Alter your course

A Message of Hope 
As Christians we are to be the beacon of hope to the world.

That is the gift that we as Christians give during this season of Advent and Christmas

In order to be the beacon of hope we need to fill in the low places of our lives - to receive the Love of God and then to radiate it into the world.

Lighthouse / Battleship joke

The Christian is the lighthouse
The world is the Battleship
Realize the truth of who we witness to the world.

US Ship: Please divert your course 5 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
CND reply: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.
US Ship: This is the Captain of a US Navy Ship. I say again, divert your course.
CND reply: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course!
CND reply: This is a lighthouse. Your call.

This is a time of darkness.
God is calling us to reform / repent
To fill in the valleys, to remove the hills, to straighten the roads between our hearts and God's heart.

God is calling us to change our lives because the mystery of Christ is becoming present to us.

This is a time of Darkness.  In the past week there have been multiple mass-shootings.  This is a time of desperation.  The world is lost - it has no hope, no vision, no idea of what God is calling us to.  We have no context in which to make sense.

How is the world in Darkness?

  • We don't understand that we are loved
  • We don't understand that God has a purpose for each and every one of us.
  • We don't know that God desires to have relationship with us throughout the course of our life - to prepare us for life with one another.

Are we as Christian's in Darkness?
Often times we as Christians act like the Battleship.  We are set in our ways, on our course, and we don't really understand what we are approaching.  It is Sin that blinds us, fills us with a false sense of confidence (pride) that causes us to charge on ahead

The Church is the lighthouse - we are the ones who are called to show the way to the world.  We are the ones to shine the hope of God's love into the world.

What is your gift to the world this Christmas?

  • To be a man or a woman of hope? 
  • To be a witness of God's love
  • To know that God has created us to be loved.
  • To know that God is calling us to relationship.

Once this becomes the lens through which we look at our lives, then we are open to receiving the love of God

Three items about this joke that relate to the readings today:

The world is in darkness - 

  • We have experienced a tremendous amount of violence, death, and despair in our life.
  • People in the world don't know where we are going.

People often behave like the Battleship.  
We think we know where we are going and what is what.  This is where the message of John the Baptist comes in.

The message of John the Baptist is the Lighthouse.
John's message - his mission is to prepare us for a deep, intimate, caring relationship with Christ.  In order to do this we need to become aware of the obstacles that we have placed between God and ourselves.

Our vocation is to be a lighthouse of faith for the world.  The Churches vocation is to share light to the world.  This is the gift that the Church - that you and I are giving to the world this Christmas.



What does a Mom, a Business and the End of the World have in common? – They form an image for the Journey of Christian Life!

They form the common theme of the readings today – that we learn virtue from our families, and that we carry out the practice of that virtue throughout our life – if we have practiced virtue well – that is according to the gifts that God has given us then we need not be worried about what will happen when the end of our life comes.

The start of Christian Life
Family – the cradle of Formation
God created each and every one of us to be born into a family where we can learn the unconditional love of God.  The first reading is a beautiful scripture from proverbs that extols the virtues of a good woman.

The worthy wife from proverbs is the model of Christian Charity for all of us today.  The worthy wife is also the image of the Church – and in that sense she applies to all of us gathered here today.

She teaches us three important aspects to living out our virtues

  1. She is more valuable than pearls – she has captured the heart of God by her actions.
  2. She works to provide for her family – and she shares her riches with those in need.
  3. Her praises will be sung at the city gates!

The first thing that we learn from the worthy wife is that she has captured the heart of her husband – he trusts her with his most precious possession – his heart.

We start knowing that we are loved by God
If we as Christians are going to listen to the readings today then this is the starting point – the knowledge that we have captured God’s heart by our very being – that God created us out of Love – what a gift.  How will we respond to that great love?

Be Industrious so that you can share God’s love
The second thing to learn is that the good disciple is industrious.  She works to find the things that her children need and then turns them into gifts for the poor and those in need.  Her heart is open to transmit the love that God is giving her to those who are in need of God’s love.

Her praises will be sung at the city gates
This is the end to which our lives are directed – eternity.  When we die we will be at the pearly gates, where we will be judged for how we used the gifts that we were given throughout the course of our lives.  In that sense God wants to praise us for the good that we do with our lives.

The Corporal Works of Mercy
The Church has often given us the Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy and encourages us to practice these as a way of growing in our love for God.  The family is the place where we learn to live out these works.  Let’s review them briefly together

The Corporal Works of Mercy

  • Feed the hungry / Give drink to the Thirsty
  • Clothe the naked
  • Shelter the homeless
  • Visit the sick / imprisoned
  • Bury the dead?

