RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Jesus

Matthew Kelly

I want to take a minute to speak to you about faith, struggle and Matthew Kelly.

My family and I are auditioning new Parishes in the Detroit area to find one that suits our growth in faith. We discovered a Parish that we like and we are seriously giving consideration to becoming members.

During Midnight Mass this Christmas the Parish handed out a book by Matthew Kelly titled “Rediscover Jesus An Invitation.” The Priest suggested that every adult take a copy and use the book to come to know Jesus better.

I am in the midst of reconstructing my faith and I still struggle with those old dual thought deconstruction concerns of my past. I refused to take a book. We still have four copies, so I decided to consider some new non-dual thought philosophy and give the book a quick read.

My hope was that I might be able to see the book in a non-judgmental way and move past those old exclusionary thoughts I struggle with. What I realized is that I still have a lot of work to do.

I was not able to read the book without judgement. I discussed my concerns with my wife and we even went to the Matthew Kelly Website and watched him explain the book in a Youtube video. It was all of no use.

Reconstructing my faith is going to be a struggle for a long time. I am certain many of those reading this will be struggling with their faith. I encourage those folks who are in the midst of struggle to keep going in the face of adversity.

I will be praying for all of you. Have a look at the book. Try to understand that this is Matthew Kelly’s Jesus. It may not be your Jesus, but if you read it with a non-judgmental mindset it may help you to rediscover Jesus for yourself. I was not able to do this, but I will keep trying.

God bless,

Advertisements

Homily: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]

Jesus asks questions, good questions, unnerving questions, re-aligning questions, transforming questions… Maybe this is why we have paid so little attention to Jesus questions and emphasized instead his seeming answers… Easy answers instead of hard questions allow us to try to change others instead of allowing God to change us.
Fr. Richard Rohr

The readings for the twenty-ninth Sunday in ordinary time cycle A can be found here.

There will be many sermons on the Gospel reading that will echo the words of Ben Franklin when he said “a place for everything, everything in its place.” You will hear how those tricky Jewish leaders put Jesus on the spot and He provided the precise answer that tied the whole matter up with a perfect bow avoiding the pitfalls from all parties. You will hear that this should be our model for balancing our civic duties and the duties of our faith.

This is a logical conclusion if we are looking for answers. Instead of answers we should be looking for questions. If we look hard at the spoken questions of Jesus we might be able to recognize unspoken questions that will transform our lives.

The spoken question of Jesus in the Gospel asks us, whose image does the coin bear? Richard E. Spalding poses the question yet unspoken: “What is it that bears God’s image?”

In the book of Genesis we read “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

This leads us to the question; if we are to give the coins to Caesar to make him happy what are we to give to make God happy? This is the transforming question that we must ask.

In just 19 verses from this Gospel reading, Matthew gives us a clue.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
Matthew 22: 36-40

This is to be our understanding of what makes God happy. We are asked to even give Caesar to God.

Jurgen Moltmann explains that “Jesus said, God is like the sun rising on the evil and the good, or like the rain pouring down upon the just and the unjust… The new orientation is that we do not live only in two divided and hostile worlds. We actually live on this one earth. We breathe the same air, the same sun is rising on all life. Let us become children of this one earth and overcome our divided, hostile worlds.”

Jesus’ message is not meant to divide our allegiances between the sacred and the secular. Both are sacred to God, because we are precious in God’s sight. Only humans and the human language put that division in place. We are asked to recognize and overcome this divided world. It was the hypocritical Jewish leaders, Herodians and Pharisees, who were trying to cause trouble by dividing the world this way.

The hardest thing is to live in this world as human beings, not to retreat into some other area. But really make your understanding of what it means to be human your theology as well. Some people think when you start talking that we have to get rid of the sacred and the secular that you want to get rid of the sacred. It’s not that. It’s to get rid of this division, so that what is sacred, or what is holy, or whatever your words, or we struggle with words, or whatever that is, it’s part of you as a human being. It’s not part of something that is beyond ourselves. It is more of an understanding of what it is to be human, and part of that is what we have previously labeled as sacred or spiritual. That’s all part of who we are.
Dr. Val Webb

We have all heard of the term faithful. The faithful are people who show true and constant loyalty. We have all heard the term fearful. The fearful are people inclined to feel anxiety and capable of causing fear. Both are part of the human condition. We can use our faith in God to overcome our fear of the secular.

