3/23/2021 0 Comments
5th Sunday of Lent, March 21, 2021
3/23/2021 0 Comments
3rd Sunday of Lent, March 7, 2021
Today in our first reading from the book of Exodus we hear the story of the ten commandments. What goes before the ten commandments are years of God’s faithful love and care for the people of Israel. The people of Israel remembered the stories of creation, the fact that God chose them, saved them and led them out of slavery. Today, God highlights what a faithful response to love looks like. The ten commandments are not so much a moral code as they are the response of people who have been loved, chosen, cared for by a faithful God.
In the Gospel reading, John tells us about the chaos that is happening in the temple at Passover. The temple which is the holy place of the People of Israel has been overtaken by people who have little regard for its holiness. It would seem that for these people making money is what is important; the sacred rituals that are taking place have little or no meaning. Jesus clears out the temple, which is a rather shocking display of anger for him. Our attention can get caught here at this unusual display of anger and we can perhaps miss the bigger point of this story. Jesus is the temple. After his death and resurrection, the disciples recalled his words and his actions – they recall his claim that his Body is the temple – the building while important is not it!
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians we hear Paul remind the Corinthians of the wisdom to be found in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Crucified Lord is indeed Lord. His death while sad and tragic on the one hand is the best thing that has happened because it has brought life to all. This might sound foolish but it is real and Jesus is the very power of God. We can see it and we can touch it and it can transform our lives. Paul is clear, Christ is the manifestation of God’s power and wisdom.
Congruent – the word means in agreement or harmony – identical. One of the biggest critiques leveled at religious people is this: we are not congruent. We say one thing and we do another.
So often when we do catechesis in the Church we give people information about the dos and don’ts of being Catholic. We get excited when the people we have been teaching are able to share with us all that we have told them. Faith is not first and foremost about information – it is about a relationship. Our first task when people come seeking us out is to help them establish a relationship with the community – the people of God and then help them strengthen their relationship with God. Sadly, many people do not want relationships with Church people or with God – they want what they have asked for – a sacrament, a ritual and the relationship does not matter. Nevertheless, as disciples of Jesus – relationships must come first.
Today, the ten commandments make sense as a response to a God who has gathered a people together. The People of Israel had a relationship with God. If we see the ten commandments as a moral code we are missing the mark. Following the ten commandments is a response to a God who loves us, with whom we have a relationship.
The challenge of the gospel today is to realize that God dwells not in buildings but in people – the people are important. Jesus cleans up the temple but then reminds the people that he is the real temple. As people we bear in our bodies the very life of God. While Churches and sacred things are important – people are more important. While it is good and proper to honor God present in our Church it is equally important for us to treat one another with respect – and not just the people we like or who do things the way we want or the people who are nice.
As the season of Lent unfolds we will affirm our belief in God over and over and over again. We will engage in prayers and rituals. We will fast and give alms and do penance. All of these activities lead us to change; to be more like Christ.
This week, I invite each of us and all of us to choose one person who really annoys us. Could be ourselves – could be a family member or a co-worker, could be a community figure, Church person, a leader/politician or celebrity. I invite us to see that person as made in the image and likeness of God.
Let us nurture ways to demonstrate our love and respect for them. We don’t love and respect people because we like them, we love and respect people because we are made in the image and likeness of God. We don’t love and respect people because they are perfect, we love and respect people because they are made in the image and likeness of God.
Heather McGhee, an American writer has just authored a book entitled, "The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together" which takes a look at race in the United States. In the book she tells the story of how in the early part of the 20thcentury, city councils had swimming pools constructed, as a way of nurturing civic pride and giving people a chance to enjoy themselves. The problem was, they were for whites only. When laws changed and people of color were allowed to use the swimming pools many cities either sold their pools to private groups or shut them down rather than have people of color enjoy what they themselves enjoyed. Their attitude was simple, if people of color gain something we lose something. The scriptures today challenge that idea.
To be congruent, if we stand in here and say we love God, then we must go out there and love the people God loves. Is it easy to do? Not at all, but because of our history with God we do this. We know God has created us and redeemed us. We are grateful and so we honor this God who challenges us to be witnesses of love and generosity.
Our Lenten journey continues to unfold. Once again, we read from the Book of Genesis. The story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac is upsetting and it is a hard story to hear. The end of the story where God asks Abraham not to lay his hand on his son and then blesses him is comforting.
