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September 3, 2017 - Why Spiritual Struggles?

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I am a cradle Catholic. I was twenty, and about two-and-a-half years in the seminary, when I had my first deep spiritual experience. I made a good confession, I resolved to spend time in prayer each day, and also make some serious life-changes. Because I felt close to God, and because I was earnest about living my new life, I expected life to get a lot easier. The opposite happened. I lost some friends and I found my new existence to be a struggle. Like me, most people who newly become Christians or have had a conversion experience, expect life to get easier. They expect temptations to go away, their prayer to be answered easily and their strained relationships to get smooth. Their rational is very logical. As they move closer to God, and as they embrace holiness, they expect a turn around. The expectation makes perfect sense. If you take medication for an ailment and do everything the doctor asks you to do, you are supposed to get better. In spiritual life, often, the opposite happens. Life actually becomes harder. It is counterintuitive, but this is exactly what happens. 

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August 27, 2017 - Who Are You?

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Not because Jesus was having an identity crisis, he asks his disciples who they thought he was. Peter confesses that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” As I said last week about the story of the Canaanite woman, Matthew wants his readers know that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. What happens after this is truly meaningful. Jesus does not ASK Peter who Peter is. Jesus TELLS Peter who Peter is - the rock on which he will build his church. In fact, Jesus defines two things - Peter and the church. Jesus was not having a identity crisis. Jesus was giving Peter and the church a vision and a mission. 

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August 20, 2017 - Children and Dogs

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Today’s gospel reading has confounded a lot of people in the pews. Its the story of the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus pleading with him to heal his daughter. It is a great story of great faith. However, do you cringe every time you hear Jesus say, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs?” Was Jesus’ response to the helpless and desperate mother an insult? Let me simply say this: there is more to the story!

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August 13, 2017 - When I Am Afraid

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Do you think that Jesus experienced fear? Were there moments in his life where he was overcome with fear? The gospels have no recorded instance of Jesus being afraid. The only instance that we can assume that he was afraid was at the garden of Gethsemane, where Luke tells us that, “He was filled with such agony and prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood.” On the other hand, the gospels have instances of Jesus urging his disciples not be afraid. Just within the last two weeks, twice we have heard that twice. Last weekend, after the transfiguration, he came to his frightened apostles and said, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” In today’s gospel readings he came to the rescue of his terrified apostles and said, “Take courage, It is I; do not be afraid!” 

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August 6, 2017 - Awesome Yet Ordinary

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Scripture Readings

Whenever I read passages like the ones we have as our readings today, I feel a little disconnected. I am not saying that I have any doubts about the marvelous experiences of Daniel in today’s first reading or the apostles in today's second reading and the gospel. All I am saying is that I haven’t had them. I am not sure about you, but, I am left with a piece of bread and some wine in my hands. It takes everything in me to believe that the God who appeared to Daniel and the apostles is the same God I hold in my hands. I lay my hand on people who are ill, anoint them with Holy Oil and believe that God is hearing my prayer. All I have is the quiet time I spend before God in prayer. Sometimes, it takes everything in my to believe that there is somebody on the other side. 

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