The readings on the 2nd Sunday of Advent continue to give us hope as they look to the present day as well as the future coming of Christ. In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, which was written in the 8th century B.C., we hear of the Righteous, Just One who would come. He would be “a sprout from the shoot of Jesse” who was the father of King David. This meant that the promised messiah would be from the family line of David. This Just One would be filled with the gifts of the Spirit and He would be a just judge who would bring peace.

 

In the Gospel John the Baptist was the herald who announced this Just One, Jesus the Christ, who baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. He would come once to forgive but would come again a second time to judge with justice with “His winnowing fan in His hand…and gather His wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” This is a stern, fair warning for all in the world.

 

And in the 2nd reading St. Paul tells the disciples “welcome all as Christ welcomed you” and that the Kingdom of this Just One is open to all, Jew as well as Gentile. St. Paul tells us that we are given hope in Christ through the scriptures which are written for our instruction.

 

During this Advent, as disciples of Christ, the Just and Righteous One, let us place our hope in Him as we trust the Word of God and be guided and encouraged by it. When we do we receive the peace that only He can give, a peace that passes all human understanding.

 

 

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus…give us hope and peace.

The Season of Advent has a two-fold character: a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas (the first coming of Christ) and preparation of minds and hearts for Christ’s 2nd coming at the end of time.

The readings on the 1st Sunday of Advent focus on the latter, Christ’s 2nd coming. In the 1st reading from Isaiah Chapter 2 the Lord calls His people back to Himself and to the “mountain of the Lord’s house” meaning His Kingdom and ultimately His Church. This calling is sent out to all peoples Jews as well as Gentiles (us). The mountain is a symbol of the 4 weeks of Advent and also the journey of the rest of our lives.

St. Paul tells us in the 2nd reading how to live the Christian life while we wait for the Lord’s 2nd coming: “throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day.” St. Paul says do not delay in living this life as he says, “You know the time, it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.”

And in the Gospel Jesus tells us, “For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. So too, you also must be prepared.”

As disciples of Christ, we must always live a life prepared. We do this by loving God and loving neighbor in the stewardship of our time, talent and treasure. Being prepared starts with a personal relationship with Jesus and is manifested by love of our brethren.

 

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

November 26, 2016

Sat 8 am

Last Sat of Year

 

Rv 22:1-7; Ps 95: 1-7; Luke 21: 34-36

 

            This past Sunday was the last Sunday of the Church Year (Christ the King) but today is the last day of the Church Year. The Season of Advent and the new year starts tonight at the Vigil Mass.

And the readings at this time of year including this morning and into Advent always focus on the end time and the 2nd coming of Christ. The first reading this morning is from the very last chapter of the Book of Revelation and is the very last chapter in the entire bible. And in this reading we heard the last part of the vision given to St. John. In this revelation John and us are shown what heaven might be like, “The river of life giving water, sparkling like crystal flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” And, “Nothing accursed will be found anymore.” And, “Night will be no more, nor will they need light…for the lord God shall give them light.”

But the key verse in this first reading and the theme that ties into the focus of this time of year is, “Behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic message of this book.” The theme for the end of the year and for the first weeks of Advent is Jesus is coming so: Be ready…stay vigilant…don’t get lax and get caught off guard…In the Gospel today Jesus says, “Do not become drowsy… Be vigilant at all times.” Drowsy is when you are so sleepy you are kind of out of it, don’t really know what is happening around you, not alert. Jesus is telling us as we wait for His return do not be spiritually drowsy but be wide awake, fully aware and alert, be spiritually awake at all times.

          Today’s Psalm tells us how to be vigilant and alert while we wait, “Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord…Let us bow down in worship.” In other words, to wait fully awake, fully alert for His coming we are to be filled with His joyful Spirit while we bow down before our King…St. Augustine said it best, “Let us sing a new song to the Lord, not with our lips but with our lives.” While we wait for His return let us live a life that keeps the prophetic message of this book. If we do we will not be drowsy but we will be vigilant, we will be ready.

 

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

November 20, 2016

Christ the King

Sun 8 & 10

 

2 Samuel 5:1-3; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43

 

            The Church year closes this Sunday with the Solemnity of “Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe”. That sounds like He’s some kind of super hero “King of the Universe”. But the fact is that Jesus Christ is Hero of all heroes and King of all kings, on this earth and in all of creation, past present and future. And that is what we are celebrating today which puts a nice bow on all that we have celebrated in Christ throughout the Liturgical Year.

          This feast was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 to combat the growing secularism (taking God out of everything) and atheism (denial of the existence of God) of his time. Do you think we need to proclaim Christ as King in our time today among the secularism and atheism of our day? Even more now, right!

          The Church teaches that “Christ’s lordship extends over all human history” (CCC 450) and that “He reigns above every earthly power and principality” (CCC 668). In other words He reigns supreme…In the 2nd reading from Colossians we hear the beautiful Christological hymn that proclaims this about our King, “For in Him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers…He is before all things…in all things He Himself is preeminent.” Jesus Christ the King reigns above all things visible and invisible, past present and future.

          But this 2nd reading leads us into the perplexing Gospel passage we heard today about the cross of Christ. The last verse from Colossians said, “For in Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile all things for Him, making peace by the blood of His cross.” And the Gospel is about Jesus nailed to the cross between two criminals. Why would the Church choose this Gospel on the feast of Christ the King of the Universe, Jesus hanging on the cross which seems like defeat?!! This is a paradox, something that does not make sense but is true. This feast fixes Christ’s messianic Kingship squarely in the mystery of the cross. It does not make sense to the world. But to us who believe with the eyes of faith it makes perfect sense that our salvation is won by having our King die a horrible, humiliating death. Because in a sense His throne is the cross…A throne of a king is always stationed high above the people where he looks down on his subjects. Jesus’ throne of the cross was high on the hill of Calvary where He looked down on all the people. He shows His Kingship from the throne of His cross by the authority to pardon the criminal that asked to be pardoned and by granting him salvation (only the King of kings can do that). And as the criminal did we can also approach the throne of Christ the King and asked to be pardoned. It is at the cross of Christ where we receive mercy.

