Sunday, June 17, 2018

Price. Value. Parable of the Seed (2018-06-17, 11th Sun, B)

17   June  2018   
11th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B

•• Ezekiel 17:22-24   •• Psalm 92  •• 2 Corinthians 5:6-10  •• + Mark 4:26-34  ••

Title:  Price. Value. Parable of the Seed.

[__01__]       I read this on the website,  the  blog, of a real estate agent….
            When you start thinking about buying your first house [or any house], it’s easy to let your emotions run the show. Before you know it, you’re stalking the owners of homes – you’re stalking homes for sale – maybe in person or on your home-browsing app, you’re rearranging your schedule to drive by your dream house to check it out, and you’re researching creative financing options on your calculator or computer do the whole thing with no money down.
            Price is what we pay … value is what we get. Price is also what we pay right now… value is what we get or hope to have forever in our home.
[__02__]        It seems as if the man of the parable got a pretty good price and has a lot of value in his property. He has land, seed, agriculture, a good climate of rain and sun and a field that is a sure thing, and small structure of the seed grows into a great crop of grain. It’s a sure thing for him. And, he does not even know how it happens. “He knows not how.” (cf. Mark 4:27)
            What is the PRICE + VALUE of the Gospel, of the Kingdom?
            I suggest that the Gospel has  PRICE for us and a VALUE.  A PRICE   right now and VALUE for the future.
[__03__]         E.g., the Commandments exact a price. And, they are PERCEPTIBLE. We can read the Commandments, touch the Commandments, pay attention to the Commandments,
            The 10 Commandments cost us something to follow. According to these, we practice honesty: “thou shalt not bear false witness”   we are told.
            Being truthful is a tangible way for us to love and be loved – and avoid trouble.  It  - this honesty - might cost us something, but we believe: honesty is the best policy.
            We want to be known by others that our word is good, that we are trustworthy.
            And, the contrary is true. If someone has reason to be believe that I cannot be trusted, then it is like a mathematical proof.  If someone were to have reason not to believe me – my “worth”  or market price goes down -- it could really cost me.
            Following the Commandments is a way to pay the price – TANGIBLY – to follow God’s ways.

[__04__]        But the Gospel is not just about the PAYING the price right now in everything that I can see and touch. It’s about believing in what we cannot see – at least not right away.
            For example, to believe that there is value in you and me, to recognize that I am a sinner and in need of God’s grace.
            This is Good News. Knowing I am a sinner – or knowing another person is a sinner – does not make me – or you – less valuable.  This is the paradox of mercy and POTENTIAL.
            The paradox is that recognizing this sinfulness – in myself and others – helps to build community and communion and to avoid fear and find true friendship.  Mercy – forgiveness – is our POTENTIAL, our FUTURE VALUE.
            Sometimes, it happens in hidden ways, like the SEED that grows and the man “knows not how”.  (Mark 4:27)

[__05__]         This is also Father’s Day and last month, May, was Mother’s Day, have given us things both by what they PAID (they pay for a lot of stuff!) and by the VALUES they taught us.

[__06__]        Recently a family member shared this episode with me, this experience with her young daughter – who had just started elementary school, kindergarten.
            The child was anxious about the new habitat: classroom, teacher, classmates, et cetera et cetera.

[__07__]       And, does not every person experience this at some critical juncture, some critical point? It might not be the first day of school in kindergarten or first grade, but might be the first day in a new school, or high school, or college, at any age. It could be the first day – for any of us – the first day or first few days of a new job, or the first few days or years of being retired.
            After several months of this, this young child began to feel more comfortable, happier, more peaceful about the PRESENT MOMENT, and could see that going to school was worth it. I will pay the price of going to school, it has VALUE. I’m on board with this.
            And, she announces to her mother, very independently, a can-do attitude - “Mommy, I’m OK at school now. I’m OK, you don’t have to worry about me anymore.”[**pause**]
            That’s independence. She is 6. But, true stability and value is not something we turn ON or OFF independently at 6 or 66 or 96.
            Because God does worry about us, Jesus is concerned about us, and we benefit by God’s love and concern.  Heeding this concern, we learn things. And, we learn things by people being concerned about us. Their concern helps in our conversion.
            This stability is a value that we gain because God loves us, and we receive this love through our family and friendships so that we can know that we are precious and valued in God’s eyes.       [__fin__]  

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Lines. Lanes. Construction (2018-06-10, 10th Sunday)

10   June  2018   
Tenth Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B

•• Genesis 3:9-15  •• Psalm 130  •• 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:4  •• + Mark 3:20-35  ••

Title:  Conscious. Connected.