So much hatred is spoken by people who fear that religion is fading in the face of secularization. The fearful people point at the ever growing secular orientation of our world and the rise of those who claim “none” as their religion. This hatred and fear-mongering will be used in sermons, based on this Gospel, to perpetuate the division between the sacred and secular. Our response must be love, when we are presented with hatred.

If you take one thing away from this homily it should be love your neighbor. Love your enemy. Jesus never said it would be easy to follow Him, but if we practice His teachings and trust that our love will transform this world, we can overcome all of our divisions. That is the very definition of faith in God. That is the lesson from this Gospel story.

I pray that we all become children of this one Earth and allow God to guide us in overcoming our divided and hostile worlds.

God bless,

“There’s a whole lotta labeling going on…these days. Here’s one: CATHOLIC!”

What labels have you heard Catholics use to describe other Catholics? How many have you used to describe others? With which of those labels do you associate yourself?

I know that this post is going to be a little preachy, so be prepared. I am a lot touchy about being labeled, and I am fully aware of this. You, surfers, may also be touchy about being labeled. Labels can be intimidating and even keep people from participating in Church. Take for example the label “lapsed Catholic.” You have heard it and perhaps used it in your life so you know those folks who have taken a Mass hiatus in their 20’s have heard it. It is difficult enough for people to reintroduce themselves into the Church after a long period of time, but when others look down their noses by labeling folks it is even tougher to break the stigma of the label. (oh, please insert the Prodigal Son story here)

For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.
Deuteronomy 10:17

Ah, but humans do show partiality. “…and as the Jews were the chosen people the more learned, as the Scribes were, and the separated or set apart, as the Pharisees were, presumably thought they were more chosen than the rest. Comments Frank Sheed: In too many Pharisees a misunderstanding of the nature of Israel’s uniqueness led to a contempt of the Gentile. Similarly, we find appalling things said about the great number of their fellow Jews, lumped together as; 1) the people of the land; 2) the accursed multitude which knows not the law, a Scribe could write ‘the garments of the people of the land are a source of uncleanness to the Pharisee.'”

In these days we humans are no different than in times past. As a human race one would have thought that we might have grown out of our penchant for partiality. As Catholics, following the example of Jesus, one would have thought we would not desire to divide ourselves into camps, each judging the other.

In these days what we Catholics fail to accept is “… Jesus did not divide people into good and bad, into the perfect and irredeemable, the elect and the rejects of society. He ate with sinners and tax collectors, yes, but he also ate with the Pharisees. He was no respecter of persons.” If we want to follow His example we need to acknowledge that there is but one label – one body in Christ.

Q: …I can’t imagine God loving some people more than others. At the same time, I can’t help but have a twinge of jealousy when I hear how close other people are to Him. I wish my relationship with Him was just as close. What does it mean for God to have favorites?

A: To say that “God has favorites” involves applying a very human expression and a very human reality (we all have favorites) to God, who “transcends” our human limitations. God certainly doesn’t have favorites the way we have favorites.

(CCC #42) God transcends all creatures. We must therefore continually purify our language of everything in it that is limited, image-bound or imperfect, if we are not to confuse our image of God–”the inexpressible, the incomprehensible, the invisible, the ungraspable”–with our human representations. Our human words always fall short of the mystery of God.
FR. JOHN BARTUNEK, LC

Dear surfers, I borrowed the title of my blog from another blog that I regularly read: Rorate Caeli. The title drew me in and I ended up reading the whole blog post. I hope the same happened to you when you read the title of this blog.

Please remember that regardless if you are labeled a “small c Catholic” or a “triumpalist” in God’s eyes you are the same. These labels are just human representations that confuse our image of God and put limits Him.

