Laborers

December 4, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.” (Matthew 9:35-10:1)

LABORERS: We have all been in situations when we were faced what seemed like an impossible task. It was too big and required more time and energy than we had. Certainly the case if we tried to do it alone, but with help the task suddenly became manageable.

That reality plays out in today’s Gospel. Getting all of us to help do God’s work is a daunting task. I wonder sometimes why God didn’t just “program” all of us to do His will. Why did He add free will to the mix and make things more difficult? My guess is that He wanted us to commit on our own and take ownership of the work that needed to be done. No worker works harder than one who has buy-in.

Jesus was sending out his twelve disciples, giving them “authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.” These were twelve men who had bought in and could now do the work of Jesus – bringing the Good News to those who had not yet been exposed, healing the sick, and caring for the poor.

This type of work is never done. Jesus sends us out as well. We’ve had the benefit of hearing His message and know what needs to be done. Our creed states: “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church…” If we truly believe these words we pray at Mass each Sunday, we accept the responsibility of going out to do God’s work.

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.”

If not us, then who?

According to Your Faith

December 3, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

When he entered the house, the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them,
“Do you believe that I can do this?” 
“Yes, Lord,” they said to him. 
Then he touched their eyes and said,
“Let it be done for you according to your faith.” 
 (Matthew 9:27-31)

ACCORDING TO YOUR FAITH: Did you notice the words Jesus chose? “Let it be done for you according to your faith.”

He didn’t say any magic words, or proclaim, “I now give you sight.” He chose His words carefully.

There are times we need to ask something of Jesus. These prayers tend to fall into one of two categories:

We have our mechanical prayers – we fold our hands and the words come from our mouths automatically. No thought, no reflection, just repeating the words we learned as children.

Then we have prayers of desperation. They come pouring out of our mouths when times are tough. They are reactionary.

When we are in need, it might be helpful to pause a moment before speaking with Jesus. Picture Him standing in front of you asking, “Do you believe I can do this?”

Look Him in the eye and allow your faith to touch His heart.

Jesus started the miracle when he touched their eyes and acknowledged that sight was possible. The blind men finished the miracle by believing.

Firm Purpose

December 2, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:1-6)

FIRM PURPOSE: Today’s scripture passage from the prophet Isaiah answers the question, “From where does inner peace come?” The answer: It comes from maintaining a firm purpose. That firm purpose is trust in God.

When I think of people that appear to be most ‘at peace’, they tend to be people of strong faith. They are the people I see at Mass; the people with active prayer lives; the people who wear their faith on their sleeves. They are also people with servant’s hearts – those that put the needs of others before their own. In other words, they not only practice their faith, they live their faith.

What enables the people I have just described to live such a faith-filled life, a life of firm purpose? It comes from trusting God. When we trust completely in God, we keep our focus on what’s most important. Doing so, we can be confident the daily challenges we face will be manageable.

If we were to live a faith-filled life – not worrying about what the day might bring – how could we NOT be at peace?

Hungry

December 1, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.”  (Matthew 15:29-37)

HUNGRY: Today we hear the familiar story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. Here is some “food” for thought:

Maybe we are the loaves of bread in the story.The bread that is being broken and passed among those who are hungry. The bread that provides nourishment to so many.

In the liturgical song Christ, Be Our Light, verse three reads: “Longing for food, many are hungry. Longing for water, many still thirst. Make us your bread, broken for others, shared until all are fed.”

Could it be that today’s Gospel is not a miracle story at all, but rather a job description for being a member of the Body of Christ?

We must feed others. In so doing, we serve as both Eucharist and Church.

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

November 30, 2021 – Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

Andrew was Saint Peter’s brother, and was called with him. “As [Jesus] was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is now called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him” (Matthew 4:18-20).

John the Evangelist presents Andrew as a disciple of John the Baptist. When Jesus walked by one day, John said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Andrew and another disciple followed Jesus. “Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come, and you will see.’ So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day” (John 1:38-39a).

Little else is said about Andrew in the Gospels. Before the multiplication of the loaves, it was Andrew who spoke up about the boy who had the barley loaves and fishes. When the Gentiles went to see Jesus, they came to Philip, but Philip then had recourse to Andrew.

Legend has it that Andrew preached the Good News in what is now modern Greece and Turkey and was crucified at Patras on an X-shaped cross.


Reflection

As in the case of all the apostles except Peter and John, the Gospels give us little about the holiness of Andrew. He was an apostle. That is enough. He was called personally by Jesus to proclaim the Good News, to heal with Jesus’ power and to share his life and death. Holiness today is no different. It is a gift that includes a call to be concerned about the Kingdom, an outgoing attitude that wants nothing more than to share the riches of Christ with all people.

