12th Sunday in Ordinary Time – June 20, 2021

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time – June 20, 2021

12B21.    Job 38:1, 8-11.     God uses his divine power to master the unruliness of nature, seen as the sea bursting forth as from the womb with wild abandon.  “When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door, and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stilled!”  God’s divine power overrules the power of nature.

Mark 4:35-41.     The violent squall came up.  It was not the storm that awakened Jesus but his disciples in their terror.  Jesus overpowered the storm with his quiet might.   As he rebuked the storm, he rebukes them: “Do you not yet have faith?”  In effect, he was saying, “Why do you choose to live in your own weakness and not the strength of God?”  “They were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?’”  We can easily slip into a mode where we think of Jesus as just another person or some especially gifted human.  He was infinitely more.  We are so finite that we do have not the capability to grasp, even minutely, the awesome infinity of God.   Daily and often, we must confront ourselves as to whom our God really is by worshipping and adoring him.

2 Corinthians  5:14-17.    “The love of Christ impels us,” “so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”  “So whoever is in Christ is anew creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”  Immersed in Christ through our union with him in prayer, his love for us becomes our life.  Our bodily life or this world is no longer what it is all about.  In Galatians 2:20 Paul wrote, “Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me: insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.”  Our lives are so radically changed when we live in Christ and not in the spirit and the ways of this world.  For we who walk in the Way of Christ, the Spirit is the breathe of life by which we live.

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time – June 13, 2021

11B21.   Ezekiel 17:22-24.    Our Almighty Wondrous God takes off a tender shoot and makes it to “become a majestic cedar.”  “I, the Lord bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree, wither up the green tree, and make the withered tree bloom.  As I, the Lord, have spoken, so will I do.”  What is important is not what happens on its own naturally BUT rather what God accomplishes by his power and might.  What is natural, rots; what is supernatural, is eternal.

Mark 4:26-34.   “This is how it is with the kingdom of God.”  The man scatters the seed.  It sprouts and grows and “he knows not how.”  “When the grain is ripe,” “the harvest has come.”  The seed is God’s power within us to make his divine life grow.  When his power with our cooperation has produced holiness in us, “he wields the sickle,” and God takes us off to heaven.  Then Jesus offers a second parable in which “the smallest of all the seeds” “becomes the largest of plants.”  This is to say the power of God, which in earthly terms seems of little or no visible value, is what has the greatest value, because God makes much happen from small beginnings.  In speaking in parables Jesus is saying we must join our hearts and our minds to his, to be able to comprehend what he says.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10.   To be courageous means to be people of full and wholesome heart.  As long as our heart is feed by the heart of Jesus, “we are always courageous.”  Even while we are in this world with all its earthiness, we are called to be a Godly, heavenly people.   That means “we walk by faith, not by sight,” living our lives in the hands of God and not our own. “Therefore, we aspire to please him,” because his opinion or appraisal of us, is all that matters.  “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.”  What I think or what anyone else thinks or does, must be in full accord with what God thinks and wills, or else, it is worthless.

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2018

11B18.   Ezekiel 17:22-24.  “Thus says the Lord God: I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar,” “a tender shoot, and plant it” “on the mountain heights of Israel” and it shall “become a majestic cedar.”  After the Babylonians had enslaved the Israelites and exterminated the ruling family in Jerusalem, Ezekiel is saying that God will reestablish the Davidic line of rulers and his kingdom in Israel again.  Referring to Israel God says he will “lift high the lowly tree”  “and make the withered tree bloom.” As Christians, we see this as foretelling of Jesus founding the kingdom of God on earth.

Mark 4:26-34.  Using parables, Jesus hopes to give the crowds some idea of how it is with spiritual kingdom of God that he seeks to create.  The man who scatters the seed is perhaps the good follower of Christ whom the Spirit uses to bring the word of God to others.  The one who makes the seed sprout, grow and become fruitful is the Holy Spirit himself.  The harvest is the gathering into heaven of the souls who have cooperated with the work of the Holy Spirit in them and grown day by day in the faith.  In the next parable Jesus emphasizes the smallness of the mustard seed, perhaps to say that, with just a little willingness in one’s heart, God can make a wonderful saint out of anyone.  Mark writes: “Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.”  Learning requires readiness and preparation.  What we have learned in the past enables to add or build on to achieve even more learning as one grade in school builds on the year’s previous learning. Learning is not only with the head but also with the heart.  Past experiences and choices help us to develop yet further our character and emotional commitment.  Jesus explains the parables in private to his own disciples because, having been with Jesus far more than the crowds, they know more and are more committed to Jesus.  Jesus builds on our readiness and dedication to grow spiritually.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10.  Paul writes: “We are always courageous; although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.  Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.”  To get a better understanding of these lines it helps to get a Bible and to read the verses that precede the ones we have above.  In this life while we truly do have the Lord because of our God-given faith; yet we will have God far more when we can actually see him in heaven.  We have the first installment on our home in heaven because God has given us the Holy Spirit who helps us to develop further as saints, who are the only people God allows to see him in heaven.  We need to have courage each day because life in this world is a struggle against the temptations from the devil and the world itself.  Life is this world was not easy for Jesus and likewise is not easy for us.