          In the first reading we hear about King David who was a type of Christ, who was a foreshadow of the coming Messiah. David was the prelude of what Jesus was to fulfill. The reading said about David, “The Lord said to you, You shall shepherd my people Israel and shall be commander of Israel.”  As David was shepherd of his people Israel, Jesus is the Good Shepherd of all people. As David was commander of his army, Jesus is commander of His army of saints…David slew the giant with an unlikely weapon - a sling shot & a pebble, Jesus slew the devil, sin & death with an unlikely weapon – the wood of the cross…David was anointed king of Israel, Jesus is the anointed one, the Christ…David was the model king of Israel. Jesus is the King of all kings.

          But the real question is, the most important thing is, is Jesus Christ - King of your heart, of your life, of your family, of your parish community?  A good king reigns and has authority, is looked to for guidance and protection, is adored and reverenced, is obeyed. Is Jesus your King? Do you obey Him, give Him authority over your life, look to Him to guide you, do you reverence and worship Him, is He your top priority? Or is He just a nice idea, on the back burner, a second or third thought, one you look to when you need Him?  If He is the King of your heart and your life people will know it. They will know it because you will imitate Jesus in compassion, in selflessness and in sacrificial love. You will take up your cross like Him, giving of yourself by sharing your time, your talent and your treasure for the good of the other and for the good of the Kingdom. Like Him you will offer pardon and mercy even when it does not make sense. Your life will be a paradox. People will know He is your King by your words and by your deeds. Jesus wants to be King of your life, King of your family, and King of this parish community. But it is up to us to allow Him to be.

          When you allow Him to be your King in a personal, intimate relationship, then you can truly trust in Him. He is on the throne and in charge of all things. Our God is as they say is, “large and in charge”. So when troubles arise, problems occur, when worries are on your mind, give them to your King who has the authority and the power to handle them. If He sits on the throne of your heart than give everything to Him to take care of. And He will…But sometimes we do not trust in Him. We don’t fully believe in His power or how big our God is. Sometimes we give Him our cares then we take them back. There is a song by a young Christian singer named Natalie Grant that illustrates this very well. The lyrics are:

“I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep you safely in between the lines
I try to put you in the box that I've designed
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye

When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world.”

 

If Jesus is your King, trust in Him and believe He has the power and the authority to handle all your cares. He is still on the throne. He’s got this!

          And as followers, as disciples of the King, it is our mission as the Church to proclaim Christ as King in a world that does not recognize Him. We must proclaim Him in a world where secularism is the norm. Where God is taken out of the schools, the courtrooms and the public square. Where freedom of religion is getting less and less. In a world where more and more people, especially young people are denying that God even exists. By our baptism, powered by the sacraments of grace, we are to proclaim Jesus as King by the way we live our lives, starting in our homes, then our parish, then the community.

          And let our prayer be of thanksgiving for our King in the words of St. Paul from today’s 2nd reading, “Let us give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son.”

 

 

In the words of the Mexican Cristeros, “Viva Crist Rey!” Long live Christ the King!

November 12, 2016

Sat 8am

Josaphat, Bishop & Martyr

 

3 John 5-8; Ps 112; Luke 18:1-8

 

            Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr. St. Josaphat was born in Poland around 1580 and was raised Ukrainian Orthodox. As bishop he worked for the unity of the Church and because of this he was martyred in 1623. St. Josaphat was the first formally canonized saint of the Eastern Rite.

          Our first reading is from the very short 3rd Letter of St. John (only 1 chapter). It is addressed to an individual who is praised for his work of supporting Christian missionaries and is encouraged to continue to support them as the scripture said, “Please help them in a way worthy of God to continue their journey.”  And the author offers one reason why missionaries should be supported as he says, “We ought to support such persons, so that we may be co-workers in the truth.”  A Christian missionary is one who takes the Gospel to the lost, spreading the Good News of hope. And as the author says, the one who supports the one who goes takes part in the missionary work and the saving of souls. Most of us cannot leave home, job, family to be a missionary but when we support the ones who do by prayers and finances we actually take part in the missionary work as if we were there with them. In this sense we are co-workers in the mission field…St. Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower) never left the convent walls yet she is the “patroness of missions” because she offered her life as a prayer for the growth of the Church. We are called also to support the spread of the Gospel by supporting missionary work…But missionary work is also taking place within our own Resurrection community where the Gospel of life is offered daily. We can all take part in this work by supporting it by offering a portion of our time, talent and treasure as good stewards.

 

          The Gospel proclaimed today is one that we heard just a few Sunday’s ago. It is the lesson to be persistent in prayer without becoming weary (loose heart, give up).  In the context of today’s message tied to the first reading we are encouraged to support God’s work without becoming weary, without becoming tired or complacent. We are called to support the work of the Kingdom here in our own community as well as the universal Church. Because when we do we are “co-workers of the truth.”

The last few Sundays of the Liturgical Year focus on the end time and our eternal destiny. On the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time we hear in the Gospel about the Sadducees, who did not believe in resurrection or angels, try to undermine Jesus’ teaching on resurrection. They propose the story of the 7 brothers who all marry the same woman but all die childless. They ask, “Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?” Jesus reiterates His teaching on the resurrection once again, “He is not God of the dead but of the living.”

 

The first reading from 2 Maccabees is the powerful story of a mother and her 7 sons who refused break God’s law by adhering to man’s law. Their deep conviction and profession of faith lead to horrific torture and death. But they are willing to undergo this persecution because of their belief in life after death.

 

The question is as disciples of Christ do we have this same conviction? Would we be willing to die for our faith? That question can only truly be answered at the moment of decision. However the way we live our lives now will help us decide.

