Saturday, January 21, 2017

Inaugural address

Isaiah 8:23-9:3; Ps 27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; 1 corinthians 1:10-13,17; Matthew 4:12-23

Inaugurations are always fantastic.  What is most fascinating is not so much the one being inaugurated but the reactions of everyone else to the one and his words.

I have been particularly amused by the left and right and their critique of President Trumps Inauguration.  His balls have been smaller compared to Obama's they say.  His speech was the worst ever others have pined.  Many are appalled and others are excited.  Who is to say what will unfold as this administration moves forward but there will be plenty of critiques for sure that lie hidden waiting to leap forth.

As the buzz of the inauguration lingers and the news print and internet blogs pronounce their own sentences, this weekend in the Liturgy we encounter another inauguration address.  On this second weekend of Ordinary time, Jesus commences his public ministry,  He steps out of the hidden life of Nazareth and moves into the crossroad of Capernaum, its no Trump tower, but it certainly is a change of pace from little boring Nazareth.

Jesus picks his place so that the majority of people might encounter his message and mission. This is what his public life is about: a showcase of his message and mission and reach into the lives of all.

Surely, a busy crossroads and cosmopolitan like Carpenaum is more suitable than the quite hidden place of Nazareth.

The place is prime.  Not unlike the capital of DC, it draws a crowd regularly and it is is ideal for the inauguration and inaugural address.

What of his inaugural address that begins his public ministry.  It isn't a lengthy discourse.  Unlike most inaugural addresses that last anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, some even longer.  Jesus' words are short, sweet and to the point.

"Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

That's it.  No fancy rhymes.  No subtle images or metaphors.  No lengthy descriptions.  Just a few short words sets the tone of Jesus' mission and message.  The address has been spoken.  Let the critics take heed.

"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

Repent means to change.  It is not just an idea but an invitation.  In fact it isn't just an invitation it is a command.  Change.  It is time.  The waiting is over.  There is hope.  Our past no longer determines our future.  Our follies and foibles do not constitute our substance.  Christ now stands on the threshold of possibilities and transformation and invites us, commands us to come and let the kingdom break through into our hearts, minds, and lives.

The unchanging God has given us a command to welcome change in to our life by sending his son to begin the process of restoration. Things do not have to keep going as they are.  There is in the air a movement, a force, a light that beckons.  Repent!

This repentance isn't proclaimed with a sour note of guilt or shame.  Rather it is promised with an air of certainty and finality.  It issues forth with a resonating force of joy and hope.  The gloom is lifted and light shines forth.

St Augustin says that "God has made himself our debtor not because he has accepted anything from us but by promising us such great blessings."  The great blessings is rooted deeply in the invitation and command to change.  We do not do it on our own but rather we receive that change as simply as we receive the one God has sent.

The kingdom has come in Jesus himself. Heaven has come to earth.  Change is a real possibility not because of our doing but because God has bridged the gap and has stepped into our time and space.

Not only has Jesus proclaimed his inaugural address he also comes to choose his cabinet, so to speak.  He begins by calling Peter and Andrew, James and John.  The first four to make up the twelve.

Jesus doesn't want to bring about change on his own; he wants co workers.  He involves us in the process of transformation.   The contours of the kingdom of heaven no longer are to be found geographically in the terrain on which he stands but rather the contours take shape in the interior of man whose heart now is shaped by the word of God himself.

In the Judaism, it was permissible to cease one's livelihood and to break family ties for the sake of the study of God's word, torah, the law.  When Jesus says "follow me" he is inserting himself as the word of God, the torah, the law.  The first disciples  understand this at a deep and profound way.  In following Christ, in imitating him, they study the Word, the law and allow themselves to be shaped a new.

This is the beauty of the calling of the disciples.   They cut ties with all that they know so that the word of God and the new law that is Jesus can shape them and transform them and thus through them the world around can also benefit.

They show case their freedom as they move forth.

Are we free?  Are we free to follow His command?  What holds us back?  What keeps us from experiencing the change God wants for us as a blessing on a grand scale?

Just as Jesus' decision is decisive and the disciples decision is decisive so we too if we are to let the kingdom come and break through into our lives must also be decisive.




Thursday, December 15, 2016

OPEN

Isaiah 54:1-10

"Enlarge the space for your tent, spread out your tent cloths unsparingly; lengthen your ropes and make firm your stakes; you shall spread abroad to the right and to the left."

"My love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the LORD, who has mercy on you."

Listen to these words again spoken by the prophet.

Enlarge the space for your tent.  Make room for more not less.  Open wide and let others in.  Do not let you small minded judgments keep people out of your life.

If God is our husband as Isaiah says, then we taken his name, we take on his lifestyle.  God's name is generous and magnanimous.  We too must become what we celebrate in God.

He has open eternity to us.  The passage is made wide by the opening of his son's side.

How do we open up to others?  How do we welcome then with a love and peace that harkens back to the God above?

Raise a glad cry…break forth in jubilant song…

Risk opening up to others, to all, to whomever comes your way.  See in it the mannerisms of the Father toward us.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

JESSE TREE

There once was a tradition that instead of decorating trees with balls and lights and just random things, Christians would take the opportunity to each day reflect on salvation history, trace the streps of god becoming man and create an ornament that represented that reality then hang it on the tree.  Each day a new ornament would be created a the journey of Advent brought ever closer to the unfolding of salvation history in the Christ Child, God become flesh.

why not rediscover the beauty of this tradition.

I invite you to go to loyola press.com and type in Jesse tree or click on the link

JESSE TREE

And begin to decorate your tree an your life with the unfolding beauty of God's plan of salvation.  Se if it doesn't spark a new wonder in this season of Advent for you and your family.  Family trees are important they tells us much about ourselves and where we come from.  The family Tree of Jesse is important for it tells us the most important things about us and our family in regards to sin and grace and fall and redemption.

