Archive for the ‘4th Sunday’ Category

You can count on me, God!” Deacon Patrick Conway 12-21-2014

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

1. It’s four days away from Christmas Eve, and millions of children all over the world have made their gift wishes known to Santa Claus. Some have seen him in person and sat on his lap, others have written him letters. Some have even sent him emails! I saw at least a dozen websites where you can send Santa an email and he’ll send you one back.
2. It’s fun to play the wish fulfillment game, but we have to be careful to remember that it’s just a game. Real life isn’t that way, and real spirituality isn’t that way either. To treat other people as if they exist only to give us what we want is to treat them as less than human. And to treat God as if he exists only to fulfill our wishes is to treat him as less than God.
3. Let me give you an example that illustrates what I’m talking about. What if I decided that I wanted to work for Microsoft? I’d send Bill Gates an email and say, hey Bill, I want to work for you, so give me a job. I’d like to work out some ideas that I have for some new Windows apps. I want to get paid $100 an hour plus benefits. And, Bill, I really don’t want to move to Seattle and all that rain, so I’d just like to work out of my home, and I’d like to work as much or as little as I want each week.
4. Let’s just say that Bill Gates actually reads my email and responds. Is he going to say, “Sure, Patrick, whatever you want!”? Probably not! At best he might invite me to apply for a job that’s available and see if my skills match what they’re looking for. If they did, they’d make me a job offer that included how much and where they want me to work and what they are willing to pay me.
5. That’s because Microsoft has a vision and a plan for fulfilling that vision, and they’re really only looking for people who are willing to serve that plan. Why would they be interested in anyone else? It’s naïve to think that it’s all about me and what I want. If I go to work for them, I’ll be serving that master.
6. Sometimes we treat God like Santa Claus, as if he exists only to give us what we want. But (and I hate to say this) God is actually a little more like Microsoft. Like Bill Gates, God has a kingdom, a vision and a plan for fulfilling that vision, and he’s looking for people who are willing to serve his kingdom, vision and plan. But all too often our vision is way too small and self-centered. We tell God what we want, then when he doesn’t give it to us, we think that he doesn’t care for us or that he doesn’t really exist. So we go off on our own, making plans and choices to fulfill our vision for our life. And we wonder why things don’t work out the way we wanted them to, and why getting what we want doesn’t always make us truly happy and fulfilled.
7. Today’s Gospel shows us the way life is supposed to work, the way things really are. God sends the angel Gabriel to Mary and tells her, “God has a plan to save the human race from its stupidity and sins, and, Mary, you have an essential part in that plan. Here’s what your part is.” Mary asks a respectful question, “How is this going to happen?”, but she doesn’t question God’s plan, as outlandish and impossible as it sounds, not does she try to negotiate an alternative plan, and she doesn’t even mention what she wants out of life. She simply says, “You know I serve God’s kingdom, vision and plan, so God can count on me.”

8. Mary is often called the first disciple, and she is certainly the role model for all disciples. What she does is so simple that it is often overlooked and undervalued. But what she does is the essence of all discipleship. She understands that God is God and she is not. She is the creature created by God to do what God made her to do. That is her understanding of reality. Everything in her life serves that basic truth. And she knows that God is good and that he loves her, and that his plan is good, so she trusts him with her happiness and fulfillment. She knows that giving herself to God’s plan for her life is going to be the smartest thing to do. With God, and only with God, will she find the happiness and fulfillment that she most deeply desires.
9. And how did that work out for her? Well, she had to endure a lot of pain, suffering and loss. But in the end, the meaning and value of her life far exceeded her wildest dreams. Her happiness is greater than any of us can imagine, and the Catholic Church declares her to be the greatest human being of all time and the greatest human dispenser of God’s gifts and graces. She’s huge!
10. And, while it worked out great for her in the end, she didn’t do it for that reason. She simply did what God had for her to do, in her time and place, to the best of her ability, and God used her mightily to fulfill his plan of blessing for the entire human race and for all of creation.
11. And this is how it can be for each one of us. Unlike Bill Gates, God actually has a job for each one of us. Each of us has an important part in God’s plan to save human beings from stupidity, sin and unnecessary suffering, and, like Mary, we’ll discover our true greatness and happiness in living out our part in our time and place to the best of our God-given ability. If we don’t know what our part is, then we need to ask God to show us. “God, I know that you love me and have a wonderful plan for my life. Please show me what it is and give me the grace to accept it with all my heart. You can count on me, God.”
12. This is what it’s all about. Because Mary accepted and lived out God’s plan for her life, we got Christmas, including Santa Claus. Most importantly, we got Jesus, who died for our sins so that we could live with God and Mary and all the saints and Gabriel and all the angels in heavenly happiness forever.
13. What will happen, then, if each one of us does what Mary did? We’ll never know, and the world will never know, unless we try. “God, I know that you love me and have a wonderful plan for my life. Please show me what it is and give me the grace to accept it with all my heart. You can count on me, God.”

Being a Disciple 5-11-2014

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

A word that comes up a lot in these post Easter Scriptures is the word Disciple – Being a Disciple of Jesus Christ. The best definition I have ever heard of what a Disciple of Jesus Christ is, “is a person who tries to follow Jesus, makes a lot of mistakes, but comes back and tries again and again.”
A person who makes this definition come alive for me was Peter, the first Pope. Picture with me Peter, Mr. Enthusiasm…the Charlie Hustle of the New Testament, jumps in with both feet, “There ain’t no mountain high enough – no valley too low – that I won’t follow you Lord. I won’t fail you – I am committed.”
A little while later Peter, Mr. Whishy Washy, “I don’t know this Jesus – you have mistaken me for another person – I’ve go to go, I am a busy person – this suffering and dying stuff is too much for me. I want to be part of a winner.”
If we explore the first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles a little bit more, we meet Peter, the Cheer Leader. A sales person for God – Mr. Committed again, calling people forth to be Baptized. To make a personal commitment, “It’s worth it,” he says. He proclaims the crucified and risen Christ as the source of his strength and power.
A Disciple… a person who tries to follow Jesus, makes a lot of mistakes, but comes back and tries again and again. YOU…ME… A Disciple…2014. Yes! Maybe. No!
(Go out to people and look up to Altar Area.)
“What is this Guy talking about Lord? Me be a Disciple? No way! If he only knew about the real me. If he knew what I did last night, or what I think about that person two rows in front of me. If he knew about the conflict in my family, or the trouble in my marriage. If he knew some of my secret thoughts, or old grudges that run so deep. If he knew that I am only here because my mother is making me, or that I have a secret plan to sneak out during communion. If he only knew my doubts…if he only knew.
I close with this thought; I truly believe that our God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows how inadequate we are, how awful and hurtful we are to each other at times. God has heard every possible excuse we can make when it comes to following Him.
Today, Peter and other Disciples like him remind us that our God is very willing to work with and thru our weaknesses and inadequacies. God has given Peter and the others a second, third chance. God is willing to give us endless chances if we let it happen. God will not give up on us – let’s not give up on ourselves.
A Disciple – a person who tries to follow Jesus, makes a lot of mistakes, but comes back and tries again and again.

The Man Born Blind 3-30-2014

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

After Gospel proclamation, all sing “Open My Eyes, Lord”.
Fr. Ron reads first paragraph:
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.

Sung refrain; Patrick reads next paragraph.
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.

Sung refrain; Fr. Ron reads next paragraph.

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.

Sung refrain; Patrick reads next paragraph.

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.

Sung refrain; Fr. Ron reads next paragraph.
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.