 

Many around the world in the Middle East and Africa, in the Latin countries and in the Philippines to name a few, are facing that decision today. It is something for us to think about. Do we have a deep enough conviction in faith? Do we really believe in life after death? If we do that is where we get our hope and our strength.

 

May the words from the 2nd Letter of St. Paul encourage us: “May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father, who has loved us and given us encouragement and good hope through His grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.”

 

 

Conviction in Christ and the resurrection is our hope!

The message from the readings on the 31st Sunday in Ordinary time is no doubt the patient mercy of God and that He invites all to turn from sin and to His loving embrace.

 

In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom we hear how great and grand God is and how small we are compared to Him. Yet the scripture says, “You have mercy on all, because you can do all things and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent.” Mercy is undeserved forgiveness. Our awesome God, creator of the universe, offers us this mercy. And He is overwhelmingly patient with us as the scripture says, “Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little, warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing.”

 

In the Gospel we hear the well known story of Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector who was seeking to see who this Jesus whom he must have heard about.  Tax collectors were hated by the Jews because they were considered traitors and thieves. And Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector! He was short in stature so he climbed a sycamore tree to get a look at this one who was changing people’s lives. When he responded to Jesus’ call to come down the scripture said, “He received him with joy.” Zacchaeus experienced the mercy of God that day and Jesus said about him, “Today salvation has come to this house.”

 

As disciples of Christ we too must respond and accept the mercy of God and salvation every day of our lives. Like Zacchaeus we too are sinners who God patiently waits for to respond. And in turn we must spread the good news to the world about this mercy that is being offered.

 

 

The last line of the Gospel sums up this Sunday’s message, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” That is us, our families and the whole world. 

October 29, 2016

Sat 8 am

 

Phil 1:18B-26; Psalm 42; Luke 14:1, 7-11

 

            In the first reading St. Paul is writing to the Philippians from prison while awaiting his imminent death. But even though he knows what is going to happen to him he still rejoices because the Gospel of Christ is being proclaimed. He says, “With all boldness, now as always, Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” The most important thing to Paul is that Jesus Christ is glorified through him.

          St. Paul uses an interesting word “magnify”. To magnify means to make larger in size, to enlarge. I remember when my parents gave me a magnifying glass when I was a kid and we loved to look at bugs and plants and things. You could see every part very clearly…But St. Paul is saying that through his life, by the Spirit, Jesus is magnified or enlarged for all to see, He is made clear…As disciples of Christ we too are called to “magnify” the Lord in our lives so that all will see Christ through our words and our deeds so that He will be glorified.

          One way to magnify Christ is through humility as we heard in today’s Gospel. Jesus tells the parable about not choosing the best places of honor for yourself but to choose the lower place. And He says, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Humility in Christ is the opposite of pride. It is not thinking too highly of yourself while looking down on others. Humility in Christ puts the other first ahead of ourselves, it thinks of the others needs before our own. When we live in humility in the example of Jesus we magnify God for all to see.

 

          Let St. Paul’s words be ours, “With all boldness, now as always, Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” The most important thing to Paul was that Jesus Christ be glorified. May it be our priority also!

October 16, 2016

29th Sun Ord Time

Sun 10 am & 4:30 pm

 

Exodus 17:8-13; 2 Tim 3:14-4:2; Luke 18:1-8

 

            *At a Catholic church down in Louisiana during the middle of the week there was an elderly lady who was kneeling in the front pew praying the Rosary. She was really working those beads, knocking out those Hail Mary’s. At that time the inside of the church was being repainted and there was scaffolding that reached all the way up to the ceiling. She did not know it but there was a painter on the top level of the scaffolding. And the painter decided to mess with her. He said, “Hello down there!” The lady looked up but didn’t see anybody so she continued with her Hail Mary’s knocking out those beads. Once again the painter yelled out, “Hello down there!” The lady looked up again but did not see anyone so she went back to her Hail Mary’s. This time the painter decided he would really mess with her so he yelled out, “It’s me Jesus!” To which the old lady responded, “Hush up! I’m talking to your momma!” (I don’t make them up, I just repeat them.) J

          The readings this Sunday help us to focus on prayer, but not only prayer but specifically the necessity to be persistent in prayer. First of all we must define what prayer is. Prayer is simply communication with God. It is speaking to God whether it is in the form of set prayers like the “Our Father”, the “Hail Mary” or the “Glory Be” or some other set prayer, or it’s just spontaneous words: whatever form it is it is true prayer if it is from the heart. But it is also listening to God, shutting up for a while and allowing Him to speak to us. It must be a two way conversation. Prayer is the lifeline in our relationship with God. Without it there is no way we can have a relationship with Him…But why does Jesus tell us in the Gospel about the necessity to pray always without becoming weary?  Because He knows that sometimes our prayers and requests are not answered in the time that we want or in the way that we want.  *One day while in deep prayer a young man looked up to heaven and asked the Lord, “God, how long is a million years to you?” The Lord answered, “My son, to me, a million years is like a minute.” Then the young man asked, “How much is a million dollars to you?” And God replied, “My son, to me, a million dollars is like a penny.” So the young man asked, “God, could you give me a penny?” And the Lord said, “In a minute.” J   God’s time is not always our time. We want everything right now, our way. But Jesus tells us to be like the widow in the Gospel who did not give up but keep praying even when things seem to be taking too long or when nothing seems to be happening or when things are not turning out the way that we want. Why? Because when we continue to pray it builds our faith and our trust in the Father when we persevere. And that’s what God wants for His children, for us to have faith and trust in Him. Persistence in prayer builds our spiritual muscles like pumping iron builds our physical muscles. The more we consistently pray the stronger our faith will be.

