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Sunday Homily (Full Text)

Sunday Homily

22

Sometimes we think of life as the blessing and death as a curse.  Jesus says,  “Neither one is correct. Life is a gift, and death is a gift.”  That’s what he’s telling us today.  “I’m going home to the Father and I am putting you in charge.  I want to see whether or not you are going to let the Spirit work in your life.” ...  May you and I have that desire to be let go as free as a bird, and also to have the faith that the Spirit of God is going to draw us right back home.  He doesn’t tell us how long we have to be a Christian, he just says,  “Just remember — I am the one in control.  And when I need you back home, I will bring you back home.  There will be no argument because I will be in control. “



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11

I am going to share a couple of stories with you.  Right down the street here on Adams used to be a tavern called the Silver Dollar.  My grandparents only lived a couple of blocks away so the tavern was in the neighborhood. In the summertime, Sunday afternoon and evenings were often spent there at their house. Often the whole family would go down to the Silver Dollar Tavern.  The place was packed with kids.  The bartender probably went straight to heaven..... So may you and I just realize that as we leave church today, we are doing something and we do it all the time — and that it is that experience of coming together and sharing each other’s love.  When we go out those doors, that love is going to stay with us.  The memories are going to stay with us.  Then you and I will have the Easter joy for the rest of our lives.


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09

“So I am the vine, you are the branches.  If you remain in me, and I in you, we will produce good fruit.”  What I want us all to think about this week:  How close to the vine is our branch?  How close are we to Christ?  And what do we need to do to get closer to him so that we can produce more fruit?



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22

When we have a bad day — take it only as a bad day.  A day only lasts for 24 hours so then move on to the next day.  When somebody gets depressed you can hand them food, money, anything, and that person might respond, “I don’t want anything.  I don’t want to go anywhere.”  Jesus would just walk in and say, “Peace be with you.  Let go of all this stress in your life, and just free yourself up and, accept the gifts and the love of life.  And now show it to others.”

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14
2nd Sunday of Easter   Reading I      Acts 4:32-35 Psalm            ...

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14

It’s seems odd to rejoice in the death of someone, let alone their method of death.  But sometimes that is what we are accused of, or we are misunderstood when we pray the Stations of the Cross, or venerate the Cross, or when we wear a crucifix around our neck.  They themselves are signs and ways of entering into an understanding of what Jesus Christ did for us, how God humbled himself, came down to earth and united his Godhood with his manhood — how he lived our life and died our death — dying a gruesome death.  



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31

Suffering means different things for everyone sitting here.  We suffer in different ways.  And when you suffer you can feel very alone.  This gives you a sense  of how Jesus felt when he was hanging on the cross. 

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26

One of the things we are being asked today is to look at the world as we always do but to look at it through a different lens — to look at it through the lens of Jesus, and through the lens of the spirit.  If so, then we truly do have full life, and we truly do have hope.



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12

So at the time of Christ we have Jesus taking a shortcut through Samaria, he stops at the well, and here comes the Samaritan woman.  Now, did Jesus always obey the rules?  No.  He obeyed most of the rules.  But if the rules ever interfered with a relationship between people, he didn’t follow them.  If someone needed healing on the Sabbath, it didn’t make any difference to Jesus.  If someone needed healing, he healed that person.



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09

A mother came downstairs in the morning and, as normal, started making  breakfast. Her husband was there and her children were playing.  The sun was beaming in the window and she was spreading jelly on the toast for her daughter.  All of a sudden she had this strange feeling, this wonderful feeling — a feeling of peace, a feeling of comfort, a feeling of being close to God.  Abraham Maslow would call that a peak moment, a peak experience.


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03

Did you notice in the Gospel, it said Jesus was talking to the people and then all of a sudden, he turns to this man who is yelling at him. The crowd never picked up on the fact that while Jesus was talking about the Kingdom — they said nothing. Also, if you notice, the man turned and said, “Jesus, you’re the holy one of Israel.” Because when that man called out and recognized who Jesus was, the red light, the yellow light, the green light, the blue light — everything went on in Jesus and he knew, “This man’s got it.”  Jesus turned right to him and said, “Come out.  I know, since you know who I am, you are going to be willing to give your life to follow me.”

 

It’s not just for today — it’s for everyday of our life.  We become lax and so we need to hear those words ever so often.  “Quiet.  Come out.”  And all of a sudden, something changes.

