Sunday, October 21, 2018

Being an “adder” requires us to get out of our comfort zone every day and think about adding value to others…….. But that’s what it takes to be a leader whom others want to follow.

“Though my work may be menial, though my contribution may be small, I can perform it with dignity and offer it with unselfishness. My talents may not be great, but I can use them to bless the lives of others.... The goodness of the world in which we live is the accumulated goodness of many small and seemingly inconsequential acts.” ― Gordon B. Hinckley: (1910 -  2008: was an American religious leader and author) 

Gospel Text: (MK 10:35-45)
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
"Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."
He replied, "What do you wish me to do for you?"
They answered him, "Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left."
Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the cup that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"
They said to him, "We can."
Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared."
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
"You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Jesus promises James and John in Sunday’s Gospel passage, “‘The cup that I drink, you will drink’”. Little do the brothers know at this point how much and what sort of courage they will have to bear for these words to be fulfilled. James was martyred for the Truth, while John lived a long life preaching the Truth in word and work, ending his life in exile on the island of Patmos. No matter how the Lord calls you to spend your days on this earth, courage from the heart of Christ our King will be needed. Simply ask Him for this gift then, trusting that in Jesus “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens.”

Friday, October 19, 2018

“The secret to happiness is freedom… And the secret to freedom is courage.”

“You will never do anything in this world without courage.  It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” – Aristotle: (384–322 BC: was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist 

Gospel Text: (LK 12:1-7)
At that time:
So many people were crowding together
that they were trampling one another underfoot.
Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples,
"Beware of the leaven–that is, the hypocrisy–of the Pharisees.

"There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness
will be heard in the light,
and what you have whispered behind closed doors
will be proclaimed on the housetops.
I tell you, my friends,
do not be afraid of those who kill the body
but after that can do no more.
I shall show you whom to fear.
Be afraid of the one who after killing
has the power to cast into Gehenna;
yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.
Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins?
Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God.
Even the hairs of your head have all been counted.
Do not be afraid.
You are worth more than many sparrows."

Hidden fears are dangerous. We all walk around with fears in our hearts, some are very visible in our face and speech, others are well concealed within our awareness. Some of us do not realize how we are controlled by our fears: our fear of not having enough of food and resources, our fear of being told what to do by others, our fear of dying. We mistakenly believe that we can overcome our fears by being more powerful, having more money and being better armed than the people around us.

Jesus says in today’s Gospel: “Do not be afraid of those who those who can kill the body, but after that can do no more.” This is difficult for us to grasp. For so many of us, our greatest fear is of those who want to take away our human life. Human instinct takes over. We either fight or run from this danger. This is normal. And yet, like our saints we honor today, we can choose to overcome this fear and allow our lives to be at risk for the sake of the Gospel.

Jesus also goes on to say: “Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna, yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.” What does Jesus mean by that? I think he means that we may be willing to sell out our Gospel values for saving our human lives and our creature comforts. 

I think we all know what our Gospel values are.

The first letter of St. John says it well: Perfect love drives out fear!” (I John 4:18) May Love help us overcome every fear we have!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

“Jesus cannot be just liked. His claims make us either kill him or crown him.”

There is an urgent need for the emergence of a new generation of apostles anchored firmly in the word of Christ, capable of responding to the challenges of our times and prepared to spread the Gospel far and wide. - Pope Benedict XVI: (served as Pope and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 2005 until his resignation in 2013.

Gospel Text: (LK 10:1-9)
The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter,
first say, 'Peace to this household.'
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
'The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.'"

Today’s Gospel passage, however, is not about the sending of the Twelve, but about the sending of the 72 whom Jesus sent ahead of Him as “advance men”. The 72 are to prepare people to receive Jesus. This is how we can relate this Gospel passage to our own lives as disciples. Very few members of the Church serve as successors of the apostles in the role of bishop, but every Christian is sent by Jesus to prepare others to receive Him. This fact is often overlooked today. There is a confusion still, so many years after the Second Vatican Council, between the roles of the clergy and laity.

The role of the laity in the Church is largely “outside” the Church, in that the laity carry the fruits of the Church into the wider, secular world. The word “apostolate” is all but obsolete today in referring to the work of the laity, but it needs to be reclaimed to describe the right and responsibility of the laity to engage the “world” with the Good News of Christ.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

“Go to your checkbook and see what you spend money on. In an instant, you will know what is important to you because your money goes toward it.”

“Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life...If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.” - Saint Teresa of Ávila: (1515 –1582), was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, & Carmelite nun)

Gospel Text: (LK 11:42-46)
The Lord said:
"Woe to you Pharisees!
You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb,
but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God.
These you should have done, without overlooking the others.
Woe to you Pharisees!
You love the seat of honor in synagogues
and greetings in marketplaces.
Woe to you!
You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk."

Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply,
"Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too."
And he said, "Woe also to you scholars of the law!
You impose on people burdens hard to carry,
but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them."

Haven’t all of us, like these Pharisees sometimes lived by the wrong priorities? Haven’t we too occasionally given lesser things far more attention than they deserve and more important things not nearly enough? If so, Jesus’ promises of woe are meant for us as well. And yet, there is hope. We can move from woe to well being, from death-in-life to real life, if we replace all that might be misguided about our lives with the fruits of the Spirit that St. Paul delineates in the reading from Galatians (Galatians 5:18-25).

As he assures us, we make our way into the Kingdom of God when our lives are characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we embody those virtues, all our woes will soon be left behind.