For Sunday, March 26, 2017, 4th Sunday of Lent
1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
John 9:1-41 or 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38
It’s a Miracle! Man Born Blind Can Now See!
Earlier today a man, blind from birth, encountered the man they call Jesus of Nazareth and apparently now he can see! It was Jesus who stopped and spoke to the man, rubbed clay on his eyes, and then instructed him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. Like magic, the blind man then could suddenly see! Of course, some of the authorities spoke out in dismay since this so-called healing took place on the Sabbath. Even his parents had very little to comment out of fear of repercussions. However, what’s the bottom line? Man born blind now can see!
Fake news for sure! Like my mother always said, “If a story is too good to be true, it probably is.” There are just so many fake news stories nowadays it can be very difficult knowing truth from fiction. We need to be very careful. (more…)
An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Lent
When I think about the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, I think of my father. This Gospel reading that we use every year for the First Scrutiny of the RCIA was always my favorite to discuss with those who be baptized in just a few weeks at the Easter Vigil.
Not that many years ago, my father was one of those Elect. That year, the story was more powerful than ever.
An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for 2nd Sunday of Lent 2017
Catherine Doherty said, “Yes, stewardship pertains to everything and I am responsible for my part of that everything.” I am reminded of that quote when I read the words from Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy, “Beloved: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” Both point to our own responsibility as a disciple, as well as the reality that we are not alone. We live with God in community. We each have our part to play in the Kingdom of God.
Lent is an important time to focus on how our stewardship way of life causes us to sacrifice and, at times, experience hardship. If we find that we never seem to feel our sacrifice, then it is a good time to ask ourselves if we really are fully living as good stewards, cultivating what we have been given and then offering it all back to God. If we only give from our excess, then we will never understand the meaning behind the words of St.Paul and Catherine Doherty.
This is why we must challenge ourselves. We must push ourselves to go that extra mile. It really is a way of exercising our stewardship muscles. So as this Lenten season is still in it’s first weeks, what can you attempt to do that really pushes you out of your comfort zone. Can you double or triple your prayer time during the season? Can you search your household and give to charity more than just things you don’t need anymore, but also things you still want? Is there someone to visit a few times before Easter than can no longer get out? Whatever it is, the strength will come from God to take greater care of your part of His everything.
An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent
Can you believe Lent is here already? It seems like not that long ago I was decorating a Christmas tree! Time waits for no one and that is why it is important to make a mindful commitment now to not let this Lenten season pass you by.
Lent is a great time to focus on growing as an everyday steward. The temptations are always there to procrastinate or to give in to spiritual laziness, but the Church’s observation of Lent offers us so many tools to help us get on track. Increased devotions such as Stations of the Cross, various parish missions, or Lenten focused literature are all gifts that your parish may be offering to assist you in this season.
With the Passion being the focus of Lent, it is easy to contemplate the value of true generosity. How could someone give more than Jesus? He gave until His life was spent on a cross. When contemplating how we can increase our generosity in all aspects of our life, we only need to look to the Cross.
Of course, this also brings home to us that more may be asked of us than we bargained. The temptation is to not give too much, out of fear that might face persecution or worse.
But we take solace in the fact that we are disciples of One who had the same temptations. He overcame those temptations. He rejected the easy way out. His love and generosity could not be contained.
Jesus gave it all so that you and I have the chance to do the same. This Lent, look to the greatest example of stewardship that ever lived. Jesus will show us the way to a observe a Lent that will soon bring forth great Easter fruit.
So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
— 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
I remember one year when Ash Wednesday and a presidential debate fell on the same day. Knowing there were a few Catholics involved, I waited to see if any would appear with ashes on their forehead on national television.
Alas, none of them did. And of course, there was no mention of it being Ash Wednesday.
It is not a holy day of obligation so maybe no one went to Mass that day. Or maybe they did and after reading Jesus’ admonishment of the hypocrites showing off their fasting, prayers, and almsgiving they decided to wash their foreheads. I certainly would never question a person’s faith by whether or not they still had ashes on their head.
However, we do allow the words of Jesus to serve as an excuse to play down our faith. I don’t think that ever was His intention. Bearing witness and showing off are too different things. I personally love to see all the area high school kids at Mass on Ash Wednesday before school.
And I know first hand that most of them wear those ashes all day long and are asked several times what that smudge on their head is all about. Believe me, when you are sixteen years old that is not showing off. That’s courage.
Ash Wednesday is a perfect day to bring God into the everyday places and moments of life. Whether you happen to be on television or in a grocery store, those ashes say more than any amount of words. If you can get to Mass early, they will be there all day. So, you say evangelization is difficult and not for you? On Ash Wednesday the Church makes it easy for you.
Reflection taken from the book, Everyday Stewardship: Reflections for the Journey, Tracy Earl Welliver, Liturgical Publications, 2015.
An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
We often say in the Church that stewardship is about the three T’s, time, talent, and treasure, but really, stewardship is about the big “E,” which is everything. We are made up of more than just our time, talent, and treasure, and the gifts that come from God are overwhelming.
All that we have, from the obvious to the not so obvious, is a gift from God. We are called to cultivate them all and offer them back to God with increase.
But that also means holding nothing back. That requires a stepping out in faith. Our trust then cannot be in the gifts God gives, since we have hopefully given them all over to God. Only in God can we place our trust.
Our homes, our 401k’s, our family, and our bodies all belong to God. With nothing left, we have nothing or no one else to put our trust in but God.
