Sunday, December 28, 2014

Feast of the Holy Family

God considers the family to be of such importance that when He came into the world He revealed Himself in the midst of family.   It was to a woman betrothed to a man that He entrusted His only Begotten Son.  It is among family, Mother and Father that God chose to have His Son, Jesus brought into the world, nurtured and raised.  

It is in family where Jesus developed, and learned; growing into manhood.   Among family, Jesus learned compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.  As part of family, Jesus learned to be one with us; sharing our human nature.  It was among all his aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters that Jesus shared our lives – joys and sadness – all the conditions that we share as part of the great human family.

Jesus learned love and forgiveness from his parents, Mary and Joseph.  They were Jesus’ primary teachers, not only of the necessary skills of living and social association, but of faith and obedience to the laws of faith found in the commandments.  In his human family Jesus was closely held, loved and cherished: where he grew strong and was filled with wisdom, where his divinity and humanity united to become one with us, in all, but sin.

The whole structure of Christianity is modeled on family: God, the Father, Mother Church.  We are brothers and sisters to Jesus and to one another.  We are sons and daughters of God: beloved children of the Father.  Our faith is filled with references to family and the good of family held by the Father.

God’s fourth commandment is ‘Honor Thy Father and Mother’.  So important is family to God that He made this commandment – our relationship with one another of primary importance, second only to His commandments of our relationship with Him. His commandment, to honor Father and Mother, speaks to all generations, past, present and future.  For love of God and love of one another, faith and practice: are traditions of such significance to the human condition that the Father holds them in high esteem, to be handed down – generation to generation within family by our primary teachers of God’s love found in Father and Mother.  

The obligation to teach, within the family structure, rests with Father and Mother together.  In their role as teachers of the faith, their children and all future generations - come to know, love and serve God through Jesus Christ.  The story of God’s gift of love and salvation for His people is learned within the family, so all members may model – by thought, word and deed – the traditions of our faith.

The evil-one works in many ways to destroy the family - because he knows that family is where faith and love of God develops, strengthens and matures.  He attempts to convince us that there is no need for a father and a mother to make a family, or that any group or combination of people can be called a family or that there is no need for sacramental grace in the formation of a family.  The evil-one fears God’s love found in family.

God’s gift of salvation, by the forgiveness of our sins and His promise of everlasting life, comes to us in family.  His creation of mankind in our first father and mother, Adam and Eve, who the evil-one sought to destroy by sin, was redeemed through the Holy Family.  In the Holy Family, Father, Mother and Son, we find the power and glory of God – the hope for all mankind found in Jesus’ promise of eternal life. ~Amen.

Deacon Don

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas 2014 - "Do You Hear What I Hear"

One of the endearing songs of the Christmas season is “Do You Hear What I Hear?”  It is a song of the birth of Jesus, as whispered by angels on the wind to a little lamb, who in turn, tells a shepherd boy, who reports the news to a mighty king, who spreads the Word to people everywhere.  This is a song of the humble beginnings of a Jesus, the Word of God made flesh that ignites the world with the message of God’s peace and love for His people.

So, on this Christmas I ask, do you see what I see?

  • Do you see the majesty and wonder of God?  
  • Do you see the gift of God’s creation of this world?  
  • Do you see God’s gift of life found in Jesus, a child conceived of God’s Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary?
  • Do you see gift of God who sent Jesus into the world: to bring glad tidings to the poor, to give liberty to captives, to give sight to the blind, and to set the oppressed free?
  • Do you see in Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven the glory and love God?

Do you see God’s gift of love in Jesus Christ?

On this Christmas, do you hear what I hear?

  • Do you hear the voice of God – the Word of God made Flesh - Jesus Christ?  
  • Do you hear the Word proclaiming the kingdom of God is among us?
  • Do you hear God calling all His children to seek Him through His Son, Jesus Christ?
  • Do you hear Jesus, asking forgiveness, healing and reconciliation for all whom the Father has given Him?
  • Do you hear the voice of the Good Shepherd calling by name, all His lost and wandering lambs; seeking them in dark, dreadful and lonely places wherever they may be?
  • Do you hear the Holy Spirit in your heart whispering God’s song of love for you?

Do you hear God’s gift of love in Jesus Christ?

On this Christmas, do you know what I know?

  • Do you know that God is with us - Jesus is Emmanuel – God-with-us?
  • Do you know Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Holy One of God sent into the world to bring us the Truth of God’s love for us?
  • Do you know that Jesus, the Son of God, gave His life in ransom for us, so we may have eternal life?
  • Do you know that Jesus, both divine and human, understands all our weakness, trials and faults with a compassionate heart; giving us the Father’s unconditional love, consolation and forgiveness?
  • Do you know Jesus promises to come again; bringing all God’s beloved children into the glory of the Father’s heavenly kingdom and life eternal?

Do you know God’s gift of love in Jesus Christ?

On this Holy day - Do you hear God’s song of love – Jesus Christ – Emmanuel – God-with-us – His most precious and greatest of gifts for His holy people, freely given, so we may rest in His – Peace, Love and Eternal Life of heaven - forever and ever ~Amen.  

Peace & Merry Christmas
Deacon Don

Sunday, December 21, 2014

4th Sunday in Advent - Luke 1:26-38 - "Not by Man"

“Let it be done unto me according to your word.”  

The Annunciation
This is Mary’s ‘Yes!’ to God.  This is her ‘Yes!’ to being the vessel for bringing God into the world to be one of us; living among us, sharing in our humanity.  We celebrate Mary’s ‘Yes!’ that opened us to God’s love and His gift of salvation for His people.

As much as we are thankful to God for His gift of eternal life, we are also thankful for Mary’s gift of ‘Yes!’ as it fulfilled the prophetic call that the Messiah would be born of a virgin: to come into the world to bring us all into God’s heavenly kingdom.  

But let us consider Mary’s other statement.  Her very human question of what seemed to her to be an impossibility, in response to the Angel’s announcement:

“How can this be, since I’ve had no relations with a man?”

What a very human response!  In our humanness and our human understanding of things, we would also ask the same question.  How is this possible?

While her question seems to only serve as a confirmation by Mary of her virginity, it really speaks more profoundly to us as a statement of God’s grace and His power to do what is impossible for man, but is possible for God.  It directs us to see that the world and all the things and all the creatures in it, come from God, and God alone.

