Jesus Wept: A Reflection on the 5th Sunday of Lent

Jesus Wept: A Reflection on the 5th Sunday of Lent

John 11:35…Jesus Wept…it is one of the verses that when I was your age I had to memorize.  Our Sunday School teacher would randomly test us on chapter and verse and we would have to know it.

Jesus wept…

It is also one of the verses that has always stuck with me.

Jesus Wept…

It’s the shortest verse in the bible but there is so much power behind it.  It always moved me when our Pastor would preach on it.  But it was just recently that I saw a new insight into.  A couple years ago, Fr O’Brien was preaching on this reading.  He had one line that has always stuck with me…” Jesus Wept not because his friend Lazarus died, but because all humankind has to die.”  Jesus wept because there was evil in this world and because of it we would have to experience death.

Jesus wept…

I know many of you were too young or maybe not even alive to remember when 9/11 occurred but I was in my second year at West Point, getting ready for my American Government class when the first tower got hit and in class when they went down.  I wept.  I wept not because I knew those people dying, but because it was just such an evil act.

Jesus wept…too

Last year, 49 people were killed at Pulse.  They died because a man allowed evil to grow in his heart and control him.

Jesus wept…too

I have had friends die in the Global War of Terrorism that has been going on now for 16 years. I wept.

Jesus wept…too

You see Jesus wept alongside me and each one of us when evil occurs because conflict, strife, ugliness, murder, war, and death are not from him.  They are the absence of him in the lives of mankind.  When we gossip, when we bad mouth someone, when we do harm to others, when we lose a friend, when we lose a family member, Jesus weeps with us.  Because we are not experiencing the world as God intended it for us.  We are experiencing a distorted and ugly version of what he made for us.

In DC there is one of the most beautiful churches that you could ever worship in.  It the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  Every time that I go there I am drawn to one of the 90 chapels that is located there.  The one I always going to first and spending the most time in prayer and reflection is the Shrine of the Queen of Peace.  In that image, we get a foretaste of what God truly wants for us.  He wants us to feel that same safe love and peace that we felt when we were young and held by our mothers.  But he wants even more than that.  He wants us to feel the perfection of that feeling in Heaven.

But until we get to Heaven we are called to bring that peace into this world.  We are called to be the peacemakers of this world.  To do what we can to bring beauty and love into an imperfect world by first knowing our savior Jesus Christ and second spreading that love to the rest of the world.  Let us pray in song that we can do that.

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Be more then the Law: A reflection on the 6th Sunday of OT

Be more then the Law: A reflection on the 6th Sunday of OT

Who has been angry with their brother before?

Who has called a friend or someone in class an idiot?

Who has called someone a fool?

Jesus is telling us that all these things are just as bad as breaking the 5th commandment…Thou shall not kill.

I won’t ask you to raise your hand on this one but how many of you have ever had impure thoughts about someone?  Watched a movie or video clip that was pornographic?  Read a book or a magazine that was overly sexual?

Jesus tells us that that those things are just as bad as breaking the 6th commandment…thou shall not commit adultery.  He even goes so far (and his extremely exaggerating) in saying that it would be better for us to pluck out our eye to think lustful thoughts about someone.

If even tells us that we shouldn’t have to take oaths because our Yes should always mean yes and our noes should always mean no.  Meaning that we are truthful all the time, so much so that we don’t even need to take an oath for someone to believe us.

But how many of you have lied today.  How many of you have cheated this semester?  How many of you have told your parents you would do something, knowing that you had no intention of doing it?

You see we are called to do more than just follow the letter of the law, the literal meaning of the law.  The scribes and Pharisees did that.  They would only do EXACTLY what the Law said they had to do, and if they wanted to do something they would try to bend the rules so that they could do it.  The scribes and Pharisees were more concerned about looking like they were doing the right thing, then actually finding out why they were called to do the right thing.  This lead to them sinning while still following the Law.

The would insult one another, they would gossip about one another, they would hold impure thoughts about other men’s wives, they would lie unless they were under oath, because these things were not directly forbidden by the Law.