[__01__]      It seems most of us view road construction – and the related detours – as an obstacle, annoyance?  We want to get around them or away from them ASAP.
            But, isn’t it true that this is also a  remarkable process that helps us to be safe, secure, and to survive?

[__02__]       Recently, as you may recall - Eagle Rock Avenue – was under construction.

[__03__]       …. & during the work, Eagle Rock Avenue had no lines or lanes,          I agree this was a hindrance, but  also found this thought-provoking as we drove up and down Eagle Rock Avenue without any yellow and white painted lines.
There were no boundaries. And, as a result, it seemed that drivers had to be more CONSCIOUS and more CONNECTED … TO RECOGNIZE.
            To RECOGNIZE, pay more attention (be  mentally conscious) that they were lines, lanes and boundaries…even though we could not see them painted in yellow and white.
            There were lines, lanes, but they were not visible.  Nevertheless, the lines existed.

[__04__]     God’s commandments can be this way.  Our choices between RIGHT and WRONG, GOOD & EVIL, sometimes are not painted in yellow and white lines for us to see. Or, we may notice the boundary only after the fact.
            Sometimes, these boundaries are absolutely visible and clear.
            On the other hand, at times, it might not be so clear.
            Consider a parent trying to raise a child, a family member trying to take care of someone who is sick or suffering. In such situations, we are called to follow the commandments, to be loving, respectful, honest.
            Years ago, I observed how hard it was for my parents to take care of my grandparents. There were many decisions to be made about their care. Some of them were ethical decisions. And, there were detours and decisions.
            At times, my grandparents’ home to be re-arranged in order to provide the necessary care.  It was, in a way,  under construction.

[__05__]      In the Book of Genesis, we read today about the EXPERIENCE OF of Adam and Eve.
            Their lives are under CONSTRUCTION.
            We observe they were given a very specific boundary to follow, a law to follow. They did not observe it.  Perhaps, they found it annoying or an obstacle to their freedom, like road construction or a detour.
[__06__]   The paradox is that they develop and come to understand their responsibility and freedom– and God’s mercy … not because what they do is right…because of their violation, their sin.
            It is a paradox that the boundary made them free. It is a paradox that boundaries and lanes on Eagle Rock Avenue enable people to drove more rapidly, more efficiently, more freely…and reach their destination and true identity.
[__07__]     The Good News for you and me is that we are free.  And, even our faults – the knowledge of our sins and faults – is what makes us free and helps us to know we are free.
            Asking for God’s mercy, for forgiveness is a free choice.
            Consider what happens when we have the inclination or courage to admit we are wrong to another person.. Let’s say I have the voluntary-will to admit I am wrong even to the person who may be reluctant (resistant) or unable to forgive. By admitting I am wrong, I am truly free.
            (More challenging – is when we have to correct someone else or tell someone to change, to re-think. These are difficult conversations we say …”I don’t really get anything good out of this.”   This person is not going to like me or like what I have to say. But in these instances we are also truly free.)
            My knowledge of the boundary makes us free.   Jesus has a new path for us, a new a road. He is the way, the truth, and life. (John 14:6)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Corpus Christi (2018-06-03)

Corpus Christi /  3  June  2018      At Sunday June 3rd Mass at 11:30 am

•• Exodus 24:3-8  •• Psalm 116 •• Hebrews 9:11-15 •• + Mark 14:12-16, 22-26 ••

Title:  Search. Study. Sacrifice (Corpus Christi)

