Monday, January 24, 2011

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 8:23-9:3-1
1 Cor 1:10-13, 17
Mt 4:12-23

In a land overshadowed by darkness, a Light has arisen. The Light starts in this land and spreads throughout the world, bringing light and a new message, a message of great hope and love. The Light dispels the darkness everywhere with this simple but vastly important message. Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. That’s it, that is the entire message. The kingdom of heaven is at hand, it is here, now, not waiting in some dim and distant future, not unattainable, but here, now, for us to seize. All we must do is repent and follow the Light. I know, it sounds pretty simple, maybe too simple. It can’t be that easy, can it? Well, yes, it is that easy and that hard as well. Drop everything and follow the Light, everything, as in everything that comes between you and the Light, everything that would keep you in darkness. As Jesus walked along the beach he saw Simon and Andrew, two brothers, fishing, their livelihood. He said follow me, and they dropped everything and did. Further along Jesus saw two more brothers, James and John, also fishermen. Again he said follow me, and they dropped everything and followed him. They followed as he spread the light, the light of the Good News of God, that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, all we need do is repent and follow, all we need do is step from the darkness into the light. The call we receive may not be quite so dramatic, but our response needs to be the same as the brothers. Repent and follow. Simon, Andrew, James and John followed because they heard the word and realized that the Jesus is the Light. Let us also step into that light, follow the light, and leave the darkness behind forever.

Deacon John
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jan. 23, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 49:3, 5-6
1 Cor 1:1-3

Jn 1:29-34

We would be loathe to admit it, but most of us live relatively insular lives. Think about it, yes many of us are educated, we read, we have a wide circle of friends, and some of them may even have slightly different points of view than we have. Yet we do the same things, go to the same places, speak with the same people, rarely stretching the boundaries of our relationships. Even more, we do not very often stretch the boundaries of our beliefs. Within that insular world, within the boundaries of those beliefs, we may even stand out, we may even be an example to all those around us to are in basically the same place we are. Is, that enough, or do we need to be more? The Baptist saw Jesus coming and proclaimed, Behold, the Lamb of God. John tells us clearly, that this is the one for whom the people of Israel had been waiting, the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who would save the people of Israel. He was, after all, a Jewish messiah, right, meant to save God’s chosen people. He is that indeed, but is that all, or is that not enough? In the first reading God says, It is too little, the LORD says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. I will make you a light to all the nations, all the people of the earth, because salvation is for all people, we are all chosen by God. Jesus goes beyond the insular world of his time and place, beyond a particular people, Jesus is for all people. Jesus came to do God’s will, and that will was to save all, not just a few, not only a certain group, but all people, all people beyond that insular world Jesus entered. We too are called, we are asked to do the will of God. Is it enough to attempt to do that will, to live as God asks, only within the insular boundaries of the world we have entered? When we say here I am Lord, I come to do your will, we are called out of that insular world, we are called to stretch beyond who we are, to become who God asks us to be. It’s not easy, we may not even be sure how, but if we say Here I am Lord, and allow ourselves to be stretched, we just might be that light that helps spread God’s salvation to the nations.
Deacon John
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jan. 16, 2011

Sunday, January 02, 2011


Is 60:1-6
Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6
Mt 2:1-12

Epiphany: an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure b: a revealing scene or moment. This is part of the definition of the word epiphany as found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It’s a somewhat funny sounding word, and one that is not often used in daily conversation. For most of us this Feast we celebrate today is just about the only time we encounter the word. Consequently, we don’t think much about it, it’s just a funny sounding word that we encounter once a year. Maybe we didn’t even realize it has a meaning beyond this feast day. Yet it does have a meaning, and that meaning expresses perfectly what this day means. A baby is born, not an unusual occurrence at all, yet this birth is different. The birth of this baby brought angels to sing and celebrate, shepherds to come and see this child, this child proclaimed as the King of Israel, the Messiah, the one for whom Israel had been waiting, the King of Israel, the Messiah, the Jewish Messiah. What could this possibly mean to the rest of the world? What difference did it make, why should anyone else care that a king was born for the people of Israel. The birth of this child was also the occasion for the rising of a star. This new light in the sky drew wise men from the east, wise men who came to honor this baby, this king, this messiah. They came to pay homage because this king, the one who brought this new light into the heavens, was bringing a new light to the world, the whole world. This baby was bringing a light to brilliant to be contained, a light meant for the world, a light that would illuminate everything, everyone, everywhere. These wise men knew, this new king came not just for Israel, but for all nations, for all people. This was the illuminating discovery, the illuminating realization, the illuminating disclosure, that this king came for all people, for all time. This baby came for them, this baby came for us. The light this baby brought into the world is with us still, a light meant to shine on all people, a light that reveals the love of God, a love that is light for all of us, for all time. This is our Epiphany.

