Welcome-Christ-is-Born

December 25: WELCOME, CHRIST IS BORN!!!!!

December 25, 2021 Christmas Day.

Christmas 2021                                              December 25, 2021

Introduction

This night/morning we stand before a mystery. We stand before an event that is impossible: God made flesh.

  • We stand before the cave of Bethlehem.
  •  We have been here many times before. The scene is so familiar
  • We recognize those present: there is Mary the young girl who has just given birth to her first child.
  • Standing nearby is her husband, Joseph who shelters her from the cold.
  • As our eyes look downward we see the newborn infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a makeshift crib.
  • The couple are young and afraid.
  • This is not how they hoped things would unfold.
  • Then as we gaze around that humble cave, we see the animals.
  • This is their home. Joseph and Mary and you and I are all visitors.
  • Wondrously, they have made room for us.
  • Without knowing it, they are characters in a divine drama.
  • This is no ordinary cave. It is holy, the intersection of heaven and earth.
  • As our eyes behold they heavens above, we see the sky lit with the glory of God and filled with angels.
  • There are the angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim all with their eyes peeled toward Bethlehem. 
  • They sing of the majesty of God, “glory to God in the highest and peace to those on whom God‘s favor rests.“

And finally, crowning the entire moment is that magnificent star of Bethlehem.

The Word made flesh

What is ultimately happening in this scene?

  1. In the opening words of his gospel, Saint John puts it this way. 
  2. He says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Through him all things came into being and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”
  3. That simple scene in Bethlehem manifests something truly unbelievable.
  4. Although it may be simple and reflect the poverty of Joseph and Mary, it proclaims the majesty and the glory of God. 
  5. In that moment, all of the hopes and aspirations of the peoples and children of Israel are realized.
  6. The Messiah has come.
  7. God breaks into human history and God dwells among us.
  8. God’s promise to humanity, however is not exhausted.
  9. God promised to come some 20 centuries ago but he promises to remain with us. 
  10. The incarnation is an ongoing mystery.
  11. God continues to dwell among the human race.
  12.  One of his titles from the Old Testament is Emmanuel.
  13. It is translated: “God is with us.”

God enters into the messiness

The world of the first century 

God enters into the messiness of the human experience. 

  • The world of the first century was a mess. 
  • Life was not easy.
  • Israel and most of the western world were dominated by the Roman empire. 
  • The empire ruled with an iron fist and dominated by intimidation and fear
  • The vast majority of people were poor and barely able to make a living.
  • Life was hard.
  • Life expectancy was 40 years and most of those years were filled with toil and drudgery.
  • It was into that world that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
  • He chose to be one with suffering humanity.
  • To that world he brought hope and salvation.

He came as the revelation of God’s transforming love.

Our messy world

Our world is not that much different from the world of the first century.

  • Our world seems to be in a mess as well.
  • The country is polarized.
  • People seem to be intolerant of one another. 
  • Additionally, people worry about the future and the economy.
  • Things cost more. Inflation is nearly 7%.
  • Additionally, the pandemic seems to be dragging on and on.
  • People are tired of COVID-19. Every several months there seems to be a new variance of the virus. 
  • People continue to get sick and some die. It seems as though there is no end to it.
  • Moreover, each of us struggles with our own personal issues.
  • People struggle with family issues, with sickness and unemployment.
  • Life is messy and at times difficult.
  • Yes, amidst all of this Jesus comes into our world and into our lives.
  • God promises to remain with us.
  • As a matter of fact, Jesus’ final words were “I will be with you always until the end of time” 

God is with us

 Christmas is a confirmation of that promise.

  • Jesus came into the world of the first century to be hope for the nations.
  • Jesus comes into our world to be our consolation and our hope. 
  • He wants to walk with each of us.
  • It is in the very messiness of our world and of our life that Jesus breaks through.
  • Curiously, he doesn’t take all of that away, but walks with us. 
  • Somehow, that is the mystery of salvation.
  • God is with us!

Conclusion

God did not need to come into our world.

