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“Expansive Praise”

Psalm 150: 1: “Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty expanse.” What’s the mighty expanse and how do I get there to praise the Lord? First you have to die, for the mighty expanse is heaven itself, created by God just after He created the light (Genesis 1: 6-8). Here the psalmist shows praise going on simultaneously in heaven and on earth, which is the core message of All Saint’s Day. Praise Him all (and wherever) you can!

“Painful Irony”

Luke 11: 44: “Woe to you! For you are like concealed tombs, and the people who walk over them are unaware of it.” How’s this for a Halloween scripture? Jesus tells the Pharisees, who spend more time on their outward appearance than Lon Chaney getting into his Frankenstein getup, that they are not even recognizable as men of God. Instead, they resemble the grave they seek so zealously to avoid. Spine-chilling-–in a very real sense!

“Greater than Anything”

Luke 11: 31b, 32b: “Something greater than Solomon is here … Something greater than Jonah is here.” Solomon was the wisest person of his day (2 Chronicles 1: 11, 12), and the richest to boot. Jonah was the epitome of evangelism, with an impressive one hundred percent conversion rate (Jonah 2: 5). But if we put our trust in philosophy (love of wisdom), money, or religious fervor alone as that which will change the world, we will be disappointed. Without the “something greater” (love, 1 Corinthians 13: 13) of Jesus, society will continue to regress. Another sakit-filled truth!

“Tormenting Comforters”

Revelation 11: 10: “And their dead bodies will lie in the street … And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.” Sometimes God’s Word is comforting; sometimes it is tormenting, like the MDR verses highlighted this week. These two witnesses of God bothered humanity so much that a party was thrown in celebration when they succumbed. The bad news: so it can be with us. What, you didn’t think that everyone you speak the truth to takes you as their hero, did you?

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time: "Purity of Courage"

We continue to follow Jesus in His journey to Jerusalem. He was leading His disciples and a great multitude as He set His face resolutely to go to Jerusalem. Jerusalem represents the Son of God coming not to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many. We follow Him because this is what we desire in our hearts – to be like Him- to be a servant; to be a giver; and to be a giver of life. And in order to do this, we need vision. It is ironic that in the past chapters and verses in the gospel of Mark, those who were physically not blind actually could not see. The disciples, Peter, Pharisees, the rich young ruler, James and John, all could see. The disciples witnessed ho

TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE

The scenario in today’s Gospel reminds me of the blind beggars in our streets with loudspeakers as they sing or play the guitar so they can be heard. They say most of these beggars are enslaved by syndicates because they literally hold their necks and lead them to their kingdom, not of hope but of slavery. They house the beggars, but in turn demand steep dues from the alms they receive, leading them to a false paradise of slavery with little benefits. We Christians are sometimes like this: we do not want to see. We just want to be slumped on the ground, shouting and begging at the top of our voices. This is literally our bread and butter. Yes we need our jobs to earn our bread. But we al

“He’s Got This”

Luke 11: 8: “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.” Even more inconvenient these days than being less than attractive is being less than loaded. Again, God is not absent from this scenario. As we have seen all week long, the Lord is an ever present help in time of trouble.

“Aesthetically Challenged”

Ecclesiasticus 11: 2: “Do not praise a man for his good looks, nor loathe a man because of his appearance.” Let’s face it, not all of us have the looks of a King Absalom or a Queen Esther. But stop and think: If that were important to God, He would have made us all model-looking good. He didn’t. Instead, He looks at our hearts (1 Samuel 16: 7). And, as this verse tells us, we should take the same approach.

“Switch”

Luke 10: 30: “Jesus replied and said, ‘A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went off leaving him half dead.’” This parable is most often analyzed from the point of view of the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan. But consider today the sorely-treated victim. Did the Lord care for Him? So much that He kept sending His servants by to help, and didn’t stop until one actually did. If you are in need of a neighbor today, know that God has one already there, or on the way.

“All Collars Accepted”

Ecclesiasticus 7: 15: “Do not hate toilsome labor, or farm work, which were created by the Most High.” What a wonderful verse! Although it seems that white collar jobs get all the respect, God honors manual labor – He invented it, in fact! Blue collar, white collar, no collar – all are loved by Him.

“Good Shepherd”

Revelation 7: 14b, 16, 17: “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the bold of the Lamb … They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd.” Feel as if you are undergoing undue tribulation, even to a great degree? Again, God knows. Rather than moan and groan in your search for condolence, realize that the compassionate God has His eye on you, and even now is your shelter in the heat of the situation.