In all the preparations for the coming of Jesus into the world, there was nothing that Mary did to earn the honor of being chosen as the Mother of God.  It was through God’s grace alone that Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin.  Nothing Mary’s parents, Saints Anne and Joachim, did that merited them the privilege of conceiving a daughter who was to be the new Eve, the Mother of God, the holy vessel of God’s love.  

God’s answer to this humble couple’s prayers, made because of their shame of childlessness, was to bless them with a daughter.  It was not their intention to be a part of God’s salvation plan for His people.  They were ordinary people; unremarkable villagers who only wanted to be like all the other families – blessed by God with children.

It is not the worldly, the powerful or the strong that are chosen by God to bring about His saving action in the world.  His grace is freely given to whomever He chooses.  God uses the meek and lowly, the weak and humble who, undeservingly, serve His plan of salvation: showing that the graces received come from Him alone and not through anything people have done to earn His love.  Mary, a child of ordinary people, was chosen by God, selected and named by Him, before she was even born. She was conceived, “full of grace,” to serve God’s plan.  

Mary, having no ‘relations with a man’ confirmations that it was God alone who graced her with His favor.  The conception of Jesus was entirely God’s holy action.  Man or woman played no part in it.  In Mary’s womb, God and man, Divine and human, came to be through God’s power and grace alone.  Mary was the holy vessel; serving God’s salvation plan, His love for His people, giving Jesus his humanity, so that He became one with us in all things except sin.  

On this fourth Sunday in Advent, during this time of waiting and expectation, as we celebrate the coming of Jesus, our Savior into the world through the cooperative ‘Yes!’ of the Virgin Mary, let us remember it is God alone who makes all things possible.

Through His grace alone God brings us everlasting life through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Let us reflect that it is by God’s holy desire and not by our own hand that we receive His love and gift of salvation.  
Through His grace alone, His complete and perfect love for His children, He takes away our sins, in the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus Christ, so we may be gathered into His kingdom of heaven. 

We children of the Almighty, await in joyful hope for the day of fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to come again, so that all the righteous may come into the peace of the Father’s heavenly kingdom, where we will dwell forever and ever ~Amen.

Deacon Don

Saturday, December 13, 2014

3rd Sunday in Advent - John 1:6-8, 19-28 - "Rejoice!"

Brother and Sisters: 
Rejoice in the Lord!  
Sing praises to the Lord!  Rejoice! 
Let your soul, your whole being magnify His greatness! 

Rejoice!  The Lord comes with mercy and salvation for His people.  
He, the Lord is holy.  He is faithful to His promise and will gather all His beloved children to Him as He has promised.

Rejoice! Give praise and thanks to the Lord for all the great things He has done for us.  
Pray unceasingly to the Lord, trust in His love and mercy!  
Holy is the Lord and holy is His name! 

Rejoice!  Let the Spirit of the Lord be upon you.
Turn your face toward the Lord and let His peace overshadow you.
Hope in the Lord! Reject what is evil and accept what is good.
Be filled with joy in the Lord!  Rejoice!

Open your ears to hear His Good News!  
Open your lips to proclaim His Name to all nations!  
Be heralds of His saving Word: messengers of His peace and love for all the world! 

On this Gaudete Sunday, this Rejoice Sunday let us rejoice in the Good News of our Lord.  Let ours be the voices crying out in the desert of today’s world.  Jesus, the Christ, our Lord is coming again into the world.  Make straight His pathways!  Prepare the way of the Lord, for he comes with love and mercy to gather all the righteous to Himself.  Prepare your hearts, make straight crooked ways: remove all obstacles and distractions, mend rifts with all others.  Return to the holy path that leads to life eternal through our Lord, Jesus Christ.

The Lord, Jesus has told us that the Father has prepared a place for us in the eternal kingdom of heaven.  He, the Good Shepherd is coming to gather all His sheep, all that the Father has given Him; bringing them all into the peace and glory of God’s heavenly kingdom.  Be ready!  Be ever watchful, for we know not the day nor the hour when He will arrive.  Let Him find us, whether in day or at night, ready to welcome Him.

When He comes again, let our Lord Jesus find us ever faithful; going about the mission He set before us.  In His absence, He told His disciples: (Mat 28:18-20) 
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
As good and faithful servants, let the Master find us diligently going about His work: comforting the sorrowful; the lost and lonely, - caring for the suffering and wounded – all who are troubled by the worries of this world.  Let Him find us teaching the young, - counseling the doubtful - and loving one another as He loves us.  We are His heralds spreading to all the world God’s message of love, peace and joy to all people.

On this 3rd Sunday in Advent, this Gaudete Sunday, this Sunday of Rejoicing - let us truly Rejoice: sharing in the love we have received from our Lord as we wait, Rejoicing - in the fulfillment of His promise of salvation and life everlasting in the peace of God’s heavenly kingdom. Rejoice in the Lord for His love is never-ending. 

Rejoice! ~Amen

Deacon Don

Saturday, December 6, 2014

2nd Sunday in Advent - Mark 1: 1-18 - "Make Straight the Pathways of the Lord"

"Make Straight the Pathways of the Lord"
Christmas is a celebration of our Lord, Jesus coming into the world.  The gift from God to His people, given unconditionally in love, so that we may be with Him for all eternity; resting in His kingdom of heaven.  On this day, through a virgin, God’s gift came to us; sharing with us our human condition, so He may help us recognize Him as our loving Father.

Advent is our beginning, and our anticipation, in receiving God’s gift of love and salvation through His Son, Jesus.  It is also our reminder of His Christ, Jesus fulfilling His promise to return, to come again into the world, to bring all the righteous into God’s heavenly kingdom.

“Prepare the way of the Lord!”  “Make straight His pathway!”  Open your hearts to the love of God!  Turn your face toward the Lord and let Him enter your heart!  

These words spoken in early times, still have great meaning for us today: for every Christian.  Rooted in Isaiah, for a people suffering from loss and destruction, written again by Mark to remind his people of God’s promise and heard today, by a people suffering attacks on and denial of religious freedoms, persecution, exile, marginalization and death for their belief in our Lord, Jesus Christ.  

These word, “Prepare the Way of the Lord” remind us to be patient and remain faithful: for the Lord is coming, as He promised.  We know not when, but we must be always vigilant, always ready for His return, as we go about His work – never straying from the path of righteousness, never faltering in faith, never turning away in disappointment or disbelief.

