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Close and Listening: 16th Sunday OT

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Our first reading is from Genesis and is about how Sarah and Abraham prepared food and waited on their guests, and how they were praised for their work of hospitality.

Our Gospel is from Luke and is about how Martha of Bethany prepared food and waited on her guests, and how she was rebuked for her work of hospitality.

So what’s that all about? I think Jesus’ answer to Martha tells us the difference. She’s burdened and anxious with her serving, and she hasn’t chosen the better part. Maybe you’ve had guests that you felt burdened and anxious serving. Can you think of a time like that? Or really, anything you’ve ever done for someone that felt like a burden and stressed you out. You probably tried not to show it. You probably said, “Oh, it’s nothing, I’m happy to do it!” But it wasn’t nothing, because you felt burdened. And you were willing to do it, but not honestly literally happy about it. You weren’t happy, you were stressed.

Now maybe you can think of another time you were taking ca…

The law right in front of you: 15th Sunday OT

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These are some of Moses’ last words. They are from the thirtieth chapter of Deuteronomy; Moses will die on the threshold of the Promised Land in chapter thirty-four. He has been the central figure through the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. We hear about his amazing life in those books, but most of the pages are not given to storytelling. Most of it is the Law. Beginning with the Ten Commandments, and expanding outward from there, Moses established a Law that was still being followed fifteen centuries later when Jesus came. Indeed, it is still followed exactly by many today, thirty-five centuries later. That’s really incredible! Can you think of anything else in all of history comparable to that?

A lot of the laws are kind of distant and strange to us today. I couldn’t begin to tell you what was wrong with making a shirt with two different kinds of fabric. And, indeed, the Christian Church acknowledged that in Jesus’ fulfillment of the law, much that was unclean …

Instructions for Evangelists: 14th Sunday OT

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After Mass will be our third session in an evangelization series. I've really enjoyed the first two and I think they're going well... please come over if you can! Our Gospel today is timely for that topic of evangelization. That word comes from the Greek for “Good News,” which in old English was “Gospel.” So Evangelization just means sharing the Good News that God has become man and dwelt among us, died to save us, and rose to open Heaven, where He has prepared a place for us and offers us forgiveness, new life, freedom, in a relationship with Him that transforms us.
There are two reasons someone might not want to share the Gospel with your neighbor. One: you don’t really believe it. Maybe you feel like you get something out of church, maybe you feel at home here, but you don’t actually believe that a relationship with Jesus Christ is the best and most important thing that could ever happen to somebody. That would be one reason not to want to share the Gospel with your neighb…

Easter 2019

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On Holy Thursday as Jesus gathered His Apostles, washed their feet, and gave us the Eucharist, we saw Him drawing us closer than we could ever imagine: calling us into a relationship that is so close that His very life is shared with us. He was called at His birth Emmanuel, ‘God with us,’ and in the Last Supper we see just how closely with us He wants to be.

On Good Friday we saw Him refuse to give up on that closeness, refuse to abandon us, even to the point of feeling our abandonment. We saw Him love us and trust the Father enough to accept the Cross, knowing and trusting that the Father would bring good from it. We considered the challenge: what if you really believed that whatever you’re going through — whatever grief, whatever struggle, whatever confusion, whatever regret, whatever is hurting your body or your spirit or your soul — what if you really believed that God can take it to Himself joined to the Cross of Christ, and bring redemption through it?

He can. And if you could …

Good Friday 2019

We stand before the Cross of Christ and see the verdict of God on sin and sinners. How terrible is sin? This is how terrible sin is. How loved are we sinners? This is how much we are loved.

At His birth He was called Emmanuel, “God with us,” and on the Cross we see His full commitment to that being-with-us. He went all the way; He took it all. Not content to live our life, His oneness with us would not be complete until He died our death. He was laid on the wood of the manger having taken our flesh, to be with us. He was nailed to the wood of the Cross having taken our suffering, refusing to abandon that being-with-us.

He refuses to abandon us even to the point of feeling our abandonment.

Here bleeds the only innocent man because He would not give up on being with us, and because He would not give up trust in His Father. Even in the feeling of abandonment, even to death, He stayed on the Cross. Even though the blasphemous thief and the mocking crowd taunted Him to come down, and even …

Holy Thursday 2019

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Jesus asks His disciples tonight, “Do you know what I have done for you?”

Let’s dwell on that question for these next few minutes. Did they know what He had done for them? Do we? No. We hardly know at all. What could we know of the depth of love and service and gift revealed tonight, and over these next few days? What could we understand of the divine charity that took flesh, taught, healed, suffered and died, rose from the grave, and feeds us with His body and blood, all He is, His own love and life and being? How could we wrap our minds around the idea of a God who washes our feet?

We might say we know almost nothing and be close to the truth… but almost nothing is not nothing, and the great depth and joy of these most sacred liturgies is to perhaps understand just a little more. To be open to the Father revealing to us His Son, giving us through Him the Holy Spirit… In a word, God giving us Himself.

We can think of salvation in terms of being saved from the punishment deserved by si…

Woman, where are they? 5th Sunday Lent

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The moment when this story ends is one of my favorites in all of Scripture! The reason why is pretty well summed up by the question Jesus asks her.

“Woman, where are they?”

Where is who? For starters, where are all the people who were ready to stone her a minute ago? How easily Jesus has dispatched them! And how delightful it is to see them slink off. They’re easy to hate, aren’t they? You know the type, we all know these people. Those judgmental hypocrites who are so eager to gang up on a scapegoat when they’re just sinners themselves…

…oh, wait. There I am doing it, standing in hypocritical judgment of these people when I’ve done the same thing. I’ve judged. I’ve scapegoated. Have you? Have you, just for example, self-righteously judged people for being self-righteously judgmental? I’ve done that. How’s that for irony?

But Jesus unmasks that with a simple question and at least give them this: they get it. They drop the stones and walk away. In her worst moment, she had a crowd of ju…