Monday, December 21, 2009

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Mi 5:1-4a
Heb 10:5-10
Lk 1:39-45

So here we are, the fourth Sunday in Advent. We’re almost there. Friday’s the day, the day we have been waiting for, longing for, Christmas finally arrives and most of us will feel a great sense of…relief. Unfortunately for far too many of us the dominant feeling is relief, expressed in a collective sigh and a statement something like thank heaven it’s over. Somehow I just don’t believe that relief, gratitude that it’s over, is supposed to be the way we feel that day. We allow ourselves to get so caught up in the secular aspect of the day, the parties, the gift-giving, shopping for just the right present that yes, we are glad it’s over, we managed, hopefully, to somehow survive another Christmas. In the Gospel today Mary goes to Elizabeth, and as Mary approaches and speaks to Elizabeth, Elizabeth says, “For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” Jesus approaches, and John leaps for joy at the coming of the savior. Friday all of us should, figuratively at least, leap for joy. We should leap for joy not because, thank heaven, it’s over, but because our savior has come. Perhaps we should feel relief, but not because it’s over, but because it has just begun. The Christ has come to us, the Word is made flesh and dwells among us. Our salvation is truly at hand.
Escaping the secular part of this season can be difficult, no, it’s probably impossible. Yet it does not have to eclipse the real meaning of the day. We can walk and chew gum at the same time, we can celebrate both, if we remember the reason we celebrate, the real reason. Advent isn’t over yet, we still have time, time to prepare not for the secular, but for the sacred. We still have time to ready ourselves for the approach of the Christ, so that on Friday we may, appropriately, leap for joy.
Deacon John
The Fourth Sunday in Advent
Dec. 20, 2009th Sunday in Advent

Monday, November 30, 2009

First Sunday in Advent

Jer 33:14-16
1 Thes 3:12-4:2
Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

God made us a promise.  God promised to save us from ourselves.  It was certainly a promise God did not have to make.  Our failure, after all, was and is no one’s fault but our own.  Yet the God who created us chose to save us, even from ourselves, because God loves us beyond all our imagining. That love for us, despite our faults and failings, led God to come to us, to come as a child, to live, and die, as one of us.  Then to rise from the dead, conquering death, and giving us the chance to share eternal life with God.  Today we enter the season of Advent, a time we prepare ourselves to celebrate that coming of God, the birth of Christ into the world, the birth that makes it possible for us to share in God’s life.  After all, if Christ had not been born, he could not have lived, he could not have died, he could not have risen.  So we prepare to celebrate this birth, this promise, a promise that we are reminded of in first reading today from Jeremiah.  We enter this time of Advent to prepare ourselves to celebrate God’s keeping of that promise.  In this season, however, we also remind ourselves that not only Christ has indeed come, but Christ will come again.  The Gospel reading reminds us the we need to be ready, to prepare ourselves, because Christ will come again, this time not as a child, but in glory.  This time Christ will come to take us home, to take us to God, to have us fully share in the divine life, fulfilling the promise made to us from the beginning.  God promised to come, to save us, to save us from ourselves.  Christ came and opened the door.  We prepare to celebrate that event, that 2,000 year old birth of Christ into the world.  Let us also remember to prepare for the coming of Christ that has yet to happen, to celebrate the coming of Christ in glory, the ultimate fulfillment of the promise made to us so long ago. 

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.

Deacon John
The First Sunday in Advent
Nov. 29, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Solemnity of Christ the King

Dn 7:13-14
Rv 1:5-8
Jn 18:33b-37

The ancient legend of Arthur, a Celtic tale describing a great king, is well-known to most of us who grew up in Western civilization. The great King Arthur unites the people of Britain, but ultimately falls battling evil. He is whisked away to Avalon, never to be seen again. The promise is he will return to save his people when their need is the greatest. Thus he is the Once and Future King. It is an engaging story, a tale of struggle, and ultimately a tale of hope. Hope in the belief that when he is needed, Arthur will return. It is a story meant to give hope to a desperate people. An entertaining story, but a legend, nothing more. It is a legend, and who can put their hope, their faith in a mere legend? We do, however, have the promise of a Once and Future King, a story of hope, a story of salvation, and it is not legend. Christ is our Once and Future King, our beginning, our end, and all that falls between. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, " says the Lord God, "the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty." Christ came to establish his kingdom, a kingdom established for us, a kingdom of redemption, salvation, hope. At the time of our greatest need, which is all the time, Christ comes for us. Christ’s kingdom is not something that existed in the past, or something that has yet to come. Christ’s kingdom is here, now, a kingdom made present in the world by us, by you, by me, by all of us who choose to follow Christ. We are called to live as citizens of that kingdom, that kingdom of hope, of salvation, of love. We can live in that kingdom, the kingdom established by Christ, for Christ is not only the Once and Future King, Christ is the king of the now, the present.
Deacon John
The Solemnity of Christ the King
Nov. 22, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dn 12:1-3
Heb 10:11-14, 18
Mk 13:24-32

A zillion years ago, when I was a teenager, my wife and I belonged to an ecumenical singing group called the Agape Singers. Indeed that was where I met her.  The group was made up of people from all over Louisville, of different Christian faith traditions, different socio-economic levels, a diverse group.  One of the songs we sang was taken from 1 Corinthians 13:13, “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  The song was worded “There are but three things that last, faith, hope, and love.” The group is long gone, but my wife and I are still together, the love that developed between us surviving, despite the end of the group. Only love lasts, nothing else lasts, everything else is passing, all our plans, all our dreams, all we seem to have accomplished, fade away.  Only love, of which one could argue faith and hope are a part, only love is permanent.  The first reading today and the Gospel speak of the end, the passing of the earth, of time itself, for nothing is permanent, all things will pass.  Toward the end of the last century, the 20th century, a cottage industry grew up around the idea that the end is near, so you had better get ready.  Books, movies, television shows, all based on the idea that the signs of the times indicated that the end was at hand, maybe even by the end of the 20th century. Well, it’s 2009 and we’re still here.  Perhaps those involved in the end of the world business should have read the last line of the Gospel, "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." So the end may be at hand, or maybe not.  Other scholars have interpreted all of this end of the world stuff as not the end of the world but the end of the age, meaning that a new age is coming, has perhaps even come.  Either way, both say look at the signs, see that things have changed.  Things have indeed changed, and we have the sign that they have, the only sign we need.  Christ said to learn from the fig tree.  When leaves sprout, you know summer is near, an obvious sign, but one we don’t often think about, one we take for granted.  The fig tree sprouts leaves, the leaves spread over the tree.  Our sign for “the end” has come.  Or perhaps not “the end” but the end of the beginning.  It’s a sign we don’t often think about, one we take for granted. Christ has come, what other sign do we need? Like the leaves on the tree Christ’s church has spread, growing, growing because of the one thing that lasts, love.  No, we don’t always show it, we often fail to live it, but if love were not present, the church would have disappeared long ago.  Only the love of God, the love that Christ makes manifest in the world, only this will last.  Only love survives the passing of time, the passing of our world.  All we do will fade away.  The only thing that does not is the love we receive from God and spread to the world around us. That love survives everything for “There are but three things that last, faith, hope, and love.”  And the greatest of these is love.

Deacon John
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Nov. 15, 2009

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Kgs 17:10-16
Heb 9:24-28
Mk 12:38-44

Trust, it’s something we don’t seem to do very well. We don’t trust the government to necessarily do the right thing. We don’t trust big business, certain that they are simply out to fleece us for as much as they can get. We look at our neighbor suspiciously, wondering just what they are up to. We don’t trust our employers, afraid we are simply being used, that we are no more than a cog in a machine. I don’t dispute that much of this mistrust has a foundation in truth. People, all people, ourselves included, do too much to cause others to distrust us. Then we are suddenly asked to turn and trust God, to trust God completely, without question or reservation. A pretty big switch from the suspicion we hold everything else in. Elijah travels to Zaraphath. There he encounters a widow and asks her for some water and a bit of bread. There was a drought, and the subsequent famine resulting from the drought. The widow tells him I have only a small amount of oil and flour. My son and I will eat this then die. Yet Elijah urges her to trust that God will care for her, and so God did. She fed Elijah, herself and her son and the oil and flour never ran out, because she trusted. Jesus comments on those putting offerings into the Temple treasury, stating that the one who put in the least actually put in the most. The widow was poor, yet gave what she had, even though she would have little or nothing after her contribution. She was able to trust, trust that God would care for her. Were those widows just the product of a simpler time and a simpler people? Perhaps, but they were not fools, they knew what they were doing, they understood that they were placing themselves in God’s hands, depending on God to care for them. So how do we, complicated, modern, cynical people come to trust in God, trust that God will care for us? How do we break this cycle of distrust we live in? I wish I had an easy answer, I don’t. It’s a struggle, a daily struggle for all of us. We are taught to be self-reliant, depend on no one, take care of yourself, no one else will. Yet at some point in all of our lives we will find ourselves in a position we can’t take care of, a problem we can’t fix, we will need someone, we will need help. I may not be able to bring myself to trust that any authority will help me, be it governmental or corporate. I may not even trust those I should, friends and family. I should turn to God, but do I even trust that God will help me? The problem is that we do not turn to God or anyone until we need help, until our situation seems as desperate as the widow of Zaraphath. Trust can’t simply be the product of desperation, that isn’t trust. We must develop a sense of trust long before we become desperate, we must believe that God, if no one else, is for us, will care for us. We must have faith. Faith must be the basis of our decision making, the basis of our lives. It is only in having faith that we can trust. If we accept faith, have faith in God, before times are desperate, we can trust God knowing that as St. Julian of Norwich said, “But all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.”
Deacon John
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Nov. 8, 2009