The Spiritual Works of Mercy

  • Admonish the sinner
  • Instruct the ignorant / Counsel the doubtful
  • Comfort the sorrowful
  • Bear wrongs patiently / Forgive all injuries
  • Pray for the living and the dead

Moving out into the world
When we grow up we take this lesson of love that we have learned in our childhood and go and apply it in the world.  That takes us to the Gospel today where a Business Man is going away on a trip and needs to entrust his business to his employees, so he calls them together and entrusts his work to them

When we grow up and move out into the world we carry with us the responsibility of using the talents that we learned in our youth to build up the world.

5/2/1 Talents – The Business
The owner took his talents and split them up three ways – to one he gave 5, another 2, and the last 1 talent.  He gave them a mission, and he sent them out to do his work.

The industrious servants traded their talents, and earned more – they took the spiritual and corporal works of Mercy that they learned in their child hood and traded them – and came away enriched.

The problem with the servant who received one talent is not that he only received one talent but that his response to God was one of fear and despair.  He could not see that God loved him and had given him a precious talent that he could trade and share, and so he buried his gift, and was afraid of God – He rejected the gift of love that God had given him.

At the end of the Journey (The end of the World) the Master Returns and wants to see how His servants did with the talents that he gave them – when he sees the good work that they have done – he rejoices with them and celebrates with them.

When will the master return?  When will our journey end?  No one knows the time or the hour, we only know that it will be sudden and unexpected.  That is the point of the second reading – you know it will happen so live your life accordingly.

The Talent Challenge!

Let’s not get stuck in his trap – rather it is time to put the talents that Christ gave us to work.

There is reward in virtue – do we see it?  Are we putting the gifts that God has given us to work?  What about this week.

Exercise – Pick your 5/2/1 Talents to employ this week.
Review the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy and select one, two or five to practice this week.  Think now about who needs to experience this talent that God has given you.  Make it a point to share your talent with them this week.

Review the works of Mercy again – from the perspective of living out these works in the world.

The Corporal Works of Mercy

  • Feed the hungry / Give drink to the Thirsty
  • Clothe the naked
  • Shelter the homeless
  • Visit the sick / imprisoned
  • Bury the dead?

The Spiritual Works of Mercy

  • Admonish the sinner
  • Instruct the ignorant / Counsel the doubtful
  • Comfort the sorrowful
  • Bear wrongs patiently / Forgive all injuries
  • Pray for the living and the dead

The reward is coming soon – if you can accept the challenge.
When you have selected your talents – live them out this week and in that way you will come prepared to celebrate God’s gifts with us next Sunday when you return from your work.  I guarantee that the readings will have a greater impact on you if you do.


Head Banger

27th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B

GN 2:18-24, PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6, 2 HEB 2:9-11, Gospel:  MK 10:2-16

I want to warn everyone about the door that leads outside by the bath-rooms.  It has a head-banger on it.  There is one of those automatic door closers on the door and it hangs down about 6 inches - the perfect height to be just really smack your head against hard!

And when you do you double over in pain on the floor and sit there for a while, until the stars stop shining and a big knot forms on your forehead.

For me - this is a regular problem, and there are times when we think about what we can do to prevent ourselves from whacking our head any more.

Divorce is a similar type of experience.  Six years ago I learned that I was getting a divorce - there was no option and no discussion.  Not only a divorce, but an ugly divorce that divides my family to this day.

This means that the readings today are head-banger readings - they hit home in a particularly hard way - making this a difficult topic to preach on.

Please let us take a moment and pray - pray that God will give me the grace to respond to His Spirit and to proclaim his word.


It takes Courage...
It is a painful topic - many of us still have wounds from divorce

  • our own divorces
  • The divorces of our parents
  • The divorces of our friends.

I Can't hear you because... 
This causes us to be deaf to the readings today because

  • They open old wounds
  • They challenge our experience, they challenge the decisions that we have made.
  • It is painful for us to discuss, for us to hear.
  • Yet, we know that this is Christ who is speaking to us - we need to hear Him fully!

The readings today are Head-Banger readings.

Marriage in the World
When we look at the state of the world today there is a lot of confusion around the topic of marriage.  For the world, the state Marriage is;

Why Bother
First of all, many people say "Why Bother" - We can just live together and avoid the commitment.  This is disingenuous because we are living "as if" we were married without acknowledging the truth of our situation.

Secular Marriage
For those that do Bother, they might define marriage this way:  Marriage is a Public Commitment of two people in a loving relationship.

Colorado Rules around Marriage
- You can't marry if you are already married
- You can't marry your children or parents.
- You can't marry your nephews, nieces, uncles or aunts.

What does it cost?  $30.00
What is it worth?  It is worthless.

Why is it worthless?
Look at the foundation

In order to understand why this relationship has lost its value we need to look at the philosophy of marriage that the world has.

