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Archive for August, 2017

EVANGELIZATION: PAUL AND US

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Today’s first Mass reading was 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8.  What struck me about it was that Paul was a model of evangelization.  He had suffered and been shamefully treated for his ministry.  But, as he puts it in verse 2 “. . . we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the face of great opposition.”  Verse 4 tells us he did this because “. . . we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts.”  Verses 5-7 tell us how he did it.  He didn’t flatter people.  He didn’t seek glory from men.  He was gentle, like a nurse taking care of her children.

As Christians we too have been entrusted by God with the gospel, the good news, the message of salvation through Jesus.  We too are approved and called to share it, even in the face of great opposition.  Few of us have suffered and been shamefully treated like Paul.  But there is opposition to the gospel today.  It isn’t politically correct.  The Bible isn’t politically correct.  Jesus isn’t politically correct.  But we need to have courage in our God to declare it; not to flatter people, not to seek glory from men, but to fulfill our mission as Christians.  If all Christians would do this we could change the world.

The Responsorial was Psalm 139:1-6.  I love this Psalm.  I read it at my daughter’s wedding.  If you want to know how well God knows you, read this Psalm.

The gospel reading was Mark 6:17-29.  John the Baptist was beheaded for speaking the truth.  Unbelievably, that’s still happening in some parts of the world today.  May we all have the courage to speak the truth in love, regardless of the consequences.

Harder for the Rich

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Our Gospel reading today was Matthew 19:23-30.  It’s the one where Jesus says it’s very hard for a rich person to get into heaven.  Like his disciples, I wondered why.  His disciples apparently felt that rich people were especially blessed by God.  If anyone would have an easy path to heaven it would be them.

What came to me is that, first of all, in order for us to be saved we have to realize our need for God.  Rich people may have a problem with that.  They tend to think they’re self-sufficient.  It may be hard for them to realize their need for God.  Secondly, the Gospel repeatedly tells us not to value worldly riches but to seek first the kingdom of God.  It calls us to be generous and to give our money to the needy.  Like the rich young man in the Gospel, people generally don’t get rich by giving their money away.  So that may be a challenge for a rich person.

But then it occurred to me that I am actually a rich person.  In fact, though we may not consider ourselves rich, most Americans are very rich by the world’s standards.  That’s a challenging thought.  But when the disciples asked Jesus “Who then can be saved?”, Jesus responded “With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible.”  That’s the good news.

 

ADVICE FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS

Monday, August 14th, 2017

I think the Bible has some good advice for students going off to college this fall.

First of all, when Jesus sent his apostles out he said “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves . . .”  (Matthew 10:16)  I think those words apply to kids going off to college these days.  Your faith will be challenged.  It’s going to be very important that you know what you believe and why.  In that regard, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is an excellent reference.  In the CCC you can easily look up any topic and see the official Catholic position on it as well as the reasons for the position.

Psalm 1:1 tells us not to walk in the counsel of the wicked, not to imitate sinners, and not to hang around with scoffers.   Bad people give bad advice.  Beware of people who scoff at your faith.  Listen to the word of God and you’ll be blessed.

Don’t believe everything you hear.  2 Thessalonians 4:21 says to test everything and hold fast what is good.  See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.  (Colossians 2:8)  Don’t be led away by diverse and strange teachings.  (Hebrews 13:9)

Continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from your hope in the gospel you’ve heard. (Colossians 1:23)  Stand firm and hold to the traditions you’ve been taught.  (Galatians 5:1, Philippians 4:1, 2 Thessalonians 2:15)

 

 

 

Walk on Water

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 14:22-36.  It’s the story of Peter walking on the water.  I love the image because I can relate to it.  There was a time in my life when I was sort of sinking, but like Peter I cried out “Lord save me”.  Jesus reached out his hand and saved me.  He came into my heart and became my Lord and Savior.  He gave me the gift of eternal life.  As Psalm 40:2 puts it “He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”  Maybe you’ve had a similar experience of the love of God.  I hope so.

Sometimes we’re going along in life and everything seems fine.  But then we hit a bump in the road and we start sinking.  Our faith is challenged.  We may start to doubt.  We may start to fear.  Has that ever happened to you?  Maybe you’re in such a situation now.  Like Peter we can always cry out “Lord save me.”  Jesus will respond as he responded to Peter.  He will reach out his hand and pull us back up.

The Responsorial for today is Psalm 51: 3-7, 12-13.  It ties in somewhat with the Gospel reading because it’s a Psalm of confession and repentance.  That’s what we need to do to receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior.