A small boy ran home and excitedly told his parents: “School will be dismissed for good ………. on Friday April 2nd!”
“I just don’t believe that”, his mother said.
“It’s true,” the boy said. “I just got this note from the teacher.”
The teacher’s note said: “School; will be dismissed at 11:00am for Good Friday, April 2nd.”
Do you remember what the Gospel Reading was on the 2nd Sunday of Lent this year? It was from the Gospel of Mark. It was the story of the Transfiguration. The end of the gospel reads:
As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
Just like in the joke, Peter, James, and John had to be asking themselves, did we hear him correctly? What does he mean about rising from the dead?!
We are Easter people; we know the story and how it ends. Can you imagine what they were going through? Even to the point of questioning everything — including Jesus’s mental well-being.
Let us together journey into another Holy Week, but this time — imagining that we were either Peter, James, or John — and simply being in awe for the very first time. Uncertainties, yes; great faith will definitely be needed.
Driving back from a car-repair class, John said to his buddy, Joe, “I’m going to turn now. Could you stick your head out the window to see if the blinker’s working?”
“Sure,” Joe replied as he peeked outside. “It is, no it isn’t, yes it is, no it isn’t, yes it is…”
Have you ever been recommended a good movie, or a good book, or a nice restaurant, or a new vehicle? Sure, we have! But from whom we receive that recommendation matters to us. If it is from a complete stranger, versus a close friend, well that makes all the difference in the world! We trust our friends!
One of the joys of my pastorship is seeing friendships form out of our parish experiences, whether by family gatherings within the Knights of Columbus organization, or from our many opportunities of Christian Formation from our Religious Education Program or our Adult Faith Sessions, and of course the many social functions that we usually celebrate during normal times without a pandemic. I witness people out to eat, or other social functions, or attending other church functions sitting together as friends. These friendships create the foundations of trust as we all mature within our faith and our lives.
Our readings of scripture this weekend force us to see how many times God takes the initiative to start up a “friendship” or a “relationship” with us. He does so by creating Covenants.
We see how many times humanity fails the conditions of the covenants, and how many times God comes to our rescue.
The golden calf had to be destroyed, this lent, what is it in our lives that we need to let go of and what in us must die to self so that we can bring others to Jesus Christ?
We too must invite others to this relationship we have with Jesus. Our recommendations will be received with trust, simply because our lives have been molded and shaped by God’s mercy.
I know this was a short homily… it is my gift to you.
Next week we celebrate Palm Sunday, which means the Mass will be a little longer than normal.
In the Book of Exodus, we hear of the 10 commandments. Being so close to St. Patrick’s Day, did you ever hear about the St. Murphy’s Commandment? It goes like this:
Anything a preacher says that can be misunderstood will be misunderstood!
Do you remember my homily I gave to you three years ago? It was one of my favorite homilies ever! I threw bags of cotton candy high into the air as a re-enactment of Jesus thrashing the Temple area.
If you look in your Bibles in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, you will see this event happening near the end of Jesus’ ministry. However, in John’s Gospel, it takes place at the beginning of his ministry!
For John, this story is about Jesus challenging the very authority of the Temple with his own authority.
The ultimate question just has to be: why is Jesus ANGRY?
Is it because the merchants are selling sacrificial animals? No!
Was it because the merchants were turning secular money into Temple money? No! After all, this was the only way for the Jewish people to pay their Temple tax!
So why is Jesus so angry?
He is angry because the whole situation, the marketplace, the temple taxation, the purity of unblemished animals to be used for sacrifice, the attitude of the people, the place of gossip, and “The Place to Hang out” has lost its original purpose and meaning!
It was supposed to be the place where people who sought out the Presence of God, would find it!
Jesus declares that His Body, is now the new Temple!
The Body of Christ.
So, when I threw the cotton candy, it was meant for you to think about Jesus simply just losing it, for all of us to take special notice! Think about how we do a spring cleaning, whether in the garage or in our homes! Lent is a time for us to do the same thing with our spiritual lives! What needs to be cleaned out? What is getting in our way of recognizing the Presence of God within the Temple of the Holy Spirit — yes, ourselves!
What habits, feelings, emotions, sins, memories, etc., need to be cleaned out this Lent? Our first reading from Exodus is an awesome examination of conscience! Let us simply do that.
Whatever I say, will probably be misunderstood. The Holy Spirit will take over and speak to us directly, even if it feels foolish to us.
May we be fools for the sake of Jesus, and know the renewal and life that only such foolishness can bring.
When the diocesan information technology people checked the parish computers for security problems, they found that the youth minister was using the following password for her computer:
When the technician asked why she had such a long password, she said,
Hellllloooooooo! You guys in support said that it had to be at least eight characters long, didn’t you?