Don't delay.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

THANKS

Revelation 15:1-4; Ps 98 Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God! Luke 21:12-19

Here are a few words from St Paul: For although they knew God they did not accord Him glory as God or give Him thanks.  Instead they became vain in their reasoning.  Their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools..." Romans 1:21ff

What was the result of this thanklessness?

"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever...." Romans 1:25ff


If we pay attention to St Paul, Thanksgiving to God empowers the intellect to truly grow in wisdom where as thanklessness undermines the process and leads us in the path of foolishness.

We are told in the psalm for this evening, "to sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds."  The song may be new in so far as we now recognize the wondrous deeds of God but in reality it is a very very old melody.  For this new song we sing is the old song of thanks that as echoed forth from the dawn of creation.  Since the first moment of light that scattered the darkness and the first sound of wind rushing upon the waters, thanksgiving as resounded as the only response creation has to the one who gives so freely.

Is there any other more fitting song than "Thanks be to God."

As we are told by the psalmist, "Let the sea and what fills it resound, the world and the who dwell in it; let the rivers clap their hands, the mountains shout for joy."

This is the old song that becomes new for us daily in our journey.


Jesus tells us in todays gospel, "They will seize you and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.  It will lead to your giving testimony.  Remember you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute..."

What will be this testimony?  What will be this wisdom of tongue that will leave all powerless to refute or resist?

What if it is simply put the word of thanks to God pressed upon our lips regardless of circumstances.  What if the song of thanks is the only defense worthy of the gift we have received from Him, God almighty.

Pax et Bonum

Sunday, November 20, 2016

SAVE YOURSELF

2 Samuel 5:1-3; Ps 122 Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43

It is often theorized or debated or discussed or even theologized what was Jesus' last great temptation.  There was a movie some decades back entitled in fact the Last Temptation of Christ.

There is much to consider in this regards or nothing at all.

But I do believe in today's gospel as we enter in tot he Feast of Christ the King, we do perhaps get a glimpse into a temptation, not saying it was the last or the greatest.

Here are the words of those who taunt Jesus from below, that is while their feet are firmly on the ground and Jesus' feet are set firmly to wood by the nails:

"The rulers sneered at Jesus and said"he saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the christ of God…Even the soldiers jeered at him,  As they approached to offer him wine they called out, "if you are the King of the Jews, save yourself."

"Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us."

Three times is short span of minutes maybe slightly longer Jesus heard that eerily enticing invitation, "SAVE YOURSELF!"

Just as in the beginning his publicly ministry he was tempted thrice so now at the end he must again face a temptation of thrice magnitude.

Save yourself.

The beauty of our King is he doesn't reign for himself.  He doesn't seek himself in love.  He does not save himself.  He refuses to save himself for the sake of saving us.

This is the Kingly Love we celebrate on this day as we get ready for Advent.

Ponder that reality at some point today.

How often do we save ourselves?  How often do we hear that early enticing invitation and act on it?  Perhaps you can't imagine but then there is fault in our imagination.

Every time we justify our actions even if we know they are wrong we are saving ourselves and not letting Him be our savior.

We do it subtly and not so subtly over and over again.

When the opportunity of goodness toward the other arises and we justify ourselves in not acting we are giving into the temptation.

To enthrone Christ in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies means we stop justifying our actions and we start letting Jesus hold sway in our lives.

He is King.  Let us enthrone him daily in our hearts, minds, wills, bodies.  With him, we too must refuse to save ourselves and only then can true liberation and kingly love and peace begin to reign fully.





Friday, October 28, 2016

SIMON AND JUDE

Today we celebrate the feast of SIMON and JUDE, apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus, we are told, after praying called the disciples and maned the twelve as apostles.

They went from following Jesus to now being ones sent forth ahead of Jesus to announce the goodness of the Father's merciful love.

The word apostles means to be "Sent."  It is often associated with sending a letter or a message.  You could say the apostle would be considered the modern day mail carriers.

The letter the sent is God' message to the world.

But each of us share in a similar mission.  We are also sent forth.  We also have received a message from Jesus to broadcast to the world.  Our life becomes that "letter of recommendation" that St Paul speaks of in his writings.

Do we consider ourselves a letter of recommendation for others for the world?


Also, Simon is called the zealot.  Jude's nameThaddeus means the brave one.  They had nicknames that indicated something of their character and perhaps something of want God used so that they could bring forth the message more clearly and profoundly.

Simon lived his passion for the chosen people.  Jude was willingly to go boldly in the face of opposition.  His brave heart empowered him through difficulties.

What would be the nickname others give u sin regard to living our our faith life an bringing forth the message of the goodness of the Father's merciful love?


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

STEWARD

Ephesians 3:2-12; Isaiah 12:2-3,4,5-6; Luke 12:39-48


To preach the inscrutable richness of Christ.  This is what St Paul says his purpose and mission in life was.

How about us? Do we preach with our lives the inscrutable richness of Christ?

Everything else pales in comparison to this one reality that holds all of reality together.

Jesus invites us to be prudent stewards in today's gospel, "Who then is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute food allowance at the proper time?  Blessed his that servant the master finds doing so upon his arrival,"


We are all stewards of the inscrutable richness of Christ.  For a moment we should remove the dross and the things that are of least important and direct our attention to that which matters most of all.

But first we must ask Jesus to reveal to us his richness in case we have forgotten or never truly experienced it.  It is the encounter that makes the mission possible.

Paul encountered the inscrutable richness of Christ and does was able to give to others what he first experienced.

We too must ask the Lord to reveal his richness to us.  Then we might become stewards of such beautiful grace to others.