Reflection for the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

13 June 2015 - By

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All things green
and new.

And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the LORD, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree, wither up the green tree, and make the withered tree bloom. As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will I do.

Ezekiel the Prophet was called at a difficult time in Israel’s history. Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian ruler, had besieged Jerusalem, carried off its king as well as the members of the upper class, including Ezekiel the priest. He appointed a puppet king, Zedekiah, for Israel. Jerusalem ends up destroyed. In reflecting back on all this, and all the bad news he had to deliver, Ezekiel writes about hope and restoration.

There were many strong nations and powers, likened to high, strong, green trees. Israel was withered, barely living. Yet the Lord had (and has) the power to lift up the lowly tree, to make it green and alive again, to make it the most powerful and beautiful tree and to make those formerly powerful wither away.

Jesus is the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy. He is the restoration that came to be by God’s grace – to make all things green and new. Jesus’ coming is the culminating moment of reassurance for us. Our God is the God of new life, of the green time – the keeper of promises. He is our hope and the bringer of renewal.

How appropriate then to read of God’s strengthening, renewing, and greening of the withered tree as we enter into a new Church season this Sunday. This season of green will last through the end of November. It has been variously referred to as the ‘Time After Pentecost,’ the ‘Green Time,’ or ‘Ordinary Time.’

These green days are so important for us. Like Ezekiel, we have been born into a time of difficulty and challenge. Sometimes it is hard for us to see any possibility for renewal. Let us take this season – June through November – to recommit to our God Who is the God of renewal and new life. Let us recognize that we, like Ezekiel, are called to offer God’s way to the world.

By uniting ourselves to Jesus, first through baptism, then in each moment of our lives, we partake and share in God’s life. God, who can bring greenness out of the withered tree will take whatever is broken and hurtful, whatever is withered in us, will make it new, green, and alive. Hear God’s promise recounted in the 92nd Psalm: The just man shall flourish like the palm tree, like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow. They that are planted in the house of the Lord, shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall bear fruit even in old age; vigorous and sturdy shall they be. We who follow the Lord will flourish and be green once again.

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity 2015

30 May 2015 - By

About-the-Trinity1

I believe in
— —.

Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Jesus’s words found at the very end of Matthew’s Gospel account give us great comfort. He is ascending, but will remain with us always.

But, why should His words give us comfort? Even those we consider close friends can sometimes offer words, but fail to follow-through. Why are Jesus’ words supposed to give us any more comfort than any other person’s words?

This is where we get down to brass tacks as Christians. What is at the center of our faith? From where do we derive our confidence? How can we prepare ourselves to do what St. Peter asks of us when he says: “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you”?

Standing where we are today, and having recited the creeds of the faith as our parents, grandparents, and ancestors have through the centuries it is easy enough to say – God. God is the reason for our hope. We are confident in Jesus’ words because Jesus is God and God cannot speak falsehood. If He said He would be with us always it is obviously and categorically true.

It wasn’t always that way. The Church had to work and fight long and hard, for centuries, to proclaim the truth about God, to settle it all based on what Jesus taught and the Apostles witnessed firsthand. Others came along with theories and opinions – Jesus was not really a man, He was not really God, the Holy Spirit wasn’t a person. These were called heresies – untruths – falsehoods.

The various creeds were written to clearly covey the truth of Who and What God is in opposition to those heresies. What we believe, as is stated in the Athanasian Creed, is the baseline necessary belief for every Christian. God is Three Co-eternal, Uncreated, and Almighty Persons of One Substance.

We have to be very careful to proclaim this truth. If we do not, our baptism in the name of the Trinity is worthless, our prayer is useless, and our hope is baseless. Jesus words are just the words of another faulty human. The Holy Spirit is just a breeze or a warm fuzzy feeling, He has no personhood. The Father – who knows?

Our task this Trinity Sunday is to reconnect ourselves to the truth of God and in doing so recognize the great promise and power that is ours.

Reflection for Pentecost 2015

23 May 2015 - By

Jesus-the-real-deal-sm

Get
real.