In the story we have two images of God. On the one hand we have a God who demands Abraham sacrifice his son and on the other, the image of a God who provides for Abraham and blesses his family. The God who asks Abraham not to lay a hand on his son is so different from the gods of the ancient world. The stories of the gods of the ancient world suggest they do not care or provide for their people; they take from their people and demand sacrifices. The God of Abraham both cares for and provides for his people.
In the Gospel of Mark, we have the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus. Peter, James and John are on the mountain with Jesus. Jesus is transformed and the three disciples hear the voice of God, the Father, telling them that Jesus is his Son. This man they have been travelling with and listening to is the Son of God. The idea that the Son of God is walking among them would have been a shocking idea for them; different from anything they knew or believed. The implications of this were simply too much for them to understand. Jesus says, don’t worry, when I die and rise from the dead you will have the whole picture and you will understand. Jesus says, when you experience the resurrection, the Transfiguration will make sense. For now, don’t talk about what you saw. The time for talking will come later.
Paul, reminds the Christians of Rome, that Christ has lived and died for them. Christ’s love for them has brought them to this moment, and Christ’s love for them will shape their future. There is nothing in this world or in the heavens that can separate them from Christ’s love and care for them.
There is much in our lives that is confusing and unsettling. Things happen in government, at work, in the Church, in our family and in our relationships that we find confusing. Sometimes how we understand and speak about God does not help.
Today, the scriptures remind us of how we can deal with the confusion in our lives. They present us with images of God, reminding us of who our God is and what our God does. Our God is about life. Our God does not take from us. God draws us into relationship, God gives life to us, and God looks out for us. Made in the image of God we are invited to care and to give life.
The God of Abraham reminds us that God wants to provide for us. The God of Jesus invites us to listen to his Son, to enter into relationship with him. Jesus walks with us as teacher and friend. The story of Jesus does not end with his death! He is raised to new life. His resurrection changes everything. It will change us too, for we shall also rise to new life.
The early Christian community in Rome struggled to understand their pain and suffering. They believed that their suffering was a sign that Christ had abandoned them. Paul says Christ has not and could not abandon them. Paul says there is nothing in life that can separate you from Christ. Paul invites them to rely on their relationship with Jesus to cope with all that is taking place in their lives.
As we hear these scriptures we are prompted to ask several questions. What kind of God do I believe in?
Do I believe in a God who takes from me or do I believe in a God who provides for me?
Do I believe in a God who abandons me, leaving me alone to face life or do I believe in a God who teaches me, walks with me and raises me up?
What kind of God do I believe in and what kind of God do I talk about?
Today, we are invited to think about who our God is and what he does.
Our God cares about us and provides for us. We matter to God. God does not abandon us. Our failures are not held against us. We are forgiven. We are never alone. We are raised to new life.
As we go about our activities this week:
- let us live our lives knowing that God is as near to us as our breath
- let us look at life through the resurrection of Jesus
- let us believe in the desire of God to renew the whole of creation
- let us believe that God walks with us, seeking ways to provide for us.
As we wait for longer days, for the warming of temperatures, for the birth of new life and the migration of flocks and herds alike, let us also wait for the new life that God offers us. As we encounter one another let us be like our God. Let us nurture life – comforting one another with acts of kindness and blessing.
Today we continue our Lenten Journey. We begin by reading from the Book of Genesis where we hear about an exchange between God and Noah. God says to Noah that a covenant will be created between God and the whole of creation – never again will God destroy the earth as he has just done. God is doing something new from this day forward; God will no longer punish creation. Every time a rainbow appears it is a reminder that God has established a covenant with the earth and with the people of the earth.
In the Gospel, Mark tells us that Jesus is driven out into the desert by the Spirit to deal with temptation, with Satan. Mark tells us he is in the wilderness with wild beasts and with angels. Mark does not tell us what happened except to say that after the arrest of John the Baptist, Jesus returns and begins his ministry in Galilee. The message of Jesus is that the Kingdom of God is near – repent and believe in the good news. The arrest of John and the beginning of the ministry of Jesus mark the beginning of a new era, a new time.
Peter, in his letter, reminds the early Christians that his faith tells him that Christ has died for his sins but Christ is now alive in the Spirit. The suffering of Jesus is not a punishment from God but rather a sign of the love that Jesus has for His Father and for the whole of creation. Christ’s suffering is a light that leads us to God. Peter tells the Christians that Baptism is not so much about removing dirt, it is about a relationship with God, and all the heavenly host.