  • God chose to come into our world.
  • He did so out of a profound love for the human family.
  • God meets us where we’re at.
  • He comes into our life in order to invite us to share in his life.
  • God offers an invitation to everyone.
  • If you have felt distance from him or for some reason have drifted away, consider that he is inviting you this very moment.
  • It is the opportunity of a lifetime.
  • God wants to walk with you.
  • He wants to share in the messiness of your life.
  • God came as a baby at Bethlehem on that first Christmas.
  • He comes to each one of us at this Christmas night/day
  • If you have been waiting for some kind of sign of God‘s love, maybe this Christmas is that sign for you.
  • The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
  • May you experience God‘s love for you tonight/this morning and know the peace and joy of that first Christmas.
4th-Sunday

December 19: “Lord let us see your face and we shall be saved.”

December 19, 2021                              Fourth Sunday of Advent

Introduction

Have you ever taken a moment to imagine what God looks like?

  • In the psalm response that we used for our Mass today, you said “Lord let us see your face and we shall be saved.”

Theophany

There is something deep in the human psyche which desires something concrete and tangible that can be seen and touched.

  • We want to see God.

Manifestations of God presence 

As a result, over the ages people have yearned to see the face of God.

  • However, God would not let anyone see what he looked like.
  • God always appeared in what we call a theophany.
  • A theophany is a visible manifestation that mediates God’s presence.
  • When God appeared to Moses, he appeared in the fire of a burning bush.
  • Similarly, on Mount Sinai he appeared again to Moses through a terrible storm of fire, thunder and lightning.
  • Finally, Moses implored him, “let me see your face.” The response was, “no one can see my face and live.”
  • Eventually, God gave in and let Moses see his back.
  • The prophet Elijah also wanted to see God’s face.
  • However, God would not permit it.

Skin on it

This reminds me of the story of a child who was afraid of thunderstorms.

  • One particular night there was a very violent thunderstorm.
  • There was lightning and thunder that would shake the house.
  • A little boy lay there in bed completely terrified.
  • He grabbed his pillow and hid underneath the covers feeling very frightened and alone.
  • During A brief break in the storm, the little guy jumped out of bed, ran down the hall into his parent’s room, jumped into their bed and hugged his mother.
  •  Naturally, she hugged him back. He stopped shaking.
  • She then asked him, “why didn’t you pray to God when you are afraid during the storm?”
  • His answer is quite revealing, he responded, “mom, I tied to but I needed something with skin on it.”

When it comes to God we need something with skin so we might see his face.

The Readings

That brings us to the readings for this weekend. 

God finally has skin.

Reading from Micah

Our first reading is a reading from the book of the prophet Micah.

  • We hear from him only once in the three-year cycle of church readings. 
  • Like Zephaniah, whom we heard from last week, Micah is not a well-known prophet like Isaiah, Jeremiah or Ezekiel.
  •  For the most part, he was a prophet of gloom and zoom.
  • However, this little piece we have today, is an exception.
  •  Here he makes an important declaration.
  • It is in Bethlehem, the smallest of the towns of Judah, that the Messiah will be born.
  • Bethlehem was a small village about 5 miles outside of Jerusalem.
  • Essentially it had no notoriety other than the birthplace of King David.
  • It was a place inhabited primarily by Shepherd’s and sheep.
  • Of all the places in Israel, it was probably the most unlikely place where the promised One of Israel would be born.

The gospel 

The gospel records the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth. It is filled with joy and exuberance. 

  • John the Baptist, yet to be born, leaps with joy in the womb because salvation is about to unfold. God who is faithful now fulfills his promise.
  • Now all people will finally get to see the face of God.
  • All of the speculation and anticipation of past ages from Adam to Elizabeth and John the Baptist, will be realized in Jesus.
  • Jesus is the face of the living God.
  •  If you want to see what God is like, you see him in the face of Jesus.
  • The Incarnation is a fantastic mystery.
  •  Here the impossible happens: The eternal God enters human time.

No one has ever seen his face before, but now he is visible.

Application

Our readings for mass today tell us two things. 

Bethlehem 

In the fact that God chose Bethlehem to be the place of birth for his Son, reminds us that, more often than not, God chooses the lowly and unexpected to be the channels of his activity.

  • No one would have suspected that Bethlehem would be remembered for ages to come as the birthplace of the Messiah.
  • Bethlehem not only had a place in God’s heart, but from the first Christmas it is in the hearts of all Christians. 
  • Frequently we assume God should act in a particular way.
  • However, we have to remember God will choose to act in the way he wants.
  •  Sometimes it is unexpected and an anticipated.