Brothers and sisters, live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.

The Solemnity of Pentecost presents us with an opportunity to judge what is real in our life, what is in our best interest.

When the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles in the upper room they had a choice to make. Would they follow the Spirit’s promptings and go out into the world to proclaim the truth or would they just sit there?

As we know, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. The key word is proclaim. They did act to proclaim the truth. They went out into the streets they were confronted by a large crowd of people from every nation and race.

Those people had a choice too. Would they listen and act, accepting the Lordship of Jesus and baptism for regeneration, or would they walk on? They acted to accept what is real, what was in their best interest: Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.

That initial act on the part of the Apostles and those that were added to their number was not the end. If it were, the hope of Jesus would have ended there. Their action was only a beginning. From there they set out to proclaim the word of God. Not only did they proclaim, but they lived God’s word, they remained faithful to Jesus’ way of life.

This is the difficult part of being a Christian both in those days and in the current age. We are confronted with many ways of life; we have choices. What will we proclaim in the face of those choices?

The Christian road, and being real about our faith, is not an easy road. It means we have to say no to the world. It means we have to live by the Spirit that has been given to us. It means making choices that fly in the face of what the world wants from us. It means being faithful to the Church’s teaching because the Holy Spirit dwells in and guides what the Church proclaims. It means that we do not put our faith in government, Wall Street, money, worldly success and power, politics – we can and must say no to those things and more. They stand in opposition to reality.

St. Paul warns us that those who put their faith in the world and make the world their reality: will not inherit the kingdom of God. But, those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh. Therefore let us live in the Spirit, follow the Spirit, and be real.

Reflection for the 7th Sunday of Easter 2015

18 May 2015 - By

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Let one
stand up.

“For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘May another take his office.’ Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.”

This week the Pew Research Center on Religion & Public Life released its annual survey of religious affiliation in the United States. As with any survey result the pundits began to make predictions, some in churchy circles rang the alarm bells.

The Study tells us that: “The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing… Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among all ages. A large majority of Americans – roughly seven-in-ten – continue to identify with the Christian faith. But, the percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points.”

The pundits note the decline of Christianity and are ready to sound its death knell. Christianity is irrelevant. Churchy folks, in response, try to make themselves more relevant, looking for ways to draw in the young. Some others see this as the great winnowing, the driving out of imperfect Christians leaving behind only the perfect.

These groups are missing something very important. They attempt to define adherence and faithfulness in light of relevancy and perfection. That is something Christianity is not attempting to achieve.

Living the life Jesus has called us to live makes us quite irrelevant by the world’s standards. The world’s criteria’s are never the measure of our success. In the same way, perfection is not the yardstick by which we are to measure being a good Christian for as St. Paul told the Romans: for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God. If the imperfect are to be driven out every church will be empty.

Our true measure is our willingness to mature in faith and to stand up to declare our faith in ways both big and small. Our call is to witness to what is truly relevant: Jesus’ community – the Church – guides us to eternal life. Now that’s really what is relevant for everyone.

Reflection for the 6th Sunday of Easter 2015

11 May 2015 - By

Love as God loved us.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, [...]Read More

Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Easter 2015

3 May 2015 - By

Times of challenge and peace

The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.
Saul has been converted and because of the generosity, friendship, wholeheartedness, and witness of Barnabas is brought into the fold in Jerusalem even though the fellowship still feared him. Saul is welcomed and he [...]Read More

Reflection for Good Shepherd Sunday 2015

26 April 2015 - By

Asking for good shepherds

A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
We pause this Sunday to reflect on Jesus in His role as the Good [...]Read More

Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Easter 2015

20 April 2015 - By

One order of fish for Jesus.

Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and [...]Read More

Reflection for Low Sunday 2015

16 April 2015 - By

We have true victory in Jesus.

For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Who is the winner? That is a frequent question in our world. [...]Read More

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Resurrection 2015

5 April 2015 - By

There is but one answer and hope.

On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him.
A quick check of Google, the Internet Search Engine, points to over 534 million [...]Read More

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