Marriage is selfish - it is about my happiness.  
To the extent that my spouse makes me happy, I will remain married.  If you are not happy, then get out - you will be free, liberated and in control.

Marriage is lifeless - I want to be free of burdens
Children are a burden, they are expensive, and they are at most a badge of office showing that you are mature.

Marriage is Temporary - I can leave when I want
Under Colorado law anyone can choose to divorce at any time for any reason.  I will be here as long as you make me happy, you stop doing that and I am leaving.  

At its heart secular marriage is selfish, focuses on my own happiness, life-less (hence the view that children are a burden instead of a gift) and temporary.

Serial Monogamy leads us deeper into woundedness.
This attitude of heart leads to the practice of serial monogamy.  We go from one failed relationship to another - becoming more isolated and crippled along the way.

Why is this practice painful?
In the first reading today God notes that "the two shall become one flesh" - if that is true then with each divorce we become more and more wounded because we are hurting ourselves by not living out our lives in the way that God intended.

These wounds rarely heal between the first and second and third relationship - instead of growing closer in love we become more and more broken and isolated.

Our Wounds Bind and Blind Us
It is hard to see our wounds - because then we have a lot of pain to face and loss to grieve.  For that reason the habit of divorce becomes more and more difficult for us to face and deal with honestly, and we become trapped in attitudes and decisions which are not aligned with God.

The Original Plan - Christian Marriage
But what did God intend from the beginning?

Created for Complementarity
The first thing that jumps out to me is that God did not intend for us to be alone - we are created for communion.  So, God created Eve from Adam, so that they might complement one another.  There is a reason why Women complete Men and Men complete Women - it was Gods intention that we complete one another physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.  Modern thinking rejects this reality.

God created us for one another because he created us for selfless love.  True love is witnessed to by our ability to sacrifice ourselves for the good of the other.  In this way we imitate the love of Christ.

Love is fruitful!
God created our love relationships to be open to be fertile - open to life.  The psalm today speaks of children as a blessing - not a burden.  That God would honor our love for one another with new life - that can share in our relationship of love - that will exist for all of time - what an honor and a gift.

Fidelity is the gateway to freedom
Fidelity is the prerequisite to love because it gives the other the gift to be themselves freely.  When you are secure in the knowledge and experience of my love then you are free to become who God created you to be - because you know that no matter what, I will still love you and forgive you and give myself for you.  This is why fidelity is at the heart of Christian Marriage.

How is Christian Marriage Good?
In Christian marriage selfless love is the motivator.
The primary principal for Christian marriage is that my love for you gives me the strength to change me.

Selfless love is self-reflective.
Selfless love leads me to examine my own actions.  The goal of this examination is to learn where my selfish actions have hurt my marriage, or injured our friendship.  If we can see that then we can have the power to change our behaviors.

Seeing faults leads to forgiveness
When we see how we have hurt one another we should ask for forgiveness in humility. And when another asks for forgiveness we should pray for the grace to forgive and then rely on the grace that we receive.

Hard Hearts - the obstacle to God's vision for Marriage
The most startling words of the Gospel today are the reason why Moses permitted divorce - it was because of the hardness of your hearts!

When we have a hard heart it is because we are wounded, proud and unable to see our own faults.  It is because we are selfish rather than self-less.  This is the wake-up call from the readings today.

  • Where am I unforgiving of my spouse?
  • Where am I stubborn in my behavior?
  • Where have I hurt my spouse?
  • Where do I need to apologize?

Examine your marriage
I want to challenge all of the couples here today at this mass to examine our hearts this week, and then to go on a date.  Take the time to sit across the table from your spouse and apologize for your selfish behavior.

This is the way that we soften our hearts to Christ - so that he can enter and heal our wounds.



Have you ever smacked your head into something real hard - so hard that it almost knocks you out, and you double over in pain and clutch your forehead in pain for a while until the stars stop shining in your brain?

Well, I have - think of it as an occupational hazard. It is the kind of experience that stops you in your tracks and makes you reconsider everything - like raising the doorway another 8 inches.

Divorce was that way for me, because six years ago I learned that I was getting a divorce - there was no option and no discussion.  Not only a divorce, but an ugly divorce that has divides my family to this day.

This means that the readings today hit home in a particularly hard way - and it is difficult for me to preach about such a sensitive topic.

Please let us take a moment and pray - pray that God will give me the grace to respond to His Spirit and to proclaim his word.


I know that I am not alone in this experience of Divorce.  I know that many people who gather here to worship God have also experienced divorce.  Probably half of us did not choose divorce, while others did. I can't speak of your situation, but I can speak from my experience.

The readings today smack us over the head like a solid brick door-jam because they run squarely against our current understanding of marriage and divorce in our society.

We live in a world that is confused about marriage.  And because of this confusion we have a hard time with these readings.  Let me explain.