In our first reading today God affirms his desire to be in a relationship with us, and not just us, but the whole of creation. Never again is God going to destroy the earth and the inhabitants of the earth. This is the promise of our God, a God who wants us to live. Every time we see a rainbow we are reminded of God’s great love for us – his promise that he will not destroy the earth or us. This idea marks a new way of seeing our God – a God who longs that we might live and have life – a God who will never again destroy the earth as a punishment for our behavior.
Jesus tells the people of Israel that the Kingdom of God is near. He invites them to change their lives – the way they think and act. Jesus seems to suggest that naturally, we are hostile and disrespectful – we need to change, repent and believe in the Good News.
What is the Good News? We are loved by God. Our sins are forgiven. We are alive in the Spirit. We will be raised from the dead.
If we want to support life, if we want to help build up the reign of God we must learn to see the world through the eyes of others. There is a wonderful saying, “Walk a mile in his/her shoes!” Too often we see and we measure others according to our standards – standards we don’t live up to.
Today people are working to:
There are men and women who are opposed to this work – who want things to stay just the way they are. Just this week there was a suggestion to rethink the name of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association to reflect the make-up and diversity of the farmers and ranchers at work today. Good idea, right? It was rejected because the leaders of the Association said the name is just fine as it is. They said there is no need for change despite the fact that there are countless women managing farms and ranches today.
Over a hundred years ago Mary Lathrap wrote a poem – inviting us to see others differently. Mary was a poet, a Methodist preacher, worked for women’s rights – especially the right to vote and own property, and she worked to limit the sale of alcohol. Listen to the language and ideas of a woman from 1895.
“Judge Softly” ~ by Mary T. Lathrap, 1895
“Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.
There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.
Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.
You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, unknown to you in the same way,
May cause you to stagger and fall, too.
Don’t be too harsh with the man that sins.
Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain.
Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own,
And it’s only wisdom and love that your heart contains.
For you know if the tempter’s voice
Should whisper as soft to you,
As it did to him when he went astray,
It might cause you to falter, too.
Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.
I believe you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind and narrow-minded, even unkind.
There are people on reservations and in the ghettos
Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.
Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and I.
Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions
And see the world through his spirit and eyes
Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.
Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.
Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.”
In the Book of Genesis, God makes a covenant with creation and marks the beginning of a new time. In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of the nearness of the Kingdom of God; he marks the beginning of a new time. In Peter’s letter, we are told that Christ suffered, died and rose so that we might find our way to God.
As our Lenten journey continues, let us walk together towards this new time, seeking to understand what it is like to walk the road that others walk. Let us, with the help of God, shape a new time for our community, our parish, our family.
2/17/2021 0 Comments
Ash Wednesday - February 17, 2021
Have you ever said to a child, “Don’t worry about other people think, just do what is right and everything will take care of itself!” or has anyone ever said to you, “Follow your heart and don’t worry about what other folks say!”
Today, we begin the great season of Lent. Often times we engage in actions that are suggested by the Church. We skip a meal here or there – give up chocolate or TV, we throw a few extra dollars in the collection basket, we say a few extra Hail Marys and Our Fathers, but then we we carry on as usual.
Lent is about preparing for the death and resurrection of Jesus. Lent is about deepening and strengthening our relationships. Traditionally, the Church invites us to engage in fasting, prayer and almsgiving. It is not about going hungry, saying more prayers or giving a little extra money to charity. These three practices are intended to help us deepen our relationship with ourselves, with others, with creation and with our God. When we engage in these practices it is about changing our hearts. If our Lenten practices are not changing our hearts then we need to adjust what we are doing.
Lent is a season that prepares us for the death and resurrection of Jesus, for the celebration of the paschal mystery which gives us direction, which sustains us and gives meaning to our lives. The death and resurrection remind us that our journey is towards life, life for us and for the world.
With the pandemic there is much suffering in our lives – loss of jobs and income, loss of family moments – spending time with each other, loss of opportunities to travel and to enjoy holidays, an inability to gather and celebrate our faith as we normally do.
The prophet Joel tells the People of Israel, now is the time to make an adjustment, to return to the Lord, to focus on God and on what God wants from them. Joel invites them to gather and listen to God together. He reminds them that the pathway to God is not simply about me – it is about us.
In the Gospel, Jesus is speaking to his disciples, helping them to deepen their relationships – it is not about the external things – it is about internal things. Their prayer, their fasting and their almsgiving is not about impressing others – it is about causing a change within themselves.
Paul reminds the Corinthians of who they are – the work that is their work – the work of reconciliation, of working together with Christ to bring life and healing to our world.
Given the suffering that so many are experiencing at this time, let our fasting make room in our hearts and minds for others.
