Archive for the ‘4th Sunday’ Category

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.”

The Man Born Blind 3-6-2016

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

There is a subtle but important difference between being cured and healed. To be cured of something means it will never come back, never haunt one’s life again. To be healed is something much deeper and broader. Healing is a process that takes place over time, and it brings about a transformation of body and soul. We usually see the story of Jesus and the man born blind as one of physical blindness and its cure. But it is really a story of healing, of restoration of physical sight, yes, but, more importantly, of the beginning of spiritual vision.

You see, we are all like the blind man – we are all born spiritually blind. And we stumble in the spiritual darkness, hurting ourselves and one another. It is only through our encounter with Jesus, the Light of the World, that we begin to see. Jesus heals the blind man—and all of us—from living our lives in the dark. Jesus opens up new worlds for all of us who want to be free from the prison of darkness.

We sometimes do not really see the gift of life that God lays before us. Jesus opens up new worlds for all of us who feel trapped by sin, addictions, hate, anger, hopelessness, self-loathing, past choices, illness, loneliness, and fear of life.

This profound story of restoration is not about just one individual’s physical sight, but more importantly, a birth of insight. Many people are never cured of their afflictions. But Jesus offers the promise of healing so that our afflictions will not consume us and win the day. It is a gift offered to all through the grace of faith.

On this Fourth Sunday of Lent, we join with our RCIA candidates and elect in taking a closer look at ourselves.

Let us all ask ourselves:

• Where is darkness in our minds and hearts?

• How can we be more open to receive the healing that Jesus promises?

• How have we grown in seeing more clearly on our journey of faith?

Let us pray:

Christ Jesus,
come and open our eyes,
our minds,
and our hearts
to receive the healing
that we so desperately need.

We believe beyond believing
that you are new sight
and new life for us
when we trust in you
and relinquish our lives
to your care and protection.

Come now,
heal the darkness of our lives.

Amen.

Love Never Passes Away 1-31-2016

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

The story goes that one time a very prominent person in California died. He stood before the beautiful gates of heaven, hoping to get in, but a large angel stood at the gate and would not let him pass. “To get in,” said the angel, “you must show that you accomplished something significant, something really important in your life on earth.”
The man breathed a sigh of relief, because he had accomplished many things. “Well,” he said, “I feel I accomplished a lot. For one thing, I went to school and got excellent grades. After high school I went to the university on a scholarship, and all the teachers admired my work. I ended up graduating with highest honors, and writing a book.”
“That’s nice,” said the angel, “but I’m talking about a significant accomplishment. One that doesn’t pass away with time.”
The man was a little shaken, but not really frightened. He had done many other things. “Well, while I was in college, I played soccer. I was probably the best player that school ever had. I got to play in the Olympics and our team all won gold medals.”
“That’s nice,” said the angel, “but I need to know if you accomplished anything significant in you life – something that doesn’t pass away with time.”
The man began to perspire a little bit. “Well, holy angel,” he said, “I was blessed with good looks. I was very handsome, and had my pick of all the women in the world. Finally I ended up marrying a movie star. All the magazines and newspapers reported how beautiful our wedding ceremony was.
The angel tried to hide a little yawn. “How nice,” the angel said, “but did you do anything in life that was really important – something that wouldn’t pass?”
The man was now getting frightened. “Well,” he said, “after I was done with school, I started my own engineering and construction company. We built great bridges. We built mighty freeways. We built tall sky-scrapers. I made millions of dollars and lived in a palace. They even named a town after me.”
The angel shrugged. “I’m very sorry,” the angel replied. “All those things you’ve mentioned are nice, and perhaps even interesting…but they’re not important. They’re not what you need to get into heaven. They all pass away.”
And then the man remembered the reading form St. Paul, that we had today. Faith, hope and especially love, never pass away. And he looked back at his life, and it all seemed so different now. All those accomplishments he had thought were so important now seemed not so important. He felt confused and ashamed. “Well,” he said, “once, a long time ago, I gave an apple to a young girl who had nothing to eat.”
“At last!” The angel smiled, “something really significant. You wasted most of your life, but thank God you didn’t waste all of it! You did accomplished one important thing. Enter the kingdom of God!
Brothers and sisters, let’s not waste our time and energy on earth, but let’s devote ourselves to doing things that last.
Remember, love never passes away!