2/21/2016 Homily Take-Away

ABRAM PUT HIS FAITH IN THE LORD, WHO CREDITED TO HIM AS AN ACT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Gen 15:5

do we? 

  • what happens when people talk about miracles? ….what do we think?

…the cancer was cured/the tumor gone…I saw Jesus…the Virgin appeared to me….God said….I saw a light and heard a voice…

Sometimes it goes against our better judgment to believe these things… (are they whacked? Is he crazy? Gone too far with this religion/spirituality thing? Has she become a fanatic?)

…but they do happen.

  • Look at Abram: “hey Abe! I’m gonna make your descendants more numerous than all the stars in the sky!” Abe looks up and starts countin. “oh really God? I’m an old man….no kids…we got a problem here…how can I have descendants?”

The prob was very obvious to Abram and definitive. But for God, it was just a minor detail…and we know the rest of the story! Abram put his faith in God and trusted and God credited it to him as an act of righteousness. Abram gave God the space to work in the emptiness of his life…and that was all he needed.

  • Look at PJJ – Peter, James and John on the mountain…Jesus is transfigured b4 them…a voice comes out from a cloud…I mean, come on…who’s gonna believe them back in greater Galilee??? They’ve gone mad! They’re nuts! Ever since they started following Jesus, they’ve gone overboard!   Voices? Clouds? This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him….. it’s a lot to take…. (sometimes it goes beyond our better judgment to believe these things)

…but they do happen.

 

  • So it is with us in life. We face the basic challenge of faith: to believe in what’s beyond us OR to only cling to our concrete experiences. FAITH leads us BEYOND reasonable expectations and prods us toward unknowable, unpredictable transformation/transfiguration!

SO THIS WEEK:

  • Where might we be being led beyond our current/rational experiences to a place of deeper faith and trust (like Abram)?
  • Where do you and I need to trust that God can/could be working in unimaginable ways in our lives if we give space for God 2work in the emptiness of our lives (like Abram)?
  • Where might you and I be challenged to balance faith and reason more instead of just leaning one way or the other?
  • What are the clouds in our lives, from out of which comes the voice that says, “This is my Son, listen to Him”? What cloudy, unimaginable, unwanted, scary situation are we going through that could actually be an opportunity for a deepening of faith and trust instead of losing it?
  • From all of this, where do we need to “listen to Him” as we grow in faith and trust no matter what’s happening in our lives?

2/14/2016 Homily Take-Away

“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.   LK 4:1

THE TEMPTATIONS

  • “command this stone to become bread”….use your power 2satisfy yourself.
  • “all this will be yours if you worship me.” …accept the power of the evil one and I’ll give you ‘the world! All this!’ …bow to other gods.
  • “throw yourself down from here.” …test God, his power and protection (as we all do at various times when we don’t trust God)

THE REBUTTALS

  • Jesus doesn’t take for himself but GIVES his very self…. body and blood to/for us in the Eucharist/on the cross.
  • Jesus doesn’t go after the bright, shiny object/offering, all the glittering fantastic things in this world (…”what good is it to gain the whole world but lose your soul?”). He doesn’t abandon God but remains single hearted in faith.
  • Jesus doesn’t tempt God but trusts ABSOLUTELY in God’s saving and abiding presence (no matter what is happening in his life).

AS WE BEGIN THE LENTEN JOURNEY, A COUPLE Q’S:

  • Do you/I talk with/commune with the Holy Spirit who fills us and leads us and helps us to deal with our temptations?
  • Where do we use our power primarily to satisfy ourselves? Where are we overly ambitious (in an unhealthy way) to get ahead at the expense of others?
  • What “gods” do you/I “bow down” to in life? …the god of fear, anxiety, pride, $$$, status, looks, even health?) Do we trust in God’s abiding/saving presence?
  • Where do you/I need to TRUST more? Where are we lacking in trust that God will protect, guard and save us as we go through the scariest and most unexpected things in life?

 

2/10/2016 Homily Take-Away (Ash Wednesday)

Ash Wednesday

Lent – that time to take stock of our hectic, busy, over-scheduled lives and CONNECT w/ self, w/others, W/GOD… return to God…

Joel: God says, “Return to me with you WHOLE HEART, w/fasting, weeping and mourning…Rend your HEARTS, not your garments, and return to the Lord. For GRACIOUS, MERCIFUL, SLOW 2ANGER, RICH IN KINDNESS, RELENTING IN PUNISHMENT is our God.

Pope Francis, in his book, The Name of God IS Mercy, says:

“God never tires of forgiving; it is we who tire of asking him for forgiveness.”

Why does God never tire of forgiving us? Because he is God, because he IS mercy, and because MERCY is the first attribute of God. The name of God IS mercy.