If you find yourself unable to place all of your trust in God, perhaps you are still holding something back. Is your comfort found in something other than God? It is pretty common for a Christian to “hide something away” while saying they are all in. But of course, nothing is hidden from God.
Pray about it and ask God to grant the strength to surrender all to Him. We are asked to trust in God, but really, true trust is a fruit that comes about when we have had the courage to surrender it all. Trust is just a word if we continue to serve two masters. The great thing is that not only will God not turn away from us, God will also help us turn toward Him.
You may be asked to surrender it all, but you are never alone.
An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2017
My pastor likes to say that his parents would always remind him to “leave a place you visited a little better than the way you found it.” I have always tried to live by those words as well. The important word here is “tried” as I am sure that I have not always been successful.
The desire to always go a step further, to give even more than is required, is truly honorable. Jesus speaks to his disciples about this when he urges them to give more than what is asked and to travel two miles in service when all that was required of them is one.
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to live the same way. It is fundamental to understanding a stewardship way of life. True generosity has no limits.
When we say that mature disciples are to answer the call of Jesus Christ regardless of the cost, we are inviting good stewards to embody this type of generosity. We can be the person who does not respond to the call, be the person who responds and gives what is required, or finally, be the person who seeks to give above and beyond what is required.
God doesn’t just give us what we need, but He gives us more than we need. Made in His image, we are called to do the same. If we try to live in this manner everyday, then we might just succeed on leaving this world a little better than the way we found it.
I saw a slogan once for an Internet start-up: “There is one rule; there are no rules.” In fact, when I searched for this slogan again online, I was surprised at all of the variations on the “no rules” sentiment.
Apparently, even Justin Bieber has a documented quote: “I want my world to be fun. No parents, no rules, no nothing. Like, no one can stop me. No one can stop me.” Wow. My own kids seldom read my reflections. If they are reading this one, DON’T GET ANY IDEAS!
Of course, a society without laws or rules will not exist for very long. The laws of a society are there to protect us from perhaps our greatest enemy: ourselves. We can’t just do whatever we feel like. We will eventually hurt others or ourselves.
The laws of God and His Church have the same effect. Sinful and imperfect people need parameters. Christians who choose sin or their own will over God’s commandments not only break the relationship they have with their God, but they hurt others and diminish the Body of Christ.
A stewardship way of life asks of us to live in a certain manner. We sometimes think that our cultivation of gifts and giving them back with increase to God is for God’s sake. God’s commands do not benefit God, for God is complete and perfect without need for increase. But this way of life is for the benefit of His creation.
There is no power struggle here between a God of rules and his children. The cross bears witness to that. Instead, God’s “rules’ prevent us from destroying ourselves and give us a path so we may flourish. Whether you are an ordinary Joe or an ordinary Bieber, following God’s commands will lead to the real satisfaction in this gift of life.
Today’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews instructs us to “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.”
Recently I read a news story about the actor Matthew McConaughey whose car broke down in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I took interest since I was raised in that wonderful state.
While he was stranded on the road, a man whose brother owned a tow truck stopped to help out. The truck soon arrived and took the car to a shop to have it fixed. While waiting, the man took McConaughey for a burger at Ward’s Restaurant.
McConaughey couldn’t believe the hospitality – the people of Hattiesburg were kind and the burger was great. He exclaimed in the story that he might retire in Hattiesburg because nothing like this would happen in Los Angeles! And, surprisingly, no one who met him that day knew who he was.
I retweeted the story proud of my home state and was reminded of today’s passage from Hebrews. McConaughey may not be an angel (though my wife surely thinks he is), but it was a great story of hospitality from The Hospitality State.
I was disappointed to find out later that I had been hoodwinked by a fake news site. Since I know many people like that from Mississippi, it was easy to believe. And Ward’s is a real place.
Nonetheless, we are called as Christians to be just like the imagined Good Samaritans from Hattiesburg. Those travelers on the road to Emmaus brought a stranger into their home, one who seemed to be wholly unaware of what had been going on in Jerusalem, and He turned out to be the Lord Himself.
Hospitality is a central theme of our Christian faith and we are reminded that we never know who we might be entertaining. This is particularly relevant today when the issue of immigration and refugees divides the country and even Christians. On the one hand we fear the stranger who might harm us, and yet we are compelled by Christ’s command to welcome those who seek safety and peace.
I recently watched the 1973 film adaptation of Godspell with my teenage daughter. I had such fond memories of watching it when I was young, back in the day.
I listened to the soundtrack so many times and learned to play many of the songs on my guitar. The exclamation from the show, “You are the light of the world!” has always been firmly planted in my mind.
After about ten minutes, my daughter looked at me with that look only a teenage girl can display. “What is this?” she asked with a certain level of condescension. Yes, the film did not hold up so well in the eyes of this twenty-first century critic. So we laughed most of the way through it.
What attracted me to the film and the soundtrack in the first place, however, wasn’t Jesus in a Superman shirt or the idea of the apostles wondering around the urban jungle. I was attracted to the message. I was attracted to that assertion in the song, “You are the light of the world.”
There will always be people who see the Gospel of Jesus Christ as dated, irrelevant, and even hokey. You and I are called to be the light of the world? Good stewards must never shy away from living lives that truly bear witness to the reality of the Gospel. The parables of Jesus have as much meaning for us today as ever. Look around. The world we live in needs a little light for sure.