14 November 2017 Tuesday Thirty Second Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

14 November 2017 Tuesday Thirty Second Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

Wisdom 2:23-3:9

Psalm 34

Luke 17:7-10

 

The belief in individual afterlife came late to Judaism. The Book of Wisdom is one of the sources for this belief.

Jesús sided with the Pharisees in their struggle with the Sadducees since the Sadducees had a more traditional approach to the afterlife.  The Sadducees believed  that there was no individual afterlife or resurrection.

 

Today, in the Gospel, Jesús lays out the special nature of the call to discipleship.

Jesús teaches that the disciple is a person who is grateful for the opportunity to follow the way of Jesús.

The disciple understands following Jesús means we are servants to the point of being “slaves” in total service to the needs and demands of the Kingdom.

We may find the work of the Kingdom is challenging, even daunting but we understand carrying the cross, dying to self, putting others first is the path of Jesús.

Jesús did what the Father asked.

Can we do any less?

 

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11 and 12 November 2017 Thirty Second Sunday Ordinary Time A Homily

11 and 12 November 2017 Thirty Second Sunday Ordinary Time A Homily

 

Wisdom 6:12-16

Psalm 63

First Thessalonians 4:13-18

Matthew 25:1-13

 

My sisters and brothers in Christ.

Jesús talks about a wedding feast in the Gospel today.

Wedding feasts at the time of Jesús were not “quickie” ceremonies that were judged on the basis of how little time they took from “Here comes the Bride” to “There goes the couple.”

We might think of the “ten virgins” as the “ten bridesmaids” but they actually were the young and unmarried sisters and cousins of the bridegroom.

Their task was to go to the bride’s house and await the arrival of their relative the “bridegroom” so they could accompany him back to the bridegroom’s father’s home where the couple would live after they were married.

If the bridegroom was a man of means and had his own home the “bridal party’s destination would be the bridegroom’s own home where his family would receive the couple, the bride and bridegroom as well at the bride’s family.

I would like to share a cultural and personal note on these customs.  A similar set of customs is practiced in the Indigenous Tzutuhil Mayan people in Santiago Atitlan Guatemala where I served for a time.

As today’s story develops the “ten young girls” might have fallen asleep because negotiating the “bride price” or dowry might take as long as a couple of days to be agreed upon.  The negotiations, like the match making were not done by the couple to be married but by their parents and other trusted and/or bossy family members.

The wedding feast was also an extended affair. It often could a take week or even more time to properly celebrate the couple’s marriage.

The five wise young girls and the five foolish young girls differed in the fact that the “wise” young girls made “preparation” for the wedding feast.

The five “foolish” young girls went “along for the ride” and may well have been participating out of “duty”, “guilt” or “obligation.”  

These “good time” lassies may well have looked for or been open to a better offer if it had come along before they fell asleep.

The “unthinking” as in foolish girls when they awoke “expected” to be “taken care of” by their more thoughtful companions.

The “foolish” young girls may have felt “entitled” to a share of the oil that their sisters and cousins had decided to bring to the vigil. No one, including the bridegroom, knew when the bridegroom might come.  The bridegroom hopefully would come sometime before dawn.

The “wise” young girls were practical in their response to their “foolish”, unthinking, “advantage taking” sisters and cousins.

When asked to “share” the thoughtful companions  wisely suggested that their unthinking relatives go, in the middle of the night, to buy their own oil.  

This may well have been a fool’s errand since there was probably not a 7-11 down at the corner that was open 24-7 to address the needs of the “foolish” young girls.

We might ask, “Why the bridegroom is so mean or rude to his own family by refusing to ope the door?”

The bridegroom is cut of the same cloth as the “wise” young girls.

The foolish, “entitled” girls petition saying;

“Lord, Lord, open the door for us!”

But the bridegroom said in reply.

“Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.”

The bridegroom is addressed as “Lord” because he symbolizes, as does this whole parable, Jesús the Christ whose wedding feast celebrates God’s love incarnate in Jesús the Christ.

Jesús the Christ is “wedded” to us.

We are the “cherished, honored, profoundly and eternally “loved one” of the bridegroom Jesús the Christ.

The foolish, “entitled” girls say:

“Lord, Lord, open the door for us!”