I am human and I will use labels when I shouldn’t. I pray that God will give me strength to ask forgiveness for those times of label indiscretion. I also pray that God will give me the grace to forgive others who use labels on me.

Dominus benedicat te,

New Roman Missal Discussion

Hello surfers, In April, 2001, I was reading a blog post from Fr. Green about how Catholic worship has its roots in Scripture. I originally posted this blog back then, and I am updating it now that the 3rd Edition Missal has officially launched. I have more background information on the translation in a follow up blog post.

Fr. Green seems like a good guy. Once you read his blog post you will get the feeling that parishioners were coming up to him to ask questions and provide comments about the new Roman Missal. I hope that they still are asking questions. He felt that the people in the pews were getting conflicting messages. Fr. Green did not elaborate on those conflicting messages, but I am hoping to use this blog post to make the waters a little more muddy.

Why don’t we tell the Bishops that we are not interested in this new Roman Missal? We still can do that. I have heard only complaints from the pews about making this change. All the people I heard from are confused about why the Bishops are just changing a few words, and for new words that mean the same as the old words. The Church in the pews want to know who cares about these seemingly insignificant changes and why the Bishops feel the need to just change a couple of words. I can tell you that the Bishops do care, and they are probably the only ones.

Fr. Green stated:

“The translation we have been using up to now [in the current Roman Missal] followed a certain method of translation that often yielded somewhat simplified and altered texts. One of the results was that the references to Sacred Scripture sometimes are obscured.”

What Fr. Green did not tell you is that those words were chosen purposefully during Vatican II. The Church leaders had the same latin texts then as they do now. Why do the Bishops feel that there needs to be a change? We get the notion that the word changes better reflect the actual words used in the Latin, but the people in the pews don’t care about that. Why do the Bishops care?

There have been a select few who have been crabbing about the Vatican II changes for over 40 years. In my parish we now have a Latin mass on Sunday that was sanctioned by the Church hierarchy (Bishops). This is a conflicting message to the progressive minded Catholic Church in the pews. Are we to believe that the mass said in Latin is using the same Roman Missal with only the words in Latin? This is not the case.

In my last blog post I was fairly harsh on the Bishops. They adopted a language for the new Roman Missal that, in my opinion, was a condemnation of the progressive minded Catholics. Progressive leaders within the hierarchy of the Church can only speak harshly of the Bishops if they want to be reprimanded. If you would like to read more about this I found a discussion on Facebook. For more scholarly folks I would like to point you to a journal article from 1993.

To better understand the Bishops position I would like to point to the Papal Encyclical Quanta Cura. This is what I like the call “the Bishops know better” encyclical.

From which totally false idea of social government they do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, most fatal in its effects on the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls, called by Our Predecessor, Gregory XVI, an “insanity,”2 viz., that “liberty of conscience and worship is each man’s personal right, which ought to be legally proclaimed and asserted in every rightly constituted society; and that a right resides in the citizens to an absolute liberty, which should be restrained by no authority whether ecclesiastical or civil, whereby they may be able openly and publicly to manifest and declare any of their ideas whatever, either by word of mouth, by the press, or in any other way.” But, while they rashly affirm this, they do not think and consider that they are preaching “liberty of perdition;”3 and that “if human arguments are always allowed free room for discussion, there will never be wanting men who will dare to resist truth, and to trust in the flowing speech of human wisdom; whereas we know, from the very teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, how carefully Christian faith and wisdom should avoid this most injurious babbling.”4
Quanta Cura

These sentiments that the “Bishops know better” were reiterated by the current Pope, while Cardinal, under the title of dictatorship of relativism.

Changing the Missal is not bringing the people in the pews closer to God. The Bishops have a motive that revolves around taking back things they feel they lost in Vatican II. We should not let them make these changes without an earful of complaints. The Bishops need to move us forward, not be rear-facing, and we can stand firm in our resolve. History will bear us out. Use Father John Courtney Murray, SJ as your example. Don’t know him? Start here.