Archive for the ‘4th Sunday’ Category

Blessed Are You 1-29-2017

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Picture This. Jesus pulls up a metal folding chair in the parish hall or takes a seat on the couch in the living room and begins to teach:
“If you’re struggling to pay the bills, but insist on making time to be with your children whenever they need you, blessed are you – you may never own the big vacation home and the Lexus, but heaven will be yours.
“If you are overwhelmed by the care of a dying spouse, a sick child or an elderly parent but you are determined to make a loving home for them, blessed are you – one day your sorrow will be transformed into joy.
“If you willingly give your time to cook at a soup kitchen, vacuum the church, help in a classroom; if you befriend the uncool, the unpopular, the perpetually lost, blessed are you – count God among your friends and biggest boosters.
“If you refuse to take shortcuts when it comes to doing what is right, if you refuse to compromise your integrity and ethics, if you refuse to take refuge in the rationalization that ‘everybody does it,’ blessed are you – you will triumph.
“If you try to understand things from the perspective of the other person and always manage to find a way to make things work for the good; if you’re feeling discouraged and frustrated because you are always worrying, always waiting, always bending over backwards, always paying the price for loving the unlovable and forgiving the undeserving, blessed are you – God will welcome, forgive and love you.
“If you struggle to discover what God asks of you in all things; if you seek God’s presence in every facet of your life and every decision you make; if your constant prayer is not ‘give me’ but ‘help me,’ blessed are you – God will always be there for you.
“If you readily spend time listening and consoling anyone who looks to you for support, for guidance, for compassion; if you manage to heal wounds and build bridges; if others see in you graciousness, joy and serenity; if you can see the good in everyone and seek the good for everyone, blessed are you – you are nothing less than God’s own.
“If you are rejected or demeaned because of the color of your skin or the sound of your name; if your faith automatically puts you at odds with some people; if you refuse to compromise to ‘get along’ or ‘not make waves,’ blessed are you – one day you will live with God.
“Rejoice and be glad,” Jesus tells those who have gathered, “you are the blessed of God. In the end, heaven is yours.” Remember this.

Impossible 12-18-2016

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

In a lot of homes I’m sure there are certain words we do not allow to be used; vulgar words, bad words.
I was in a home where the mom had an allergy to the word “Hate.” It could be as simple as, “I hate spinach,” or more serious as, “I hate my teacher.” This word would bring a lengthy dissertation about how unhealthy that word was.
There is a word I believe God doesn’t care for. It’s not a swear or a vulgar word; it is an everyday word that people misuse terribly. The word is “IMPOSSIBLE.”
Yesterday we said,
1. It’s impossible for people to fly.
2. It’s impossible to make boats that travel underwater.
3. It’s impossible for someone to walk on the moon.
4. It’s impossible for the Berlin wall to come down.
5. It’s impossible for Russia and the US to ever be friends.
6. It’s impossible for the Red Sox to win the World Series.
Today we say:
1. It’s impossible for the Jews and the Arabs to make peace.
2. It’s impossible to get rid of gang violence.
3. It’s impossible for California to absorb all these new immigrants.
4. It’s impossible to find a cure for AIDS.
5. It’s impossible to create a society where no one goes without basic food and shelter.
6. It’s impossible for Father Ron to lose weight.

God scorns that word and the attitude behind that word, God who alone is wise.
A person might say:
1. It’s impossible for me to get over my grief and move on, especially during the holidays.
2. It’s impossible for me to deal with my addictions.
3. It’s impossible for me to temper my self destructive vice.
4. It’s impossible for me to make peace and develop as a healthy human being.
But today these voices who shout the word “Impossible” are contradicted by an angel flying down from heaven, and the old post menopausal lady swelling with life, and the teenage Virgin Mary with the word of God resting in her womb. These three join together to say: “If it is the will of God, then it’s possible–nothing is impossible with God. Let us remember! Let us Believe!

The Good Shepherd 4-17-2016

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

I. Introduction
For most of us I think it is safe to say this image of the Shepherd is not something we see very much everyday. It was a very common scene in the early Church: – it is a common scene in the Middle East. People in the early Church could really understand what was involved in being a shepherd. It was very real and earthy to them. The Biblical figure of the Shepherd – has been romanticized a lot in paintings, pictures, Holy Cards, “rosy cheeked young men – among pure white fluffy sheep on beautiful green hillsides – very serene and peaceful.”

I did a little research into what Shepherds were like in the Time of Jesus. It was a very lonely, dirty, dangerous job – that could not be managed from a distance. Shepherds lived among the sheep in the filth and stench – the lives of the sheep were their primary concern. A sheep sometimes wandered far off from the others – when it got lost and could not find it’s way back, it would simply lie down where it was and refuse to budge – the shepherd would search out for the lost sheep – carefully pick it up and carry it home. There was a personal relationship between the Shepherd and each individual sheep. They were not just numbers.

I believe this image of the Shepherd points us to God. God is not squeamish; God will not run away when things get messy in our lives; – God’s hands are dirty (not lily white); God’s clothes are stained with waste, mud and blood – the waste, mud and blood of our roller coaster lives. This God gets in the middle of the mess with us.
Does the mess magically disappear? Not most of the time; but there is a sense we are not alone and that helps us get through it. A key question for us; Are we afraid to share our messes with God?

How does this shepherding image of God come alive? Become real to people – Today –
I believe most of the time thru people – we are called to be shepherds for each other. We are responsible to pick each other up when we are down.
“I thought just priests and ministers were shepherds – no we all are if we call ourselves Christian and mean it.”

“Don’t we need special skill and talents – training to do this? No! We need a caring heart, a little common sense and a few less excuses.

“What about when you don’t have the answers or solutions to people’s problems? You don’t know what to say or do. Just listen and just be there for them.

I close with a story I am sure we all have heard;
A man dreamed he died and went to heaven and there was met by Jesus. The man had lived a long Christian life, but it had not been without some time of great trial and tribulation as well as those times of joy and victory. As he met with Christ, the man was given a panoramic review of his life – all the highlights and low periods. In the review of his life one of the things that continued throughout were his footsteps along the sands of time.
The man noticed that at those times in his life when it had really been rough there was only one set of footprints – not two as in the good times. The man turned to the Lord and said, “Lord, I don’t understand. You promised to be with me always. But when I look back now, I see that in those really rough times there was only one set of footprints. Lord, why did you leave me then?”

The Lord looked at him, smiled and said, ‘Leave you? I didn’t leave you at all. Dear friend, if you look at the one set of footprints carefully, you’ll notice they are a little deeper than the others. Those were the time I was carrying you.”