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Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, by now there will be a stench” (John 11:39). Her words sound quite blunt to our sensitive ears in an age that attempts to disguise and hide the stark reality of death. Most of the Fathers of the Church read her words in the literal sense of Scripture and noted that they simply confirmed the fact that Lazarus was indeed dead, should anyone have doubt. Saint Augustine of Hippo, however, heard these words in a different sense. 

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Our readings this morning talk to us about light and darkness.  They talk to us about blindness, and they talk to us about sight.  Not just physical sight, but spiritual sight.

So one of the questions we need to ask ourselves this morning: How is our spiritual sight?  Is it twenty-twenty, or what do we need to do?  

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This morning you and I are the Samaritan woman.  This building just happens to be Jacob’s well.  We all come here because we have one thing in common and that is: We are all sinners.  And we all came here with our bucket. 


What we don’t know, while we are here, is what Jesus is going to ask us.  But the one thing he will ask, that we will all have to be responsible for, is: “What do you want in that bucket?”

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If I were to come up to everyone here and hand you a microphone and ask you three questions, I am sure you could answer the first two questions within a few seconds.  The third question you might think about.  

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“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”


There was a pastor who lived in a small town.  And there was a man who lived in the town by the name of Charlie  and Charlie was not a very good man.  Charlie was a man who swindled people, his language was foul, and no one wanted to be around him.  Not only that, but people were ashamed that he was even part of their town.


One day Charlie died and Charlie had a wealthy brother who lived in the town.  The brother went to the pastor and asked, “Will you do my brother Charlie’s funeral?  I will give you one thousand dollars if you do it but there is one stipulation — you have to say that he is a saint.”

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March 2, 2014 – 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time   

10 AM Service

Gospel Mathew 6:24-34              

Jesus said to his disciples:

“No one can serve two masters.

He will either hate one and love the other,

or be devoted to one and despise the other.

You cannot serve God and mammon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,

what you will eat or drink,

or about your body, what you will wear.

Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds in the sky;

they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,

yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are not you more important than they?

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?

Why are you anxious about clothes?

Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.

They do not work or spin.

But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor

was clothed like one of them.

If God so clothes the grass of the field,

which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,

will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?

So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’

or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’

All these things the pagans seek.

Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,

and all these things will be given you besides.

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.

Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”


When you stop to think about what you worry about, what I worry about, when the time has past very often we just ask ourselves, “Why did I spend so much time being concerned about something that I had no control over.”  Jesus says to us,  “That’s really what I am trying to say to you today.”

There’s really nothing wrong with worrying about your health, or if  you will have enough money to pay the bills.  These are the ordinary things that go on in our life from day to day. Jesus would say, “That’s all normal.  But if you become too addicted with your worrying then you are forgetting that I am God, and there is only one God.”

That’s why we need the opportunity to be quiet and just reflect on our lives, and to think of those times when we get so absorbed in our thinking that we are not paying attention to God.  We aren’t really asking God,  “If you are going to provide everything for me, then just let me live this day well.  This day has enough problems of it’s own.  And if I live this day well, tomorrow will take care of itself.  But if I’m worrying about the tomorrow that isn’t even here yet, and I don’t know what to do in the meantime —  that’s why Jesus says,  “You must have faith.”

Maybe one of the questions we all need to ask ourselves is, “If I know that God is going to take care of everything that I need, what am I going to do with my life?  How am I going to reach out and make a difference?  How am I going to live for the moment?”

If you ever watch birds when you are out in a boat or near the water some place — you see birds that fly out over the water and there will be a whole flock of them, fifty or more flying around.  They are not looking at the boats or the people, but they are looking at the water.  They know by instinct that in that water are fish to eat and that this boat that is going down the river will be churning up the water and there will be fish that they can see.  When they see a fish they zip down so fast, pick up the fish and take off.

When they have eaten their fill, the next day God will provide.  If the birds of the air can sense the movement of God, then what about us — do we sense that same movement of God in our own lives?

Whenever we end up giving away something of ourselves — be it our time, talent or treasure — we do it because God is asking us to do that.  We also find out that God also provides for us.  How many times when you’ve helped someone did you wonder, “I don’t know if I should do this?  I can maybe use this ten-dollar bill or twenty-dollar bill.” 

But you go ahead and follow your instinct to help someone. And the person does not turn around in 24 hours and say, “Here’s your ten dollars back.”  God takes it in another whole direction and turns around and says to you, “You lived out the Gospel.  Now I’m going to live out the Gospel for you.  Everything that you would have used that ten- or twenty-dollar bill for, I’m going to provide for you.”

We have to be connected by faith to experience the willingness to give, and the willingness to receive.

When Lilly gets baptized in a couple of minutes she’s not going to look any different.

But the spirit of God is going to overwhelm her for the rest of her life.  She’s going to need us to teach her that “Jesus loves you and if you love everybody else, the world in which you live is the most perfect world you can ever hope for.” 

May you and I know that our job is to help each other trust in God.  That’s why we do things.  When you bring food on the last weekend of the month it is a gesture of love. Whatever food you bring goes down to the food pantries. Someone comes into a food pantry who does not have anything, and they receive that food.  You don’t need to know who they are or where they live.  You only need to know that you are helping to feed a family.  And then you need to go home and realize, “We are not going to miss that food.  We are now going to prepare and enjoy our dinner.”

As we enter into the season of Lent we have forty days in which we are asked to reflect about our relationship with God.  If every day you and I wake up and ask, “Do I put my trust in God and mammon?”   That’s not going to work.  But if everyday you and I wake up and say,  “I place my trust in God.”  Then all the other things will fall into place.

After forty days we will pick up a rhythm in our lives that will change everything about who we are, and what we’re doing. 

And so this morning Jesus is saying to us, “Your body is the most perfect body you can have.  Your faith in me is the most perfect gift you can ever want.  When you have both of them, you have everything that is sufficient for the day.”

That’s a powerful message. Most of  the time we are thinking of ourselves rather than how God is blessing us.  So this week may you and I be more attentive to that presence of the spirit and the God who loves us.  I think we will all come back next week saying,  “I did not have to want  for one thing this past week.”

*  *  *

Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.

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This morning I am going to have us all learn a new word because it is not a word we hear very often, but it sums up everything about these three readings. The word goes back to the Biblical time of Jesus.  It is a very simple word.  It is spelled Hesed —

H E S E D.  What does Hesed mean?  It means that love becomes so natural to us that we don’t think — do I like this person, or don’t I like this person — it just means that I am being loved by God and I have absolutely no choice but to love someone else.

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The question for us this morning is: Do we live by the letter of the law, or do we have the spirit of the law?  Think about that for a moment.  If you have the spirit of the law it means we become more proactive in how we live out our faith.  We think twice about a lot of things.  But if we live by the letter of the law all we say is, “I didn’t do that, or I did do this.”  But it’s not really connecting us to the rest of our life.  

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Healing in our lives takes a long time, doesn’t it?  Life threatening illness, serious surgery, the death of a spouse, a child, a family member —  all these take time to be healed.  If you have been hurt by a close friend or by a family member, it takes time for healing — especially there.  In the section of Isaiah we heard this morning, the people had returned from the Babylonian exile and they had a lot of time to be healed.  They had come home to a land that was still darkened by defeat and humiliation.

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It is believed that the book of the Prophet Isaiah was written in the Eighth century before Christ, during a time when the Israelites were not happy campers.  They were people under Syrian control, they were more like slaves, and they were truly living in darkness.  Then along comes the prophet Isaiah who says,  “The people who live in darkness (you Israelites) will see a great light.  For those who live in the dark land of death, the light will shine.”

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