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Solemnity of All Saints

Rv 7:2-4, 9-14
1 Jn 3:1-3
Mt 5:1-12a

I know I have done this and I feel certain many others have done the same. You begin to work on a project, a very important project. Because this project is so important you want it to be right. Indeed, you want it to be more than right, you want it to be perfect, absolutely perfect, completely without flaw. So you work on it, tinkering with this part, changing that part, always doing little things to make it better, just a little better than before, pushing it tweaking it seeking that elusive state of perfection. A state which, unfortunately you will never reach. Since it’s not perfect, you never put it out, you never put it into practice, you never use it. You wait for perfection, but it never comes. You wait for perfection, so it never gets done. You can’t wait for everything to be perfect. You have to implement your plan, your project, and correct things as they come up, otherwise you will never do anything. You are working on a very important project right now, the project of your life. None of us are perfect, nor will we ever reach perfection, not this side of heaven. That does not mean that we should not live our lives, that we should not strive to be perfect, just realize you won’t get there. That is not a bad thing, it is simply being who we are. In the Gospel today Jesus lays out a set of principles, not rules, rather guidelines, ways to assist us in our striving for perfection. We are called to live as closely as we can following these guidelines. We are called to provide comfort, to be meek, to seek righteousness, to be merciful, to be clean of heart, to be peacemakers. Will we always succeed in doing these things? No, we won’t. Does it mean we shouldn’t try? No, we must try we must strive to reach these ideals, even knowing that we will fall short. Think of all the good people you have known in your life, people who have gone on before us, people you are relatively certain have reached perfection, people who are with God, saints. They have reached perfection now, but think back, were they perfect here, or did they struggle as they strove to live as Christ asks us? They reached heaven not because of earthly perfection, they knew they couldn’t be perfect here. They reached heaven because they didn’t let their shortcomings keep them from living, from reaching out to be perfect, and fixing things as they went. They put the project of their life out there in the world despite not being perfect. They reached for what they knew they couldn’t reach here, and that is what makes them saints. Perfection comes, but only in the striving for it. Their example is the one we need to follow. Reach for what you know is out of reach here, so you may reach it in God’s time.

Deacon John
The Solemnity of All Saints
Nov. 1, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jer 31:7-9
Heb 5:1-6
Mk 10:46-52
Back in the dark ages when I was a child, I remember a cartoon about a little bird named Yakee-doodle, a cat whose name escapes me who spent all of his time trying to make Yakee his lunch, and a bulldog names Chopper who always intervened to save Yakee. When Chopper would grab the unfortunate cat just before he could finally catch and consume Yakee, Chopper would turn to Yakee and say, “Close your itty-bitty eyes, you shouldn’t oughta see what’s going to happen next.” We’re a bit like the little bird, with our itty-bitty eyes shut, so we can’t see what’ happening around us.
Bartimaeus, a blind man, waits for Christ to approach, then cries out, Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me. Jesus has Bartimaeus brought to him and asks him what he wants. Bartimaeus, without hesitation, says I want to see. Jesus restores his sight, and says to him his faith has saved him. His faith, faith in Christ, has restored his sight. Ah, he can see, but now he can see all that is around him, faith has opened his eyes to the world, the beauty and the pain, the wonder and the horror. We gather today and approach this table in faith. We have faith in Christ, yet we are afraid to see. We want to open our eyes and see the beauty around us, but our vision isn’t exclusive, we can’t see the beauty without also seeing the pain, the wonder without the horror. We don’t want to see the awful things of the world, but we must. Our faith demands it. We are called to see that pain and horror, and act, act to change it to make the pain beauty, the horror, wonder. We can do this, but only in faith. We can do this, but only if we allow our eyes to be opened. Chopper told Yakee to close his itty-bitty eyes, he shouldn’t oughta see what was going to happen. Christ says to us open your eyes, your faith has saved you. Open your eyes so your faith can move you.
Deacon John
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 25, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Twenty-ninth Sundau in Ordinary Time

Is 53:10-11
Heb 4:14-16
Mk 10:35-45

Be careful what you ask for, you might get it. Sounds silly, but it is a reminder that the things want often come with a price, a price we did not expect, and a price we may not wish to pay. I remember many years ago as a child watching a show about a young boy who had only one eye. People, particularly other children, teased him mercilessly. He was miserable, he hated enduring all the teasing he took for having only one eye, and wanted something to happen to stop the torment he felt. He dreamed of a day when people would stop tormenting him because he had only one eye. One evening, while watching a fireworks display, a stray spark struck the boy, struck him in his good eye. Suddenly he was blind, instead of one eye, he had none. The teasing he endured the torment he had faced certainly ended. I doubt he wanted it to end the way it did, but in the end he did get what he asked for. In the Gospel today the sons of Zebedee, James and John, approach Jesus asking that when Jesus comes into his glory they be seated one on his right and one on his left. Jesus essentially tells them to be careful of what they are asking for, they may get it. He warns them they must follow his path, the path of the suffering servant. They are seeking glory, Jesus warns them they will find hardship, difficulty, pain, death. He also warns them that the path to glory is not a path of leadership that lords over people, but it is rather a path that leads through service. To follow Christ, to get what they seek, they must be ready to suffer and to serve. To follow Christ they must follow the example of Christ and serve others, serve those who would seem to be beneath them. Christ wants them to understand no one is beneath them, no service is too menial, no person unworthy of their work. Glory is not what they think. Real glory is found in being ready to serve, being ready to suffer, in the pouring out of self. We who seek to follow Christ, we who wish to share in the glory of Christ, who may wish to be seated on Christ’s right or left, we must understand what real glory is. Glory has a price, a price we must be willing to pay. Real glory comes to us when we pour ourselves out, when we share what we have, what we are, with those some may deem unworthy of our love. To lead we must serve. To find Christ and share in Christ’s glory, we must be willing to give who we are. We must understand what it is we are asking for.

Deacon John
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 18, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wis 7:7-11
Heb 4:12-13
Mk 10:17-30

I have to admit that I have a relatively comfortable life. While I am not wealthy, I certainly lack for almost nothing. My waistline will definitely attest to the fact that I am not starving. One could say that I am blessed by God, but I am not fool enough to believe that just because I am not poor, God somehow favors me over others. I do not believe that God loves me more than someone who is less fortunate than I am. That strikes me as being more than a bit arrogant, and certainly more than a bit foolish. But some people do see things just that way. The people of Jesus time did see things just that way. When Jesus proclaimed that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God they were genuinely shocked. Wealth was a sign of God’s favor. One who was sick or poor must have done some evil thing to deserve such a fate. A young man approaches Jesus and asks how he may attain eternal life. Jesus admonishes him to keep the commandments. He replies I do and have, all my life. Jesus then tells him, go and sell all you have, give it to the poor, then come and follow me. The young man was devastated. He was like me, like many of us. He had a comfortable life, possessions, to him signs of God’s favor. Give it away, be poor, like a sinner, like one who hadn’t followed the commandments? He simply could not do it. I don’t condemn him, I don’t know that I could do it either. But let’s not make the mistake that Jesus was condemning his wealth, that Jesus was opposed to what the young man had, Jesus wanted to know something else. What were his priorities? What was more important, his possessions, or God? What really mattered to him? Jesus asks that same question of us. What are our priorities? What comes first, your stuff, or God?