One reason the “foolish” young girls are not let in is that they, like the man who came to a feast without the proper festal  garment,  do not “know” or “get” what this feast is about.

They are invited but are incapable of understanding or comprehending who it is that invites them and what it is that is being offered and celebrated.

Jesus does not expect or accept lazy, halfhearted, foolish and distracted participation in the business of the coming of his Father’s kingdom.

Today’s Gospel ends with a simple sage piece of advice:”

Therefore, stay awake,

for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

 

“Estén pues, preparados,

porque no saben ni el día ni la hora”.

 

 

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8 November 2017 Wednesday Thirty First Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

8 November 2017 Wednesday  Thirty First Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

Romans 13:8-10

Psalm 112

Luke 14:25-33

 

“The one who loves another has fulfilled the law….”

Paul presumes love of God in saying loving our neighbor fulfills the law.

In fact Paul and Jesús  do not think we have the wherewith

all to love our neighbor if we first do not love God.

 

Jesús does not sugar coat the costliness of responding to the coming of the God’s kingdom into our hearts and lives.

How can Jesús say you must “hate..father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life….to be my disciple”?

Jesus uses two images or metaphors or parables to say what it is like to be his disciple.

It takes wisdom and courage.

Builders and generals need to make calculations about their human and material resources.

Jesús is not interested in distracted, half hearted or incompetent efforts.

It takes courage and wisdom and freedom and faith to be dispossessed of family and things.

The qualities are necessary for anyone who dares to be a disciple of Jesús.

 

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7 November 2017 Tuesday Thirty First Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

7 November 2017 Tuesday Thirty First Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

Romans 12:4-16

Psalm 131

Luke 14:15-24

Paul’s message today  opens with some shocking observations.

First: “We though many are one Body in Christ…”

Second: ”and individually parts of one another.”

This means we are responsible for and to each other.

How can I possibly be a part of you and therefore be responsible for you and how can you be a part of me and responsible to and for me?

The first clue comes from the opening three words of this reading;

“Brothers and sisters….” Paul begins his letters with similar words.

Paul was a person of his own time and culture so in a patriarchal society the “males” precede the “females in common word order usage.

Our sisterhood and brotherhood, our shared “spiritual sibling-hood” we might say, Is not by our choice but by God’s call and God’s decision.

The “parts” are to work together.  How is this possible?

Paul says  very simply: “Let love be sincere.”  He is not talking about romantic love, or “liking”, love at first sight or infatuation.

Paul is talking about love without conditions, without asking why, without expectations of great return.

Paul is speaking about “self emptying” love which is the kind of love Christ has for us.

Self emptying love is love that invites to dinner those who cannot repay us.

 

Jesús spoke yesterday about “dining”.

Someone “dining with Jesús” today speaks about those “who will dine in the Kingdom of God”.

Jesús would like it to be clear that the invitation in the end goes out to the least likely candidates because “none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.”

Other concerns and priorities must not become more important than our participation at the table with the one who gives us the bread of life.

 

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6 November 2017 Monday Thirty First Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

6 November 2017 Monday Thirty First Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

31 Romans 11:29-36

Psalm 69

Luke 14:12-14

 

Paul speaks about how sin and grace work in the history of salvation.

The “disobedience” of the people was the cause for them to receive the “mercy” of God.

In fact without the “disobedience of all” God could not have “mercy upon all”.

During the singing of the Exultet at the Easter Vigil this “disobedience” is referred to as “the happy fault”.

Paul recognized the “wisdom and Knowledge of God are “inscrutable” and “unsearchable”.

 

The table is a place for eating and drinking and instruction for Jesús.

The kingdom of God works in such a way as to have us look differently about how we do such basic things as eat and drink.

Jesús suggests we invite those with the inability “to repay” us in kind.

Jesús asks us to think about where all good things come from. What we have is gift.

Gifts are meant to be shared with others and not guarded for oneself.

We ask for a spirit of gratitude and generosity for this day, this meal and the gift of each other.

 

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4 and 5 November 2017 Thirtieth First Sunday Ordinary Time A Homily

 

4 and 5 November 2017 Thirty First Sunday Ordinary Time A Homily

Malachi 1:14-2:2,89

Psalm 131

First Thessalonians 2:7-9,13

Matthew 23: 1-12

 

My sisters and brothers in Christ.

