Sunday, October 28, 2007

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sir 35:12-14, 16-18
2 Tm 4:6-8, 16-18
Lk 18:9-14

Money Talks. At least in our world it certainly seems to. Money means power, influence, prestige, the ability to be heard. If you doubt this just look at our political system. Money is an entree to power. Want to be heard? Have the cash. Those who hold power certainly seem to hear the cry of the well-heeled as opposed to the cry of those without. Thank God that God doesn't work that way. As Sirach says, "Though not unduly partial toward the weak, yet God hears the cry of the oppressed." What I have, who I may be in the world, makes no difference. My access to God is not limited by my wealth or power, or my lack of wealth or power. What matters is that I, and all of us, turn to God sincerely, openly, and honestly. God's love for us knows no bounds, but God's love for us is based on who we are. God's love is ours because we are God's children, created in God's image. God hears our prayer, heeds our cry. Thankfully all we need to have, all we need to be is all that we are.

Deacon John
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 28, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ex 17:8-13
2 Tm 3:14-4:2
Lk 18:1-8

I have been told in the course of my life that I am persistent. OK, stubborn, pig-headed, hard-headed, but persistent just sounds so much better. I have to admit that I can be a bit relentless in the pursuit of a goal, but I have always seen this as a virtue, not a failing. It can be annoying I suppose, but even Jesus points out that persistence, being stubborn, can be a virtue. The woman in pursuit of a just judgment from the unjust judge achieves her goal by being stubborn. She refuses to give up, pushing her petition until the judge relents. Christ asks us to be as persistent, as stubborn, in pursuit of our goal, salvation. Pray unceasingly, petition God without becoming weary. That is the hard part. We can pray for hours on end, weeks or months or years on end, seemingly without effect. At times the easier course would be to give up. Why keep pounding your head against a wall if the wall never moves? One of our problems is that we insist on doing this alone. We never need to be alone in our stubborn pursuit of God. Moses led the people of Israel into battle with Amalek. As long as Moses held his hand up, Israel won, When Moses tired and lowered his hands, the battle turned against them. Moses needed help. Aaron and Hur held his hand up, joined him in his petition, until the battle was won. We need one another, we are meant to rely on one another. Being persistent, being stubborn is hard work. We need support, we need to be held up, to hold each other up, as we stubbornly pursue God. Together we must be stubborn, so that when the Son of Man comes he will find faith on earth.

Deacon John
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 21, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordianry Time

Better late than never...

2 Kgs 5:14-17
2 Tm 2:8-13
Lk 17:11-19

Don’t pay any attention to him, he’s one of them. Don’t listen to her, she’s not one of us. How can you possibly be a Christian, you don’t believe correctly. They can’t be Catholic, they’re not orthodox enough. We don’t like to admit this about ourselves, or the communities we belong to, but we can, and do, have a tendency to become insular. We categorize and shut people out because they are the other. They are not us, not one of us, not part if us, and by definition not as good as us. We allow them no breaks and do them no favors. Yet today we rear in 2 Kings that Naaman, a foreigner, a leper, went to Elisha for help. He did as Elisha instructed and was made clean. In the Gospel ten lepers approach Jesus and ask to be made clean. Jesus sent them to se the priest and on the way they realized they were healed. One returns to Jesus, glorifying God. He was a Samaritan, a foreigner. Why? Why would God grant favors to them, foreigners? They are not us, not like us, yet they were healed. After the miracle Naaman returns to Elisha, pronouncing he will no longer offer sacrifice to any other God. The Samaritan returns to Jesus praising God, thankful for God’s favor. God shows favor to these strangers, while we, who claim to follow the Risen One, see them as the other, as a stranger, not one of us. We turn them away, using a variety of subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways to set them apart. They don’t look like us, they don’t sound like us, they don’t think like us. We set them apart. God, on the other hand, makes no such distinction, and those foreigners, granted favor by God, return praising and thanking God. How often do we, we who should know better, we who should live lives of gratitude, take God’s favor for granted? When Jesus had cured the ten lepers, one a Samaritan, a foreigner returned praising God. Jesus, on seeing this man asks, were there not ten, where are the other nine?

Deacon John
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 14, 2007

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Hab 1:2-3; 2:2-4
2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14
Lk 17:5-10
We live in a time that has many people asking, what’s in it for me? We don’t want to do anything without some sort of pay-off. It seems as though there has to be an award, or honor or accolade attached to anything we do. It has gotten so bad that some people expect awards for simply doing what they are supposed to do. I remember a commercial that was running on television a couple of years ago, what it was for I can’t recall, but the focus was a football player. He was sitting in front of his locker, being interviewed after a game. He was disconsolate about losing, but only because losing made him look bad. He wasn’t concerned about the loss as much as how losing would hurt his chances to win individual awards. Losing was bad only because it made him look bad. Of course, he didn’t seem to play well himself, but accepted no responsibility for the team losing. He didn’t let them down, they let him down. The reporter used the old cliché, there is no “I” in team, and our protagonist responded, “There’s no we either”. This was only a commercial, not real, but real athletes, the ones we hear about, the real stars, are the athletes who are least concerned with winning individual awards. They may get them, but they realize winning is more important than theses awards. They simply go out and do what they are supposed to do, what is expected of them, and try to win. They understand that in winning they will find a reward that goes far beyond any individual accolade they may receive. Just like the servant in the Gospel, they go about their duty, doing what is expected of them, without looking for any thanks. And so it should be with us. We should go about doing those things that we are supposed to do, the things we are obliged to do, without any expectation of reward. We are called to love, we are called to serve, it is what is expected of us, what we are obliged to do. We should not ask for or expect accolades or honors for simply doing what we should do. If we do what is expected of us, if we do the things we are called to do, to the best of our ability, without expectation of recompense, there waits for us a reward far greater than anything we can imagine.
Deacon John
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 7, 2007