Monthly Archives: February 2016

20160226 Lent Weekday 2 C

Today, the first reading gives us the story of a family. It is a typical story of many families throughout history. Unfortunately, it is a story of pain and suffering. Joseph was the youngest of the sons and was his father’s favorite. His father loved Joseph very much and had an ornamental coat made for him. His brothers began to resent him.

It didn’t help that Joseph had dreams and shared them with his brothers. The dreams had the brothers worshiping him. That resentment grew until it became an outright hatred for their brother. It eventually led them to so much jealousy and hatred that they wanted to kill him.

Fortunately, one of his brothers, Reuben, suggested that they just put him in a cistern instead of killing him. They stripped Joseph of his coat and put him in a dry cistern. While his brother Rueben was taking his turn with the flock, another brother suggested that they sell Joseph to a caravan that was traveling through the area on the way to Egypt. Reuben planned to get Joseph back to their father so when he returned, he went to the cistern to release Joseph but he was gone. It was then that he learned that Joseph was sold to the caravan for twenty pieces of silver.

The brothers decided to take a kid goat and kill it, put the blood on Joseph’s coat and had someone else take it to their father to ask if it was his son’s. Their father recognized it and said that a wild animal had killed his son Joseph.

That’s the way that sin develops. First it is a little sin, then it happens more often, then the magnitude of the sin gets bigger and bigger. Eventually, the sin begins to overtake us. That is what happened to Joseph’s brothers. It started with resentment because Joseph was Dad’s favorite. It grew to jealousy and hatred. It then turned into selling their brother to become a slave and a conspiracy to lie to their father. They even involved someone else to carry out their sin. Their acts broke their father’s heart.

The tenants in the Gospel followed the same path. First, they beat a servant, killed another and stoned another. Then the owner of the vineyard sent more numerous servants and the tenants treated them the same way. Then the owner sent his son thinking that they would honor his son. Instead, they killed the owner’s son so they could get the inheritance for themselves.

The tenants started by beating a servant, then killing and then stoning others. This same treatment escalated to more and more of the servants that the owner sent to collect his rightful harvest. Their sin grew and grew until they killed the owner’s son.

During this Lent let’s take some time to find a quiet place that we can reflect on our lives, our innermost thoughts and feelings, the very depths of our hearts, to determine where we have started to let little things creep into our lives. Unless we do this, the little things will become bigger things. We must build our lives on Christ, the cornerstone of the Church.

It is worth a few moments of quiet time to reflect on our own lives and what is in our hearts. Are we jealous of others? Do we covet what others have for possessions? Do we lie when it is convenient? Are there people we really can’t stand? Do we get really frustrated when we have to deal with some people?

The Gospel acclamation says it so well: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

I believe Lord. Help me to live a life that will bring honor and glory to you.

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20160225 Lent Weekday 2 C

Caring for those who are in need is the critical message of the Scriptures; both the Old Testament and the New Testament. This is really pointed out to us in the Gospel; every person has dignity regardless of their position in society, their position in the church or the amount of money the person possesses.

Vatican II teaches that out of respect for the human dignity of each person, we must help those who are experiencing any material or spiritual need: “Wishing to come down to topics that are practical and of some urgency, the Council lays stress on respect for the human person: everyone should look upon his neighbor (without any exception) as another self, bearing in mind above all his life and the means necessary for living it in a dignified way lest he follow the example of the rich man who ignored Lazarus, the poor man”

Everyone in the world knows that Catholics have always had a strong social justice doctrine. While I was in the formation program to become a deacon, it really surprised me the importance that Catholic doctrine placed on respect for the dignity of each person. That was the way that I was raised, not as a Catholic but as a Protestant. I was taught that it was important to treat everyone with respect regardless of their position in life, the color of their skin or how wealthy they were.

Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdome of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel. He treated everyone as a Child of God, even the religious leaders that he scolded for their hypocrisy. He healed the masses of the people and forgave their sins. And he always treated each person the same whether it was a wealthy man’s son, a religious leader’s daughter, a leper, a tax collector or a prostitute. This is beyond obtaining social justice for those who are oppressed or mistreated. Treating everyone with respect and being the servant to care for those who are in need is the fundamental teaching of Jesus.

