So many are asking how the mass shootings can keep happening yet refuse to accept we have become a culture of death. We have become a culture where personal choice supersedes any value of a life deemed unwanted, unnecessary or deemed unfit. If one has the ability to chose to destroy another who is unwanted then that choice is deemed more sacred than life itself. Except for those who are killed. Their choice doesn’t matter.
Thanksgiving Day, The Year of Our Lord, 2017.
Amidst a year with catastrophic hurricanes, earthquakes and fires scattered throughout unceasing political strife and turmoil, fears of conflict and terrorism we gather to give thanks.
The secularization of what was once a national holiday for giving thanks to God has, for many, become a time of a very humanistic thanksgiving for..self. While we have much to be grateful for in each other and for ourselves to deny praise and thanksgiving to God is to embrace a tragic idolatry with deadly peril. This climate change of the soul is evident in the sorrows and afflictions we face in our times.
Yet we have the promise, the hope, the opportunity of returning in becoming, being a people THANK~FULL to God, our creator, Savior, LORD of all.
In the words of a Responsorial Psalm from the Readings for Masses of Thanksgiving we read:
R. (2bc) Lord, I thank you for your faithfulness and love.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple
and give thanks to your name.
R. Lord, I thank you for your faithfulness and love.
Because of your kindness and your truth;
for you have made great above all things
your name and your promise.
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.
R. Lord, I thank you for your faithfulness and love.
All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to you, O LORD
when they hear the words of your mouth;
And they shall sing of the ways of the LORD
“Great is the glory of the LORD
R. Lord, I thank you for your faithfulness and love. [Psalm 138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 4-5]
32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
The Holy Spirit, ever guiding and preparing the Church, His Temple, brings throughout the year regular wisdom to prepare and empower the people of God. Soon, with Advent we prepare for the coming of Christ our Lord. The Holy season of Lent brings us to renew our pilgrimages of penance as we anticipate the passion and joys of our Lord’s triumph in the Easter season. So, in this season we hear God calling us to prepare for the return of His Son, Christ our Lord.
In our Gospel today Jesus uses the parable of the ten virgins awaiting the coming bridegroom. The deliberate choice of context, by Jesus is very significant. The place of young Jewish maidens (always chaste, virgin) as bridesmaids was traditional. They were called to welcome the bridegroom for and to the bride. Jesus uses this setting to show one of numerous facets of the jewel of the truth of His coming. Jesus returns, for His bride for the great wedding feast. Jesus comes again for this great holy, joyous fulfillment of His redemptive love. But this parable (as do all the lessons of Jesus) reminds us of the our need, His rightful expectation, that we be prepared.
Prepared For the Bridegroom
[Prepared: From the Latin praeparare: make ready..beforehand]
The message of Jesus in this parable is often made more complex than need be. (A problem often visited upon the Gospel as a whole). It is about people with a privilege and responsibility, HE who is sought for love and…oil.
PEOPLE of PRIVILEGE & RESPONSIBILITY ~ The ten virgins represent those called to prepare, await and seek the groom. They represent the faithful servants of God. Their chastity represents chastity as both a norm and pinnacle of love’s privilege and the call for each faithful soul to live their station of life with and for His love. They illustrate the profound privilege and responsibility of making ready beforehand all that is needed for the arrival of the groom. Likewise we are called to make ready beforehand all that is needed for the return, the coming of Christ, Lord, Savior, Groom to His most holy Bride.
HE Who is Sought for Love ~ Many, again, are the facets in the jewel of truth about our Lord’s return. Lord of Lords, Maker of the New Heavens and Earth, JUDGE, and more are these vital facets. But today we focus upon the jeweled facet of Christ the Bridegroom.
This portrays the returning of Jesus as a time of immense love, the return and coming to the great Wedding Feast of the Lamb as spoken of by John the Beloved. As is the case for all wedding celebration many are the preparations to be done beforehand. The preparations for the return of Jesus for His Bride are immense in scope and expectation. This is illustrated by the sad turning away of those who had not made ready beforehand their arrangements. Jesus comes in love, indeed, but He comes for those who sincerely seek, prepare, await Him from hearts of love.
OIL ~ These two essential participants in this account are united by the grace of Oil. Many are the symbolic uses of oil in Scripture but a most consistent is that of Oil representing the Holy Spirit. And it is the Oil of the Holy Spirit that fulfills the hope of Jesus in this message. For it is the Presence of God’s Spirit, given us in Baptism and in which we are immersed in Confirmation that we are provided all we need to be servants, ready before hand for His coming. The indwelling Holy Spirit enlightens our lives. In times of darkness He is our Light, bring the needed Wisdom of God that quenches the futile false wisdom of this world. The Oil of God, His Spirit, anoints us with healing from the wounds of doubt, fear and very human weariness that can rob us of His whispers of making ready. And its is the anointing of the Spirit of God that empowers us to fulfill whatever our vocation would be in these great and glorious preparations for Him who comes in love for us.
So, may we, His servants, embrace our privileges and responsibilities to make ready beforehand, with souls filled with His Holy Spirit, the return of Jesus our Beloved Groom.
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” [From the Gospel Mt. 22:34-40, Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time]
These words of Jesus, distilling the Word of God into two simple commands, while familiar, challenge us in their fulfillment. All the discussions and arguments about faith, morals, liturgy and the conflicts of this world, presented to Jesus by the experts of the day then, and now, are stilled by His words.
Yet why are these two simple commands so difficult? Might it be because we fail to simply watch and listen to God, to His creation? Might our faith in our mental ability and understanding be greater than our trust, knowledge of God. In the words of St Paul of the Cross we are reminded to:
“Let all creation help you praise God. Give yourself the rest you need. When you are walking alone, listen to the sermon preached to you by the flowers, the trees, the shrubs, the sky, the sun and the whole world. Notice how they preach to you a sermon full of love, of praise to God and how they invite you to proclaim the greatness of throne who has given them being.”
