses of my heart. When I am genuinely seeking you and do not feel as though I’m making progress, please remind me to call upon your help. You are the source of all goodness and want us to come closer to you. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Monday, August, 17, 2020

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him,
they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him,
they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,

Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.

And he said to them,

Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?

But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart.

— Luke 2:41-51

The peace of the Lord be with you. Yesterday we celebrated the Sacred of Jesus and today we are called to celebrate the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Another pierced heart that is God’s very special creation that carried, gave birth, to and mothered our Lord.

Tradition tells us she was not touched by original sin but she still had free will with the freedom to choose right or wrong. Out of love for God, she was obedient. That is the word that stood out for me this morning, that Jesus was obedient.

Obedient is not a word we hear or appreciate in our time. Sadly in my own mind I find myself associating obedience with being limited or constrained. The dictionary defines obedient as:

complying or willing to comply with orders or requests; submissive to another’s will.

Words similar to obedient include: compliant, dutiful, amenable, law abiding, and good.

What is the Christian view of obedience? Here is a quote I found on the Ascension Press website from a reflection on obedience.

A saint closer to our own times, St. Josemaria Escriva, helps us begin to answer this very pertinent question for the world we live in today:

God does not impose a blind obedience on us. He wants us to obey intelligently, and we have to feel responsible for helping others with the intelligence we do have. But let’s be sincere with ourselves: let’s examine, in every case, whether it is love for the truth which moves us or selfishness and attachment to our own judgment. When our ideas separate us from other people, when they weaken our communion, our unity with our brothers, it is a sure sign that we are not doing what God wants.

Obedience then from a Christian viewpoint is not something limiting, but an asset that helps draw us more deeply into God’s love which simultaneously draws us into a closer union with each other. Both Jesus and Mary embody these ideals and demonstrate how obedience is a source of healing for our individual and communal souls. Please Lord give me the grace to live this out. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Readings for Saturday, June 20, 2020