Two weeks ago in the Gospel the apostles asked the Lord, “Increase our faith.” Prayer without becoming weary, without losing heart or giving up, increases our faith and helps us get through difficult times. It helps us to trust that the Father knows best. Yes prayer moves the heart of God like a child’s request moves their parent’s heart but most of all it helps us totally trust in God’s will for our lives…Jesus is our best example of this in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before He was scourged and crucified. The scripture said He prayed so intensely that His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) And we know what the answer to His pray was right? Was the cup of suffering taken away from Him? No! He was put on trial, mocked, scourged and crucified. He trusted that God the Father had a greater plan, the Resurrection and total victory! Jesus asks us to pray without losing heart, trust even when it doesn’t make sense to us at the time, trust that He has a greater plan for our good and for the good of those we pray for. And this increases our faith which is what is most important now and for eternity. Trust in the Father who wants the good for us even when it is hard to understand. We trust when we pray Jesus’ words as our own, “not my will but yours be done.”

Persistence in prayer, praying the same requests every single day in faith and in trust without giving up sometimes allows us to see results and sometimes not. Or it may take years before we see anything happen. St. Monica prayed for the soul and conversion of her husband for many years and finally seen the fruit of her prayers as her husband turned to the Lord just before he died. She prayed for her wayward son, lost out in the world, for many years when it seemed hopeless and he turned out to be one of the greatest saints in the Catholic Church, theologian, bishop, and Doctor of the Church - St. Augustine…Sometimes we may pray for something or for someone but we will not see results in our lifetime but the fruit of our prayers may come to pass after we have gone home to the Lord. There are things I pray for every single day of my life waiting and trusting, confident that God hears me and will answer me in His time and in His way. And I continue to lift these requests to Him every single day as I pray the Rosary.

Now we turn to the first reading from the Book of Exodus where God’s people, through Moses, were told to engage the Amalekites (a fierce nomadic tribe) in battle.  Amalek was one of the enemies of Israel and a real threat against them. The scripture said, “As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight.” Moses with hands raised symbolizes prayer and goes along with our theme of persistent prayer. As long as his hands were raised in prayer he was winning the battle but when he let his hands rest he started to lose the battle. The same is true for us in our lives. When we continue to pray every day we will eventually win the battle against our enemies. But who are our spiritual enemies? What is a real threat to us, to our family, to our Church, to our salvation? There are basically 3 enemies: the evil one, the world and our own flesh. They manifest themselves in our personal lives in greed, selfishness, pride, jealousy, envy, lust for the flesh and for the material, indifference and complacency to name a few. They attack our spiritual and physical well-being, our marriages, our families and our souls. If we want to win the battle we must be persistent in prayer with our hands raised up like Moses. When we rest is when the enemy will start to take over. Prayer combined with the Word of God as we heard in the 2nd reading are our weapons to win the battle! But we must take advantage of them and utilize them daily. We must engage!

But the truth is we do get tired, we do get complacent, we do get discouraged at times. And that is why we need our Christian community, the Church (our brothers & sisters) to strengthen us, to pray with is and for us. The 1st reading said, “Moses’ hands grew tired…Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady…”  We need the support of our brothers and sisters and we need to support them in return.

So, in closing, to be persistent in prayer does not mean endless repetition of long worded sessions but it is keeping our requests before our Loving God as we live for Him day by day always believing and trusting He will answer us in His time according to His will. And it is faith in prayer that keeps us going. Persistent prayer without becoming weary changes things, most importantly it changes us…So persist in prayer, do not lose heart, and trust that the Father knows best.

 

When we continue to lift our prayers to God, we have done our part, and the rest is up to Him. That gives us a peace that passes all understanding!      

The readings on the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time focus on the giving of thanks to God for His blessings. Thanksgiving is a key element in living stewardship as a disciple of Christ. One definition of stewardship is “The grateful response of a Christian disciple who recognizes and receives God’s gifts and shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor.”

 

In the first reading from 2 Kings Naaman a foreigner (non-Jew), an army commander and dignitary seeks healing from the horrific disease of leprosy. He hears about the man of God Elisha performing miracles so he and his whole entourage travel to seek his help. Elisha instructs Naaman to plunge himself into the Jordan River seven times (the waters of the Jordan symbolizing Baptism and the number 7 the perfect number in scripture). Naaman is indeed healed and returns to Elisha to offer a heartfelt thanksgiving. Even more important than Naaman’s physical healing is that he proclaims, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.” This is a bold statement of faith for a pagan foreigner.

 

The first reading of course sets up the Gospel where 10 lepers were healed by Jesus. Besides suffering the physical effects of leprosy these 10 were also suffering as outcasts from the community, separated from all they loved. But only one of the ten returns to Jesus to give thanks, a non-Jew, a foreigner, a Samaritan. And Jesus tells him, “Stand up and go, your faith has saved you.” Even more important than his physical healing is that he is promised salvation.

 

As disciples of Christ do we give thanks to God for all of His continuous blessings? Or are we like the other 9 who did not return but went on their merry way? We must thank God for the big things (prayers answered) but also for the everyday things we make take for granted: our spouses, families, a roof over our head, a bed to sleep in, a vehicle or 2 or 3, gasoline for those vehicles, our jobs, our clothes, our food, our parish, etc., etc. And the proof or the fruit of our heartfelt thanks is sharing from those blessings in love of God and love of neighbor.

 

 

And because of our heartfelt thanksgiving may we hear the words of Jesus, “Stand up and go, your faith has saved you.”

October 1, 2016

Sat 8am

St Therese of Lisieux

 

Job 42;1-3, 5-6, 12-17; Ps 119; Luke 10:17-24

 

            St. Therese of the Child Jesus (aka St Therese of Lisieux, The Little Flower) is one of my favorite saints because of her humility and holy innocence. While still a young girl at age 15 with special permission she entered the Carmelite monastery where she lived a life of humility, simplicity and trust in God by word and example, while offering her life for the salvation of souls and the growth of the Church. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 24 in September 1897. In her biography “The Story of a Soul” she urged all to follow “the little way” which is fidelity to God in the small things of every day life. She was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope St John Paul II on October 19, 1997.  All though she never left the convent walls she is the patroness of missionaries, as well as patroness of florists and of France. She is also the patron saint of St Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) who took her name at the taking of her own religious vows.