The early Christians expected Jesus to return in their lifetime to bring them into God’s heavenly kingdom.  As time passed and He did not come back, many grew impatient with waiting.  Some were disheartened; turning away in disappointment. Denying that Jesus was returning, they went back to their past sinful ways.  They failed to, “Make straight the pathways of the Lord.”  

Today too, many grow impatient.  Belief in Christ’s return falters and many have gone back to sinful ways: failing to keep faith, turning away from God’s love to follow paths of their own design and choosing.  They have allowed the distractions of the evil-one - of this world - to place doubt and disbelief in their hearts.  They have chosen a way that is not God’s way, their path is not the pathway of the Lord, but the path to destruction and death.  In their impatience they fail to heed the cry, “Prepare the way of the Lord!”

This Advent and every Advent is our time of preparation, not just to celebrate the Nativity of our Lord and all that we’ve allowed this day to become, - but to, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths!” We are called to make our hearts ready and to wait patiently, in preparedness, - in faith, for the day our Lord, Jesus returns to bring us into the promise of God’s heavenly kingdom.

Today we have two joyful events taking place in our community of disciples in Christ Jesus.  At the 9:00 AM liturgy we welcome two adults into our community.  LaTonya and Jenna have heard the call of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and are now prepared to enter into the Catechumenate on their journey of discipleship in Christ in His Church. They are preparing the way of the Lord by studying the Word of God and the ways of Christ in His Church.  With your prayers and guidance they hope to enter fully into the life of Christ at the Easter Vigil. 

We also have two infant baptisms today.  The parents of these children, gifts of love from God, have chosen to “Make straight the pathway of the Lord” by having their children baptized.  So begins their journey of discipleship in Christ Jesus which will lead them into a life of faith and the loving embrace of God.

As a community of believers, who each Sunday profess our faith that Jesus will come again to bring us into the peace of God’s kingdom, we rejoice in welcoming these two adults and these two children into our community of believers.  Together, in Christian love and fellowship, we go about doing the Lord’s work: “Making straight the pathway of the Lord” by our thoughts, words and deeds – teaching our newest members the Good News of Jesus Christ, as we live good and holy lives in expectation of our Lord’s return. ~Amen

Deacon Don

Sunday, November 30, 2014

1st Sunday in Advent - Matthew 13:33-37 - "The Art of Waiting"

The first words of the bible are, “In the beginning . . .” This is the first proclamation of God’s love for His children.  The beginning of God’s love and our journey of salvation.  The beginning of the fulfillment of His covenant with mankind.  This is an Advent – a word which means beginning. 

This is what Advent is for us, disciples of Jesus Christ – a beginning.  It is the beginning of our period of waiting.  It is the beginning of our anticipation: the beginning of our celebration of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and God’s gift of Himself dwelling among us, His children.  It is the beginning of a new year in the Church: our beginning of moving from darkness into light.  It is the beginning of our hope in the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation: our being raised up into new life at the second coming of our Lord, Jesus.

With Advent we celebrate the beginning of waiting – the beginning of the Art of Waiting - waiting for Jesus to return as he promised, 
“I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” (John 14:2b-3)
We all know waiting is hard.  Ask any child or reach back into your own memory of years past – waiting for that Day to arrive was a misery.  Our patience were sorely tested and we thought we’d fairly burst with excitement before it arrived.  Our minds and hearts were set only for the Day’s arrival – we could think of nothing else.  We suffered great agonies, our whole being was focused on - that - one - Day!

But we Christians, we disciples of Jesus Christ, are masters at the art of waiting.  We have been waiting for over 2,000 years for Jesus to ‘take us to himself, so that where He is we may also be.’  And while we have waited we have been sorely tested.

We have suffered persecutions.  We have suffered distractions.  We have suffered hatreds for the name of Jesus.  We have suffered death and destruction.  We have suffered for our belief in the Truth of Jesus Christ.  Since the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and through this very day – we Christians suffer for our love of Christ – the Word of God.

Throughout the history of Christianity we have suffered – while waiting in hope and love; anticipating the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is for love of Him and our hope in God’s promise of eternal life; resting in the glory of His heavenly kingdom that we practice the art of waiting.  

In our belief in God’s love for His children and His promise of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ – we wait patiently.  We know that God is always faithful, always true, always loving and merciful: forgiving and welcoming.  We wait patiently in hope of the Truth discovered in scripture’s promise of that for which we wait:
“What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, what the mind of man cannot visualize; all that God has prepared for those who love him;” (1 Cor 2:9)
In this love and hope, we go about doing the Lord’s work faithfully, waiting patiently.  We hold true to His teaching – loving God above all and loving one another as we love ourselves – the immutable Truth that bind us together as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  

For our love of God, we go forth doing the will of the Master – teaching all the nations; bringing the Light of Christ, the Word of God, to all people, so that they too may come into His light and be saved.  For our love of God, we search the dark places of the world, seeking those who have wandered away from the fold, leading them back through His Word into the Light of Salvation.

Each day through prayer and good works we wait patiently for the fulfillment of this Advent, this beginning, as we continue Christ’s mission, doing the will of the Father; renewing our belief in His promise - that He will come again to bring all the faithful into His heavenly Kingdom, where He has prepared a room for each of us to dwell forever and ever ~ Amen.

Deacon Don

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Christ the King - Matthew 25:31-46 - "Where do we seek Christ"

Where do we seek Christ?  Where do we go when we want to find our Lord?  Is Christ found in Cathedrals?  Do we find Jesus in the churches?  Is He seen in sunsets or misty valleys?

Sharing Bread
If pilgrims on a journey were to meets us and ask, “Where do you seek this Christ that we too may find Him?”
How would we respond to these strangers?  
What do we say?
In what direction do we point?
To what place can we take them?
What do we do, so that these pilgrims too may find the Christ, our Lord and Savior, our King?

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us where we can find him: He is among the poor and the suffering.  
His face is seen in the faces of the lost and the lonely, among the forgotten. 
He shares the despondency of the disenfranchised and displaced.  
Christ despairs with the imprisoned. 
He is the one who thirsts and hungers, crying in pain for lack of nourishment.  
He shivers naked in doorways huddled against the cold.  
Sick and alone He is languishes in fear and uncertainty.
It is here in the sufferings of the children of God, where we will find Christ, dwelling among these least of God’s beloved.  