Given the suffering that so many are experiencing at this time, let our prayer be a conversation with God; a conversation where we use our voice to speak and we use our body to listen carefully for the voice of God.
Given the suffering that so many are experiencing at this time, let our almsgiving have an impact on us and on those who are most in need.
Lent is about relationships; our relationship with ourselves, with others, with creation, with God. Let us stop and take a long loving look at all our relationships. Let us take care of these relationships in ways that bring life to us and to the world in which we live. As Lent unfolds I encourage us to stop every now and then and ask:
Is what I am doing helping me to move in the right direction – am I moving towards God?
Today in our first reading from the Book of Leviticus we hear how the People of Israel understood and reacted to those who were lepers. The author offers us a description of leprosy and then suggests how the individual is to respond to the disease. What is most striking is that the individual was forced out of the community.
In the Gospel, Mark tells us the story of a leper who approached Jesus for healing. This is against the Jewish law and so this person had incredible courage. Jesus likewise did a remarkable thing – he touched the leper – a forbidden action. As the story unfolds we discover the person is healed and Jesus invites him to return to the Jewish leaders so that his healing could be verified and so that he could return to the community. We don’t know if the man went to the religious authorities. We do know that the man becomes an enthusiastic witness to Jesus, he tells people what happened to him despite being asked by Jesus to say nothing. The point is made. When you are healed of leprosy, how can you possibly keep quiet. It is simply not possible.
In the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians, Paul tells the early Christians to imitate him as he imitates Christ. They are invited to do everything for the glory of God.
Wednesday, we begin our Lenten Journey. With Ash Wednesday just a few short days away our thoughts naturally turn to God – to the reality that our lives are fragile. Because of the Covid-19 virus and our desire to safeguard the health and well-being of people we care about, we have drastically reduced our social contacts. Many of us are feeling the pain of separation – of isolation. There is a longing within us for some easy social interactions – meals, coffee, shared prayer, play, visiting, sports. We want to connect with others.
In ancient times leprosy, the fear of leprosy caused communities of people to banish those who were infected with the disease. As we heard in Leviticus everyone knew what to do if Leprosy attacked their body. They were as good as dead. Jesus had pity on one such person. He healed him, he restored him to his community. He gave him life again. The man could not keep silent about this gift of life. He had to tell others. This gift came from Jesus and he wanted everyone to know what had happened to him.
Mark tells us that he was so effective in his witness that crowds came to Jesus. He could not function as he normally did because so many people wanted what the leper had been given.
As I sat with this realization, I asked myself about the power of my witness. Has Jesus touched my life – given me new life? What am I doing to share this good news with others? As a Christian, what am I willing to do so that others hear about Jesus? Am I busy sharing Good News or do I leave people discouraged, weighed down and sad when they walk away from me?
Today the readings remind us that today, our culture, our society continues to banish people. There are lepers in our midst? Who are they? There are also Jesus figures – men and women who reach out to create life and healing wherever and whenever they can! Who are they?
This week it is good for us to think about who we are. Am I the one cast out? Am I doing the casting out? Am I doing the healing? As a Catholic, as a Christian you and I are called to be healers. We are to stand with Jesus in the actions of healing. We are to stand with the lepers, with those who have been cast out.
Today, God’s word inspires us to change. Today, the Body and Blood of Jesus nourishes us so that we can become more and more like Jesus. Our capacity to heal, to make a difference is made possible because of our encounter with Jesus. In the name of Jesus let us welcome one another, in the name of Jesus let our touch give life, in the name of Jesus let us become healers, people who lift one another up. In the name of Jesus let us do all things for the glory of God.
Today we celebrate the fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time. This week on Thursday, we will celebrate the World Day of the Sick. As I mentioned at the beginning of mass I will offer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to any who would like to celebrate it. Before we do that – I want to share just a couple of thoughts about our Scriptures.
In our first reading from the Book of Job we hear Job speaking to his friends. They believed that if you did good things God would reward you and if you did bad things you would be punished by God. Job was a good man and here he was suffering beyond belief. He responds to his friends by telling them what it is like to suffer – to be without hope. We are left there today – with Job’s reflection that there is nothing that can be done for him. He is discouraged and so he tells his friends and God, that he is without hope.
In the Gospel Mark tells us that Jesus and the disciples enter the home of Peter and his brothers. Peter’s mother in law is there and she is ill. Jesus heals her of her fever. Her response is to serve Jesus and his companions.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul talks about what Christ has done for him. He is a willing servant of Jesus – a slave of the Gospel message because it brings life to people. He proudly proclaims that it is the Gospel of Jesus that moves him to do all that he does.