Today we recognize marriage as "a public recognition of a couple who are in a relationship of committed love.

In ten years, our understanding will have changed to "A public recognition of a set of relationships between people who share a relationship of committed love" -  

But what is committed love?  What is the public recognition of that love?

For our society the recognition of the committed love is a marriage license from the state.  It costs you $30 and you can get married.

What is it's value?

Another way of asking this question - what is committed love?  What is love?  These two questions are where we struggle as society to answer.  Love is the desire / capacity to seek the good for another.  The degree to which we love is reflected by the degree to which we are willing to sacrifice and suffer for the other.

Commitment means

  • An obligation that restricts freedom of action.
  • A Quality of being dedicated to a cause.
  • A Promise to do something

But is this true?

Not really - the state, while recognizing our marriages at the same time undermines that commitment.  There is nothing in state law, or in the bulk of our society to help a couple to persevere in their commitment.  The reality of our divorce law is that at any time either person can divorce the other - they can break the commitment and stop being married.

So what is the value of the marriage license?

How does this stack up against God's image for marriage?

Are we even close?

The first reading today is from the Book of Genesis.  God created man and realized - "It is not good for man to be alone!"  

In this God is recognizing that we are created for community.  That we are created for a relationship of love with the other.  This is why in the Church that the two sacraments of service - Marriage and Holy Orders are both oriented towards the other.  I live out my vocation for Marriage when I serve my spouse.  I live out my vocation for Holy Orders when I serve the Body of Christ.

So God, places Adam into a deep sleep, and takes from his essence and creates Eve.  God created Adam and Eve to be complementary to one another - to complete one another.  Adam is missing something that he finds in Eve and vice-versa.

God's vision for marriage is that we complete one another, that we seek to show one another true love - love that is willing to sacrifice for the other, to bring the other to a greater good.

This is the first place where the world is confused about marriage. For the world, marriage can be between any two persons - regardless of sex. Yet that is not God's plan.  For God marriage is meant to be between man and wife - because there is a unique way that they complete one another that works for their mutual benefit.

Science backs up this perspective.  Scientists have studied why humans have a unique pair-bonding pattern across the vast majorities of societies, cultures and times.  When we compare ourselves to the apes, this is not their pattern.  Apes do not pair bond, yet humans do.  Not only that but when a Man and a Woman are married their bodies begin to interact with one another at a neuro-chemical level.  Men and Women emit hormones which form the foundation upon which our emotional, physical and intellectual relationship is built.  Scientists have noticed that when a couple become intimate, and enter into this committed relationship their bodies adapt to one another.  In this way a husband is aware of his wife's fertility, and he develops a primal instinct to protect his family and children.

Build atop this neuro-chemical layer is a set of psychological behaviors that form the attachment system - a system that we all have that helps us to form long-lasting relationships with one another.

These systems in our bio-chemistry, psychology and culture serve to help us to enter into a lifelong and faithful relationship with one another.  This is what Christ is referring to when he says that the two become one flesh.

When you have become one flesh what happens when this relationship is severed?  What happens when your arm is severed, or your leg?  It is painful, destructive and life-altering.  You become crippled, maimed and incomplete.  The result is worse than where you started from - because each person in a divorce has lost something precious, something beautiful.

Fidelity - Trust - Faithfulness 
Because our bodies are communicating on a neuro-chemical level, hormonally, we can become aware of changes in the other.  The commitment side of marriage (from the worlds understanding) says that we have become a society of serial monogamists.  First Marriages end in divorce 50% of the time.  The statistics are worse for those couples who live together prior to marriage.  Second Marriages divorce 63% of the time and Third marriages end in divorce over 70% of the time.  This means that your best shot is your first shot, after that the odds are really stacked against us.

Fidelity - means that I will be faithful to my vows - I will continue to live out the promises that I made to God and to my spouse.  It means that our marriage is exclusive to us and no one else may interfere - not another man or woman, or in-law.  It means that in our lives the spouse comes first - before even ourselves.  It means that even when it gets difficult, my commitment to God, and to my Spouse is to see reconciliation, to forgive, to strive to love them as Christ loves me.

God's vision for marriage is that marriage is faithful. In this way we imitate the love of God when we choose to be exclusively in relationship with our spouse.

Commitment implies that we are no-longer open to certain kinds of relationships and interactions.  It means that we no longer dating others, that we have settled down and have chosen to give ourselves exclusively to our spouse.  This also means that we have chosen to give our spouse permission to be totally and completely themselves, so that they can work through their sin in their relationship to ourselves.

In marriage, it is my love for you that allows me to forgive you.  It is my love for you that causes me to endure your sinfulness, your selfishness, your wastefulness.  It is my love for you that leads me to examine my own behaviors, habits and actions and to change them so that your life can be better, and that you can grow holier.  This is what fidelity means.

