The Devil Made Me Do IT

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1st Sunday Lent                On this first Sunday of Lent we are presented with two very familiar and interesting readings in the first reading from Genesis and the Gospel from Matthew.  Our first reading is the account of “The Fall,” the sin of Adam and Eve who were given paradise but ended up choosing to go against the will of God by succumbing to the temptations of the devil.  In the Gospel reading we have Jesus, the new Adam, who is also tempted by the devil but the results are very different in this case.  Indeed this time the one being tempted was God made man but Jesus was fully human as well and had all of the weaknesses that each one of us have.  For each one of the temptations that the devil places before Jesus he responds to by quoting scripture, the Word of God.  The responses which Jesus gives to Satan demonstrates the continuity of that which Jesus represents as the fulfillment of something old and the beginning of something new.  Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the law and the prophets that came before him, he is also the herald of the Kingdom of God, that living entity, His Church!               So as we proceed through our journey this Lenten season let us remember what we are a part of, we are the Body of Christ. As members of that body we are called to do our part, to turn away from sin and truly believe in the Gospel, that Good News which binds us together and gives us mission, sending us out into the world to share that message and to bring the world back to God.

 

Your servant in Christ,

Deacon Bill

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The Meek will Peek

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4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The reading from the first Letter to the Corinthians by Saint Paul seems to be the perfect compliment to the Gospel reading of the Beatitudes.  Saint Paul tells us that if we have anything to boast about it is in the Lord.  In and of ourselves we have nothing to boast of because all that we are, all that has been given to us and any worth that we may have has been bestowed upon us by God.   The Beatitudes demonstrate how the virtues of humility, patience, courage and charity are the very foundations for our relationships with one another, given to us from the very mouth of God incarnate.  Both Paul and Jesus are talking about living in a way that is counter to the “wisdom of the world” and based on the wisdom of God and the way that His creation was intended to be, in loving relationship with one another.  The more that we look to the world for answers, or our own wants and desires the more we will move away from our intended purpose.  The more that we look toward the will of God in our lives and the needs of  the other the closer we will move toward the purpose for which we were created.  In the culture of “its all about me” blessed are they who love one another, for God will show His mercy and love to them.

Yours in Christ

Deacon Bill

Patience, Who has the time?

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3rd Sunday Advent  2016

The second reading today from the letter of Saint James expounds on the need for patience, in fact he uses the word patient four times in this one short paragraph, four times in four sentences.  It would seem that Saint James wanted to get a point across to his readers, HAVE PATIENCE.  It would seem, however, in the world of today patience is something that is very scarce, we want everything now and not a moment later.  We have fast food, instant messaging, speed dialing, high speed internet and about anything else that you can think of that makes are world come to us at our demand.  With all of this activity and the pace of our lives there is little room for the practice of patience in our lives.  I should be the one to talk with my driving behavior which I will not discuss here and please do not ask my wife.  However if we examine the reading from James we can see that he uses the word patience in relationship to the coming of our Lord.  We are now in that same mode in this season of Advent and as we enter into the third week of this wonderful season are we patiently waiting for the coming of our Savior or are we fretting about getting those last presents bought and wrapped or those decorations up or those cookies baked?  We celebrate this season only once every year as a time to prepare ourselves for something that has already happened and yet is to happen again but this time not a baby being born in Bethlehem but the child, the Son of God coming into our hearts and allowing us to be born again.  God gives us the gift of Himself again and again, offering us a peace, a conversion, a gift of everlasting life if only we have the patience and understanding that it is only in Him do we truly find the meaning of our lives.

Your servant in Christ,

Deacon Bill

That’s a King?

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The gospel reading today seems a bit strange for celebrating the kingship of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.  The rulers of the Jews were mocking Jesus as was Pilate who put the inscription above Jesus stating that He was the King of the Jews.  The only one who recognized Jesus as a true king was the criminal who saw that Jesus was innocent and something more than a man when he rebuked the other criminal and asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus comes into His Kingdom.

When we think of a king who is raised up and enthroned we usually do not think that he is raised up on a cross, but this is how our King was treated.  However, through the blessing of the Resurrection, the cross now becomes the symbol of His triumph!  The symbol of the crucifix now adorns our churches and homes as a reminder of what God has accomplished for us in His passion death and resurrection, our very salvation.  Who would have thought that an instrument of torture and death would become a symbol of triumph over death itself!  What a genius God is using a symbol of death to triumph over death and to make it now a symbol of eternal life!

