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