Sunday, February 16, 2020

One Step at a Time


There is a story of a coach who challenged his runners to run in a marathon.  As they trained each day they were encouraged to push themselves just a little bit further each day.  Soon several dropped out so that there were six runners and their coach left to run the marathon.  After six months of training the day for their marathon arrived.  All completed the thirteen mile marathon with their best times ever.  Recounting their success they attributed it to the fact that their coach had encouraged them to run further then they had the day before.
Our Scriptures today challenge us to go a step further.  Each of our readings call us to look deep within.  For the past two Sundays we have listened to the Sermon on the Mount that calls us to look long and hard at how we are living our lives.  As we pray this day let us all look deep into our hearts and see where we can go one step further, where we can grow closer to our God.  We are called to look beneath the surface and examine our hearts how we are living our lives.  May we always make the choice to choose life and make more room for God in our lives – moving closer to God one step more each day.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Salt and Light


Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  You are the light of the world.  A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”  (Mt. 5: 13 - 16)

Today’s Gospel from the Sermon on the Mount is one of my favorites.  In this story Jesus states clearly what we are called to do in life.  As luck would have it I attended two liturgies today one with our Ursuline sisters and the other at a local parish where our Honor’s Choir was signing.  The homilies the priest shared today were inspiring. 

The first one shared the story of a young boy who was living in a residential treatment facility in the 1960’s.  Each week the children would earn an “allowance” where they could use the money to buy some candy in the facilities store.  Week after week the young boy never received his “allowance” because of his behavior.  After several weeks he finally was going to receive it and was excited throughout the day.  Finally the moment arrived for him to go purchase his two Hershey candy bars.  After his purchase he went outside and noticed a boy who had just arrived.  He went over to the other boy and handed him his two prized Hershey bars.  When asked why he did this he simply responded, “Because he needed them more than I did.”  What an incredible statement and gift of sharing.

The second story was one about a young man who had lived in a homeless shelter and after he got back on his feet was hired to help out.  He did so with great enthusiasm.  His job was to clean the sidewalk outside the shelter.  While doing his job he always greeted those who passed him by.  Year after year he did his job well with pride and joy.  Ultimately he succumbed to AIDS and his funeral gathering scattered onto the street.  He died serving others and never felt sorry for himself.  The priest ended the homily with the statement, “He was Christ to all who he encountered.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the same could be said of us?”  Another profound statement.

As I reflected this afternoon on these homilies I realized that today was a true gift for me.  As I prayed I could feel the impact of the words I had heard earlier.  May we always remember to be Christ for one another.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Catholic Schools Week 2020


Each year the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) marks the last week of January as "National Catholic Schools Week."  The theme is "Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed." This theme encompasses the core products and values that can be found in Catholic schools across the country. Not only are we teaching students to become future servant leaders, faith-filled disciples and enriched citizens in our communities, we, as educators, are growing with them. In Catholic schools, we are all learners, servants and leaders. These shared qualities are what make Catholic schools work. They are what make Catholic schools succeed. We will celebrate the daily themes with prayer and different activities.

The daily themes are:  

Sunday, Celebrating our Parish
Monday, Celebrating our Community
Tuesday, Celebrating our Students
Wednesday, Celebrating our Nation
Thursday, Celebrating Vocations
Friday, Celebrating our Faculty and Staff
Saturday, Celebrating our Families

Let us pray:  Loving God, we give you thanks for the gift of Catholic Schools.  As we begin to celebrate Catholic Schools Week, help us to be always aware of the blessing of your community and the chance for each of us to be members of it.  We thank you for the opportunity to attend a school where we can live out your Gospel, and be shaped as your disciples.  Amen

Take some time this week to look back over your Catholic education and thank a teacher who has had an impact on your life.  Cherish the memories that made your education great and pray for those who are receiving it today that their experience will be as rich as yours was.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day


Today we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of January. It celebrates the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., an influential American civil rights leader. He is most well-known for his campaigns to end racial segregation on public transport and for racial equality in the United States.

Martin Luther King was an important civil rights activist. He was a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States. His most famous address was the "I Have A Dream" speech. He was an advocate of non-violent protest and became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated in 1968.

