Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time: JN: 12:24-26, Reflection

August 10, 2022

Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Recently, I drove the backroads through farm country in Indiana. I caught the crops at their peak. Perfectly pruned grass, cornrows at culmination, lined the narrow roads through small towns. I caught sight of the crops that had been perfectly watered and on that day the sun shone on the miracles of growth and beauty.

I experienced the crops in full growth. However, they will not stay that way. Autumn will bring another phase. Leaves will drop, the corn will be harvested. Change will happen. Winter will come. The growing season will end. The snow and bitter cold will halt growth. Waiting for life will be around the corner once again. It will all happen to prepare for another growing season next year.

We believe in the Paschal Mystery. Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection is the core mystery of faith. If we believe in him, then that pattern will form our lives. We must learn to die to ourselves and rise in him alone. It is not an easy path. Learning to live in him requires faith in the mystery that he lives within us. Faith in Jesus Christ means we follow the suffering, the death, the letting go, so to find our lives vitally aware of his love and guidance.

In JN 12:24-26, the path to love, to freedom, to living our real lives, comes in the grain of wheat falling to the ground and dying. This is our lives. This is our letting go of certainty to embrace mystery. We so want to cling to perfection, to ego, to doing the correct next thing. In fact, to live our faith in the love Jesus gives us is to surrender to the life we have and not the life we think we should have. To live in him is to let go and find our souls singing along the road that leads to the Kingdom of God.

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

Accountability, Healing, and Trust: Preaching in and for a Wounded Community. University of Notre Dame, March, 2022.

I am so grateful to finally have this video available to the public. This conference was held at the University of Notre Dame, March 2022. Here is my presentation on, Preaching in and for a Wounded Community. The three-day event focused on clergy sexual abuse within the church.

Many thanks to Professor David Clairmont and Professor Kim Belcher for inviting me to participate in this conference.

Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time: MT18:1-5, 10, 12-14, Reflection

St. Mary’s Lake, Notre Dame, IN

9 August 2022

Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Recently, a young father described to me the tenderness of holding his new son in the middle of the night. He feels most alive when he embraces his flesh and blood. He listens more attentively to the cooing, the crying, and the laughter from the young child in the silent night. His dreams for his son become so visible to his imagination and heart when in the dark they are comforting each other.

In MT 18: 1-5, 10, 12-14, we listen to Jesus describe how the child teaches us to live. The vulnerability of a child reveals our dependence on the very heart and mercy of God. We know that Jesus invites us into a relationship of sheer beauty, of relying solely on love, tenderness and kindness. We are our Father’s child.  In our baptism, we are special heirs of the Kingdom. God sees our potential and will not let us be separated from him.

I believe Jesus chases us because we are also comfort to him. He wants us to know we belong to him and to the flock. He wants us to be open to the sound of God’s voice when we think we know the best path for us. Jesus desires us to strip away our wealth, our egos, our sense of certainty, to live more fully in the mystery of God. This mystery is revealed to us most especially when we are lost.

I listened with great delight to the young father. The look on his face was sheer joy. The youthful dad had been through many rough moments in life. He is now on a path of inner integrity and joy. His life is worth more as he captures a moment in the nighttime to comfort his son. He belongs to his son and his son belongs to him.  

And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Luke 12:32-48, Reflection

Read today’s scriptures here

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 7, 2022

In Luke 12:32-48, we hear the urgency of the Kingdom. Sell everything, prepare. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. Organize space in your hearts on earth, not for riches and prestige, but for God who promises a bounty of love and lush mercy.

In Luke’s community, they anticipated the return of Jesus Christ. Luke wanted to make sure everyone was prepared for the Master. This text in summertime is a reminder not to take our lives for granted. All belongs to God. All belongs. Everything leads us to the Kingdom.

Our hearts ache for people who have lost everything in summer fires in California, horrific floods in Kentucky, and so much more in between. Wars flare. Climate fluctuates. Uncertainty prevails for many. For us who have much, we live to help others in need. We remain united on earth as we search for the Kingdom of Heaven.

This passage from Luke speaks to me. I arrived at Notre Dame on Thursday, carrying with me more than I could store. My attachments sit before me. My future home and ministry are yet to be known. This moment in life is an opportunity to fully realize the treasures that awaits in my heart. Patience. Wait. Be vigilant.

Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.

The Canaanite Creed, 2022. Reflection on Matthew 15:21-28

The Canaanite Woman. Painting 2017

Read today’s gospel here

Canaanite Creed

I believe the Canaanite woman’s plea for pity.

I believe Jesus overthrows demons.

I believe we all wait for Jesus to speak.

I believe the marginalized are still silenced.

I believe her faith in three words: Jesus. Help. Me.

I believe people are lost until found in his presence.

I believe a scrap of faith is enough.

I believe the outcast teaches us how to believe.

I believe in ripping down barriers between peoples.

I believe in the healing breath of Jesus.

I believe his words remain for all people.

I believe we become whole listening to the weary.

I believe the mind of Jesus was changed by her love.

I believe her daughter’s healing is a miracle.

I believe we have nothing to prove when we ask Jesus for love.

