We don’t much like tax collectors today. But in first century Israel, they were held in even lower regard. Many of them were corrupt – lining their own pockets in a way that would make Illinois politicians look like saints. And worse – they were collecting taxes for Rome. The enemy – who not only occupied their land but defiled it by their presence, their idols and their false gods. Tax collectors were the sorts of people drug dealers wouldn’t let their kids hang out with. Read More
On the Inside; On the Outside
I was looking through some old photos of our past family camping vacations not too long ago. It was fun looking back on all of those vacations that we took, many to some incredible places with some amazing campsites. As I was looking at the pictures of all of us sitting around the campfire at night, I fondly remember lighting all of those fires – and keeping them going well into the night.
If you’ve ever been around a campfire, you know that once the wood catches fire, there is a need to poke the wood every so often in order to keep it burning. Sometimes you even need to adjust the position of the logs so that the entire log has a chance to burn. And that is a great analogy for our spiritual life as well.
As St. Paul wrote, each of us must “stir into flame the gift of God.” (Timothy 1:1-8) Sometimes, we become stuck right where we are. We become comfortable in our faith, almost to the point of non-action. We go through the motions and do what we’ve always done, but we don’t go any farther. We become stagnant, complacent, and our fire doesn’t burn completely – and we need to be poked. We need to get re-energized, renewed and redirected so that we can continue to follow our baptismal calling and mission to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world.
Let’s not hide our lamp under a bushel basket, but spread our light for all to see. Let us use our gifts to serve our Lord and our neighbor. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you.
Consider yourself poked!
Have you been watching the Olympics? I love the history, the pageantry, the competitions and just seeing how all of the countries’ athletes get along with each other. And I love watching how emotional and dedicated they are to doing whatever it takes to achieve their Olympic dream. But I think what I love the most about the Olympic games is watching the sense of joy these athletes have in wearing their various team apparel while representing their country.
I read that the women’s gymnastics outfits cost $1,200 each. (My entire wardrobe does not even come close to that!) Regardless of the cost, there is a sense of pride and honor in what they wear and everything it represents.
In today’s Gospel (Matthew 22:1-14), Jesus tells a parable about the kingdom of heaven. And in this story, joy should have been the apparel of every guest at the wedding. And it should be the same for us.
Every day we have a chance to represent our Lord: to use the gifts and talents that we have been given and to go out and do great things in God’s name. What a joy and honor that should be for us.
But so often we walk around with, what Pope Francis calls, “sour faces.” We forget to smile, be happy, and realize that every day that we are on this earth is a gift. It is a gift to be acknowledged, cherished, and used.
Our call to the kingdom of heaven comes to us each and every day, and it calls us right where we are. But it shouldn’t leave us where we are either. The Prophet Ezekiel tells us that the Lord “will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you.” Each of us was clothed with Christ at our baptism, and we were transformed to love and serve one another. Each of us was made for greatness, in the image and likeness of God. How blessed we are indeed!
Let us praise and thank the Lord for he has clothed us with joy. And you know what? It sure looks good on us! Let us not be afraid to show it.
I am so stressed! I am stressed out beyond belief! In fact, if stress burned calories, I’d be a supermodel. I am being bombarded from so many different directions that it’s beginning to take a toll on me mentally and physically. I am in the midst of moving my mother out of her home into a smaller place; my daily job has been insanely busy and hectic; the band that I play in has been working every single weekend; my responsibilities at church have been steadily increasing; and family and household obligations are thrown into the mix as well. It just doesn’t seem to stop. I am running nonstop. I am so stressed! Read More
Having spent three days this week with our parish teens at Youth Ministry talking about vocations, you can imagine that this topic is still fresh on my mind. The very fact that each one of us is called to a vocation is a powerful thought; but to be able to discern your vocation and live it out is an entirely different story. Read More
A young woman from another country was working, as many immigrant women do, caring for the children of an upper-middle class family. One day she heard the children yelling and screaming in another room. She spoke English well enough, but she hadn’t yet mastered some of our expressions. So as she entered the room intending to restore order, what she meant to say was, “What on earth are you doing?” but instead she said, “What are you doing on earth?”
That’s a great question especially after hearing today’s Gospel (Matthew 25:14-30), and it’s a question that we must ponder from time to time. What are we doing on earth? Read More
Today we are celebrating a birth – the birth of the church. Pentecost marks the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles. For that reason, it is often called the “the birthday of the Church.”
During the past six months of the church year, we have been on a journey – a journey of the events in the life of Jesus. It’s the story of the central mystery of our faith – the story of the incarnation where God became human, though still remaining God. When we think of the incarnation, most of us think of it this way: God physically walked on this earth, he died, he rose, and then he returned to heaven. When he left, he sent the Holy Spirit to be present among us – but the actual physical body of Jesus was gone forever. And yet, we often find ourselves wishing that Jesus were still here – right now – in the flesh, so that we could touch him, hear his voice and see the compassion in his eyes. Read More
As we begin this season of Lent, today’s Gospel (Luke 9:22-25) is a difficult message to hear and an even tougher one to carry out. We are told that we each need to carry our own cross and follow Jesus, and be prepared to do so every day. We are also told that we must renounce “self” in order for us to live. Now this goes against our every desire to want to advance ourselves in the eyes of others as well as to focus our attention on our own needs and wants. Read More