|John Baptizing Jesus in the Jordan River|
Sunday, June 24, 2018
Sunday, June 17, 2018
|Please God by the way in which we live|
In the Gospel according to Mark, Jesus speaks about the kingdom of God through a story, a parable. Jesus says the kingdom of God is like a seed you plant, the tiniest of seeds, and what you get is a plant bigger and better than you ever expected.
The Kingdom of God, in other words, is more than what we can ever expect or imagine, better than our wildest dreams! Heaven is the unimaginable come to life.
So, I would like to reflect on St. Paul’s letter to the Christian community in Corinth which challenges us to be courageous to “please God.” So, seek first the kingdom of God. Paul writes that we are accountable to God for how we live and behave. How shall we please God? St. Paul would likely advise us: by being men and women of moral character.
There’s a difference between character and personality. Our personality on the surface puts us in a category–cheerful, moody, excitable, etc. Character, by contrast, is singular and defines who we are, at the core of our inmost self.
Personality is emotional. Character is ethical. Personality is neither good nor bad. Character, by definition, is either good or bad. By character, one stands out from the crowd. That takes courage.
There is an everyday level of courage to which all of us are called. It manifests itself in the choices that each of us must make about the fundamental values or virtues by which we live.
A person of moral character will choose fair-mindedness over bigotry, the dignity of the person over impersonal business or material advantage, a respect for human beings over the lust for pleasure, or power, or personal success, a willingness to go the extra mile to make something “just right” because it’s the better thing to do.
People of character, in short, will try to choose what is true and good and right in all decisions, small and great, that affect family, work, career, and social life, the raising of children, relationships with others, even leisure time.
Paul pleads with us to be men and women of courage, to “walk by faith,” to please God by the way in which we live and behave.
Especially in light of Paul’s message, all of us are called to seek not what is “fashionable,” not what is expected by others, but simply what is right and true and good. And having found that: as the advertisement says, just do it.
Sunday, June 10, 2018
|St. Paul Preaching in Athens by Raphael|
The story is symbolic. There's the tree of life. But another tree offers knowledge of good and evil, symbolizing “divine status.” Enter the snake. It set people against one another and against God. The man and woman wanted to be "godlike," Smore than the creatures they were. And so they ate the "forbidden fruit' and lost their friendship with God. and became estranged from one another. And ever since, although we are intrinsically good, we have a tendency sometimes to choose evil.
But God didn't leave us to our own devices. God became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth. Through his horrific death and glorious resurrection Jesus Christ reestablished our relationship with God and promised that goodness ultimately will triumph over evil.
Paul in the letter to the Corinthians reflects on his own life, and his passion to proclaim everywhere the good news, the Gospel: Jesus Christ is alive! God abides in us and we in God. God gifted Paul with an amazing faith that empowered him to overcome all kinds of obstacles.
In the Gospel according to Mark, we have a conflict: between faith and a lack thereof. Some of Jesus's relatives think he's crazy. The scribes argue he works signs and wonders in the name of Satan. Jesus refutes this. And then Jesus simply concludes, who are my brothers and sisters? They who not only hear God's word but do it.
Our Catholic faith is a gift from God that empowers us to have a right relationship with God. Faith invites us to enter into relationship with Jesus Christ, to follow him who is our way to eternal life, our truth who sets us free from falsehoods, our light who illuminates the darkness as we journey toward our heavenly dwelling place. Faith is about our relationship with God that we nurture, especially through prayer, liturgical as well as devotional.
Belief, on the other hand, is a statement about the essential truths of our faith that we proclaim in the fourth-century Nicene Creed we profess on Sundays.
And yes, we believe in the Holy Spirit, the lord, the giver of life. The power of the Spirit is within us, enabling us to do good. And we believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic community. We acknowledge one baptism and look toward the resurrection and the life to come.
This Nicene Creed underscores the essential content of our faith; what we believe truly matters. May the gift of our faith whereby we relate to God, and may the content of that faith which we profess on Sundays, empower us, as the prophet Micah says, to always act fairly, to love tenderly and walk humbly with our God.
Monday, June 4, 2018
|DaVinci's Last Supper|
The meal table often is the center of family life. We gather in love and friendship and conversation. Families celebrate birthdays, marriages, retirement, and holiday feasts.
In our global Catholic family, the altar or table of the Lord is the center of our faith community. We celebrate the Lord’s Supper, to re-enact the Easter mystery of the dying and rising of Jesus Christ so that we can re-experience our salvation and nurture the life of God within us.
The word of God takes us back to the liberation of the Hebrews. Moses mediates a covenant in a so-called “blood” ritual which symbolizes that God and the Hebrews share the same divine life. We too carry God’s life.
The Gospel according to Mark recalls the last supper or Passover of Jesus in the upper room in Jerusalem.
When Jesus sat down to that supper, he faced three challenges:First: He had to leave us and yet He wanted to stay with us. How did he solve this challenge? Listen to His words: This is my body; this is my blood. The bread and wine become sacramentally the Living Christ, his presence among us until He comes again.
The second challenge: Jesus wanted to die for each one of us and yet He could die only once as a human being. Listen to His words: Do this in remembrance of me. The same victim who died for us centuries ago returns to this sacrificial meal today.
The third challenge: Jesus wanted to be one with us and yet this was impossible this side of heaven. Listen to His words: Take and eat; take and drink. The bread and wine become sacramentally the living Christ. Jesus gives us his body and blood.
Christ, the master, calls us to be God-centered, Other-centered people. So we pray that God may re-energize all of us through the Eucharist—the Body and Blood of Christ--to be the “hands and feet and ears and voice” of Jesus in people’s everyday lives, "bread" to one another.