Was the rich man condemned because of his wealth? No, he was condemned because of the way he ignored the suffering of Lazarus. The rich man could have helped Lazarus by chasing the dogs away, by giving him some food from his table and clothing. The rich man could have helped Lazarus get some strength and then provided employment so he “get back on his feet”. Unfortunately, the rich man ignored Lazarus.

Tikkun Olam, the Jewish belief that we all have to make the world a better place to live by helping to remove pollution, oppression, mistreatment of the poor, the widow, the orphan and the stranger. The rich man’s sin was his total disregard for the person he passed numerous times every day without caring for his neighbor. The rich man’s actions were against his own Jewish teaching.

As Christians, we must take action to bring social justice to the disadvantaged, the hungry, the homeless and the poor. But it is more important that we teach others to respect for each person as an individual, a child of God, by the example we live.

Let’s try to find a way to be an example to others this Lent. Let us silently be an example of serving others the way Jesus taught us. At times, it will take extreme courage to go over and help someone who is being mistreated or laughed at. It will take courage to take a meal to a homeless person on the corner. It will take courage to identify ourselves as a Christian.

Will we have the courage to show respect to the leper, the outcast from society, the person who is disabled or the person who doesn’t dress like we dress? Or will we commit the sin of the rich man by ignoring those who are in need that we see every day?

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20160224 Lent Weekday 2 C

Every family is very different. Some are close to each other, some are boisterous, some are happy most of the time, others are sad most of the time and others are always fighting with each other. Quite frequently, groups become like families. The work group that has been together for a long period of time, the friends that have gotten together once a month for many years or the group that only gets together once a year to fish, hunt, go to the spa, go wine tasting or enjoy good food form bonds that often become like families. Think about your own experiences with your own families or friends.

The apostles became a family very quickly. They were together all the time and soon had all the familiar joys and struggles of any family. When the mother of two of the disciples went to Jesus and requested a place of honor for her sons, Jesus turned to the two sons and asked if they could drink the chalice that he would drink. They quickly answered yes without even knowing what was in the chalice. Jesus told them that they would drink the chalice that he would drink.

This was simply a mother and her two sons trying to get a place of honor for themselves. As we have talked many times, honor is everything in Middle Eastern culture and lying, stealing – even murder is considered acceptable to preserve honor. A place of honor at Jesus’ side would be a great accomplishment.

When the rest of the disciples heard what the two disciples and their mother asked Jesus to do for them, they were angry with the two disciples even though Jesus rebuked them. Whether they were angry because they didn’t have the opportunity to be the one to ask or they were jealous that they would not receive the honor.

Jesus called all of them together and talked to them about how all those in authority take great pleasure ruling over those who are under their authority. Then Jesus said “whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.”

It is hard to be a servant. Sometimes we think it is beneath us. Other times we are compelled by peer pressure to conform to the group standard and avoid those who are different or dress below the group norm. This even happens in churches sometimes.

But Jesus said that we had to avoid greatness as the world knows greatness and serve others. He did not make any exceptions. It is important that we understand this lesson. The place of honor as the world defines honor is not how Christians are to live their lives.

Our natural tendency is to want the place of honor but Jesus said that we must serve others. Pope Francis is a great example of serving others; especially the outcast, the prisoner, the sick, the homeless and the disabled. The Church must be different, to be so different that the world has to take notice that we are walking away from the place of honor to help others.

How will we be the servant to all in this Year of Mercy? How will we be a slave to those in need in this Year of Mercy? Especially during this Lenten Season, will we just go out of our way to show an act of kindness to the person on the corner asking for money? Will we pray an extra prayer that God will help each person who is in need? Will pray for the Church in lands where Christians are being martyred? How will we serve others in this Year of Mercy?