Deacon John
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 11, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Nm 11:25-29
Jas 5:1-6
Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

When we find ourselves in a leadership position, especially ministerial leadership positions, there are a couple of traps that we need to avoid, traps that are very easy to fall into. Indeed, we can fall into these traps almost before we realize it. First, we have to be careful not to take ourselves too seriously. We have to avoid becoming too self-important. We can easily place ourselves on a pedestal, thinking we deserve to be there, that people should look up to us, because after all, aren’t we important? Climb up on that pedestal, and find out how far down the trip can be. You aren’t that important. It’s not about you, something we can forget. The other trap is even more insidious, and in some ways harder to avoid. People around you begin to think you are important, more important than you really are, and they place you on a pedestal. Suddenly, to them, everything is about you, not about the mission, not about God. Then you, as leader, have to recognize what is happening and get off that pedestal as fast as possible. Moses recognized this. Eldad and Medad were prophesying, even though they were not part of the group around the tent. Joshua urges Moses to stop them, but Moses avoided the trap. “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!" Moses recognized that it wasn’t about him, it was about God. Why would he stand in God’s way, just to be important in the eyes of other people? Moses knew that he didn’t matter, only the word of God mattered, and the spreading of that word. In the Gospel john rushes to Jesus to inform him of a man driving out demons in the name of Jesus. Stop him, he doesn’t follow us, he’s not one of us. He’s not special, like we are. Jesus turns to John and says why stop him? If he were against us he couldn’t do these things in my name. Jesus wanted his followers to see that it wasn’t about them, about status, about being important, it’s about spreading the Good News. Spreading it every way possible. Everyone is called to spread the Good News of God. The Gospel is not something left to someone else, someone we may want to place on a pedestal, someone we want to surrender our responsibility to. We are all called to spread the Word, top spread the Good News. The Spirit that rested on Eldad and Medad, the Spirit that came to the Apostles, is the Spirit we share, the Spirit that calls us to stay off the pedestal, the Spirit that calls us to avoid putting someone else on that pedestal, the Spirit that calls us to speak, to be bearers of the Word, to spread that word to the world.

Deacon John
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sept. 27, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wis 2:12, 17-20
Jas 3:16-4:3
Mk 9:30-37
Everybody had it figured out. The earth was the center of the universe, the moon, the sun, the planets, all revolved around the earth. I mean, it seems so obvious, all you have to do is look up. We’re not moving, everything else is. But, in 1530, a guy named Copernicus figured it out figured out that we had it all wrong. The earth isn’t the center of the universe, the sun is. The earth spins on its axis as it goes around the sun. By the early seventeenth century Galileo, using the telescope confirmed the theories of Copernicus. What a let down. The earth isn’t the center of the universe. We aren’t the center of the universe. Humans aren’t the center of everything. We seem to have an easier time accepting the Copernican world view, the planetary system of the sun at the center, than accepting the idea that we human beings are not the center of the universe, that each of us individually is not the center of the universe. Our failure to grasp that we are not the center of our own personal universe leads to a myriad of problems. We place ourselves at the center, and expect everything to revolve around us, and this leads to conflict. After all everyone else seems to believe that they are at the center of the universe. We can’t all be there, now can we? No wonder James says “Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain.” We all seek to be first, to be on top, to get what we want, no matter the consequence. Christ tells us to give up our desire to be at the center. We are servants. We fail to realize that we revolve around the Son.
Deacon John
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sept. 20, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Nm 21:4b-9
Phil 2:6-11
Jn 3:13-17

Christ was lifted up, but not in the way he should have been. Christ was lifted up and emptied himself completely, his life poured out that we might look up, gaze upon him, and live. Christ poured himself out, an act of kenotic love, a total emptying of self for others, for us. The perfect example of the call that each of us has received, the perfect sign of God’s vast love for us. Wee are called to this same kenotic love, this total emptying of self, for God, for the people of God. I especially address this idea of kenotic love this day to my brothers in diaconal ministry. Christ as servant is, and should be our ideal. We are called to this same kenotic love, to be the example before others of this great self-emptying. Not an easy task, I know. But we have before us the perfect example to follow. All we must do is look up, look up and gaze upon the one lifted up for us, for when we look up, we live.

Deacon John
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Sept. 14, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 50:5-9a
Jas 2:14-18
Mk 8:27-35

In these times I count myself fortunate to have a job. I am in fact more fortunate that many in that I have a job that I love. I’ve had jobs I hated, but did them because, well because I had to in order to survive. This job, the job I have now, I truly love. I do, however, have to do a bit more than just love my job. I cannot simply sit around saying I love my job, I have to actually do my job, else I won’t have it to love for long. I can’t just say I love my job, there is action required on my part. So it is with our faith. We cannot simply say I believe, and then do nothing. To say I believe, then do nothing about that belief, is an empty gesture. Faith requires action. By our Baptism we are called to action. We are called to act, to live our faith. By our Baptism we are called to live an active faith life, indeed we are obligated to be active in our faith. Jesus called upon his followers to take up their cross and follow me. That is a call to act, to do something. We cannot be passive and take up our crosses. We are called to serve those around us in whatever way we can. Whether that service takes the form of physical labor on the part of the people of God, or the act of prayer, if that is all you are able to do, we must act. Will my good works, my actions on behalf of my faith save me, will they get me into heaven? No, of course not, we cannot earn salvation. We cannot simply be bystanders, mouthing belief, but doing nothing. As the author of James states, “So also faith of itself,
if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.”
Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.”
Baptism, belief in Christ is a call to action, a call to have faith, and then to live that faith in how we serve others.
Deacon John
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sept. 13, 2009

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 35:4-7a
Jas 2:1-5
Mk 7:31-37

Deafness. Try to imagine what it is like to not be able to hear. Think of all the things you take for granted that you would miss, the sound of birds, the patter of rain on the roof, music. Things most of us never give a second thought would not be a routine part of life. I am not deaf, but my parents are. I have been around the deaf all my life. Imagine the sense of exclusion you would feel. Left out of conversations, struggling to understand what people around you are talking about. I remember my father referring to lip-reading as lip guessing, and he did well in communicating with the hearing. Making yourself understood can be frustrating. Jesus opened the ears of the deaf man, making it possible for him to understand what was happening around him. Jesus also gave him a voice, the ability to speak about what was happening around him. My brothers and sisters I propose to you that all of us are quite deaf, that all of us are quite mute. We are spiritually deaf, and, without the help of God, we are unable to hear God’s word. Since we can’t hear it, how can we speak of it? Jesus comes and opens our ears so we may hear and understand the word of God. Jesus makes it possible for us to hear the words of love, compassion and caring that God wants us to communicate to the world. Even more, once we hear the word of God, we hear another sound, the sound of the suffering around us. We hear the cry of the poor, the call of the homeless, the crying of the child in need. Indeed, once we hear, truly hear the Word, we cannot close out these other sounds. We are compelled by our faith to speak, to use the voice we have been given to speak out about the plight of those in need. We hear, and we must speak, we must act, we must do what we can to help quiet those cries Our faith demands nothing less.
Deacon John
The Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sept. 6, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dt 4:1-2, 6-8
Jas 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27
Mk 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

"We have met the enemy... and he is us"
Tradition is a wonderful thing. Tradition provides continuity, a way of passing truths and practices down through the generations. Laws are also good things, they provide order and stability. Both tradition and law are good and important things, right up until the time we become enslaved to them. Then we have to re-examine what may be an unhealthy relationship between us as believers in Christ and the traditions and laws we follow. In today’s Gospel the Pharisees excoriate the followers of Jesus for failing to observe the tradition of the elders. They ate a meal without washing their hands. Now, hand washing is not a bad thing, it is indeed a good, common sense practice. The problem is when does hand washing go from a way of honoring God to a practice more important than God? The Gospel writer goes on to list other ways that the Jews practiced these traditions, various ritual cleansings of self and objects. Again, there is nothing wrong with them; indeed they are good sanitary practices. Yet these practices can be come so ritualized, so common, their original purpose, honoring God, is forgotten. Jesus turns on the Pharisees, letting them know that their rituals are empty when they fail to keep the meaning of the ritual in their hearts. They are merely lip service, meaningless gestures. The object you use may be clean, but is the intent with which you use it clean? Using a clean cup, or eating with clean hands does not make you clean within.
We can’t look at the Pharisees too haughtily, because we encounter the same difficulty. When do we become slaves to tradition, to ritual, making them empty and meaningless gestures? Does it really matter to God if I say the prayer at 11:01 and not 10:59? Does it really matter to God if my prayer is in English or Spanish or Greek or Latin or Sanskrit? When I read Scripture am I reading the words, or reading the Word? We are in danger of worshiping not God, but the tradition. We are in danger of worshipping not God, but the institution. The Scripture, the prayers, the traditions are a way to God, the Church is a way to God, they are not God. We can be so enamored of Scripture that we are worshipping the words, not the Word. We become our own worst enemy. Conversion of the heart comes from the grace of God working within. The traditions and laws can enhance that action of grace, they cannot replace it. Tradition is a wonderful thing. Tradition provides continuity, a way of passing truths and practices down through the generations. Laws are also good things, they provide order and stability. Good things when we use them to use them to lead us to God, not to replace God.

