Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

As much as I love my kids, I can’t love them more than I love Jesus. I can’t give up the Gospel for them. I can’t deny God for them. I can’t pretend every life choice they make is ok for fear of losing them. That is a hard truth that Jesus teaches. "whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. . ." He follows it up with the greatest parenting advice I can think of. Basically, "Pick up your cross and follow me."

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Christianity is not a philosophy or a set of rules. It is a relationship with the Living God. It is our restoration to the Father, through Jesus Christ.

By virtue of our baptism, we are made something different than we were before. We are born into the family of the Lord and we are made like Jesus in our access to the Father through Jesus.

Far from being on our own, Christ, through his life, death and resurrection made possible our salvation. But He also gave us the example of what it means to be a follower of God. We are supposed to live like He lived.

That is why the Holy Spirit was sent to us, so that we might live as followers of the Lord. Not by following rules, but by following Him, in relationship with him, guided by Him.

Christianity. Catholicism. It is more than rules. It is encounter with the Living God, and an invitation to live in His will.

Fourth Sunday of Easter

In John 10 Jesus says, “I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.”

Just stop for a minute and drink that in. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, He is telling us that He wants us to have life. Abundant life. That is why He came. 

And yet… Too often that is not the lived experience of faith. Too often we Catholics, and not just us, but other Christians too, we go through life with pursed lips, and puckered hearts. Instead of living an abundant life, overflowing into the lives of those around us, we circle the wagons and try to preserve the "culture of faith" in our homes.

News flash, it doesn't work. To live that way is to live spiritual poverty.  It becomes a sort of imitation of life of faith, the way an animatronic is an imitation of a person. When you go on a ride and you see the animatronics no one is really fooled.  It is obvious that the thing you are seeing isn’t real. And in a way, animatronics are creepy They just go through a preset series of motions and sounds. There is no life in them. They are dead, pretending to be alive.

But, we are not animatronics. Or we are not supposed to be. We are not called to circle the wagons, or go through the motions. We are not called to live in spiritual poverty. We are not beggars. We are not poor. In this Kingdom we are the heirs. We are royalty. We have an inheritance, and it is life abundant. There is more. There is always more.

God is not done yet. (Holy Saturday)

This week we are doing something a little different. Instead of a video I wanted to share a reflection I wrote on Holy Saturday.  I'll be back with the Gospel Preview video next week.  God Bless, and have a Happy Easter!

God is not done yet. (Holy Saturday)

There is not much in the way of scriptural account regarding Holy Saturday.

Good Friday, the day of Christ’s execution, is described in detail. In order to enter into the mystery of Christ’s death, try to put yourself in the place of the Apostles or of the women who accompanied Jesus. The Passion of the Lord is terrible, and the death of the Lord is devastating.  There is such a finality about Christ’s placement in the tomb.  As a reader, it is tempting to almost feel a relief that his suffering has come to an end, but anyone who has been witness to tragedy and loss knows that the event itself does not end the pain for those who are left behind. For those who loved Jesus, the tomb would not have ended the horror.  The shockwaves of Christ’s brutal execution would have continued to pummel them. This leads us to Holy Saturday.

Have you ever stopped to ponder what Holy Saturday must have been like for those who loved Jesus?  For modern Catholics it is easy for Holy Saturday to sort of be the in-between day.  But what must it have been like for Peter, James, John, and the rest of the Twelve.  Perhaps you have cried before.  We all have.  Fortunately, only some of us know what it is to cry so much that it becomes impossible to cry any more. I can imagine the Apostles must have spent Holy Saturday in a daze.  The soul can only hurt so deeply before it sets off a circuit breaker of sorts, and the pain becomes a numb ache. Holy Saturday must have been spent in the agony of ache.

Mary, Jesus’ Mother, too must have ached on Holy Saturday.  Mary, ever faithful and trusting in the Lord, would not have doubted that, ultimately, God would fulfill his promise.  That does not mean she would have been free from the pain of loss. She witnessed Jesus’ execution. She stood at the foot of the Cross. Did the the memories of his life flood past her eyes? Did her arms ache with the desire to hold her baby boy once again.

Peter, headstrong and forceful Peter. I can only imagine how his heart raged between anger and despair.  How often on Holy Saturday did he revisit his terrible denial? “How could I have ever said that, ‘I do not know the man!’.”  Did he think back to the sword he’d held in his hand and wonder if perhaps he could have done something more to save Jesus? Did he blame himself?  I do wonder if Peter, in his despair, asked God “Why? Why did you call me off of my boat only to leave me alone? Why send a messiah, only to kill him?”  Did Peter even question if he was Peter or if he had always just been Simon, the mediocre fisherman.

The Apostles did not know the wholes story.  The pain of Holy Saturday must have been almost unbearable.  And yet, despite it, God was not done. Despite how abandoned and forsaken the Twelve must have felt, despite how broken those who loved him must have been, God had not abandoned them. His will had not been defeated.  His plan was bigger than they had thought.

There are no easy answers to pain. There is no simple platitude that will heal the ache of a mother’s heart at the loss of a child. There is no pat on the back that will comfort a spouse who is losing his beloved to cancer.  Hurt and desolation, these things are real.  If you hurt, remember, those who loved the Lord hurt too. You may not be able to see hope. It is very possible they could not either.  But hope was there.

Let Holy Saturday be a comfort to those who suffer.  Let it be a reminder that, though we may feel abandoned or feel that our hearts will never stop hurting, there is always hope. God has not abandoned you. You are not alone. He is near. Though it feels like the darkness will never break, dawn is coming.  He is faithful.

Editor’s Note: This blog post first appeared on on March 26, 2016

Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

I feel like Matthew 5:17-37 could have been given as a commentary on modern internet usage. If we start in the second section, I think you are going to understand what I mean.

You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin; and whoever says, 'You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.

It is almost like Jesus spent some time scanning through the comments section on a politics blog. If you are a Facebook or twitter user you have probably been inundated with a crazy avalanche of political posts. If you have scanned the comments on those posts. . . .well, based on the what Jesus just said, I think we need to be praying for a lot of people’s salvation. . .maybe even our own.