Thursday, May 31, 2007

Feast of the Visitation

Zep 3:14-18a
Lk 1:39-56

As she made her way to visit Elizabeth, Mary must have been contemplating the call she received from God. Here she was, a young woman, a child by our standards, carrying a child of her own, despite not yet living with her betrothed, Joseph. She did say yes, agreeing to what God was asking of her, but it certainly was not easy. There had to have been more than a few glances her way, questioning, clucking of tongues. She said yes, she accepted the burden. She was to be the mother of the Messiah, the hope of every girl. Still, it could not have been easy. Were she to have become discouraged, who could blame her? After being greeted by Elizabeth, Mary says, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.” Despite the difficulties she faced, despite the glances, the questions, the clucking tongues, Mary, young Mary, can still say that her soul proclaims God’s greatness and that God has looked on her with favor. Rather than being discouraged she is encouraged. She understands she is fully in God’s hands.
All of us have experienced discouragement. Things go wrong, things cause us pain, things happen that seem to want to push us away from God. And we let them. Faced with adversity, too often we turn away from God, not toward God. We may try to barter with God, to bribe God, but it doesn’t work and we don’t really mean it anyway. The going gets tough and we…quit. It just seems easier, I suppose. We forget, we forget what Mary knew, what we know, if we only stop to think about it. We are not in this alone, God is with us always, in all things. Mary knew, Mary understood that, “the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.” This day, as we celebrate Mary, let us recall her example to us, so that we can remember what God has done for us, so that we may say, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord…”

Deacon John
Feast of the Visitation
May 31, 2007

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Acts 2:1-11
1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13
Jn 14:15-16, 23b-26

There they sat, the followers of Jesus, doing precisely what he had asked of them,
While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for "the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak;
for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
I doubt they found this a difficult thing to do, they were too traumatized to do much else. Far too much had been going on in the past few weeks for them to deal with adequately. Jesus is taken from them and put to a violent and bloody death. No sooner than they begin to deal with the impact of this tragedy, Jesus is back, not dead at all, indeed he is risen from the dead. Through the next few weeks, as they attempt to grasp the enormity of what this rising from the dead means, Jesus leaves again, in spectacular fashion. Trying to understand what was happening, fearful of the reaction of the religious leaders, sitting and waiting probably seemed like a very good idea. Then it happened, the promise that Jesus made was fulfilled. The Holy Spirit came upon them and the meaning of all that had occurred opened to them. The Advocate that Jesus promised came, and now they knew what to do, they knew what to say, and fear of the religious authorities would not keep them from saying it. They began to preach and teach to all who would hear, all who would listen. They began to boldly tell the world about Jesus, not mindful of the cost.
That same Spirit, that same Advocate comes to each of us, each of us baptized into the Body of Christ. We should be out telling all who will listen about the Good News of Jesus Christ, about rising from the dead, the forgiveness of sin, and what all of that means. We should, but too often we take the stance of the followers of Jesus before the Spirit filled them. Too often we sit in our parishes, isolated and insulated from the world. Our particular church, our own parish, becomes, for us, the Church. We fail to see the larger Church, and our place in it. The Church and the world are so much bigger than the boundaries of our parish. There is a whole world out there in need of hearing what we know, that Jesus lives! That Jesus came to earth, lived, died for our sins, and rose from the dead, gaining for us eternal life! In reaching out to the world, to those who are hungry, physically and spiritually, to those who are homeless, physically and spiritually, to those who are in need, physically and spiritually, we are doing what Jesus asks of us. What are we afraid of? That some may think us strange? That we may be ridiculed? Maybe some will, but some will not, and some will listen and hear. It is up to us, to overcome our reluctance, it is up to us to live what we say we believe. This Pentecost let us pray for the grace to live our faith, to reach out and spread the Good News. This Pentecost let us pray together,
Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth! Amen

Deacon John
May 27, 2007

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Solemnity of the Ascension...Going Home