 

“Cree lo que lees,

Ensena lo que crees,

Practica lo que predicas.”

 

“Believe what you read,

Teach what you believe,

Practice what you preach.”

 

This past Friday evening I spent a couple of hours in Our Lady’s Cathedral.

The occasion was the Ordination of twenty two men to the order/rank of  deacon. I was there at the invitation of Ray Butler who was in this year’s Deacon Ordination class.

Deacon Duane Fischer and I were asked to assist Ray in his first putting on of the Deacon’s vestments.

My job was to help him put his “stole” over his left shoulder draping it across his chest.

I let Ray show me which shoulder was his left one.  Duane helped Ray put on his “dalmatic” which is a long vestment that goes over the stole.

I was honored to be asked by Ray to take part in this important moment.

I take these rituals and ceremonies seriously.  

However I found it humorous that Ray was a bit taller than me and certainly taller than Deacon Duane.

I suggested to Duane and Ray that the next time Duane helped him vest Duane might use a step ladder.

 

I am often asked “Do you miss anything about Guatemala?” My standard answer is: “I really enjoyed many aspects of my time in Santiago Atitlan but the religious and Catholic culture relies a great deal on words and rituals”.  

For example, a typical Sunday afternoon mass, with processions, blessings of various groups and translations from Spanish to Tzutuhil could take two hours.  I do not miss two hour liturgies on a weekly basis

 

Friday evening I, and the Cathedral full of people, listened twenty two times as the Archbishop said to each newly ordained Deacon as he handed him the Book of the Gospels:

 

“Believe what you read,

Teach what you believe,

Practice what you preach.”

 

It seems to me that is exactly the message of today’s Scriptures.

The deacons were also instructed to

assist at the altar,

visit the sick and

have a special devotion to the poor.

 

It seems to me that is also the message of today’s Scriptures.

 

The prophet Malachi today says:

“O priests, this commandment is for you….lay it to heart…

give glory to the LORD of hosts….(or)  of your blessing I will make a curse….

There is more:

“You have turned aside from the way,

and have caused many to falter by your instruction…”

I remember Bishop Reed  saying to me in a very warm evening in August 1970 as he handed me the Book of the Gospels:

“Tomas,

Cree lo que lees,

Ensena lo que crees,

Practica lo que predicas.”

 

“Thomas,

Believe what you read.

Teach what you believe.

Practice what you preach.”

 

As Archbishop Coakley repeated these words I reflected upon how simple and practical was this instruction, invitation, encouragement or Gospel command.

 

Jesús in the Gospel today actually complements the scribes and Pharisees.  He recognizes that the scribes and Pharisees teach what Moses taught. Jesús says “to the crowds and his disciples”:

“..do and observe all things whatsoever they (the scribes and Pharisees) tell you, but do not follow their example.”

Jesús identifies the basic problem: “They (the scribes and Pharisees)  preach but do not practice.”

If we listen carefully at every Baptism we will hear these words,

“I anoint you with the Holy Chrism (oil) of salvation,

so that united with Christ’s people

you may remain for ever a member of Christ

who is Priest, Prophet, and King.”

The scribes and Pharisees the elders and chief priests, the priests at the time of Malachi loved the idea of being “king” in terms of having authority and control and telling people what to do.

The community of Matthew, when this Gospel was written, struggled  with what kind of leaders they needed to serve their community.

Each of us leads by our words, actions and attitudes.

Jesús’ has a few final words of advice to the crowds and disciples in today’s Gospel:

“The greatest among you must be your servant.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;

Whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

The word “Deacon” comes from the Greek word “diakonia” which means “to serve”.

May we, with our deacons, “lay to heart” the words Archbishop Coakley spoke to the Deacons he had just ordained Friday evening:

“Cree lo que lees,

Ensena lo que crees,

Practica lo que predicas.”

 

“Believe what you read,

“Teach what you believe,

“Practice what you preach.”

 

 

 

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Eucharist of Resurrection Brenda Evelyn Thompson November 3, 2017

                  Eucharist of Resurrection Brenda Evelyn Thompson   November 3, 2017

 Wisdom 3:1-9

 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Matthew 11:25-30

                                             

Family and Friends of Brenda Evelyn Thompson.