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30

If I would come around to each of you with this microphone and ask,  “Do you feel joy this morning?”  If you have to hesitate then — no deal.  But if you say,  “I sure do.  Everything that could go wrong went wrong yesterday, but man, do I feel like a million dollars this morning.  I am ready to take on the world.”

 

And Jesus would say,  “I want that energy.  Come follow me.”


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21

And Samuel said, “Speak, Lord.  Your servant is listening.”  Sometimes we are in the mode of not — “Speak, Lord.  Your servant is listening.”  But instead, “Listen, Lord.  I have something I want from you.”  Again, there is nothing wrong with asking God for things but if we really want to be in touch with God, we need to listen. And yes, God speaks to us in many different ways.  He speaks to us through each other, our parents, through our grandparents, through our teachers, and through our faith communities.  God is always present talking to us in a variety of ways if only we listen to those signs.


 


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14

That is why we are baptizing the children this morning.  And that’s why we baptize in all churches, all the time.  It’s so that God’s Spirit will be kept alive.  And being with the Spirit means that life never stays the same.  We are who we are at six,  we are who we are at twenty-six,  we are who we are at fifty-six, we are who we are at ninety-six — same person, same body, same faith.  But the experiences of life just keep changing and God keeps saying to us, “Are you with me?  I’m giving you all I have, so it’s only fair that I ask you to give me — all that you have.”



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06

And so this day of Epiphany:  What do you and I want to hold on to?  Do we have the courage to follow the star and know that God will give us the signal,  “Don’t go back to Herod, move ahead, go forward, and never fear.”

 

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23

How do you and I deal with the unexpected?  The unexpected happens all the time.  Sometimes it’s a positive, sometimes it’s a negative.  But the important question is:  How do we deal with it?  In the Scriptures this morning we saw in the first reading those unexpected events:  angels, and voices and whispers were coming into people. When David was chosen — he was not to be the chosen one.  But Samuel was told, “Don’t take anyone until I tell you, and you will know when you have the right person.”  And when David was chosen — that became the House of David.


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15

Be happy all the time.  And always remember to pray. The question really comes for us and it is — do I hear the voice?  Have I found my own voice?  Do I know who I am?  Can people be around me, or watch me, and see that I am always happy no matter what, and I always take time to thank God.  It doesn’t mean I have to kneel in church twenty-four seven.  Our sleep is a prayer, taking a shower becomes a prayer, eating becomes a prayer.  Everything becomes a prayer once you have found your voice.  But if you don’t have your voice, you don’t understand the message of John. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11

This morning we celebrate the second Sunday in Advent and, as we know, in Advent we are looking forward to the coming of Christ at Christmas.  And not just Christ’s coming at Christmas but also we think about the Second Coming — that comes at our death, or at the end of the world.  So, the question we are faced with is:  Are we ready, and are we prepared?  And if not, what do we need to do to prepare ourselves?


 


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24

Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King which marks the end of the liturgical season.  Do we sometimes feel, or unconsciously act like the opponents of Jesus and the Roman soldiers in the passion narratives — limiting our knowledge of kingship to earthly dominion and power?  The reign of Christ, his shepherding is not of the world — but of love and service.

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20

When we die and we are at the pearly gates, one of the questions that will be asked of us is, “How did you use the gifts that I gave you?  How did you use the abilities and talents I gave you while you were on earth?”

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13

So when we come into a church, and there is a common atmosphere, we all believe the same things, we are very comfortable and think, “This is where I belong and I know that in a few minutes the body and blood of Christ will be present, and like in the first reading, the spring of water will gush down from the Temple and it will go into the salt water and transform the water until it is fresh water.”  You and I do that.  You and I need that.  That is why we come to church, not because we think we are better than someone else — it's just that we need to be refreshed.


 


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13

So when we come into a church, and there is a common atmosphere, we all believe the same things, we are very comfortable and think, “This is where I belong and I know that in a few minutes the body and blood of Christ will be present, and like in the first reading, the spring of water will gush down from the Temple and it will go into the salt water and transform the water until it is fresh water.”  You and I do that.  You and I need that.  That is why we come to church, not because we think we are better than someone else — it's just that we need to be refreshed.


 


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05

Death is going to happen to all of us — for some it is as an infant, for others it is when they are many years along. But when it comes, it is supposed to be a moment of peace and calm knowing that God has forgiven me, and all I want now is to live out my baptism and be one with God. 

