26th Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]

The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]
Numbers 11:25-29  +  James 5:1-6  +  Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48
September 30, 2012

“‘Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!’”  [Numbers 11:29]

               Tomorrow is the feast day of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, also known as the Little Flower.  Each Sunday of this month you’ve heard about her brief life of 24 years, marked as it was by the Little Way of Spiritual Childhood.  She drew this Little Way from the Gospel, and handed it on to others by her actions and by her words.
               The Little Way is marked by paradox.  The life of St. Thérèse was marked by paradox.  The Gospel that Jesus proclaims to us by word and sacrifice is marked by paradox.  And the more that your life as a Christian is lived faithfully, the more you will notice the paradox of the Gospel at work in your life.

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]

The Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]
Wisdom 2:12,17-20  +  James 3:16—4:3  +  Mark 9:30-37
September 23, 2012

“… He said to them, ‘Whoever receives one child such as this
in My Name, receives Me….’” [Mark 9:37]

               The depth of Sacred Scripture shows itself through Scripture’s breadth.  More simply, you could say that each book of the Bible has its own personality, just like each child in a family.  God, of course, is very prolific, so across the breadth of the Bible’s 73 books, there’s a lot of personality to appreciate.  Many people find the thought of reading 73 books too much, so they never end up sitting down to listen to God speak to them through Scripture.  It might seem less daunting if Christians would consider the Bible not as 73 books, each with its own personality, but instead as eight extended families, each of which has similar traits.
               A priest of our diocese serving in a rural area was once asked how many families were in his parish.  He jokingly responded, “About seven.”  His point was that most of his parishioners were from large, extended families, whose roots stretched back to the founding of the parish.  Sacred Scripture is like that, also:  there are 73 books which belong to eight extended “families” of books.

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]

The Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]
Isaiah 50:5-9  +  James 2:14-18  +  Mark 8:27-35
September 16, 2012

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it….” [Mark 8:35]

               When Thérèse Martin entered the Carmelite convent at the age of 15, one of her own blood sisters was the Mother Superior.  There were five children in the Martin family who lived to adulthood—all girls—and each of them became a nun.  Thérèse’s sister Pauline served as Mother Superior at their convent under the name Mother Agnes.  From her, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus learned of the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.
               This devotion is not popular today, at least not in our own country.  On first hearing of it, many might wonder how the face of Jesus, in particular, could be an object of devotion.  The answer lies in one of the foundational virtues of the Christian life.  This is the virtue that Jesus is calling you deeper into today, when He says to you, “‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’”  This is the virtue of humility.

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]

The Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]
Isaiah 35:4-7  +  James 2:1-5  +  Mark 7:31-37
September 9, 2012

“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf uncleared….” [Isaiah 35:5]

               Mercy is the key.  Mercy is the key that unlocks the human heart from within.  Once a person has opened his heart to the gift of mercy, God is free to pour in all manner of gifts.  But when someone refuses to accept mercy, his heart remains tight shut, and God respects that decision.  It’s in this sense that mercy is God’s primary gift.  Mercy is not primary in importance.  Mercy is primary in the human order of things, because God always respects human free will, even though His divine Will is infinitely more powerful.  If you don’t accept God’s mercy, your heart is shut to all His other gifts.
               A child who doesn’t know that he’s loved at his worst, will never accept the gifts that will make him his best.  Reflect again on the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  If the prodigal son hadn’t turned to his father for mercy, then the father—who all along was hoping and praying for his son to return—could not first have rushed out to give mercy, and then also given other gifts such as a ring and feast.  It’s the same in your life.  God the Father’s love is primary.  He has already accomplished the work of forgiving your sins by offering His Only-Begotten on the Cross.  But you have to accept that gift of mercy.  Once you have, the flood-gates of your human heart and mind are opened, and God the Father can pour upon you many other gifts.

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]

The Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time  [B]
Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8  +  James 1:17-18,21-22,27  +  Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
September 2, 2012

“All good giving and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights….”  [James 1:17]

* Information about the book quoted throughout this reflection is given at reflection’s end.

               The Little Flower, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, died at the age of 24.  The end of her childhood, and the whole of her brief adult life, was spent in the Carmelite cloister in Lisieux, France.  In a very short span of time, she rapidly advanced in holiness.  And yet, as she grew in holiness, she became more and more child-like.  In fact, her formal religious name was Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus.  Through God’s grace, Thérèse was transformed into a living example of Saint James’ words from today’s Second Reading:  “All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights….” 
               For the Little Flower, the heart of growing in holiness is one’s relationship with God the Father.  As one’s relationship with the Father grows, so one’s holiness grows.  And as one grows in holiness, one more freely and willingly gives this gift of holiness, in line with St. James’ words:  “All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights….” 

The parish I serve

<b>The parish I serve</b>
St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Colwich, Kansas (Diocese of Wichita)