Example of Mary

Second of all, we have the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the gospel today.

  • There She is called “blessed” three times.
  • She is blessed because she is the one who heard the Word of God in the message of the angel and she kept it in her heart and conceived the Son of God.
  • We to must embrace that same living word, the Son of the God, that we might give him a central place in our lives.

Conclusion and Gospel Challenge

Christmas is only a few days away. Today we pray, “Lord let us see your face and we shall be saved.”

  • Here’s the gospel challenge for this week. 
  • Carve out a few moments in your busy schedule.
  • Do your best to remove distractions, open your Bible and read the passage from Saint Luke that recalls the birth of Jesus. 
  • Let those familiar words once again stir your heart in preparation for the celebration of the birth of the Savior
IMG_8646

December 12: “the Lord is in our midst, he rejoices over us”

December 12, 2021                               Third Sunday of Advent

Introduction

“What should we do” That question is at the heart of the gospel story for this weekend

Gospel

In the gospel we find John the Baptist in the Judean desert admonishing the people to prepare the way of the Lord.

  • He tells them God is about to do something spectacular.
  • They had better be prepared.
  • As a result, people come forward and ask, “what should we do?”
  • Some of those present are ordinary people. John’s response to them is “share what you have.”
  • Even tax collectors come forward.
  • Remember the tax collectors in ancient Israel lived on the margins of society because they were considered traitors.
  • John‘s response to them is predictable. “Don’t cheat people.”
  • Even Roman soldiers come forward and ask the same question
  •  He tells them, “treat people fairly and be satisfied with what you have.”

Simple answer 

Essentially the answer to his question, “what should we do?” might be a bit surprising.

It is very simple: “Share with others, be fair, and do your work well.”

It seems so simple and ordinary.

God delights in us

Yet, God delights in us.

  • In the first reading from the book of the prophet Zephaniah, we have an interesting quote.
  • It gives us an insight to how God delights in every single one of us.
  • Zephaniah writes, “the Lord your God is in your midst; he will rejoice over you. The Lord God will sing joyfully because of you just like people sing at festivals.”
  • It’s hard to imagine that God delights so much that he just loves to sing.
  • It’s incredible that God sings.
  • Sometimes we forget how much God delights in us.

The diamond

Yet God takes the ordinary and he makes it extraordinary.

  • Think of a diamond. It is beautiful, and precious.
  • It is an impressive gift. More often than not an engagement ring contains diamonds.
  • As they say, “Diamonds are forever.”
  • Did you know that the base element of diamonds is carbon?
  •  Carbon is the same element that makes coal. 
  • Carbon is a rather ordinary element.
  • However, something wonderful happens deep down inside of the earth.
  • That carbon is transformed into a diamond. There is immense pressure and heat that occurs making the carbon atoms bond with four other atoms.
  • The result is a diamond.
  • In the same way God takes the ordinary and can make it extraordinary.

Make a good Confession

This takes us back to the original question in the gospel, “what should we do?”

  • The best preparation for Christmas is a preparation of the human heart.
  • That preparation involves a spirit of repentance and an openness to God.
  • Without a doubt, the best preparation for Christmas is to make a good confession.
  • The mercy of God is boundless.
  • If it’s been a while since you received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, make a promise now that you will make an examination of conscience and then go to confession in the next several weeks.
  • There will be a citywide Penance Service a week from this Monday here at St. Patrick’s with a number of priests available for confession
  • So, look into your heart and see where darkness still has a hold on you: Maybe it’s a lack of patience or maybe it’s selfishness or something else.
  • This time of the year we are particularly mindful of darkness and the shortness of days.
  • Jesus comes as light for the world.
  • Invite him to bring that light into your heart wherever darkness still has a hold on you.
  • God’s mercy is there for you.
  • If you are experiencing any kind of addiction that has a hold on you, ask Jesus to set you free.
  • Remember, God‘s mercy is boundless.

Conclusion

This is called “Gaudate” or “rejoice” Sunday since Advent is now half over.

  • Remember what Zephaniah the prophet said in that first reading, “the Lord is in our midst, he rejoices over us”
  • God so delights in us that he sings. I suspect that His song is a song of mercy.
Advent-2

December 5: Advent reminds us of Christ’s coming at Bethlehem and that one day he will come in glory at the end of time.

