February 10th, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s readings present us with a scriptural foundation for the natural missionary thrust of the Church. The Church was brought into existence as a community of faith by the will of Jesus Christ. The Church holds tightly and courageously to that faith. From the very beginning our Lord made it known that it was not a treasure that was to be kept safely in a box. It was to be spread out into the world. “Go ye therefore into the whole world teaching them…”.
Who was to do that? Well, those who had been blessed with the faith, they have a responsibility having received that gift to attempt to share it. For this, let’s go back to today’s reading from the 6th chapter of Isaiah. Here we see Isaiah living through a dramatic vision, a scene in which he himself sees Yahweh, the Lord, and Isaiah is terrified. Isaiah admits his own unworthiness. Why should he receive such a gift? He cries out that he is unclean and he has unclean lips. Suddenly, an angel comes from Yahweh with a burning ember and touches the mouth of Isaiah and announces that this suffering has cleansed him of all guilt. Then the voice of the Lord says, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” Isaiah answers, “Here I am Lord. Send me.”
If you hold on to our holy Christian faith, have been baptized and formed in that faith, you have weaknesses that may block you from effectively transferring it to your brothers and sisters. However, don’t worry. You have been purified by the death and resurrection of the Lord. When you hear the voice of the Lord asking, “Whom shall I send?” you should consider answering with Isaiah. “Here I am Lord. Send me.”
If one of us worked for the president or for the governor, or I guess for that matter, even the mayor, one would ordinarily be very proud of that fact. How proud we should be and how enthusiastic we should be when we realize that when we are working for Jesus of Nazareth we are working for the Lord of the universe. It is not sinful pride. It is very reasonable and logical.
Let’s go to work!
Share on Facebook
December 11th, Third Sunday of Advent
We are getting close to the great celebration of the birth of the Savior.
Today’s first reading carries forth the tremendous optimism of Isaiah and let me remind you that Isaiah’s optimism is being manifested in absolutely terribly difficult circumstances. However, Isaiah has faith in Yahweh, faith in the Lord, and confident of the ultimate triumph of God’s plan.
Do any of us experience some of the things referred to in this excerpt? Are our hands ever feeble? Are our knees weak? Are our hearts frightened? Are we frequently afraid? Don’t worry. Salvation is coming not from our uncle or from the government or a wealthy friend. Salvation is coming from God himself. When that happens the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will leap and we will all sing in joy.
Despite our burdens and difficulties, we walk into the future with a calm confidence. That confidence is based on hope and we have hope because of the revelations that we have received from God. We are redeemed. We are invited to eternal happiness. God’s plan for us will triumph and when it does, we will, “enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy.” We, “will meet with joy and gladness. Sorrow and mourning will flee.”
Let us continue to walk towards Christmas!
Share on Facebook
December 4th, Second Sunday of Advent
Last Sunday, the Church placed before us our Lord’s very serious words about how to live our lives as though at any given moment we might be facing the judgment of God. Such a view, of course, requires that we live constantly looking into the future knowing that sooner or later we will account for the gifts that God has given us.
Now we look not so much at the Advent Gospel texts but rather at the first readings for each of these Sundays. All are drawn from the book of Isaiah. Each of these readings will involve looking into the future but it will be looking with confidence and optimism. To appreciate Isaiah’s optimism, we have to be conscious of how difficult was the world in which he was living. The temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed, the nation of Israel had been crushed and carried off into exile, and the people were, to a tremendous degree, unfaithful to Yahweh. When you take that into consideration, today’s first reading is really beautiful and encouraging.
Isaiah sees a mysterious person in the future, one whom the Spirit of the Lord will be upon, be just and protect the weak, will destroy evil and justice will abound in the country. When that mysterious person comes and ultimately triumphs, all the signs of conflict and destruction will be eliminated. The wolf will be a guest of the lamb, the calf and the young lion will browse together, the cow and the bear shall be neighbors and a baby shall play by the cobra. The Gentiles will seek out this mysterious person and his dwelling shall be glorious.
Needless to say, the early Church gravitated quickly to this text and saw it as a foretaste of the Messiah, namely our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The main spirit of Advent is anticipation of the ultimate triumph of Jesus Christ as Lord of history. We all have problems, we all have burdens, we all suffer but ultimately all of these will pass and we shall live with God forever.
Share on Facebook
Here it is, the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Church year is progressing slowly but steadily towards its ultimate Sunday, the Feast of Christ the King, where we celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ is the Lord of history. These many weeks that lack the excitement of special seasons, like Advent and Lent, are really a time for adult education and deepening our knowledge. Each Sunday, the three Scriptures come together to form a collage with a very special message. Today, that message is the infinite generosity of God.
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 18th)
The Gospel tells that beautiful story of the owner of an estate who paid even those who had done very little work a very fair and just wage. However, I would prefer to take a look at the first reading, which comes from Isaiah chapter 55, when he gives the underlying reason why there is so much mystery in our lives. It is very simple. God’s ways are not our ways and there is a great gulf between our finite brains and His infinite knowledge. Isaiah has Yahweh saying,
“My thoughts are not your thoughts nor are your ways my ways. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.”
Let’s don’t try to outsmart God.
Share on Facebook
Advent is the shortest of the Church seasons. We have only four weeks to remind ourselves of that long, long period between the beginning of the human family and the coming of the redeemer of that family, Jesus Christ. It is a time of thoughtfulness, prayer, self-examination and preparation for the great feast of the Lord’s birth. The Church never likes us to be mournful for too long and therefore we slip into the third Sunday of Advent, which is a special day of exultation with strong faith that the future will be better, that justice will triumph and that the human family will be redeemed.
Last Sunday and again today, the Church makes use of explosively confident texts from the prophet Isaiah. In both of these weeks, there are wonderful excerpts of goodness and joy triumphing over conflict and pain. In both excerpts, the Messiah is prophesied as a savior and he brings extraordinary signs and symbols many of which the Church would later apply to the awesome works of Jesus of Nazareth.
The eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will be cleared,
the lame will leap like a stag and the tongue of the deaf will sing.
Despite all of this verbal optimism, Isaiah lived in extraordinarily difficult times. Most people were oppressed and enslaved, they lacked leadership and there was very little cause for optimism or hope. However, Isaiah’s faith was in Yahweh and he was confident that Yahweh would vindicate his people, would draw them out of suffering and slavery and bring them on to eternal life.
The Church is trying to say that to you and me today on the third Sunday. Interestingly, the second reading is from the letter of James. It doesn’t appear too often during the liturgical year but it is well used here. James reminded his listeners in the first century and to you and me today that we “must be patient, steady your hearts, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
Share on Facebook