Showing posts from January, 2011

Blessing & Promise – Reflections on the Gospel for Epiphany IV - St. Matthew 5:1-12

Read the Gospel passage here: St. Matthew 5:1-12 Blessed are... What a whirlwind the opening of the Gospel of Matthew is! We started with the genealogy, then the birth narrative, which focused on Joseph and that included the visit of the Magi, the escape to Egypt and the slaughter of the innocents.  Then Jesus emerges, is Baptized by John, tested in the wilderness, calls a few disciples and here we are – chapter 5 – ready for Jesus’ first sermon.  And what a sermon it is!  Just the introduction alone is profound and beautiful.  But throughout all of this – chapters 1 through 4 in the Gospel of Matthew, one important theme emerges – Jesus Emmanuel (God saves, through God’s presence) is born into the real world.  This is no mythical religious setting.  This is a harsh real world filled with suffering and oppression and murder and deceit and intrigue.  It is in this context then, that we hear these words: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven…..  

Reflections on the Gospel for Epiphany III - Matthew 4:12-23

Read the Gospel text here -  Matthew 4:12-23 Many years ago, during my internship in California, I attended a prayer retreat and spent some time with a spiritual director talking about hearing the voice of God.   Does God speak to us? How do we hear God speaking to us?   How can we discern what God is saying?   Those were among the questions I posed.   Of course, there are no simple answers for those kinds of questions, as God speaks to us all in different ways.   However, one thing he told me has always stayed with me.   He said that the issue for us contemporary Christians is not so much whether or not God is speaking to us or not, but whether or not we are listening.   From the moment of our Baptism, he suggested, God begins a dialog with us and for us the biggest challenge is to be able to quiet ourselves enough to be able to listen and hear what it is that God is trying to say.   There is so much going on in our lives, and when we find time to pray we have so much to say an

Reflections - The Funeral Liturgy

I am the resurrection and the life.   He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever believes in me in me will never die…   St. John 11:26             Since September I have used this space to explore the Sacraments of the church: Baptism and Eucharist; and Sacramental living.   Everything we do can be a Sacramental experience for us or for others.   Rooted in Baptism and strengthened and empowered through Holy Communion we are sent out into the world to be vessels of Christ’s Sacramental presence.   And we don’t have to “try” to do this.   It happens through the power of the Holy Spirit.   As we live our lives faithfully and responsibility the Spirit reaches out to others through us, without our even being aware of it at times.   Everything from being kind to others, to not being greedy and irritable when shopping to being honest and open to others can be a sacramental experience; from sitting with a friend and supporting that person in their loss or grief, to

"Beginnings" – Reflections on Matthew 3:13-17

Beginnings – Reflections on Matthew 3:13-17  Read Text Here:  Matthew 3:13-17 “I can hardly wait!”   How many times have we heard these words and how many times have we said or thought them ourselves.   Usually this phrase occurs in the context of looking forward to an important event or when one is working towards a goal.   “I can hardly wait!”   " I’m finished!"   We spend so many years in school, for example, finally we reach graduation and it is over!   It is accomplished, we are done!   ……… Now what?    “Aye, there’s the rub.”   This is the difficulty with our goal-driven society: once we have achieved the goal, then what?   What do we do now?   How many of us end up feeling lost after that kind of major achievement!   I have known so many high school and college students who, once they have been graduated spent the following years completely lost and uncertain.   We have spent the last six weeks in our worship on prologues, primarily in Matthew, but also in Luk

"Into Darkness" - Reflections on Matthew 2:13-23 (and John 1)

            Joseph has dreams, and in his first dream he is instructed to take Mary for his wife and to name the child that is to be born Jesus.   In my notes for Advent IV (below) it was noted that the name Jesus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Joshua.   Both Jesus and Joshua mean “God Saves.”   And how does God save?   In verse 1 of chapter one Matthew tells us that the child to be born will be named Emmanuel, “ which means God is with us.”   God saves through God’s amazing presence; God saves through the taking on of human flesh and being born into the midst of the darkness of this world.   It is not our goodness or our ability to follow the rules that saves us, we are saved through the grace of the love and presence of God in Christ Jesus, who is born of Mary on that Christmas day.   It is this Jesus who brings light into the darkness of this world.             Have you ever noticed how important the theme of “light” is to our cultural celebration of Christmas?   Ther