          The first reading is from the last Chapter of the Book of Job. All week we have been hearing about the struggles of Job and finally in this last chapter he comes to the realization that God’s wisdom is far beyond mans’ as he says, “I have dealt with great things that I do not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know.”  And he is finally content.

          And in the Gospel the wisdom of God is revealed to the 72 disciples who had returned from mission rejoicing because the demons were subject to them. But Jesus tells them, “Rejoice not because they are subject to you rather because your names are written in heaven.”  The disciples were thinking with the world’s wisdom of enjoying power. Jesus teaches them to think in heaven’s wisdom, what is really important.

          Then Jesus praises the Father, “Although you have hidden these things from the wise and learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” God reveals His wisdom to the childlike such as St Therese of Lisieux, to those who are humble, simple and who trust in Him. If we want to know the wisdom of God more fully in our lives, we must be the same.

 

          St. Therese, pray for us, to follow “The Little Way” in the small things of everyday life.   

The readings and message for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time are a continuation from the previous week’s readings and message. If you recall in last week’s first reading from the Prophet Amos the Lord was warning His people who were more interested in lining their own pockets not concerned at all with anyone else. And in last week’s Gospel Jesus pulled no punches as He said straight out, “No servant can serve two masters…You will either hate one and love the other.”

 

 In this week’s first reading we again hear the Lord through Amos who warns those who are indifferent to those less fortunate. He is speaking to those who lay on beds of ivory, comfortable couches and who drink wine from bowls instead of a glass. The Lord says, “Yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph.”

 

And in the Gospel Jesus tells the story to the Pharisees (upper class) of the rich man who ignored the needs of Lazarus who begged at his door yet he did not acknowledge him.

 

Are we told these stories to make us feel guilty? No. But we are reminded as disciples of Christ to be aware of social justice with Jesus as our example. The key word is “indifference” which means uninterested, apathetic or impartial. As disciples we cannot be indifferent, refusing to see.  

 

We cannot take care of all the world’s poor but we can do something, we can do our part sharing a portion from the blessings we have been given. And we can strive to live as St. Paul exhorts Timothy and us in the second reading, “Pursue righteous, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness…keeping the commandment (love God & neighbor) without reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

As disciples of Jesus Christ we are called to the opposite of indifference which is awareness that leads to action. In this we will be a good stewards of what belongs to another, what has been loaned to us to manage. And we will not serve two masters but the only true master Jesus the Christ.

 

 

In the words of St. Paul, “To Him be honor and eternal power. Amen!”

Sept 17 & 18, 2016

25th Sun in Ord Time

Sat 4:30, Sun 8 & 10

 

Amos 8:4-7; 1 Tim 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13

 

            The readings on this 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time challenge us to make a decision: whom will we serve, God or stuff?  Jesus pulls no punches as He says in the Gospel, “No servant can serve two masters.”

          And as usual, the 1st reading sets the stage for the Gospel. In the 1st reading the Lord God speaks through the Prophet Amos as He starts off, “Hear this.” Which means, if you know what’s good for you, listen up! In this passage God is shouting-out against His people who are self-serving, using material things only for themselves, ignoring the needs of others, as the scripture said, “Hear this, you who trample upon the needy, and destroy the poor of the land.” They are even scheming up new ways to cheat, lie and steal so they can acquire more and more, as they say, “We will fix our scales for cheating.” You see if God is not in the picture, if He is not included in our human affairs, this is how the flesh reacts. It’s like that board game “Monopoly” where the object is to acquire as much as you can as fast as you can no matter what happens to everyone else. It is in our fallen nature. Just watch little kids. When one comes over to check out the other’s toy the one with the toy says, “Mine!” And pulls the toy to his or her chest. And even though he or she has plenty of toys they want more right?!! That’s how we are with “stuff” if God is not in the picture.

          And that leads us into the Gospel where a rich man brings his steward before him accusing him of squandering his property. The steward was supposed to be the caretaker of the rich man’s belongings but did not do a good job of it. So the rich man takes away the man’s stewardship leaving him with nothing. Well, the man panics but he figures out a plan. He calls in his master’s debtors and settles for less than what they owe.  And the scripture said, “The master commended the dishonest steward for acting prudently. For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” In the story God is of course the master. So, is the Lord commending this dishonest steward, praising him?!! NO, not at all! There are two messages here. (1) Dishonesty is not being praised, but prudence, which is the virtue that helps us choose the right and helps us achieve it. Jesus is saying He wills for us His disciples to be prudent in choosing things of His Kingdom just as the world is in manipulating worldly things…(2) But the main message for today, which was set up by the Prophet Amos, is what Jesus says next, “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”  What is Jesus telling us?!! Now we are really confused! Make friends with dishonest wealth so we can make it into heaven?!! We just heard in Amos how God shouted-out against those who cheated, stole and lied. Now He is telling us to make friends with dishonest wealth?!! First we must define what is meant by “dishonest wealth” which from the original language means worldly resources or worldly “stuff”: money, houses, cars, jewelry, clothes, shoes, cell phones, etc., etc.  What Jesus means by “make friends” with these things is to NOT be enslaved by them, do NOT let them control you. Do not let them become your god, more important than the true God, do not worship created things instead of the Creator…There’s a saying, “What do you own and what owns you?” In other words, by “making friends” with material things they are not your master. We can take them or leave them. Material things are not evil in themselves, we make them evil when we allow them to possess us, when they have control over us.

          We are given more insight in the next verses as Jesus says, “If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? True wealth are things of heaven, the spiritual (faith, hope and love) which will last for eternity. Dishonest or worldly wealth will rot & fade away.  Jesus goes on, “If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?”  This is the definition of a steward: one who takes care of something that belongs to another.  What do we possess that belongs to another? Pretty much everything! Every good thing is a gift from God and we have been entrusted as stewards (caretakers) to be trustworthy with them, to manage them, but to always remember they are only on loan to us. This is everything: our own bodies, our spouses, our children, our parents, our homes, our cars, our jobs, our clothes, our time, our talent and our treasure, the environment and everything else in between. We must always be thankful for what we have been given and always share from what we have been blessed with because these things don’t really belong to us in the first place.

