Happy Labor Day

1 September 2014 - By

labor-day-eight-hours

Almighty and everlasting God, by Whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified, receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before Thee for all estates of men and women who labor and seek justice for workers, that each in their vocation, ministry, and labor may truly and godly serve our society to Thy greater glory and his own sanctification and salvation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Reflection for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Youth Sunday, and Labor Day

30 August 2014 - By

Sacredness-of-Work

A call to be
changed.

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

Today we celebrate a call to be changed, to offer ourselves to God in all we do, and in doing so to make His kingdom a reality.

How will we make this change real? How will we respond and get to work? What will we do to be transformed into people completely focused on carrying out God’s will for humanity?

Our Holy Church has designated this Sunday as Youth Sunday. Our youth will be returning to school. They will study and grow in knowledge so that they may take their place in society, contributing their work and effort – but to what end?

If their studies are self-focused, if they are taken up without due consideration of God’s call to be changed and to change the world, they will only make their lives small and self-serving. They may achieve earthly success, but in the process lose their souls. If however, their study and growth remain focused on God’s call to change and affect change in accord with His call, their lives will be glorious and complete. They will use what they have gained to come into union with God and to carry out His will. We must help them by our example, prayer, and support. Our duty is to continually assist them in realizing that everything they learn and do is a gift from God and requires a response to His call to change.

This weekend we also celebrate Labor Day. Our work and labor must also been seen in light of the call to be changed and change the world. Paraphrasing our organizer, Bishop Hodur: ‘The time will come when our heroes emerging from the homes of farmers and laborers will sweat and sacrifice not for kings or the rights of the privileged or a single class, but will battle and work for freedom and the rights of man. Let us gather and strive to be first in good and last in wrong. Then shall we bring ourselves, our nation, and the whole world closer to happiness and salvation.’

We are thus called to change ourselves and the world, to transform life away from the money-driven values of this world to the bringing of the kingdom of God.

We are called to make change real in the lives of our youth and in our lives. This is true worship: “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice” Do not live the status quo. It is not enough! Jesus put His body on the line for us. So we must put our lives on the line, changing them for Him and working for the coming of His kingdom.

Reflection for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

23 August 2014 - By

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A life full of
riches.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! … For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

God’s judgments testify to His righteousness, as well as to His wisdom. God knows how to catch those who oppose him in their own snares by allowing them to fall, not by His doing, but by their own free will and choices that oppose Him. In contrast with His judgments, His ways are the way of grace that lead to eternal life for those who chose Him. How wonderful and wise are His judgments and ways! They make us rich.

Looking back at history and even our lives we can truly marvel at His wisdom. Consider how He: Has mercy on the disobedient; Gathers us out of the many peoples, Jews and Gentiles, into a people who are His own; Uses us to convert others; and Preserves the world despite malice and evil until we have built His kingdom through the grace He gives us.

His wisdom is entirely immeasurable and unfathomable; His judgments and ways are inscrutable and incomprehensible. So lies the emphasis: This powerful and incomprehensible God joins Himself to humanity and sacrificed Himself all so we might be drawn up to be like Him; so that we may enter into glory after glory. So that by the freedom He allows we may chose for Him and bring others to Him.

God wants the salvation of all people, has revealed Himself to us, has shown us the way we should go, has called upon us to proclaim Him and invite others to know Him, and has left us the tremendous promise of eternal life and glory even though we lack His perfection and fall at times.

Paul confirms that the judgments and ways of God are inscrutable and untraceable with three questions, which he borrows from Isaiah and Job: For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has given the Lord anything that he may be repaid?

Paul reminds us that everything that is and will be has its beginning in God, is carried out by God, and serves God’s purposes. God needs nothing and we can offer Him nothing – excepting this: our faith, like Peter, our declaration that He is our God.

God asks us to come into relationship with Him and each other. He shows us the way and gives us the words that can make all our lives rich and complete.

To him be glory forever! Paul makes this great exclamation, calling on us to give glory to God for His judgments and His ways; for the riches He gives to all who by faith in Him build His kingdom and join together in His life.

Reflection for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

16 August 2014 - By

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All people?
Really?

The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD, and becoming his servants—all who keep the Sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

This beautiful text recounts very powerful words to people who believed themselves to be exclusive. This sense of separateness built up in Israel over time – but this was not God’s way or instruction to Israel.

When Israel was constituted as a nation, a concern for resident aliens and foreigners was built into its legal system. The alien peoples received special protection under the law and were to be loved as native Israelites.

They came to or dwelt in Israel for various reasons including for the specific purpose of knowing God. All foreigners sojourning in Israel were counted as its people under the care and protection of God. Those who were joined to Israel through circumcision could join in the Passover. All were expected to honor and follow the laws of the Lord including the Sabbath rest. No foreigner was to be vexed or oppressed. They were to be loved, helped in distress, and have justice in all disputes.

Of all nations only Israel’s law, given by God, contained legislation for the resident alien. When Israel received the Promised Land she was required to purge it of its foreign population. But, foreigners in this context represented those hostile to her – it did not mean complete exclusion. Israel’s entire existence was bound up with being a blessing to all nations.

Various scriptures including Solomon’s prayer at the inauguration of the temple implied that God’s house was a house of prayer for all peoples. Israelite and foreigner could both pray to the Lord. Today’s words from Isaiah re-speak those words as instructed by God.

By the time of Jesus’ coming Israel had become extremely exclusive, and forgot God’s words – to be a blessing and mission to the nations. Jesus’s life is replete with His reaching out to foreigners – they were present at His birth, during His ministry where He interacted, preached to, and healed them. Paul clearly states that in Christ all are called and there is no negative racial, linguistic, or ethnic difference. We are gifts to each other.

Jesus’ call is never to separateness, to dissolution, or hopelessness – but to hope for all people in all circumstances. May God be praised for choosing and loving all!

Pray for Christians in Iraq

11 August 2014 - By

They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. [...]Read More

Reflection for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

9 August 2014 - By

Who's out there?

Brothers and sisters: I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh.
We are called to recognize and live in the power [...]Read More

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Transfiguration

6 August 2014 - By

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. -- 1 John 3:1-2
[...]Read More

Reflection for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

2 August 2014 - By

We have a big God

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are called to recognize and live the power of God. Reading the Old Testament we see the multitude of tremendous things God did for [...]Read More

Arts Opportunities, Scholarships, Programs, and Research Grants

28 July 2014 - By

From the New York State Alliance for Arts Education Uncommon Approaches to the Common Core 2 August 12- 13, in Albany. Hear an inspiring keynote on inquiry-based learning from Barbara Stripling. Participate in experiential labs where you'll learn how to create compelling lessons using cultural resources to meet the Common Core Learning Standards. Explore inquiry as a professional discipline. Network with colleagues in your region. And, to close the conference, hear from James B. [...]Read More

Summer Issue of the Cosmopolitan Review

28 July 2014 - By

The summer issue of the Cosmopolitan Review has been published. The authors note:

The arts, in all their variety, are mirrors that reflect a people. We owe so much to artists. They make us laugh, cry, think, and see ourselves in our infinite variety, so no wonder we admire those talented people who create images, words and music that enrich our lives. This issue, we focus on them, whether we find them working in [...]Read More

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