In 1968, shortly after Martin Luther King died, a campaign was started for his birthday to become a holiday to honor him. After the first bill was introduced, trade unions lead the campaign for the federal holiday. It was endorsed in 1976. Following support from the musician Stevie Wonder with his single "Happy Birthday" and a petition with six million signatures, the bill became law in 1983. Martin Luther King Day was first observed in 1986, although it was not observed in all states until the year 2000. In 1990, the Wyoming legislature designated Martin Luther King Jr/Wyoming Equality Day as a legal holiday.

For the past twenty-five years people have used this day as a day of service and giving back to the community.  Many organizations utilize this day to make a special effort to instill the value of service on all.  As we celebrate this day may we always remember and live his words, “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Baptism of the Lord


Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.  John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”  Then he allowed him.  After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:14 - 17

Today we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. Jesus did not have to be baptized.  He submitted to baptism by John because He wanted to fully embrace our humanity.  Jesus is showing what kind of role model He desired to be.  By embracing baptism, Jesus who knew no sin took on our human frailty to save us from sin.  Jesus wants us to come to Him in every phase of our lives – in the good times as well as in the difficult ones.  He is always there for us if we are open to welcoming Him into our hearts and our lives.  Jesus was open to God’s desires and encourages us to do the same.  He chose to be baptized and after He was His action was affirmed by God.  His loving Father affirmed His pleasure with His Son.  Today is a good day to think about our own baptismal call.  We are called to continue to live out those promises that were taken for us when we are infants.  Let us do so with faith and hope.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Epiphany


Today we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany.  The visit of the Magi occurs in Matthew’s Gospel.  The visit of the astrologers, kings, noblemen or travelers is a story that we so associate with the Christmas Season.  We know little about the Magi. They come from the East and journey to Bethlehem, following an astrological sign, so we believe them to be astrologers. We assume that there were three Magi based upon the naming of their three gifts. The Gospel does not say how many Magi paid homage to Jesus. In Matthew’s Gospel, they represent the Gentiles’ search for a savior. Because the Magi represent the entire world, they also represent our search for Jesus.

We have come to consider the gifts they bring as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ role in salvation. We believe the meaning of the gifts to be Christological. Gold is presented as representative of Jesus’ kingship. Frankincense is a symbol of his divinity because priests burned the substance in the Temple. Myrrh, which was used to prepare the dead for burial, is offered in anticipation of Jesus’ death.  The word Epiphany means “manifestation” or “showing forth.” Historically several moments in Christ’s early life and ministry have been celebrated as “epiphanies,” including his birth in Bethlehem, the visit of the Magi, his baptism by John, and his first miracle at Cana. 

At most Liturgies today the song We Three Kings is sung.

WE THREE KINGS LYRICS

We three kings of Orient are Bearing gifts we traverse afar.
Field and fountain, moor and mountain, Following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect Light. 

Born a king on Bethlehem’s plain, Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never Over us all to reign.

O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding Guide us to thy perfect Light. 

Frankincense to offer have I.  Incense owns a Deity nigh.
Prayer and praising all men raising, Worship Him, God on high.

O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect Light.

Myrrh is mine: Its bitter perfume Breaths a life of gathering gloom.
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying, Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect Light.

As we reflect on this day and this song let us always remember to follow the star that continually leads us to Jesus.  Let us follow the star this day to the perfect light.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Solemnity of Mary


The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.  When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child.  All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.  And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.  Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.  When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.  Matthew 2: 16 - 21

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.  This is the day that we honor Mary as the mother of Jesus.  In the gospel for the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God opens with the uplifting story of the shepherds who rush to Bethlehem to see Mary and Joseph and an infant lying in a manger.   The image of these simple shepherds is one that gives a beautiful picture.  The shepherds went with great joy sharing the message of the angel with everyone who would listen.  They came and paid homage and returned to their fields praising God for all they had witnessed.

Each year at this time I find myself drawn to reflecting on the Christ child lying in the manger.  This tiny infant changed the course of human history.  Christ came that we may have life and live it to the fullest.  As we sing the traditional Christmas Carols let us reflect on the reality to which we are called.  We are called to relive the birth of Christ and look at what that means in our daily life.  This Christmas let our hearts be opened to the love that came so that we may know love.