Monthly Archives: August 2014

Lecture This Evening!

Tonight we will have a lecture/discussion on Luke 15:1-17:10 and John 11:1-54, which covers Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus’ teaching on the lost coin and the unrighteous steward, more conflicts with the Pharisees, and the raising of Lazarus from the tomb. We have a savior that often turns things on their head and often says and does things that we might not expect!!

 

jesus-raises-lazarus07

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A Secret Identity in God… (Homily from August 24, 2014)

 

There is much that could be said about the confession of St. Peter. The easiest and most obvious point is that here we have Jesus himself establishing Peter as the first pope – the rock upon which the church will be built. Peter clearly rises in scripture as the obvious leader of the apostles, and his name is mentioned more times than all of the other apostles combined. This is not the only proof that we have in scriptures about the authority of the pope and the establishment of the hierarchy of the church, but I am going to leave that point to another homily.

We heard St. Peter in the gospel today confess very clearly the true identity of the Lord. He says to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And he gets the answer right. That is exactly who Jesus is, and Jesus tells him a very important fact as well: flesh and blood did not reveal Jesus’s identity to Peter. God himself did that.

The point that I want to make is much more spiritual than just teaching about the authority of the pope. That is important, but what does this gospel mean for my everyday life? What can it tell me about God and my relationship with him?

The first point that we can get from this gospel is probably the most important – it is that ONLY GOD CAN TELL US WHO WE REALLY ARE. Before Peter met Jesus, Peter was just a fisherman. He had a family – he probably lived the life of a normal, poor Jewish worker. No one would have ever known his name had Jesus never met him.

But Jesus DID meet him.

And not only did Jesus meet him, but Jesus actually changed his very identity. Jesus changed his name. You cannot truly meet Jesus without being fundamentally changed. When Jesus saw that Peter understood who he truly was – when Peter accepted Jesus as Lord and savior – Jesus gave him a new mission in life. He made him the first pope of the church. Jesus altered his identity. Jesus basically told him, “No more are you a fisherman. You are far more than that. Now you are the leader of the apostles. I myself give you this new calling.” And you might think to yourself: Sure, that’s fine for Peter the first pope, but what does that mean for ME?

Y’all, this is such an important point for our spiritual lives. And I know that there are a number of kids from the junior high here this evening, and I really want you to understand this point.

STORY. I have said this before and revealed to you some of my story before – but before I really accepted Jesus as the Lord of my life I had intended on a political career. I had intended on having a wife and family. But then again, St. Peter intended to be a fisherman, didn’t he? But I finally surrendered to TRULY ASKING GOD WHO I WAS, AND WHAT HE MEANT FOR ME TO BE, and WHAT HE WANTED ME TO DO. And as you can see, I received a very different calling than I thought. JUST LIKE PETER, when I told Jesus, “You are the Christ – you are the son of the living God” and began to truly ask Him to give me a mission in life, He gave me this mission and he changed even literally changed my name when I went to the monastery. As far as this point goes, St. Peter and I experienced the same thing. 

I am not saying that if you truly recognize Jesus as God and Savior that he will call you to priesthood or religious life. Absolutely not! But who knows what he will call you to do? He might reveal to you a mission that you never thought existed. He did for me. He did this for Peter. He did this to really all of his saints, and he wants to do the same for us. 

Think about it this way: Jesus tells Peter, “Flesh and blood did not reveal to you my identity, but my heavenly father did.” Only God can give you the real answers about your life. Only God can reveal to you who he really is. You will not be able to figure it out on your own. That takes PRAYER most of all. That takes going to confession and staying close to the Eucharist. In this way, Jesus is just like any other person that we want to make friends with:

UNLESS YOU TALK TO HIM, YOU WILL NOT GET TO KNOW HIM.

But Jesus is different than any other friend that we have. The differences is that Jesus knows who we really are. Our friends have clues, but none of them have the whole story. Let me put it to you this way. I like to teach this point with a little image of heaven. (Before you were born, when God called a meeting with the angels to decide what sort of person you were going to be: how tall, how smart, what gifts and talents you were going to have, what parents you were going to have and, most importantly, what sort of mission and destiny you were going to have in this life – WERE YOU AT THAT MEETING? Let me answer that question for you – NO YOU WERE NOT. You weren’t even born yet. The secret of who you are was decided at that meeting in heaven. Do you think that you are going to be able to figure out what that mission is all on your own?

We hear this very clearly in our first reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. He writes:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! 
How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord
or who has been his counselor?

         If you aren’t convinced of this, let me share you some other hints in scripture about this secret identity that you have.  Let me read you what it says in the Book of Revelation. The context is St. John telling us what some of our reward will be if we follow Jesus:

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a NEW NAME written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it.’ 

Did you really hear that? A new name? A secret name that nobody else knows? What is this all about?

If that doesn’t convince you than listen to this. This is what the prophet Isaiah tells us will happen if we listen to God:

The nations shall see your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
which the mouth of the LORD will give
.

IT DOESN’T GET MORE CLEAR THAN THAT – we are supposed to be given a new name, and this new name is supposed to reveal who we really are – it is supposed to the secret to our destiny, and our mission in this life. And how do we find it out?

god grants identity

Isaiah says it very clearly; this new name is ONLY GIVEN BY THE MOUTH OF THE LORD. We can’t figure it out on our own. My friends, we were not at that meeting in heaven. We don’t have the answer of who we truly are, but that doesn’t mean we might not get some hints about it. And here is the scary part – we can say “no” to that secret name. We can say “no” to that destiny that God has for us. That is what “free will” really means.  

