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On the Inside; On the Outside


 

Slow-Roasted for Christ

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Saint Lawrence was one of seven deacons who were in charge of giving help to the poor and the needy. When a persecution broke out in the year 258, Pope St. Sixtus was condemned to death. As he was led to execution, Lawrence followed him weeping, “Father, where are you going without your deacon?” The Pope answered, “I am not leaving you, my son. In three days you will follow me.” Full of joy, Lawrence gave to the poor the rest of the money he had on hand and even sold expensive vessels to have more to give away.

The Prefect of Rome, a greedy pagan, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. So he ordered Lawrence to bring the Church’s treasure to him. Lawrence said he would – in three days. Then he went through the city and gathered together all the poor, the sick, the blind, lepers, widows and orphans. When he showed them to the Prefect and said: “This is the Church’s treasure!”

In great anger, the Prefect condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. Lawrence was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted his flesh little by little, but he was burning with so much love of God that he almost did not feel the flames. In fact, God gave him so much strength and joy that he even joked, “Turn me over, I’m done on this side!” And just before he died, he said, “It’s cooked enough now.” Then he prayed that Rome might be converted to Jesus and that the Catholic faith might spread all over the world.

Today, St. Paul tells us that whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully (Corinthians 9:6-10) . St. Lawrence understood this and it led him to realize these two simple truths: that God is able to make every grace abundant for each one of us, and that God loves a cheerful giver.

May each of us burn with the fire of Christ’s love so that we can readily serve our Father and others with honor, joy, and holy humor.

Perfectly Imperfect

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Today we remember Saints Peter and Paul: two men called by God to do great things. Two men who certainly were not born equipped to serve the Lord, but rather, two men who were equipped by the Lord to preach the Gospel and ultimately to give up their lives for its sake.

Peter was a young fisherman living on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. He was a man prone to outbursts and weak under pressure. He was unstable, impulsive, insecure, and cowardly. He often spoke or acted inappropriately, and was anything but a rock.

Paul was a highly educated Pharisee who persecuted Christians, even ordering the stoning of the first martyr of the Church, Saint Stephen. He was a bigot, self-righteous, manipulative, vindictive, cunning and opportunistic.

Peter and Paul were two unlikely characters for the Lord to call into his service and to establish as apostles of the Church. Yet the Lord chose them, transformed them, and entrusted to them to spread the Gospel.

God called Peter and Paul to use their personalities for the good: Peter to use his passionate love to look after the flock, and Paul to use his training as a Pharisee and his strength of character to ensure that the non-Jews would be welcomed into the church. It is a reminder to us that our strengths and our weaknesses can become God’s means of helping others, if we let it. We don’t have to be perfect for God to work through us. God can work through us, faults and all, just as he did with Peter and Paul.

Spiritual conversion requires the greatest miracle of all, but God’s Word is reassuring. If people like Peter and Paul could become deeply converted and change the world, then we know there is hope for the rest of us.

Being an Evangelist is Not What You Think

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Who wants to be an evangelist? Typically when I ask this question when giving a talk somewhere, no one raises their hand. On very few occasions one or two people have.

It seems evangelism has become a scary word for us. In general, it is a word with which we do not want to be associated. For some, it comes from being on the receiving end of someone else’s evangelism, often coercive, even threatening. For others, it may be that religion isn’t something people talk about; or that one’s faith is private; or simply the desire not to be perceived as one of “those” people.

Whatever the reason, most people not only have little experience in evangelism but are downright frightened of it. And that, of course, cripples our ability to reach out to others with the good news. Today’s story of Jesus’ baptism (John 1:29-34) might be the perfect reading to invite us not only to admit our discomfort with evangelism but also begin to overcome it. Read More

St. Leo the Great

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Today, November 10th, is the Roman Catholic Church’s memorial of the fifth-century Pope Saint Leo I, known as “St. Leo the Great.” Reigning for over two decades, he sought to preserve the unity of the Church and to ensure the safety of his people against frequent barbarian invasions. Read More

Is It Soup Yet?

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corn soupOn Wednesday, I whipped up a batch of homemade Sweet Corn and Crab Soup for dinner. There’s nothing like a good pot of soup on a cold, winter evening. So I went grocery shopping last weekend to make sure that I had all of the needed ingredients to prepare the feast. I’m always amazed at the number of ingredients needed to make a pot of homemade soup. And it can be anything from meat, fish, various vegetables, and usually several spices. Then you have to do all of the necessary chopping and mixing. So the question to ask: is it soup yet? Well, not quite. You need to have the soup simmer for a period of time. Once these steps have been completed, you can finally partake in your creation (and hopefully it turned out well). Read More

We Need to Go to the Outhouse!

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We took our eldest son out to dinner last night for his birthday. The restaurant that he chose had a Texas/western-style atmosphere, so you can probably imagine what the feel of the place was like. As we were being escorted to our table, I noticed a sign over the area where the restrooms were located that read “Outhouse.” I smiled to myself about this and instantly had a flashback to my mother’s side of the family who lived on a farm that had an outhouse in their yard, since they did not have indoor plumbing when I was young. And then, my mind took off in a completely different direction.

outhouseOn Sunday, we typically spend some quality time with the Lord at Mass. We gather around the Lord’s table to praise and thank God for the many blessings in our lives. We bring our sin-fullness that we accumulated during the week and ask for God’s forgiveness and ask that we are strengthened for the week to come. We sing and pray with our fellow parishioners as we gather to hear God’s word spoken to us and to move us. Basically, we are worshiping “inhouse” – or in God’s house. Then, we are sent out after Mass to go out into the world; to take what we had just heard and to spread the news to those whom we meet on a daily basis. We are to live the Gospel and to be Eucharist to others. We are to strive to imitate Jesus by loving our neighbors as ourselves, and to treat others with the respect and dignity that they deserve. We are to live “outhouse” and not keep Jesus to ourselves.

As this week begins, I challenge all of us to leave the comforts of the “inhouse” and take the good news of Jesus Christ to the “outhouse” so that all can experience the love that God has for each one of us.

In God We Doubt?

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Have you ever accidentally missed a big moment? It feels terrible! You got distracted right before your child scored a goal. You missed the winning touchdown because your cellphone rang. You were driving to the hospital to witness the birth of a grandchild, and the baby arrived before you did. Maybe you missed the two Popes being canonized this morning because you overslept. It’s a terrible feeling, and this is exactly how Thomas feels in today’s Gospel (John 20:19-31). Read More

Heavenly Bread

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Mr. and Mrs. Rodriquez came to our sharing parish picnic. They have five sons and each son has a sister who has five daughters, each of whom has one brother each. How many of them came to the picnic?
 
What I just shared with you is a riddle, and no doubt that you are trying to come up with an answer. Some of us feel the need to be able to explain and reconcile everything more than others. (I am one of those people, and it drives my wife nuts!) But generally, most of us like things to make sense, and we like to know the answer. Read More
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