How do we get to the point where we say to someone, “I will do anything and everything I can for you”? Only pure, altruistic, unconditional love makes that possible, love that we are invited to contemplate, recognize, and remember every time we make the sign of the cross. What Jesus has done and continues to do for us, He calls and invites us to do for and with one another. How simple it sounds but how challenging it is to live out His words from John 13:34: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Sacrifice is an integral part of this love. We know the joy and peace He is talking about when we give ourselves totally to those we love. Todays Gospel passage continues what Jesus started saying in last Sunday’s Gospel where we have St. Luke’s account of the Beatitudes. Today we hear Jesus speaking words that are not easy to follow and go against our inner sense of justice at times: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” The last thing we want to do is to love those who are our “enemies.” At times people annoy us, hurt us, criticize us unfairly, or give us a hard time. Forgiving enemies is not something we or people in history have been so willing to do. We want them to be punished, berated, or suffer in some way that we think will bring us satisfaction. Here are some words from Psalm 109 where the Jewish people express their anger at the enemy and ask God to punish them: “O God, whom I praise, do not be silent, for wicked and treacherous mouths attack me. They speak against me with lying tongues; with hateful words they surround me, attacking me without cause. In return for my love they slander me, even though I prayed for them. They repay me evil for good, hatred for my love. Appoint an evil one over him, an accuser to stand at his right hand, That he may be judged and found guilty, that his plea may be in vain. May his days be few; may another take his office. May his children be fatherless, his wife, a widow. May his children wander and beg, driven from their hovels. May the usurer snare all he owns, strangers plunder all he earns.” (Psalm 109:2-11) Not only does this express anger and vengeance, it is a prayer that God will take care of injustice for them. Anger and vengeance can seem like sources of consolation but in the end there is no real peace in our hearts or peace with one another.READ MORE
Seventeen days from today is Ash Wednesday, a day when we proclaim our resolve to rise above sin and evil by having blessed ashes placed on our foreheads. Rising above evil is far more than just avoiding temptation in our personal lives. Truly rising above evil calls us to be beacons of faith, hope, and love in our world, and in particular, in our daily lives. In our parish we will offer two very concrete ways to join together as a parish family to enrich the lives of one another as life-giving members of the Body of Christ, the Church in the world. They will offer what we hear in the Gospel for Ash Wednesday (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18) which is from the Sermon on the Mount. This powerful sermon by Jesus is presented in chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Matthew’s Gospel and spells out in very practical ways how to live the Beatitudes which begin this Sermon. The Gospel for Ash Wednesday invites us to take seriously three very important practices for our spiritual lives: prayer, fasting, and good works.READ MORE
“I hear you knocking, but you can’t come in.” These words are from a 1970 song by Dave Edmunds and in many ways these words describe the feelings we have when we are challenged to allow others into our lives or to do something that is different, difficult, or controversial. These past weeks I have been writing about the evil of abortion and the challenges we face as people of faith with this issue. What has brought abortion to the forefront was the passage in our New York State legislature of the Reproductive Act a few weeks ago that allows abortion up until the very day of birth. In a sense, children in the womb get ready for birth by knocking on the door of their mother’s womb to come to birth, that is, to come physically into our world, and most importantly, into our lives. How did we become so barbaric, insensitive, and evil? What continues to push us over the edge of love, decency, truth, and common sense in this area? There is someone else knocking to come in and the door has been opened wide to him - the devil!!!READ MORE
This week, as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, explore the beauty and challenges of married life. More than a union based on romantic love or mutual fulfillment, marriage goes back to the very essence of what it is to be human – and reflects a design placed in our hearts by God himself. Beloved – from the producers of the renowned Symbolon series – explores the spiritual and eternal reality behind "I Do." Beautifully filmed and featuring acclaimed marriage experts, Beloved speaks to the very heart of every husband and wife, bringing sacramental truth and God-infused love into the everyday challenges of married life. Beloved: Mystery & Meaning of Marriage includes six inspiring and informative sessions.
The thrilling Biblical story of Joseph is told in this high quality 3-D animated feature film for children ages 5 and up. Young Joseph is a dreamer, indulged by his father and resented by his older brothers who soon sell him into slavery without their father's knowledge. Now captive in Egypt, Joseph experiences humiliation, hardship and imprisonment. But his faith and his gift for interpreting dreams soon lead him to an exalted position in the kingdom. When his brothers come calling for help, Joseph responds in a surprising way. The program sets Joseph's story in the context of God's plan for Israel and the promised coming of the Messiah. It powerfully demonstrates God's sovereign hand in all things.
“How can you be so obtuse?” These were the words of Andy Dufresne, the main character in the movie Shawshank Redemption. He was imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. When a new prisoner came to where he was imprisoned, that prisoner told him someone else in another jail where he had been bragged that he killed Andy’s wife and lover and got away with it. Andy eagerly brought this information to the warden who refused to act on it and even plotted and had that new prisoner killed. He had Andy put in the “hole,” a place of solitary confinement for two months. He was using Andy and his banking knowledge to hide money. It was not how he could be so obtuse, but why he was obtuse. To be obtuse is to be totally insensitive to others or their situation.READ MORE