Deacon John
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Aug. 30, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jos 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b
Eph 5:21-32 or 5:2a, 25-32
Jn 6:60-69

Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
The Christ had frightened them. He spoke words that were hard to hear, even harder to understand. Many could not, would not accept what Christ had spoken to them. Many turned and walked away. Many abandoned Christ, unable to accept that Christ is indeed the bread come down from heaven, that Christ is the bread of life, that Christ is life. Jesus turns to those closest to him, to that core group of followers and asks them if they too will leave. Simon Peter replies for the group, “Master, to whom shall we go?” To whom shall we go? It’s confusing out there. Things change, often at a pace we can’t keep up with. Changes come that may or may not be to our liking. Changes come that turn our worlds upside down. Things that we believed stable, unchanging, change. Confusing, frightening, anger-inducing, all of this and much more. Even things in our Church change. Change isn’t necessarily bad, after all change is a sign of life. Yet the words can be hard to hear, the change can be hard to make. Through all the changes in our lives, in our homes in our jobs in our Church there is one constant. There remains one unchanging truth. We have been given the words of eternal life. We have been given the Word, the Word that comes to us as we hear it proclaimed, the Word that come to us as we eat the bread of life. Through all the changes, changes that for us may be good, bad or indifferent one thing remains the same. One thing gives us hope, gives us a home, gives us life beyond all measure. When the changes you face start to become overwhelming keep in mind the words of Simon Peter, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
Deacon John
The Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Aug. 23, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Prv 9:1-6
Eph 5:15-20
Jn 6:51-58

Bread. An ordinary, simple part of daily life. It can take a few different forms. In my part of the world it can be a biscuit for breakfast, a roll with dinner, or slices of bread for a sandwich at lunch. How many times a day do we eat bread and how often do we really think about it? Maybe when we run out of it. It’s just there, ordinary, simple, a ubiquitous part of life. When Christ chose a way to be with us, to remain with us, why not choose bread? Christ chose bread as the way to stay with us because it is such an important, yet ordinary part of life. Christ didn’t have to explain the importance of bread to people. Yet he took this simple, ordinary item and raised it to sacredness.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
Christ becomes our bread, becomes the staple of life that we need more than we realize. The ordinary, the simple, becomes Christ, becomes sacred, becomes a way for us to encounter the sacred. We gather at the Eucharistic celebration and we eat the sacred bread that is no longer bread. We take Christ into ourselves, and we who are ordinary, we who are simple, are elevated. We take God within us and we are lifted to the sacred, we become more than what we were, we become one, truly one in Christ. We leave, carrying that oneness with us, to invite the world to join with us, with us as one in Christ.

Deacon John
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Aug. 16, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Feast of St. Lawrence

2 Cor 9:6-10
Jn 12:24-26

You reap what you sow. An old cliché perhaps, but clichés are clichés for a reason. Often there is truth behind the words of a cliché. How we choose to live our lives, what we choose to give away and what we choose to keep from others, can be the measure of what we receive. Do we choose to give generously of what we have, or do we jealously guard our possessions, our time? Our faith calls us to be generous, to give all we have all we are. We are called to kenosis, self-emptying, pouring out of ourselves in imitation of Christ. Christ’s giving to us was kenotic, a complete self-emptying, a self-emptying we are called to as well. No, it is not easy. Yes it can be difficult, very difficult, but the reward is beyond measure. St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, shows us an example of this kenotic giving. He emptied himself completely, even giving his life. I doubt that any of us will be called to give in that same measure, but we are called. When we do give, when we attempt this kenosis, we will find what seems to be a contradiction, it is in the self-emptying that we become full. In giving we gain more than we were.

Deacon John
Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr
Aug. 10, 2009

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Kgs 19:4-8
Eph 4:30—5:2
Jn 6:41-51

“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”
Life is tough. Let’s face it. I don’t care who you are, what you have or don’t have, what you believe or don’t believe, life is tough. All of us will face difficulty, no one escapes problems. For some the difficulties of life are merely a burden to be borne. For others life’s hardships can be overwhelming. We face these hard times and feel alone, adrift in a world that cares nothing for you, a place where your problems are just one more set of difficulties that are everywhere. It is far too easy to become despondent and give up. The journey through life requires strength, strength that on our own we do not have. That strength is available to us, available in the bread come down from heaven, the bread of life that can sustain us on this difficult journey. Christ feeds us, gives us strength, strength in Christ’s presence in the word we hear, strength in Christ’s presence in the bread and wine we share. The strength we need is there, available to us, if we simply get up and partake of it. We must choose to accept the life giving strength that is granted to us, we must get up and eat.
“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”

Deacon John
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Aug. 9, 2009

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Dn 7:9-10, 13-14
2 Pt 1:16-19
Mk 9:2-10

About 25 years ago there was a documentary series on television called The Day the Universe Changed. Science historian James Burke would take an event in history, an event that seemingly was somewhat innocuous, and show how that event or idea or discovery changed the way we see the universe. These events were transformational events, because we were never the same after they occurred. They did indeed change the universe. These transformational events aren’t just great historic things, they also occur in our own lives. The day you become a parent, the world changes, you change. You will never see the universe the same way again. You have been transformed forever.
Jesus takes Peter James and John to the mountaintop. They have no idea why they are there, but for them the universe is about to change. Before their eyes Jesus changes, he is transfigured, he becomes so bright they can’t even look at him. They fall to the ground in terror. Then Moses and Elijah appear and speak to the transfigured Christ. Peter, James and John are terrified, they don’t understand what is happening or what they are seeing. They look up and everything is back to normal. But how can they ever see Jesus the same way again? Something happened, and because of it their universe is changed. As the undoubtedly confused disciples walk away with Jesus he tells them to keep this to themselves, tell no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead. What does that mean? Only later, after witnessing the events of the Passion, death and resurrection of Christ do they realize what they saw. Only later do they realize they have been witness to the glory of God. Like the events described by James Burke, only later did they realize the universe-altering event they witnessed. We have the opportunity to participate in this universe-altering event. Through the Sacraments, through particularly the Eucharist, we have the opportunity to see the glory of God. We have the chance to share in that glory. We can be transformed. When we receive Christ, how can we ever be the same again? We are changed. When we receive Christ, when we accept Christ, the universe is changed.

Deacon John
The Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
Aug. 6, 2009

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ex 16:2-4, 12-15
Eph 4:17, 20-24
Jn 6:24-35

“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
What does it mean to believe in the one God sent? Is it a simple act of affirmation, or is there more involved? Belief in the one sent by God is more than affirmation, it is immersion, immersion into the person of Christ. When one enters a profession it is not simply a matter of saying I’m a doctor or a lawyer or a plumber or an electrician. To be one of those requires immersion into the subject, study, practice, and the realization that you will never know everything there is to know about your field. You have to keep up with the advances in your chosen field, continually learning and re-learning, consulting books and others in your field so that you can continue to do the work you have chosen and to do it well.
So it is when we choose to do the work of God. We declare our belief, we affirm that we are followers of Jesus Christ, but we cannot stop there. We must keep up, we must immerse ourselves into the subject, into the body of Christ. We gather on this day and we hear the word of God. We take in that word, seeking to make it a part of us, applying that word to our lives. We then consume the bread become the Body of Christ, we consume the wine become Christ’s blood. We take in that Word, and in that taking in of the Body, we become what we receive. We receive the Body of Christ and become the Body of Christ. We are immersed in Christ as we act on our belief that Christ is indeed the one sent by God. We are immersed in Christ as we prepare to do the work of God.
“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

Deacon John
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Aug. 2, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

2 Kgs 4:42-44
Eph 4:1-6
Jn 6:1-15

Gift-giving. It can be a source of great frustration. We search for the right gift, wanting everything to be perfect. We worry, especially when the gift is intended for someone we love, if the gift is good enough. Is our gift worthy of the one we are giving it to? We want it to be enough, more than enough, we want our gift to be perfect, not just adequate, but perfect. We want it to be, but of course it is not. So we worry. We really have nothing to worry about though. When we give a gift out of love, to someone we love, when we give a gift out of love to someone who loves us, that gift is not just adequate, it is enough, much more than enough.
A large crowd followed Jesus across the Sea of Galilee. They followed because of the signs he was performing on the sick. They followed, and showed no signs of leaving. They needed food, so Jesus turns to his followers and asks, where can we buy food for them. Buy food for them, there were thousands, of people. It would be impossible to get enough food anywhere to feed them. The followers of Jesus had no idea of where they should turn when a young boy steps forward carrying his gift. Five loaves and two fish, five loaves and two fish to feed all of those people. A gift that appeared to be hopelessly inadequate. Five loaves and two fish would not feed a dozen people, much less thousands. Yet he offered his gift in love, to someone he loved, to someone who loved him, and all were fed, with baskets full of leftovers.
Each of us has a gift, large or small, it does not matter. Each of us has a gift to offer, a gift we can offer in love. We offer our gift to one we love, we offer our gift to the one who loves us beyond all measure, and that gift is more than adequate, it is more than enough, it is made abundant.

