Oct 2, 2021

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday Eucharistic Themes to keep in mind to apply to one’s life:
He took (choose), blessed, broke and gave.

See these Four Actions reflected in Christ’s life and yours. They are all united through, in and with the Sacrifice of Christ the Bridegroom out of love for the Church His Bride.

Meditation on the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time:

In days long ago, when a woman went into labor, no one knew for sure if the baby, about to be born, was a boy or a girl.  After the newborn emerged, you had to wait for the doctor, the nurse or midwife will enthusiastically declare, “It’s a boy! It’s a girl!”

Today, with the invention of ultrasound technology, an unborn baby's gender can be simply ascertained my an image on a screen. In short, using old-fashioned way or with modern science, you can tell simply by looking!

For each one of us here, as difficult as it is to imagine, our parents were once babies. Your mother was a little baby girl - your father, was once a little baby boy!

But the purpose of being a baby boy or baby girl is not to remain a baby. Within the safe environment and natural love of a family, we are mentored along the way, by fathers and mothers to arrive into adulthood. But the journey does not end there. the journey continues.

The First Reading tells us what happens next. That "a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh”. In other words, a boy becomes a man so that he can leave home and become a father. A girl becomes a woman so that she can leave home and become a mother.

But not so fast! Notice that the Sacred Scriptures tell us that when a man leaves his father and mother, we are told he is to cling, not simply to a woman, any woman but to “his wife”.  If the woman you are clinging to, or the man you are clinging to is not your husband, it is offensive to the sacred language of marriage. God defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, of a husband to his wife in order, and here we go again, to take their own turn to be a mother and father – a family!

By his words and actions, Christ defines and clarifies the nature of this sacred and permanent relationship we call the sacrament of marriage.

Is there an indication that Christ was ever married?  Yes! From the cross, Christ the Bridegroom gave his life completely and without holding back anything – he gave his life to his Bride – the Holy Church. He continues to do so through the Sacrifice of the Mass. This is why we call the Eucharist the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

Notice that Christ reminds us in today's Gospel, that in the language of God concerning marriage, there is no talk of divorce. It may be in the civil language and indeed at Calvary, the civil voices called out to him to come down from the cross, to save himself. But breaking promises is not the language of God. Christ will never divorce himself from his bride.

And even though we have often times been unfaithful, Christ the Bridegroom has and always is faithful. He will never take back the ring! In good times, in bad times, in sickness or in health, for richer, for poorer, he is always faithful, even until death, death on a cross.  

It is for this reason that it is often a tragedy when the civil language of divorce threatens the sacred unity of a sacred marriage and the harmony of a family.  

It goes without saying, that preparation for marriage is crucially important and can never be entered into casually or impulsively, or as a matter of convenience.

 There were many times when Christ could have conveniently given his life for the sake of our salvation. He didn't do a practice run. Nor did he test out the cross for a while to see what it was going to be like. Instead, he chose his hour and his day, after much prayer, patience, preparation, and soul-searching so that he could do so freely. And to engaged couples who enter into the marriage covenant with Christ who rose from the dead, he assures them of supernatural help in good times and in bad times.

Never be afraid of the sacred language of marriage.  Never play it safe to simply be comfortable partners, even to cruise control into being a husband and wife or parents. Holy Marriage never stifles but always points toward cooperating with God in his work of creation, to be motherly and fatherly together. That's why, in the same breath, as our Lord clarifies the marriage relationship (in the Gospel today), he then says, “Let the children come to me, do not prevent them”.

So, let us pray in particular for our children and our young people, that they will be inspired by the examples of heroic man and women who become husbands and wives.  May they learn from our example how to be fatherly and motherly, not just for their own sake, but especially for the sake of future generations to come. May we all find a welcome and a place within the family home of Jesus in the company of Mary and Joseph.