So as we reflect on the Kingship of Jesus today, the King of the Universe, the King over all that exists we are compelled to ponder the love that God must have for us, giving His beloved Son to us not only as a sacrifice for our salvation but also that food from Heaven that satisfies our spiritual hunger as well. Amen

Your Servant in Christ,

Deacon Bill

He Who Seeks the Lost

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“The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”  The importance of this line for the Gospel cannot be emphasized enough.  Jesus stated many times that He came to earth not to seek out the righteous but to reach out to the sinners and redeem them and thank God for that!  We all recognize ourselves as sinners before God and we all realize that we are in need of redemption and healing.  It is such a comfort to know that God has provided very well for us in our brokenness.  The Church, the body of Christ, that was started by our Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit stands as our home of healing, forgiveness and comfort to all who are in need.  The Church provides us with the sacraments, which in turn, provides us with the loving touch of God in our lives.  Through the sacraments we receive the Holy Spirit, God dwelling within us and giving us the gifts that we require to live brave and true Christian lives.  The sacraments provide us with the graces that we require to weather the storms that we traverse in our daily lives.  The sacraments also provide us with the tender forgiveness of God which allows us to be free of the burden of our past sins and to live joy filled lives even in the face of dark times.               We do not have, like Zacchaeus, to go climbing trees in order to catch a glimpse of our Lord and Savior, we have Him in our everyday lives right here in our community, in the Eucharist, in our priests who stand “in persona Christi” in the sacraments and in the face and heart of our fellow man who reaches out to us in our need.  God has indeed provided richly for us lost ones and through His Church we have the means to respond to this great gift of salvation!

Your servant in Christ

Deacon Bill

What’s so Special about a Catholic Marriage?

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I was, initially, going to write an article on the ministry that I work in concerning the annulment of a Catholic Marriage.  After a discussion with my pastor and a few other ministry leaders I decided that it would be best to first write an article on what a sacramental marriage in the Church is and then follow up, at a later date, on what an annulment is.  So please bookmark this article so that you can refer back to it when the article on annulments is published, so with no further ado we proceed to;

WHAT CONSTITUTES A SACRAMENTAL MARRIAGE WITHIN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?

A Sacramental Marriage, in the Catholic Church is defined as follows, according to Canon Law:

Can. 1055 §1 The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of their whole life, and which of its own very nature is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children, has, between the baptized, been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.

  • 2 Consequently, a valid marriage contract cannot exist between baptized persons without its being by that very fact a sacrament.

Can. 1056 The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility; in christian marriage they acquire a distinctive firmness by reason of the sacrament.

Can. 1057 §1 A marriage is brought into being by the lawfully manifested consent of persons who are legally capable. This consent cannot be supplied by any human power.

  • 2 Matrimonial consent is an act of will by which a man and a woman by an irrevocable covenant mutually give and accept one another for the purpose of establishing a marriage.

In other words a Sacramental Marriage, in the Catholic Church, is a marriage between a baptized man and a baptized woman who are consenting to a marriage covenant that entails that they will be faithful to each other until the death of the spouse, that they will be fully open to the procreation of children and that they will live their lives for the good of the other “until death do they part.”

This means that a Sacramental Catholic Marriage exists for the good of the husband, the wife and the children.  So when we think about what the Catholic Church believes is the “ultimate good,” one would have to say ones eternal salvation.  It would naturally follow that the Sacrament of Marriage was instituted by Christ so that the husband and the wife can love each other and their children into heaven.  When one takes this approach and realizes how Christ offered Himself on the Cross to love us into heaven by giving His very life for our salvation, it places a mighty standard for us to imitate.  Though we, most likely, will not have to hang on a cross for our spouse, we often do have to bear the crosses of our everyday lives, and do so with a cheerful heart knowing that we are doing so for those who we love most in this world!

Your servant in Christ,

Deacon Bill

What is up With the Bad Steward

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Sometimes passages in the Bible are a bit confusing or hard to understand the reason for this is that they were written over 2000 years ago and the people of those times often speak or write differently than we do.  Throughout time there have been differing colloquialisms that say one thing but mean another.  Our term “it is raining cats and dogs” does not mean that God is bestowing pets for everyone, it simply means that it is raining very hard but someone reading that form another time or place may not understand the phrase or even miss-translate it.  Knowing about this we can turn to the scholars who study such things and learn from them about the difficult passages we may run into in the Bible.  After consulting a few such sources concerning the Gospel for this weekend Luke 16:1-13, I learned what Jesus was trying to teach about in the parable of the bad steward.  The message that Jesus was telling His audience and us by extension is that we should not live by the ideals of this world but live by the ideals of the world to come.  We should not behave so as to gain favor of those around ourselves, we should behave so as to gain the favor of God.  When I reread the Gospel for today in light of what I had learned it made so much more sense to me.  You can find good Catholic commentaries on the web if you ever run into passages that are difficult for you one such is the Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition at haydock1859.tripod.com.  You can also learn more about the types of literature and the meaning of different expressions in the Bible at Agape Bible Study www.agapebiblestudy.com, and may you be abundantly blessed in your study of Sacred Scripture!

Your servant in Christ,

Deacon Bill