This weekend we celebrate the 13th Sunday of Ordinary time. We will keep counting up to 34, the feast of Christ the King, which ends Ordinary time and the Church year. Then Advent starts a new Church year. During Ordinary time, we are following Jesus and learning from His words and example how we are to live as disciples.
Our Gospel today gives us three points to remember, as we walk with Jesus. First, as disciples, we are to invite people to follow Christ, but not condemn or attack them if they decline. Jesus rebuked His disciples, who wanted to call down fire on the Samaritans who did not welcome them. We invite and do our best, but the rest is between God and the individual, not us.
Second, Jesus tells His disciples He has no place to rest His head and they can expect the same. In other words, personal security and advancement cannot be what we are looking for in being a disciple. We have to be ready to sacrifice.
Finally, by saying “let the dead bury their dead” and that the one who is plowing cannot look at what was left behind, Jesus is telling us that being a disciple needs to be a priority in our lives. For those who enter religious life or the priesthood, that looks one way. For those who raise a family, it looks another way, and so on. The point is that, in whatever we do, bringing Christ to others by our words and example needs to be a top priority. That is how disciples live.
Invite but not condemn, be willing to sacrifice, and make Gospel values a priority in everything we do. Three difficult challenges! But we are not alone. Three weeks ago we celebrated Pentecost: we have the Spirit to help us. Last week we celebrated the Body and Blood of Christ: we have the Eucharist to feed and strengthen us. And as we gather each week to celebrate the Mass, we listen to the Word and enjoy the support of the community, also the Body of Christ.
We have been given a big challenge in being called as disciples, but we have been given powerful aids. Are we using them? God bless.
Church sign of the week: Jesus is the light; we are the bulb!
This weekend we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. John’s Gospel was the last one written, near the end of the 1st century and long after the other Gospels. While all the other Gospels relate the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, John doesn’t: he didn’t have to. Christians understood that
Jesus instituted the Eucharist and were celebrating it “in remembrance” of Him.
Instead, John’s Last Supper concentrates on the washing of feet. He was reminding Christians that the Eucharist was not instituted for us to worship it, but as food and drink to strengthen us so that we can wash the feet of each other. In other words, the central point is service to others; the Body and Blood is given to us to strengthen us to live the great commandment of love.
We would expect the Gospel on this feast to be an account of the institution of the Eucharist, but it is not. It is Luke’s version of the multiplication of the loaves. Why? It is reminding us, as does the washing of the feet, that the Eucharist is given to strengthen us, so that we can go forth and share what we have with those in need.
The Eucharist is a wonderful gift, presented to us to help us live lives of love, service, forgiveness, and generosity. It certainly deserves our respect and our love. But if we stop there, we are missing the point. Jesus didn’t give us His Body and Blood simply to worship it, but rather to feed us and strengthen us in our journey as disciples.
As we celebrate this feast, let us thank God for this wonderful gift and make sure we are using it to grow in love expressed in service. May the Body and Blood of Christ help us to share His love with others. Amen.
Church sign of the week:
Jesus is better than pizza because he can’t be topped!
With Pentecost last weekend, the Easter season ended and we return to “Ordinary” time, beginning with two special feasts: this weekend the Holy Trinity and next weekend the Body and Blood of Christ.
Three persons, one God: that is our belief in the Holy Trinity. It is a mystery we cannot understand rationally, but we can clearly see the effects of it. God the Father creates and provides for His creatures. God the Son redeems us and reconciles us with God. God the Holy Spirit sanctifies us, strengthens us, teaches us, and guides us to God. As I am one person with three different roles or functions (a community member to those I live with, a mentor to those I am responsible for in formation for religious life, and pastor to the community at St. Pius X), our God is one with three different roles or functions.
What does this say to us about our lives as disciples? Maybe if we integrate those three roles into our lives as best we can, we will be living more like Jesus:
God the Father creates and provides for His creatures: while we can’t create, we certainly can participate in providing for God’s creatures, not only those for whom we are responsible (like our children), but for the most needy around us.
God the Son redeems us and reconciles us with God: while we cannot redeem others, we can be a force for reconciliation in a world that is so divided and in conflict.
God the Holy Spirit sanctifies us, strengthens us, teaches us, and guides us to God: while we cannot sanctify others, we can certainly be a good example to others, we can strengthen others in their struggle to live the Gospel, we can be a source of encouragement to others.
In short, we are not able to create or redeem or sanctify, but in our own way and with our limited abilities, we can magnify the effects of these actions to the world around us. Then we are living as Jesus did.
As we celebrate the feast of the most Holy Trinity, let us thank God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – for our creation, our redemption, and our sanctification, resolving to do our best to magnify those gifts in the world by the way we live. God bless.
Church sign of the week:
What you are is God’s gift to you.
What you do with yourself is your gift to God.
As I reflected on our readings for Pentecost in preparation for writing this letter and the homily for Mass, a clear theme jumped out at me: unity in diversity.
In our first reading, the account of the descent of the Holy Spirit and the immediate effects on the disciples, we are told that “all languages and cultures” understood what the disciples were saying. This is a direct undoing of the consequences of the Tower of Babel: as pride and competition brought about disunity, misunderstanding, and conflict, the Holy Spirit brings unity in our diversity.
Paul reinforces this in his letter to the Corinthians, using the analogy of our physical body. While we are all unique and have different gifts and functions, we are all one body and each part is necessary for the body to work properly. The brain and the heart might seem to be the most important, but if one of the organs deemed less important stops functioning, the whole body is doomed. We are different and have different functions, but all are important for the Body of Christ.
Finally, our Gospel gives us the key to bringing about this “unity in diversity”: forgiveness. John’s short account of the appearance of Jesus on Easter evening has him talking about two things: peace and forgiveness. Forgiveness is the key to unity in diversity. Each person sees things differently. We will annoy one another. But, when we can forgive one another, we will have unity and peace, despite our diversity.
That is what Jesus wants for us and He has given us lots of help in His Word, His Body and Blood, our Community, and the Holy Spirit. As we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of our Community, let us thank God for His many gifts with a joyful heart, resolving to continue to grow in our ability to be forgiving and compassionate.
Church sign of the week: The Holy Spirit has better directions than your GPS.