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Past, Present and Future

Our parish is kicking off a Capital Campaign.  A prayer was created for the campaign to acknowledge God’s goodness and blessings, to give thanks to God for all he gives us and to ask for his help in the present and the future as we work together to build a permanent church for the community to worship.  There is a sentence that really stands out to me:

“You have blessed our past; You sustain our present; You supply eternal hope for our future.”  God’s work among us in the past, the present and the future.  What a powerful statement:

“You have blessed our past; You sustain our present; You supply eternal hope for our future.”

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S20160221 Lent 2 C

En los versos justo antes de donde comienza el Evangelio de hoy, Jesús estaba enseñando cómo ser un discípulo. Él dijo: “Si alguno quiere venir en pos de mí, niéguese a sí mismo, tome su cruz de cada día y sígame.” Jesús terminó con la afirmación “En verdad os digo que hay algunos que están aquí que no probarán la muerte hasta que hayan visto el reino de Dios “.

Jesús siempre encontró tiempo para orar y hablar con su Padre. Esto fue especialmente cierto cuando tenía la carga creciente y pesada de tratar con las multitudes y líderes religiosos. Ocho días después de la declaración de Jesús de que algunos de ellos verían el reino de Dios antes de morir, Jesús llevó a Pedro, Juan y Santiago a la montaña para encontrar un lugar tranquilo para orar. Mientras oraba, él se transformó en el cuerpo glorificado que tendría después de su resurrección. Moisés y Elías aparecieron en la misma gloria. Los discípulos reconocieron a cada uno de ellos.

Moisés representa la Ley. La primera lectura describe el pacto; “Fue en esa ocasión que el Señor hizo un pacto con Abram ….”. Pero los hijos de Israel se esforzaron por mantener la alianza con Dios. Los diez mandamientos fueron dados a Moisés para ayudar a los hijos de Israel mantener el pacto con Dios.

Elías representa los Profetas. Los profetas fueron enviados a recordar a los israelitas que Dios todavía los amaba y mantendrían la Alianza a pesar de que no lo hicieron. Dios les quería dar saber que su amor y misericordia siempre estaban allí para ellos. Si tan sólo se vuelven de sus malos caminos y mantener el pacto, Dios los bendice y protejo.

Pedro quería hacer hincapié en la parte superior de la montaña. Él quería construir tres tiendas, una para cada una de las personas transfiguradas en la montaña. ¿Y no íbamos a querer hacer lo mismo si viéramos lo que Pedro acaba de experimentar? Pero entonces, una nube los cubrió y tuvieron miedo. Después de que Dios dijo: “Este es mi Hijo elegido; escúchenlo. “estaban a solas con Jesús. Y ellos se quedaron en silencio. ¿Cuántas veces hemos experimentado los mismos sentimientos?

¡Pedro, Juan y Santiago acaban de tener una visión del Reino de Dios! Todas las escrituras en la Biblia describen a Dios y los ángeles como seres de luz brillante. En el libro de Apocalipsis, Juan escribió que no había necesidad del sol o la luna, porque el cielo se llenó con la luz del amor de Dios.

Esta es una gran oportunidad de ser capaz de experimentar algo así en un retiro de un fin de semana o incluso una semana. Tendremos una gran experiencia; sentirnos cerca de Dios porque hemos hecho el tiempo estando tranquilos y orando; en silencio para escuchar la dirección y la fuerza de Dios. Al igual que Pedro, Juan y Santiago, obtendremos una visión del Reino de Dios.

Hoy después de Misa, nos vamos a casa y todo el mundo se estrella con nosotros. Hay que prepararse para el trabajo al día siguiente, tenemos que preparar los almuerzos escolares para los niños y hay veinte tareas más que hacer antes de que podamos ir a la cama. La cercanía a Dios se ha ido. La tranquilidad y la paz se han ido y no es sólo el silencio en nuestro corazón.

Dios dijo: “Este es mi Hijo elegido; Escúchenlo.”


¿Con qué frecuencia es lo que realmente “escuchamos” a alguien? Hay tanto ruido y distracción a nuestro alrededor que nunca tenemos tiempo para estar en silencio y escuchar. ¿Piénsalo? ¿Cuándo fue la última vez que te sentaste en un lugar tranquilo por cualquier cantidad de tiempo? La televisión o la radio al tope en el fondo. El teléfono está sonando, el teléfono inteligente está sonando para decirle que el correo electrónico o un mensaje de texto llegado. El sonido de gente hablando o tráfico o cerrando puertas – el ruido está por todas partes.