Paul continues: “Therefore, we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.”  In my own mind we should love to please him because we enjoy his loving us so much.  Receiving recompense naturally flows from being loyal and faithful.  Family is family just for the joy of being loved and loving others because we are so filled with love that we cannot do anything else but love.  With Christ living in us and we living in Christ, we are already living the heavenly life to the degree that life in this world will allow us.  Jesus said in John 15:4a: “Remain in me, as I remain in you.”

 

Body & Blood of Christ – June 6, 2021

CorpChristiB21.     Exodus 24:3-8.   The Israelites offered holocausts and sacrificed “young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord.”  Moses took the blood from the offerings and splashed half on the altar.  I view this blood as a symbol of the people offering their life as the People of God to God. Secondly, Moses took the rest of “the blood and sprinkled it on the people,” symbolizing that God was giving something of his life to the people.  That blood sealed the covenant or union with God. Jesus employed the language or mode of the Old Testament sacrifices, when he offered up himself as a sacrifice.

Mark 14:12-16, 22-26.  Traditionally the Jews celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because long ago they were preparing to leave Egypt quickly, when they could not wait to leaven their bread.  At that first Passover, they also marked the lintels and the two doorposts with the blood of a lamb to indicate the ones who were the Jews whom the angel would spare from death.   Jesus celebrated that Passover Meal but now offering up himself as the Passover lamb when he took the bread and said: “This is my body” and took the cup and said: “This is my blood of the covenant which will be shed for many.”   In offering up his body and blood he uses the imagery or language of the Old Testament sacrifices to offer up himself at the Passover Meal.  What he does at the Passover meal symbolically but really, he later does physically on the cross.  In receiving the body and blood of Christ at the Eucharist, we receive in a spiritual way Jesus himself into us to be our Messiah and Savior.

Hebrews 9:11-15.   “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.”  In giving us his blood to drink, Jesus is pouring into us a share of his life-giving force so that the life we live is infinitely more that the natural life of this world.  It is rather the supernatural life of heaven, while yet we still live physically here on this earth.  His blood, not only spiritually energizes us, but also cleanses and washes away what is not of God so that we may be wholly of God, his holy people.

Body & Blood of Christ – 2018

CorpChristiB18.  Exodus 24:3-8.  “When Moses came to the people and related all the words and ordinances of the Lord, they all answered with one voice, ‘We will do everything that the Lord has told us.’”  To accept God as one’s God we must submit to his authority over us.  This is not a horizontal relationship between equals but a vertical relationship between those who have been created and their Creator, between those who live in a state of absolute dependence and the One on whom we can utterly depend upon forever.  A second time Moses reads to them the covenant and a second time they accept but this time he sprinkles half of the blood of the sacrifice on them and the other half on the altar to symbolize that God and the people are bound together by the covenant. Blood which symbolizes life or the life-giving force is used to indicate that the covenant is now operative as the life giving relationship between God and his people.

Mark 14:12-16, 22-26.  At their celebration of the Passover, the last meal that Jesus was to eat before dying on the Cross, what we traditionally call ‘The Last Supper,’  Jesus establishes the new covenant that then super cedes that of Old Testament.  Of the bread he shares with the Apostles, Jesus says, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he shared the cup with them saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”  This all precedes his actually offering up himself; body and blood on the cross as a once and for all time sacrifice to God the Father to atone for our sins.  At Mass we re-present that same sacrifice on the cross, since he is not dying over and over again.

Hebrews 9:11-15.  The offering up of the blood of goats and bulls was repeated endlessly in the old covenant to sanctify those who were defiled in any way.  In the new covenant the blood of Christ once offered up, only needs to be re-presented to God the Father to cleanse us from our sins, since the one offering on the cross has infinite, endless value before God.  Jesus is the “mediator of the new covenant,” who presents his sacrifice to his Father for our benefit. In Hebrews 9:24-26  we read, “For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf. Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own; if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world.  But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice.” In Romans 5:8- 9, Paul writes, “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath.” Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Our reception of Jesus in the Eucharist enables us to go to the Father through the Son who is the only way to the Father, in other words, the only way to heaven.

 

Holy Trinity – May 30, 2021

TrinityB21.    Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40.   Moses is calling upon the Hebrews to be captivated by how deeply God has embraced them as His People!  He is their God; they are his People!  This is the Lord, the “God in the heavens above and on earth below.”  “There is no other.”  They have been adopted by him; chosen out of the midst of many other nations.