Deacon John
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 26, 2008

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jer 23:1-6
Eph 2:13-18
Mk 6:30-34

Lost, they were lost and searching for…something. They weren’t even sure what they were seeking. They only knew something was missing, there was an empty space that nothing could fill, until they heard his voice, until they heard his words. They knew they had found what was missing, they had found what they were searching for. Jesus was taking his apostles to a place to rest after their labors, away from the crowds, a quiet retreat. The people, however, desperate to hear him, to learn from him, to be with him, found out where he was going and rushed to get there ahead of him. So when Jesus and the apostles arrived the throng was waiting for them. Jesus saw them and knew they needed him, they needed to hear him, to learn from him, just to be with him. He was moved and began to teach them. Too often we are lost, searching, looking for something, looking for meaning, looking for truth. We wander about but never seem to find it. Many people my age wandered off seeking truth and meaning in other faiths, in astrology or Eastern mysticism. Some looked for truth in drugs. They looked but never found it. They searched and discovered their search led them back, back to the place they started from, back to Christ. Back to the Christ who waits for us, who longs to teach us, to give us meaning, to be with us. We know where Christ is. Let us hasten there for Christ waits to teach us many things.

Deacon John
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 19, 2009

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ez 2:2-5
2 Cor 12:7-10
Mk 6:1-6

Who do you think you are? Just exactly who do you think you are? Where do you get off, do you really think you’re that much better than we are? I know you, I know you family. You’re father is just a carpenter. You’re nobody special, why should we listen to you? You come in here all high and mighty, let us knock you down a peg or two. That can sum up the reaction Jesus received in Nazareth when he went back there to teach, to preach. The reaction of the people seems on the surface to be mean spirited. It is a reaction we have all seen before, a reaction to someone who has separated themselves in some way from the larger group. We react badly, at times, seeming to want no one to do more, or be more. We act as though their change in some way diminishes us. I think, though that this reaction isn’t necessarily mean or vengeful or envious. I think the reaction is fear. We are afraid of what one person’s growth or change means for us. If that person is really no different than we are, no better than we are, that means we can change and grow as well. We can step out of the larger group, and we are afraid. If those people of Nazareth had asked Jesus I’m sure he would have told them that, indeed, he was one of them, and they could, if they would, follow and be like him. But they were afraid, afraid of what change might mean, afraid that if we change we stop being who we are, or at least who we think we are. If we change we may stop being ourselves. It is the same fear we have, the same fear that moves us to try and drag down someone who has dared to separate themselves, someone who dares to be different, someone who unhesitatingly and without fear attempts to openly follow Christ. We want them to stop, we want them back, we want them to be who they were, we want them to stop challenging us to change. We are afraid, afraid of losing who we are, afraid to change, afraid we will stop being ourselves. If we would only realize that by embracing Christ, we don’t stop being ourselves, we become more ourselves than we realized was possible. The change we are called to makes who we should be, who, if we are honest with ourselves, we really want to be. We can change, if we simply embrace the gift of faith that is ours. Faith can relieve or fears, faith can make the change possible. Will we be perfect? No, we will fall. Will we stop being afraid? Some of the time, and with practice more and more of the time. We can be ourselves, our true selves, only with faith. We need not fear, yet I’m afraid that Jesus is still amazed at our lack of faith.
Deacon John
The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 5, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24
2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15
Mk 5:21-43 or 5:21-24, 35b-43

Life and death that is what is facing us today. Life and death and the choice we make, and the choice God has made. In today’s Gospel Jesus encounters two women who are dead. You may argue that the one was not really a woman, but a child. Perhaps, but in her time she would have been close to marriage age, so she is a woman. The other you may somewhat justifiably argue isn’t dead at all. She may be ill, but she is alive. Yet her illness, her disease, makes her an outcast, untouchable, unfit to live in society. So, she is for all intents and purposes dead her society. In the appearance of Jesus she is faced with a choice, life or death. She summons up her courage and reaches for Jesus hem, reaches for life. She reaches for life because she has faith, faith that Jesus, that God, will give her a new life. Her hope is not dashed; she does get the new life she reached for, because of her faith. A man comes to Jesus, asking him to save his seriously ill daughter. As he is leading Jesus to his home people arrive to tell him it is too late, she has died. Jesus turns to the man and says do not be afraid, have faith. They continue to the place where the younger of our women lay, apparently dead. Yet Jesus turns the mourners away, saying she merely sleeps. They laugh at him, they know death when they see it. Yet for Jesus no situation is hopeless. Faith again triumphs over death. Jesus takes her hand, commands her to rise, and she does. Faith, faith stronger than fear, stronger than death, brings life. God chooses life for us, not death. In our first reading we hear, “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being;” and “For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.” God wants life for us, yet we so often choose not to grasp that life that is ours to take. We turn away, either out of fear, or not believing that our faith is enough. We are simply too evil for God to forgive us, to give us a second chance, for God to give us life again. We are so, so wrong. God does not give second chances, God give third and fourth and fifth chances. God give us all the chances we need to accept the gift of life being offered us. Nothing, nothing we can do separates us from the love of God. Fear is what separates us, fear that we simply don’t have enough faith. Any faith is enough faith, God is not measuring quantity. Faith and trust and hope in a new life, they are not things to fear. Jesus told the synagogue official, do not be afraid. The woman who was ill overcame her fear. Each was given a precious gift, life, new life in Christ. Do not be afraid, reach out, touch the hem, seize the life that God wants you to have.
Deacon John
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 28, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jb 38:1, 8-11
2 Cor 5:14-17
Mk 4:35-41

It has been a somewhat stormy year, at least in my part of the world. Ice and snow storms in the winter, wind and thunderstorms in the spring. These storms have caused a lot of trouble, loss of electrical power, damage to homes, often caused by trees that could not weather the storm. When you’ve faced a lot of storms, you tend to go one of two ways. Either you just get plain sick of them, and become leery every time the weather seems to be turning bad, or you become afraid of them, fearful that the next storm is the one that will destroy you and everything you have worked for. In the Gospel today the followers of Jesus are facing a storm at sea. As the storm grows in intensity, they grow more and more frightened. Jesus, for his part, is so calm, so unperturbed, that he is sleeping in the stern of the boat. They finally become so frightened, so certain that they are about to die, they wake Jesus up and ask him if he cares that they are about to die. Jesus, without fanfare, stops the storm, then looks at his disciples and asks, why are you afraid, do you not yet have faith? His disciples then ask each other, who is this that commands the wind and sky? He is the One who told Job I set the limits for the sea and fastened the bar of its door. He is the One who made them, made us, who set the limits of nature, who wrote the laws that govern the universe. He is the one who loves and cares for us. We live in a stormy time. We face a seemingly never ending war, an economy that is sinking like a rock, the prospect of losing one’s job, or being wiped out by market crashes or catastrophic illness. It is an uneasy time, filled with storms. It is very easy to be frightened. It seems that it only makes sense to be frightened. We can, however, survive these storms. We must strive to live a life that has the one thing the followers in the Gospel seemed to lack, faith. No, having faith will not automatically make everything better. You can have faith and still lose your job. You can have faith and still get wiped out. It would be fair of you to ask, so what will faith do for me? Faith can help you through the storms. Faith can help you face the storm, despite your fear. Faith is the one calm place in a world of storms. Faith won’t solve your problems, faith will help you face them. You are not facing the storm alone. The One who calmed the seas, the One who set its limits wants only to help you face these storms unafraid.