The confusion of the secular world is that marriage is not a commitment - it is not exclusive, it is not complementary and other-focused.  It is self-focused.  I am here as long as I am happy, and as soon as you no longer make me happy, I will leave and find another.

Secular marriage is selfish, focuses on my own happiness, life-less (hence the view that children are a burden instead of a gift) and temporary.

Christian marriage is self-less, other-centered, open to life and permanent.

What is the greatest stumbling block to marriage?  What is the greatest cause of divorce?

The hardness of our hearts.

In the Gospel today the Pharisees put Christ to the test - they challenge him on a point of law - is divorce legal?  Moses said it was.  Christ's response is like hitting another brick wall - "That was because you are so thick-headed!"

Where in my relationship is my heart hardened?  

Perhaps there was a relationship where we did not reconcile and we have agreed to disagree - but we are both hurt by our actions.

This is where we fall back to the Christian foundations of marriage.

  • Is my love for you changing me?  How I act, how I show you my love?
  • Is my love for you leading me to recognize the ways that I have hurt you?  Is it leading me to ask for your forgiveness?
  • Is my love for you allowing my ears to be open, to forgive when forgiveness is asked for?
  • Is our relationship open to life?  Do we see children as a blessing from God and an invitation to share the intimacy of our love for one another with our family?

Is our relationship exclusive, and long lasting?  If I am here to stay, then why am I continuing to remain in a relationship without Christ at it's center?


Hear no evil, See no evil, speak no evil?

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B

Wis 1:13-15, 2:23-24, PS 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13, 2 COR 8:7, 9, 13-15, Gospel:  MK 5:21-43

In American culture there is the idea of the 3 Monkeys who try to close themselves off from the evil of the world.  In essence they reflect the state of the man in the Gospel today.  These three Monkeys reflect our attitude about sin in our life - Let me pretend not to hear about the evil that someone does, let me pretend not to see evil in my presence, and let me not say anything about the evil that is going on around me.

I mention this cultural idea because I think that at some level it captures how we as Christians are infected by the ideas of the world, and take these ideas into our own life and relationship with Christ.  We like to pretend that if we don't hear, don't see, and don't speak about sin then it won't exist.

This is not true.

I want to re-write this common idea - and change it to

  • See the Truth
  • Speak Hope
  • Listen with ears of Faith.

Word of Truth
Jesus is in the region of the Decaopolis - which is pagan territory.  He has gone to those who are the farthest from him, so seek out those who are trapped, and in need of healing.

The first message that Christ brings to us is the Truth - the Truth about the state of our life.

First of all, where are we at.

Are we deaf to the voice of God in our lives?  
Think about that.

What is the one thing that is between you and God?
Another way to ask this is to say - What in my life is more important than my relationship with God?

  • Your job?
  • Your prestige?
  • My Marriage?
  • My Children?
  • My hobbies / past-times?
  • My Sin - that which cripples me and destroys me.

God is calling us to a deeper relationship with Himself.  
Do we hear His voice and ignore him?
Do we drown out His voice with useless pursuits?
   Facebook / video games

Are we mute?  What stops us from imitating Christ and speaking God's truth to the world?

  • Fear of what others will say / think?
  • Fear of the cost / consequence?
  • Fear that someone else might call us to task on our weakness?  On our sinfulness?

There have been plenty of problems that have come to light over the past year.

  • Selling the parts of aborted babies
  • Demonizing imigrants for political gain
  • Denouncing people of faith for living their faith?

What problem in my life am I blind to?
In what areas of my life do I look at life with the world's perspective rather than with Christ's perspective?

  • What excuses do I use to justify my sin?
    • This does not hurt anyone else?
    • This is how God created me?
    • It's not really that wrong?
  • Contraception / Children / Marriage / Work / Neighbor
  • Sin
  • Injustice
  • Hardness of heart?  
  • Lack of Charity?

Where am I lame?  Where do I refuse to act, or am unable to act?

  • Do I feel helpless in a situation (against sin)
  • Do I feel helpless to act (have I lost hope?) - There is no way that I can fix this!
  • What is crippling me?  
  • What is holding me back?

Word of Hope
It is into this world - broken by sin, paralyzed by fear, blinded by selfishness, and silenced by oppression that Christ comes.  He enters into this world in the flesh, and reaches out to us in our flesh, to our place of weakness, to the exact area of our life that is crippling our spiritual relationship with God, and he touches us this weekend.  He touches us physically, body and blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist.

When Jesus encounters the mute and dumb man, he takes him away from the crowd to work with him.  He touches the areas of this man's life that are crippled and says to him "Ephphatha - Be Open"

This is a word of hope to us today - Christ calls us to be open to His Grace in our life - and specifically in our sin.

