Harmony as God Intended

Posted on October 4, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Harmony as God IntendedFor Sunday, October 8, 2017
27th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 5:1-7
Philippians 4:6-9
Matthew 21:33-43

God created the beautiful glory of the heavens and the earth, animals, plants and human beings. All things were placed in proper order and he blessed it all with the gift of free will. He placed within the human heart the desire to know him, the author of all that is. It is with this gift of free will that all can find their paths to freely love God, their very selves, one another, and the world he has entrusted to our care. After all was finished and properly in place, God looked at all that he had made and found it very good. What more was there to do that God had not done?

The virtue of temperance helps us discover balance and harmony. We are meant to live in proper relationship with one another, the world, and the God who made us. But that gift of free will that makes life so creative, meaningful, and engaging can, if not properly used, lead us down a very different path. By choosing not so virtuous and balanced choices, we can quickly find our relationships very disordered. (more…)

Obedience Based on Relationship

Posted on September 27, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Obedience Based on RelationshipFor Sunday, October 1, 2017
26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 18:25-28
Philippians 2:1-11 or 2:1-5
Matthew 21:28-32

Graham Greene was a British novelist who has come to be regarded as one of the greatest English-language writers of the last century. Greene (who passed away in 1991) wrote more than two dozen novels as well as several plays, screenplays, and collections of short stories. Woven throughout his writings are religious themes, especially about the themes of forgiveness and redemption. Anyone who has read the story of the nameless “Whiskey Priest” in The Power and the Glory, of the adulterous Sarah in The End of the Affair, or of the Cervantes-inspired Monsignor Quixote knows Greene, who was also Roman Catholic, artfully weaves together questions of God and faith with the complexities—and darkness—of life and love.

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Laboring in God’s Vineyard

Posted on September 20, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Laboring in God’s VineyardFor Sunday, September 24, 2017
25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 55:6-9
Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a
Matthew 20:1-16a

The parable of the laborers in the vineyard stuns the conscience.

We readily relate with the workers toiling all day in the hot sun. We feel their disappointment and anger when they are paid no more than those who labored only an hour. It brings to mind the times we have been shortchanged and denied our fair share. In a societal context, it reminds us of efforts to raise the minimum wage. That Jesus would compare God and his kingdom to such an arbitrary landowner challenges our sense of fairness.

What if we saw the parable in a different light? What if we put ourselves in the place of the workers who were in the field only part of the day?

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Hope and Healing in the Aftermath

Posted on September 13, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Hope and Healing in the AftermathFor Sunday, September 17, 2017
24th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Sirach 27:30—28:7
Romans 14:7-9
Matthew 18:21-35

These past few weeks, the United States has been battered by events of cataclysmic proportions. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the Equifax data breach have shoved tit-for-tat political headlines out of the limelight. Compelling, community-driven stories abound, whether it’s the quirky tenacity of Key West residents, a moving letter from the mayor of New Orleans, or Beyoncé volunteering in her hometown.

For those of us without connections to the South, the events could seem distant, and beyond the sphere of immediate concern, a matter of sympathetic thoughts, $20 donations, and passing prayers. For residents, however, the aftermath can stretch far into the future.

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The Way of Little Sacrifices

Posted on August 29, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Bending Towards JusticeFor Sunday, September 03, 2017
22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 20:7-9
Romans 12:1-2
Matthew 16:21-27

Having four kids (and three of them boys close in age) guarantees me at least two things in life: there will always be messes and there will always be fights. The latter is something that is, most days, minor or done in jest. But every once in awhile we get two of the stubborn ones fighting over a beloved toy and chaos ensues. One thing that catches my eye is the outside motivation that defuses the rage. I can usually tell how beloved the object is simply by what gets them to pull away for a second and get their head on straight again. “Oh, you’ll trade me for a cookie?” Then I secretly note the true value of the toy that I can likely donate in the future.

But the ones that really tell me something are the fights that end on their own with little help from me. When I remind them that pulling at the toy will likely break it, the first one to let go is usually the one that truly loves that toy—the rudimentary life lesson that if we truly love something (or someone) we have to be ready and willing to let it go if that is what is best for it. (more…)

Life with Conflicting Opposites

Posted on August 16, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Life with Conflicting OppositesFor Sunday, August 20, 2017
20th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 56:1, 6-7
Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
Matthew 15:21-28

A simple authentic and honest encounter with another human being can reveal hidden truths, allow enemies to embrace, and mutual respect to flourish. It is necessary to journey into the heart of a person in order for walls, prejudices, and antiquated barriers to be removed. Inclusivity has been one of the hallmarks of God’s agenda from the beginning of time. His house is intended to be “a house of prayer for all peoples” where human dignity is safeguarded regardless of who we are, where we come from, and what we believe. (more…)

Silence in the Storm

Posted on August 9, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Silence in the StormFor Sunday, August 13, 2017
19th Sunday of Ordinary Time

1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:22-33

Have you ever heard five hundred teenagers singing? As a music minister, it’s not always easy to pull off. When I worked in a Catholic high school, there was one song that nearly everybody always sang, whether it was in the Mass, on retreat, or at a prayer service: “Oceans” by Hillsong, the music ministry of an Australian evangelical church. Here are some lines of the refrain: “And I will call upon Your name. Keep my eyes above the waves when oceans rise.”

I spent a lot of time considering why this song roused an instinctive response in so many students, regardless of grade, race, and social clique. In many ways, I think this simple song reflects the cry of the human heart. We all, at times, feel storm-tossed and unconsoled. The song isn’t just about our effort to reach out to Christ, but the steadfast presence of God as we brave the unknown.

I don’t know the history of the song, but I have no doubt it was at least somewhat inspired by today’s Gospel. Jesus has spent time alone, consoled in his weariness by the presence of his Father, and he returns to his friends by night, supernaturally walking on the waves of a stormy sea. Peter, in a classic display of bold faith, trusts that if the figure really is Jesus, than he too can walk on the water. His Lord will do the miraculous, keep him from sinking. (more…)

A Hope that Gives Life

Posted on August 2, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: The Kingdom of God in Our MidstFor Sunday, August 06, 2017
The Transfiguration of the Lord

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
2 Peter 1:16-19
Matthew 17:1-9

The death of Chester Bennington, lead singer for the popular group, Linkin Park, has stunned the music world. His alarming death by suicide follows that of another popular singer of his generation, Chris Cornell, who fronted the seminal grunge rock groups Soundgarden and Audioslave.

While such deaths have not been uncommon in the world of music, the suicides of the rich and famous shock us because we think they “have it all.” In fact, they only prove that success, money, fame, and power do not ultimately fulfill us and cannot shield us from life’s difficulties. (more…)