Don’t Worry and Sister Death

26 February 2017 ~ 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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1st Reading: Isaiah ~ Even if your mother should forget you, I will never forget you.

Psalm 62 ~ Only in God is my soul at rest; from God comes my salvation.

2nd Reading: St. Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians 4:1-5 ~ Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Gospel: Matthew 6:24-34 ~ “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” Jesus

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A child does not worry all day long whether his house will be there when he gets home from school or whether her parents will have a meal for her that evening. Children do not worry about such things, because they trust their parents. In the same way, we as Christians should trust our heavenly Father to supply what is best for us. *

And although our country says, “In God we Trust”, many children are now worried about whether their parents will be there when they return home. All of us have ancestors who were undocumented at one time. This is against our Gospel principles and love itself. Solutions need to be thought out and prayed about.

Death was walking toward a city, and a man stopped Death and asked, “What are you going to do?” Death said, “I’m going to kill ten thousand people.” The man said, “That’s horrible!” Death said, “That’s the way it is; that’s what I do.”

As the day passed, the man warned everyone he could of Death’s plan. At the end of the day he again met Death. He said, “You said you were going to kill ten thousand people, and yet seventy thousand died.” Death explained, “I killed only ten thousand. Worry, anxiety and fear killed the others.” *

Left to our own, our anxieties can cause wars in our own family and beyond. Let us trust in Jesus when he tells us, “Do not worry about your life. Your heavenly Father knows your needs. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”*

* Taken from Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, edited by Michael P. Green, 1989, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

QUEEN OF PEACE CATHOLIC COMMUNITY ~ CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK ~ Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them saying, “Blessed are…” nine times.

Jesus was a Teacher, not a trainer. A true teacher teaches in a way so that the student (or disciple) becomes an equal. Jesus, the Teacher, does not want to be our Master, but he does want to be our Friend and Beloved.

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Today we heard the introduction of the Sermon on the Mount. This is at the very beginning of his Mission. His Mission is to teach us all about the Kingdom of Heaven. He is attempting to give us the rules, just like we have rules of conduct in school, work and growing up in a family.

What kind of rules do we have growing up in a family? Yes… clean your room, say “please” and “thank you”, go to bed a certain time, eat your vegetables (not just M & M’s), take out the garbage, do your homework, go to church, say your prayers. When we are kids, if we rebel against these duties, there are consequences. As an adult, we have the freedom not to follow through with these rules, but the consequences might be more grave and could rob us of a peaceful and productive life.

A thousand years before Jesus, God gave us the Ten Commandments through Moses. They tell us to love and obey God, our parents and our neighbors. We are to rest and worship with God one day a week. We don’t kill, cheat, steal, lie or become envious and greedy. This Gospel passage today is like the first day of catholic school. Jesus is going to teach us much more than rules, which can be challenging by themselves. If we don’t learn these beatitudes, there are grave consequences like remaining slaves rather than children of God or never finding the Kingdom of Heaven.

When our minds are developing, they work more like a puppy that needs to be trained or disciplined (discipled). If I train my puppy to be mean, what does it grow up to be? Yes, a mean dog. Does it have a choice? No, of course not. Can the dog say to itself, “I don’t feel like being mean anymore.”? That is why rules for dogs are so important when they are young. That is why rules for children and teenagers are so important when we are young. But here is the difference. We don’t just learn rules growing up. We have to learn how to think and grow in faith. We need to master the gifts of the Holy Spirit like wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

When Jesus goes on to finish teaching the crowd, the Gospel writer tells us, “When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

Jesus is the best teacher we will ever find. Our catholic schools allow the Jesus in our teachers, parents and guardians to connect with the Jesus in every student. Once we learn the basic commandments, the goal of catholic schools is to become disciples and teachers. Let us all grow in wisdom, faith and love.

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1st Reading: Prophet Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13

Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth, who have observed his law; seek justice, seek humility;

Psalm 146

Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs!

2nd Reading: St. Paul to the Corinthians 1:26-31

God chose the foolish… the weak, the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing..

Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12

Blessed are…, for they…

Behold the Lamb of God!

Behold the Lamb of God ~ 2nd Sunday Ordinary Time ~ St. John 1:29-34:

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him… Behold the Lamb of God; I did not know him; baptize with water; baptize with the Holy Spirit; Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.dscf7150

The following prayer has guided my life. The Cursillo prays it before they witness to their study, piety, action and close moment with Jesus:

Come Holy Spirit,

Fill the Hearts of your faithful.

