Exactly Where We’ve Chosen

Feast of Christ the King

God’s judgment is totally different than ours.  Our judgment of people and situations is narrow and subjective – concluded based on our limited perception.  God’s judgment, on the other hand, takes into account every thought, every inclination, every factor, every pressure, every influence – God’s judgment is absolutely fair.  After our own particular judgment at the end of our life, and after the final judgment at the end of time when everyone’s life will be completely laid open for all to see and we will understand how our life fit into God’s great story, we will know ourselves (and others) as God knows us (which is fully and entirely, nothing hidden)…and we will end up in exactly the place we belong in God’s love: no shame, no pride, just an honest acknowledgment of the decisions we freely chose to make in this life, whether for God, others, or ourselves.  God is absolutely fair, and we will end up exactly where we’ve chosen to be.

Enter Into Joy

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Master in this weekend’s gospel puts a serious amount of cash into the hands of his servants, gives them absolute freedom, and then leaves on a trip.  When he comes back, we realize that his end game is NOT about the money: it’s about having his servants share in his work so that they can also share in his JOY.  Do you lack joy in your life?  God has given us everything we have – our faith, education, personality, interests, money, business skills, life experiences, talents – along with absolute freedom, and then “stepped back”…so that we can decide (like the first two servants) to use what He’s given us to build up His kingdom – then we’ll experience His JOY!  Or not…like the third servant.  How will you use what you’ve been given this week?

Stocking Up On Oil

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The image most often used in the Bible to describe God’s relationship with us is that of a marriage.  In the Gospel parable today, 10 virgins are waiting for the groom to arrive and lead them all (with the bride) to the wedding celebration.  The groom was running late.  Five of the virgins brought extra oil for their lamps while five of them did not.  When the five who did not had to leave to get more oil, they missed the groom leading everyone to the wedding.  Arriving to the door late, they found themselves locked out.  The oil is our relationship with God.  We are called to stock up on it throughout a lifetime of shared experiences as we come to know the Lord more and more deeply. Jesus wants to lead all to eternal life, to the wedding party, but He warns us to be ready.  If our relationship with God is not a top priority for us and we think we can wait to stock up on this oil, or that we can just borrow from others in a pinch, we may find ourselves missing the party, too.

Vocations Start With YOU!

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Every person in this world is called to have a deep, rich, personal relationship with God – that is the first and primary vocation (call) from God to each and every one of us.  After that universal vocation comes our particular vocations – how we can best share our love for God with others – whether that’s through marriage, priesthood, religious life or single life.  As we focus on vocations to the priesthood and religious life during this National Vocations Awareness Week, what are some practical steps that can be taken to support our young people in these particular vocations?  You’d be surprised, but the answer starts with YOU!

Never Silenced!

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the Gospel today, Jesus’ opponents want Him SILENCED!  They set a trap for Him in the form of both a political and religious kenundrum of the time: the census tax of Caesar.  Jesus skillfully beats them at their own game, refusing to be silenced.  Present day opponents of Christ and His Good News are seeking to silence the voice of Christ in this world by silencing us.  Whether it’s the pressure to keep Jesus and religion out of politics, a false understanding of “separation of church and state”, the temptation to understand faith as simply a personal matter, or the lie that it’s harmful to impose our beliefs on others, opponents of Jesus are trying to silence the voice of Christ.  Jesus wouldn’t be silenced by His opponents and we as His Body won’t be silenced either!  Proclaim your faith, O Christian, because the world needs your voice!

What Are You Wearing?

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The parable which Jesus gives about a king inviting guests to the wedding reception of his son is ultimately a parable about eternal life and heaven (which our 1st reading from Isaiah speaks of as “God’s holy mountain”).  The king in the parable is God, his son is Jesus, and the wedding banquet is eternal salvation.  Some have ignored the invitation (God’s original Chosen People, the Israelites), so the king has sent out his servants (the Apostles) to invite anyone and everyone, the bad and the good alike (the Church), to this wedding reception.  One man, however, is thrown out for not wearing his wedding garment.  While it may seem harsh, the wedding garment symbolizes the garment we were given at baptism when we were asked to put on Christ.  We may say “yes” to God’s original invitation, but Jesus makes it clear that one “yes” is not enough.  After that, we also have to say “yes” to putting on Christ each and every day, to wearing the wedding garment we’ve been given.  And as we learn at the end of the parable, busy-ness, laziness, forgetfulness, whatever made that man not wear his garment, is not a good enough excuse when the final day comes.  What are you wearing today?

Intoxicating the World

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

A vineyard is meant to produce grapes, which turn into wine, which lightens and cheers the hearts of all those willing to drink of it.  Isaiah says that God’s Chosen People, the Jews, were the vine, hand-selected by God, to produce amazing wine for this world – but they didn’t produce good fruit.  So God took the vineyard from them and gave it to other tenants: now we, as the Church of Christ, have been given this vineyard to tend, so that we can produce good fruit for the world.  It means first being intoxicated by our own relationship with God, and then intentionally sharing these “spirits” with others so that they can find deep meaning, purpose and happiness of heart in relationship with God.  Then they will also begin producing good fruit for others.  Our potential is amazing!  So how are you bearing fruit?

Obedience and Change

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In this Sunday’s Gospel we have a story of change: one son says “no” to his dad’s request, then changes his mind and does it; the other says “yes” to his dad’s request, then changes his mind and doesn’t do it.  We all have the possibility to change, for better or for worse, every single day.  Every day is an opportunity to follow God’s voice again…or to choose to let that voice fade into the background.  A disciple is one who follows the voice of God each and every day; one who has an obedient and faithful heart – not just in word, but also in action; not just on Sunday, but on Monday through Friday as well.  Which son are you now?  Which son will you decide to be tomorrow?  Change is always possible!

No Homily For 2 Weeks

This weekend, in place of the homily, our parishes will be viewing our annual diocesan Catholic Services Appeal video.  The Catholic Services Appeal supports the operational costs of the diocese, over 30 faith building programs (especially for the youth), and the education and formation of seminarians.  God has given each of us so many blessings and gifts – please be generous with what God has given you!  And if you don’t belong to the Diocese of Superior, please be generous in supporting those programs in your area that contribute to the building up and spreading of our amazing Catholic faith!

Next weekend, as a member of the Vocations Team for the Diocese of Superior, I will be attending a conference with vocation directors from around the country aimed at promoting and supporting vocations to the priesthood.  I would appreciate your prayers for the success and fruits of that conference.  Thank you for the ways you currently support vocations in your parishes, and please continue to pray that we all might listen to God’s voice more attentively each day.

 

Confrontation and Unity

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend’s readings center on unity.  God desires complete unity for us: in our families, in our communities, and in our Church.  Today’s readings show how God uses confrontation and correction (always in love) to bring about true unity…as opposed to cheap unity, which avoids differences and assumes that since there’s no arguing, everyone must be united.  God’s dream is for one Church, truly united, walking together on the road to heaven, picking each other up when we fall and encouraging (and even correcting each other) on the way.  Are we willing to speak up and try to win someone over for Christ this week?