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29

Just imagine this man, a stranger, coming into church this morning. As he is walking in the door he asks himself,  “Should I really go in?  The people inside may not accept me.  I’m from Mexico and I just have a card.  I wasn’t born and raised here.  I really don’t speak their language. Right now I’m out of work.  Probably all those people in that church are citizens and right now I don’t have a job. Will I really fit in?”

 

That’s when Jesus says,  “Open those doors and walk in, because if those people know the Gospel they have no choice but to welcome you.” 

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29

Another issue going on not only in the Catholic Church, but also in all churches, is the issue of same-sex unions. In the past, traditionally marriage has been between a man and a woman.  So how do we reconcile this?  How do we know?  If half of this church was gay, and this other half was straight, and Jesus is standing here in front of you and we ask him — “Well, who are you going to like, and who are you going to love?”

 

Jesus cuts through that so fast and says, “Didn’t I give all of you life?” 


 


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09

Jesus says, “I just want to watch you live your life.  I want you to grow, I want you to find happiness.  But you won’t discover that growth and happiness unless you first empty yourself and let go of the things that are not necessary in your life.  Then let me bring into your life everything that you need.”


 


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09

The parables are asking us today, “Are we good people?  Are we fruitful people?  Are we good stewards?  Are we making a difference in the world today?” 


 


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23

His example of the people going out into the field is excellent because most of us would probably say,  “I don’t think that’s fair either.” And Jesus says, “I really didn’t ask you.  It’s my kingdom.  I am giving everybody everything.  Nobody should want for anything.  All you have to do is say, ‘Yes, Lord.’ And you will have the gifts and the strength to do what needs to be done.”

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16

How many of you have a cross or a crucifix at home?  How many of you wear a cross around your neck?  The cross pervades our life because the cross has meaning for us.  It is not a symbol of sorrow, but a symbol or joy. It’s a sign of hope. Because of the cross coming into the world we can now have the possibility of everlasting life. 

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11

So for us, we need to be that person God has created us to be — a person of love. 

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22

I probably should have some of the parents come up here and give the homily on persistence.  You know quite well from your kids what persistence is,  “I want this.  I want it.” 

           

“You can’t have it.”

 

“I want it.”

 

“But I told you, you can’t have it.”

 

How often does that go on in homes across the country?  That is until they go to grandma and grandpa’s house and grandma and grandpa ask, “What would you like to have? We’ll take you there.”

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13
What were you doing at three o’clock this morning?  Unless you just got off work, most of us were sound asleep.  Have you ever noticed the difference when something happens during the night as opposed to the day?  I know when my phone rings any time between 12 and 6 a.m., it’s the hospital calling. 

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07

The readings this morning are uplifting.  In our first reading from the book of the Prophet Isiash, we hear God saying to the people,  “If you are hungry or thirsty, come to me and I will give you more than you will ever want.”  And in the second reading from St. Paul to the community in Rome he says,  “There is nothing that can separate us from God, as long as we want God to be a part of us.”  Which means we can always be fed and he is always there if that is what we want.

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06

You and I have two things in common.  Number one, we are all sinners.  Number two, we all have the Eucharist and that’s where the tension is in our lives.  When Jesus opens the Scriptures for us today he is reminding us that there also are two qualities that enter into this tension.  One is competition, and the other is complexity.

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24

In this section of his Gospel, Matthew is on a roll with parables.  But when you stop and think about, that’s how you and I grow up.  And I don’t mean growing up from a baby to a teen-ager to an adult; by growing up it means we are all on a journey of life and every experience counts.  Our goal is that one day we want to be with Heaven, and Jesus is simply saying,  “In order for that to happen, I gave you a free will and so there will always be the wheat and the weeds.”

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30

If we keep saying over and over,  “Yes, Lord.  Yes, Lord. Yes, yes, Lord,” then Jesus will say, “You do have the message.  It’s not only on your lips but it’s in your heart.

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22

When we hear the words “Body of Christ,” what do we think about?  Do we think about the Eucharist? 

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17

Sometimes you can ask a person, “Do you believe in God?”

 

And the response is, “Yes, I do.  John 3:16”

 

“Oh, come on.  Do you really believe in God?  Do you feel God?  Do you know love?  Do you experience life to the fullest?”

 

“Awe, …  sometimes.”