Enkindle in us the fire of your Love.

Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created,

and you shall renew the face of the earth.

O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructs the hearts of your faithful,

Grant that by the same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise,

and forever rejoice in your consolation, through Christ Our Lord. Amen!

Do you know what happens to black coal if it is deep enough in the ground, under great enough pressure, suffering and a million years? Yes, it becomes a crystal clear and radiant diamond. We don’t have to wait millions of years to become God’s diamonds, God’s children… because Jesus, the Lamb of God, takes the suffering on himself.

This week I had the opportunity to celebrate Mass at one of our nursing homes. O how they suffer. It was amazing how Jesus spoke through them. When they were anointed, they were reminded that they would be healed of something to help them renew the face of the earth. I asked them what they wanted to be healed of. They didn’t look at me like I was off my rocker. They didn’t say, “Duh, cant’ you see I need healing of my abandonment or bitterness or physical suffering.” They didn’t want temporary relief, but everlasting healing. What they asked for was wisdom, knowledge and understanding… courage, counsel and reverence… wonder and awe. They wanted the Holy Spirit! After communion we sang this song. We heard Jesus cry out to us,”

Come, come unto me

I will make you a jewel, precious and rare, the glory you’ll bear,

In the crown of God.

~From the dawn of creation, to the tree on Calvary

I chose you and gave my life, to be my own and to be my delight.

~There are words you alone can say, and there are deeds only you can do.

Trust in me and do not tremble, for I go with you to show you the way!

*Come, come unto me…   (Bob Hurd)

While holding the Body and Blood of Jesus, the priest proclaims: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the LAMB!” We respond, “O Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and my soul will be healed.”

Since we were little children, we have been saying this every Sunday, if not more, but I sense we get stuck on the first part of unworthiness. God wants to heal us. We just have to ask. God sent God’s own beloved son to us so that we can feast on His Body and Blood and become what we eat. (The Lamb of God.) Two thousand years before Jesus, Isaac was carrying the wood on his back while his father, Abraham, was carrying the fire. He cried out, “Dad! Here is the wood and you have the fire. Where is the sacrifice?” Abraham gently responded to his son knowing what he was about to do, “Son, God will provide.” The ram was caught in the thicket and took the son’s place.

Now Jesus is carrying the wood of the Cross and he cries out to God, His Father, “Abba, Daddy! Here is the wood, and here is the fire (anger) of the people. Where is the sacrifice?” God responds with a whisper, “My Beloved Son… You are the sacrifice!” Jesus says, “Your will be done.” God allows us to sacrifice his Son.

So both father and son will die.

When we dare to eat the body and blood of Jesus, we become God’s daughters and sons. We will either watch our beloved ones die, which is really death itself, or we become like Jesus… the sacrifice. We die.

Like John the Baptist, we are not worthy to receive Jesus. We need to be healed. Our black coal needs to radiate Christ within us. Sometimes, I say to Jesus, “Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and my soul will be healed of… my doubt… my addictions… my depression… my anxiety… my bitterness… my unforgiveness… my jealousy… my need to control… my lack of generosity…” Then I can help renew the face of the earth.

Soul healing comes through the fire of the Holy Spirit, the Blood of the Lamb.

“Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and my soul will be healed.” Jesus needs to heal us, so that the Jesus in us will attract others. It is Jesus working through us, and it is not because we are worthy.

All of us, with Jesus in our bodies and souls, cry out to the world:

We are one body, one body in Christ

And we do not stand-alone

We are one body, one body in Christ

And he came that we might have life.

                               ~When you eat my body and you eat my blood

               I will live in you, and you will live in my love. (2X)

                                                Table of Plenty – John Michael Talbot

Truly, the Mass never ends, we take it with us. Thanks be to God!

God is Love. God is Good…

All the Time!

Mary, Mother of God and Our Mother

January 1, 2016

Numbers 6:22-27 ~ The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace.

Galatians 4:4-7 ~ God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

Luke 2:16-21 ~ The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child.

All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.

And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen just as it had been told to them. When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

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What is the message of good news of great joy all about? What is there to be amazed about?

It is important to meditate like Mary, the Mother of Jesus our Lord. She kept all these things and reflected on them in her heart.

In the first reading, Moses hands on the blessing from God, but now God bestows the blessing in person. The Lord bless you and keep you. The angels kept telling them over and over, “Do not be afraid!” God keeps us in his arms and heart. “The Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.” God is like a mother and father with their newborn child, smiling at us and gifting us with their love. “The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace.”    There is nothing to be afraid of when parents love their children unconditionally.