Deacon John
Feast of the Epiphany
Jan. 2, 2011

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Feast of the Holy Family

Sir 3:2-6, 12-14
Col 3:12-21

Mt 2:13-15, 19-23

Perfection, as parents that is something we all want for our children. We want their lives to be perfect, we want them to be perfect. At first, of course, they are. That tiny bundle that comes home from the hospital, should we be fortunate, is indeed perfect. Even if the child isn’t perfect by some societal standard, as far as you are concerned the child is, perfect. Perfect, for a while, then things begin to change. We try, we teach, we guide, we try to mold and shape, but we discover to our great dismay that our child, our progeny, that reflection of you, is more of a reflection than you would like, because the child is not perfect. The kid makes mistakes, does things wrong, makes bad decisions, yet you keep loving that child, you keep trying with that child, because, after all, it is your child, and you love that kid, no matter what. No, you have to accept that the kid isn’t perfect, never was, never will be, but you love anyway, sometimes in fact not in spite of the kid’s imperfections, but because of them. At the end of the day, your children’s imperfections are what make them like you. Loving one another, warts and all, is what family is. We are certainly not perfect beings, not by any stretch of the imagination, yet we are loved. We are loved despite our imperfections, and maybe even because of them. When God created us, God knew we would not be perfect, that we would fail in oh so many ways. Yet, despite our imperfections we are still loved, loved enough that God came to us, as one of us, and became part of a family just like ours. Jesus came to be part of a family that loved one another, sacrificed for the good of one another, just as Joseph took his new family and fled to Egypt to save them. Love, despite imperfection, hardship, pain, suffering, illness that is the heart of family. Through the Holy Family, we are invited to join a family, a family where God demonstrates God’s great love for us, despite our imperfections, maybe because of them, a family where we are loved, warts and all.

Deacon John
Feast of the Holy Family
Dec. 26, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Day

Is 62:11-12
Ti 3:4-7

Lk 2:15-20

You are not forsaken. I want to assure that you are not forsaken, forgotten, abandoned. How many times in your life have you felt just that way, forsaken, lost, abandoned, nowhere to turn and no one to turn to? We have all felt it, we have all at some time no doubt believed it. We were totally forsaken, and nothing, no thing or no one could help you, would help you. But, it’s not true. None of us are forsaken. None of us are forgotten. None of us are abandoned or unloved. Today we celebrate that knowledge, today we celebrate the greatness of our God who has assured us that we are indeed loved, cared for, and certainly not forsaken. We have a place to go, we have someone we can turn to. Today God sends a savior, one who redeems the people of God. Angels came to shepherds and proclaimed the Good News. The shepherds in turn ran to see this child, this redeemer who came from Heaven to live with us, to be one of us, to save us. The shepherds ran to see this salvation, then ran to tell all they could see about this child. Let us join that band of shepherds this glorious day, let us go to this child, embrace this child, accept this child, then proclaim this child. For this child is God’s assurance to us, we are not forsaken.

Deacon John
Christmas Day

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Is 7:10-14
Rom 1:1-7

Mt 1:18-24

Joseph was a righteous man. To be called a righteous man in Joseph’s world was high praise indeed. A righteous man, one who could be counted on to do the right thing, no matter what. So here is this righteous man, betrothed to a young woman, a child really by our standards, and he discovers she is with child. What’s a righteous man to do? He would be well within his rights to condemn her, walk away and let her face whatever punishment may come. Yet he decides to quietly divorce her, giving her, and the child a chance at life. Before he can act, however, an angel appears to him in a dream telling him not to worry, that the child his betrothed is carrying is the child of God, in so many words, the Messiah, and you will be entrusted with his care. I can’t imagine what Joseph’s initial reaction must have been. Today, we would probably seek out a psychiatrist, convinced we had gone round the bend altogether. If you told someone that this had happened, you would be seeing a psychiatrist, the one assigned to the asylum you would find yourself in. Thankfully for Joseph in his time the appearance of an angel was not a sign of mental illness, but a sign that God has something for you to do, something important. Joseph accepted the words of the angel, took Mary into his home, and reared the Messiah as his own son. He did not have to do this, he could have walked away. He could have not believed that an angel really appeared to him, or he could have simply refused the responsibility. But Joseph was a righteous man, he would do what God asked, despite the sacrifice. He had a choice, he chose God. As we approach the celebration of our salvation, the entrance of God in the person of a baby into our world, we have a choice to make. Will we choose the one who came and will come again, or do we walk away? Do we follow the example of Joseph? Can we be righteous?

Deacon John
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Dec. 19, 2010

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Second Sunday of Advent

Is 11:1-10

Rom 15:4-9

Mt 3:1-12

Half of life is just showing up. I’ve heard this saying in various places, and I’m not sure who to attribute it to, if anyone. Half of life is just showing up. It’s an interesting idea, and when you think about it possibly true. After all, you can’t benefit from things if you never show up. The saying is true in that showing up is half of life, but only half. Once you show up, you have to do something. No, I can’t learn anything if I never show up for school, but I can’t learn just by showing up, I have to put an effort into learning. Am I really a student if I never study? John, a voice crying out in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord. He baptized people with water for the repentance of sin. His baptism, his voice crying in the wilderness, drew many from all around. Many came to hear the call to repentance, to acknowledge their sins, and to receive baptism. Among those who began to appear were Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious leaders, the interpreters of the Law. They came and John turned to them to ask why. They showed up, right? Yes, they came but showing up is just half of life. You have to do something once you get there. John wouldn’t even permit them to claim that they were safe because they were the children of Abraham. Saying you are a follower and being one are not the same thing. In this Advent season that voice of one crying in the wilderness calls to us, calls to us to prepare the way of the Lord. Do we truly prepare the way of the Lord? Or are we just showing up? Showing up is good, it is half the battle, but only half. To say we believe is not enough. Showing up for Church is not enough. We have to act on what we profess to believe. Show up, by all means, show up, but do something once you get there.

Deacon John

Second Sunday of Advent

Dec. 5, 2010