So, knowing, hoping, believing this, how do we enter into the Lenten journey?

FASTING

  • a smudge of ashes (reminding us of repenting/changing/believing the good news
  • giving something up (ice cream, chocolate, vino….more importantly, how bout giving up being judgmental, or being a jerk? …or being cheap or stingy with love, patience, kindness, understanding?… how about giving up holding on to the past hurts that keep others in the life-long “penalty box?” …or fasting from all that numbs and anesthetizes us (ear buds, constant busyness, talking about others….) in order to hear God more clearly/see needs of others…

GIVING ALMS

How about practicing GENEROSITY this lent? With time, with understanding, with forgiveness; with money (from things we’ve given up and therefore haven’t spent $$$ on), with food or clothing that we don’t wear or need…whom others desperately need; with gifts that we’ve been given (by others or by God) that we can share….those kinds of things

PRAYING

This Lent, will we make time to try to deepen the CONVERSATION and the LISTENING to God, Jesus and the Spirit as they work in and through us? Will we go to the “inner rooms” of our hearts to commune with the one who wants to commune with us?

LENT: not just a time to go through the Lenten external motions unless……they propel us and help us to be more merciful, more compassionate w/ourselves and others….JUST AS GOD is with you and me.

“…(for) now is a very acceptable time;…now is the day of salvation.” Paul to the Corinthians 6:2

Let’s get started.

2/7/2016 Homily Take-Away

B4 Lent begins, the SS (sacred scriptures) ask us this week to CONSIDER ANEW God’s call in our lives and OUR RESPONSE to it.

Last 2 weeks: theme….mission, call, purpose. What is ours?

This week: what is God’s CREATIVE INITIATIVE doing within each of us?
Are we bored, tired, burnt, listless, lost, seeking, searching? …don’t fret! Maybe God is using this time…working in us THROUGH these things to creatively call us deeper into life and living…. (Peter, cast your nets on this side….deeper water…)

Indian convert to Xtianity, Sadhu Singh (d. 1929) travelled throughout Tibet preaching the “good news” of salvation. He encouraged three things:

  • discern God’s call in your life
  • work tirelessly
  • serve the needs of all God’s people (in that calling).

He tells this story:

A rich man had a son who enjoyed spending time in his dad’s garden. It was beautiful. The son watched as the birds came….and ate up all the fruit. He watched as the cattle came and trampled all the plants and ate them. The son SAW but DID NOTHING. People asked the son, “Is it right to see your father’s garden trampled and destroyed AND DO NOTHING? The son said, “My father hasn’t asked me to do so, so that is not my work.” The father grew angry with the son and sent him away.

…There is NO SPECIAL OR AUDIBLE VOICE that we necessarily hear….but only the needs of those around us that CONSTITUTE A CALL TO GOD’S SERVICE. The son’s attitude was “it’s not my job! …not in my job description…” It was a mentality of looking at what we do in life as a job RATHER than as a RESPONSE to God and the needs of God’s people….that is CALLING! That is mission! That is purpose!

It’s about our surrendering to God’s CREATIVE INITIATIVE working in us and our subsequent RESPONSE. God uses all kinds of opps (like being bored, tired, burnt, listless, lost, seeking and searching) to create new opps for greater AND DEEPER mission and purpose. This is CALLING, not just job.

God was calling Isaiah…again! To something more! He knew the enormity of his task and his own shortcomings but TRUSTED in God and GAVE HIMSELF OVER to the task ahead.

Paul to the Corinthians tells how God called him 2B transformed…(Saul to Paul/persecutor to preacher of the Good News!)

Peter, James and John…were willing to “let go” of what they knew well and listen to the carpenter/itinerant preacher’s word…allowing it to supersede logic and their lifelong experience…and then “put out into the deep” DARE, TRUST and BE REWARDED with a “big catch.”

Thoughts for the Week

  • How is God calling you/me “to go deeper in life?” How’s God calling us to something new?
  • Where are we experiencing any restlessness in life…(job, relationship, being sick and tired of being sick and tired? Maybe God’s moving here….
  • Where have we become like the son in the garden? ….doing nothing when there is a need…just punchin in the time clock in life…
  • What are the needs of those around us that can motivate/inspire us to do something/to serve/to find our mission, purpose, calling?
  • As we continually re-evaluate our mission, call and purpose (as a vocational RESPONSE to God), where can we, like Isaiah, say: “Here I am Lord. Send me!”

 

1/31/2016 Homily Take-Away

“No prophet is accepted in his or her native place.”

Lk 4:21-30

 

Thoughts for the week:

Prophets are about “telling the truth.” They aren’t about “predicting” the future; they’re about “confronting.” If there’s any prediction, it’s 2provide us w/ “future implications” of our “present actions.”