It is appropriate that we pray for the sick – millions of people are suffering because of Covid-19 – close to 2.5 million people have died because of it. Because of the Covid-19 virus countless people are struggling with their mental health, with relationships, with their jobs, and with work – thousands are out of work and/or have lost their businesses and their homes. Now is a good time for us to weep and to speak to God about our suffering and the suffering of our brothers and sisters. Now is a good time for us to ask our God to hear us, to see us, to heal us.
Now is a good time for us to realize that doing the right thing does not always result in blessing and doing the wrong thing does not always result in punishment/suffering. Our relationship with life and with God is much more complex.
The readings remind us that when we are suffering it is right and good and normal to speak of our suffering to God – to shout about the unfairness of life. The readings also remind us that our relationship with God cannot be reduced to an “I’m good, I deserve a blessing” or a “he is bad, he deserves punishment” dynamic.
We are reminded that we are called to be like Job – to acknowledge our suffering and to speak to God about it. We are reminded that we are called to service – whether life is good or not – God calls us to service. Finally, the one thing that ought to shape our behavior is the presence of God in our lives. All that we do, should be done because of God. God has given us everything and the only response worthy of such a gift is gratitude and service.
As we continue our prayer let us remember that there is room in our bodies, hearts and minds for anger and hurt and there is also room for faithful service, thanksgiving and praise. God does not walk away from us when we fail! We do not walk away from God when pain and suffering become a daily part of our lives. Let us live for the sake of the Gospel!
Last week we celebrated the Feast of God’s Word and the ending of our week of Prayer for Christian Unity. During the week we also celebrated the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and the dramatic way that God entered into Paul’s life.
Today, the author of the Book of Deuteronomy tells us that God promises to send the people of Israel a prophet. The prophet will come from among them. As for the people, they are to pay attention to the words of the prophet. God is sending them a prophet because this is what the people are asking for. God tells Moses that the one he raises up had better speak the Words of God – had better be faithful because if not, God will punish the prophet – the prophet will die.
In the Gospel, Mark tells us that Jesus goes into the Synagogue and shares some insights from God’s Word. Mark tells us that the people are amazed and astounded at his teaching. (This is not a good thing – in the Gospel of Mark this means that they are not catching on to what Jesus is saying!)
Mark tells us that an evil spirit asks Jesus a question and, in the process, acknowledges that Jesus is the Holy One of God. The People of Israel have seen what Jesus is doing – they are amazed and astounded. How is it that an evil spirit recognizes Jesus but the faithful people of Israel who worship in the Synagogue fail to see, hear, understand, believe and worship the Son of God? How is it that unclean spirits are witnesses to God’s presence but the faithful people of Israel do not?
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells the early Christians, “I want you to be free from anxieties.” Paul suggests that the way to be free from anxiety is to focus our lives on the Lord. In the text, Paul is not telling people what to do with their lives (stay single, get married); he is telling them how to be, given their status in life. As they go about life their primary concern is to be God!
Are you ever anxious or worried? Most of us, at one time or another are worried or anxious about something. Our anxiety and worry can keep us from seeing God’s presence in the world around us and in our own lives.
This week when I came back to work after two weeks of rest and relaxation and prayer I discovered that:
The Parish Office furnace was not working,
One of our faithful parishioners had died,
There were reports and forms to be filled out,
There were phone calls and appointments to make
There were liturgies to be celebrated,
There were Facebook messages and questions to respond to and countless other things.
This is the state of our lives. We all experience this busyness. How do we handle this busyness? How do we keep our eyes focused on the Lord?
I think the readings today give us a couple of clues. First of all, they invite us to listen to the prophets that God sends to us. God does not leave us to find our way on our own. Prophets help us to see what we are missing – what is right before us. Being a prophet is not about predicting the future – it is about seeing, touching, hearing what is right before us. Prophets remind us of God and they ground us in the now. God is still sending us prophets to help us – are we paying attention to them?
The readings also invite us to be open, to let God’s Word find a home within us. Sometimes we ask questions but we are not really looking for answers. We know what we want to hear and even when we get solid, clear information we dismiss it because it is not what we want to hear. We act as if we know everything already (pride). Parents and children experience this in their relationships – this pattern is repeated in all our relationships and it is repeated in our relationship with God. The People of Israel could not see Jesus the Messiah because he was not what they expected him to be.
