Sunday, November 22, 2020

Feast of Christ the King

 

Today we celebrate the end of the Liturgical Year with the Feast of Christ the King.  As a young child I remember singing the hymn, To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King.

To Jesus Christ, our Sovereign King, Who is the world’s salvation, all praise and homage do we bring, and thanks and adoration.

Christ Jesus Victor, Christ Jesus Ruler! Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer!

Thy reign extend, O King benign, to every land and nation, for in Thy kingdom, Lord divine, alone we find salvation.

To Thee and to Thy Church, great King, We pledge our hearts’ oblation, until before Thy throne we sing, in endless jubilation.

This hymn somehow did not capture my image of a King at the time.  Now this day has a greater meaning for me.  In our reading today we hear the description of the final judgement when all will be separated as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  The judgement of the Son of Man will be based on our acts of mercy shown to the least among us.  Jesus teaches that when the Son of Man comes in glory, he will judge the nations, separating the sheep from the goats.

Last week’s parable of the talents taught us that the gifts that we have been given are intended to be used for the service of others, especially the least among us. Our judgment before God will be based not only on how we have used these gifts and talents, but also on how we have extended ourselves in service to these least ones. Indeed, Jesus tells us that whenever we have served these least ones, we have served Christ himself.

As we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King and prepare for Thanksgiving.  Let us take the opportunity to make conscious efforts to share with the least among us.  May we share generously and remember that when we serve others we are serving Jesus too.




Sunday, November 8, 2020

Being Nice and Kind



When I saw the above sign on Facebook it spoke deeply to me.  Perhaps it is all that has happened in our country this week or the loss of Alex Trebek.  This simple sign speaks to me of a world I would love to see.  Tim McGraw's song, Always be Humble and Kind evokes the same sentiment for me.  It seems so simple yet it is nearly impossible for us to do.  Perhaps taking one small step each day will bring us closer to a world of peace, joy, and hope.

Hearing the news of Alex Trebek's death today brought a real sense of sadness for so many people.  Many expressed their gratitude for this life well lived. In several interviews Alex credits his popularity from the reality that he just kept trying.  When he first announced that he had stage 4 cancer there was tremendous shock yet he vowed to fight it and he valiantly did.  Ten days ago he filmed his last Jeopardy show which will air near the end of 2020.   I learned so much watching his show and will miss his poignant messages and his zeal for life.  May we take a moment to celebrate his wonderful life and remember to never stop learning.

 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

All Saints Day

 

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of All Saints and so we pray in our opening prayer:  God, our Father, source of all holiness, the work of your hands is manifest in your saints, the beauty of your truth is reflected in their faith.  May we who aspire to have part in their joy be filled with the Spirit that blessed their lives, so that having shared their faith on earth we may also know their peace in your kingdom.  Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen

Every year the Church recalls the example, witness, and prayer of the holy women and men who have been identified by the Church as Saints. These saints are more than just role models; they are family members with whom we continue to share relation, in a bond of prayer, called the Communion of Saints. Every year when we celebrate this day, the Gospel we proclaim recalls for us Jesus' teaching about happiness, the Beatitudes. We quickly note in this reading that none of those Jesus names as “blessed” or “happy” are expected . . . the poor in spirit, the meek, and the persecuted. Jesus' blueprint for happiness reflects little of what the world might call happiness.

What does Jesus mean when he uses the word “blessed?” This word is sometimes translated as “happy” or “fortunate” or “favored.” In other words, Jesus is saying that divine favor is upon those who are poor, who mourn, and who are persecuted. This might have been welcome and surprising news to the crowds who heard Jesus that day.

The Beatitudes can be understood as a framework for Christian living, an attitude of being.  Because of this, it is natural that we proclaim this Gospel on the Feast of All Saints. Saints are people who lived the spirit of the Beatitudes as Jesus lived. As we live this day let us remember that we too are challenged to model our lives on the spirit and promises of the Beatitudes.   May we always have an attitude of being!



Sunday, October 25, 2020

Loving Others

 

In the Opening Prayer of today’s Liturgy we hear, “Almighty ever-living God, increase our faith, hope and charity, and make us love what you command, so that we may merit what you promise. We make this prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”  This prayer truly sets the stage for today’s Gospel reading from Matthew where we have Jesus being a scholar of the law tested Jesus by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  Jesus’ response was, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."  From today's Gospel Mt 22: 34-40.

 How ironic! Jesus faced a parade of dignitaries trying to trap him instead of asking how they could better care for the people surrounding him. Their very actions showed how blind they were to what it really meant to love God or their neighbor.  When we think of the word “love” we may immediately think of love as a feeling. This is understandable due to the strong influence of the media on our world that often illustrates love as a feeling. However, by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross it is revealed to us Christians that love is an action. Like all actions, love requires an initiative from our will. As human beings, we have been given the gift of free will, as such we are not forced to love our God or anyone for that matter. We are invited to love others and our decision to love comes from a place of freedom and reason.