We will also find Jesus among those who care for the needs of the least of God’s children.  
He is among those feeding the hungry and quenching their thirst.  
Christ is found tending the sick, comforting them and calming their fears.
To the sorrowful He brings hope and peace.
He is listening to the cries the poor and suffering; ensuring them they too are beloved of God and not abandoned.
We find Jesus sharing his cloak to the naked, returning to them their dignity as equals in God’s kingdom.
He embraces the lost and lonely; leading them to places of comfort and peace; assuring them they are loved.

It is to this place where we can direct the pilgrims seeking Christ.  To the heart of Jesus found in the love of God for His children.  It is in these places – dark and lonely, fearful and despairing – where both the suffering and the loving dwell - that we seek and find Jesus. 

Among these least of God’s beloved is where we will find the love of God – Jesus Christ.  Here is where His disciples continue His mission – living as He calls us to live, loving as we are loved – completely: – without counting cost, without hesitation, without fear.  

In the Other is where we make manifest God’s kingdom; working to bring His justice and peace to the world.  
Jesus’ summation of the Ten Commandments, He says to us: ‘Love God above all else and love one another as we love ourselves’.  

We accomplish both when we care for Jesus found in the least of God’s children.  In loving the Other, we love Him and in loving Him, we love He who sent Him, God the Father.

We seek Christ in love.  Love of the Other, the love we have for ourselves.  And in loving Him, we find the love of God – who is love – our peace and our joy. ~Amen

Deacon Don

Saturday, November 15, 2014

33rd Sunday Ordinary Time - Matthew 25:14-30 - "Taking Risks for the Glory of God"

Over time, the meaning of the parable of the talents has transformed.  Today we use the word ‘talent’ to describe those God-given skills we develop or that come naturally to us, such as a talent for singing or a talent for writing poetry or a talent for playing a sport, but in Mathew’s time a talent meant something entirely different.  Mathew understood a talent to be a measure of weight.  

In this parable, the talents the Master gave to his servants were made of either silver or gold.  They could be likened to ingots – representing a great deal of money – entrusted to these servants.  Five talents or two talents – even one talent was a vast sum of money.  Five talents could be a lifetime of wages for that servant and even one talent, the wages of many years’ service.

The basic meaning of this parable remains: the use of the talents God entrusts to us to further His kingdom, but – and here is where the story is transformed - it is also about risk-taking for the sake of God’s kingdom.

Now, we know the story:  Each servant was entrusted with a different amount of talents while the Master was away on a trip and each did something with the talents because they knew the Master expected them to oversee his property in his absence.  They knew their Master to be a demanding man who ‘reaped where he did not sow’ and ‘gathered where he did not scatter’.  He is a Master who always looks to make a profit from his property; increasing his estate.  The first two servants, knowing their Master always took risk to increase his property and expand his estate, also did the same as he, while the third servant buried the talent entrusted to him for safe-keeping.  

Now the disciples’ understanding of this story would have given them an appreciation for the actions of the third servant for, in their time and culture, burying valuables was an acceptable way of keeping them safe.  If buried valuables were stolen, the person who buried them was not held responsible for their loss, but – if you lost valuables entrusted to you through bad investments or squandered through poor decisions – you were punished and held liable for the entire amount entrusted to you – and remember – these talents represented a very great deal of money.

So, when Jesus told the disciples the part of the story of the Master’s return, they thought the first two servants extremely lucky to have escaped condemnation for their risky though profitable actions.  They were shocked when the Master failed to appreciate the actions of the third servant and not only scolded him, but cast him out of his household - into the darkness, where there is wailing and grinding of teeth.

The moral of the story is that we are not just called to preach the Gospel by our lives- doing the safe thing, but to actually go forth; taking risks in bring the Word of God to all the nations.  We are called to move out of our comfort zones among family and friends, of being ‘good’ and working to ensure we follow the commandments, so we can come into the heavenly kingdom, but to actually seek out others to bring them into the light of God’s kingdom.  

We are called to live Jesus’ command of loving God above all and loving others as we love ourselves by going out into the dark places of the world to bring the light of Christ, His message of love and salvation, and God’s promise of eternal life to all people.  The Master expects us to take risks; using the talents he has entrusted to each of us, to increase his property and expand his estate. ~Amen

Deacon Don

Sunday, November 2, 2014

All Soul's Day - John 6:32-40 - "Blessed be the name of the Lord"

We are a people of hope.  God has given us hope through the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.  As we believe in Him, who experienced life with us, who suffered cruelly for us, who died for us and who was raised up by the love of God, the Father has shared with us the hope of eternal life.

There is an old story told of a Rabbi and his wife who had two sons, the delight of their lives.  

One day, while the Rabbi was off teaching the people his two sons became suddenly ill and died in their home.  The Rabbi’s wife was sorrowed to tears and unsure how to tell the Rabbi the news that their sons had died.  So she covered their bodies with a sheet and left them on the bed in a side room.
When the Rabbi returned home for the noontime meal he asked where his two sons were.  His wife made some excuse and then proposed a question to him.  “Husband, she said, I am placed in a great difficulty.  Someone has entrusted to me a precious possession to care for while they were away for a very long time.  They have now returned asking for their possessions back.  I have grown very fond of these valuables.  Am I obliged to give them back?  What am I to do?”
The Rabbi was surprised that his wife would ask such a question, knowing she was a good and honest woman. “Of course, you must restore to another that which is theirs”, he said.
The wife then asked her husband to follow her into the side room where she pulled back the sheet covering their dead sons.  The Rabbi cried out, “My sons, my sons!” and began to weep bitterly.
His wife said, “The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.’  You have always taught the people to return, without reluctance, that which is lent to us for our happiness.  We have returned our two sons, who brought joy to our lives, to God, the Father of all mercies.”

On this day dedicated to remembering the souls of our dearly departed, let us be consoled in the hope found in the resurrection.  Our God, who loves us so much, asks that we, His precious children, be returned to Him by those entrusted to love and care for us in this life; giving them joy for their lives.  He has given us the means by which we may return into His embrace through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Father has entrusted to His Son all whom the Father has given Him.  He does not reject anyone whom His Father has given Him.  He does the Father’s will in raising up all who believe in Him, - into eternal life - in joy and peace of the Father’s heavenly kingdom.