The readings invite us to focus/to pay attention. So often we pay attention to and give priority to things that are passing away. St. Paul tells us that whether we are single or married our focus ought to be the Lord. Full stop.
Too often we replace God with our work, with our religious practices, with our relationships, with our ‘personal causes’ and with our leisure activity. God is present everywhere and, in all things, and in all manner of things.
God is with us when we feed our cattle, when we play hockey or baseball, when we pack groceries, when we go fishing, when we prepare a meal and when we gather here for prayer. We are accustomed to doing either/or and we forget that we can do both/and. Sometimes we are so focused on what we are doing that we miss the opportunity to notice and make room for the presence of God. Like the people of Israel in the gospel we are astounded by our experience and we do not see God.
Today we are invited to listen, to be open and to pay attention – to look for God in what we are doing every day. Prayer, whether personal or liturgical is not primarily about us saying words or doing rituals. Prayer is about pausing and making room for God’s voice, for God’s presence, for God’s call; for God. Unfortunately, like the people of Israel we think we know what God wants and we are not so good at listening, at being open and at paying attention. This is true for those who do not come to Church and it is true also for those of us who do.
The words we say, the rituals we do have a purpose; they are to make space for us to hear and to see the Presence of God. When we gather here let us listen, let us be open, let us pay attention so that we see the HOLY ONE OF GOD. Let us take what we see and what we hear in our prayer and let us change the world in which we live. Let us love one another as Christ loves us. It is the Holy One of God who asks this of us!
Last week we were invited to be a light, learning to listen, to recognize and encounter Jesus, and we were invited to let the Holy Spirit guide our words and our actions. Last week we began our preparations for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
This week we are celebrating the Sunday of the Word of God. Pope Francis instituted this Feast with the idea that we would celebrate, reflect and share more generously the Word of God. The Pope wants us to pay more attention to God’s Word.
According to Cardinal Sarah who is in charge of how we celebrate the sacraments, this feast is a means to help people, “reawaken an awareness of the importance of Sacred Scripture for our lives as believers, beginning with its resonance in the liturgy which places us in living and permanent dialogue with God.”
Every time we celebrate the liturgy we read from God’s word. We have a history of focusing on the Body and Blood of Jesus, we tend to focus less on the Word of God. The second Vatican Council invited the Church to change that. We are slow to follow through with this invitation but the establishment of this feast tries to move us in the direction of honoring the Word of God.
Today, it is the word of the Lord that is guiding Jonah in his journey. This is a great story and many of us are familiar with the story. Today it is good for us to focus on the details. Jonah hears the Word of the Lord and responds but he does so reluctantly. His proclamation of God’s Word touches the people and they change their way of being. God is moved by the response of his people and chooses not to punish them.
In Mark’s gospel, we hear that John is arrested and that Jesus starts telling people that the Kingdom of God is near; it is time to repent and believe the Good News. Mark tells us that Jesus begins to gather disciples, calling people to follow him. And they do; they follow him when he calls.
St. Paul tells the Corinthians that it is urgent for them to make changes in their lives. He tells them that their lives are short. It is time to act, to change their behavior. He reminds them that this world as we know it is temporary.
There is a belief that when we graduate from grade 12, we become adults and we can do what we want. It is true, when we turn 18 we can do many things that we could not do before our 18th birthday. It is true, when we turn 18 our lives are changed. We are free to do more things and with that freedom comes responsibility.
As baptized Christians, we are called upon, from our earliest moments, to pay attention to God and to God’s Word. We are called upon to seek God with our whole being. We are called upon to do what God asks of us.
One of the most common verbs in the bible is LOVE! According to scripture scholars the word love is used in the NEW REVISED STANDARD VERSION about 500 times. 500 times we are encouraged to love one another.
We find many reasons not to love one another but God’s Word encourages us to ‘love one another’. This is what God does, this is what Jesus calls us to and this is what Paul asks of us.
St. Paul, in Chapter 13 of his first letter to the Christian community at Corinth tells us what love looks like. Most of us know this text off by heart. Many of us spend our time telling one another “DON’T DO THIS OR THAT.” Sacred Scripture, God’s Word tells us to DO – TO LOVE!
Jonah resents God’s interference in his life – he does not love! Jesus appreciates his Father’s presence in his life and he sets about doing what he has been sent to do!
St Paul reminds his people that life is short. What are you going to do with yours?
The feast of God’s Word invites us to love! What will you do with your life? Whether you are 8, 18 or 80, this is a choice that you can make!
Fr. Doug Jeffrey, OMI