Además del ruido, hay cosas que hacer. Tenemos que llevar a los niños a la práctica de fútbol, recoger la ropa en la tintorería, obtener un litro de leche en el súper y hacer una parada para un café en Starbucks. Siempre estamos haciendo multitareas a pesar de que los expertos dicen que no somos capaces de hacer eso. ¿Y cómo podemos parar y escuchar cuando tenemos veinte más tareas hay hacer hoy?

Pero eso es exactamente lo que tenemos que hacer. Sigamos el ejemplo de Jesús; retirarnos a un lugar tranquilo para orar y comunicarnos con nuestro Señor. Es difícil y, a veces, es casi imposible. Pensemos por un momento en la vida y ministerio de Jesús. Las multitudes estaban siempre alrededor de él, empujándolo, tratando de tocarlo. Ellos querían la curación para sí mismos, o un miembro de su familia o un amigo. Los líderes religiosos estaban siempre allí en el fondo dispuesto a criticar cada palabra o acto de Jesús. ¿Así era la vida de Jesús, realmente diferente a la de nosotros? Hablar sobre el estrés y la ansiedad. Jesús tomó todo con calma porque estaba en paz por dentro. Esta paz y fuerza provienen de los tiempos que pasó con su Padre en la oración.

¿Si Jesús podía hacer el tiempo para encontrar un lugar tranquilo para orar y hablar con su Padre en la vida agitada que vivió, por qué no podemos hacer nosotros lo mismo? Dejamos que haya demasiadas distracciones en nuestras vidas. Es fácil de poder orar en un tiempo libre. Podemos dejar a un lado un programa de televisión, o dos, o dejemos el ordenador o teléfono inteligente para comprobar el correo electrónico, mensajes de texto y Facebook. Sólo el cuidado de nuestra familia necesita nuestro esfuerzo y tiempo.

Así que, ¿cómo encontrar el tiempo para “escuchar” a Dios? Es difícil en nuestro mundo de ritmo rápido. Hagámonos el propósito de programar nuestro tiempo, para estar en silencio, al leer las Escrituras, orar y escuchar. La ley y los profetas están ahí para guiarnos y enseñarnos a Jesús.

El milagro de la transfiguración en el Evangelio de hoy nos da una visión de la gloria de la resurrección y la vida eterna. En la Eucaristía, la fracción del pan y el vino, se nos recuerda la promesa del Reino de Dios que Jesús nos dio. A través de su resurrección nosotros también tendremos un cuerpo glorificado y adoraremos a Dios en el cielo.

¿En esta Cuaresma, vamos a programar quince o veinte minutos para la oración, al menos, una vez al día? ¿Vamos a escuchar la dirección de Dios a través del Espíritu Santo? ¿Vamos a escuchar el Espíritu Santo que nos lleva a ayudar a una persona en necesidad? ¿Pasaremos algo de ese tiempo orando para que Dios nos ayude a perdonar a los que nos han ofendido durante este Año de la Misericordia? ¿Vamos a orar para que Dios nos del valor de pedir a una persona que nos perdone que hemos ofendido en este tiempo de penitencia y preparación? ¿Vamos a dejar un momento nuestras vidas ocupadas para pasar unos minutos de tranquilidad para “Escuchar a Jesús”?

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20160221 Lent 2 C

In the verses just prior to where today’s Gospel starts, Jesus was teaching how to be a disciple.  He said “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  Jesus ended with the statement “Truly I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

Jesus always found time to pray and talk with his Father.  This was especially true when the burden of dealing with the crowds and religious leaders grew heavy.  Eight days after Jesus’ statement that some of them would see the Kingdom of God before they died, he took Peter, John and James up the mountain to find a quiet place to pray.  While he was praying, he took on the glorified body that he would have after his resurrection.  Moses and Elijah appeared in the same glory.  The disciples recognized each of them.