December 5, 2021                          Second Sunday of Advent

Introduction

There are two images that come from our scripture readings for this weekend which set the tone for The Second Sunday of Advent.

  • In the first reading, the prophet Baruch proclaims “put on your robes of joy.” 
  • In the gospel. John the Baptist announces the coming of the Messiah with these words “prepare the way of the Lord.”

Gospel

List of names

Our gospel today begins in kind of an interesting way.

  • There is a list of names of important people and places that most people have never even heard of.
  • For most of us, the list is irrelevant and unrecognizable.
  •  However, how might we translate that list into something contemporary?

It might sound something like this: In the second year of the administration of Joseph Biden, president of the United States, Mark Gordon governor of the state of Wyoming, during the seventh year of the papacy of Francis Bishop of Rome while Steven Biegler was Bishop of Cheyenne, the world plagued by economic uncertainty and still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, the word of God came, “ prepare the way of the Lord.”

God in history 

What motivated Saint Luke to begin with this list of names and places?

  • It places God’s presence directly into recorded history,
  • His intention is to show that God entered into real human history, he took on flesh and lived in a real place and time.
  • Jesus is not an abstract God but entered into the very fabric of human existence.
  • He wants to be involved in every human life and desires friendship with each of us.
  • He stands ready to enter into everyone’s personal history.
  • The Advent readings remind us that God comes to visit his people.
  • God desires a relationship with every human being.

God is with us

During Advent, time and again we hear God’s title “Emmanuel.”

  • It is translated as God is with us.
  • There are two primary examples of God’s desire to be with us, involved in our lives.

In the scripture 

The first one is the Scriptures itself.

  • Think of the entire Bible as God‘s love story to his people. 
  • In the sacred writing, God communicates his love, forgiveness, mercy and compassion as well as his vision for the human family. 
  • Throughout the Bible, He reveals his desire to enter into relationship with the human family. 
  • In the Scriptures God forms a people to be his own.
  • Jesus is the Word made flesh, perfect image of the Father.
  • His words are God’s words addressed to us. 
  • His deeds and miracles are God working in a real and tangible way in human history.
  • Think of it this way:  When you read the Bible or hear it proclaimed here at Mass, God is speaking directly to you.
  • He is speaking to your heart. Those are the words he wants you to hear at that particular moment.

In the words of scripture, God is present. God is with us.

Eucharist

Similarly, God’s desire to be involved in our lives is manifested in the Holy Eucharist itself. 

  • At every Mass Jesus becomes truly present in the Eucharist.
  • It is like another Bethlehem.  
  • It is the completion of the incarnation. God becomes flesh and dwells among us in the Eucharist. 
  • At every Mass he nourishes us and becomes involved in a real and personal way in our lives sometimes in the most unlikely and unexpected ways.

Eucharist in prison

The story is told about a group of Catholics who protested when the Chinese communist government arrested their bishop.

  • The folks ended up in prison right next to the bishop.
  • Every morning a little girl was allowed to visit them and bring each of them a small loaf of bread from their families.
  • Hidden inside each loaf of bread was a small cloth napkin.
  • Inside each napkin was the Holy Eucharist.
  •  In this way these persecuted Chinese Catholics were able to receive Holy Communion every single day.
  • They would always retain one loaf and keep it in the corner of their prison cell.
  • That way every day they could pray to the Lord in the Eucharist and He remained with them.

Conclusion

Once again we are in Advent.

  • Advent reminds us of Christ’s coming at Bethlehem and that one day he will come in glory at the end of time.
  • Even though he is coming, he is still with us now in many ways.
  •  He is with us in the scriptures we read.
  • He is with us in the tabernacle in the holy Eucharist. 
  • Advent reminds us to put on the robes of joy and prepare our hearts to recognize Jesus at his coming and to welcome him with all of our hearts.
  • Have a good Advent!
Advent-21

November 28: Don’t Ignore What God Is Doing In You!

November 28, 2021                                  First Sunday of Advent

Introduction

The images described in the gospel for this weekend are indeed disturbing.