Deacon John
Twelfth Sunday In Ordinary Time
June 21, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Ex 24:3-8
Heb 9:11-15
Mk 14:12-16, 22-26

Blood, lifeblood, it circulates through the body, giving life. Arteries take the life giving fluid from the heart through the body, veins bring the blood back to be renewed. Take the blood form the body and the body dies. Blood is essential to life. It is not surprising then that blood is used to seal covenants. The people of Israel gathered together to be sealed in their covenant by blood, the blood of bulls.
We gather together, brought to this place, this heart, to be renewed, renewed by the blood that is far greater than the blood of bulls, to be renewed by the body that is so much more than the ashes of heifers. We come together in this place to be made one in the body and blood that is greater than time, or place or bureaucracies or hierarchies. We come together to celebrate the covenant sealed in the blood of Christ, the blood that renews us, the blood that gives us life, the blood that is life, so that we may pour out into the arteries carrying that life to the world.
Deacon John
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
June 14, 2009

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Back at Last

I've been missing in action for a few weeks. Those who follow my cancer blog, Me and Poindexter,know that I have had a relapse of my cancer, Multiple Myeloma. Traetment, almost always worse than the disease, has had me down for a bit, but I am now regaining strength, and finally able to write again. Hopefully I can continue every week for a while anyway. Thanks for your prayers.
Deacon John
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
June 7, 2009

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Dt 4:32-34, 39-40
Rom 8:14-17
Mt 28:16-20

There is a popular series of books you may be familiar with called books for dummies. For example there is Plumbing for Dummies, or Carpentry for Dummies, or Auto Mechanics for Dummies. These books take a subject and break it down into very simple components, to make the subject accessible to some one who may know absolutely nothing about it. I once purchased the book Philosophy for Dummies to help me get through a class in Philosophy. Believe me, I needed the help. I can’t say that after reading the book I understood Philosophy, I did not. But the book helped me enter into the subject. It helped me begin to grasp the mystery that was Philosophy. In some ways Scripture can be looked at as God for Dummies. Scripture is God’s self-revelation to us, a self -revelation broken down and made simple so that we can begin to enter into the mystery that is God. Now, any discussion of the nature of God must begin with this understanding, if you think you understand God, what you understand is not God. We will never, this side of heaven, understand the mystery that is God, particularly the mystery that God is Trinity, three persons in one God. God’s self-revelation is for us only a beginning, giving us the barest glimpse into God. In today’s Gospel reading we have one of the very few times the concept of God as Trinity is made explicit. Jesus tells his doubting followers to go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. God revealed to us as Trinity, three persons, one God. A mystery, a great mystery that we can never comprehend. You can try, you can beat your head against the wall of that mystery, but all you’ll get for your effort is a headache. All we can do is accept that the nature of God is and will always be a mystery. All we can do is rely on faith, the faith that makes it possible for us to accept this mystery. God’s self-revelation to us is a doorway, a doorway that we enter only through faith. When we have stepped through that door in faith, accepted the mystery that we will not understand, then we can go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Deacon John
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
June 7, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Second Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:32-35
1 Jn 5:1-6
Jn 20:19-31

Admit it. Go on, admit it. It’s true, you know it is. You just don’t want to admit the truth. It’s really nothing to be ashamed of. You doubt. Occasionally, in the deep recesses of your heart, you wonder, you doubt. I think we are rough on Thomas sometimes just because his story makes us confront our own doubt. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional doubt, the occasional question. It is, indeed quite normal, especially if you take your Christianity seriously. It is, after all, an incredible story. A human being rises from the dead? I’ve never seen it happen, I am relatively certain you’ve never seen it happen, yet that is what we are called on to believe. A human being, yet much more than a human being, lived among us, died a horribly violent death, then rose from the grave, living again, thereby assuring that we who follow, we who believe, will live as well. Thomas did not believe, would not believe, without proof. That is a lot like us. We want empirical evidence, proof that this theorem is true, before we believe that it is. Too often we don’t really want to believe, we want to know. Knowing something is true is not the same as believing something is true. Knowing requires proof, but it does not require faith. The mythologist Joseph Campbell was once asked by a priest if he would believe in a personal God, if he would have faith, if the priest could prove the truth of God’s existence. Campbell replied, if you can prove it, then what need would I have of faith? If we know we don’t need faith. The sun will rise in the east whether I have faith it will or not. The sun will set in the west whether I believe it will or not. I can state with certainty that Christ rose from the dead, but I say this because I believe. I say this because I have the great gift given by God, I have faith. The faith I have tells me this is true, despite the lack of evidence, despite the evidence against the possibility of what I believe being true. Being human, however, I do on occasion question, I do on occasion, doubt. That is when I must, I must, rely on my faith. Faith is what makes it possible to overcome the doubt. Faith is what makes it possible to, without seeing, believe.

Deacon John
The Second Sunday of Easter
April 19, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Col 3:1-4
Jn 20:1-9

“For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”
Who can blame them? The empty tomb was a mystery. They had no explanation. Had his body been stolen, had it been moved? Why was the tomb empty? They did finally understand why the tomb was empty. He had indeed risen, he was alive. He had conquered death. Then they began to learn even more of what the empty tomb means. A lesson that we can, that we need to learn. Life can be frustrating. We encounter difficulties of all manner, things that trap us, things that can place us in a tomb, a tomb that shuts us off from those around us, that tries to shut us off from God. These frustrations and difficulties can grow until we feel so trapped we begin to believe there is no way out. We lay in the tomb, trapped. In Christ we have our way out, if we will claim it. We do not need to lie in that tomb of our making. Christ sets us free. Christ rolls back the stone, creating for us an opening, a chance. Christ makes it possible for us to walk out and leave behind an empty tomb.

Deacon John
Easter Sunday
April 12, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Is 52:13—53:12
Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Jn 18:1—19:42

Ecce Homo, Behold your King, or Behold the Man. Pilate brought Jesus out to the people and spoke these words. Behold him, he looked nothing like a king, and barely like a man. Rather, “there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,nor appearance that would attract us to him.” How could anyone be attracted to this beaten, bleeding figure? Why would anyone follow him? How could anyone see in this defeated man a king? Yet in this battered, bruised, bleeding figure is our salvation. Soon he would ascend his throne, be nailed to it, hang on it, apparently defeated. In this seeming defeat is our victory. In his death, our life. That battered, bruised, bleeding, crucified king sacrificed all for us. He gave everything so we might live. He hangs there, dying, to restore our life. Look, Behold the Man.
Deacon John
Good Friday
April 10, 2009

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Holy Thursday

Ex 12:1-8, 11-14
1 Cor 11:23-26
Jn 13:1-15

The water poured over their feet, into the basin as he washed their feet. Water, but more than water, as Christ poured himself, emptying the pitcher of water, emptying himself. Wine poured into the cup, the cup he took, and blessed, and gave to them to drink. Wine, but more than wine, as Christ poured himself into that cup. He emptied himself, giving all that there was to give, all for them, all for us. It was an act of kenosis, self-emptying, the total pouring out of all that he had, all that he was, all that he is. A pouring out of self, an emptying of self for us. An example for us to follow, a call for us to empty ourselves. We pour out ourselves for others, but more than ourselves. We empty ourselves giving what was poured out for us. We pour ourselves out and into the new life we share, our new life gained as we empty ourselves into Christ.

Deacon John
Holy Thursday
April 9, 2009

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Palm Sunday

So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?
What's our hurry? We can't seem to wait for Easter to get here. Get here and get done so we can end Lent, eat what we want on Friday and just get on with things. What's our hurry? This week is a week to be taken slowly, so that all that happens in this week can soak in, so we can experience the sacredness of this week. Today Jesus enters Jerusalem to cheers, only to find himself reviled by Friday, crucified, forgotten, so they hoped. But our hope and our life spring anew with the glorious event of Sunday, the day we have been preparing for these past weeks. Rather than rush through this week, savor it, celebrate it, use it, so we may be all the more ready to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, our opening to life.
Deacon John
Palm Sunday
April 5, 2009

An Idea

If you check the sidebar on the right hand side of this blog you will see that I have added a picture of Blessed John XXIII. Those who follow this blog may know know that I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, an incurable but treatable cancer. I was in remission following an autologous stem cell transplant, but recently realized that something was wrong. The last few weeks as I have waited to see if Poindexter (my name for the disease) had returned or not, something (or Someone?) urged me to pray to Blessed John for his intercession, asking that I may be healed. I thought, why not? He is certainly (to me) the most important Pope of my lifetime. He brought about changes that affected millions, and changes that affect me directly. Without the changes he started, I could not do what I do, I could not be what I am, a Deacon of this Church. And, he's a namesake. So I have begun praying daily for Blessed John XXIII's intercession, that I might be healed, and that a cure for Multiple Myeloma might be found, so all can be healed. I hope that you will join me in this prayer for Blessed John's intercession, especially for the discovery of a cure.
Deacon John
Palm Sunday
April 5, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fifth Sunday in Lent

Jer 31:31-34
Heb 5:7-9
Jn 12:20-33

In October of 1929, the American covenant collapsed. The stock market crashed precipitously, erasing millions of dollars of wealth. The Great Depression was on. The actions of some of the people, created a prosperity that was tenuous. Greed became the driving force of the economy, and it seemed everyone wanted to cash in. People strayed from what the American covenant was supposed to be, broke that covenant, and watched as the economy they created collapsed like a house of straw. Businesses collapsed and factories closed. Unemployment was rampant. There seemed to be absolutely no hope. Then came the presidential election of 1932 and the promise of a new deal, a new covenant, designed to end the economic distress that plagued not just this country, but the world. I have no intention here of arguing the politics, history, or economics of the New Deal. It was at that time obvious the old covenant had failed and it was time to change, time to re-craft the American Dream, to form a new American covenant. The people of Israel had drifted from their covenant with God. God knew that it was time for a new covenant, a covenant meant to change the people of Israel, a covenant meant to bring them back to knowledge of God, a covenant meant to re-commit them to God, to make them God’s people. This covenant would stand forever, a covenant forged in suffering, death, and resurrection. The covenant made possible by the coming of the Christ and Christ’s commitment to give everything for the people of God. Through the suffering endured by Christ, we live. The covenant forged in Christ’s blood, the covenant ratified by the empty tomb, is the covenant given to us. We become the people of God through this covenant. When we embrace what was done for us we reach for the life that is ours because of Christ’s death and resurrection. The people of America, our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents were offered a new deal, a new deal they seized, a new deal that offered a new life. Now is the time for us to seize again that new deal offered us by God, the new covenant in Christ, the new covenant that gives us new life, life that never ends.