 Let us take this week to reflect on our actions and our intentions behind them. Let us not be afraid to ask ourselves “why we do what we do each day? If you find yourself answering in a way you are not happy with, bring it to Jesus. Let us allow Jesus into our decisions and ask for His help.  Jesus, teach us to love others as you would have us.




Sunday, October 11, 2020

The International Day of the Girl

 

Today we celebrate the Day of the Girl.  Progress for adolescent girls has not kept pace with the realities they face today, and COVID-19 has reinforced many of these gaps. This year, under the theme, “My Voice, Our Equal Future”, let’s seize the opportunity to be inspired by what adolescent girls see as the change they want, the solutions- big and small- they are leading and demanding across the globe.

In 2020, we commemorate 25 years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the global agenda for advancing the rights and empowerment of women and girls, everywhere. Generation Equality was also launched in early 2020 as a multi-year, multi-partner campaign and movement for bold action on gender equality. A clear narrative and actions related to the needs and opportunities of adolescent girls and their solutions is central to the Generation Equality mission.

On December 19, 2011, United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.  The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.

Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders. An investment in realizing the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.

Girls are breaking boundaries and barriers posed by stereotypes and exclusion, including those directed at children with disabilities and those living in marginalized communities. As entrepreneurs, innovators and initiators of global movements, girls are creating a world that is relevant for them and future generations.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015, embody a roadmap for progress that is sustainable and leaves no one behind.  Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is integral to each of the 17 goals. Only by ensuring the rights of women and girls across all the goals will we get to justice and inclusion, economies that work for all, and sustaining our shared environment now and for future generations.

Empowering women and girls and promoting gender equality is crucial to accelerating sustainable development. Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, but it also has a multiplier effect across all other development areas.  Taken from un.org

May we always support the efforts of girls and empower them to continue to achieve their goals.




Sunday, October 4, 2020

 

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.  As the Season of Creation comes to and end this Sunday let’s pray once more the Canticle of Creation written by St. Francis.  The Canticle of the Sun in its praise of God thanks Him for such creations as "Brother Fire" and "Sister Water". It is an affirmation of Francis' personal theology as he often referred to animals as brothers and sisters, rejected material accumulation and sensual comforts in favor of "Lady Poverty".: 

O Most High, all-powerful, good Lord God, to you belong praise, glory,
honor and all blessing.  Be praised, my Lord, for all your creation and especially for our Brother Sun,
who brings us the day and the light; he is strong and shines magnificently.  O Lord, we think of you when we look at him.  Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Moon, and for the stars which you have set shining and lovely in the heavens.  Be praised, my Lord, for our Brothers Wind and Air and every kind of weather by which you, Lord, uphold life in all your creatures.  Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Water, who is very useful to us, and humble and precious and pure.  Be praised, my Lord, for Brother Fire, through whom you give us light in the darkness:  he is bright and lively and strong.  Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Earth, our Mother, who nourishes us and sustains us, bringing forth fruits and vegetables of many kinds and flowers of many colors.  Be praised, my Lord, for those who forgive for love of you; and for those who bear sickness and weakness in peace and patience - you will grant them a crown. Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister Death, whom we must all face.  I praise and bless you, Lord, and I give thanks to you, and I will serve you in all humility.
    Amen




Sunday, September 27, 2020

Following Jesus' Way

 

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:  "What is your opinion?  A man had two sons.  He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.'  He said in reply, 'I will not, ' but afterwards changed his mind and went.  The man came to the other son and gave the same order.  He said in reply, 'Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.  Which of the two did his father's will?"  They answered, "The first."  Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.  When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not  believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him."   Matthew 21: 28 - 32

 Once again, this Sunday. Jesus speaks to and teaches us through a parable.  Jesus uses the rich image of the vineyard to help us to understand His message. In Jesus’ time a vineyard would have been a prized possession, a sign of wealth.  He used the image to speak a profound message.   This parable is rather familiar to us as it is about two sons – one who obeys eventually and does his father’s will and the other who does not.  In this parable we are called to be like the first son who not only changed his mind, he also changed his heart.  We need to make choices and decisions that continue to help us to follow Jesus like the first son did.  We need to follow through on our intentions and remember that we have the ability to change.  May we always strive to walk in the light of Jesus and follow His call.

This week we encounter the angels and saints.  As we celebrate the Feast of St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, the Archangels, the Feast of St. Jerome, the Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Feast of the Guardian Angels.  We have many intercessors watching out for us this week.