  • Do you remember that Jesus is still going to return at the end of time? 
  • Did Jesus promise that he would return? Absolutely!
  • Did Jesus say when he would return? No! 
  • Did Jesus know when he was going to return? The gospels seem to indicate that no one knows, not the angels in heaven, not Jesus himself but only the Father.

Imagine the End

Can you imagine what it will be like on the last day of human history.

  • The sky will turn a scarlet red.
  • The skies will be torn open.
  • Lightning will flash across the sky.
  • The earth will be shaken.
  • There will be the roar of a mighty explosion, 100 times louder than thunder.
  • Time will cease.
  • Finally, Christ will appear with a mighty army of angels on the clouds of heaven.
  • It will be judgment day.
  • Some people will be terrified while others will shout for joy.
  • All will be made right. Justice shall prevail.
  • Some will depart into the everlasting flames of hell where they will be consumed by fire.
  • Others will enter into unimaginable glory.
  • As Saint Paul says, “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard nor has it even so much dawned on the human imagination what God has prepared for those who love him.”
  • This will be the most significant event in human history since the creation of the world.
  • At the end of the Gospel here is the advice of Jesus “be vigilant and pray”

Advent

As we have so many times, we begin the season of advent. Advent reminds us of the comings of Christ.

Historical coming of Christ 

In our first reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, God makes the promise that he will send someone to set Israel free.

  • It is described as the “Day of the Lord.” 
  • It is the day when God will manifest his presence to the human family.
  •  It is the promise to Israel that God would send them a Messiah.
  •  He will be born of the house of David.

Advent recalls that first historical coming of Christ in Bethlehem.

Second coming 

Additionally, this Sunday reminds us that Jesus will come at the end of time.

  • The readings focus our attention on the preparation for that ultimate coming.
  • The Church does not want us to grow sluggish and forget that ultimate promise.

Jesus comes to us now

However, in between these two Comings of Christ, the historical one and his coming at the end of time, Jesus comes into our lives every day.

  • Advent is a time set aside for us to become aware and prepare for that daily coming.
  • Advent is a gift of time. God means it to be a time of reflection and preparation.
  • Advent is a time of joy but it is also a preparation for Christ coming into our lives now and also the preparation for the celebration of his birth and entrance into human history.
  • Additionally, it is the time to free ourselves from distractions and from anything that prevents us from focusing on God‘s presence..

Best Advent

Make this advent the best advent that you have had in a long time.

  • Of course, do what you must do to prepare for Christmas, but don’t let that dominate your time.
  • However, don’t let that overwhelm you. 
  • This is a time of grace.
  •  God has something planned for you and it is big. 
  • Get ready!
  • We are all beginning Advent. Remember, God became flesh and entered our world just for you. 
  • God has come to each of us in spite of our sinfulness.
  • God desires to set us free.
  •  Everyone has good reason for new and wonderful hope.

Conclusion

Don’t ignore what God is doing in you.

  • Don’t waste these next couple of weeks.
  • Yes, Jesus will come at the end of time.
  • Yes, he will come to each of us at the moment of our passage into eternity. But most of all, he comes to us now.
  • Be vigilant and pray always
Christ-the-King

November 21: The kingdom of God, or God‘s vision for the human family, is present only to the degree that the kingdom of God is present in me.

November 21, 2021                         Christ the King

Introduction

Our gospel for this feast of Christ the King portrays the ultimate confrontation: the secular powers of this world represented by Pontius Pilate confronts the power of God in the second person of the Blessed Trinity made flesh.

  • Here Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Palestine, stands face-to-face with the Lord of the universe.
  • Here the might and wealth of all secular powers and governments stands face-to-face with the might and power of the Eternal Word, through him all things were made.

Gospel

Jesus before Pilate 

The dialogue that follows is significant.

  1. It’s early in the morning, Pilate may have been a bit agitated and Jesus would have been exhausted from the abuse of the Roman soldiers. 
  2. However, Jesus is not about to let this moment of his trial pass by. 
  3. Jesus speaks to the heart of Pontius Pilate 
  4. Some of the gospel narratives record that Jesus remained silent.
  5. That is certainly not the case in Saint John’s gospel for today.
  6. Pilate begins the interrogation by stating the charges: “are you the king of the Jews?”
  7. Pilate is laying the groundwork for the capital offense of treason and sedition.
  8. Jesus’ response is strange. He asks Pilate where he got this idea by saying, “do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?”
  9. Pilate responds by telling him that the Jewish authorities have accused him of pretending to be their Messiah and King of Israel.
  10. Pilate then inquires, “what have you done to deserve this?”