Matthew 28:16-20.   In Matthew’s gospel the mountain is the height to which one goes up to meet God who comes down to his people.  How is it that they worshipped Jesus whom they met there but doubted at the same time?  My personal interpretation is that they were feeling lost as to where they were to proceed as Apostles from then on.  Jesus clears that up by sending them out to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Trinitarian God and teaching them to obey all that Jesus has commanded.  To be a disciple of Christ means to always follow Christ who is present in our lives through the power of the Spirit.  Baptism is the washing away of all that is not of God so that we belong to God wholly so to become holy.  And then Jesus promises “I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  In Matthew’s gospel Jesus refers to the ‘end’ or the ‘end of the age’ or when “the Son of Man will come” as a way of referring to his Second Coming as King and Judge of the world at the end of time. Although Jesus is not now present physically as he was before the Ascension, he is now present spiritually empowering and directing us through the Holy Spirit to bring the world to him.

Romans 8:14-17.  “Brothers and sisters: Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”  Through the day, each day, we must choose to be led by our bodies, the influence of the world around us and the devil OR by the Holy Spirit.  If we choose to follow the Spirit out of the power that the Spirit gives us to break free from the hold of all those forces that are not of the Spirit, we then become “children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” It is not easy to break free from the forces of this world. To follow Christ will cause us suffering but, nonetheless, lead us to “also be glorified with him.”

Holy Trinity – 2018

TrinityB18.   Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40.

Moses explains to the people how wondrous is their God, caring for them and looking after them like no other god.  “This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.”  He deserves your obedience to him and will reward you greatly, if you act as a people who belong to him.

Matthew 28:16-20.  “They worshiped (him) but they doubted.”  The doubt, I believe, was that they were unsure of what was to follow, after Jesus was to leave them, and that made them uneasy.  Jesus said, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.   And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  I believe that Jesus, in announcing to them that he has received all power was saying that he is God and that what he was commanding them to do comes from him out of his authority as God and as the almighty God in his infinite power he will be with them without fail until the end of time in all the church’s work of making “disciples of all nations.”  Jesus commands that they are to baptize in the name of the Triune God.  The clarity of this statement makes it clear that God sees himself as three Persons but one God.  In saying this, Jesus reveals, beyond what is given in the Old Testament, that the One God is, not only love, but a relationship of infinite love so giving of each Person to the other that the three become one.  The three persons of the Trinity are so infinitely given to each other in love that they are not three gods but one God.  This mystery can be so disturbing for many but we, who are human, finite or so limited in comparison to what is infinite, divine or without human limitations, are incapable of fully grasping, taking ahold of, comprehending or understanding the limitless, almighty God.  It would be like trying to fit the whole ocean into a tiny cup.

Psalm 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19 20, 22.   “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made.”  “He commanded, and it stood forth.”  He is so almighty that with just a word the whole universe, the whole natural world is created by him.  Nevertheless he deeply cares for us who are so insignificant.  He “is our help and our shield.  May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us who have put our hope in you.”

Romans 8:14-17.  “The spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” The Holy Spirit joins himself to our spirit to proclaim that, as God is love and bound together as one by love, we are taken into God’s family because we are loved. All of the saints in heaven are God’s family able to call God, our Father, and one another, our brothers and sisters. In following Jesus to heaven, we must follow him, accepting our crosses of submission to his Will and dying to our own will, as we go with him to the resurrection.  We are heirs to both his death and resurrection.

Pentecost Sunday – May 23, 2021

PentB21.     Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11.    With the entrance of the Holy Spirit, divine power was released in its fullness, “like a strong driving wind.” “Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire.”  “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”  When Jesus was physically present, he was there outside of them, in front of them.  However, The Spirit came as a force, energy, divine life, as God himself within them.  God testified to his presence within them, by giving those proclaiming the Lord, the power to be understood by each of the hearers “in his native language.”

John 20:19-23.  The Apostles were trembling in fear.  Look what happened to Jesus!  They were fearful because it could also happen to them.  In contrast to the trembling of the Apostles, Jesus appeared in the power of his divine peacefulness.  “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  He sends them out to bring his loving divine presence to the entire world by empowering them with the Holy Spirit.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit they are to bring the breathe and the life of God’s holiness to those who wish to be released from their sinfulness.

John 15:26-27, 16:12-15.  Jesus says, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.  But when he comes, the Spirit of truth he will guide you to all truth.”  The Holy Spirit speaks in unity with the Trinity so that no one divine person speaks ever on his own, but in union with the others.  This world only thinks of what goes from the ‘cradle to the grave’ but the genuine truth that God gives is present and eternal reality.  The glory that the Spirit gives to the Son and the Son to the Father is the recognition of their spectacular, magnificent divinity.