You see what Jesus was trying to show us here is that little things add up to big things.  If we insult someone enough times, then we start seeing them as less human then us.  It becomes easier for us to commit violence against them.  It is a common tactic used to divide people, to group up people, to make them separate then us, so that we don’t see their humanity.  We call them “Ivan,” a name for the Russians we used in the Army, “Charlie,” a name for the Viet Cong we fought during the Vietnam War, or how about “illegals,” “refugee,” “Muslim,” “Gay,” “Snowflake,” “Liberal,” “Nazi,” “Fascist,” and many others.  All used to make a person different from us so that we can think lesser of them

My challenge to you this week is to prevent yourself from committing those small sins that end up leading to the big ones.  To stop gossiping, to stop the name calling, to try to control your impure thoughts, and to stop treating others like you would be treated.  This week live with Love and Hope as your primary motivator and not fear or hate.

Sacrifice: A reflection on the 2nd Sunday of OT

Sacrifice: A reflection on the 2nd Sunday of OT

I want you all to close your eyes (well just squint them cause you can’t read if they are closed).  I want you to use your imagination to try to build the scene.  First imagine yourself by the River Jordan.  You are there with plenty of other people. Some are older but there are plenty of young people there.  Imagine a very thin but strong looking man standing by the waters of the Jordan.  That is John the Baptist and you have been following him for months now listening to his preaching.  You have been baptized with him, washed ritually cleaned.  You respect him highly and think that he will help you find the answers to life that you have been looking for.  Why am I here…what is my purpose…how do I become a better person.

Now let me read the passage from this Sunday’s readings:

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. (The same words we hear at the Mass now. As he says that you smell a combination of a slaughterhouse and a BBQ Resturant, and you know that is the smell of the sacrifices happening at the Temple of Israel.)
He is the one of whom I said,
‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel.”
John testified further, saying,
“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”

What would you do if that was what you saw?  What would you think of Jesus? How would your life change from that moment?

In our modern times, we think of Lambs as what?  (Weak, Mild, Soft, etc…)  But for those that lived that scene they would have remembered the smell of the sacrifice and would have known that a lamb was used to sacrifice to God.  To bring us closer to God.

Sacrifice is something that is not fully understood in our current world. We have a society that teaches to look out for oneself before looking out for anyone else.  It is those that have the most money, the nicest cars, and the biggest houses that are held to high esteem.  We live in a society that thinks if we try hard enough we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and overcome anything, even sin.

Yet the Hebrews know that we do nothing on our own.  That everything we get is a gift from God.  That all the food, cattle, and money we have is given by God in our care.  They would sacrifice the first fruits and the first born of their cattle to God, not because he needed it, but because it reminded them of where these items came from.  That they wanted to return to God some of what was given to them as a sign of thanksgiving.

In the same way, they knew that their sin destroyed the relationship they had with God.  They would offer their best to God as a sign of repentance, of reparations, of justice, of wanting to be fix the relationship with God.  Those things didn’t benefit God at all but they did benefit those that gave.  It was a physical sign of what could not be seen, the repentance they held in their heart.

So why does John call Jesus the Lamb of God?  Because Jesus comes as the final sacrifice for all our sins.  That through his sacrifice man will finally be able to be in full communion with God.  He provides the perfect sacrifice to finally deal with the sins of humanity, so that they can truly have a full and total relationship with God.

To this day we continue to make present that sacrifice Jesus made through the Mass.  Through the Mass we offer up our prayers and wants to come into communion with God and with Jesus.  To fix our relationship with God.

As Christians we are called to be like Christ, to be little Christs.  It is why we are asked to be sacrificial in our nature.  That we are asked to do things like giving of our free time on our days off to help feed the poor, like this Friday as we cook the soups. It is why you the teens come together to hold the Senior Prom.  It becomes a sacrifice of our time and talent to provide a night for the seniors of our parish and to help those of us here that can’t afford to go on the Summer Retreat.  It is why we sacrifice our time now here at Joy and Devotion so that we can become closer to God.

It is why we come to Mass every Sunday, God doesn’t need us at the Mass but through the Mass and through our worship we share with God and give thanks to God for all he has done for us.  So, as you go through this week try living as a lamb and sacrifice for God.