Reflection for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

4 July 2015 - By

walking-the-walk

And You are
Who?

When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Do we mimic Jesus’ encounter with the people from His native region by failing to recollect His reality and how very important and essential He is to us?

Of course, very few people would say they hate Jesus. Where they fail is in seeing the reality of Jesus. Like the people of His native village, the world wants Jesus to be who they want Him to be. They neither expect nor want God to walk among them, to enter into their lives, or to challenge them to go His way.

The gospel shows us that the people of Jesus’ native place expected a carpenter. They pigeonholed Jesus. When He upset their apple cart and challenged them to see differently, they were offended rather than changed.

What do we expect to find when we meet Jesus? Was He only a man, a philosopher who said nice and helpful things that we can choose to accept or ignore? Is He the god of our own making who exists merely to confirm and accept whatever we wish confirmed and accepted? Is He the god of magic blessings and cures? Is He a ‘plumber,’ on call in case of emergency? Do we keep Him safely on a refrigerator magnet, the bookshelf, or the Rolodex just in case? Is He the god of unchallenging love?

Jesus upset the expectations of those in His native place and He should upset our expectations.

The most challenging aspect of being a Christian is whether we will pigeonhole Jesus or if we will accept Him in the fullness of His godhead. If He is a mere shadow of what He truly is then He is not God. He had worked as a carpenter – and that is all His community members saw – that one side. As a result of their expectations they took offense and limited Him.

Jesus proclaimed marvelous words and a life affirming philosophy – but He is not just a philosopher. He healed and is there in a pinch, but He is more than an on-call fixer. He is never a god of our making. His message of love and way of love is always a challenge. It is a challenge to complacency and to our expectations.

Will we limit Him in our lives? Will we fail to recognize Him and how important He is? Will He be more important than anything to us? Will he offend us or will we be set free by His reality? Accepting Him and taking up His challenges sets us free. It makes us amazing in Jesus’ eyes.

Reflection for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

27 June 2015 - By

Just before deadline - time, stress, rush, faith.

I hope You’re running
on time.

While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”

There’ a little poem that goes:

God has perfect timing;
Never early, never late.
It takes a little
Patience and faith,
But it’s worth the wait.

Our readings and gospel point to God’s perfect timing. In our Epistle from Second Corinthians, Paul appeals for charity toward the Church in Jerusalem.

The Christians at Jerusalem referred to themselves as “the poor.” They were completely dependent on God’s provision. Several factors may account for their poverty: After conversion to Christianity they would have been ostracized socially and economically; Persistent food shortages in Palestine culminated in the famine of A.D. 46; As the mother-church of Christendom, the Jerusalem church was obliged to support a large number of teachers and provided hospitality for Christian visitors; and Christians in Palestine were subject to a crippling Jewish and Roman taxation.

Yet, in the midst of all these factors, the Church faithful in Jerusalem acted in complete faith. They sold everything they had and gave to each other. They trusted in God’s timing, God’s provision. Their patience and faith were rewarded because Paul was out there raising funds. The Churches of Macedonia, Galatia, Asia, and Achaia contributed and sent delegations to bring their offerings.

The first woman we meet in the Gospel was afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years and suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors. Talk about patience. Yet despite all those trials and all that time, she approached Jesus with simple faith and was healed. Indeed, Jesus confirms: “Daughter, your faith has saved you.

The great culmination of this teaching on patience and trust comes when a father, Jairus, is presented with news that his daughter had died. He could have broken down, given up immediately – ‘Thanks Jesus, but You were too late.’ Rather, he listened to Jesus: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.

Jesus’ timing is perfect. We know the rest, He arrives at the home and raises Jairus’ daughter.

Remember that Jarius was ‘running late.’ His daughter was at the point-of-death. We must remember this when we’ve almost missed our proverbial flight/train/boat. Is it too late? Has God abandoned me and let all trouble fall upon me? No, He is faithful and always on-time.

Reflection for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time and Father’s Day

20 June 2015 - By

Jesus Asleep in the Storm

I am here
protecting you.

Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”

What a perfect reading for Father’s Day! In a way we can even draw a funny analogy – picture dad asleep on the couch in the middle of something scary going on. We wake him up, feeling panicked, and ask for help. Of course he gets up to help. Then he says: ‘You know, you could have handled it yourself.’

We know from Jesus’ words that He came to reveal the Father to us. In Matthew 11:27 Jesus says: “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

The event on the sea tells us two things Jesus wished to reveal to us, His faithful people, about our Heavenly Father.

Jesus shows us that the Father is eternal, transcendent, all-powerful, and Almighty. He has complete command over all that exists. He commands the winds and the waves and they still. As Job learned, only God has all knowledge and understands all things. Jesus shows that when we call upon the Father He is quick to protect and comfort His people. His Almighty Power is a power for love and good, never evil.

Jesus also shows us that the Father expects something from us. This the part where our dad would ask, ‘You know, you could have handled it yourself.’ This is not to imply that we have all power and control, but rather that we live by having faith and trust in God. Jesus wants us to do as He did – to trust and be safe by having faith in our Heavenly Father and trusting all He asks us to do.

When we have faith and trust in God we have strength, a confidence that no matter what may come we have no reason to be terrified. We will always be safe in Him.

Some of us have been blessed to have fathers with faith in God and who patterned their lives after our Heavenly Father. They led us to faith and trust in our Heavenly Father. They knew that if we could grasp this essential aspect of life – faith and trust in God – then we would have true life, eternal life, and perfect safety. No harm or ill, even when they come, will drown us.

The disciples in the boat wanted something to hold onto something, someone because they felt they were going to drown. They looked to Jesus and of course He protected them. Then like our dad would do, He reminded them that they could have handled it themselves, by faith.

Reflection for the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

13 June 2015 - By

Ezekiel17.24-660x371

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

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 [...]Read More

Reflection for Pentecost 2015

23 May 2015 - By

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 [...]Read More

Reflection for the 7th Sunday of Easter 2015

18 May 2015 - By

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 & [...]Read More

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

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