Tuesday, June 24, 2008

All Jesus, all the time.

June 24, 2008
Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist Mass during the Day

Mass Readings:
Isaiah 49:1-6
Acts 13:22-26
Luke 1:57-66, 80

I want to start this post with the main part of the preface to today's Eucharistic Prayer:

Father all powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We praise your greatness as we honor the prophet who prepared the way before your Son. You set John the Baptist apart from other men, marking him out with special favor. His birth brought great rejoicing: even in the womb he leapt for joy, so near was man's salvation.

You chose John the baptist from all the prophets to show the world its redeemer, the lamb of sacrifice. He baptized Christ, the giver of baptism, in waters made holy by the one who was baptized. You found John worthy of a martyr's death, his last and greatest act of witness to your Son.

Today we celebrate the birth of the greatest of Jesus disciples. John the Baptist got it right straight out of the gate. John's whole life centered on one thing, preparing the way of Jesus. John would set aside all agenda and self gain so that he could proclaim the Messiah and his kingdom of love, grace, reconciliation and peace.

I always find that John the Baptist makes me feel unworthy. I mean, John is the epitome of what it means to be a faithful disciple at all times. He did everything for the glory of God. John was not perfect by any means. John shows that it isn't about being perfect because we humans will fail time and again. John's witness is that it is about faithfulness. I am sure that John made many mistakes but what he did not fail in was being faithful to the Savior. John is the proof that we can be faithful if we truly place Jesus at the center of life and practice. In all we do, may Jesus be glorified and his Good News be proclaimed so that all may know his love! That is what it is all about!

I am embarrassed at times by my failings. Most of us have experience with someone always being there to point out our failures to us. It seems to be a favorite past time for some. Good thing is that Jesus never, ever does that to us. Jesus waits for us to respond to his invitation to be a faithful disciple. Our imperfections and mistakes cannot separate us from the love of Jesus.

John the Baptist did one thing and he did it well. He proclaimed the goodness of Jesus and his salvation extended to all who will believe and follow him. "All Jesus, all the time" could have been John's tag line. May we all have the courage to follow his great example.

Monday, June 23, 2008

We just don't get it.

June 23, 2008
Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Mass Readings:
2 Kings 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18
Matthew 7:1-5

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
For as you judge, so will you be judged,
and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’
while the wooden beam is in your eye?
You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”

How can I add any commentary to this text? Jesus tells us to stop judging or else he will judge us in same fashion as we have judged others. If Jesus is so clear on this matter, why do we ignore him? If Jesus judges us harshly, then we have only ourselves to blame.

Friday, June 20, 2008

And we wonder.

June 17, 2008
Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Mass Readings:
1 Kings 21:17-29
Matthew 5:43-48

I am a fan of Baz Lurhmann's movie version of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet". There is a great scene where John Leguizamo playing Tibult, sneers into the camera and says, "Peace. I hate the word, as I hate hell and all Montagues". It is a chilling line that defines his character who loves the tension and violence of his world. Every time I watch the movie I am struck by how it reveals the reality that some people just won't let go of the conflict and fighting.

We are continuing with Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and like yesterday, Jesus' words turn popular thought on it's head. Yesterday I talked about the fact that it is far too easy today to label anyone we disagree with as the enemy and that Jesus is talking about a revolution of the heart. This revolution requires that we see beyond the labels and recognize that we are all God's children.

Today's text moves us along to an even more blunt teaching from Jesus. If the teaching that an "eye for an eye" must end and that revenge is wrong, then it is also sin for us to hate our enemy. In fact, God's love demands that we love our enemies. What!? How can Jesus ask such a thing!? Surely he asks too much! Simply put, no he doesn't. Jesus asks only that which he himself is willing to do.

Jesus' radical teachings are often dismissed as being only possible by Jesus because he is the Son of God. That dismissal denies the human Jesus and negates the immense sacrifice Jesus made. Jesus, fully God but fully human, had to face the same trials you and I face. Jesus was subject to the same emotions and pains. We have no problem with the human Jesus suffering on the cross because we can all experience pain. But if the fully human Jesus could love those who wanted to kill him, the enemy, then shouldn't we human beings, us Christians be willing to do the same?

If we keep invoking an "eye for an eye" and keep believing it is okay to hate "the enemy" then no wonder peace is always outside our grasp. If we refuse to follow Jesus' teachings then how do we expect anything to change? If we insist on holding on to our hatred and fear instead of forgiving and loving then we need to stop being so surprised that things keep getting worse. Jesus has given us the solution and we must practice what he preached.

So simple but we insist on making it hard.

A geek note.

If you have upgraded to Firefox 3, you will not be able to view my photo blog. I experienced this problem and was told by a tech at Mozilla that this is a code problem and that the next update should fix the problem. So far, all other browsers work with .mac web pages.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

If you hadn't noticed.

Yes, I actually posted finally. I have a number of homilies that are waiting to find their way into cyberspace and they will show up a bit later this week. For now, head on over to my photo blog. I have posted a few pictures of my trip to Israel. I returned this past Thursday, June 12. You will find the link in the links section of this page.

I am now doing the work of unpacking the things I experienced while there. I have a lot of emotions and thoughts that I am trying to put to some order and I will be putting some of that here on these pages. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the 15 photos I published. I took 1200 digital photos but I would not dare put you through that torture!

I hope you enjoy them.

Fr. Jeff

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

You say you want a revolution.

June 16, 2008
Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Mass Readings:
1 Kings 21:1-16
Matthew 5:38-42

We are in the midst of some troubling words from Jesus. We are a people who are concerned with the individual and that is namely self. Our society is geared to defending the rights of the individual and anything that infringes on individual liberty is an affront. Jesus' words are quite often a necessary affront to our sense of right and wrong.

We are painfully use to the word enemy in our world today. I was watching one of the 24 hour news networks and I was struck by something I had never really noticed before. There was a series of sound bites from the political big shots and it seemed that these men and women were constantly pointing out enemies. Really? If I were to believe these people then I should be afraid to step outside of the rectory because there are enemies lurking around every shrub! Let's face it, fear grabs our collective attention.

That set me to thinking. I am very well aware that there are people in the world who seek to create chaos and pain and do not value life in any way shape or form. But is it necessary to label everyone who does not agree with me an enemy? As I have been reflecting on that news broadcast it looks as if we as a people are quick to call anyone we do not like, the enemy. I believe that is very dangerous.

In our Gospel text today, Jesus is talking about revolution and it is a revolution that makes all others seem like child's play. Jesus proclaims revolution that is devoid of violence, hatred, or fear. Jesus turns the idea of revenge upside down. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is sin and Jesus reveals that it has no place in his kingdom. In fact, Jesus declares that we are to actually love those who we deem our enemy! Surely Jesus was joking! Thankfully, NO!

Jesus' words of revolution are declarations of love and sacrifice instead of hatred and selfishness. Violence begets violence and is an abomination to Jesus. We are use to revolutions that result in death and destruction. Jesus says that cannot be the way. Jesus' revolution is the radical and limitless, eternal and unconditional love of the Father.

We can walk around blind and toothless, holding on to our fear and hatred or we can use our eyes to see God in each other and use our teeth to partake in the feast that God prepares for us.