2nd Sunday of Lent (Chinese New Year), February 25, 2018

March 30th, 2018

This is the Year of the Dog. Dogs are known all over the world for their loyalty. Traditional Chinese culture also recognizes this characteristic. For example, a loyal person is said to have the “heart of a dog and a horse.” In Chinese mythology there is a god called the “Second Son,” the nephew of the great Jade Emperor, who has a faithful canine companion who assists him in fighting demons and monsters. In the famous novel, Journey to the West, this “Heavenly Dog” helps the god to defeat the Monkey King by biting him on the leg. (You see, it’s not just your dog that does that.)

Throughout our lives, we are called to be loyal to Jesus and to follow him faithfully, wherever he leads. This is not easy. Sometimes we might feel like Peter, James and John, climbing a high mountain, or like Abraham, asked to make some painful sacrifice—and, as in both of these cases, with little or no explanation as to why.

But we also have to remember that just as we are called to be loyal to Jesus, Jesus is loyal to us. Although it is not easy to follow him, following him is worth the trouble. Along the way, he will share with us his goodness and his mercy and, just as winter becomes spring and Lent turns into Easter, our journey with him will ultimately end up in a place that is better than we can ever imagine.

see Mark 9:2-10; Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 11, 2018

March 30th, 2018

We often use the words “I don’t care” to express the idea that we have no preference about a choice we are asked to make: “I don’t care what we eat for dinner– you choose.” At other times we might use those same words to show that something is not important to us: “I love you for who you are; I don’t care how much money you have.” But the words “I don’t care” can also mean “I don’t feel anything”—and that can be a problem.

Jesus didn’t just heal the man with leprosy; he was “moved with pity.” As we follow Jesus’ example of service to others, he hopes that we too will be moved in some way, that our words and actions will come from the heart. But if we are honest, we have to admit that that is not always true. Sometimes, perhaps because we’re tired, we’re discouraged, we have other things on our minds, or maybe we just don’t like the people in front of us, it is difficult to feel kindness, compassion, or even friendliness. We’re just going through the motions; we don’t really care.

That’s when we have to stop and try to focus again on the reason we’re doing what we’re doing, whether it’s feeding the hungry, comforting someone who’s suffered a loss, or being on the phone with a person who just needs someone to listen. We have to try to focus again on Christ and on the call that he has given to each one of us to be his instruments, to be his hands and feet and voice and body in the world. We have to try to remember who he is and who we are. If we can do that, we will care, and we will care very much.

see Mark 1:40-45

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 4, 2018

March 30th, 2018

A surprising amount of my time as pastor is spent helping people who come to the parish office for some kind of financial assistance. Those in the best situation are the ones who have someplace to live but are perhaps between paychecks, short of cash because of some large expense, and/or behind on their rent. Those in the worst situation are the ones who have been homeless for years and have no job, and no money. It’s not difficult to imagine that everbody in this latter group would echo the words of Job in our first reading: “I shall not see happiness again.”

Of course, it’s not just homelessness and poverty that can make people miserable. In this church right now there are probably many whose experience of the death of a loved one, a devastating illness, the failure of a career, a terrible public humiliation, or some other disaster has made it seem that happiness is a thing of the past. “Where is God in all this?” they might ask; like Jesus on the cross, they may feel that God has abandoned them.

In reality, God hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, God is as close as the closest human being. Just as God worked through Jesus to restore the happiness of those in need of healing, God can work through you and me to bring at least some happiness to those who see no happiness in life. We can do this in some very simple ways: listening to someone talk about a problem; giving a comforting hug; doing a home or car repair; bringing over a treat from the oven or some flowers from the garden; writing a note of support; offering the assurance of prayer.

