Archive for the ‘1st Sunday’ Category

First Sunday of Lent 2-18-2018

Friday, February 16th, 2018

On T.V. today, we see a lot of political debates. Reporters usually interview the winners and losers. To the losers, the reporters often ask very blunt and often irritating questions.
I would like to take you to one of those interviews—except the participants are not politicians.
They are Jesus and the Devil. The Devil, like in the gospel, has just lost very badly in his debate with Jesus over such things as power, prestige, values. I believe it would go like this—let’s listen:
“Mr. Devil – How are you feeling after the debate?” “Terrible, lousy – how would you feel if you just got your _____ kicked by Jesus?
“Do you plan on a rematch — A second debate?”
“You can count on it, but next time, I am going to develop a new strategy, a new plan of attack! I’ll tell you one thing, Mr. Reporter, the next time I won’t be wearing a red outfit with horns and a tail. That outfit is too obvious. I must come up with some new outfits, with some new temptations, and remember this—you can count on one thing—I am not going away!” shouted the Devil.
Till the day we die, we are going to be tempted to do or say things that hurt ourselves—hurt others—and damage our relationship with God. We are going to wrestle on a regular basis with how to keep things like food, work, relationships, sex, money, computers, sports, the list goes on—how do I keep them in a healthy perspective and not abuse them, not allow them to get out of balance.
In these areas of our life and in many others, we are gong to be under attack. We are in a Giant Tug of War with Mr. Devil.
It’s OK to tell little lies, your wife will never find out. Cheating in school doesn’t hurt anyone. You don’t need God, look out for number 1. Church is for hypocrites—you’re a virgin—everyone does it—a couple of pills won’t hurt at all—come on—just one drink. “A Tug of War”.
The Good News is that we are not in this “Tug of War” alone. Our God has said over and over—I am with you. It won’t be easy, but no matter how dark it gets—you are not alone. I want to be your partner!
In closing, I have one final and very important point to make.
What happens when we blow it, when we give into temptations that get us into trouble, cause us to sin, leave us with a lot of guilt?
Do we pretend like it’s no big deal? I hope not.
Do we beat ourselves up over and over again with tons of unhealthy guilt? I hope not.
Or, do we take responsibility for our actions—stop blaming other people, sincerely ask for forgiveness and healing and move on trusting in a God of second chances? A God who says, start over – try again. I hope so.
“I am not going away”, proclaims the Devil.
“I am with you always, through it all”, shouts the Lord of Hope. “Don’t forget, we will win the battle together—Believe it!”

I am Joseph your brother 1-7-2018

Friday, January 5th, 2018

Some years ago the Catholic community of Chicago lost one of its
greatest leaders and ministers in Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.
Cardinal Bernardin will always be remembered for his great gifts
as a reconciler. In some of the Church’s most controversial and divisive
moments, he was able, in his humble, sensitive and compassionate way,
to earn the trust of liberal and conservative alike, to bring all sides
together, to keep everyone focused on the common call to be disciples of
Christ. A leader among America’s bishops, he steered the bishops’
conference through debates ranging from the Vietnam War to birth
control. When he was wrongly accused of sexual assault by a former
seminarian who later took back his story, Cardinal Bernardin did not
react with anger at the pain and humiliation he endured, but reached out
to his young accuser, forgiving him and praying for and with him. To
everyone in Chicago—Catholic and non-Catholic, believer and
nonbeliever—he would introduce himself simply as “I am Joseph, your
brother” Within 48 hours of learning he was dying of liver cancer, Cardinal
Bernardin shared his ordeal with the people of his archdiocese. He spent
much of the last year of his life personally ministering to people with
cancer—his “parish” of cancer patients and their families numbered over
700 people.
“Yes, I’m sacred,” he said, “but I’m a man of faith. I can look at
death in two ways: as an enemy or a friend. I choose to view it as a
friend. I know that there will be tears, but I am at peace…I have come
to believe in a new way that the Lord would walk with me through this
journey of illness.”
In his life, ministry and final days, Cardinal Bernardin approached
life as a journey to God and with God; reconciliation, compassion and
justice—the very things of God—were the “stars” that guided him.
Cardinal Bernardin, like the magi in today’s Gospel, is a model for us in
our own search for God. On this special Feast of Epiphany I believe we
are all challenged to slow down and check our own bearings on our life’s
journey. Are we headed in the right direction? What stars are guiding
us? I pray that we all will be guided by the stars that guided Joseph

The Best I Could With What I Have 12-3-2017

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

I saw a movie once where there was a man being pulled in 2
different directions. One arm being pulled by an angel in a white outfit
with wings. The other arm pulled by a devil all equipped with a red
outfit and horns. “Do this,” one would say. “No do not, do that,” the
other would shout. The guys head was spinning and spinning.
I feel like this guy when I start thinking about Advent and
Christmas. Bring up 3 people to help demonstrate being pulled apart.
A. On one side the Church is pulling, reminding me it is Advent
again. Blue vestments, Advent wreaths, four candles, and special
environment. A time of patient waiting. Special preparations for the Re-
birth of Jesus in our life. All good stuff.
B. On the other side, Christmas carols 2 days after Thanksgiving,
advertisements everywhere, “buy this, buy now, pay later”, Christmas
decorations and parties and Santa Clauses everywhere. It is like we
skipped from Thanksgiving to Christmas in one day. Being pulled apart.I know for me I want to use the next 3 or 4 weeks, we call Advent,
to deepen my relationship with Jesus Christ. I want to be more aware of
where Christ is present in my everyday life.
I also know I will get caught up in the Christmas frenzy. That will
be ok and a lot of fun. With that being said, I want Christmas to be
different this year.
I remember one Christmas a few years back that was very different
for me. My perspective was changed by an automobile accident. 5
innocent and unsuspecting people were killed in a head-on collision.
(Snap fingers) It shook me and many others. I thought to myself, “that
could have been me”. “That is the same road I travel to go see my mom.”
It could have been me. This experience caused me to ask myself some
significant questions. Maybe I need to ask them again during Advent
2012? Perhaps you could ask them to yourself?
1. Has my life on the earth made a difference for the better?
2. Am I doing the best I can to develop and share the gifts and
talents God has given me?
3. What are my priorities? Are God and my family in the top 3?
4. Are there relationships or some area of my life that needs
healing? Needs to change for the better?
5. The final question. Do I need to forgive someone? Do I need to
forgive myself? Do I believe God could never forgive me?
Pick one or two of these questions and spend a few minutes
thinking about your answers. Be honest. Ask God to help you make the
changes you need to make now! Those few minutes might be the best
way to make Christmas different this year. Pray for me as I try to do this
and I will pray for you.