Archive for the ‘5th Sunday’ Category

Living Tabernacles 5-14-2017

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

As I read the second reading today, some words stay with me. “You too” (that means all of us). You too – are living stones built as an edifice of spirit.
These words reminded me that we are the church – not this fantastic building that many of you and others worked so hard to create. This building is a very special place for the church to gather. We are very different people, with different backgrounds, talents, personalities, life experiences, and cultures. We are the church. Words we have heard before. Fairly simple words, but they need to be said over and over again. They need to be believed and lived.
I have been in some beautiful churches and cathedrals and have found many of them cold and lifeless. I have been in a parish church that was an old barn (their church building had burned down). In that barn there was life, spirit, energy, variety and warmth. There was real church because of the people – the living stones.
When we come to this building that houses us the church – most of us get very reverent. We genuflect, bow to the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle as a sign of our respect. I believe this is a good thing to do. It is part of who we are. But my question to all of us as church tonight/today is this.
How reverent are we, how respectful are we to the living tabernacles right next to us? This tabernacle is made of some type of metal. It holds for us Catholics the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus. I believe and respect that, but I also believe that every human being is a living flesh and blood container of God – a human tabernacle.
That person in our family that we find very difficult right now (you know that person) has God in them. That person that drives everyone crazy at school or work has God in them.
That person, who is homeless, who is from another country and taking some of our jobs, who is dying of AIDS, whose values are totally opposite of mine, has God living in them.
How respectful? How reverent are we to these living tabernacles – these containers of God – that we rub elbows with everyday. A little respect, a little reverence, can do some pretty powerful things.
A businessman in a hurry plunked down a dollar into the cup of a man selling flowers and rapidly went his way. Half a block down the street, he turned around and made his way back to the poor flower seller. “I’m sorry,” he said picking out his favorite flower. “In my haste I failed to make my purchase. After all, you are a businessman just like myself. Your flowers are fairly priced and of good quality. I trust you won’t be upset with my forgetting to pick out my purchase.” With that he smiled and quickly went on his way again.
A few weeks later, while at lunch, a neatly dressed, handsome man approached the businessman’s table and introduced himself. “I’m sure you don’t remember me, and I don’t even know your name, but your face I will never forget. You are the man who inspired me to make something of myself. I was a vagrant selling flowers on a street corner until you gave me back my self-respect and a sense of dignity. Now I believe I am a businessman, too.”
A little respect, a little reverence for the living tabernacles all around us can do some pretty powerful things.

The Raising of Lazarus 4-2-2017

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Let’s allow our imaginations to create a Hollywood version of the raising of Lazarus.
Picture it: Lazarus comes out of his tomb-bound up, mummy-like, wrapped tightly in burial garments.
See those tight wrappings around his body? Even as he comes forth to Jesus, they restrict his sight, speech and freedom of movement.
Listen carefully to the words of Jesus. “Untie him and let him go free.”
I believe Lazarus coming out of the tomb represents every person!
What is it in our lives that binds us up? At times ties us up, immobilizes us, limits our perception, and gets in the way of us reaching out to others and to God?
Is it an attitude or possibly our own fears that restrict us? Maybe it is a prejudice toward a particular group of people? Perhaps it is something that worries us? Something we did in the past that we are ashamed of? Could it be financial problems or a medical concern? Is it a broken relationship in our family, a habit of lying, trying to cover our tracks? Are we being squeezed to death by bitterness, resentment, anger, grief, guilt or a poor self image?
Remember these words. “Untie him and her and let them go free.”
As we reflect on what has us all wrapped up. What is preventing us from moving freely and experiencing real life?
I think it is important to also ask ourselves: Are there situations or relationships going on right now, where we are binding or tying up other people? How would we do this?
Does our sour, negative attitudes and biting criticism destroy the spirit of those around us? Are we quick to see the bad, and blind to the good and positive in the people close to us?
How about back stabbing rumors, parking lot gossip and unfair stereotypes?
“Untie him and her and let them go free.”
During this Lent as we take some time to look inward, as we think about what binds us and how to remove the tight wrappings. I think our Gospel reminds us of 3 significant realities that need to be clearly stated.
As Martha mentioned, regarding her brother, it is going to be a smelly procedure. Taking off these bindings will be a slow and painful process. It will be very messy. No real conversion happens without pain. We may be tempted to short circuit the process. We may want to fantasize that everything will be fine in he morning. But it will not go away by itself!
Jesus tells others to help unbind Lazarus. We will need help also. A good friend to listen and to challenge. A teacher, a minister, a trained counselor and a support group. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can do it alone!
The final point may be the most important. Right in the middle of this smelly, messy process of unbinding that we are challenged to enter into, we too, just like Lazarus, have the presence and reassurance of Jesus. “I am with you!” “You are not alone, even when it is the darkest.” “Don’t give up!” “Keep trying!”
“Untie him and her and let them go free.”

Let Your Light Shine 2-5-2017

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

Once upon a time there was a great biblical scholar who was also noted for his great piety. He spent hours every day secluded in his room studying the Scriptures, and praying and mediating. One day a holy man visited the town in which the scholar lived. On hearing about it, the scholar set out to look for him.
He looked first in the church, but did not find him there. Then he looked in a local shrine, but he wasn’t there either. He looked in other likely places, but failed to find him. Eventually he found him in the marketplace with all the people.
The advice he got was simple and direct. Looking at him intently, the holy man said, “It’s easy to be a sage, wise man and saint in your room. You should go out into the marketplace, where people work, play, laugh, cry, and try to be a saint there.”
We are not told whether or not the scholar had the courage to act on that advice. This is exactly the advice Jesus is giving us in today’s Gospel when he says, “You are the light in the World. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on a lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of people, so that seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven.”
It is easy to let the light shine in the comfort and safety of one’s room. But that can be a selfish thing, because it means we are keeping the light to ourselves. It is not so easy to let the light shine in the rough and tumble of the marketplace. But that is where it is most needed.

Let me close with this reflection and prayer…
The most important thing about each of us
is our capacity for goodness.
We can be a source of light.
We have hands that can care,
eyes that can see,
ears that can hear,
tongues that can speak,
feet that can walk,
and above all hearts that can love.
Unfortunately, through laziness, selfishness, lack of self worthy,
and cowardice, our light can be dimmed,
so that we become shadows of the people we could be.
Lord, help us to believe in our own goodness,
and to let the light of that goodness shine.
On seeing this light others may find their way,
and you will be glorified.
AMEN.