Sunday, June 29, 2008

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

Acts 12:1-11
2 Tm 4:6-8, 17-18
Mt 16:13-19

Ordinary people called to do the extraordinary. That is what all of us are. Ordinary people called to do the extraordinary. Just look at the example of the two men whose lives we celebrate today, St. Peter and St. Paul. Ordinary men. Unexceptional in many ways. Peter was a simple fishermen. I doubt that he was highly educated, just a rough, unsophisticated working man. Yet look at the work that God accomplished through this simple man. When Jesus asked who do people say that I am, this simple fisherman had the answer. When facing persecution he did not flinch or back away from the truth, he stood by the Christ, spreading the Gospel, despite the cost. An ordinary man doing the extraordinary. St. Paul, on the other hand was educated, a Pharisee, familiar with the law. Yet even this Pharisee was an ordinary working man, a tentmaker by trade, a trade he continued to practice even as he worked fearlessly to spread the Good News throughout the world, even to the Gentiles. St. Peter and St. Paul, giants among the earliest followers of Jesus. Together they did much to make the name of Christ known to the world. As extraordinary as they were, as extraordinary as their lives were, the single most exceptional thing they did was to love. They accepted the love of Christ, then shared that infinite love with the world around them. Love is what made them extraordinary. Ordinary people called to do the extraordinary, in and through love. And that my brothers and sisters is what we are called to as well. We are called to accept the infinite love of God and in turn give that love to the world. In that sharing of God’s love we become ordinary people doing the extraordinary.

Deacon John
Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles
June 29, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jer 20:10-13
Rom 5:12-15
Mt 10:26-33

Why is it that we seem to like to hide so much? Things are kept concealed, hidden away from others, sometimes even from ourselves. What are we so afraid of? Being open does make us vulnerable, but is that necessarily a bad thing, something to be frightened of? Are we so afraid of the possibility of being hurt because of our openness that we shut down, that we hide, that we compartmentalize our lives? We do compartmentalize, everything has a place, work, home, family, friends, faith. All kept separate, all apart, none having much if anything to do with the other, particularly faith. The very thing that should inform our lives, that should have the greatest impact on us, is the part we too often bury the deepest. We leave faith to Church on Sunday. Maybe we feel safer in a group, the anonymity of the crowd. We’re around people who agree with us, so far as we know, so we have no reason to fear. The truth is we have no reason to fear anyway. Christ tells us, fear no one. What is hidden will be revealed. There’s no point in hiding our faith. Since there’s no point in hiding it, let’s shout it from the rooftops, bring it into the light. The worst consequence we seem to fear turns out to be …nothing. Proclaiming our faith in Christ is not something to hide or fear, or put into a compartment separate from the rest of our lives. Rather it is a privilege, even a joy, for as we proclaim our faith, we just may help someone else find theirs.
Deacon John
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary time
June 22, 2008

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Hos 6:3-6
Rom 4:18-25
Mt 9:9-13

“Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’”
“for it is love that I desire, not sacrifice”
Perhaps we do need to learn the meaning of sacrifice. What does it mean to sacrifice? A sacrifice can be an offering, something given up for the sake of something else. We sacrifice things all of the time. We give up that piece of cake for the sake of our weight. We sacrifice buying that new car to save the money it would cost. These are certainly sacrifices, but in some way selfish sacrifices. In the Gospel Jesus calls Matthew, and Matthew follows. This is certainly a sacrifice on Matthew’s part, and not a selfish one. Matthew’s sacrifice is a sacrifice given up for something else. Yet later, in Matthew’s house, Jesus tells the Pharisees to learn the meaning of the words I desire mercy, not sacrifice, much as Hosea told the people God desires love, not sacrifice. Ah, love. There is the key. Love, love that leads to mercy, love that leads to sacrifice for the sake of another, for the sake of love. We “sacrifice” all of the time, but do we sacrifice for the sake of love? What are we willing to sacrifice to show love, for love, for another? It is only in love that sacrifice has any meaning, any value. After all we are gathered here today for a sacrifice. But it is not our sacrifice. We sacrifice nothing, yet we gain everything. The sacrifice we celebrate is given for us, given through God’s mercy, given because of infinite love. The word sacrifice can be interpreted as doing something sacred, to offer something to God. The sacrifice we celebrate today certainly is a sacred act, an act that makes us holy, an act that is possible only because of infinite love. Love that is given to us, love that we now are called upon to give to the world, “for it is love that I desire…”
Deacon John
Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 8, 2008

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dt 11:18, 26-28, 32
Rom 3:21-25, 28
Mt 7:21-27

Tefillin, or phylacteries, are leather boxes containing particular passages from Scripture that some devout Jewish people strap to their foreheads and arms during morning prayer. The purpose of the phylacteries are to serve as a reminder that they are to be dedicated to God in whatever they do, feel or think. The phylacteries, in and of themselves, have no power, they cannot save the person wearing them, they simply serve as a reminder, a reminder of the rock of God on which the house of faith is built.

They may appear strange to us, but as Catholics we have our own version of these devotional items, things we refer to as Sacramentals. Scapulars, medals, other items we may wear, some we use but do not carry, like Holy Water. Again, these items are meant to simply serve as a reminder of who we are, of what we believe. They are designed to draw us to God, to assist us in our devotions, to be, hopefully, a constant reminder of who we are, of what we believe. In and of themselves these items have no power to save us. We may carry the words of God close to our minds and hearts, we may wear our scapulars and medals, but they are just reminders. They exist to draw us to the Rock, the rock of safety, the Rock of faith, the Rock that is our God. We must do more than carry these devotions on our bodies, we must carry them in our hearts and in our souls. We must hear the words and act on them. Only then have we set the foundation of our house of faith on rock, on solid ground. Only then have we placed our faith in the Rock, built our faith on the Rock, safe from wind and storm.

Deacon John
Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 1, 2008