Sunday, February 22, 2015

Forty Days to Fulfillment

Year B – First Sunday of Lent

Mark 1: 12-15

In today’s Gospel reading, we accompany Jesus into the desert, driven by the Spirit to spend forty days in temptation, among wild beasts, ministered to by angels.

In the weeks ahead, we mark forty days together as a community of faith: our own journey into the desert where we will strive to become more like Christ both individually and as a people of faith.

During this Lenten season, we remain resurrection people.  Without hope of new life, our Lent would mean nothing, of course. So today we do well to ask ourselves questions to clarify what these forty days will mean to us.

What spiritual gifts have I been given? How am I going to use these forty days to bring them to fulfillment?

What spiritual gifts does our parish community most need at this time?  How can I contribute my own spiritual gifts to build up our community through these forty days?  Who needs my gifts?  And whose gifts do I need?  How will we, as a community, humbly call forth each other’s gifts and share our own as we travel toward our Paschal celebration?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Ash Wednesday – Year B

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

As the Lenten season begins, we are marked with ashes once again, a sign of humility, a call to repentance, a reminder that “you are dust and unto dust you will return.”  The ashes of this day remind us of the words we hear in Matthew’s gospel, words calling us to remain humble in our lives of faith.

This may feel and sound rather contrary to our sense of being joyful gifted.

On the surface, it might seem to be the case. But truthfully, they go hand in hand. We know from all learned about spiritual gifts they are to be used for a greater good, intended to be opened and shared, not hidden and hoarded, nor used for personal gain. In that regard, then, our joyful giftedness is a humble giftedness, indeed we turn away from selfish gains to serve each other and our God.

On this same day, our tradition invites us to “give up” something for Lent.  A fine question comes to mind as we make our Lenten commitments in light of the joyful gifts given to us by God. What keeps me from living as a joyfully gifted person? What distracts me? What gets in the way of my sharing the gifts God has given me? As I begin this season of humility what will I give up to freely and joyously share those gifts in the days to come? What will I practice to open my heart to being joyfully gifted for the good of God’s creation?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

"To Do List"

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

“Brothers and sisters, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God,” St Paul preaches in his letter to the Corinthians read today.

In whatever we do, from the daily routines of eating and drinking to the extraordinary choices we might make to share the love of God with those we encounter, we are called to do everything for the glory of God. 

How blessed are we, then, to live with awareness of our own giftedness and vocation, a time when we recognize the giftedness in each person we encounter?

“Churches must communicate the importance of the laity’s witness and service within the family and within the professional, social, political, and cultural life of society.  An effective parish will help its members make the connection between worship and work, liturgy and life in the family, community and workplace,” is an important statement on using one’s spiritual gifts from 1995 USCCB Document, Called and Gifted for the Third Millennium.

This holiness, this glory of God, is not simply for the ordained, the formal leaders of our parishes and of the Church, it is the call of the laity as well.   We are all called to live our gifts and to share them with others in everything we do, all day every day, as people who share in the life of Christ.

Choose some reminders this week, some visible signs to remind yourself, you are called to make connections between worship and work, between what we hear in these liturgical readings and how we live in our families, communities, and workplaces.  Mark your calendar, or leave a note on the bathroom cabinet to remind yourself, your charisms give glory to God in every choice you make, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do” each day.

How will you allow your spiritual gifts to bring the joyous and Good News of Jesus Christ to life in your part of creation today? And, all week long? 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Living Purposefully

Year B – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 1: 29-39

“For this purpose I have come,” Jesus declares in today’s Gospel reading, as he moved among the people, making them whole through his various ministries.

What clarity!

In whatever he was doing, with whomever he was interacting, Jesus lived purposefully, embodying his vocation.  How often in our own daily lives can we look at our choices, actions, and decisions and authentically realize they directly reflect our own vocation and purpose?

Our charisms serve as tools and graces that empower each of us to carry out our unique mission in the world, so continuing to discern our charisms and cultivate our practices of them in daily life moves each of us closer to becoming the person we were created to be. With the grace of God, we discover opportunities each day to bring our charisms into the world, where they expand and become gifts in ways large and small bring the loving, joyous presence of God into the lives of others.

This week, perhaps each of us can say “YES” to the invitation to live our vocation more purposefully by choosing one of our own spiritual gifts to practice in a new way each day. Imagine the goodness and beauty that might shine from our communities if we were all living our vocational calls in imitation of Jesus!  How will you practice one of your charisms each day this week? 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Listening to the Prophets

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B

Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Mark 1:21-28

In today’s first reading, we hear Moses speaking  to all of the people regarding his own role as a prophet, and teaching about a greater prophet yet to come.  The Gospel reading brings us Jesus himself, “astonishing” the people with his teaching because he “taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes,” not as a mere repeater of teaching, but a teacher with a clearly prophetic voice.

The charism of prophecy is described in Sheila Mellick’s Uniquely His booklet as “the special grace to envision God’s will clearly enough to communicate a message, truth or call to God’s people, of actions needed today for change tomorrow.”  How astonishing must it have been to clearly recognize the charism of prophecy in the voice of Moses and the voice of Jesus on those occasions!

Our lives are filled, oftentimes, with noise, both literal and figurative. Voices come at us from all directions: a person we know and interact with, history, teachers, news sources, media, entertainment, the list goes on and on. Those who speak with authority too often lack wisdom; those who speak with wisdom too often go unheard.

A true charism is recognizable within each of us in a number of ways.  Our charisms are, after all, spiritual gifts, given by God to each at Baptism and strengthened by the Sacraments. A charism is used to serve God and others, and charisms have supernatural characteristics.

How do we recognize the charisms of prophecy and wisdom when we encounter them in our contemporary world?

Are we listening carefully, to hear the voices of the prophets among us?