Deacon John
Fifth Sunday in Lent
March 29, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fourth Sunday in Lent

2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23
Ps 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Eph 2:4-10
Jn 3:14-21

Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you.
What would you do for those you love? What would you do to keep them safe, to protect them? We all make sacrifices for the ones we love, but how far are you willing to go? Would you give up everything? In wartime we always hear these stories, a platoon of soldiers are in an enclosed area when a hand grenade is thrown into their midst. With nowhere to go, ands no time to get there, they are all surely going to die, until one soldier throws himself on the grenade, taking the brunt of the explosion and saving the others. If you were one of the soldiers saved by this act of bravery, this act of love, could you ever forget the one who made that sacrifice? I don’t think it would be possible to forget, you would think of that act, that person, every single day for the rest of your life, a life you have only because of that person. Not only would you never forget, you could never be silent about it. This is a story you would recount to anyone and everyone who would listen. It’s a story you would tell even to those who wouldn’t listen. Silence would be impossible. Each of us, each one of us has been saved by just such an act. Each of us has been saved and given new life by one who came and died for us. The most famous passage of scripture in the world, John 3:16. Watching a basketball game yesterday I saw someone in the stands holding up a sign, John 3:16. For God so loved the world… We have all been given life by the one who lived, died and rose, for us. You would think that we could never forget, but somehow we do. We forget the gift that we have been given, the gift given at great cost, the gift given out of love. We forget, and we remain silent. How can we be quiet about what has been done for us? How can we not tell everyone, everyone who will listen and everyone who won’t? For the rest of this Lent let each of us take time each day to remember, to remember what we have been given, what was done for us. Let us remember and speak out, not afraid or ashamed, but joyful that we have life through the sacrifice made for us.
Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you.

Deacon John
Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 22, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Third Sunday in Lent

Ex 20:1-17 or 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17
1 Cor 1:22-25
Jn 2:13-25

Rules. We certainly seem to have enough of them. Why should we have so many? Why have any rules at all? We are, after all, free agents, able to do what ever we want. Ah, able to do what ever we want. So I suppose that explains why we have so many rules. We need a guide, something to follow, something to help us understand what we need to do, what we should do. In the first reading we have the basic rules, the Ten Commandments. These Commandments are the basis for much of our law, church and secular. These rules should be so much a part of us that we follow their guidance almost automatically. The only problem is that we don’t. We rebel, we hate rules, we hate being told what to do. We want to make sure we are taking care of number one, and if that involves bending or even breaking a few rules, well too bad. In the Gospel Jesus encounters those who are certainly watching out for themselves, not caring about what rules or norms they may be violating. They set up shop in the midst of the Temple precincts and fleece the worshipers as they go into the Temple. Were they providing a needed service? Yes, they provided the items needed for proper worship and sacrifice. But they were also turning the Temple into a marketplace. They lost sight of why the Temple was there, what the purpose of the Temple and even the purpose of their presence there was. Worshiping God, offering praise to God, seeking help from God, expressing love for God. That was the purpose of the Temple. It was the place to do these things. It was not meant to be a place of commerce and profit. It was meant to be a place about love, God’s love for them and their love for God. Remember that love, and suddenly the rules make sense, the rules do become easy to follow.
Why gather today in Church? Do we come together to worship our God, or do we come for other reasons? There are many things that can be factors in why we gather, rules being one of them. Nothing wrong with that, it is good that we come together, because by coming together and giving ourselves to worship, giving ourselves to God, we begin to understand that there is a better reason for our gathering, a reason that surpasses any other. When this happens the rules have served their purpose, they bring us to God, they bring us to love.

Deacon John
Third Sunday in Lent
March 15, 2009

P.S. On a completely non-theological note I have to say LOUISVILLE CARDINALS, CHAMPS OF THE BIG EAST OVERALL NO 1 SEED. WHOO-HOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
GO CARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Second Sunday of Lent

Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Rom 8:31b-34
Mk 9:2-10

Terror. Pure terror. That must have been what Isaac felt when he realized the sacrifice was him. How terrifying was it when his father bound him, placed him on the altar, raised his knife, fully prepared to kill him. What did Isaac feel when he was suddenly reprieved? He was spared by God, his father stopped from killing him, and a ram offered in his place. Did Isaac feel relief, joy, gratitude, or was the whole thing just too hard to accept? He should have been dead, but he was alive. Did he feel that in some way he had risen from the dead?
Terror. Pure terror. That must have been what Peter, James and John felt on that mountain top. Before their eyes the one they had been following changed, became dazzling, blindingly bright, hard to look at. Jesus revealed the glory that is God to them, and they were terrified. Perhaps they thought they had died and gone to heaven. When the episode ended, did they feel they had in some way been brought back from the dead? Then Jesus tells them not to tell anyone what they had witnessed until He had risen from the dead. They did keep quiet, they did not understand what risen from the dead meant.
Terror. Pure terror. Something we may feel occasionally when we realize the sacrifice should be us. When we honestly look at ourselves, our selfishness, our failures to love, we should feel terror. We understand that we do not deserve mercy, we do not deserve love, we act in a way that is often totally unlovable. But like Isaac, we are reprieved. Another stands in our place, the one who stood before Peter, James and John and was transfigured. We are saved by the death of Jesus, who dies for us. We are saved by the Christ, who rises from death, who enters new life and gives that life to us, if we are willing to see that we have, like Isaac, been reprieved. When we love as we are loved, we come to understand what risen from the dead means. We rise, and will be able to see the dazzling, blindingly bright glory that is God.

Deacon John
Second Sunday of Lent
March 8, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Jl 2:12-18
2 Cor 5:20-6:2
Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

When we speak of God’s love and forgiveness to someone who is questioning, we all too often use big examples. Does God really love Hitler? Does God really forgive Hitler? Does God really love Charles Manson? Does God really forgive him? Does God really love and forgive Stalin? We glibly answer yes, because it is so easy to do. It’s abstract, not real. How about a more reality based question. Does God really love and forgive me? Now it’s personal. We may say yes, knowing intellectually the truth, but in our hearts the answer is no. How can God love me? I am so bad, I am so unlovable, there is no way God loves and forgives me. I don’t deserve to be loved, I don’t deserve to be forgiven. Well you’re right, you don’t deserve to be loved and forgiven, but you are nonetheless. You are because our God’s love for us is unimaginable and completely without condition. God loves us, God calls us to repentance, yes, but more importantly God calls us to relationship, to share in God’s unconditional love. We are not beyond redemption, we are not beyond salvation, we cannot escape God’s love. God wants us, the only thing holding us back is us. We are afraid to turn to God, to accept the love that is ours for the taking. As we hear in the hymn Hosea, “ Long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new life.” What are we afraid of, changing, of things getting better? It’s so good now? Again what are we afraid of? As we enter this season of Lent let us work to overcome our fear, let us strive to understand there is nothing to fear. Turn to the Lord, for as Paul tells us, “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Deacon John
Ash Wednesday
Feb. 25, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25
2 Cor 1:18-22
Mk 2:1-12

A man is carried to Jesus so that he may be cured. Paralyzed, being borne on a mat, there is no way through the crowd, no way to reach Jesus unless they circumvent the crowd and go through the roof. The man is carried to the roof, a hole is opened in the roof, and he is lowered into the room, into the presence of the Christ. Jesus must have been taken by this novel approach and forgave the man and healed him of his illness. What faith, what courage, was shown here. A faith and a courage and a determination that led to healing, spiritual and physical. Such tremendous faith and love. I’m not speaking of the paralyzed man, but the ones who carried him to Jesus, who opened the roof, lowered him in, and made it possible for him to be aided by the Christ. What faith and what love! They had nothing to gain. No one remembers them, no one thinks of them. They are a sidebar to this story, almost forgotten. Yet without them this story does not happen. Without them the paralyzed man stays paralyzed. They are who we, who claim to believe, should be. Through their anonymous act of love they helped another reach faith and healing. We can imitate them by the way we live, by how we act, what we say and what we do. In living our faith, in striving to serve the People of God, in anonymously helping others to find Christ, we find Christ ourselves. So many are paralyzed, so many need our help. We, the Body of Christ, are called on to help them, and in helping them to help ourselves. We may be as anonymous as the men carrying the paralytic, but we are not forgotten, not by the One who matters. We may forget those four, But Jesus did not. Remember what the Scripture says, “When Jesus saw their faith…”