“Unforgotten Victims”

Psa lm 9: 11, 12: “Sing praises to the Lord, Who dwells in Zion; declare among the peoples His deeds. For He Who requires blood remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the afflicted.” It seems everyone is a victim these days, of something or other; and many seem insistent on letting the world know how victimized they have been. Undoubtedly justice is good, it is the foundation of God’s throne, in fact, and because of this, He never forgets the afflicted. Let the whole world know your plight if you want, but the One Who brings justice is already well aware.

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Purity of Ambition

Our gospel last week was about the rich young ruler who wanted some reward for himself for obeying the Law. Jesus told him, “If you wish to be complete, sell all your possessions and give to the poor.” Scripture says that his face fell, and he grieved because he had to give up all the possessions that he valued in his heart. I believe in the “prosperity gospel” because the Bible says that godliness is great gain if we understand what it really means. There is this teaching that says that we will reap exactly what we plant. If we tithe a certain amount, we will get a hundred fold amount of it in return. I guarantee that in whatever we give, what we will receive is indeed one hundred times

The Meaning of Greatness

How do we measure greatness? Our world tends to define greatness in terms of power, privilege, and prestige. We measure the importance of a person by external markers – the house they own, the car they drive, the ostentatious nature of their lifestyle. We are impressed by the visible achievement of people: their prestigious honors and academic degrees, the importance of their profession, and sometimes even the accomplishments of their children. But when Jesus speaks of greatness He always links it with service. As He said to James and John, that which makes us great is not our ability to rule over others, but rather, our ability to invest ourselves for the welfare of others. In a world wher

“People of Hope”

Luke 9: 41: “And Jesus answered and said, ‘O unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you, and put up with you?” If Jesus felt this way, why didn’t He just give up on us? Skip the whole passion thing and go live eternally on some tropical island or something? Because He had hope in His Father’s plan, which includes us. So, did His hope stem from His divine nature, or His human nature? The question is irrelevant, because we share in both. Mankind will always come back to hope, because we are made (and born again) into God’s image, and He is the God of hope (Romans 15: 13). That makes us a people of hope.

“Hope Vindicated”

Acts 28: 1: “And when they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta.” In spite of it all, against all odds, (insert your own platitude here), they were brought safely through. Even when, after landfall, Paul gets bitten by a poisonous viper, he “shakes off” the medical diagnosis. He has hope. And as a final enduring monument to hope, the name of the island, and the island itself, endures to this day, two millennia later. That, my friends, is hope.

“Hope Floats”   (with apologies to Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick, Jr.)

Acts 27: 35: “And having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all; and he broke it and began to eat.” Let’s see now … the storm shows no sign of letting up, no one has eaten for two weeks, all the ship’s cargo is gone, the soldiers have jettisoned the lifeboats and want to kill the prisoners (one of whom is Paul … and Paul makes Eucharist (gives thanks). The ship may sink, but hope always floats. Was it justified? We’ll see tomorrow.

“My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less …”

Luke 9: 2, 3: “And He sent them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and to perform healing. And He said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece.’” As Jesus sends out His apostles to answer hope’s cry from His people, He makes sure the hope they foster is directed where it should be. If Peter shows up for a meeting in his Cadillac Escalade and the hand John lays on the sick is bearing more carats than Bugs Bunny, people will hope in the swag. But evangelization simply and properly focused will stir up hope in God, who cannot be reduced to or defined by either lack or abundance.

“Hope Redirected”

Jonah 1: 5a, 6, 14-16 “Then the sailors became afraid, and every man cried to his god … So the captain approached [Jonah] and said, ‘How is it that you are sleeping? Get up and call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish’ ... Then they called on the Lord and said … Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.” People have always looked for hope, yet easily lose hope of finding it. Nonetheless, all they need is a single wisp of evidence that it exists, and they will again embrace the search. If even Jonah, a man in conflict with God, could stir up the hope in a crew of rowdy sailors, surely we i

“Always Hope”

Micah 7: 2, 7: “The godly person has perished from the land, and there is no upright person among men. All of them wait for bloodshed; each of them hunts the other with a net … But as for me, I will wait expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.” Today’s Daily Office reading, a litany of social decay and depravity, might as well have been written in the twenty-first century A.D. rather than the seventh B.C. Poverty, violence, greed, immorality, and rebellion jump off the page. But in the midst of it all Micah expresses the hope of a man who knows His God. Twenty-seven centuries later, the Lord is still on the throne. Watch, wait … and He w

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