1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13.   “Brothers and sisters: No one can say, ”Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”  As the branches cannot have life without being connected to the divine vine, so too, it is only by the Spirit that we are able to do anything that is truly good.  God, and only God, is the root source of all goodness.  Without God nothing that is genuinely good is able to occur.  In our individual functions in the Church we draw our capacity to truly benefit the Church from the action of the Spirit within us.

Galatians 5:16-25.   “Brothers and sisters: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.” “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.”  Under whose authority and demands do we live our lives, God or our body?  The natural instincts of our bodies have no spiritual morality, only physical gratification.  It is a true moral crucifixion to live in submission to God and in rejection of the physical desires of our bodies that are not in accord with God’s Will.

Pentecost Sunday – 2018

PentB18.   Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11.  Jesus, the Love, the Center, the Light of their lives had ascended, gone away into the heavens.  They were now without him. Jesus had promised the Spirit and so they waited.  When the Holy Spirit came, he came in great power. “Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.”  The Holy Spirit came to set their tongues on fire so that their words might instill a burning desire in their hearers to be devoted to Jesus as their life-giving God.  The Apostles spoke to a crowd of vastly different languages, yet they heard “them speaking in (their) own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”  The Spirit works today, ordinarily not with such a spectacular show, nonetheless with great, quiet power for those whose hearts welcome him.

John 20:19-23 & 15:26-27; 16:12-15.  John’s gospel has Pentecost and Easter occurring on the same day.  For John, Jesus comes on Easter to give the Holy Spirit to the Apostles so that they may go and bring to holiness those who wished to be saved from their sins.  In the second Gospel option, Jesus says, “the Spirit of truth” “will guide you to all truth,” which he receives from the Son who had received it from the Father, the Trinity working together as the one God.  In John’s gospel the word ‘truth’ is used 52 times, and yet even more times in the epistles.  The ‘truth’ means that we belong to what is genuinely real for all eternity, not what people would like to call the truth but what is only invented to make them feel good, or what they would like to think, or what is in fashion today.  That latter so called ‘truth’ are the lies which the devil uses to deliver us to his realm of darkness, away from the light that is God himself.  The truth that the Spirit brings to us is a continuation of what Jesus had brought to his followers when he was on earth.  God, the Holy Spirit uses the bible, the Church’s magisterium or teaching authority and all forms of teaching as instruments to guide us to all truth.

1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13.  “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”  All good that is truly good comes radically from God, the only true source of genuine goodness.  All that we do, think or say that is good comes from the work of God. In Matthew 16: 16-17, “Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.’”  In other words, Peter did not figure this all out on his own but God moved him to recognize the truth of who Jesus was.  If the preacher preaches in such a way that we are moved to be a holier people, that is the work of the Spirit in the preacher and in those who hear his words and not something they do on their own apart from God.  To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.  It is the work of the Spirit to build up the church by giving different gifts to different individuals.  It is the “same God who produces all of them in everyone.” “We are all given to drink of one Spirit.”

Galatians 5:16-25.  “Live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.”  Here Paul is not writing about the necessary, nutritional demands our bodies make on us to live from day to day but on the illicit cravings that our bodily nature might tempt us to.  The fruit of the Spirit are the good actions that God calls us to.  “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.”

Ascension – May 16, 2021

AscenB21.    Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11.   Luke relates that Jesus, after the resurrection “presented himself alive” to his apostles enjoining them to remain in Jerusalem to wait to be baptized with the Holy Spirit.  The apostles were still thinking that the kingdom Jesus promised to establish was of a political nature.  However, he tells them that the power they will receive is not of a military nature but will be power that will come upon them from the Holy Spirit so that they can give witness “to the ends of the earth” that Jesus is the Messiah.  Jesus ascends up into heaven to make way for the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Then two men dressed in white garments, who we understand to be angels, tell them that one day Jesus will return from heaven, his Second Coming.

Mark 16:15-20.    “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.’”  “They went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.”  What Jesus had begun while he was visibly and physically in this world, the Church, led by the apostles, were to continue, by going to the entire world, giving witness to his saving power.

Ephesians 1:17-23 & Ephesians 4:1-13.  In his resurrection, Jesus was raised from the dead.  In his ascension, Jesus was seated at the right hand of the Father, far above everything and everyone forever.  “That he might fill all things” means whatever is good has Jesus as its life-giving energy and his personal presence.  Without Jesus the vine, nothing can have any value.  His presence and life-giving force or grace equips the holy ones, those devoted to Jesus, “for the work of the ministry, for the building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God.”  By the power of Christ through the working of the Holy Spirit, we grow into full adult Christian maturity, “to the extent of the full stature of Christ.”  He brings us together into his body with him as the head.  With his grace energizing and guiding us, we all must become one or unified in him.