In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah the Lord promises:

  • To the frightened: Be strong, fear not!  
  • To the blind - your eyes will be opened
  • To the deaf - - your ears will be cleared
  • To the lame - you will leap like a stag
  • To the Mute - you will sing!
  • To the desert - the wasteland - streams will burst forth.

One of the reasons why sin is so ugly is because it cripples us, it disfigures us and makes us ugly.  Then is saps our will, so that we lay on the ground and are helpess, useless, unable to get up and to walk by faith.

To those who are trapped in this way - Christ says - Have Hope!  I am here to heal you!  I want to enter into your broken-ness and touch where you are wounded so that you can be healed!

Go back to the area's of your life where you are crippled.  What word of Hope does God have for you today in this Mass?

  • For the blind - What do you see now
  • For the deaf - What do you hear now?
  • For the mute - What must you say now?
  • For the lame - What must you do now?

Word of Faith
In the second reading today St. James is teaching his congregation to act not according to the world's ways, but according to God's ways.

He invites us to respond to the healing that we have received by beginning to imitate Christ in our own actions.

In stead of responding to people as the world does - honoring the rich and despising the poor, James invites us to respond to people as Christ would

To honor both rich and poor alike with the gift of love. 

This means that we don't pay attention to the external nature of the person , but rather to be authentically Christian both inside and out.  To meet them where they are at, and in a special way to recognize that in weakness we have a unique opportunity to encounter the presence of Christ.  In our own lives, in those of others.  That we don't judge the others as the world does, but that we look upon others as Christ does.

To live a life of Love
The reason why Christ does all of this for us is to bring us into a deeper relationship with the Father.  God is love and love constantly seeks to find the good for the other.  This means that love is rooted in the truth - it is willing to endure suffering and difficult situations in order to get to the root of our wounded-ness.

Love is filled with Hope - it shows us a path to a better life - a life filled with the light of Christ.  A life where we are healed and free to act fully as God created us.

Love is faithful - love is consistent.  Love treats each person individually.

Just as in the Gospel, we are invited in this Mass to encounter the one who loves us the greatest, the most intimately, and from that encounter it is Christ who sends us into the world so that the people of the world can encounter His Love!


Faith on Fire!

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B

Wis 1:13-15, 2:23-24, PS 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13, 2 COR 8:7, 9, 13-15, Gospel:  MK 5:21-43

Today's Gospel highlights four different actions of faith.

  • Intercession, 
  • Petition (Supplication)
  • Consolation and
  • Perseverance

It is faith that impels Jairus to leave home, to seek out Christ and to beg him to come and to try to save his daughter.

Petition / Supplication
It is Faith that leads the woman suffering from the hemorrhage to approach Christ and to touch the tassel of his robe.

Jesus affirms her faith and says - "Your faith has healed you - be at peace".

When Jesus and Jairus arrive at Jairus' house, they face the opposition of the world.  The people announce to Jairus that his daughter is dead, and implore him to stop bothering Jesus.  It is in this moment of crisis that Jesus strengthens Jairus' faith - he says " Do not be afraid; just have faith."

Jesus perseveres in Faith and is willing to be ridiculed for the truth, and he excludes those without faith from witnessing the miracle that he performs in calling the girl back.

Where is my Faith?  Where is your Faith?
The readings today lead us to think about our own faith, personally.  What is my faith like?  What do I truly believe?  Is that Faith in communion with Christ or in opposition to Christ?

Fire is an image of faith
To help us to think about our faith, I want to use the image of fire as a model of faith.  Fire is a good image because it is a symbol of God's love, it is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.  When we encounter someone who is passionate about God, we say that "they are on fire!".

Qualities of Fire
When we think of fire, we think of it as a living thing.  It breaths, it eats, it always moves and it transforms.

Fire breaths air to burn, it eats fuel to sustain itself and it transforms the elements that come into contact with Fire.  Metal is melted, Earth is sterilized, Rocks are scorched.

Fire is Alive
Fire is alive in the sense that it is always in motion, always at work, always transforming and always on "The Way".

Faith is Alive
Faith informs us, it allows us to experience our lives in communion with God.  A Living faith transforms the world supernaturally, with great intensity.  It is the difference between an old grainy black and white TV and HD TV (in 3 dimensions) - Faith makes life intense!

Fire is a tool
Fire is a powerful tool - it provides light, warmth, protection.  Fire can be used to clear land, it can be used to cut, to harden, and to create new, wonderful and beautiful things.  Faith is also a powerful help to us on our journey through this life - it strengthens us to endure the difficult.

Faith is a tool
Faith helps us to understand the Scriptures.  Faith gives us courage, certainty.  Faith gives us the strength to conqueror sin, and to allow us to be a light, a witness to others.  Faith helps us to see the world as God sees it.  When we look on the world from the light of Faith, we see it from God's perspective and not from Man's.  We have an idea of where we need to go, and what difficulties lie ahead.

