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The Last Laugh

All of us want to be happy. In fact, our desire to be happy draws us closer to God because God has created us for Himself and we can only know joy if we come to know Him.  The strange thing, though, is that as badly as we want to be happy, we seem loathe to do the things that will make happiness possible.  God has revealed surefire strategies for finding joy – but, for some reason, we’re attracted to the surefire path to ruin.

Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time

 

Gospel 

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,
“Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
He replied to him,
“Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”
Then he said to the crowd,
“Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

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Barefoot, Pregnant and Baking Bread

How many times can I say this before I start to bore myself?  Scripture can be a fabulous conversation starter, but it should never be used as an argument settler.  Sadly, though, many people seem unable to keep themselves from turning to the Bible when they need evidence to pile up in support of some point or another they’re wishing to advance.  It’s as if they imagine God gave them the sacred texts to use as weapons whenever they get into a heated discussion!

A prodigious knowledge of the Bible would be very cold comfort to the one whose knowledge of God is sparse; and it’s knowledge of God that leads us to joy.  A knowledge of scripture, without the blessing of faith, can only win us excellent grades in Religion class – and the right to look down on those whose marks aren’t as high.

 And what sad recompense that would be!

 

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Reading 1

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. Looking up, Abraham saw three men standing nearby.

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Do You Want To Be Well?

Freedom can be frightening.  In fact, even the thought of freedom can spark fear. We live because God freely chooses to give us life and God’s free choice enables us to be free.  The only way we can be as God wants us to be, to be – in fact – as God Himself is, is by accepting God’s gift of freedom.  Of course, because we’re free we’re always free to reject our own freedom.  God wants you to be free, and God wants you to be well.  The question is: “Do you want to be well?”

 

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Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Gospel 

There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes.  In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.  One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?”

The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.”

Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.”  Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.

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Know Your Name!

When we repent, we begin to behave in new ways.  The change in behavior is what people notice, and it’s what God wants.  We shouldn’t forget, however, that a permanent change in behavior requires a change in thinking, and a permanent change in thinking requires us to change what it is that we believe.

If we really believed what is really true, we’d have nothing to repent.

To know the truth, and to believe the truth is the foundation of living a life that pleases God; and we do this, as Jesus explained, “so that our joy may be complete.”

 

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The Third Sunday in Lent

Gospel 

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.  Jesus said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!

“Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them — do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”

And he told them this parable:

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Not So Fast!

The Lord taught us to pray, “Thy will be done.”  I think we can find something in today’s gospel reading that will help us understand what sort of obstacles we face in our efforts to submit ourselves to God’s will. 

 

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Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time 

Gospel 

King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”  Others were saying, “He is Elijah”; still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.”

But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”

Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”

Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody.  When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him.

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“M” Is For The Many Things She Gave Me

The teachings we refer to as “The Mysteries of the Church” are, at their core, revelations.  God wants us to know Him as He is.  Our joy is to know Him, and self-expression is His gift to us.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s not possible to fully grasp the gospel simply by taking time out to read the Bible by yourself.  We can only come to know Jesus in the context of being a member of Christ’s Church. 

 

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The Octave Day of Christmas 


Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
the Mother of God

Recessional Hymn

Hail, holy Queen enthroned above,
Hail, Queen of mercy and of love,
Our life, our sweetness, here below,
Our hope in sorrow and in woe, O Maria!

To thee we cry, poor sons of Eve,
To thee we sigh, we mourn, we grieve,
Turn then most gracious Advocate,
Toward us thine eyes compassionate, O Maria!

Triumph, all ye cherubim, Sing with us, ye seraphim,
Heaven and earth resound the hymn:
Salve, salve, salve Regina!

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The Girl Nobody Likes

Everyone, believer or non-believer, has to come to terms with the reality of evil; but, for the non-believer, evil poses no philosophical puzzle.  To the non-believer, life is what life is – there is no ‘meant to be’.  The non-believer never claims that the world has meaning and purpose.  If there is good, so be it.  If there is evil – well, what do you expect?  It’s all ‘sound and fury’ anyway.

A believer lives in the same world that the non-believer does and yet the believer makes the outrageous claim that the world was meant, not for chaos and confusion, but for justice and peace, mercy and truth.  No wonder we’re laughed at! 

 

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Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs

Gospel 

When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.  Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”

Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.  He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,

Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious.  He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.

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Hidden In Plain Sight

There’s a world of difference between what it is that we want and what it is that we need.  There’s also a world of difference between the god we want and the God we need.  To appreciate the Mystery of the Incarnation we have to accept two incredible Truths.  We have to get our heads wrapped around the astonishing idea that God entered the world; but what’s even more astonishing is the revelation that God is the embodiment of weakness and vulnerability.  Go figure!

 

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Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord

Gospel 

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

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It says right here….

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.  Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.  Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matt 5, 17-20

Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

 Matt 5, 20

I got into an interesting conversation a couple of days ago with a wonderful Christian friend of mine who happens to worship our LORD in a different church.   She told me that she had been called upon to give the “children’s lesson” during a recent Sunday Service.  Her lesson, as she explained explained it to me, was to tell the children that it’s possible for us to always know what we should do because we’ve been given a “user’s manual” for our lives.  Then she asked the children if they knew what that manual was.  One little girl, according to my friend, raised her hand and said, “The Bible!”  This pleased my friend, so she praised the girl and then wrapped the lesson up so the service could continue.   Read More…

What Are You Looking At?

This is the Gospel Reading for Tuesday in the Twenty-Seventh Week of Ordinary Time.

Most Christians refer to this, simply, as ‘The Story of Martha and Mary’; and homilies about this story often compare the role of contemplation against the role of activity. I’m going to try to look at this from a different angle.

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.

Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”

The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Lk 10, 38-42

Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing
.
Lk 10, 41-42

I consider this story, which is a vignette really, a ‘sure fire’ conversation starter among Christians. Just about every disciple I’ve ever spoken to, upon hearing this story proclaimed, has had something to say about these sisters’ domestic dispute. No surprise, really. Where in the Bible do we find a story more ordinary, and more relevant to our everyday experience? There’s no miracle to wonder at, no complex bit of theology to mull over, no frightening prophesy to get our hearts pumping. None of that. Just one person keeping tabs on another, making sure nobody gets a ‘free ride’, making sure everybody ‘gets her due’. Isn’t that just like us? Isn’t that just like everybody?   Read More…