 

But today we are learning that the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are saying to us,  “It’s not a sometimes thing.  It’s not quoting a chapter. “ 

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09

There is always a before and there is always an after, isn’t there? Single life — married life,  single life — priesthood,  college work — job, promotions — transfers. Well, we find the same thing in several instances in the Bible.

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03

This morning we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension. Traditionally, the Ascension takes place 40 days after Easter and hence the term Ascension Thursday.  In most of the dioceses in the United Sates we transfer that feast from last Thursday to the weekend because it is an important feast we need to know more about. 

 

So what is the Ascension?  

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27

In the history of our faith we started out with more than 600 commandments.  Then when Moses brought the commandments to us we got down to 10.  When Jesus got to us, he brought it down to two.   So Jesus is really hitting at the very core of what is going to make this whole thing work — this kingdom that has all kinds of division, where people don’t speak to each other, they kill each other, they fight one another, and they don’t even love themselves.  They drink themselves to death, they take drugs and die, they commit suicide, they don’t have success.  Jesus says, “You know, in the midst of all of that, the thing that binds it all together is love.”

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27

It is good to be home.  It is always a pleasure and joy for me to come back here.  I wish I could stay here forever, but I have business to take care of.  So, I want to say a big thank you to Father, and to all of you who came all of the way to Springfield, the contingent who represented all of the parish community, to support us last Saturday.  We are grateful.

We are thankful for your prayers and support.  But it is not over yet. Right?  Until I am sitting where Father Mike is sitting it is not over until it is over.  So, keep on praying for us.  If not, anything can happen.

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14

What a wonderful thing the mercy of God is!  We can make horrible decisions, straying from what we know is right, straying from what God calls us to; yet, He will continue to call us back to Him and will welcome us back to Him when we return.  

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07

This passage has always intrigued me.  When I had the privilege some years ago to be able to travel to the Holy Land, the one place I wanted to visit was Emmaus.  We were seeing all the sights and I finally asked the guide, “Are we ever going to see Emmaus?”

And he said, “Oh, yes.”

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29

“My Lord and my God.”  The emphasis being on the second. 

 How does that unwrap itself in all of our lives?  You and I were not there two thousand years ago, but we happen to be here now.  Jesus is saying to us,  “Are those words really on your lips?  Do you know that you are immersed in the Kingdom of God, and if you truly experience my love in this world — it is not going to end.  But to keep that alive, you and I need to keep saying to ourselves, “My Lord and my God.”

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28

“This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us be glad and rejoice in it.”

 

Are we happy?  Are we glad?  Are we rejoicing?  But why are we rejoicing and why are we glad?

 

We come here every Sunday to praise God, to worship him, and to thank God for all that he has done for us.  We come here today, hopefully asking for the wisdom to appreciate and realize what he really did for us when he died on the cross and rose today.

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28

Hopefully, after 40 days of prayer and fasting and alms giving, and coming here Thursday night, Jesus says to us,  “Are you still a little afraid?  Let me wash your feet.  Let me give you food and drink.”  After he opens up to his disciples he turns and says, “Do what you have to do, Judas.  It’s all part of the plan.”

 

Last night Jesus suffered and died in our midst.  We came up to venerate the cross and to realize that this was an act of love and that the cross is filled with glory.  We realize there is something happening here and, “I really want to grasp it.”

 

Then today — it’s the empty tomb.  He out maneuvered all of them. 

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09

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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09

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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27

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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25

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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12

“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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06

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.”

Homily

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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28

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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18

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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14

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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26
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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19
With whom are you connected?  How did you get connected?  We forget sometimes because it happens so suddenly and so quickly, but our whole life revolves around introductions and connections.  Sometimes we’ll say a person is introduced to someone else because there is a political need, or there is a financial need.  When Jesus says,  “I’m talking about a spiritual need”  — that we all have in common.  Once we accept who Jesus is and we let our baptism come alive, we live a different style of life,  although we can always go back to how it started.

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12

How well are you doing with your baptism?  Some of us were baptized at birth and some as adults.  Quite often it is easy to think of baptism as something you are supposed do if you’re Catholic, or Christian — “just get your child baptized.”  In the experience of Jesus, it means so much more.

 

That’s why as we celebrate this feast, and it is good for us to think about our own baptism.  We witness this event here in the parish, usually on Sundays, as the parents present their child for baptism.