Jeremiah: lamenting…. “I didn’t choose this! I’m all alone. They hate me! Where are you God….?”

God says: Hey Jerry. Take it easy. B4 I formed you in the womb, I KNEW YOU; B4 you were even born, I DEDICATED YOU, APPOINTED YOU….. a PROPHET to the nations!

So this is YOUR mission, calling, purpose!

“Stand up and tell them. Be not crushed on their account (as though I would leave you crushed b4 them.)
I have made YOU!! ….a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass…..against the land, the kings and princes, the priests and people.

Oh, and btw, “they WILL fight you but NOT prevail over you” (…you will meet resistance, but this is your call, purpose, mission) for I AM WITH YOU TO DELIVER YOU,” says the Lord.

…same w/Jesus: they couldn’t see how God was working in him….because they thought they “knew” him…. Wow! Golden-tongue….said some. Hey, wait a minute…we know this guy. Didn’t he grow up on 23 Jerusalem Lane? His father was a carpenter…he was too… and the more Jesus told them that he wasn’t gonna be able to “work” anything in their midst (native place/hometown) because they had closed minds and hearts, they more angry they got… “filled with fury.” He didn’t let it deter him though because he knew his mission, his purpose, his calling. Once again, do we?

  • So, who are the prophets in our midst? How open are we to them and their challenging messages? Do we limit them because we think we “know” them?
  • Where are you and I called 2b prophets, “tellers of inconvenient or uncomfortable truths?” …at work, in our social circles, in our relationships?
  • How do we react when we hear someone/something we don’t want to hear?
    Are we defensive? Offensive even?
    Love is patient, love is kind……
  • How do you and I love? Are we jealous, pompous, inflated? Do we have a high ego-need? Are we rude at times? Do we seek our own interests? Are we qwik tempered, brooding over past hurts?
  • Where can we be more patient, kind, truthful, loving?

1/24/2016 Homily Take-Away

“The Spirit of the Lord (the Bird on the shoulder!) is upon me, because he has anointed me

  • to bring glad tidings to the poor.

He has sent me

  • to proclaim liberty to captives
  • and recovery of sight to the blind,
  • to let the oppressed go free, and
  • to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Luke 18-21

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “TODAY, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Thoughts for the week:

Jesus knew his mission, his purpose, his calling. What is ours? Talk to him. Ask him to lead, guide and direct (especially if there’s been some change or rupture in life recently that causes us to wonder what we’re gonna do or what our calling or purpose is…)

Theophilus,” in Greek, means “lover of God.” This SS passage above is written NOT to some guy named Theo, but to US! To all of us 2000 years later as Theophili, “lovers of God.” As baptized persons in the Spirit, we, too are anointed. What’s our mission! What’s our calling! What’s our purpose:

  • bring glad tidings to the poor: who do we know that is lonely, isolated, depressed? Who needs a call, a text, an email…..better yet, a visit, a kind word, a note or thoughtful small gesture? Do it!
  • proclaim liberty to captives: who do we know who’s wrestling with addiction? … held captive by a destructive power greater than them? How can we be an accompanying, gentle yet strong, loving but firm voice helping them to help themselves get free…to be liberated from whatever’s holding them captive by helping them get to know a power greater than themselves (God) that can restore them? ….even if we know we’re gonna meet with resistance…
  • recovery of sight to the blind: who do we know that’s going down the wrong road in life? How can we, from our own experience of living life, help them to “see” they’re goin down the toilet? That they’re off course? They’re hangin with the wrong crew? They’re not seeing the reality of the situation? How can we share our vision? Our “in-sight?”
  • let the oppressed go free: who has been in the” penalty box” for past transgressions or mistakes big or small for days (with the silent treatment), months or years (with passive aggressive punishing behavior)…”I’ll forgive but I’ll never forget…” Who do we need to “set free” through forgiveness? Maybe it’s us first who need the help to be “set free” to become vulnerable enough to forgive. Maybe we oppress others because we’re oppressed, repressed or suppressed ourselves. (if too tough, call on the Bird! Call on the Spirit for help!)
  • proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord: who in our midst needs to be reminded that they are acceptable to God….as they are….imperfect but working toward getting back on track? Who do you or I know who needs to be reminded of their goodness, beauty, dignity or worth? Who needs to be reassured that they are acceptable, not perfect, but acceptable in the Lord’s eyes as they do the best they can with what they have?

Jesus was anointed by the Spirit. We, too, are anointed by that same Spirit. Jesus knew his mission, purpose and calling. Do we know ours? Let’s try one of these TODAY, for this Scripture passage has been fulfilled in our midst!