Source: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-andrew/

Worthiness

November 29, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. (Matthew 8:5-11)

WORTHINESS: Spoiler alert — None of us are worthy.

God’s gift is that He comes “under our roof” anyway.

Homily: Giving Your Heart a Workout

November 28, 2021 – First Sunday of Advent

Readings: Jeremiah 33:14-16 / 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2 / Luke 21:34-36

For years, the following story about Saint Oscar Romero circulated among the Jesuits.

Romero, the newly appointed archbishop of San Salvador, was visiting a desolate rural village in the poorest region of El Salvador. After celebrating Mass, he was presented with a half-eaten tomato by a farm worker. Romero had little interaction with the poor in the past and the story says he was repulsed at the sight of the tomato.

He turned to the priest who accompanied him and whispered, “Why would anyone offer me a half-eaten tomato?”

“It was all he had to offer,” the priest replied. “It was his last possession, half of everything he had to eat for today. It was his gift to you, a sign of love.”

Romero was brought to tears and was transformed that day. It was a conversion experience, leading Archbishop Romero to become a strong advocate for the poor, a voice for the voiceless – a position that ultimately cost him his life.

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Homily: Drowsy Heart

November 27, 2021

Tomorrow is the First Sunday of Advent. The following is a homily I delivered back in 2018 on the gospel reading we have today AND will have again tomorrow (Luke 21:34-36):

I would like to begin by offering two analogies regarding today’s gospel reading.

Analogy #1: I bought a new pair of dress shoes recently. Many adults wear dress shoes every day for work. Most of us don’t have the luxury of rolling out of bed each day, putting on colorful socks, and slipping into a pair of sandals – like a certain priest I know. (Note for readers: Our former pastor, Fr. Jim Farrell, is famous for wearing sandals along with the liturgically correct color of socks)

I own a total of one pair of dress shoes at a time. I will wear that pair as long as I can, squeezing every bit of life out of them. Once I wear a hole in the soles of the shoes, I will continue to wear them for another six months. Then I buy a pair of cushioned inserts to put in the shoes and wear them for another six months. I am not a penny-pincher. There are just some things I hate to change. My former shoes were comfortable, and it took time and effort to get them to that point.

I dread buying new shoes. I know that no pair will feel as good or as comfortable as my former pair. I’ll walk funny for two weeks as I adjust to the new shoes. I’ll get blisters. Why must I be uncomfortable?

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My Words Will Not Pass Away

November 26, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Luke 21:29-33)

MY WORDS WILL NOT PASS AWAY: Jesus reminds us today that our lives, and everything that is a part of our lives, are fleeting and limited. Only He and the message He shares are permanent and life-giving.

Interesting that this reading comes to us on Black Friday, as we enter the Christmas shopping season. We will load up on gifts and “stuff” again this year. We’ll wrap presents and pass them out. Those receiving the gifts will be excited and grateful.

Two months from now the memory of opening that gift will have faded, and the gift itself may very well be tucked away in a drawer, in the back of a closet, or sitting unused on a shelf.

I am certainly not trying to be bah-humbug when it comes to the fun of Christmas shopping. I don’t think Jesus is either.

The Gospel reminds us to acknowledge that the things of this earth and the joy they might bring are temporal. We should keep them in proper perspective, and not place undue significance on them.

If you want the presents you give this year to have real value, offer God’s presence as well. Give the joy that comes from offering your gift with genuine love.

If you care enough to give someone a gift, offer up a prayer for them as well. That gift will stay with them long after the gift you’ve purchased and wrapped for them has been used up or forgotten.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On Thanksgiving Day, I reflect on all the prayers of gratitude I have shared with God over the past year. While I occasionally thank God for small victories – we paid our bills this month, a conflict was resolved, etc. – more often than not I find myself thanking God for the people He has put in my life.

When I count my blessings, I count people. I am blessed to have Carol, my best friend who said “I do” at the altar over 38 years ago. I am blessed to have the four best kids in the world as my children. (You may think your own children are the best in the world, but please note they could not possibly rank any higher than 5th)

I am blessed to have had parents that taught me right from wrong, brought me up in the faith, and taught me what it means to serve others.

I am blessed to belong to some wonderful faith communities. These communities are gifts not because of the buildings or the “stuff,” but because of the people that fill those pews, hallways, classrooms and offices.

Good and Gracious God,

Thank you for the gift of family. Thank you for the people, both those living and those with You, who have impacted my life. Thank you for the opportunity to worship and work in places where there are people who make me better by simply being around them. Thank you for putting people in my life who challenge me.

I know that I am blessed and pray to stay mindful of paying it forward.

In gratitude, I pray. Amen.

May you and your family enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and take time to reflect on the blessings – the people – God has put in your lives.

Happy Thanksgiving!