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05
This morning we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany, one of the oldest feasts in the church.  A matter of fact: We have Easter, Pentecost, and the Epiphany.  There were many years that Christmas was not the celebration per se.  There are even some countries today where the big day is not Christmas, but Epiphany, and that’s the day they open the presents and that’s the day they do what they do.

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22
This Sunday we are being asked to focus on whether we are going to hold on to our ego, or let go of our ego.  Mary let go of her ego, Joseph let go of his ego.  Because they let go of their egos God was able to enter into their lives and transform everything — and not just for Mary and Joseph but for the rest of us and for generations to come. 

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15

If you came into church today you noticed a few different things.  The vestments are pink or rose color, the advent candle is pink.  Today is the third Sunday of Advent and we are here to rejoice as I just read to you.

 

In the old days of the Latin Mass, what I just read would have been said at the introduction of Mass.  The first word to be read is “rejoice” and in Latin that is “gaudete.”  And that’s why we celebrate today — gaudete Sunday. 

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08
In the rectory I have a plaque showing the lion and the lamb next to each other.  It’s a powerful message for all of us because that’s what you and I deal with day in and day out — being able to know that differences are what attract us.  We know that someone else has something I need, or maybe I have something that someone else needs.  But in God’s Kingdom the two, most unlikely, should be right next to each other.

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20
Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.  He said,  "There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. 

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15
All of us have been lost, probably several times over.   Sometimes it is on the very human level.   We are going to another town, we make a wrong turn, we are 60 miles away and we still haven't found our way.   That's not what Jesus is talking about this morning.   He's talking about all of us.  He's saying,   “Spiritually if you ever feel lost, you need someone to throw a party.”

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08
The last few weeks Jesus just keeps looking into our eyes and hearts and is trying to find out if we are sincere, or are we faking our journey of life.

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01
 If we were to ask our husband or wife or sons or daughters and say, “Be honest with me, am I humble?”   What would they say?  

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25
Is the Kingdom of God really worth it?   Have you ever felt sorry for yourself, or
you've made a mistake in life?   To you it might be humongous.   To somebody else it's nothing.  

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15
 Tonight we gather to celebrate the
feast and honor our Blessed Mother being assumed into
heaven.   We ask God to help us to prepare for that
moment in all of our lives. 

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11
She was trapped between the steering wheel and the
seat.   Finally, I believe out of faith, she asked the
workers and people around her, “Can someone pray out loud
with me?”   And all of a sudden here by the car is a
man who is in black and wearing a Roman collar, and he prays
with her, anoints her, and tells her everything is going to
be OK.

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21
This Gospel and the first reading is about
hospitality.   It's about welcoming, it's about
communicating, it's about relationshipping with each
other.   And when we hear the Gospel we know that Jesus
and the disciples were very good friends of Martha and
Mary.   They were very good friends.   So when
Mary and Martha see Jesus coming, what do they
do?    They run to the kitchen, they clean up the
house, and they start preparing this elaborate meal for
him.   Then when Jesus gets to the house, Martha greets
him and goes back into the kitchen.   Mary then greets
Jesus and sits at his feet and listens to him. 

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14
 A  teacher of the Law came and began putting Jesus to the test.
And he said, “Master, what shall I do to receive eternal
 life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Scripture?
How do you understand it?” The man answered, “It is
written: You shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with
all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as
yourself.” Jesus replied, “What a good answer! Do this
and you shall live.” The man wanted to keep up
appearances, so he replied, “Who is my neighbor?”

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07

Imagine you and I are seeking to be laborers.   We've heard about Jesus and think it would be fun to have all these powers.   As we open the Herald-Whig there is an advertisement in the employment page.   It says, “Wanted:   Someone to live out their faith.   Qualification:   That you know the main thing.   And that the main thing will always be in your heart.”   Then there is a little blurb underneath, and it says, “If you come for an interview, don't bring anything.”


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30
Our readings this morning talk about freedom and discipleship.  In the first reading from the Book of Kings, we see Elijah, the great prophet who is sent by God to Elisha, to tell Elisha that he wants him to be a prophet.  Elijah finds Elisha in the field and he is plowing with twelve oxen.  Now, we need to stop for a moment.  In Biblical times, if you had one ox you were a pretty wealthy man.  He was plowing with twelve oxen, which means by today's standards, he was a multi-multi-millionaire of the time.