Kingdom not of this world 

  • The conversation takes an interesting twist. Jesus doesn’t answer the question. His reply is negative.” My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to you.”
  • This must have seemed to be a strange and troubling response.
  • There are indications that Pilate may have been very superstitious.
  • In that response, Jesus clarifies the nature of his kingdom.
  • It is not a political kingdom that can be identified by a particular time or place.
  • It is a kingdom based upon divine power and unlike any secular human experience of authority or power.
  • Pilate pressures him, “then you are a king?”
  • Yes, in a sense.
  • Jesus’ followers are not subjects in a kingdom but persons who hear the truth and follow it. It is in this sense, not in a political sense, that Jesus can be understood as king and possessing a kingdom.

The truth 

Finally, we come to the climax of the conversation.

  • Jesus who is on trial then boldly challenges the judge, Pontius Pilate: “I came into the World to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice”. 
  • Implicitly He challenges Pilate,” will you listen to me and accept the truth?”

Pilate’s response begs the question “what is truth?”

Hear the truth

Jesus challenge to Pilate challenges every single human being, “everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”

  • The implication is that if you do not recognize and love the truth you will not hear the voice of truth which is Jesus himself.
  • Perhaps the reason why the world is in such a mess is that so many do not love the truth.

Application

The Liturgical year

This is an appropriate gospel for the conclusion of our liturgical year.

  1. I like to think of our Year of Worship as one giant yearly procession beginning with Advent and our anticipation of Jesus’ coming at the end of time, Christmas, Lent, The Resurrection, reflection on discipleship and now the culmination with Christ the King.
  2. This final celebration offers each of us a challenge.

Lordship of Jesus

The early Christians use the word “Kyrios” to describe Jesus as Lord. 

  1. It was a subversive title that was given only to the emperor. The Christians applied it to Jesus.
  2. The Latin word for “Lord” is “Dominus.”
  3. It sounds a lot like the word dominate. 
  4. Actually today’s gospel gives us the opportunity to reflect upon this question:
  5. Is Jesus the Lord of my life?
  6. Does Jesus dominate every aspect of my life?
  7.  Of course it’s easy to give Jesus one hour each week here in church.
  8. However, is Jesus the Lord of every aspect of my life?
  9. Is he present in my family; is he present in my work; is he present in my entertainment; is he present when I relax?

Kingdom of God

The kingdom of God, or God‘s vision for the human family, is present only to the degree that the kingdom of God is present in me.

  1. If God reigns over me, then the kingdom of God is present.
  2. If the Lordship of Jesus does not reign over my life, then the kingdom of God is not present.
  3. Remember what Jesus said, “my kingdom is not of this world, if it were my followers would prevent me from being handed over to you.”
  4. Jesus’ kingdom is not a political kingdom nor is it a kingdom of time and space.
  5. God rules over the cosmos! God rules over humanity.
  6. The question remains: “does God reign reign over me”
  7. We can recognize God‘s kingdom because it is a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.

Conclusion

As we continue with today’s solemn celebration of Christ the king, let us pray that Jesus may capture our hearts and that his kingdom may reign over us and ultimately over all human hearts.

Stewardship

November 14: STEWARDSHIP A WAY OF LIFE

STEWARDSHIP 2021                    33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Introduction

How do you imagine that the world will end?

  • Maybe it will be hit by a comet or an asteroid and will explode in fire
  • Maybe it will explode from its core because of some kind of chain reaction.
  • Maybe some foolish human activity will trigger something and it will explode

If you had the opportunity, would you really want to know how the world will end and when that will happen?

Gospel

Those questions are the basis for today’s gospel.

Description of the Temple 

Jesus and his disciples are sitting under an olive tree on the Mount of Olives.