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

(Catechism of the Catholic Church 369-373, 1601-1605, 1612-1617, 1638 ff)

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 

Often times, when he hear the Scriptures read during the Mass, it can often seem that they appear out of thin air. Regretfully, not many of us can place the text in the "context" of the sequence of events or see the episode in the light of the big picture. And this is very important. 

So, regarding the first reading from the Old Testament (Numbers 11:25-29), for those of us who need a refresher, here's the scene. Single handedly, Moses has been looking after the. Hebrew people - remember he was the one who was chosen by God, not only to negotiate their release from slavery, he had also to, practically, lead them by the hand through the treacherous terrain towards the promised land. But one thing was for sure. Even though Moses had a personal relationship with God, he realized his own limitations in the very practical areas of life. 

He was one man, looking after thousands, trying to respond to their needs, their complaints, the fights that would at times break out among them, trying to restore hope in the midst of uncertainty, boosting the morale of the camp, in the midst of hunger and boredom. It is not surprising that Moses got so desperate at times, pulling his hair out and nearly driven to despair from the constant badgering and complaints of the ungrateful "chosen people"! 

Moses is physically tired, mentally exhausted. But there is something in his life, which can not be touched, or weakened by the world around him or the demands of the crowd. Because he was the chosen instrument by God to point his people in the direction of true freedom, Moses was privileged to have a particular friendship with God, a unique understanding. Moses was exposed to the glory of God, like no one other, and it showed. Every time he went away and rendezvoused with God, such as on Mount Sinai where he received the Ten Commandants, or in the tent of the Ark of the Covenant where he would enter, he always came back radiating that unique Spirit of God. 

It was that Spirit of God that gave Moses his faith, his courage, his resolute to lead the people forward. But at the same time, again and again along this difficult and often treacherous journey as he "pulled" the chosen people behind them, urging them continuously to "catch up", Moses was reminded of his own frailties, weaknesses and limitations - and we are not here talking about sin. 

There are just some things that we can not physically do - the burden is too much. There are challenges in life that we must face in order to fulfill our responsibilities, but we can find ourselves mentally or physically unable to respond. God provides help according to our needs. And we see that clearly spelt out in the Scriptures. The Spirit given to Moses was tailor made for him. But, to lighten its burden upon the body, that Spirit was freely shared with certain other individuals who understood his mission and his ministry. 

Christ can not offer the gift of true freedom to the world without our cooperation with him, not according to our own terms, but according to his. As a Christian, each one of us has been chosen, hand picked by Christ to extend to the world, a message which everyone must be able to hear and have the opportunity to respond to. Through people like you and me, the Spirit of Jesus has been given. But too often, we have become observers rather than receivers of his spirit. When we feel the pressures and obligations of being a Christian are too heavy, then how easy it is to look to the world, our culture, our society to provide the relief with so many of its appetizers. 

And this brings us to the Letter of Saint James, our second reading. He says, in so many words, "if you could only see yourself and how you handle the stresses of life" - how you respond. Instead of reaching out to Christ or simply obeying his commandments as the true solution to the pains of life, you instead put more faith in how you look in front of the mirror, or what you put into your body to give it a buzz, or the investments or things you buy in the attempt to, in some sort of way, "feel" secure. 

None of these are built to last. But if anyone dares tell you that the way you handle the stresses of life is immoral, or that the way you give into looking after your own needs is sinful, corrupt - then St. James predicts accurately how we would react. We will silence that voice so that it offers us no resistance, no shame or embarrassment. The best way to silence someone when we do not want him or her to unmask our selfishness, is "character assassination". It's effective. 

We shot the messenger to silence the message because the message is a threat to our guarded freedom. The freedom to feed ourselves until we burst, to spend until we can't pay back, to do whatever we want because we have to power to do it and get away with it - until we die. Too often we expect others to live our types of lifestyles and our values or silently accommodate us so that we can get on with life the way we want to live it. ill its most purest form the true power of freedom is to be able to, surprisingly, say no when you could easily say yes to any of the appetizing opportunities that this world, or our own little world, offers us to indulge in. 