Deacon John
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Feb. 22, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lv 13:1-2, 44-46
1 Cor 10:31-11:1
Mk 1:40-45

Leprosy was a terrible thing. People who had this disease, who suffered from skin ailments, who were contagious, had to live apart from the community. People with this disease were separated from community life. They were unclean, untouchable, no longer one with their community. One with a sore or pustule had to present themselves to the priest who would declare them unclean, unfit to live with the rest of the people. Should the sore go away, should that person appear to be healed, they would cease to be unclean. They could return to the community. How did one get healed? Perhaps a miracle, perhaps a treatment worked, perhaps the sore simply went away on its own. Healing was, however, the only way back into the community.
A leper approached Jesus, seeking healing. Jesus granted the request, healing the man and instructing him to go to the priest to show that he was indeed healed, that he was no longer unclean. The former leper went away rejoicing, praising God, and telling everyone what Jesus had done. He no longer had to live apart from his neighbors, he could rejoin the community, the family of faith he had been separated from. We find ourselves in the position of the leper. We separate ourselves from the community through our disease, our leprosy, sin. Sin sets us apart, removes us from the community, makes us unclean. Through sin we cut ourselves off from our community, from God, from life. We, however, have the opportunity to do as the leper did. We can approach Jesus and seek healing from our spiritual leprosy. We ask for healing, we seek relief, and it is granted. We have no need to fear, no reason to stay apart. We need not wait for healing by chance, it will not come. We need only to turn to the Christ, to Jesus, and our healing will be complete. Our stain of leprosy is wiped away, we are restored to the community. We need not live apart, all we need to do is turn to Jesus and ask.

Deacon John
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Feb. 15, 2009

Monday, February 02, 2009

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dt 18:15-20
1 Cor 7:32-35
Mk 1:21-28

Here in Louisville it’s been a difficult week. A major ice storm roared through the city on Tuesday night and Wednesday, coating everything with inches of ice, causing tree limbs and entire trees to topple under the weight of ice, tearing down power lines causing a massive power outage, with about 250,000 people losing power. Even as I write this on Sunday morning about 95,000 people are still without electricity. Four people have died trying to find ways to heat their homes. Personally, we lost power sometime on Wednesday morning and didn’t get it back till late Friday evening. Like most people, we were not adequately prepared for this emergency. We had been warned, all the weather forecasters told us, this is coming, it’s going to be bad, get ready. We want weather reports, but when we get them we too often fail to pay attention. Weather forecasters must, at times, feel like Old Testament prophets, speaking truth to the people, only to be ignored. Moses, speaking to the people of Israel, tells them, you asked for a prophet and one is given to you, now listen to the prophet who speaks in God’s name. Listen to the one who speaks with authority. They too often failed to listen, to heed the words of Moses and the prophets who followed. They said they wanted to know, but did not heed the warnings they were given. They continually wandered away from the path God laid out for them.
Jesus spoke in the synagogue, teaching not as the scribes, but as one having authority. Jesus spoke the word of God to those who would hear. The people were astounded, by Jesus’ words and actions. “He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” Jesus’ fame spread, more came to hear him, and some listened, learned, heeded what he said, and followed. Jesus, the Word of God, walked among us, teaching, showing us the path we are to follow. We hear the Word, but do we listen? The path we are to take is clear, yet we too often act as many did when weather forecasters warned of this storm. The Word is with us, the way is clear. Follow the path and be ready for the storms that come.

Deacon John
The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Feb. 1, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jon 3:1-5, 10
1 Cor 7:29-31
Mk 1:14-20

The man comes walking down the lakeshore, a group of people following him. There’s a buzz in the air about things he has done, things he has said. He walks past the brothers Simon and Andrew. They are fishermen, casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee. He calls to them, “Come after me,” and they abandon their nets to follow him. Farther down the shore he passes James and John, the sons of Zebedee, also fishermen. As they sit in their boat with their father Zebedee and the hired men he calls to them to follow him. They drop their nets, jump out of the boat, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat and follow him. What about Zebedee? What did he do? How did he feel? What was his reaction? Perhaps he simply sat there in stunned silence, watching his sons disappear down the beach with this man. Perhaps he tried to stop them. I can see Zebedee chasing them down the beach shouting at them, “Come back here! Where do you think you are going? We have work to do, a business to run, a family to feed.” He may have tried to stop them, but ultimately could not. Did he disown them, did he abandon them as he felt they had abandoned him? Or, did he approve of their going? Perhaps he even assisted them as they entered this new life. Maybe he went with them. We really don’t know. The only mention of Zebedee in Scripture that I can find is as the father of James and John. What did Zebedee do? What do we do when we find ourselves in the position that Zebedee found himself in? Should a loved one come to us, expressing a call to follow Christ in a new way, a deeper way, how do we react? Do we stare in stunned silence? Do we try to talk them into being “reasonable,” standing in the way intentionally or not? Or do we encourage them, perhaps even following them on the journey? When I approached my wife about entering the diaconate, I put her in the place of Zebedee. I’m sure she stared at me in stunned silence for a moment, but then she had to make the choice Zebedee had to make. Stop this, or allow it. Obviously, she chose to allow it, she chose to accompany me, so that we made this journey together. Someone comes to us, expressing a desire to follow Christ in a new way, a more meaningful way. It doesn’t have to be as big a commitment such as the diaconate, or entering the priesthood, or religious life. Perhaps it is just a change in attitude, a desire to do and know more. Perhaps they are simply taking their faith and their relationship with God more seriously. They approach us for approval, they make us Zebedee. How do we choose to react?

Deacon John
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jan. 25, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19
1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20
Jn 1:35-42

Each of us is called by God, but how do we know that what we hear is God? Discerning the call of God can be difficult. God called Samuel, but Samuel did not realize that what he heard was God calling. Samuel, however had Eli to help him. Eli understood that the call Samuel heard was from God. Samuel responded when he knew the call was from God. In the Gospel reading two followers of John the Baptizer are told outright that Jesus is the Lamb of God, so they follow him. Andrew, one of these two who followed Jesus finds his brother Simon to tell him that they have found the Christ. They brought Simon to Jesus, who calls him directly, renaming him Cephas, Peter. There was no question about the call these people heard. Samuel had Eli to assist him, to tell him his call was from God. The followers of John the Baptizer are told by John that Jesus is the Messiah. Simon is called by Jesus himself, face to face. We, on the other hand, don’t seem to have quite so good. We probably don’t have an Eli around to assist us. We’re not likely to have a face to face encounter with Christ. We have to discern if what we think is a call is actually from God. Is the call a call toward selflessness, or selfishness? Selflessness is from God, selfishness is from us. Is the call a call to service, service to the people of God? If so it may indeed be a call from God. Is the call a call to right wrongs, to act justly? If so that call may indeed be from God. God calls us to pour ourselves out, to give ourselves to God, to give ourselves to the service of God’s people. This is what each of us, as followers of Jesus Christ are asked to do, to pour ourselves out, just as Samuel did, just as Andrew did, just as Peter did, just as the Christ did. We pour ourselves out in following God’s call, emptying ourselves, only to find the emptiness filled with God’s love and grace.

Deacon John
The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jan 18, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Is 42:1-4, 6-7
1 Jn 5:1-9
Mk 1:7-11

John the Baptizer said, “One mightier than I is coming after me.” One mightier indeed. Yet this mighty one who comes, comes humbly, not as a conqueror but as a servant. This mighty one approaches the Baptizer and seeks baptism. Why? Why would the mighty one of God, the anointed one, the Messiah, the Christ, deign to be baptized by John? To show us the way and to open for us the door. At Jesus baptism the heavens were torn open, and the Spirit descended upon him like a dove, and the voice of God comes forth saying this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. In humility, the Christ is recognized as God’s beloved. The Word of God made flesh acts in humility, bows before God, and is recognized as the child of God. We, unfortunately, tend to be very, very arrogant indeed. Are we not the pinnacle of creation? Is not the entire world subject to us? We want to believe that. We act as though we are in control, yet we never really are. We study history and see how hubris caused others to fall, but we never seem to learn the lesson. There is much we can do, we have learned much. We are intelligent, but we are not wise. We fail over and over again to see the power in humility. The power of the Christ comes from humility. The power of the Christ comes from Christ’s willingness to bow before God, to accept the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit. We have the power to make that same choice. We can bow before God and allow the Spirit of God to be our guide. We can accept humility, and in that acceptance find true strength, real power. We can accept humility and hear God say to us this is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.

Deacon John
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Jan. 11, 2009