The Parish Family of Saint Patrick Parish wishes to extend to you today our support and consolation at this time of your great loss of Brenda Evelyn Thompson.

Our prayers for Brenda and for you will not only be offered up to our Lord  today.

We have a “Book of Life” that is kept on the Main Altar here in our church.

Brenda’s name was put in that book shortly after we learned of her death.

Each time we gather here to “break open “God’s sacred word” and share consecrated bread and wine we remember those who have gone before us in life and have entered, what we believe is, eternal life.

 

 

Brenda was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts and moved to Oklahoma in 1964.

Brenda treasured and dedicated herself to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Brenda was also very involved in the community here at Saint Patrick’s.

Brenda was a regular at coffee after Sunday Mass and enjoyed visiting with other parishioners.  She also enjoyed special activities held here at the church.

Brenda enjoyed and loved everybody.  Her “family” really included neighbors and people she worked for and with.

Brenda was known as “MeMaw” by her    children     grand children  great grand children.

Brenda liked to take care of stray animals so you might say her idea of “family” extended to all of God’s creation.

Brenda also liked to read the Bible and draw. Some of her sketches included religious themes like the Cross and a drawing of Jesús.

One of the highlights of Brenda’s life was when her grandchildren and great children were born.  Brenda delighted in life and was deeply moved by the miracle of the birth of her grand children and great grandchildren.

The last two years of Brenda’s life were difficult in terms of her health.

The Book of Wisdom today tells us about “the just” being in the “hand of God”.

“Grace and mercy are with God’s holy ones and God’s care is with the elect”.

Brenda shared with us God’s grace and mercy. As one of God’s “elect”, that is God’s  “chosen ones” Brenda shares directly and eternally in God’s mercy and grace.

It is difficult for us to let go of Brenda. She was many things to many people.  Brenda was daughter, sister, grandmother, great grandmother, friend, parishioner, companion and counselor.

We take comfort and solace in the words of Jesús today:

“Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.”

We let go of Brenda today so that she may lay down her burdens and rest.

Brenda now is free to be taken into the Lord’s warm, joyful and eternal embrace.

 

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31 October 2017 Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

31 October 2017 Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

Romans 8:18-25

Psalm 126

Luke 13:18-21

 

Paul knows the frustration of living

in “hope”,

in “the not yet”,

under “the promise”.

 

Paul searches  for a metaphor describing the suffering as we wait with

“eager expectation” that we may share in experiencing the “glorious freedom of the children of God”.  

 

Paul settles on “the labor pains of birth” being shared by the whole of creation.

 

These “labor pains” are not only in the creation as a whole but we too “groan within ourselves” as wait for “adoption”.  

 

“Hope” in what we cannot see requires “endurance”.

 

Jesús in the Gospel asks that we have patient endurance.

In describing the Kingdom of God Jesús uses two parables.

 

The Kingdom of God is like a small seed planted in the ground that grows to be a large bush. It becomes a dwelling place for the birds of the sky.

 

The Kingdom of God is like “yeast” that put with flour and water “leavens” the whole batch.

 

We are to carry the seed and be the yeast that the Lord gives so that the Kingdom may grow and that we may accept as well as feed the many who are brought into it.

 

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30 October 2017 Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

30 October 2017 Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

 

Romans 8:12-17

Psalm 68

Luke 13:10-17

 

“Living according to the flesh” is living according to our “selfish desires”.

We might identify the “flesh” with sexual sin but the “flesh” really speaks to all of our self centered feelings, desires, plans and wishes.

Being “daughters and sons” of God means we live in a new and different way.

Knowing Christ means we receive the Spirit of God which is a spirit of freedom and adoption. We do not receive a spirit of slavery and isolation.

We may have lived with a spirit of slavery but our “adoption” by God gives us an inheritance as we call God  “Abba, Father!”

We becomes “heirs” with rights to inherit the qualities of our “Abba, Father”.  

We share this inheritance with our brother/sibling Christ.  

We share in the sufferings of brother Christ and share then we are glorified with brother Christ.

 

The type of brother we have in Christ is illustrated in the Gospel today.

A “sister” of Christ is “crippled by a spirit”.  We assume the spirit is evil.

Jesús the Christ “sets her free from her infirmity”.

This is what any brother would do for his sister if he could.

 

The leader of the synagogue objects.

