Monthly Archives: June 2013

13th Sunday of the Year – Called to Follow the Lord

Blue hills

Study:  What keeps you from trusting others?  What keeps you from trusting God?

Pray:  Is there something in your life that is holding you back from God?  Take it to prayer.

Serve:  Is there someone in your life right now who can use your help following the Lord?  What can you do?

13th Sunday Readings

The scenario looks like this:  a group of people are assembled together on a project and one of the leaders comes up and says, “I need someone to help me.  Any volunteers?”

Several possible responses may occur:

1.  No one says a word but looks at the floor and tries to disappear.

2.  Many people speak up, but they want to know what the task is before they will commit.

3.  One or two raise their hands, but they say that they have other things to do first.

4.  Many people raise their hands, and say, “Yes.  What do you need?”

While we might hope that we are always generous with our time, we know that there are moments when we are guarded and skeptical when someone makes a blind request.  We want to know some basic facts.  What is the task?  How much time will it take?  How much effort or skill?  Who will be working with me?

These questions are reasonable; in our day to day efforts they are the foundation of common sense relationships.  We ask these questions to insure that we are not going to commit ourselves to something that is distasteful, beyond our ability, or overly time consuming.

Yet there are times when we say “Yes!” without a moment’s hesitation.  We agree to a task sight unseen, not knowing the cost.  We are willing to offer ourselves, trusting that we will be able to carry out what we are asked to do.

The key to a willing volunteer is trust.  Trust implies that the one who follows believes in the one who leads.  When we trust another we do not necessarily need to know all the details; we know that the one we follow will not subject us to something that is beyond our scope or destructive to our lives.

In the Gospel today Jesus invites people to follow him, yet he receives many different responses.  Some gave excuses, some misunderstood him, and some turned away – yet the Lord continued to invite them to follow.

This invitation is ours as well.  Christ calls us to follow him, yet he does not tell us the cost.  May our faith help us to trust, that we might have the strength to volunteer all that we have in our journey through life.


12th Sunday of the Year – Take Up Your Cross

Station - Jesus takes his Cross

Study:  Think about a “cross” that you have had in life.  Reflect on how you were able to carry it.

Pray:  Bring your “cross” to the Cross of Christ.  Ask him for the strength you need.

Serve:  Perhaps there is someone in your life who is carrying a heavy cross.  How are you being called to help?

12th Sunday Readings

Jesus answered his question “Who do you say I am?” with a commentary.  The Christ of God came to endure suffering, pain, rejection, and death.

In short, he came to carry a Cross.

I often find that as a priest one of the most gifted times in my ministry is when I have the opportunity to offer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  I pray with people, often during painful and agonizing moments, and extend the comfort and grace of Jesus Christ.  It is a powerful, moving, and humbling experience.

As I leave, I often am led to gratitude.  It is easy for me to get caught in my own challenges and stresses, to be sidetracked by my own frustrations and issues.   I find that when I confront the crosses that others carry I  begin to count my blessings rather than my problems.

The fact is, we all carry crosses.  Some are small, some are large.  Some are with us only a short time, others last for years.  Yet as we embrace the challenges and difficulties of life we remember that God meets us where we are.  Jesus did not avoid his Cross, and he will walk with us as we carry our own.

Furthermore, the Cross is not the end.  The death and resurrection of Jesus transform the Cross into a sign of hope.  We face our struggles with the promise of God’s redeeming help.  The Cross directs us to face our fears and trust that the Lord’s grace is greater than any darkness in this world.

So what crosses do we confront today?  What challenges do we face?  As we remember the Cross of Christ may we ask the Lord for the help and strength we need today.  Mindful of the blessings God has given us, may we embrace our own cross and trust that God will help us along the way.


11th Sunday of the Year – Forgiveness

Confessional

Study:  Recall a moment when you have experienced forgiveness in your own life; how did it transform you?