When I look at the readings each weekend, I always ask myself, what is the common denominator? This weekend is no different. It is kind of hard to find, but I believe it is a combined story of love. More specificly, the power of Love. With a few “characters” along the way.
In the Book of Genesis, we hear the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. Abraham struggled with his faith in God, and his faith grew very slowly. He has a son, Ishmael born from his servant, Haggar. Abraham at first believes that Ishmael would be the heir to serve God’s Kingdom. But he also has another son, a younger son, Isaac born of Sarah, his wife. God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac and he doesn’t hesitate. God’s messenger stops the sacrifice and promises Abraham will be blessed with many descendants. God asks, God sees, God relents, and God blesses! Isaac becomes the child favored by God!
In our 2nd reading from Romans, we hear that God loves us so much that he allows his own Son to die for us! For the sake of our salvation! Not only did Jesus die for us, but he rose from the dead, and becomes our greatest intercessor! If God is for us, who can be against?
In the Gospel of Mark, we hear that the Transfiguration story clarifies the divine identity of Jesus.
This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.
We have heard that before, haven’t we?
Peter, James, and John witness Jesus conversing with Elijah and Moses. Do you wonder what they were talking about? It doesn’t really matter, but what does matter is that Moses represents the Law, and Elijah represents the Prophets. And Jesus becomes “dazzlingly white” before them which represents his Divinity.
If you have ever awoken from a deep afternoon nap, you know the feeling of not totally being aware of things. Here, Peter has experienced something that he’s not quite sure about, to the point where he is terrified. To experience the presence of God in such a way, must have been overwhelming! And, as quickly as it all began, it was over with. Jesus instructs his disciples not to say anything until after His resurrection from the dead. And the three disciples just looked at each other, and thought, what does He mean by that?!
Here we are on the 2nd Sunday of Lent! How’s it going? Do you wish that you chose something different to give up this year for Lent? I say, go for it, make the change, choose something different, it’s okay! After all, it isn’t really what we do, but rather why we are doing it!
God sees us all as his children, and many of us are “characters!” Just remember, if God is for us, who can be against?! Our faith needs to mature and change along the course of our lives, and it is only by the grace of God that we can accomplish great sacrifices and grow in spiritual ways! Let us journey together, one day at a time.
I have a feeling this joke was written prior to the invention of email.
Written by Susan Reilly:
Now that my mother’s office has a fax machine, I fax my correspondence to her instead of using the post office. Although I’ve told her many times that it’s a faster and less expensive way to communicate, she continued to mail me weekly letters.
On my last birthday, however, she showed me that she now has a full grasp of technology. She faxed me a $100 bill with the note:
Happy Birthday. You’re right — it is cheaper to fax than mail, Love, Mom.
Today’s readings challenge us to look beyond ourselves, and to embrace God’s mercy, and then be light for others. There’s an incompleteness when we try to handle or control things on our own.
In the Book of Job — Job isn’t happy, he finds his life burdensome. Job doesn’t understand why his situation in his life is so difficult. His very close friends try to persuade him to repent of his past sins, and then hopefully God will take mercy on him. However, Job knows that he has done nothing wrong, so why should he repent?
In our 2nd reading, Saint Paul has this burning compulsion to simply PREACH!! He is driven to save as many souls as possible.
In the Gospel of Mark, we hear Jesus proclaim the Kingdom of God being at hand. In this passage we hear Jesus cures Peter’s mother-in-law, he also heals others, and then he travels onward to the next village.
Jesus heals! Jesus is present to us! Jesus moves ahead of us. Jesus journeys to the next situation.
One little note, once Peter’s mother-in-law is healed, she immediately does something… What? That’s right, she proceeds to wait on them! Jesus’ healing brings about a whole new way of life. The Greek word for this is: Diakonos what the English would translate into Diaconate — a life of service.
All of us at times:
Have doubted like Job!
Have persecuted like Saul!
Have denied Jesus like Peter!
The Holy Spirit changes all of this for us, as He calls us to love as Jesus did, and to proclaim the Gospel with our lives. And as Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us, sometimes when we proclaim the Gospel, if we have to, use words.
Even though at times we feel loneliness and desperation, the Lord is with us — not only in our hearts, but also miraculously in the presence of the Eucharist at this very altar. Let us open our hearts and proclaim him to the world!
Two American tourists are driving through Wales. They decide to stop for a bite to eat in the village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwillantysiliogogogo-goch.
Baffled by the name, one of them turns to a local and asks,
Would you please say where we are — very slowly?
The Welshman leans over and says, very slowly,
If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts!
Each and every day we hear so much, on the tv, or on the radio, or the sounds of street traffic, etc. Each day we are bombarded with noise! To hear God’s voice, we need to know how to turn down the volume!
