Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tuesday of the 4th Week in Ordinary Time

Heb 12:1-4
Mk 5:21-43

The other night I was watching my favorite college basketball team play. There were about 9 minutes left in the game and despite being at home they were losing by 14 points. They were playing terribly, losing badly, time was running out, and I gave up. I turned to my wife and said, this game is over. I could not see any way at all that my team could win this game. But slowly, inexorably, and improbably, they began to come back. They narrowed the gap and finally took the lead with just a couple of minutes to play. They seized the lead, expanded it, and won the game. I had given up, I didn’t think they could win. They, however, never gave up, they believed that they could win, even when they were losing badly, they believed they could still find a way to win the game. Even though their situation seemed hopeless, they never gave up hope. This situation finds a parallel in the Gospel reading for today.
A woman has suffered from a hemorrhage for years. Nothing has helped her, nothing has made her better. All that she has has gone to doctors in an attempt to treat her illness, but nothing has worked. He suffering has continued unabated with no end in sight, with no apparent reason to hope that it will ever end. Yet on hearing of Jesus, she has hope. Hope that would seem unreasonable, even illogical, but hope. She clings to that hope, seeks Jesus out, then seizes the opportunity, trusting enough that all she needed to do was touch the hem of his cloak. Her faith, her hope, saved her. The synagogue official had hope as well, and he sought Jesus, believing that all Jesus need do was lay hands on his dying child and she would be saved. While on the way, the child died. People came to tell the official, tell him that his daughter had died, that hope was gone. “Stop bothering the man, hope is gone, your daughter is dead.” Whether the official gave up hope or not, I don’t know. Jesus, however, continued to the officials home, never giving up, exhibiting hope were none seemed to be. “She isn’t dead, just sleeping.” Jesus was ridiculed for this statement, yet he went in, took the girl’s hand, and she rose. Jesus brought hope where none existed, hope where none seemed possible. We, all too often, are like that crowd, giving up, surrendering hope because everything seems so hopeless. Just as I gave up on my basketball team, thinking there was no hope, we give up, not seeing where hope may be. Yet just as my team came back, never giving up, just as the woman with the hemorrhage refused to give up, we must cling to hope. In Jesus that hope is real, is always with us. We may believe there is no reason to hope, yet with Jesus there is always hope. When we act alone we lose hope. When we turn to Jesus, all is possible. We may be behind, time may be running out, but it is never too late. There is hope. All we need do is reach out and touch.
Deacon John
Tuesday of the 4th Week in Ordinary Time
Jan. 30, 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jer 1:4-5, 17-19
1 Cor 12:31—13:13 or 13:4-13
Lk 4:21-30

Standing up and speaking the truth can be difficult. It can be even more difficult when the people we are trying to speak truth to are familiar to us. Any parent can tell you that the person least likely to listen to you is your child. Not that they don’t listen, or hear what you have to say, it’s just that some time you are just too close. They know you too well, they know your faults and failings and can have a hard time relating to you as someone who may actually know what you are talking about. It can be even worse with your friends, or more particularly acquaintances, people who know who you are, where you come from, who your family is. At least you represent an authority figure to your child. Your friends and acquaintances may simply see you as pompous, and choose not to hear you. Who do you think you are? That is their attitude. In the face of that it becomes all too easy to stop, to sit quietly, and ignore what goes on, keeping the truth to yourself. It is easier, but if we fail to be true to what we know and believe, we fail not only our friends and family. We fail ourselves and we fail God. Jeremiah did not want to speak, he longed to be quiet, to keep the peace and avoid controversy. He did not want to speak, but did, with the assurance that God was with him. He spoke as God urged him to, despite the unrest his message caused, because he came to trust that God was with him. Jesus spoke unsettling words to those who thought they knew him. They threatened his very life, yet Jesus did not stop speaking. They failed to hear him, but they could not stop him. He could not be who they wanted him to be, he had to be who he was, who he is. So he spoke, despite the hostility. He knew that God was with him. God is with us, calling us to be witnesses to the truth, messengers of hope, love and peace, all that God has to offer us, all that is part of the truth. Standing up and speaking the truth can be difficult. We face ridicule, rejection, hostility, all things meant to silence us. Yet God is with us so that when we know the truth, we can be true, true to who we are, true to the call that God has given us.
Deacon John
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jan. 28, 2007