Fire Triangle / Faith Triangle
In Wilderness survival they teach about the "Fire Triangle".  In order for fire to be sustained it requires three things - Heat, Fuel and Oxygen.  In the Christian Faith we have the "Faith Triangle" - In order for our faith to grow we need Love, Ourselves, and an encounter with Christ.

Fuel = Ourselves.
In order for a fire to exist there must be something to burn, something to be transformed.  That something is us.  If we are not putting ourselves into relationship with Christ (through the sacraments, through reading scripture, through prayer), then we are starving our faith of the fuel that it needs to live.

Oxygen = Encounter with Christ
Oxygen is essential for life for all living things.  It is also essential for the life for fire.  Oxygen in the Faith Triangle is an encounter with Christ - because Christ is the source and summit of our life.  It is Christ's love for us that sustains us, informs us and transforms us.  We encounter that love when we enter into the sacraments of Eucharist and Confession.  We encounter that love when we listen to sacred scripture with our whole heart.  We encounter that love when we choose to forgive those with whom we live so we can better imitate Christ.

Heat = Love of God, Love of Neighbor
Are we on Fire with love for our neighbor?  Do we strive to imitate the love that Christ has for us to others we live with or encounter?  Or is our love conditional, is our love selfish?  Is our love directed at serving others or ourselves?

How does the world respond to Faith?
We can see in the Gospel today that the world does not value faith.  The crowd (which represents the world) discourage the man from pursuing Jesus.  When Jesus arrives at Jairus' house the mourners ridicule him, and attempt to destroy his faith.  The same is true for us.

The world seeks to destroy the fire of our faith.  The world seeks
· to discourage us,
· to reject us,
· to distract us from what is truly good with distraction towards enticing but worthless pursuits.

The world seeks to seduce us into death
The world seeks to discourage us in growing in our faith in order to seduce us into death.  The first reading speaks to us about the ultimate discouragement of the world - that is death.  Wisdom says that

"God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living."

It also says

"For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.  But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world,"

Death is the lie that we are created to be finite - it is the counterfeit - it is how we have been cheated - we traded eternal life for a mortal life.  Death is what we get when we fall into sin and trade a life of grace - a life on fire for a life of selfishness.

How do we respond to death - An intentional Act of Love
The response that we are to have is to live our lives as an intentional act of love - not a random act of kindness but an intentional imitation of the love of Christ - This places fuel on the fire of our faith.

If your faith was a fire, what kind of fire would it be?

  • Embers - I used to have faith, but now it is dying?
  • A Match - I am trying to get started in my faith, and seeking to grow?
  • A Watch fire - Glowing nicely, warmly providing light and heat to those I live with?
  • Or A Bonfire? - Blazing brilliantly and leading others to Christ.

Jesus says " You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.  Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father."

Go and set the world on fire with God's Love!


Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!

Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord!

When we end Mass, it is the Deacon’s role to send the people of God forth with an instruction – “Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord!”  This instruction comes from the Holy Spirit, from Pentecost Sunday

But what do we need to know in order to announce the Gospel?  How often do we take time to consider how we should listen to this instruction, and Respond to it?

Today is the Feast of Pentecost, where we celebrate that Christ sent the Holy Spirit as He promised to the Church.  The same Spirit that filled the Church 2000 years ago fills you and I today Brothers and Sisters.  I fear that we are too distracted by our lives to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and so I want everyone today to be encouraged and to pay attention to the way that we can be attentive to the Holy Spirit and proclaim the “Good News” of Jesus Christ to the world.

Proclaim the Great works of God!
To start our reflection I want to begin with the Psalm today.  The Psalm begins with the proclamation about the great things that God has done for us.

Take time to Contemplate – Take time to consider God’s gifts!
When was the last time that you or I took time to consider the wonders of God’s Love?  Do we take stock of God’s blessings in our lives?  If not – let’s take a moment to figure out what we want to thank God for.

Why is God Great? - What is my experience of God’s Love?

  • In my life?  
  • Has he blessed me with a good life?
  • A good Spouse?
  • Children?
  • Work / Food / Security?
  • Health?
  • Shelter?
  • Ministry?

We see from the Psalm that God creates – and He creates abundantly.  Everything that we can see, touch, taste, feel, hear – it all is created by God each day.  This is why the psalmist proclaims that God is Great.

At their heart, praying the Psalms is about taking time each day in our lives to contemplate the goodness of God.  Contemplation is a style of prayer where we look to see where God is working in our lives.  It is a time of quiet where we try to unite our hearts with God’s.