I remember being in major seminary at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ (very close to Newark NJ). I was homesick. I wasn’t used to the city life. I remembered taking comfort at looking up at the stars at night, so I found myself laying on the ground looking up one night, and you know what I saw? No stars! Planes! And a milky sky! The sky was simply too busy!
Our lives can be that noisy and busy as well, but not all noise is bad — such as a baby’s laugh, or a phone call from a loved one, or a favorite song comes over the radio — these can all be touches of blessing and joy.
So where do we find ourselves finding the quiet time to slow down and be able to listen? You may think about being next to a riverbed or near the crashing waves of the ocean as you walk on the beach, or even high up on a mountain trail. For me, often at times, it’s sitting in my favorite Lazy Boy rocking chair, with the tv OFF, and me just looking at the ceiling thinking about how my day was, and what tomorrow might end up being.
In Mark’s Gospel, it stated that He taught with authority. Every time we hear the scriptures, Jesus speaks to us with that same authority! The Gospels reveal to us who Jesus is: Savior, Lord, teacher, healer, miracle worker, and even our friend. They also reveal his mission to us: love one another, feed the hungry, care for the widow and the orphan, pray for the sick, wash each other’s feet, and do this in remembrance of me.
How well are we listening? Each time that we leave Mass, or watch it on YouTube, or the internet, what do we do with what we have just heard? Do we talk about it with our family or friends? Do we let it impact our actions, our words, and our choices in the coming week?
People need to hear the voice of the Lord more than ever, for today there are many other voices speaking to us.
God’s voice speaks the Truth. He speaks with Love! And, with Acceptance. God’s voice encourages us, and forgives us, and brings us together as one.
As Christians we are called to be that voice in our community, our school, our place of work, on our team, wherever His voice is needed.
This week, ask yourself: Where can you be the voice of Jesus? and What words will you say?
May the Eucharist strengthen us always to be his voice of inclusion, forgiveness, and love!
A man went fishing up on the Connecticut Lakes, which is well known for its fishing. As he was returning to his vehicle with two full pails of fish, he meets the game warden who asks him,
Do you have a license to catch those fish?
The man responds to the game warden,
No sir. These are my pet fish.
the warden replied.
Yes sir. Every night I take these here fish down to the lake and let them swim around for a while. I whistle and they jump back into their buckets, and I take em home.
The warden replied in disbelief,
That’s a bunch of baloney! Fish can’t do that!
The man looked at the game warden for a moment and then said,
Here, I’ll show you. It really works.”
Okay, I’ve got to see this!
The game warden was curious. The man poured the fish into the river and stood and waited…
After several minutes, the game warden turned to the man and said,
The man responded,
When are you going to call them back?
the game warden prompted.
Call who back?
Said the man.
said the game warden.
the man asked.
When we hear in the Gospel of Mark, the call of Peter, Andrew, James, and John from Jesus to be his disciples we are marveled at their response. Their response was immediate and without condition. They were all fishermen, good at their trade, to the point of having a family business. When Jesus called them to follow, they didn’t delay, they didn’t place conditions on Jesus, they didn’t bargain out a contract with benefits and a pay raise scale. Jesus states:
I will make you fishers of souls!
They left all they knew behind and simply followed Jesus!
In the Book of Jonah, we hear that God asks Jonah to go to the people of Nineveh and ask them to repent of their evil doing. Jonah already despises the people of Nineveh and wants them to perish. Jonah goes forward, knowing in his heart that the people of Nineveh will not only reject him, but also God’s request. However, just the opposite is true! After only doing a third of his journey through the city, the people of Nineveh and their king repent! God is pleased, and Jonah has been changed forever.
Our two readings have something in common:
The power of God’s Word! God calls people into action, in a different direction from where they found themselves. God speaks, people respond!
Jesus’ presence in front of the four fishermen, had to have a magnetic effect on them. In a moment’s notice, nothing else seemed to make sense to them, they simply felt compelled to follow.
Can you imagine if God came to you one day and asked you to go to Las Vegas, and walk down the Vegas Strip announcing the end of the world? Repent! Repent! For the world is ending!!
Don’t worry, I’ll promise to come visit you!
Psalm 25 states:
Jesus knew that his mission wasn’t to be accomplished by himself. He wasn’t that type of king. As he called is first disciples to become apostles, so he calls each of us by our Baptism. Each of us is called to a change of heart by our Baptism. e need to renew that call today, and then renew it every day to come.
Pope Benedict XVI added an option for the Dismissal Rite of the Mass, that states:
Go, and proclaim the Gospel with your lives.
There is an impossible Nineveh out there for us to transform. With God’s grace, we can do the impossible. We can change our Nineveh into the kingdom of God.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
Sign seen outside the Lighthouse Baptist Church in St. Louis:
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!
David Coverly from Creators Syndicate writes the following:
Whew! I just created a 24-hour period of alternating light and darkness on Earth.
What are you going to do now?
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.