          But really, does God need a portion of our money or our possessions? No He doesn’t. But He knows by guiding us and encouraging us to let go of “stuff” is for our own good. Stewardship of treasure is not about giving to a need, but rather it is about our need to give, a need to make sure that material possessions do not control our lives. Do you know that God thinks this is so important for us that about ½ of the parables of Jesus in the Gospels have to do with money or with material possessions? Half!!! Jesus teaches about it so much and so often because He knows that love of the material can actually keep us separated from Him. And He does not want that. He wants us close to Him. He wants us to trust in Him.

          And as Bishop Robert Barron says, the secret to living Stewardship of Treasure is holy detachment. In other words, let go, bless and you will be blessed. Don’t hold on to anything too tight but give as God has given to you and continues to give to you. We can never out give God. Just try it…There is a worldly saying, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” Wins what? A free pass to the eternal fire? The Gospel is always a 180, total opposite from the world so maybe the Christian saying should be “The one who dies with the least toys wins.” We were playing a card game on Labor Day Weekend in our back yard (no gambling though). The game was Phase 10, something like Rummy. The object is to build sets and runs and then discard all your cards, not getting caught with a bunch of points counting against you. The one with the least points at the end wins. This is a great analogy of the Stewardship of Treasure we are called to…holy detachment…the one with the least at the end wins. Look at the recently canonized St. Teresa of Calcutta, aka Mother Teresa. She is a perfect example of this. Now she has won Sainthood in heaven…A few weeks ago the Gospel was about the narrow gate into heaven. If we try to get through the narrow gate with too much “stuff” we will not make it through.

          And to practice Stewardship of Treasure for our own good the Lord God gives us plenty of opportunities: every Sunday as we come forward during mass to offer a prayed about portion of our treasure; here at Resurrection as we build our new church; ministries of charity here at Resurrection, and in the greater community like Interfaith, Father Joe’s Village, and Catholic Charities to name a few. God even provides opportunities for us with our family members and our neighbor in the community. When we give we are not giving to man or an institution we are giving to God when we offer a portion of our gifts. This is not a one or two time thing, this is a way of life. Why? Because it frees us from “slavery to stuff” and allows us to be close to our God. It teaches us to trust in Him. And it gives us a joy that things cannot give. We are all made with a God-hole that no material thing can satisfy. Only Jesus can truly satisfy us when we are free.

          The 3 pillars of Stewardship are Time, Talent & Treasure. Today’s message is obviously Treasure. I know talking about money and material things makes us uncomfortable. But that’s what the Word of God and the Gospel is supposed to do…get us out of our comfort zone, stir us up, cause us to think, cause us to respond. And don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger. It’s Jesus who is talking about it!

          So hear this! The readings today challenge us to make a decision. Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” What will our decision be? For today and for the rest of our lives? If we choose to live Stewardship of Treasure it will be for our good now and for eternity. And it will be good for the overall Kingdom of God.

 

          Whom will we serve, God or stuff?? As for me and my wife, we choose God! 

The readings on the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time speak of the mercy of God in the reconciliation between Him and His people. In the first reading Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving the Law and instructions for the people from the Lord God. But tired of waiting at the foot of the mount the people insisted on a god be provided for them. Aaron had them remove their gold and he molded a golden calf. At this the people celebrated in a drunken party. The Lord was ready to destroy them however through the intercession of Moses God had mercy on them and they were spared.

 

This leads into the Gospel where Jesus tells 3 parables of mercy: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son (prodigal). In the previous verses to the first reading in Exodus the people celebrated at the molding of the golden calf. And after the lost were found in the 3 parables of the Gospel a great celebration commenced. This was opposite from the first reading as these were holy celebrations of the Lord. And in all three parables Jesus shows us the mercy of God which is undeserved pardon.

 

In the 2nd reading St. Paul gives his personal testimony as he shares how grateful he is that he, the worst of sinners, is shown mercy as he proclaims, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost.”

 

As disciples of Christ, if we too admit that we are sinners, God will continue to show us mercy and we will be spared like the Israelites at Mount Sinai and St. Paul. In turn we must bring others to the knowledge of this mercy by directing them to Jesus and His Church by our word and deed.

 

 

Then we can truly celebrate!

Sept 3, 2016

Sat 8am

St. Gregory the Great

 

1 Cor 4:6b-15; Ps 145:17-21; Luke 6:1-5

 

            Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Gregory the Great, Pope & Doctor of the Church. He is considered one of the 4 great doctors of the Latin Church. St. Gregory was a true shepherd as he strengthened the faithful by writing extensively on moral and theological subjects, cared for the poor and instituted liturgical reforms and Gregorian chant. He is the patron saint of music. The Lord took St. Gregory home on March 12, 604.

          In the first reading from 1 Corinthians St. Paul offers spiritual advice to the Corinthian church as well as us today. This community of believers had been blessed with many gifts (spiritual & material) and St. Paul is warning them to stay humble as he tells them, “None of you should be inflated with pride in favor of one person over another.” The word inflated from the original language is actually “puffed-up.” Like the type of fish in the ocean that inflates itself where it seems it will burst. Well, St. Paul is telling his readers then and now to not be “puffed-up” with pride like that fish. But rather stay humble and realize that all gifts are from God and not our own doing.

          St. Paul goes on and tells them to imitate himself and the Apostles in humility as they are, “A spectacle to the world…fools for Christ…and the world’s rubbish.” St. Paul and the Apostles served the Lord Jesus in humility for the good of the Kingdom no matter what people thought of them or how they were treated and we should follow their example.

          In the Gospel Jesus referring to Himself, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” He is saying to not worry so much about the letter of the Law but be in humility be more concerned with the Spirit of the Law – which is love of God and love of neighbor following His example.

