Let me paraphrase the opening of our gospel to make a point or two. “A man going on a journey call in his servants and handed over to them his possessions. To one he gave five pounds of $1,000 bills. To another, two pounds of $1,000 bills, and to a third, one pound of $1,000 bills – to each according to their gifts, talents and abilities – he did not give one them more than he or she could handle.” Continue reading
Today we celebrate, remember, and honor all the saints, known and unknown. The feast day has its own history of how it came to be. Back in the earliest days of the Church, we did not so much think of “saints” but rather martyrs were especially esteemed. It was very much a local event, as the local church celebrated the anniversary of a martyr’s death on the anniversary date and in the place of martyrdom. By the 4th century the list of martyrs had grown considerably with some martyrs being celebrated more universally. The Church was caught between its desire to remember and celebrate the martyr’s witness and death, an ever expanding geography, and the practical matter of finding days to set aside to celebrate. Very soon there was a movement to find a common day to celebrate martyrs that were important to the Church while leaving the local communities to set aside days for martyrs that loomed larger in local memory.
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” I think the human condition is that we fall short on the “all”. And that raises the question “do we love someone or want something more than we love God?” Tough question. But think how much time, energy and emotion we spend on other things. Seems to me that time, energy, and emotion poured into a relationship will give you some inkling of the degree to which you are in love. Consider what part of your day and week you give over to God in terms of time, energy and emotion.
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Do we love someone or want something more than God? “Love more than God?” that doesn’t seem right, but then again, think how much time, energy and emotion we spend on other things. Seems to me that time, energy, and emotion into a relationship will give you some inkling of the degree to which you are in love. Take a minute and consider what part of your day and week you give over to God in terms of time, energy and emotion. Perhaps a simple measure of your being in love with God – or at least a way to think about it.
Talk about your basic horrible decisions. What were the vineyard tenants thinking? When the owner of vineyard sends his servants to collect what is rightfully his, the tenants beat one, kill another and stone the third. When the next set of servants arrive, they continue with the basic trajectory of decisions that they somehow think will turn out well. When the landowner’s son arrives, they murder him. How is it they think this is going to work out for them? As I said, talk about your basic horrible decisions.Jesus is speaking to the chief priest, elders and scribes about horrible decisions they are making as they are not reflective about what folks like the prophet Isaiah have warned them about. Their predecessors corrupted true worship, thought they were the owners of the vineyard and became obsessed with their position, privilege and powers – forgetting they were just the current stewards of the covenant between God and the people. They killed the messengers the prophets who warned them and the covenant people ended up exiled in Babylon, Jerusalem destroyed. Talk about your basic horrible decisions.Continue reading
“So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner.” If we are honest about it, we empathize with those folks who worked hard all day. At one level we agree that they received what they were promised, but…there is that voice within that says, “it isn’t fair.” The workers’ notion of what is fair gets challenged pretty quickly when the landowner asks them: “Are you envious because I am generous?” Continue reading
How do you offer forgiveness? I suspect that the most common offer consists of “I forgive you” or “Don’t worry about” “Don’t give it a second thought” or “It’s nothing.” And that all might be true, but sometimes it is only the socially-expected response. It is what we do because we are Christian and we are called to forgive 70 times 7 – or about 490 times…and maybe, just maybe, some of us keep track. But, are we really at peace with our response? Continue reading
And the conversation begins: I have something to tell you! Who knows exactly what is coming, but it might well be interesting and fun?
Or the conversation begins, we have to talk…You know it is not going to be about the weather, hockey playoffs, or things fun and interesting. We have to talk. Continue reading
“You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped” Wow…strong words from the prophet Jeremiah. Duped, tricked, suckered, fooled, hoodwinked. No one likes to be the unwitting tool in another’s hands, the butt of a joke, or play the part of the fool. Not too many people are keen to say they were Bernie Maddoff’s friend. I am sure his investors look back, knowing their money is forever gone, and think, “How could I have been duped like that?” No one likes such moments. Jeremiah doesn’t like it at all and cries out against the circumstances.
God called Jeremiah to be the prophet and Jeremiah answered –twice! No doubt those were heady days – to be so connected to the Lord, called to do his work, and now…. And now. Where was God when I was ridiculed, ignored – when people scorned and laughed at me. Maybe God is weak and I was duped into thinking otherwise. Ok, call me once to be prophet – shame on you. Call me twice – shame on me if I answer. This is why Jeremiah says to himself: “I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more.” This has the passion and the sound of an argument between lovers! Continue reading
“Who do you say that I am?” It seems like one of those “fish-or-cut-bait” moments, doesn’t it? Peter and the disciples have been with Jesus several years now. They have heard the sermons, listened to Jesus open up the deeper meaning of the Commandments, witnessed the miracles large and small, seen all the people healed, restored, and heard the amazing words of forgiveness and love. Wouldn’t it seem as though they have had enough time to know Jesus in a deep, intimate, and personal way? Continue reading