Most likely, our small gestures will not be enough to change a person’s whole outlook on life. But even a little happiness may be enough to remind someone of the nearness of God and the even greater happiness that is possible for those who live in God’s presence.

see Job 7:3-4, 6-7; Mark 1:29-39

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 28, 2018

March 30th, 2018

I can tell you the difference between the immaculate conception and the virgin birth; I can give you a definition for the word “sacrament”; and I can explain why people who are not Catholic still might need an annulment from the Catholic Church. But I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert on religious matters. There are many times when I have to make a phone call, look something up in a book, or, yes, search the internet in order to get the answer to a question. I have to consult an authority.

Jesus didn’t have to consult anybody. The people recognized that “he taught them as one having authority”; he was somebody who knew what he was talking about. It might have had something to do with the way he spoke; after all, he definitely knew how to draw a crowd and keep everyone’s attention. But I think Jesus’ ability to convince people of his knowledge and wisdom also had a lot to do with the fact that he backed up all his words with action. He didn’t just talk about forgiveness; he forgave. He didn’t just talk about healing; he healed. He didn’t just talk about serving others; he served. He didn’t just talk about love; he loved.

We might look around today at our world that often seems so sad and hopeless and wish that we could teach people many things about God, about how to treat others, about what’s really important in life. To have any hope of success, we have to teach with authority, we have to prove we’re people who know what they’re talking about, and that means we have to give generously to the poor, we have to show respect to those who are different, we have to be kind to our enemies, we have to welcome strangers, we have to make prayer and worship a priority in our lives. In other words, to prove we know what we’re talking about, we can’t be all talk and no action.

see Mark 1:21-28

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 21, 2018

February 24th, 2018

If we made a list of things we cared about in this world, chances are that at the top of the list would be family, friends, health, and/or financial security. But we could easily expand that list to include things like faith, national politics, the local community, home repairs, our personal appearance, our popularity, success in a career, the kind of car we drive, or the college to which we get admitted. Today a lot of people also care a lot about their status on social media—and how about just their phones? Imagine losing your phone—or your connection to the internet! What kind of impact would that have on your life?

There are reasons, perhaps some very good ones, to care about all of these things. However, I wonder if we sometimes care a bit too much. Today St. Paul reminds us that “the world in its present form is passing away.” If, as St. Paul says, our world is impermanent, should we not guard against too strong an attachment to anything in it? I think what this means practically is that we sometimes need to take things less seriously—and for some people, not all, I would certainly include here matters related to religion.

The world is passing away! It is wise, then, to place limits on the amount of time and energy we expend, to place limits on the amount of stress and strain we allow ourselves to experience. There are warning signs when we are doing too much. When something I care about endangers my health or the health of someone else; when it gives me a poor self-image; when it makes me a stranger to those who are supposed to be close to me or prevents me from forming healthy relationships; when it causes me to feel hateful toward others or completely indifferent; when it keeps me from praying with a sincere heart or pushes God away from the center of my life; that’s when I may have to step back and remind myself that the world is passing away.

see1 Corinthians 7:29-31

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Holy Family, December 31, 2017

February 24th, 2018

The story in our gospel today is the story of a miracle. No, I’m not talking about Simeon’s recognition of Jesus as the messiah, although that is impressive. I’m talking about the miracle of a family participating in a religious ritual without the children complaining. True, Jesus is just 40 days old but there is no record of him making any fuss while in the temple.

For a while, children are very obedient; they do whatever their parents tell them to do. But at a certain point, things change. They start to ask questions, and when they don’t like the answers—or they come up with their own answers—they start to rebel against their parents. They want to do things their way, even if completely contrary to their parents’ advice and guidance. Sometimes, that’s actually their goal: to do something that is in direct opposition to whatever their parents want them to do, in order to show that they are not their parents and to assert their freedom and independence. The hope of the parents is that their children will eventually, perhaps after some bad decisions and foolish mistakes, realize that their parents really do have some wisdom and come to appreciate and value the advice and guidance they were once so eager to ignore.