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23
Can you and I be identified as people who know Christ?  I'm sure all of us would say, “Yes.”  But there might be times that we do not always reflect what this Gospel is all about, that we are ready to suffer and to die to ourselves.  We are to celebrate joy and happiness and we take it all as a package deal.

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16
My brothers and sisters in Christ, today we have the special opportunity to recognize our fathers.  Let us take some time to call to mind the many things and the many activities performed for us by our fathers during our lives.  Fatherhood involves the wonderful character of sharing and giving thanks.  We can define it, but it only tells us so much.

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09
And Jesus said,  “I came that they may have life, and have it to the full.” 

Sometimes we emphasize heaven so much that we fail to remember that God is present in our midst on earth.  Our expectation is that we appreciate our life here.  Yes, we need to prepare for the fullness of heaven in Heaven, but we need to appreciate Christ here on earth.

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12
Who is a good (hero) example for you? Why is he or she a good (hero) example?

A hero provides more than a good example for others; he or she provides a standard of virtue. Some heroes are authentic, others prove to be two-dimensional, not because of their actions, but because of their intent. The authentic hero is transparent; that person practices what he or she preaches.

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05
During the season of Easter we keep hearing the experience of that early church and it still lingers on.  It's going to change next Sunday when we take this Gospel and realize that Jesus ascends to Heaven and to the Father.  Then the next Sunday, on Pentecost, the Spirit comes into our lives.  So we are in that waiting period and a lot of things go on.

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28
In today's Gospel, Jesus is at the last supper, his end is about to come.  It is important that he is able to say what he needs to say before he leaves.  He washes their feet and tells them it is important to serve one another.  And then he says to them,  “I have a new commandment.  You need to love each other.  Just as I have loved you, you also need to love one another.”

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21
If I were to ask everyone here, “To whom do you belong?” you might answer, “This is my wife or husband, or this is my family.”  You might say, “I belong to everybody here.  I don't know everybody, but we share the same God so I feel like I really know the people here. I belong to a lot of people.  I belong to the people with whom I work, and the students that I go to school with.”

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17
You and I, two weeks ago, were the Samaritan woman at the well. Last week we were the man born blind. And today we are Lazarus. We're in the tomb. We've all died. Under normal circumstances it's over for us. People outside are mourning. They are going to miss us. It's in the midst of that that Jesus comes alive. Not because he is the young man who is Jewish and his father were Mary and Joseph. He comes alive because he was sent here to be, and is, and always will be, the Son of God.

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10
Why do we come to church? We come to church so that we can praise God. We come to church so that we can thank Him for everything that He has given us. We come to church to find out more about Jesus and who he is and what he wants us to do. We listen to the Scriptures being proclaimed - all this to know more about Jesus and how we are to live our lives.

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03
We're at the well this morning.  What would Jesus say to each one of us about ourselves? No one else knows.  

He would say, “Just to let you know, I'm just not your ordinary person.  I am the Son of God. And I know you inside and out.”

It might be a humbling experience but it also might be an awesome experience.  You notice Jesus did not condemn the woman at the well.  Anytime he meets someone, he never condemns.   He's just a reservoir of love that keeps opening up new ways for every single person to capture what it means to stand on holy ground.  

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17
There are certain things in Scripture that we remember.  We always hear the same Gospel passage on the first Sunday in Lent so we all say, “Yeah, I remember. It's about the three temptations.” 

It is important for us to notice the first paragraph of today's Gospel reading.  Jesus is baptized in the Jordon.  The Spirit of God comes upon him, and within him, and he goes away to pray.   And when he prays - then he is tempted.  Then if you skip the three temptations and come down to the very last line it simply says, “For a time.”  Which means that Jesus was never going to be free of temptations, and you and I are not going to be free of temptations.

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13
What are the things that we hide?  What are the things that we put out for everyone to see?  We are sinners.  Jesus says, “That doesn't bother me, that's the way I made you.  I just ask that you don't hide from me, and I also ask that whenever you are going to do something in my name - do it with humility.”  

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10
Isaiah and Paul and Peter - they really are us.  They were afraid, they knew that something was going on around them, and that God was stirring up something.  With Isaiah, it was God speaking directly to him, and Isaiah thought he was unworthy.  That's why they took the coals to his lips, a sign that he was now free of all his sinfulness.  And he felt something.  And then he asks, “What do you want.”

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03
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
It's the only thing that there's just too little of.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.”