That we grieve the loss of our loved ones is expected because we have grown fond of those precious possessions entrusted to our care by our heavenly Father.  But we live in hope and expectation of being reunited with them in the joys of His heavenly kingdom.  This is the hope and joy we have in Christ Jesus.  ‘May He enlighten our inner most vision that we may know the great hope to which we are called, the wealth of His glorious heritage, freely given to all members of His holy church.’

By His cross and resurrection he has opened the path to new life: where all who believe in Him shall attain salvation. Through His sacrifice we will be joined together in communion with His saints, with all the angels and the heavenly host in our Father’s house forever and ever. ~Amen

Deacon Don

Sunday, October 19, 2014

29th Sunday Ordinary Time - Matthew 22: 15-21 - "Render Unto Caesar"

Raise your hand if you like to pay taxes!

See, we’re not much different from the Jewish community of Jesus’ time or for that matter most other communities since the grand idea of taxation popped into a ruler’s head.  While we may understand the concept behind the idea of taxes and may even agree that taxes serve the common good, we still chafe at the thought and apply an extra sharp pencil at tax time.

The Jews, and in particular, the Pharisees, did not like paying the tax to Caesar, Tiberius.  The Jews disliked having a foreign ruler whose troops occupied their homeland.  The tax reminded them of their yoke of subjugation and was viewed as an infringement on the Divine Right of God over His chosen people.  

The tax was to be paid by every person from the age of puberty to 65 years and payable in Roman coin, the Denarius, which was valued at about a day’s wages for a laborer.  This second part of the tax requirement was the part the Pharisees mostly objected.  The Denarius, a silver coin minted under official Roman control, bore the image and inscription of Tiberius, whose image they found blasphemous and therefore, unacceptable.
But we have here a second group confronting Jesus together with the Pharisees, the Herodians.  Both trying to trap him into committing an act of treason.  This other group were followers of the puppet king Herod, whom the Romans placed over the people.  

The Romans, when occupying a foreign land, liked to place local rulers in charge, so they had someone on the scene, like Herod, who knew the people; to better keep peace and, most importantly, collect the taxes to due Rome.  The Romans had a neat trick for ensuring they received the proper amount of money due to them.  The local ruler paid the tax upfront to Rome; leaving, in this case Herod, to recoup his payout from the local tax collection.  So, you have the Herodians who liked the tax because they had a vested interest in its collection to keep their king in power.

The Pharisees and Herodians were strange bed-fellows, united together in the common cause of removing Jesus who threatened their way of life.  The Pharisees stood to lose their religious prestige and power over the people and the Herodians saw their tax collecting in jeopardy due to Jesus’ powerful preaching and healing of the people.  A wrong answer by Jesus could cause the people to rebel; ending their way of life.

Together, they plan a trap for Jesus by asking him, “Is it lawful or not to pay the census tax to Caesar?”  This was the equivalent of asking: Have you stopped cheating on your taxes?  Either answer causes Jesus a problem. 

As the story tells us, Jesus knew their evil intention and avoided directly answering their question.  He asked them to show him the tax coin, which only a Herodian would be able to produce, then taking the coin, told them to, “. . . render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and to God that which belongs to God.”

Jesus’ answer is not an endorsement of the tax or the right of rulers to levy taxes, as many people believe.  Jesus does not specify what belongs to Caesar.  But for the last several weeks we have heard in the Gospel message of what belongs to God.
No ruler has legitimate authority unless God allows it.  All that Caesar had comes from God.  Even in the death and destruction wrought his Caesar’s name upon other civilizations came about due to God’s plan, His Divine purpose. 

It is God’s endorsement and approval rulers need to seek.  Their power and authority to rule over God’s people, using God’s gifts come from God, not from themselves.  They need to be reminded that they, as we all, are stewards of God’s creation and His gifts of all resources meant for all people – for all generations – until the end of time.  God’s gifts are not for our own earthly ends.

In Isaiah, the king Cyrus ruled and conquered only as the anointed of God.  Cyrus’ temporal authority, though he knew God not, was given him for God’s purpose, not man’s.  We are His holy people, He is our God.  He alone is the Lord, there is no other. ~Amen

Deacon Don

Saturday, October 11, 2014

28th Sunday Ordinary Time - Matthew 22: 1-14 - "Put on Christ"

“Come one!  Come all!
A banquet is offered.
A feast is prepared.
All are invited into the palace to partake of the generosity of our host.
Sumptuous foods are prepared.  The choicest wines are available.
Come, eat and be satisfied.  Drink, quench your thirst.

All is ready.  Be welcomed to the table of our host.
He has made all preparation for your enjoyment and comfort.
He has selected the finest from among his bountiful larder.

Come one!  Come all!
Make ready to be received in gladness and joy!

Today we see a God who provides all for His people.  He is a God who loves His people so much as to see to their every need.  In Isaiah, in the 23rd Psalm, in Paul’s letter to the Philippians and in the Gospel of Matthew, we see a God who makes available for us the finest of food and drink; satisfying all our needs.  We see a God who heals our wounds and comforts our sorrows, a God who protects us from evils and gives us hope, a God who invites us into His Kingdom where we will freely partake in all the riches of His love.  
This is a God of compassion; generous and loving, who desires all peoples to be with Him; sharing in all He has.

On Sunday all people of this community are invited to the Mother of Mercy parish picnic.  All are invited to be community with one another, to enjoy the company of one another, the share with one another our life in Christ in this community of invited guests.  While this feast may pale in comparison with the banquet of the Lord, it is still a banquet of His people who are joined together through their professing belief in His Son, Jesus Christ.

He calls us together to love one another as He loves us and to be with one another as He is with us.  As we are united with Christ, we are united with all Others, especially among ourselves as a Christian community.  Our God calls us, not only to be with Him, but to be with one another in communion with Him.  For it is in loving the Other that we find the love of God.

So, dress for a wedding feast. Prepare to enter the palace.  Put on Christ.  Come, clothed in holy attire, into the feast of the Lord.  Partake of the joy and love of God found in His people, the community known as Mother of Mercy.  Put aside all busyness: 

  • awake from the deadliness of lethargy, 
  • cast aside all fears and doubts, 
  • turn away from the things that distract, 
  • ignore the false promises of the evil one
  • bring an end to the excuses that keep separated from our God - through His holy people.  