Moses represents the Law.  The first reading describes the covenant; “It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram….”  But the Israelites struggled to keep the covenant with God.  The Ten Commandments were given to Moses to help the Israelites keep the covenant with God.

Elijah represents the Prophets.  The prophets were sent to remind the Israelites that God still loved them and would keep the Covenant even though they did not.  God wanted them to know that his love and mercy were always there for them.  If they would only turn from their sinful ways and keep the covenant, God would bless and protect them.

Peter wanted to dwell on the top of the mountain.  He wanted to build three tents, one for each to transfigured people on the mountain.  And wouldn’t we want to do the same if we saw what Peter just experienced?  But then, a cloud covered them and they were afraid.  After God said “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” they were alone with Jesus.  And they fell silent.  How many times have we experienced the same feelings?

Peter, John and James just had a glimpse into the Kingdom of God!  All of the scriptures in the Bible describe God and the angels as beings of bright light.  In the Book of Revelation, John wrote that there was no need for the sun or the moon because heaven was filled with the light of God’s love.

It’s a great opportunity to be able to get away on a retreat for a weekend or even a week.  We have a great experience; feel close to God because we made time be quiet and pray; quiet to listen for God’s direction and strength.  Like Peter, John and James, we get a glimpse into the Kingdom of God.  Then we go home and the whole world crashes in on us.  We have to get ready for work the next day, we have to prepare school lunches for the children and there are twenty more tasks to get done before we can go to bed.  The closeness to God is gone.  The quiet and peace are gone and there is just the silence in our hearts.

God said “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

Listen to him!

How often do we really “listen” anyone?  There is so much noise and distraction around us that we never have time to be quiet and listen.  Think about it?  When was the last time you sat in a quiet place for any amount of time?  The television or the radio is blaring in the background.  The phone is ringing, the smart phone is beeping to tell you that e-mail or a text message arrived.  The sound of people talking or traffic or doors shutting – noise is all around us.

Besides the noise, there are things to do.  We have to get the children to soccer practice, pick up the laundry at the cleaners, get a gallon of milk and stop for a latte at Starbucks.  We are always multitasking even though the experts tell we are incapable of doing that.  And how can we stop and listen when we have twenty more tasks to get done today?

But that is exactly what we need to do.  Follow Jesus’ example; retreat to a quiet place to pray and communicate with our Lord.  It is hard, and at times, it is almost impossible.  Think about Jesus’ life and ministry for moment.  The crowds were always around him pushing, trying to touch him.  They wanted healing for themselves, a member of their family or a friend.  And the religious leaders were always there in the background ready to criticize every word or act.  Was Jesus’ life really any different?  Talk about stress and anxiety.  Jesus took it all in stride because he was at peace within.  This peace and strength came from the times he spent with his Father in prayer.

If Jesus could make the time to find a quiet place to pray and talk with his Father in the extremely hectic life he lived, why can’t we do the same?  We let too many distractions into our lives.  It’s easy to put pray time off.  We watch a television show, or two, or we get on the computer or smart phone to check e-mail, text messages and Facebook.  Just taking care of our family takes a lot of effort and time.

So how do we find the time to “Listen” to God?  It’s difficult in our fast paced world.  It requires us to schedule the time, to make the time to be quiet, to read the scriptures, to pray and to listen.  The Law and the Prophets are there to guide us and point us to Jesus.  The transfiguration miracle in today’s Gospel gives us a glimpse into the glory of the resurrection and eternal life.  In the Eucharist, the breaking of the bread and the wine, we are reminded of the promise of the Kingdom of God that Jesus gave us.  Through his resurrection we too will have a glorified body and worship God in heaven.

This Lent, will we schedule fifteen or twenty minutes for prayer at least once each day?  Will we listen for God’s guidance through the Holy Spirit?  Will we listen for the Holy Spirit leading us to help a person in need?  Will spend some of that time praying that God will help us to forgive those who have trespassed against us during this Year of Mercy?  Will we pray that God will give us the courage to ask a person to forgive us that we have trespassed against in this season of penance and preparation?  Will we stop our busy lives to spend a few quiet minutes to “Listen to him”?

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