 

          So the message for us today is to not be “puffed-up” with pride but instead realize that all that we have, all that we have accomplished or will accomplish is a gift from God. When we realize this and remember it, it prevents us from being “puffed-up” with pride. It helps us to stay humble in imitation of Christ. It helps us to be good stewards of all of our gifts. And it helps us to be more concerned with the spirit of the Law of God, which is sincere, sacrificial love.

The unmistakable theme and message on the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time is humility.  In the first reading the writer of Sirach (one of the Wisdom books) encourages his child to “conduct your affairs with humility.” He is instructing all including us to live all aspects of our lives in humility no matter what status we occupy in society. Why? The writer says, “You will find favor with God.”

 

This of course ties in to the Gospel where Jesus teaches, “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” The whole Gospel message is a 180 degree opposite of the world’s thinking. The world says to take the highest seat and the most you can get but Jesus says take the lowest seat and give, serve and sacrifice. Jesus is our perfect example of humility as He left His glory in heaven for a time, lived in simplicity and gave His life for the benefit of the other. When we live in humility as Christ is when and how we find favor with God.

 

The last part of today’s Gospel passage from Luke 14 is humility put into action. Jesus says to not invite those who can repay you but extend the invitation to those who cannot. This is humility because we naturally want to invite our friends and those of higher stature in society but when we invite and welcome the less fortunate we humble ourselves and raise them up above us, counting them as important and significant. When we put humility in action Jesus tells us in the last verse of today’s Gospel, “For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

 

 

I would have to say the Gospels must be considered as the ultimate Wisdom books!

August 21, 2016

21st Sun Ordinary Time

8 & 10 am

 

Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30

 

            One day, Father John paid a visit to the high school group after the Sunday evening Youth Mass and he asked one young man in front of the entire group, “Do you want to go to heaven?” The young man answered, “I do Father.” Then Father said, “Then stand over there against the wall.” Next, Father John asked a young lady, “Do you want to go to heaven?” The young lady replied enthusiastically, “Sure I do!” And Father again said, “Then stand over there against the wall.” Then Father John walked up to another young man and asked him, “Do you want to go to heaven?” His reply was, “No, I don’t!” Father exclaimed, “I don’t believe this…You mean to tell me that when you die you don’t want to go to heaven?!!” The young man replied, “Oh, when I die, yes. But I thought you were getting a group together to go right now!”

          Our main goal in life, what we strive for most, what we are most concerned with should be salvation (eternal life) for ourselves, our spouses, our children, our parents, our family members and for all people. This life on earth is just a few short years, but life after this is forever. Salvation is the end result, the fruit of a life lived in love of God and love of neighbor through Jesus Christ and His Church…And our readings today speak to us about this salvation that is offered to all peoples.

          In the 1st reading from the Prophet Isaiah the Lord gives us a vision of salvation that extends to the ends of the earth. This reading is from the last chapter of the book of Isaiah where the nation of Israel had returned from years of exile. They had been taken away from their homes and their land and now finally some had returned. And this vision was that God would send some of these that had returned back-out as missionaries to call all back to Jerusalem, the holy city, and to Himself. But the surprising, shocking piece of this message was that not only the Jews were called back to Jerusalem and to God but that all nations were being called to Him. Salvation is offered and extended to all people! The scripture said about these missionaries, “They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and camels, to my holy mountain.” In other words, these missionaries were to use any and all means to bring souls from every nation to salvation…And we as God’s chosen people through Baptism, are sent out as missionaries in our everyday lives to use any and all means to announce and to proclaim the glory of God and His salvation that is offered to all.

          But in the Gospel someone asked Jesus, Lord, will only a few people be saved?” What was His answer? He didn’t plainly say yes and He didn’t say no. What He did say was, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” In other words, Jesus is saying that all are invited but many will not be strong enough (spiritually) to enter. In another scripture Jesus says the road to damnation is easy and wide and many travel it. But the road to heaven is narrow and difficult and many do not make it. Yes, the invitation to salvation is offered to all peoples but it requires a response (either yes or no). And if the response is yes to the invitation than the narrow road must be traveled which is not easy at times, which is very difficult at times, but leads to eternal life.

          And Jesus goes on in today’s Gospel with a stern warning (a wake-up call) to all of us in the Church. He gives the example of those who will not be allowed to enter. He says, “You will stand outside knocking and saying, Lord open the door for us…And He will say to you in reply, I do not know where you are from…And you will say, We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets…Then He will say to you, I do not know where you are from…Depart from me, all you evil doers.” Wow! That is a clear and chilling warning to all in the Church to not just presume salvation, to not just go through the motions, put our time in once a week (punch the clock for an hour every Sunday) and expect to be all right in the end. “We ate and drank in your company” really sounds like the mass doesn’t it?!! Yet to some in the Church He will say, “Depart from me.”  This is a very tough message but one we need to hear…And the Church confirmed it with its Vatican II document (Lumen Gentium, The Light of Nations), “He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity (love of God & love of neighbor). He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in bodily manner and not in his heart. All the Church’s children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.”  A stern warning to all of us in the Church to not presume salvation, to not just go through the motions.

          So how do we know if we are on the narrow road to the narrow gate of salvation? How do we know if we are on the right track on the way to eternal life? This is not something to gamble with or to take for granted. As Jesus told us in the Gospels and the Vatican II document confirms, “persevere in charity (love of God and love of neighbor).”  (1) We will know we are on the right road if we put God first in our life, if He has top priority over all things material or otherwise, and if we know Him in a personal way through His Son Jesus Christ. We are on the right track if we allow Him to be our Lord and our master, to guide us in all things large and small, and if we worship Him as He deserves. We know if we are on the right track if we serve Him in the Church and in all aspects of our lives not because we have to but because we want to out of thanksgiving for all that He has blessed us with. We know we are on the right track if we joyfully share a portion of our God-given time, talent and treasure not because we have to, doing it grudgingly, but because we want to out of sincere gratitude. (2) And we know we are on the right track if we selflessly love the other, putting the other’s needs before our own. We are on the right track if we truly care about our brother and our sister whether near or far and we do what we can to help them, to strengthen them, to lift them up. We know we are on the right track if we forgive the other as we have been forgiven, if we pray for our enemies and those who persecute us. We know we are on the right track if we see Christ in every human being. These are just a few ways we can tell if we are on the narrow road to the narrow gate.