Receive with great joy and excitement the Lord’s invitation to share in His bounty!  Be welcomed into the light of His banquet hall (or in this case, the sunshine in the parish parking lot). Come, satisfy your hunger and slake your thirst on the feast of the Lord found in His people.  Taste and see the goodness of the Lord living among His beloved.  

Be among the chosen.  Put on Christ.  Attire yourselves in holy array, clothe yourselves in the Lord’s love, stand in His light and partake of His life.  Accept God’s invitation and welcome into His holy feast - for in refusing, we cast ourselves out into darkness, where there is wailing and grinding of teeth. ~Amen.

Deacon Don

Monday, October 6, 2014

27th Sunday Ordinary Time - Matthew 22: 33-43 - "In the Lord's Vineyard"

In both the First Reading from Isaiah and the Gospel of Matthew we have the use of a vineyard to express the gifts of God to His people.  In both passages we have:

A landowner who invests time, expenses and loving care to create a bountiful garden.
He prepares the soil; making it fertile for good growth
He selects choice vines to grow luscious fruit
He puts up a hedge and a wall to keep out marauding animals
He constructs a wine press to process the fruit at maturity
He erects a watchtower to guard against outsiders
The landowner creates a beautiful garden that will give life abundantly to his chosen tenants.  But in each vineyard things go astray.

In the garden of Isaiah, the fruit that develops is not the luscious, life-giving fruit the landowner intended.  Those who tend His garden have allowed wild grapes to grow.  Their neglect has allowed other vines to grow; bearing fruit that is useless for making wine, barely fit to eat, and some are deadly to consume.  Through their disregard for and misuse of the landowner’s gifts of the garden, these tenants have not returned to Him the yield he sought and have made his vineyard an unprofitable disgrace.

In the vineyard of Matthew we see the actions of the tenants misappropriating the gifts of the landowner’s garden.  Here they redirect the gifts for their own use; failing to return a profit due Him.  And when He attempts to remind the tenants that all they have come from Him, they abuse and kill his messengers.  Finally, the landowner, in hope that the tenants will come to their senses and realize that He is the giver of all they have, he sends his Son.  But the tenants; believing that, by their own labors, they are the authors of the vineyard and all it contains, plot to kill His Son.  They selfishly desire to seize ownership for themselves.

In both of these readings the tenants have forgotten - from where the gifts of the vineyard came.  Either through neglect or self-indulgence they have ignored the care, the effort and the loving benevolence of the landowner.  Through their indifference of His gifts or in their selfish desire - they fail to keep faith with Him.  

In His creation of the vineyard, in which the tenants have life through his choicest gifts, He asked a return – a share of the good fruit of the garden and faith in Him as benefactor.  But, in each vineyard He did not receive His due.  Instead, He received neglect and contempt for his gifts and abuse and bloodshed as return for His effort.  

In each vineyard He deals severely with the tenants.  In the one, He devastates the lush garden; tearing out the hedge, uprooting the vines, allowing the wild beasts to trample it and let it be overgrown with briars and thorns. He takes away the fertile ground and abundant life He provided.

In the other, He keeps the fruitful garden, but replaces the tenants with new tenants.  He gives His gifts to a people who desire life in His vineyard – a people who will keep faith in Him; – sharing in the gifts of the fruitful life He provides.  

The landowner’s mercy is shown through to His continual invitation to new tenants to live in His vineyard and share in His gifts – gifts that lead to a fruitful, nourishing life.  His offer of tenancy in the bountiful, life-giving vineyard is extended to all who desire a share in His gifts. 

He is the landowner, the creator, the provider, the benefactor - upon whose gifts we rely.  Through His generosity we receive the abundance of new life by keeping faith with Him. ~Amen

Deacon Don

Sunday, September 21, 2014

25th Sunday Ordinary Time - Matthew 20:1-16a - "One day in the garden of the Lord"

  • Is there a god greater than our God?  
  • Is there a god with greater love for his people than our God?
  • Is there a god who promises salvation for all his beloved children like the promise of our God?
  • Has any god who so loved his people to sacrifice his only Son to bring them to eternal life, like our God?

The Apostle Paul reminds us that:
“No eye has seenNor ear heardNor human heart conceived,What God has prepared for those who love Him”
The generosity of our God confounds the wisdom of human generosity.  The love of our God reaches beyond the capacity of human love.  His justice and judgments exceeds our human perception of justice.  Our God loves all His children with a generous heart.  He loves all His children with a complete love that reaches beyond human mercy; beyond human understanding, beyond human desire.

He calls all His scattered flock together; gathering them into the embrace of His loving arms. He sees them all – every bump and wrinkle.  He knows His creation, as only the Creator can know every facet of His handiwork.  He calls each one by name and knows the depths of every heart.

The measure of God’s love and justice for all His children is revealed in Matthew’s Gospel.  God calls all His children into His vineyard to reap the abundant harvest of His love.  

When the Master goes out in the evening; still finding workers, He asks them why they stood idle all day, they replied, “Because no one has hired us.”  

We are challenged to look into the depths of our heart to see beyond the seemingly obvious.  We ask:

  • Why are those workers still standing idle while other workers were called into the vineyard at dawn, in the morning, at the midday and in the afternoon?  
  • Who are these idle workers and where were they when the others were called?  
  • And we need to ask, “Why do the others workers resent the Master’s generosity; believing that they deserve more than what the Master promised?

Are these last, lazy workers, who sleep in – in the morning after a night of revelry and dissipation?  

  • Are they workers who shy away from work?  
  • Or are these the unwanted, the undesirable – out-casts?
  • Are they the old, the crippled, the weak and frail?  
  • Are they different, therefore marginalized: shunned, reviled?
  • Are they the forgotten, living on the edges of society, - those without voice, without power or influence? 
  • Are they the world’s least, society’s outcasts – ignored and forgotten – left idle; to languish by the wayside in despair, without hope?

And why do the others, when the Master is generous to these last, resent His generosity?  Why do they believe they deserve more?

  • Are they better workers?
  • Did their longer labors place them in advantage over these last?
  • Is their attitude born out of a social structure that believes: “The winner takes all” or “The race goes to the swift and strong” or “That he who dies with the most toys, wins!”  
  • Do they live in a society of based on inequality - where winners and losers are just a part of the natural order of things?