True freedom, offered by Christ provides the self­discipline necessary so that we can resist the attractiveness to sin. The Gospel message is clear. Hell does exist, but it's not worth the risk. Do not be afraid to make sacrifices in order that Christ comes first in all things. 

If you truly do belong to Christ, then you will hear his voice, understand what he is asking of you and freely chose to live according to his standards. Psalm 19 sets all of this in context. "The Law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul". If you are assured that God's law offers you the best possible way of living life, then into·that life, you will also invite others to participate. 

The Spirit of Moses the Prophet was shared with the seventy elders, for them to join with him in leading the people from slavery to freedom. The Spirit of Christ the Priest has been shared with me and many men like me, so that I may share in the life of the Shepherd and there, to freely find the strength, the grace to lead this flock through the dangers of this world, to the safety of greener pastures, the place of true refreshment. Together, not as individuals who share each other's space, but as priest and priestly people sharing the body and blood of Christ, may we truly recognize our common responsibilities to each other, in our own particular way, for our own salvation and the salvation of the world which is in our hands.

Knowing our place


Click here for First Option Diocesan Homily and Resources on the Eucharist

Mark 9:30 - 37 

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

After Labor Day,  the season of summer unofficially comes to a close - the fall will officially begin.  Even with the arrival of cooler and darker mornings and longer shadows in the evenings, I get the sense that summer does not want to be put in it's box. 

Maybe, because it knows that it is, like a child, time to bed, it's not leaving without a heated protest (and we felt that last week).  And I'm sure that in the coming months of the fall, and even during the winter, with what we call the Santa Ana winds, the summer we thought was sleeping quietly, wakes up every so often and blows hot air at us.     

So, why do I bring this up?  It is because, the church calendar is very much in tune with the seasons.  Because the natural only makes sense when we see it in its relationship with the supernatural, our soul also senses changing patterns in our environment and surroundings. So, as we anticipate the the Last Rites and death of summer, the Church gives us today's selection of Scriptures for the Mass, so that we can meditate on how prepared we are to face the cold darkness - in all it forms, both visible and invisible. 

As if to assess our "readiness for the fall and winter", today's Entrance Antiphon spoke of crying out to the Lord in distress, in tribulation. The first reading from the Book of Wisdom has us meditate on the enemy's dark strategy. Psalm 54 comes from the anguish of a heart that fears betrayal. The Second Reading from St. James explores the internal origin of wars and conflicts. And the Gospel has Christ predicting his death and his resurrection.  But rather than issuing us with armor to go to the front lines or a defense strategy to prevent the fall, Our Lord presents us with a child - a child shall be our standard bearer. And then he embraces this little child in his arms? What does this mean?

If the Almighty God who created the immense universe out of nothing and filled it with so much, in all its splendor and all its terrifying and most beautiful complexity - If God, to whom the whole cosmos is but a speck of dust, became smaller still and allowed himself to be vulnerable, not afraid even to be mothered by a young girl, God asks us too, do not be afraid of becoming little. And as if to assure us even more, Christ places his arms around the little child. Allow Christ to protect you. If God who is unimaginably bigger than the whole universe can humble himself to become a man, can we not humble ourselves to be like a little child - his little child? 

The humility of God is his greatest strength. Our humility before the strength of God is his greatest gift to us. 

Back to the language of nature.  To paraphrase St. Augustine:  “Consider a tree: how as it grows, it must reach down deep into the earth so that it might shoot forth upwards. It anchors its roots deep in the ground so that it may reach the heavens.  Is it not from its humility (hidden from public view) that the tree can rise to great heights?  Without humility, there is no growth. Without deep and secure roots, yes, you might rise tall, but you easily collapse in the winter storm.”

The autumn will now teach the summer that if it is to see the springtime, it must step aside, be humble and even die to itself. May we not be afraid to do likewise, being held secure within the strong arms of the Lord.

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