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Better late than never- Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 62:1-5
1 Cor 12:4-11
Jn 2:1-11

"Grow old with me, the best is yet to be." When I read this Gospel this quote from Browning came to mind. Today we live in a world and a culture that is dedicated to youth, to the idea that everything must happen now, or it’s not worth it. There is nothing worth waiting for, everything must come now. When I was a member of that youth that was being catered to, I certainly thought I was entitled to everything now, and I certainly did not think that I should wait for anything. Getting older was something that was going to happen, but it would be awful, perhaps made better only by getting everything I wanted before this disaster befell me. But as I grew older I found out the profound secret that you can’t know when you are young, it really does get better. Sure, there are physical problems to deal with, but there is also the realization that the best hasn’t happened yet. Great things may have already happened, but that doesn’t mean that no great things await. The best is yet to be.
At the wedding feast, when the wine runs out, Jesus reluctantly performs the great miracle, changing water into wine. The steward finds it remarkable that the best wine has been saved for the last, rather than being served first. By making this wine so good, perhaps Jesus was trying to tell us something. We can’t always appreciate the good until we have experienced the bad, and that takes time. As we live we experience the bad, and later, that makes the good that much better. If we live, and trust, and allow the experiences of life to lead us to growth in our faith, the best is yet to be. If we live and trust and keep the faith, Jesus wants us to grow with him, for the very best is yet to be.
Deacon John
The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jan. 14, 2006

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Feast of St. Nicanor

Little is known about the life of St. Nicanor, one of the original 7 deacons. He may have died with Stephen, or been martyred later on the isle of Cypress. Either way, Nicanor's devotion to the Lord and his willingness to serve should stand as an example to modern deacons, and to all who seek to follow Jesus. St. Nicanor, protodeacon and martyr, pray for us!
Deacon John
The Feast of St. Nicanor
Jan. 10, 2007

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Feast of the Epiphany

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

Good news travels a long way. Even good news that we think is meant only for us, or for just a few people, if it’s really good news, it travels a long way. We really don’t have to do much to make it travel, good news takes on a life of its own. News that is really good, that really matters, shouldn’t be kept hidden anyway. It should be made known and shared with as many people as possible. When I was ordained the Archdiocesan newspaper had a story about my classmates and myself, talking about each of us as a group and individually, with pictures of each of us. After that story appeared, people I did not know at all began coming up to me to congratulate me and wish me well in my ministry. People in my parish, of course knew, but these were people from other parishes, other parts of the diocese. It brought home to me the idea that I was ordained to service in the whole archdiocese, not just my little part of it. Good news travels.
Jesus, born in Bethlehem, came as the Messiah, the Jewish Messiah. It was the Jewish people who lived in anticipation of the coming of a Savior, their Savior. But Good News Travels. This Good News was far too good to be kept quiet very long. The Good News of the birth of Jesus could not be kept quiet, wasn’t meant to be kept quiet. The Magi recognized that a great event had occurred, that the birth of a king in Judea was the birth of a King for all. They traveled far, and came to pay homage to the newborn king, the newborn Savior, the savior meant for all people, not just a few. Through these Magi Jesus is revealed to the world as its Savior, as the one sent by God to bring all people to God, all nations, all peoples, brought together by the coming into the world of this child. The Jewish people lived in anticipation of the birth of their Savior, but God had other plans. This Child, this Jesus, this Messiah came into the world for all people, to save all nations, to bring all people to God. This Child, this Jesus, this Messiah came for us, for you, for me, no matter who we are, to bring us to God. This Child, this Jesus, this Messiah, came for all people of all time. Thank God this Good News travels.
Deacon John
Feast of the Epiphany
Jan. 7, 2007

Monday, January 01, 2007

Solemnity of Mary New Year's Day

May the peace of Christ be with you in this New Year.
Deacon John
The Solemnity of Mary
Jan. 1, 2007