Two ways of Contemplation – Adoration and Scripture
Our Faith has many ways to contemplate, but there are two that I would like to invite you to try out this next week.  The first is to spend time in Adoration.  I had the opportunity to do this just last week, and it was incredibly refreshing and beautiful.  It was a time for me to simply wait in God’s presence and to wonder about the ways that He is working in my life.  It is a quiet refuge from the busyness and hectic ness of the world.

Scriptures – Where has God shown me his Goodness today
The second way to contemplate God is with the Scriptures.  This works well for married couples.  If you are looking for a gift to take with you from this season of Easter, then take the gift of contemplating God with the Scriptures.  Disrupt your nightly routine and make space and time for you and your spouse to sit quietly together, and listen to the scriptures, and reflect – where has God shown me his goodness today?

After we spend time resting in the Lord’s presence, or being touched by His word, take a couple of minutes to consider –

  • What do you want me to learn from you today Lord?
  • Where did I see you in my life today?
  • Who are you sending me to?

Pentecost – The Church in Contemplation – The Symbolism
The first reading today is a good witness to us of this kind of contemplation.  When we stared the reading we see that in the Acts of the Apostles that the disciples are gathered with Mary and are contemplating God in their lives.  While they are immersed in prayer the Holy Spirit comes to them – and I want you to pay attention to the symbols in the Gospel today.

  • -A Strong Driving Wind fills the Whole House!

Strong Wind – How God Directs our Souls
The String Driving wind is that experience of the Love of God.  When we take time in contemplation we become aware of God’s presence in our life, he fills us with His Holy Spirit – His Spirit – A Spirit of mission and purpose.

The Whole House – Us and the Church (Us)
The whole house – This is symbolic in two ways – You and I are the whole House that God wishes to fill with His Spirit.  Consider the prayer that we pray before receiving the Eucharist – “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter UNDER MY ROOF – But only say the word and my Soul shall be healed!”  Brothers and Sisters – Christ is sending us the Holy Spirit today – not just to us but to the entire Church – A Strong and Driving Wind fills the Whole House!

What did the Spirit do?
What did the Holy Spirit do when it filled the Whole House?  The disciples – who were hiding in fear went out and proclaimed God’s mighty works.  We too are invited to respond to this gift of God.

How do we let the Wind of the Holy Spirit fill us with grace?
Let’s turn to St. Paul and his letter to the Corinthians to learn of a way!

St. Paul says that God gives each of us different gifts to build up His Church.  When we spend time in contemplation, one of the things that we ought to touch on often is the question

What Gifts has God Given me?

  • Friendship?
  • Kindness?
  • Compassion?
  • Counsel?
  • Understanding?
  • Prayer?
  • Organization?
  • Patience?
  • Courage?
  • Health?
  • Perseverance?
  • Wonder and Awe?

Gifts are given to Serve others – that is the Work of God
St. Paul says that we are to place these gifts at the service of others – so that we might perform works that give Glory to God.  God gives us gifts to share in community – so that other can witness the Love of God through us, and that we my experience the love of God through serving others.

For example

  • Counsel – Do I use my ability to listen to others patiently to help them to see God’s presence in their lives?  Do I by the act of listening show them that God loves them?
  • Wonder and Awe – Do I have an awareness of the sheer goodness of God.  Am I able to share this amazement with others – to give them hope.
  • Organization – Do I help others by inviting them to do the work of God.  The Fiesta is coming up next weekend, and we as a parish need to be grateful of those parishioners who have worked hard all year long to prepare the Fiesta for our parish.  They are placing their organizational gifts at the service of the parish, and creating a space for all of us to serve God.

Christ comes to gather us into Communion – That is the essence of His Spirit!
This brings us to the powerful message of the Gospel today.  Christ comes and visits his Church – that is gathered in Fear.  He breaths on them and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit.  With that gift of his Spirit he empowers them with Gifts and witness.

Christ gives us himself – Fellowship with the Father
The first gift that Christ gives is the Spirit of himself – and that is the Spirit of Communion.  Christ invites us to be in His Church, and that his Church is in Communion with Him.  He invites us to be in Union with His will, and with His Father’s love.

Christ shows us the witness of His Love
Christ comes into the midst of the Church, a Church that is filled with fear and trepidation.  He shows them his wounds – his Hands and his side.  Jesus does this so that they know – “In the Flesh” that his love has conquered Death and Sin.

Christ sends us on a mission of Forgiveness
Then he sends us on Mission.  As the Father has sent me – so I send you!  Receive the Holy Spirit

Whose sins you forgive are forgiven…

  • Reflect here on the Nature of Forgiveness

Our Mission, Brothers and Sisters is to bring the Communion of Christ to the World by being men and women who

  • Know God’s Love (That is why the psalm calls us to contemplation)
  • Share God’s Gifts
  • Give God’s forgiveness.

This is what it means to Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!