This was written in 1965 by Hal David.  And some might ask, did he have his inspiration for this song from our second reading today from Corinthians Chapter 13.  Whether he did or didn't, there is no question St. Paul would say that he agreed with his sentiments.

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27
Over the past few years our children have been learning the habits so each one of them will reach their very personal best.  If you follow the habits you eventually will find your voice.  Tonight I want to talk about two of those habits and how they fit into our lives at home, at school and here where we worship.

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27
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.  The Spirit of the Lord is upon all of us.  What does that mean?  Theologically we can say when we were baptized we were anointed with the Spirit and the Spirit came into us.  But for some of us that was a couple of years ago when we were infants.  That same Spirit is still upon each of us. And if you notice in the first reading Ezra stood up and read. In the Gospel reading Jesus stood up and read. And both of them said,  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.”  Two thousand years later, I took another book and read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon all of us.” 

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20
My brothers and sisters in Christ, John and Mary Wilson were redoing their home - especially the inside.  Their house was about 30 years old and they had always taken care of the outdoors as things came along.  But they had ignored the inside and things hadn't changed much in those years.  Now that their children were all out of the home with families, or going to college, they thought this would be a good time to do something with the interior of the house.  To supplement that determination, they hired an interior decorator.

Everything was going along just fine until all of a sudden a question came up and John said, “No.”  The question was, “What shall we do with this picture of Jesus?  It's been hanging on the wall for thirty years. Can't we get something new to hang on the wall?” 

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06
The experience of the Christmas season is so powerful you can take that Gospel alone and break open those words and you would still be sitting here at midnight enthralled as to what it all says.  Can you just imagine three wise men following a star. The mystery was so overwhelming, and they just can't wait to see what's going to be there.  They walk in and they say, “It's a baby!  What did we come to see - a baby!”  We know the rest of the story.

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23
This morning, we celebrate the fourth Sunday in Advent.  Christmas is almost here. It will be here in two days.  Are we ready to receive the greatest gift that anyone could receive?  

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16
What if a man came into church right now and walked down the aisle and all he had on was a simple shaggy garment clinging to his body?   He would look at us and shout, “Change your ways! Get a life.”  If somebody could click what was going on in all of our brains at the same time we might ask, “Who is this person?  What right does he have to come in here and tell us what to do?”

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09
“All flesh will see God.”  You and I are the flesh.  But for us to really see God we have to listen to Isaiah and we have to reach out and hear the cry of the poor, and we have to make the crooked way straight.  We have to bring justice into everyone's life, and peace into everyone's heart.  All those words can sound very glamorous and comforting, but where is that cry of the poor?  

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02
Starting a little before Thanksgiving, as we go around town, we see all the shining lights.  We see the Christmas trees being put up, we hear the Christmas music playing, and when we go home we see the Christmas stories on TV. But when you come in the church, other than the Giving Tree in the Gathering Area, you don't see the glitter of the Christmas trees and the lights.  What you see is the Advent purple.  You see the Advent wreath.

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25
What would be your image of the Kingdom that Jesus talks about where there is justice and peace?  He doesn't say everybody is going to be happy, he doesn't say there isn't going to be suffering. But he says, “The voice that you listen to is the voice that will bring justice and peace to everyone.”  Why is it that we, not just individually but collectively, so often do not hear that voice?  

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18
We are about to complete another cycle of readings that coincides with what we call the liturgical year - the church year.  We hear these readings every three years, but each time we hear them they are different.  By this time, most of us have had many experiences in life. And the more experiences in life you have - the deeper the wisdom becomes about these readings and you learn to cherish them.  

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11
Our first reading from the Book of Kings and our Gospel reading from Mark, talk to us about trust, talk to us about dependency on God, talk to us about the need for giving but making a distinction between giving from our surplus and giving from our need.  In our first reading today from the Book of Kings we see a widow, and the widow is picking up sticks when along comes the prophet Elijah.  Elijah looks at her and asks, “Will you get me a drink of water?”  As she turns to go he also asks, “Would you bring me some bread - a cake?”

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04
When you go into the Old Testament, as the first reading alludes, a part of the teaching of the old law was to have many laws.  There were several hundred of them.  If you kept the law, then you were fine.  If you did not keep the law then God would seek you out in some way.  In the New Testament, as Jesus comes out of that tradition of laws, he says, “I am going to create a new kingdom, and that kingdom is a kingdom of love. And if you have the message of love, you don't need all of the laws.”

