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October 1, 2017 - Have in You the Same Attitude that is also in Jesus Christ

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I am not going to talk about the state of public discourse in our country. People are up to their noses with it. To get respite, many people have chosen to withdraw from public discourse. Others have completely abandoned social media and news channels. I am not going to talk about it either, because I don’t want you to feel oppressed in church as well. My personal challenge has been to discern my Christian code of conduct in these times. As a Catholic priest, pastor, and a public figure, how do I navigate through the divisiveness and the hate without also compromising the cause of justice and righteousness? How do I become a healer and reconciler? These are questions that affect my eternity.

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September 24, 2017 - Where Justice and Mercy Meet

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

How often have you cried out and said, “Its not fair!” I probably say this at least once day. Sometimes I am right and sometimes I am not. When we experience an injustice, we seek justice from the justice system. It is the right thing to do. It is right to seek justice not only on a social level, but we Catholics also believe that justice is a divine quality. We know God to be just. There is a problem, however. When we have done something wrong and we come before God, we don’t seek justice, but rather, mercy. Here, then, is the dichotomy - we know God to be just but we expect to be treated with mercy. If God treated us sinners in the same way that our justice system treats offenders, what would the confessional look like? In the Christian tradition, God is known to be both just and merciful? Where do justice and mercy meet? The purpose of the parable of the generous vineyard owner in today’s gospel reading is meant to address precisely this question. Just to recall, in the parable, a vineyard owner invites laborers to work in his vinegar at various time during the day, but pays them all the same wages, which causes the ones who came first to the field to grumble. 

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September 17, 2016 - Forgiveness: What Goes Around, Comes Around

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Besides “Love one another, as I have loved you,” no other teaching of Jesus is more definitive of Christianity than his teaching on forgiveness. There are no ‘ifs’ and 'buts' attached to Jesus command to forgive. This makes the teaching of forgiveness challenging for the holiest of Christians. It is simple, it is straight, and it is uncompromising. Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant in today’s gospel reading ends with this saying, “So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.” As far as Christian spirituality is concerned, the unconditional demand for forgiveness is where the rubber hits the road. 

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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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