[__01__]      This is Corpus Christi Sunday. Jesus sends his disciples to prepare for the Passover, which is really a preparation for Last Supper and Holy Communion. I’d like reflect on the way in which the disciples – and you and I are called by Christ to a…
            continuous [SEARCH]
            continuous [STUDY] …and by “study” I don’t simply mean book-academic study at the library.
            And continuous [SACRIFICE] by our Communion with Christ and each other.
 [__02__]       What is the
► [SEARCH] of the disciples?
            Jesus sends them to SEARCH the city, asking             “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?
            How do they find this room? They search not for an address – the Manor, Mayfair Farms or some random restaurant.  He sends them to a person. He said you will meet “a man carrying a water jar.” In communities ancient and modern where water must be drawn out of a well and carried home, typically the division of labor is that women would carry water. To see a man, a male, carrying water indicates someone doing an unusual service, an uncommon service.
            Do you and I fit that description of unusual, uncommon service? If the disciples were sent out with DNA or bloodhounds to find someone with the virtue of hospitality, would they find me? you?  We have all taken both routes toward or away from hospitality.
            Jesus is emphasizing that Holy Communion begins with a continuous  SEARCH for an uncommon, unusual servant, not just the man with the water, but the person of Jesus Christ.
[__03__]      The disciples – you and I are also called to ► [STUDY].
            What do I mean by ► [STUDY]?
            You are saying to yourselves – he  wants me to “study” – it’s almost the 1st day of summer!  Or …maybe you say that study is not for you (or me) because we’re not officially enrolled or getting academic report cards or transcripts
            And yet… God is continuously searching us and studying us.  Prayer is our continuous study.
            Psalm 139: “O, Lord you search me and you know me, you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar.”  (Psalm 139:1-2)
            Prayer and reflecting on God’s love and mercy is a type of studying.     Is this ► [STUDY] meaningful to you? Me? Do I want to be known?
            Coming to Sunday Mass is a moment of ► [STUDY] and contemplation.
            Knowing that the Lord searches us and studies us, we allow ourselves to be known by him and to be known by others.
            Loving another person is also a call to ► [STUDY] in our relationships: marriage, family to know and to be known.
            Isn’t it true that – for all couples here, all married couples here, all families here – engaged couples – there is a paradox?
            The paradox is that in order to
talk with someone, we also have to be comfortable being silent with the person or experiencing the silence of another person.
            The paradox of ►[STUDY] or contemplation in a relationship. We know each other not only by what we say and do, but also by how we  are …and how we are silent.
            Also, we do we not ►[STUDY] and continuously learn from our loved ones? Loving someone does not mean that we have him or her figured out, but that we are open to the mystery of the person.
            Jesus is also calling us to continuous ► [STUDY] to grow closer to Him, our Daily Bread.
 [__04__]      In the sacrament of Holy Communion / Holy Eucharist, Jesus gives us a continuous ►[SACRIFICE].
            What is he talking about, a continuous sacrifice? IN the words of the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest says, “This is my body given up for you” – in present tense, here and now, continuing. And, we are called – all of us to make continuous sacrifices for each other.
            And, Jesus is sustaining us by leaving Holy Communion for he sacrifices himself every day on the altar at every Mass. You may say..Ok, that’s not really not possible.
            But, isn’t it true that continuity of  ►[SACRIFICE] changes the world .. changed our hearts …and reminded us that our own gifts of love connect to the Body of Christ?
            Such continuity and connection = Memorial Day last week…
            Jesus is also handing down his  sacrifice to his disciples as we hand it down to our children and families and friends.
            This continuity can be stunning.
 [__05__ I was stunned.    When I was a freshman in college/university, our coach thought it would be a good idea if all every player of you would go to the local hospital medical center and donate blood. I understood his “suggestion” (order?) but I was also stunned/terrified, having never done this before.
            Fortunately, no one knew that I felt scared … nor did I pass out. They made me have the cookies and juice.
            The coach thought it would be a profound gift that would be good not only for the community but for us as well. We might get in the newspaper, good publicity. I think there was a photo in the newspaper of the team captain and his arm. But, the impression on me was not the photography of the moment but the biography of the messenger. Our coach was the messenger.
            He was trying to connect the sacrificial gifts he received and one we were asked to make.
            While inviting us to get to the blood bank, he told us how as a young boy, he had been in a fire and had needed many blood transfusions to survive. It was a miracle that he survived. To this day, if I were to give blood or see someone giving blood, I recall his biography, his message.
            So, in this regard, I see a connection between my sacrifice (our team sacrifice) and the sacrifice of others of many years before for him, when he was a young boy hanging on for life in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
            Jesus is helping us to hang on for life – through our search, through our study, and through his sacrifice, his body sacrificed and risen for us, our Communion.  [__fin__]