          And just a brief word on the 2nd reading from the Letter to the Hebrews which ties into today’s message and gives us some insight into suffering and hardship. The scripture said, “Endure trials as discipline. At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” God does not cause difficulties and hardship in our lives but allows them in order to help us to turn to Him and to trust in Him. Why? Because He cares more about the salvation of our soul then our comfort.

          In closing, the offer of salvation extends to the ends of the earth, to all peoples, to all nations, and to all individuals.  But that invitation requires an everyday response. When we say yes by accepting Jesus, who is Salvation (the way, the Truth and the Life), the reservation in heaven has been made for us. But just like one shows up to a dinner reservation by traveling a certain road we must get to the reservation of heaven by the narrow road that leads through the narrow gate. This road is not easy at times, is very difficult. We can only travel this road successfully by cooperating with the grace that has been given to us and to persevere in charity (love of God and love of neighbor). We can never earn our way into heaven but get there only with and through Jesus Christ. Salvation is the end result, the fruit of a life lived in love of God and love of neighbor through Jesus Christ and His Church.

          If you were once on the narrow road and are just returning or if you want to start on the narrow road for the first time, the time is now!

          So as the high school teens were asked we are also asked, “Do you want to go to heaven?” If our answer is yes our main goal in life, what we strive for most, what we are most concerned with, should be salvation (eternal life) for ourselves and for all people. And our yes should affect every thought, word & deed.

Amen!

           

 

           

August 6, 2016

Sat 8am

Feast of the Transfiguration

 

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Luke 9:28b-36

 

            Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration. You can tell it is an important feast as we have a second reading besides the 1st reading and the Gospel and our vestments are white and gold. In this feast we see Jesus’ kingship, His dominion and His glory.

In the first reading the prophet Daniel is given a vision and sees “One like the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven.” Son of man was a term used in the Hebrew Scriptures which had a double meaning. It referred to a human being but also referred to an exalted heavenly one. Daniel says, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not be taken away, His kingship shall not be destroyed.” We as Catholic Christians of course see the fulfillment of this vision in the Kingship of Jesus Christ who often referred to Himself as “Son of Man” both God and man.

          In the 2nd reading the writer of 2 Peter testifies that they were eyewitness to this fulfillment in Christ Jesus and to His majesty, “We ourselves heard the voice come from heaven while we were with Him on the holy mountain.”

          The holy mountain he is talking about is the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus where His “face changed appearance and His clothing became dazzling white.” Peter, James and John were privileged to see the glory of the Savior with their very eyes.

          The message for us today is to also be “eyewitnesses” to the kingship, glory and majesty of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, not just once but over and over. We are eyewitness when we experience Jesus on the holy mountain of prayer (alone and in community during mass). When we are eyewitness of His glory, when we have a personal encounter with Him we cannot help but to be transfigured also into His image. When we experience Jesus for ourselves we are transfigured into one like Him who came not to be served but to serve. We are changed into one who like Jesus gives of himself for the sake of others and for the Kingdom.

          When we are transfigured into Christ the voice of heaven rings out about us, “This is my beloved son, this my beloved daughter with whom I am well pleased.”

 

           

The readings on the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time remind us as disciples of Christ what should be our priority in life, which is opposite of what the world holds as important. The 1st reading from Ecclesiastes sets the tone for this Sunday’s message, “Vanity of vanities! All things vanity! Here is the one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and yet to another who has not labored over it, he must leave property.” In other words, all that we work for, all that we attain materially in this life, we cannot take with us when we die. It will all eventually be left for someone else…There is a saying, “You never see a U-Haul trailer behind a hearse.” Which is very true.

The Gospel picks up this message with the words of Jesus, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Jesus is pointing out to be aware of the love for material things. He is warning his disciples to not be ruled by things or the love of things. There is a saying in the concept of Christian Stewardship, “What do you own and what owns you?” In other words, who has control us or the material?

And St. Paul ties it all together in the 2nd reading as he often does, “If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.”  

As disciples of the Risen Lord, our priorities must be the things of heaven: prayer leading to service by the sharing of our time, talent and treasure. These are the things we can and will take with us into heaven in our “spiritual U-Haul”!

 

In the words of Jesus, “Be rich in what matters to God.”    

The readings for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time speak to us about prayer, particularly persistent prayer.

In the 1st reading from Genesis Chapter 18 Abraham is pleading with God on behalf of the innocent few in Sodom and Gomorrah. First this shows intercessory prayer not for our own good but for the good of the other. Abraham is persistent in his prayer and God hears him and answers Him with mercy. Abraham speaks to God so boldly yet respectfully because of his close relationship with the Almighty Father.

In the Gospel one of the disciples of Jesus asks Him to teach them how to pray. Jesus teaches them the perfect prayer “The Our Father”. But this Sunday is not so much about the Our Father prayer as it is about being persistent in prayer. Jesus goes on with the example about a person being persistent, not giving up. And so it is with us, as Jesus tells us to continue to “ask…seek…knock” while trusting in the good, good Father who will give us what is best for us.

To be persistent in prayer and to trust in the Father that way takes a close relationship with Him as Abraham and as Jesus had. St. Paul in the 2nd reading tells us the source of this relationship: faith and baptism. He says, “You were buried with Him in baptism in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the power of God.”

 

As disciples of Christ Jesus, let us be persistent in prayer in faith, for ourselves and for others, ask…seek…knock, and trust in the Father who knows best!

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