Weekly Clergy Devotions
Posted: Sunday, October 14, 2018
NURTURING YOUR SPIRITUALITY EVERYDAY
The young man in today’s Gospel comes up to Jesus and asks Him the question that would be the most important question that can be asked of God; “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” This question is answered by Jesus with a review of the commandments asking the man if he has kept them. The man responds that he has kept these commandments from his childhood. At this Jesus is said to have looked at him and loved him. Jesus saw the good in the young man and then He invited the man to come and follow him with the stipulation that he sell everything that he has and give the money to the poor. Jesus is requesting a radical response from the young man because He knew that he had an attachment to his wealth. When the young man heard the command of Jesus his “face fell” and he “went away sad” because he could not bear to part with his possessions. It would seem that the man’s things possessed him more than he possessed them. In this story we see the first time that Jesus calls someone to follow Him and gets a negative response, all the previous times that Jesus asks someone to follow Him He gets an immediate response but not with this young man due to his attachment to his wealth. He sought out Jesus and wished to be accepted by him but could not pay the price for admission. This should cause one to reflect on what possesses us, what is keeping ourselves from that radical acceptance of the call of God in our lives?
What do we need to let go of in order for us to grasp that which should be the most important goal of our lives, our eternal life in the Heavenly Kingdom?
Deacon Bill Watzek
Posted: Sunday, October 7, 2018
How the Lord might be drawing us towards completion today
Have you ever come across that bumper sticker with the message about marriage? It goes something like this: “No one is complete until they get married. And then they are finished!” Maybe many of us laugh when we come across it, and I’m one of those who do. We find it funny because there is a double meaning to the word finished. Finished is one simple word with two very different meanings: Romance or divorce, and Completion or death.
We can find in our gospel’s reading today, Jesus’ concern is not just with the ending of marriages, legal or otherwise, but also, more importantly, with the beginning of creation. Referring to the book of Genesis, Jesus invites us to consider not only what it tells us about the true meaning of marriage, but even beyond that, also about how one becomes a complete human being. As we hear in the first reading, marriage is more than a simple contractual alliance, more than just a joint checking account, and the true meaning of marriage is a profound union in which two people become one flesh.
It is at this point that we finally arrive at the crux of what the scriptures are saying to us today. For, as we well know, the early Fathers of the Church delighted in drawing parallels between the creation of the first man and the crucifixion of Christ. Just as the first man fell into a deep sleep in which the first woman was formed from his rib, so too did Christ fall into the sleep of death on the Cross, during which the Church was born from the blood and water that flowed out of His pierced side. Also, as the second reading reminds us, just as the first man became complete and came to share a new common origin with the first woman, by giving something of himself, so too was Christ made perfect through suffering, such that He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated you and I all have one origin.
Dear brothers and sisters, today’s readings have something important to say to us regardless of whether or not we have ever been married or divorced, regardless of whether we are women or men. For, as baptized Christians, we are all members of the Church of Christ, the same Church that the Lord formed through His sacrifice on the Cross, the same Church that is destined to become His bride when He comes again. And, as members of this Church, whether married or single, separated or divorced, female or male, we are all called to perfection in Christ by imitating Him in giving of ourselves to others.
Father Dominic Toan Tran
Posted: Sunday September 30, 2018
NURTURING YOUR SPIRITUALITY EVERYDAY
In today’s psalm we pray: “The fear of the Lord is pure.” But we ironically fear this phrase! We fear it means we are meant to cower like we would towards a monster who would strike us down with lightning the moment we crack any of those eggshells we are trying to walk on! There is a danger to be swept away by this notion in scrupulosity, which has always been discouraged by the Church and its saints. Scrupulosity is living under this prime motivation of fear that we will instantly and completely lose the graces of God by the slightest possibility of a misstep for even a fraction of a second. For example, the word “gosh” pops in your mind and you are instantly tempted to believe you just broke the 2nd Commandment and used the Lord’s Name in vain! It often takes perseverance and prayer and various other forms of help over time, but scrupulosity needs to be ignored, not encouraged. This is because whatever the virtually countless examples, scrupulosity can paralyze us into not responding to our fullest Christian identity in the variety of situations of daily life. It can also lock us in from noticing all of the blessings God is trying to reveal to us in order for us to both fulfill our discipleship and have the happiest life possible. It can hinder our relationships with God & others. Worst of all, it blinds us to the awareness of the infinitely greater
grace of God—available to us always for the asking!
