Our Shepherd King

May the peace of Christ reign within you!

This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, which concludes the liturgical year.  For the past couple of weekends, the readings and Gospels have been directing us to reflect upon the ways that we have been using the gifts that God has given us and the account that we will give for how we’ve used them.  The Gospel this weekend depicts Christ as the sovereign ruler and judge of all.  The message is simple and clear: those who have listened to God, the shepherd/guide, are the ones who have worked in the world caring for others, while those who did not listen to him are those who decided to serve themselves.

Most of us who attend Mass on a regular basis hear and understand God’s call to service.  The Word of God has living power and it invigorates the community, strengthening us in faith ready for action.  The Word penetrates and divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the reflections and thoughts of the heart.  The Spirit of the Word guides our discernment in what is true and false what is good and bad, what should be done and what should be avoided.  Our True Shepherd not only shows us the way, he also gives us strength and inspiration with heavenly food.  Jesus comes to dwell within us through the Eucharist and we actually become his own hands, his eyes, his voice, his ears in the world and our actions show his presence.  This is one of the ways we can understand part of the Angelus: “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  Those who follow the shepherd find joy in doing the works of the shepherd.  The noble heart that loves and serves God through faith-filled, humble service experiences a levity of spirit that simply cannot be described!  It is a foretaste of what is to come!  May Jesus, our Shepherd King, fill you with lasting joy!  May we come to eternal joy with him!

God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter

Be A Good Steward!

Peace and grace to you!

The first scripture reading depicts a woman of virtue who is industrious in all her affairs.  It seems like she has thought of everything and that she has applied herself to become expert in every detail of running her household.  Her family must feel blessed to have such wonderful care and wise counsel!  It is obvious that she is thoughtful of others too because she makes it a point to provide something to share with those in need.  This woman mindfully serves the Lord and models good stewardship and we see how God blesses her with abundance.

The Gospel parable praises the people who are most industrious at using their goods for gain, doubling what they have for a profit.  The ones who doubled their wealth were praised while the one who, out of fear, took no risk and made no effort to gain was condemned.

As Christians, we don’t usually look at ourselves the way the parable invites us to.  We don’t think of God as a stern master who expects a lot from us.  The story effectively creates within us a sense of urgency and dread.   We are supposed to want to be the praiseworthy, industrious stewards and avoid being like the lazy one that just made excuses for why he couldn’t make a profit.  As we approach the Solemnity of Christ the King, we must consider the gifts and talents that we have received from God and how we have used them to serve others: fruits for God.  It is also important to reflect upon the forces of fear and self-interest and the times that they have influenced us away from living a life of charity more fully.  For his part, God doesn’t hold anything back from us; he gives his all even when we don’t deserve it.

Like you, I want to respond to God more generously with what I have for the good of all.  The best way for that to happen is to give God his rightful place as the priority of my life.  If I truly place God first and trust that whatever I have belongs to him, I am more free to be generous in love and service to others for God.  There is joy and peace in that!  One secret I do know, God cannot be outdone in generosity!  If I give a little, God gives abundance in return!

God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Faith And Wisdom

Peace and grace to you!

Is there something that you’ve been thinking of doing for a while and you just haven’t gotten around to it?  Maybe you’ve been thinking about saying “thank you” to a friend or doing more with your son or daughter, grandchildren, or your spouse but you just haven’t done it yet.

This weekend’s first reading teaches us about wisdom.  As we reflect upon it, we get a sense of how active and agile the spirit of wisdom is.  The Holy Spirit has a continuous spontaneity and is always creative in love and joy.  For our part, we need only ask the Holy Spirit to come to us and embrace us.  When we do, we experience the Holy Spirit as a joy filled stream!

In the Gospel, Jesus uses a parable depicting the wise in contrast with the foolish.  In the story, the wise are those who brought oil for their lamps while the foolish did not think ahead.  At first we ask ourselves what does the oil in the story represent?  There are some other sayings of Jesus that give us a clue here.  When Jesus said, whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me, – or – you are the light of the world, let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”  So we can understand that the oil stands for good deeds, deeds of charity.  But good deeds alone are not enough.

Jesus referred to the wise and the foolish when he said Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them, is like the wise one who built his house on rock.  And everyone who does not act on them will be like the fool who built his house on sand.”  Obviously, our efforts to make the Word become flesh must be grounded in faith and discipleship in Jesus.  One part of the story that raises inner tension for us is the fact that all of the virgins went out together to wait for the Lord.  That is faith—but without works, as St. James says, faith is dead.  Another poignant realization is that those with more oil did not share with those who had less, because the deeds that others do in faith cannot be attributed to those who do little or nothing.  Each of us must give a personal account.  As good stewards, we are mindful of God’s gifts to us and we watch for the opportunities to give to God that come before us each day.  The works we are called to are many and our joy increases as we engage in them.

May God bless you with wisdom and peace! +++ Fr. Peter

Keeping God Above All

Peace and Grace to you!

In the first reading the leadership of the community is cautioned against straying from a close relationship that places obedience to God above all things.  Some have fallen into the temptation of self service and using their positions of leadership and power for personal gain and the political corruption of playing favorites.  There are negative consequences as a result.  Sound familiar? We know that human weakness is a natural part of any person, structure, or culture.  In this world there will always be a struggle for perfect justice.

Jesus shows us a way to transcend the flaws and imperfections that exist in our world.  Jesus points to personal holiness through an attitude of servitude to God and of service to others as the remedy.  When we think about what Jesus says, it really makes sense!  Isn’t it so much easier and more peaceful when we meet people who are humble and are earnestly concerned for the good of others?  This past week, we celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints.  The Saints are those who discovered the Holy Wisdom of Jesus’ message.  They didn’t have easy lives!  They faced great inner struggle and hardships!  Their humility came through humiliating situations but they discovered that the only wound they suffered was against human pride.  They did not seek retribution or return insults or curses for the poor treatment they received.  They hid themselves in Christ’s own wounds and found him to be a true Master, Teacher, Refuge and Savior!  Jesus doesn’t force us or threaten us but he invites us to listen and follow him.  His way leads to peace and joy in life!

God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter