Reflection for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

19 September 2015 - By


Where is

Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training… With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience.

Today’s readings and gospel offer an interesting juxtaposition pointing to victory.

In Wisdom we hear the words of the wicked. How can we test God’s Holy One? What tortures and trials can we put Him through to test Him? We want proof – proof is most important. We can almost hear God saying – when giving His commandments in Deuteronomy 6:16“You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.”

Wisdom points to the truth of Jesus. The wicked would test Him and finally would put Him to death. We could stop there thinking that this applies to Jesus alone, but that would make us separate from Jesus. Remember that Jesus underwent every trial, temptation, suffering that we face. He confronted death just as we will have to face death. The words of Wisdom apply to us too. The wicked of the world will fight us and will test us over and over. Our victory will come from the Jesus kind of proof we offer.

In the Gospel Jesus is walking along with His disciples. He’s explaining the things to come – the way He will be tortured and killed. He is certainly ready, willing, and able to give witness by carrying out His Father’s will. What witness do the disciples give? They don’t even hear Him. They refused to understand and did not even attempt to figure it out. Instead, they fought amongst themselves about who was the greatest. Imagine a son or daughter sitting through an hour long parental talk then looking up to say: ‘What did you say, and by the way, am I your favorite?’ Our victory comes from listening to, hearing and modeling Jesus.

Paul gives us a pathway forward. He shows us the way to victory. Live the wisdom that is from above – the wisdom of God made known to us in Jesus. Live lives that are pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, and full of mercy and good fruits. Be constant and sincere. Cultivate peace.

To have victory we have to make ourselves one in Jesus, to become real parts of His body. We must come to real regeneration in Him so that we can become more and more like Him. Unlike the disciples on the journey through Galilee we have to make ourselves “last of all and the servant of all.” From this new life in Him comes the witness we offer in the face of the world and whatever trials, temptations, and sufferings it attempts to foist upon us. From life in Him comes victory!

Reflection for the Solemnity of Brotherly Love 2015

12 September 2015 - By


Seeking to be

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

After the lawyer gave Jesus the correct answer on the Law of Love Jesus was well pleased. Wouldn’t it be great to hear God say to us: “You have answered right?”

The lawyer goes on to ask Jesus: “And who is my neighbor?” The layer was seeking to justify himself – in other words to see if Jesus would say that his way of life was the correct path, that he had done rightly not just in words, but in his life.

It is easy to give Jesus the right words. We can do this every Sunday in prayer and worship. We can do it in talking to others. But words are not enough. The lawyer knew this much.

In the lawyer’s mind he thought he knew the answer – my neighbor is my people – the Israelites were his only neighbors – and he expected that Jesus would confirm his opinion.

Jesus goes into the great Parable of the Good Samaritan. The lawyer would have recognized his neighbors as the priest and the Levite, but something went wrong. They didn’t follow through on the Law of Love toward their fellow Israelite. They walked on. Then this non- Israelite did something amazing, he lived out the Law of Love.

Could the lawyer possibly be justified if he did not believe and act similarly? The lawyer could walk away thinking that Jesus was completely off base, but wouldn’t he have to wonder? Was he truly justified if he wouldn’t live and act as the Samaritan had acted?

We have two challenges. The first is to consider our instinct. How do we feel about the lawyer, the priest, and the Levite at a gut level? Of course we’re on the side of Jesus and the Samaritan – but what about them? They are easy to dislike. Maybe they are not quite enemies, but not our kind of people? The challenge is to see them with eyes, hearts, minds, strength, and soul as our brothers. We are to love them and forgive their failings as Jesus would.

The second challenge is to move beyond just saying words of love – to extend the totality of our love – a love with eyes, hearts, minds, strength, and soul – to everyone. Then we will truly be justified and live-forever hearing Jesus say – “You have answered right?”

Reflection for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

8 September 2015 - By


Getting to

And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” — And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.