This awareness will lead us to understand the true meaning of “fear of the Lord” is more appropriately, “awe.” It is an amazement of how infinitely good and great God is, how much God loves us, and how completely we depend upon him in every way and at every moment, that everything can change for the better! The more often we can remember these realities the more often we will be
living and cooperating in God’s amazing plans for our existence! This is why “fear of the Lord” is considered not a bad thing but a
gift of God the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis summarized fear of the Lord beautifully a few years ago: “[it] doesn’t mean being afraid of God, since we know that
God is our Father that always loves and forgives us,…[It] is no servile fear, but rather a joyful awareness of God’s grandeur and a grateful realization that only in him do our hearts find true peace.”
Father Martin Dunne
Posted: Sunday, September 23, 2018
25th Sunday OT Cycle B
In today’s second reading James states that “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.” It is very evident that this statement describes the situation that the world finds itself in today. Through the prideful will of selfish ambition we see the results of financial upheaval, uncontrolled health care costs resulting in the poor going without, abortion, euthanasia and numerous other evils. The Church through the direction of the Holy Spirit asks us today to turn from selfish and ambitious behavior and to hear the call of Christ. This call is to become one who is the “last of all and the servant of all,” one who does not seek glory and riches but seeks to be enriched in the graces of God by the good that one can do for their neighbor. The same is true within the Church itself, it must rid itself of those who are harmful sinners and those who allow them to stay in ministry. So as we reflect on the readings of today let us ask God to help us develop a true sense of humble service to Him and our neighbor through the love that is the essence of God and He so generously allows us to participate in through the Holy Spirit.
Deacon Bill Watzek
Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2018
I Do Therefore I am
Today’s scripture readings are about both thinking and behavior. Jesus rebukes Peter by saying, “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Indeed, Peter has to learn to think differently, and he will have to learn to think like Jesus did. But how does one begin to think differently? We understand Jesus to say that it is learning by doing; “For whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Jesus is turning things on its head, and He seems to suggest that one becomes a disciple not by thinking discipleship but by doing discipleship. Perhaps, this is what St. James means in today’s second reading when he says, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” And then he concludes, “So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Therefore, if Descartes said, “I think therefore I am,” Jesus and St. James are telling us, “I do therefore I am.”
Christianity is a doing. Jesus has just told His disciples for the first time that His destiny is death at the hands of the religious authorities. Can you imagine the shock of the disciples? They had abandoned everything to follow Jesus, and their intention in following Jesus was to gain something. And just when there was no turning back, Jesus not only tells them that He will be killed, but also tells them that their gain too lies in self-denial. If they must save their lives they must lose them. Very soon after this teaching on discipleship, Jesus would do exactly what He taught. He would deny His own self, be submissive to His Father’s will and lose His life on The Cross. Today’, instead of Jesus’s question, “Who do you say that I am?” what if the question was, “Who do you say you are?” How do we think about ourselves? If you and I say that we are Christians, we are His disciples, then, like Jesus, our actions must back it up. We simply have to take up the cross, deny ourselves and follow Jesus! As St. James says, “Faith without works is dead!”
So my dear brothers and sisters, the Eucharist we celebrate is an action. It is a doing and this doing does not end here. It must lead us to the world, and we therefore are ambassadors of Christ.
Fr. Dominic Toan-Tran
Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2018
NURTURING YOUR SPIRITUALITY EVERYDAY
While today’s first reading from Isaiah is one of hundreds of occasions where God is telling us “be not afraid,” it specifies some of the reasons why—all expressing in one form or another that we will be ultimately and forever free of everything that can cause fear! It may not necessarily be an illness or a physical disability like blindness, but we are all being held down by one thing or another. Maybe it’s a bad habit, or a tendency to not handle stressful situations well, or a hesitation of “putting yourself out there” to reach-out to someone in need. Although we may (hopefully) dislike the things of ourselves which we aren’t so proud of (which prevent us from living in total freedom and fulfillment) the awareness of our imperfections is one of the greatest things any of us can have! This is because it creates the awareness that we need God—and in one way or another that is the reality of every person!
Although we are promised to one day be forever freed of everything that is hindering our true identity, it is precisely because God’s help is available today that we still need to strive to free ourselves (as much as possible) from all that is holding us back today. This help comes most completely in the Sacraments (particularly the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation), God’s offering His help in so many other ways so that we can become stronger to maintain our discipleship in the difficult moments and experience deeper levels of that longed for freedom as we more truly live our identity. There are so many great resources in print and online, there’s spiritual counseling and direction, there is the help available in the family and friends who know and love you best—and so many other forms available right now if we only keep our eyes open!
There’s a story about a man who was trapped in his home by rising flood waters. As the waters rose higher a jeep came to get him, then a boat, and finally a helicopter. In each case he refused the help, saying “no thanks—God will save me!” After he drowned he asked God why he didn’t help, and God responded “Who do you think sent you the jeep, boat, and helicopter?”
Let’s not turn-down those helicopters!
Father Martin Dunne