This is not God’s way.  This is not God’s justice.  In God’s eyes all His children are beautiful and deserving of His love.  The first, middle and last - are all His beloved – each deserving equal measure of His generosity, each inheritors in His promise of salvation and eternal life in the kingdom of heaven.

God judges with love and mercy; calling all who love Him - into His vineyard. His generosity is for all His children, not just for a select few.  

God shares his gift of Eternal Life with His beloved; it is not ‘first come – first served’ in the kingdom of heaven.  It is not the strong and the powerful who will inherit His kingdom – it is for those who are meek and humble: those who love God with a generous heart; loving others as He loves us.  For our Lord says: “Only the righteous shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.”

Whether we’re life-long ‘cradle Catholics’ or newly initiated members of the flock – we each, kings and commoners, the powerful and the weak, rich and poor, the influential and the voiceless receive equal measure: the abundance of God’s love. 
~ Amen

Deacon Don Ronning

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Exaltation of the Cross - John 3:13-17 - "Cross of Hope"

In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

We begin all things with the sign of the cross: the enduring symbol of Christ crucified.  The reminder of God’s love for the world, 
“. . . that He gave is only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish, but have eternal life.”
This is the symbol of our Christian heritage - the Cross upon which hung Our Savior, Jesus Christ.  In the mystery of God’s love for us He uses the Cross as an everlasting reminder of His love - found in the holy sacrifice of His Son, Jesus - for the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of the world.  

We make the Sign of the Cross as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice - an innocent, suffering and dying to forgive the sins of the guilty.

Recently, I read an essay written by a fairly well-known and respected Catholic writer who was expressing great personal doubts about the strength of his faith. In the face of worldly crisis, - persecutions of Christians for their faith, accelerating secularism in our American culture and the rapid marginalization of the teachings of our Church and the questioning of the relevance our belief in the Risen Lord has in our society – he was despaired and disheartened.

It was not his faith or belief in God that he questioned, but an emptiness he felt in his life.  His prayer life – his worship – his faith practices were, as he described – empty.  He no longer felt the enthusiasm – that fire within – that propelled his usual faith practices.  He attended daily mass, sang the hymns and continued to teach religious instruction in the parish program, but feels he was just going through the motions. 

He feared that he was losing direction and despaired of falling away from the Church – a Church he loved – a Church that held great meaning in his life – a Church, central in the lives of his family, for it was at the very heart of his family life – not just for him, but for his wife and their children.  He feared he was losing hope.

  • The Cross, this Roman device of shame and degradation, this cruel and painful suffering, this horrid death – God uses to bring joy into our lives; endowing us with faith in the promise of the resurrection.  
  • On this Cross, Jesus’ suffering sacrifice for the salvation of God’s beloved children secures for us something greater than we have ever imagined, - nor can we possibly imagine in our present lives.
  • In this Cross, where our Christ hung in expiation of our sins, we are freely given God’s grace – Divine Hope.

This is not a hope found in optimism - where we pray for good weather for a parish festival or that if we get to the bakery early enough we hope they will still have those bagels we and everyone else likes best or even hope that our favorite team will make it to the play-offs.  

  • In the Cross we have a Hope that gives us a courage, a joy and an anticipation of something greater than we presently know.  
  • This is the Hope of Christians, disciples of Jesus – the Son of God who came into the world as one of us.  
  • It is the Hope of knowing that Christ lived among us experiencing all we experience – joys and sufferings – all human experience, but sin. 
  • It is the Hope we have in Jesus taking our human sinfulness upon his shoulders as he was raised up on the Cross – dying – once, for all - in sacrifice to the Father in His great love of us. 

“What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,and what has not entered the human heart,what God has prepared for those who love him,” 1 Cor. 2:9

This is God’s gift of the Cross – His grace of Hope.  Our Hope in God’s promise of something beyond the joys and sufferings of this life.  The Hope of what is to be.  The Cross is the Hope of Christians, the Hope of the Resurrection.  The Hope of coming into God’s promise of His heavenly Kingdom and abundant life - forever and ever. ~ Amen

Deacon Don

Saturday, September 6, 2014

23rd Sunday Ordinary Time - Matthew 18: 15-20 - "Making Saints"

Our faith is a relational faith.  We are in a loving relationship with God through His Son Jesus and His Holy Spirit.  Together we form one body: this community of faithful believers in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  We each are in a relationship with God, the Father and are filled with His love.  It is through God’s Holy Spirit that comes to us, in His eternal love; filling us with his grace, so we may come into an ever closer relationship with Him. 

We are a people filled with God’s love: sons and daughters of the Father whose Spirit fills us with a burning desire to be with Him in that place he has prepared for us.  

In His divine love, God, the Father sent his Son to save us.  Jesus became flesh, like us, sharing with us the sorrows and joys of human existence.  He suffered the pains of persecution and death to bring us the Good News of the Father’s love; leading us into the peace and joy of the Father’s heavenly kingdom.  

Through the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross, the sins of man were expiated.  His sacrifice for our sins was a sacrifice once, and for all time.  His resurrection; opening the gates of heaven, so we may rise up with Him to eternal life in the Father love.

All this wonder was accomplished for us, God’s creation, His children, so we may enjoy the mutual love of the Father in relationship with and through Him with one another.  We are not a people created in isolation: to be alone.  God, when He created Adam, the first human, said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.” (Gen 2:18).  By His divine hand we are made to be in relationship with Him and with one another.

God created the world for man and placed us in dominion over His work, not to conquer, for he has given us this gift, but as stewards, caretakers of His gift - for all mankind throughout the generations.  By this He has brought us into relationship with all peoples: past and future generations until the end of time.

As God loves us and cares for us, He calls us to love and care for one another.  We are not only stewards of the gift of this world, but also caregivers to one another.  Our relationship with God is made manifest in the loving relationship we live with our sisters and brothers in Christ.  

As we are called to bring the Good News of God’s love and salvation to all the nation’s we are called to continually instruct and counsel all, so they may come to know God’s love and encouraged to live in relationship with Him.  