Work is not permitted on the Sabbath even if is work that “sets free” a sister who is ill.

Jesús calls the synagogue leader a “hypocrite” and recalls that the law permits kindness and helpfulness to oxes and asses on the Sabbath.

 

Jesús wins this round.

His adversaries are humiliated;

“…the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him (Jesús)”.

Luke constantly reminds his readers that “God visits his people in the person of Jesús.

 

 

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28 and 29 October 2017 Thirtieth Sunday Ordinary Time A Homily

28 and 29 October 2017 Thirtieth  Sunday Ordinary Time A Homily

 

Exodus 20:20-26

Psalm 18

First Thessalonians 1:5-10

Matthew 22:32-40

 

My sisters and brothers in Christ.

 

The scriptures today address a very important issue in the “final” instructions, commands. Jesús, you might say, is giving his final “to do list”, to his followers.

 

While the Gospel describes Jesús’ answer to a question posed by the Pharisees, Jesús is obviously speaking to the “believers” in the Christ. That is he is speaking to us.

 

Jesús is asked by the “strict observers” of the law the following question:

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

 Jesús has challenged the teaching and integrity of the Pharisees in Matthew’s Gospel and the Pharisees seek to trap Jesús so they can have him killed.  Today’s vignette  does not have the “scent” of conspiracy that has come to characterize the final exchanges between the Pharisees and Jesus.

There are six hundred and eleven “commandments” in the “Law”. Teachers, rabbis and scribes enjoyed discerning which commandment was the most important.

Asking Jesús a question is not a matter of getting “the usual” answer.  Jesús today, again gives an answer that reveals a new “take” or “interpretation” of the “Law”.

 

Jesús knows the correct answer:

“You shall love your God,

With all your heart,

With all your soul,

And with all your mind.

This is the greatest and first commandment.”

 

That was the answer the Pharisees were prepared to hear and affirm.

Jesús however adds:

“The second is like it:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Jewish students of the Law believed that there were among the six hundred and eleven commandments ones with “heavy” obligations and ones with “lighter” obligations.  

“Love of God” was a commandment that had a “heavy” obligation for believers.  

Jesús has put “Love of neighbor” as the second “heaviest” commandment to be followed by believers.

Jesús has gives us today something to ponder.

We know the answer from Luke’s Gospel about a Samaritan who demonstrates who our “neighbor” is.

We know from the Book of  Exodus today who the LORD means to protect:
“You shall not molest or oppress an alien (immigrant, refugee)..…

You shall not wrong any widow or orphan…

If you loan money…..you shall not act as an extortioner….

If they cry out to me, I will hear them; for I am compassionate.”

The Lord’s punishment, in Old Testament style, to those who harm  his special children is swift death by the sword.

 

“Loving your neighbor as yourself” means our love and loyalty is not first to my

“Self”

Family

Group or

to my “tribe”.

 

The “common good” in our society requires us to think beyond our own special family,  religious, ethnic, racial, economic, national group.

We are not asked today to be compassionate exclusively to our family, friends and the people who are most like us.

While “compassion” may not be found in every person or family it can be defined as “normal”, “common” and even “expected behavior”.

The Gospel mandate for us is to see beyond our closest circle of family and friends.  Our “tribe” is not the only group we need to consider and care for or about.

The word “catholic” with a small “c” means universal.  When we say the Creed after hearing God’s word we affirm that we believe in God.  

Affirming the “Creed” means we have an obligation and a need to go beyond the accepted divisions and too common negative judgments about other persons or groups of persons that is so constant today that it has come be considered “normal”.

Pope Francis gave a very moving example of his desire to not attend only to the Roman Catholic family when he went to Malo, Sweden a year ago and shared a special unity service with  the Lutheran World Federation president, Bishop Munib Younan.

Pope Francis and Bishop Munib Younan  celebrated/ remembered the Five Hundred Year anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation begun by Augustinian Father Martin Luther.

Exclusion, condemnation and rejection of others does not demonstrate our commitment to love of neighbor which reflects so clearly our love of God.

Pope Francis is the best kind of teacher.

Pope Francis is a master at reaching out to people who are different, vulnerable and at times even difficult.

May we model our obedience to the second most important commandment:

“Love your neighbor as yourself”

after Francis’ constant and authentic example.

 

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