Jesus knows that secret name, and he is ready to tell us who we are if we are ready to accept who he really is: he is the Christ, he is the son of the living God.

         Do you want to know who you really are? Maybe it’s high time that we truly, honestly ASKED HIM!!

 

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Lecture Tonight!

Real quick!  Lecture tonight on John 10:22-10:42; Luke 13:22-14-35!!  Jesus goes to Jersusalem the final time before his Passion and speaks of the COST OF DISCIPLESHIP!  I know I’ve been disorganized, but welcome to my life.  I’m recovering from a bad back…  I guess that is part of the cost of discipleship!

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When God asks for a Miracle… Homily — August 3, 2014

JOKE!! – Mr Arnold, a businessman from Tulsa, Oklahoma, went on a business trip to Amarillo, Texas. He immediately sent an e-mail back home to his wife, Paula.  Unfortunately, he forgot his wife’s exact e-mail address and the e-mail ended up going to a Mrs. P. Arnold (of the same last name) in Rapid City, South Dakota, the wife of a preacher who had just died. The preacher’s wife, Penny, took one look at the e-mail and promptly fainted.

When she was finally revived by her daughter, Penny hysterically pointed to the message, which read, “Arrived safely, but it sure is hot down here.”   (ha-ha…  🙂 

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 Have you ever felt that God was asking of you something that you just couldn’t do? Think about it for a minute. Some suggestions: maybe The moment your first child was born, or a wedding, or sticking out a bad situation, or making a scary change of job or home, or trying to reconcile with an enemy or ending an unhealthy relationship? Anything like that? Where you truly felt in your heart of hearts that nagging feeling that God was either asking you to START DOING something or STOP DOING something? And you found yourself saying (or screaming for that matter), “GOD, THERE IS NO WAY THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN.” 

And yet here you are, and you’re ok. Maybe you got wounded in the battle, but you’re still sitting in this church. Even though worldwide mass attendance hovers somewhere around 20%, you’re still still here. (And if it weren’t for the church in Africa that figure would be even lower). I hope that you can stop for a moment and realize that your presence in this church is a small miracle. Maybe even a big one. Think about the people in your life that just didn’t make it – they have either lost their faith or have passed on.

This can be a sad reflection, but it can also be one full of grace if you open your heart. Because at least you – YOU’RE still here. And had circumstances been different or had you made different decisions, you wouldn’t be.  

With this in mind, I want you to think about three different miracles for a moment. In our Gospel today, we see Jesus preaching to several thousand people in a deserted place in the middle of nowhere.   His disciples encourage Jesus to send them away to get something to eat, to which Jesus responds “Give them something to eat yourselves.” Imagine how they must have felt.

There is NO WAY we are going to be able to do this. Jesus, are you crazy? How could you ask us to do such a thing?”

And yet they were give the power to do it.

Think about the wedding at Cana. Jesus told those waiters to draw out the water and serve it to the guests as if it were wine. They must have been laughing to themselves. They must have felt embarrassed that they were about to be made fools of. But Jesus commanded them to draw out the water, and it had become wine.

Third, think about when Peter walked on water. Jesus COMMANDED him to do so. And what happened? Peter was able to do it as long as he didn’t let FEAR get the BEST of him.

 walking-on-water

         What can we learn from these three stories? That when God gives a command, he also gives WITH that command the POWER TO CARRY IT OUT. God doesn’t just bark orders to us and expect us to jump. He also gives us a gift called GRACE to be able to fulfill those orders. In other words, he gives us a share in his own life. He gives us a share in his own power to do what must be done.

         Are you involved in a disaster right now that looks like it isn’t working out? Think for a moment – did God ask you to do that or did you do that on your own? Because if God asked you to do it, you need to keep doing it and keep expecting a miracle. No Matter what. At the last and most unexpected moment, everything can change and thousands are fed, water turns to wine, and we walk on water. But maybe if he didn’t ask you to do it – maybe, just maybe — you are wasting your time?

This is what the Lord is saying in that first reading?

Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life
.

Are we spinning our wheels doing something in our lives? Maybe God is waiting to give us something new. Maybe we should give more prayer and sacrifice a try.

I have come to believe that Satan’s chief weapons are not the real evil stuff – not anger and lust and pride and cruelty. His chief weapons are simply FEAR and LAZINESS. Think about it. Both of those vices paralyze us into simply DOING NOTHING.

When I received my calling to the priesthood, it was not on my to-do list. I had gotten a master’s degree in politics and was destined for law and lobbying. But God reached in and somehow gave me a command. And I followed – though hesitantly, I followed. And then I entered the monastery, And now he has changed my life again and made me a diocesan priest. I really don’t know how I got here. But I know that I did not get here on my own. God has brought me into a life that is likely far richer than the one I had planned for myself. I never believed it was possible.

But it has happened. He gave me a command. And then the power to carry it out.

And when I entered the monastery the name “Basil” was chosen for me. And do you know that St. Basil started in his twenties studying politics and law, then become a monk for years, and then left and became a diocesan priest? Tell me there isn’t some kind of weird plan involved here…

I just realized this recently, and it’s a source of no small amount of wonder.

Every single person in this church is being given gentle commands by the Lord to fulfill his or her chosen destiny. They may sound simple. They may sound even crazy. And we may be afraid. And we may not think that it is possible.

But a few thousand people who were fed in a desert, some waiters who saw water turned into wine, a man who walked on water and a lobbyist who never thought he would be a priest would all want to encourage you to try to do what you are being asked.

Because where Jesus gives a command – he will also give you the power to carry it out.

 

 

 

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