This is the Third Sunday of Lent. Today we are asked to look at how well we live in covenant relationship with God and with each other. Jesus invites us to remove those trappings of religion that hinder us from really speaking to God in prayer. We must re-examine how well we make our church a place of prayer for all people -- an oasis of mercy in a world of indifference. How is God inviting me to open to deeper prayer and more loving relationship with community?
Exodus 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17: The Covenant of Moses can be summarized in the ten commandments. They are a special wisdom from God who liberates us. They become the constitution of the new people of God. They set up right relationships between us and God and between each other. We do these things “that we may have life.” We welcome each other with the respect required of a covenant people (living in covenant with God and with each other).
1 Corinthians 1;22-25: The wisdom of God is fully revealed in Jesus. He is our way, our truth and our life. Lent invites us to follow him more fully and more deeply. God’s wisdom and power is the person of Jesus. We welcome each other in the shared wisdom of Jesus.
John 2:13-25: At the start of his ministry Jesus removes from the worship of Israel (symbolized in his day by the Temple worship in Jerusalem) all the is extraneous to the meaning of worship. Meeting God in simple prayer is the greatest act of worship. Lent is a time for us to deepen this reality in our lives. It explains why Jesus was so often found in prayer. It was the center of his life. We are called to make it the center of our lives as well. We welcome each other by making a space for prayer as a community of believers.
This is the Second Sunday of Lent. Though the disciples are fearful and confused about Jesus’ identity and mission, Jesus is shown in Mark’s gospel to be God’s beloved, the messiah who would be raised up. Life, not death, is God’s desire for all beloved sons and daughters. “Jesus wants evangelizers who proclaim the good news not only with words, but above all by a life transfigured by God’s presence.” (Pope Francis: Evangelii Gaudium) How would my life be different if I was “transfigured by God’s presence?”
This is the First Sunday of Lent. “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel!” were the first words of Jesus when he came out of the desert. The waters of the flood of Noah’s time and the waters of our baptism are both about major change, about reshaping -- in other words, about repentance. How is the Spirit leading you, like Jesus, into 40 days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving? How can you open to the transforming flow of God’s mercy?
Genesis 9:8-15: God established a covenant with Noah and his family, a covenant that included the earth and every living creature--a covenant that promises life.
This is the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isolation vs. Inclusion…that is the theme of the readings for Sunday, February 15, 2015. In biblical terms leprosy was understood as covering a wide range of skin diseases. The Jewish people had their laws stating who could be called “unclean” and what rituals had to be done in order for an individual to be reunited to a community.
In our modern world we often try to isolate ourselves from the “lepers” in today’s society: the homeless, the mentally ill, those afflicted with diseases, the poor, etc. Jesus was a faithful Jew. Yet he reached out to touch the unclean. It was his desire that no one, no group be isolated or excluded from the community. Jesus was a compassionate man.
The disciples of Jesus, you and I, have the ability to reach out and touch the alienated of our day through a smile, a kind word, a helping hand, involvement in advocacy for these outcasts. The more developed our society becomes the greater the need to be inclusive of all. We need one another. The marginalized, the excluded can teach us much.
This is the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today’s gospel gives each of us direction for our lives. After healing many, Jesus “went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.” When Simon and the others found him and told him people were looking for him, Jesus answered, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”
Serve. Pray. Serve. Jesus’ life is the perfect example for our lives. Each of us is God’s gift to the world. Each of us has been called to use ourselves in service to others. For Jesus it was to preach. His apostles and disciples assisted, each in his/her own way. So too for us. Our purpose, our calling as followers of Jesus, is to use our unique lives to spread the Gospel. It is through our lives that others will come to believe in the greatest life of all.
This is the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Moses is telling all the people that a prophet, like him, will be raised by God from within their own kin for them to listen to who will speak God’s words. It is important to note that in the culture of the people, a leader, or a prophet, carries the message of God. Just like kings were considered to represent in some way the divine, or speak for the divine, a prophet’s responsibility was to speak in God’s name and be true to God’s commands. Whoever did not listen to the prophet, will have to answer to God. And, if a prophet speaks what God has not commanded to be spoken will have to answer to God too. People were to trust the prophet speaking in God’s name, yet be weary of messages of false gods and teaching. In true listening, the people should discern the truth of God’s commands.
This is the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: The underlying theme in all of today’s readings is the urgency in hearing the message of Jesus; urgency in accepting the reign of God; and urgency in promoting the reign of God and in spreading the reign of God. The readings call us to understand Kairos time. Kairos time is the in breaking of God into our lives. How is God manifested in our time and in our lives? Once we hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and commit to following him, we become evangelizers of the Good News of Jesus Christ in our day and time. Are we open to a new way of living that Jesus teaches? To commit to Jesus Christ means that we are called to believe and to trust in the one who saves and redeems us. We can no longer cling to the world’s values.
This is the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Each of today’s characters plays a role. Samuel needed the help of Eli to figure out that God is the one calling him. Eli even helped Samuel by telling him the best response, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” In the gospel, it is John the Baptist who points out Jesus calling by saying “Behold, the Lamb of God!” John knew. Andrew heard. Andrew’s response was to not only follow Jesus, but also bring his brother Simon to meet Jesus who gives Simon the name Peter.
The readings help us determine where we are with our relationship to God, to Jesus. Obviously our responses can change over our lifetime, and even change throughout a much smaller portion of time. Where am I today in this all-important relationship? Am I one who recognizes the voice or presence? If so, what do I do with that awareness? How freely do I respond? How willing am I to draw another into the circle of loving relationship to which each of us is called? If I am one to whom another is opening God’s presence and desires, how do I respond?
Christmas 2014: Christ is our light, and we are called to shine with his radiance.
This Sunday is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Baptism is a gift of covenant relationship with God marked by love. The salvation God offers is the gift of covenant relationship - the gift of personal relationship with God and one another marked by love. This gift is free, but not without its demand that we continue to change our manner of living. So baptism requires a life-long commitment; but we can do this because we have been baptized with the Holy Spirit who will give us the strength and courage we need. We live out our gratitude for this gift through our love and care for all, which are “God’s commands.”
Christmas 2014: Christ is our light, and we are called to shine with his radiance.
This Sunday is theFeast of the Epiphany: Like the magi in today’s scriptures, we too follow the light of God. As we do, we can become manifestations of God in our time, reflecting that light to others. How has God’s light been leading you? How are you being called to spread the light of Christ to others?