Tomorrow we celebrate Labor Day. Our Holy Church has a long history of support for the Labor movement. Our founders were in tune with the struggles faced by working men and women. They experienced the reality of exploitation by the powerful moneyed interests of our nation. Bishop Hodur spoke out for the respect that was due workers, for fair treatment, payment of proper wages, and a fair share of the profits they produced. He advocated for the same kind of democracy in industry that was part of our Church. All worked against selfish interest and for the collective good of the community.

It would be one thing to advocate for workers from self-interest as an ends, but we well know that advocacy for the rights of workers and for the community comes from and is centered in our love for Jesus’ way of life.

As we see in today’s gospel, Jesus’ healing takes physical form. He works to make the deaf hear and the mute speak. In John 9:5-7 we see Jesus again healing physically: “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam ” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.

St. Paul reminds us that we cannot forego justice toward the weak, the downtrodden, the worker. We are not to make distinction, but look to the collective good of all – because Jesus showed no partiality: show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please,” while you say to the poor one, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs?

Our faith in Jesus requires that we work faithfully for the collective good. We must be unafraid of working to renew the world – to help those deaf to faith to hear; to help those who fear proclamation to cry out; to open streams of the life giving waters to the entire world; and to show no partiality, treating all as equal before God.

Reflection for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

30 August 2015 - By


The in and out
of life.

He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.’ You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”

A few weeks ago, Jesus upset His listeners when He offered them His body and blood. To them, He was violating one of the most basic precepts of Kosher law.

Today, the Pharisees and some scribes confront Jesus. This was at a more basic level; Jesus disciples were violating traditional rules about hand washing. They confronted Jesus about this.

These Pharisees and scribes came from Jerusalem: They were an official delegation coming to evaluate the ministry of Jesus. A prior delegation had already condemned Jesus so this one already made up their minds. They just had to see it to confirm their opinion. Their minds and hearts were not open to God.

As to the washings we do not mean getting rid of the yuck factor. The Pharisees rather meant elaborate ceremonial washings. The Pharisees had raised a small ‘t’ tradition to the level of God’s direct commands. In fact, by the time of Jesus, this oral law was being honored as at least equal to, if not more important than, God’s Law. Jesus was trying to refocus Israel. Open your hearts and your whole selves to my Father. See in Me the goodness and generosity of your Heavenly Father.

It is easy for us to enter into the same kinds of error; to find salvation in outward practice, and in doing so to lose our way. We need refocusing too.

We can easily lose our focus and place trivial traditions in the way of our relationship with God. These can even become roadblocks that discourage others from coming to God. We can think that we are close to the Lord by what we say and practice – having the image of being religious or spiritual, but actually be far from God. We should regularly ask ourselves some serious questions: I attend church, read the Bible, pray, pitch in, minister, sing, even talk to others about Jesus but is my heart close to God? Is my entire being about being in Jesus?

If our entire being is one in God then all we do is about being part of His life. We worship in church, not to be exceptional or even to follow God’s law, but because we need to be with Him and offer Him the worship He deserves. We read the Bible, pray, pitch in, minister, sing, and talk to others about Jesus because our hearts are His. We are truly and fully in love with God. Lord, refocus us so that all coming from us is Yours!

Reflection for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

22 August 2015 - By

We are almost there.

He said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and [...]Read More

Reflection for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

15 August 2015 - By

Let us seek His wisdom.

Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven columns; she has dressed her meat, mixed her wine, yes, she has spread her table. She has sent out her maidens; she calls from the heights out over the city: “Let whoever is simple turn in here; To the one who lacks understanding, she says, Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake [...]Read More

Reflection for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

8 August 2015 - By

I'm not going to let go of you!

Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert, until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death saying: “This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree, but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat. Elijah looked and [...]Read More

Reflection for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

2 August 2015 - By

The slow, long slide.

I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; that is not how you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit [...]Read More

Reflection for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

24 July 2015 - By

Provisions, not just supplies.

Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
Dictionaries tell us that provision means items of goods or supplies, especially food, obtained for future use. It can also [...]Read More

Reflection for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

18 July 2015 - By

The challenge. The reaction.

So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When He disembarked and saw the vast crowd, His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many [...]Read More



…and the rest

September 2015
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