So now we are beginning to understand an adult Christmas. This is not an artificial Christmas (Christ-Mass). This is the real deal. This baby, who is now an adult, breathes on us the unconditional love that he received at his birth and from his parents and God. Jesus tells us not to be afraid.

Mary might have prayed and reflected in her heart like this. “The shepherds teach me that my Son is not mine alone. God has given him not only to me, but to the world. I must reflect in my heart on this Mystery. It is too big for me to grasp. I know this newborn Son has already changed my life. I guess he will continue to change me. I beg that I can be a good mother, helping my newborn Son grow into the man who God wants him to be. I beg that I can have the strength to stand by him in any hour of need. I beg to reflect on this Mystery in my heart, and know it is God’s will for me. I beg to trust the Mystery.”

This prayer of Our Mother was a most costly prayer. She was told by Simeon at his presentation, “And you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts and hearts of many will be revealed.” It takes a very special mother to take on this responsibility.

God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” “Momma, Mother!” So you are no longer slaves, but daughters and sons of God the Father and his Beloved Mary.

And now each of us can bless the whole world with the blessing and gifts we have received from our Heavenly Father and Mother.

“I, (state your name), bless you and keep you in my heart.

I let my face shine upon you and be gracious to you.

I look upon you kindly and give you peace.”

So let us return glorifying and praising God like the shepherds for all that we have heard and seen just as it has been told to us.

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plain
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains … Gloria In excelsis Deo

Shepherd’s, why this jubilee
Why your joyous song prolong
What the gladsome tidings be,
That inspire your heavenly, heavenly song … Gloria In excelsis Deo

You see, the Christ-Mass (Christmas) never ends. We take it with us. Thanks be to God!

Looking for Christ in Christmas

Gospel St. Matthew 11:2-11 ~ When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.

What are you looking for this Christmas?

Where are you looking?

Have you ever considered looking Christmas in Easter?

In both celebrations we are looking for something special below a tree, one an evergreen and one a cross. Below both trees the mother holds her child. Below both trees… the light shines out through the darkness.

John the Baptist was looking for the Messiah all his life. John and his disciples were looking for God in all the right places, but did not find him. It reminds me of the movie, “Finding Nemo”. The little fish was attempting to find the ocean when he was swimming in it.

Jesus began his ministry as an adult. He entered the synagogue that he grew up in. He was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah that he had practically memorized. The people looked for the Messiah but did not see him before their very eyes. Jesus told us his mission statement:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me                                                                                                                   because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.

God sent me to proclaim liberty to captives,                                                                                             recovery of sight to the blind,                                                                                                                                    to let the oppressed go free                                                                                                                                     and to proclaim a year acceptable to God.”

I have been on over 12 missions to poor places like Haiti, Honduras and Africa. I was looking for Jesus in the poorest of the poor. I don’t speak the language of the peoples, but I can hear and see what Jesus is doing through wonderful and dedicated people. A Frisbee or soccer ball brings about unimaginable healing in the people I come to serve and especially in myself. The blind see the poor as equal to us. Queen of Peace missions have literally done what Jesus begs us to do. They have helped people walk again, waters to be cleansed, surgeries to give new life, devastations to restore, an attitude of gratitude, and the materially poor and spiritually poor have the good news proclaimed to them. So much more to do.dscf9317

Christmas is about receiving gifts from God, nurturing them responsibly, sharing them lovingly in justice with others. This is the gift we return with increase to God. We receive the baby at Christmas, but we return the Body of Christ in our bodies at the foot of the genuine Christmas tree. We offer our tears and our brokenness. We also return our fruit from the gifts God planted in our souls. The more we share the Gift of the Holy Spirit and our fire with others in justice; the more fruit God channels through us; fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, self-control and faithfulness. This is the best Christmas gift we could ever imagine giving to God. We give the gift every Christ Mass wrapped in our Mission Statement.

As Christians we receive God’s gifts gratefully,

cultivate them responsibly,

share them lovingly in justice with others,

and return them with increase to the Lord.

Jesus could say to them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see in my followers:

They were blind but now they see, they were paralyzed in fear but now they walk in truth, they were impure with sin, but now forgiven, love has broken through their deafness, and they now breath in… hungering and thirsting for more.”

 

My gift to Jesus this year is an instrument… an instrument of peace.

What is your Good News? What is your Gift? You still have time.

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