  • We are to admonish our brothers and sisters when they stray from God’s love; causing a harm to their life in God and among the community of faithful.
  • As imperfect beings, we may be wounded by others.  In God’s love we are to bear these wrongs with love and patience: never letting anger to cause us to sin, so that we fall into the hands of the evil-one.
  • We are called to forgive offenses and ask forgiveness of God and one another when we offend.  In doing so, we return to our right relationship with God and community.
For sin is never personal or private, but as we are created for God and for one another, sin separates us; placing us outside the peaceful harmony of God’s loving relationship in Him and among His children.

In His humanness, Christ came to know our suffering.  His love and compassion for the sorrowful and suffering is our model for sharing God’s love with all our sisters and brothers who suffer.  As we are loved, we show God’s love to one another in the comfort and consolation we receive, as we comfort and console those who suffer.  

God’s sharing of our human condition through Jesus, brings us the knowledge that God is not distant and uncaring, but desires to share with us His eternal being.

In life, all our relationships require work to refresh and renew them.  “Out of sight – out of mind” diminishes and dissipates relationships.  So it is with our relationship with God and one another.  Through prayer, our relationship with God is strengthened and increased.  We also strengthen and increase our relationship with one another, living and dead through prayer.  We pray for the good of others, so they may enjoy the fruits of God’s love in this life and we pray for those who have gone before us, that they may rest in the joy and peace of God’s ultimate love - eternal life with Him

Jesus, in the Gospel of Matthew, shows us that we are our brother and sister’s keeper.  As children of our Loving God, we, the community of believers, are called to stay in right loving relationship with God and with one another.  As disciples of Jesus, it is our duty to help bring all our brothers and sisters to come to know God’s love for us, as we share His love with one another.   

God makes saints through His love found in His children: shared with all who live in His love. ~ Amen 

Deacon Don

Sunday, August 31, 2014

22nd Sunday Ordinary Time - Matthew 16: 21-27 - "Suffering Servants" or "No Pain, No Gain"

We are called to live a radical life!  
We are a people called to live counter-culturally to the secular world!
We live in this world, but are called to live in ways not of this world.
We are called to live by God’s will, not man’s will.  
The ways of this world are not God’s ways.  What this world reveres is not what gives glory to God or gains us entry into His heavenly kingdom.

Poor Jerimiah!  He is called by God to warn the people that their ways - are the ways of destruction.  He goes to the people on God’s behalf and is made a laughingstock.  He speaks the word of God to the people and they not only ridicule him and deride God’s message, but imprison and torture poor Jerimiah.  

His sufferings are great; for bringing God’s warning to the people of punishment for their sinful life.  Jeremiah is filled with the word of God.  He would like to choose safety – keeping quiet, hidden; so the people would not bring him sufferings, but God’s word burns within him.  He is fairly bursting at the seams to speak the will of God to the people.  He cannot keep quiet and so bears the sufferings inflicted upon him.   God’s word is not what the people want to hear, but is necessary to their salvation.  The people want to go about their sinful lives unmindful of God’s will.  Jeremiah suffers greatly because he must speak God’s truth.

Paul tells us that there are sacrifices we must suffer in this world for living God’s truth.  The sufferings of those who discern the will of God are acceptable and pleasing to Him.  God’s servants bring His truth to His people, so they may have life.  Discerning the will of God and living in His truth is the call of Christian baptism.  This world holds no treasure or reward.  Those are found only in the kingdom of God for those who listen to His word and observe it. 

In last week’s Gospel, Peter calls Jesus, “. . . the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus tells him that no human has told him this, but it is revealed to him by God, the Father.  

God’s revelation to Peter of the truth of Jesus is clear, but today, Peter’s humanness, his fear clouds God’s revelation of the Truth.  Peter fails to discern God’s truth of the necessity for Jesus’ coming Passion.  Peter, when Jesus tells the disciples of what lays ahead for him in Jerusalem is, in his humanness, fearful.

Peter, like many of the Jews, is looking for liberation from the Roman oppressors.  He seeks what is immediately expedient in his worldly life, not what is God’s plan for His people.  He seeks a warrior king, to come, with force, to overthrow the Romans.  The Jews seek liberation to live as an autonomous people, not salvation to live as God’s holy people.  

Peter fails to recognize God’s will.  His admonition to Jesus is only from Peter’s human perspective.  God’s plan is obscured from Peter’s heart.  He cannot understand how the death and rising of Jesus will bring about God’s salvation for his people.  Peter thinks to himself, “How can Jesus’ mission continue, if he is dead?” And maybe more self-indulgently, “What will happen to me and the rest of our group, if Jesus is gone?  Where will we go, what will we do, what will become of us?”  All very human questions and human reactions to Jesus foretelling of his suffering, crucifixion and resurrection.

We hear in Romans 11:33:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!  “For who has known the mind of the Lord . . .?”
Knowing the mind of God, discerning His will is the life to which all Christians strive.  By our baptism, we are charged, “To go forth making disciples of all nations . . .” Our mission is to bring God’s Word to all people.  In His love, we are called to remind the people that they are God’s beloved children.  God seeks his beloved creations to leave this sinful world behind, the place of the evil-one, to be welcomed home into the peace of His heavenly kingdom.

When we look at the world today and how ever increasingly secularism pervades our culture, we may feel daunted and despaired, like Jeremiah.  We may want to hide our Christian faith, blend into the cultural background.  Keeping silent the Word of God within us for fear and shame of what the world may think of us and do to us.  We too may be afraid of becoming a laughingstock for speaking God’s Truth.  Truth that goes counter-culture to the world’s beliefs on family, marriage, the sanctity of life, the very existence of God and the pervasiveness of evils in the world.

We may feel the better part of valor is discretion: avoiding the sacrifices we will be called to make in standing up for what is holy and pleasing to God.  Conforming ourselves to the cultural beliefs – du jour - may give us momentary peace among the sinfulness of this world, but will lead us to eternal sufferings in our life beyond.  

Be transformed! – Be counter-cultural! – Discern the will of God!  Hear His Truths in your heart, observe all that He teaches us through our Lord, Jesus Christ and go forth preaching the Good News to all people!

Be mindful of God’s will.  Listen to His voice and never tire of doing what is good, what is right, what is holy and pleasing to Him.  Lose your life to the evils of this world and find everlasting life in God’s heavenly kingdom.  For what treasures can we bring with us or of what worldly honors can we boast to bribe or impress He who sits on the judgment seat at the gates to eternal life? ~ Amen

Deacon Don