St. Paul of the Cross
14th Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ 9 July 2017 ~
“Alelluia!” The Lord God, almighty reigns! [Rev. 19:6]
So …we welcome Christ’s Presence in the Gospel with this word.. Yet so often we may sing..say..listen, perhaps, but our hearts are often far from full of the alleluias our Savior deserves and for which we are created to proclaim.
Why is this so? What is causing us to miss the fullness of joy, the peace our refrain in our psalm today calls us to share? What burdens you today? What cares, worries, fears, weigh upon you? What baggage is holding back from sharing a heart-filled Alleluia to our Lord?
In the Gospel Jesus speaks of revealing the Father, the fullness of His kingdom to us. Jesus then proceeds to give us the solution to the struggles which we face that hinder our fullness of peace.
COME to Jesus. We who labor, who are weary, heavy burdened. We are called to come to Christ, as we are. We come to Christ, in prayer, in reconciliation, in Holy Communion, in faith. coming to our Lord we discover…
REST, God will give. We must allow the Holy spirit to lift from our souls the burdens, the baggage we accumulate and to remove all the crosses of our designs. Then we must trust His whose hands were pierced to heal the wounds our self, the world would afflict upon us. Rested, healed we then are brought to…
TAKE MY YOKE upon you. Our yoke, custom made for us by God who knows our every strength and weakness will then be placed with holy care and compassion. Our yoke, sized, fitted, adjusted by He who knows and loves us. As His hands place our yokes upon us we are surprised…
TO LEARN FROM HIM.. that our yoke is the Cross we are called by Jesus to share. We learn of the fullness of grace the Holy Spirit brings as He dwells within. We discover something else.. that many of the burdens, needs cares..we were facing have not changed. But we have. We are learning that yes..the problems, burdens, sorrows of life are real..they are a part of life, this side of eternity. But we learn we are not called, created to face them alone. We are created to grow through them with Jesus our Lord, our God.
It is then we also learn to proclaim from the depths of our soul..ALLELUIA! The Lord God almighty reigns!
I heard the praise that triumphant day,
as the King of Kings came through the gate.
I heard the whispers of doubt and fear,
grow and fester as the feast drew near.
I heard the shouts of those who cried,
And saw, with tears He was to die.
Then, as our way,
with crosses made,
I heard and felt,
And then, Him I saw
upon the cross,
and heard, as pounded nails pierced,
His healing hands, that fed us all,
His feet, that came to us,
Then as His cross, to Heaven raised,
I saw, I felt,
His wounded gaze.
A thief I was and wrong had done.
But with my Christ,
love had won.
And then I heard,
as darkness fell,
“Come with Me,
in Paradise we’ll dwell.”
By Harry Martin
“Go forth and I will bless you.” God called to Abram. Abram would go with God to find the promised land, to discover his real identity…Abraham, father of the the faithful.
“Jesus led them up a high mountain…” Peter, James and John would go with Jesus to experience the Mount of Transfiguration; a mountain top experience that would help them journey to another mount of even greater promise and power.
“He saves us and calls us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to His design.” We hear St. Paul’s words affirming we each, too, called to follow..to be with our Lord. But…
Where are we going? As individuals? As family? As a parish?
With You, Jesus… Called to His Promise “The Lord is true to His sacred promise; He led His people to freedom and joy.” As God called and led Abram and his family, so Jesus calls to each of us to be with Him, to follow, to know, His promises… of mercy, healing freedom. To experience and share the Kingdom of Heaven now and for all eternity, with You, Jesus.
With You, Jesus… Called to His Presence. The Mount of Transfiguration teaches we must never be content with our understanding, relationship, vision of Christ. There is such infinite power and grandeur, beauty and mercy, truth and justice in, with God. And God calls us..by name to follow..to be..His. He call us to experience the power of the Almighty in the paradox of His whispers..to, as John the Beloved, listen to the very heartbeat of God and be led to the Eucharistic, the Real Presence of our Lord. And are brought To be..With You, Jesus.
With You, Jesus…Called to the Cross. It was from the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus would lead the disciples to learn of the other mount they would be called to climb. Well might our plans and works be interrupted by Jesus’s call to us to take up our cross. And beside our own it may be, like Simon to help carry the cross of another in their trials or sorrows. But it is in each step, each station of our cross we discover we are not alone. We find..Jesus with us.
Where are we going?
With You, Jesus… called to Your promise!
With You, Jesus, called to Your Presence!
With You Jesus, called to the cross
and the joy and freedom of Your resurrection Presence!
Homily 2nd Sunday of Lent ~ 12 March 2017
The conflicts of the world are evident where ever we look. The Church, the people of God, the Presence of Christ in this world, are called to be His servants of peace, mercy, hope and the love for which all hunger.
Yet the Church itself is struggling with conflicts within. The divisions between conservative and progressive ideologies, “Traditional” versus Novus Ordo liturgy, family values and more are new wounds in the Body of Christ that the enemy seeks to enflame.
Yet Christ promised…He will build His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
Are we allowing ourselves to be trapped in the divisive conflicts that are so popular with some?
Are we more concerned with the labels and boxes to place each other in…“conservative”, “progressive”, Traditionalist” “Novus Ordo” or the powerful truth…Christian, Catholic?
Are we willing to see others as God does with eyes of prayer?
Are we willing to stand alert, armed, and ready in prayer?
Are we willing to show the world and our brothers and sisters that “ we are His disciples by the love you have for one another” [John 13:35]