Acts 1:1-11
Eph 1:17-23
Lk 24:46-53

When it comes to the Ascension there was always in my mind one burning question, why leave? There are all sorts of deep theological reasons that I could put forth, all of which are nice, but they don’t quite get there, don’t quite answer the question, at least, not for me. The reason Jesus left, the reason he returned to Heaven, was simply that it was time. It was time to go, he wasn’t supposed to be here any longer.
In my years of study at St Meinrad School of Theology, I always loved being there. I still feel a sense of home when I drive toward St. Meinrad on a Saturday morning and the spires of the Archabbey church come into view. When I go there, however, I am going there for a reason. There is a goal I want to reach; there is a purpose for my being there. As much as I love St. Meinrad, as much as I enjoy being there with people who have become close friends, I know that I will be leaving, returning to my home. As I drive back to Louisville on Sunday evening, as I cross the bridge and enter the city, I know I am home, I am where I belong. While I was at St. Meinrad I belonged there, it was where I was supposed to be at the time. Louisville, however, remains home, the place I always return to.
Jesus came here with a purpose. From what we read in scripture, I think it is safe to say that he loved being here, he loved his life here, he loved the people around him, he loved to laugh, but he came here with a purpose. He came to show us what we can be. He came to show us that we can be so much more than we realize. He came to show us that while we love our time here, we are not home. Jesus’ time here was limited, just as our time here is limited. Jesus came with a purpose, to remind us of who we are, and to lead us home. When Jesus ascended, it was time. He was returning to where he belonged. He could no longer be limited by time or space, he was without limit. He ascended to show us the way, to lead us to our home where we will have no limits as we live in the presence of God.

Deacon John
The Solemnity of the Ascension
May 20, 2007

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Acts 14:21-27
Rev 21:1-5a
Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35

Paul and Barnabas were busily engaged in something that I doubt either of them ever thought they would be doing. Not just preaching the Gospel, as different as that must have been, but preaching to Gentiles. I doubt either of them ever expected to spend much time around Gentiles at all, much less spend time explaining the advent of the Messiah. There was not much love lost in the relationship of Gentile and Jew. To Jews, Gentiles were the other, to Gentiles, Jews were the other. Each saw the other as different. There just did not seem to be a great deal of common ground between them. Yet if the words of Jesus were to mean anything, Paul and Barnabas had to take those words, take the Word, to the Gentiles. In the Gospel reading today Jesus gives us the heart of his preaching, the essence of what being his follower means, love one another. If we refuse to love, how can we follow Jesus? Paul and Barnabas had no choice really, they had to carry the Word of God to all people, especially people who did not necessarily love them, people they did not necessarily love either.
We are called to love one another, yet look at us now. We all call ourselves Christians, but could we be any more divided than we are? We argue over the proper way to worship, the proper language to use, the proper way to address God, and that’s just we Catholics among ourselves! Among all Christian groups ecumenism may seem to be alive and well, but we still can’t agree, too often we can’t even agree to disagree. There is a panel show on a local television station called “The Moral Side of the News.” Ministers of various faiths discuss happenings in the news, and the discussions are always civil, even pleasant. They disagree, but always defer to the other persons right to disagree. This morning, however, a question came up about using feminine language in reference to God. This was prompted by a story out of Arizona about some churches now refusing to use the word Lord, considering it a masculine term. The battle lines were drawn, and for the first time I saw the discussion on this show become heated, nearly an argument, close to being uncivil. Neither side seemed ready to even consider that any idea but their own has any merit. The only thing that came to my mind is, what are we doing? Why do we argue over things that, at the end of the day, will not determine our salvation?
I can call God Mother, you can call God Father. I can say the only proper language for worship is Latin, and you can say all worship should be in one’s native language. We can disagree about a thousand things, but we must agree on one. If we are to call ourselves followers Of Jesus the Christ we must do one thing, obey one commandment:
“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Deacon John
5th Sunday of Easter
May 6, 2007

In an argument over how to properly refer to God one man said in exasperation to the group he was in dispute with, “Probably you could be foolish enough to suppose our God male…because the word is?” (Gregory of Nazianzus c. 330-389 C.E.)