I believe that hour is now.

Tuesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time. MT 14:22-36. Reflection, August 2, 2022

August 2, 2022

MT: 14:22-36

Jesus walked on the stormy sea. He told his followers, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” In the chaos comes the presence of Christ.

In baptism, we all drown to earthly life and rise to new life in Christ. We are immersed into divine love. We let go of old ways and patterns of thinking and being. We rise into Christian life. We live in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This initiation does not leave us, it does not dry up or is not washed away in old age. We belong to him, always.   

Peter was fearful of the storm. He desired to walk on the water, imitating the Master. Jesus invited Peter to come to him. Jesus invites Peter to walk across the unknown.

Even the storms of our hearts, the ones we seem to carry our entire lives are calmed in the person of Jesus Christ. God offers us trust and remedy.  In the storms of overwhelming loss, fear, grief and uncertainty, we all are called to journey across the chaos and into the love of Jesus, our Savior and Way of Life.  

Jesus invites us to himself. No storm can keep us from him. We come back to him daily so we may know him in chaos and in every gift of life. Our hearts are vessels of God’s love and care. We are also called to reach out and catch those who are fearful of the restless storms within them.  

 “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Matthew 14:13-21. Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, August 1, 2022

August 1, 2022

Mt 14:13-21

One line in today’s gospel opens my heart. When the disciples are tired and afraid, when they realize there is not enough food, they tell Jesus about the five loaves and two fish. Jesus then says, “Bring them to me.”

Jesus has already demonstrated abundance of healing and love. His presence is already more than what people expected. His heart was moved with pity. He cured the sick. This would have been story enough. His actions among the sick were food enough.

Everything that becomes abundance in life is first the scarcity we bring to Jesus. Our egos will bring us scarcity. However, our hearts will bring us abundance and grace. His presence, his voice, his love, his abundant mercy is the source of all we do and become. We bring our worry about the future, our concern about illness, disease, climate disaster, poverty, injustice, to the name and person of Jesus Christ.   

Then, look what happens. People are fed. People are satisfied. The disciples come back with baskets full of leftovers. It is the same in our prayer. First, however, we must bring all that is in our hearts, all the scarcity, to him. In Jesus Christ do our hearts dwell.  

They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over, twelve wicker baskets full.

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 31, 2022. Luke 12: 13-21

July 31, 2022

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today, Luke 12:13-21 is proclaimed in our sanctuaries. This gospel tugs at our conscience. It helps us explore our attachments here on earth. We have been reflecting on a series of gospels in these summer months that teach us to proclaim the Kingdom of God as we examine our possessions here on earth.

I invite you today to step back from your life. Take a moment and breath into the mystery of God’s fidelity in you. Our attachments on earth can cause great anxiety within us. We know deep earthly responsibilities of caring for our loved ones, paying bills, learning new things in order to survive. We live grounded on the earth and we need many earthly things to flourish. Yet, we gaze above, to glance into the face of God, knowing our home is ultimately more than our possessions, more than what we control, more than our own human dreams.

I began a new ministry in Texas last week. However, a few days ago, it was clear that the position was not suitable for my life and gifts. So, I will be moving yet again. I will spend some time at Notre Dame, IN, until I figure out my next move.

So, I am confronted with all my possessions before me. I realize nothing I own will create a path to heaven. No possession will deepen my soul’s quest for God’s love. Nothing in these boxes give me identity or purpose on earth. Still, I want to cling to what I know and to what I have, to what is familiar.

As I pack up this week, I am deeply aware of my utter dependence on God. I need my heart and life to be centered in his will for me, to rest fully in his providence and his healing remedy. I desire a place in this life where I can be free enough of my own interior baggage and know within my heart that my real possession is the person of Christ Jesus.  

God give you peace.

Thus, will it be for all who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 24, 2022: Bulletin Cover from Sacred Heart

Sunday July 24, 2022

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 11: 1-13

Jesus invites us into deep prayer. We can’t imagine God’s love when we are bombarded by doubt, deadlines and endless demands. Jesus surrounds us with the invitation to call out to the Father. In fact, he reminds us to say, “Our Father.” This is not whimsical or fanciful. “Our” invites us to know that all people belong to God. God is the source of forgiveness, kindness, and mercy to everyone. We belong to Him. He belongs to us.

Jesus invites us to ask for what we need. This invitation goes deep into our souls. We so often don’t trust that invitation when life confronts tragedy or duties beyond our expertise. The word, “ask” sometimes feels like a four-letter word. It carries with it a heavy weight, yet we know it would bring relief if our ego allowed. It remains heavy on our hearts when we don’t trust the invitation.

As I make this important transition in my own life, I am struggling to ask the right person for help, who is Jesus Christ. I reach out to others when I don’t know new technology or when I fail already at deadlines and getting up to speed in a new position. I need this week, to recall, to remember and to realize the gift of Jesus Christ is already within me. I have much asking to do and much to let in to my heart. I am confident that doors will open as I remember just last week when an important door in my life closed.

I know in my heart that God the Father will not offer me a snake or a scorpion. I am in the Father’s heart and everything I need is already there.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive…”

God give you peace.