Pray:  Is there something in your life that calls for forgiveness?  Pray for the grace and strength to do it.

Serve:  Is there someone you can help in the journey of forgiveness?  Is there something you can do that removes an obstacle and allows forgiveness to occur?

11th Sunday of the Year Readings

The Scriptures today reveal different examples of confronting our sins and receiving forgiveness.

The first reading from the Second Book of Samuel brings us into the latter part of the story of David and Bathsheba.  David: 1 – has sexual relations with this married woman;  2 – tries to cover up his sin by tricking and intoxicating Bathsheba’s husband Uriah;  3 – orders the brutal death of Uriah while he is fighting a battle for David.

The prophet Nathan has just told a parable to David, and when David promptly responds with the demand for justice, Nathan blasts him with the crimes he has committed.  At this point we step into the reading to discover three points:
God (very clearly) points out David’s sins
– David repents
– God forgives David’s sin

The psalm response today offers words that we might want to keep near us at all times:
“Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.”

The Gospel reading from Luke points out the reality of sin and the profound experience of grace that happens in forgiveness.  As Jesus receives the anointing of his feet, he instructs a Pharisee about the connection between mercy and love.

All three examples underscore the powerful impact of forgiveness in our lives.  In our moments of sin and temptation we encounter the darkest and most terrible parts of our hearts.  When we are honest with ourselves, we can be horrified by the potential for evil that lies within us.

Yet it is in these very experiences that we find Christ present.  The Lord will not permit us to cast a blind eye toward our sins; we are compelled to face the evil that we have done and name it.  What might otherwise fill us with shame becomes a moment of grace; Jesus Christ knows our sins (better than we do) and STILL LOVES US!  Completely!  Without limit!

Perhaps it’s time we recall the psalm response.  Perhaps it’s time that we stop for a moment and reflect on the mercy and grace that God freely grants us in our moments of weakness and sin.  Our choice to let go of sin and turn to Christ will open our hearts and fill us with a spirit of grace, hope, and peace.


10th Sunday of the Year – Arise!

Station - Jesus in the Tomb

Study:  Reflect on a time of grief and loss in your life.  Where did you find support and strength?

Pray:  Pause to consider those who are going through grief and hold them up in your daily prayers.

Serve:  Do you know someone who is struggling with grief right now?  Perhaps a visit or an act of kindness could make the day a little brighter.

Last October I was traveling through the Holy Land and I passed through the village where Jesus performed the miracle that is recounted in the Gospel today.  I find it easy to imagine the situation: a group of people walking in procession with a widow as  they carry her dead son out of the city.  There is grief, terrible loss, and the sense that the entire community is mourning with this woman.

Then an encounter with Jesus.  First he has pity, then he offers consolation, then a single word: arise!

In a moment everything changes.  The Lord gives the man back to his mother, the procession is filled with fear and wonder, and God is praised.

We all know that death is a part of life.  Like the seasons of the year, there are times for birth, growth, harvest, and death.  Yet there are also times when death happens outside this cycle – in moments of tragedy, unforeseen illness, and accident – and our lives are turned upside down in a heartbeat.

In these moments when we are filled with questions, doubts, and uncertainty.  And like the widow in today’s Gospel we can invite the Lord to draw near.  The same pity, consolation, and hope is ours – Christ meets us in our weakness and with tender compassion he touches our hearts.

His love is empowered through the victory of his death and resurrection.  His sacrifice on the Cross opens the gates of Heaven for us.  For at the hour of our death we long to look upon Jesus who will say “Arise!” to us and welcome us to eternal life.

Perhaps you are dealing with grief in your life, or perhaps you are walking with someone in the midst of grief.  The Gospel today gives us an opportunity to face death with the conviction of faith – this is not the end, but a new beginning with the Lord.  May the pity, consolation, and mercy of Jesus help us to be tender with others in their grief, and may it help us to face the hour of our own death with trust in the Lord’s love.