  • The Mount of Olives is located across the Kedron Valley east of the temple.
  • The disciples were admiring the size and the beauty of the temple of Jerusalem.
  • Even by modern standards it was a spectacular structure.
  • The courtyard of the temple measured two football fields wide by four football fields long.
  • It sat on a 90-foot-high foundation.
  • Surrounding the perimeter of the courtyard was a colonnade that rose three stories above the foundation.
  • Located in the center of the courtyard was the sanctuary.
  • The sanctuary was a rectangular building that measured 15 stories high and was faced with white marble and gold.
  • The historian Josephus wrote that when the sun rose in the east and shown on the temple, it literally glowed with the fire of God.

The end of the world

Jesus tells them, “you better look at it now because before long not one stone will be left upon another. It will be reduced to a pile of rubble.”

  • The obvious question is when is this going to happen.
  • Jesus then tells them that the world will come to an end in a giant fiery cataclysm.
  • They must have been stunned by his words as they gazed at the Temple lying before them.

When?

 It is obvious from Jesus’ response that the answer is a secret locked in the heart of God the Father.

Stewardship

The gospel today reminds us of two things.

Reminders

First it reminds us that no matter when or how, the world will someday come to an end.

  • It will not go on forever.
  •  Similarly, our world will come to an end when we die.

Second, it reminds us that everything is gift and belongs to God.

  • The day will come when we have to return everything back to God.
  • God gives us things to use, but they don’t belong to us.
  • They belong to him.
  • Even our very life belongs to God.
  • The day will come when we will need to surrender life itself back to God in the moment of our death.

Everything is a gift from God

This weekend our parish continues to reflect upon stewardship and God’s place in our life.

  • At the heart of stewardship is the principle that all we have comes from God.
  • Each of us is made in his image and likeness.
  • Our life comes from him. In a very real way, we are not our own; we belong to God.
  • Everything that we have comes from him.
  • That means the things we have are not our own either.
  • We really do not own them; we just steward them.
  • God gives us things to use.
  • Even our talents and our abilities are not our own. They have been given to us by God as he formed our personality.
  • Think about it this way:
  • 1.) it is by God’s grace that I have the talents and ability to do my job.
  • 2.) it is by God’s grace that I have my health in order to do my job and provide for my family and their needs.
  • 3.). It is even by God’s grace that I have a job.

Love means giving and receiving 

God provides for us and gives us so much because he loves us.

  • All he asks is that in gratitude we make a return to him.
  • Love requires that a person gives.
  • Think about this for a moment: within our families if all we do is take, take, take that really isn’t love.
  • To the contrary, love requires that we give as well as receive.

Abundance vs. Scarcity 

Unfortunately, most of us hear the word “Stewardship”, we think that it means, “Give the Church more money “.

  • That’s really not what stewardship is all about.
  • Stewardship is about God‘s abundance and our trust in that abundance.
  • Last week we heard stories about two widows who gave everything they had because they trusted in God‘s abundance. 
  • However, most of us live our lives on the level of scarcity.
  • In other words, there may not be enough to take care of my needs and the needs of my family.
  • God, on the other hand who is the Creator of everything and Lord of all exists on the level of abundance.
  • God can never run out of things; God can never run out of good things to give us because he is abundance itself.
  • God will never say, “sorry, I can’t help you. I’ve already given away all of my store of good health or wisdom or financial resources to your neighbor. So, you will need to try again later!”
  • God‘s abundance is there in its fullness for each and every one of us for the asking.
  • Because God is good to us and blesses us from his abundance we choose to give back to him out of gratitude.
  • In other words, stewardship is about giving back to God what is already his out of gratitude for his blessings.

Stewardship Commitment

This weekend is Stewardship Commitment weekend in our parish.

  • In a moment I’m going to ask you to consider making a commitment to the parish for the coming year by filling out a pledge or intention card.
  • Be mindful of God‘s generosity to you and the blessings that you have received.
  • Let your commitment to Saint Patrick’s be a sign of your gratitude to the Lord for his goodness.

Commitment cards 

  1. Commitment cards and pens and pencils are located along the center aisle.
  2. Let’s take a moment to pray together the stewardship prayer.
  3. Turn the card over and at the top fill out your name address and necessary information and then prayerfully consider what your commitment to Saint Patrick’s will be for this coming year.
  4. Consider automatic withdraw.
  5. Place the completed intention or pledge card in the collection as the basket is passed. We will place those in front of the altar as a sign to the Lord of your commitment.
  6. Please return any unused commitment cards as well as pens and pencils to the center aisle.