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21
How many of us wish to be successful?  How many of us consider ourselves to be ambitious?  How many of us want to go to heaven?  How many of us want to be saints?  In our first reading today from the book of the Prophet Isaiah, Isaiah tells us there is going to be a suffering servant coming into the world.  This is going to be a person who will come into the world who will suffer and die for us.

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14
We could put a sign in front of the church here that says, “The Church is For Sale.” And Jesus would say, “Go ahead and sell it.” But he says, “You who are my sons and daughters, you will never be for sale. No one can purchase the Kingdom of Heaven.” That's what you and I wrestle with every day of our lives. We try to buy heaven, we try to mentally work through everything. But I'm sure God understands “if I do this - that's OK, I don't really mean this, but I still want heaven.”

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07
Every year in the month of October the church invites us to reflect on the dignity of life, and to look at ourselves and ask, “Who am I? Is my life all that God wants it to be, or am I trying to be someone else? Do I really understand how God is working in my life?”

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30
If you remember, a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Jesus is really going to open us up to what we need to strive for. He told us on that Sunday, “Let the Devil get behind you. Make sure that you kick everything out of the way that takes you away from holiness.”

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23
Last weekend, I mentioned that we are going to have a tripod and last weekend was the first leg, “Get Behind Me Satan - Don't Let Anything Stand in Your Way as You Come to Know God.” This week the second leg of the tripod is placed. And Jesus once again says, “Remember, don't ever think that you are better than someone else. You simply have to give away all that you have.”

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16
What's your image of the devil? Most of us have the image of going to a Quincy High basketball game and seeing a young man painted in blue, and dressed in blue, and holding a pitchfork, and running around in the lights and fire. Or we will see the image of someone dressed in red and he's ready to go after you with a pitchfork. Watch out for the devil!

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09
In our first reading this morning from the book of Isaiah, we see Isaiah speaking to the Jewish people. The Jewish people had been taken from their homeland. They were depressed. They were sad. In the words of the prophet Isaiah he spoke the words of hope. He said, “There will be a time when the Messiah will come. And when this Messiah will come he will open the ears of the deaf. He will open the eyes of those who can't see.
He will make the mute speak. He will make the lame leap like stags.”


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02
As I just mentioned to the children I now open up to all of us: We have a choice every day to live the authentic Christian life. Or we can give in every moment to pretend that we're living the Christian life. All of us, at one time or another or several times a day have to say, “You know, sometimes I do pretend that I am Catholic. I know the difference. I know when I am pretending, and I know when it's really coming from my heart. 

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26
Good morning. I would like take this opportunity to thank Father Michael for giving me this opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist with you. Again, my name is Father David Eliaona (phonetic). I am a native of Tanzania which is a country located on the eastern side of Africa. You may, or, may not know that name. But to make it more familiar I come from a region called Kilimanjaro. There is a mountain up there, a very high mountain. So maybe that will sound a little bit familiar. I grew up there. My parents are still living. They are still there living on the slopes of the mountain. And my brothers and sisters still live in Tanzania.

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19
Have you ever noticed when we read the Scriptures it is a little bit different from when you and I pray. We will make the sign of the cross and when we finish making the sign of the cross we say “Amen.” When we say our meal prayers, when we finish we say “Amen.” 

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12
Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. Do we really know how great a God we have - how compassionate he is, how much he truly loves us, and how he is always there for us? 

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05
One thing that all of us have in common that we can identify with in both the Old Testament and New Testament readings is that we are always complaining. We complain about everything. You know if we had a little thing put on us that takes in all that we say in one day we probably would say, “Oh, I don't think I said that.” But everyone around us would say, “Yes, you did. And a whole lot more and we're tired of it.”

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29
It's a wonderful Gospel that all of us has heard and remember the story. We know that Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes. But there was so much more that was happening, especially in the lives of the disciples. Obviously, he had called them together to train them so they could go out and do ministry together. He did that because he wanted to get them ready and provide them with the experience of faith so that eventually they would go out to all the world and spread the good news.

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15
You notice in the Gospel this morning, in this passage he takes the twelve closest to him and he says, “I am going to send you in different directions. This is what you are to do. This is what you are to take with you.”

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08
Probably everybody here has had the experience themselves, or with their grandchildren, that when you get a group of kids playing and then they start arguing and fighting until you are just about ready to jump off the bridge. One of the famous sayings is, “Enough is enough!” 

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