Of course, in God’s family we are the children and God is the parent. In this new year of life, will we still be in the rebellious stage—or will we be ready to look to God for the direction that we need?

see Luke 2:22, 39-40

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Christmas, December 25, 2017

December 29th, 2017

A former Pentagon official who had been in charge of investigating UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) recently said in a TV interview that he believes that “there is very compelling evidence” that alien beings have visited our planet. But if what this gentleman is saying is true, it’s not difficult to understand why these alien beings have not made a larger effort to contact us, much less stay put. Just look at this past year, with its seemingly endless procession of misery: earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and fires all took their devastating toll, even as we were once again horrified by the human capacity for cruelty, selfishness, and stupidity. Why would any alien being who happened upon our planet want to stick around?

But our God did more than just visit our world; our God became one of us, choosing to be not someone on the outside looking in but someone living right in the middle of our suffering, our fear, our anxiety, and our confusion. Right from the very beginning, God endured harsh realities that human beings must endure: his parents struggled to survive in a land stripped of its wealth by unjust rulers; while still in the womb, he had an enemy—and a threat on his life; on his birthday he was thrust into the cold night air, deprived of shelter, and had to sleep in a place where animals fed.

God still wants to be right in the middle of our suffering, our fear, our anxiety, and our confusion. Boundless in mercy and compassion, God wants to be with us as we deal with challenges to our health and safety, challenges to our financial security, challenges to the unity of our families, challenges to faithfulness in relationships, challenges to our ability to forgive, challenges to our hope for the future, and even challenges to our belief in God.

God has no desire to be a visitor. Instead, it is God’s wish to stick around, to share our world and our lives—just as long as we are willing to share our world and our lives with God.

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

3rd Sunday of Advent, December 17, 2017

December 29th, 2017

Many of us carry a membership card for the American Automobile Association, better known as “Triple A,” in order to take advantage of its roadside assistance. Triple A members get peace of mind knowing that if they get a flat tire, the car won’t start, or the keys get locked in, there is someone they can call for help.

Looking at the problems facing our world and our nation—problems much more serious than some mishap with the car—we may feel so lost and hopeless at times that we wish there were someone who would come to our aid. We are on the brink of nuclear war; terrorist attacks have become so frequent that they are almost a “normal” occurrence; whole groups of people are being targeted for extermination by others, while those who are the enemy of nobody in particular continue to die of starvation and disease. More and more people are living on the streets or—if they’re “lucky,” in their cars—as those who have more money than they need and more power than they deserve just keep trying to get more. Honor, virtue, faithfulness, even politeness, all seem to be things of the past as people seem to do whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it.

As Christians, we naturally turn to Jesus; after all, he is the savior who first came to us in our great need. Surely, as our Advent readings remind us, he will not abandon us: he will come again! But we too have a responsibility. The words in our first reading apply not just to Jesus but also to each one of us: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, . . . .” It is fine and good to ask the Lord to save us but what am I going to do to save us? We can’t just wait around for Jesus. Whether it is by joining a protest, casting a vote, taking care to pass on proper values to children, making a contribution, or standing up for somebody whose dignity is being attacked, we must answer the call for help.

see Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

First Sunday of Advent, December 3, 2017

December 29th, 2017

When my nieces were very small, they would from time to time draw pictures that they would then give to me. No doubt these pictures, drawn in crayon or marking pen, would embarrass my nieces today but I still have every one of their drawings on display in my residence, just as I’m sure that many of you have refrigerator doors covered by the drawings of children or grandchildren.

Actually, many if not most of the world’s most precious objects are not mass-produced in some factory or laboratory but are created uniquely by someone’s hands. Think about all the great works of art protected and preserved in museums: paintings, sculptures, porcelain. But besides being handmade and prized for their beauty and craftsmanship, these precious works of art share another characteristic: all of them have flaws. We might not notice them at first; we might even have to look at them with a magnifying glass. But the flaws are there. That is the nature of anything that is made by hand.

Today the prophet Isaiah is speaking for us when he says to God, “we are the clay and you are the potter: we are all the work of your hands.” We are God’s creation but we too have flaws. There is no exception. As we think about the people who have been part of our lives in this year that is rapidly drawing to a close, let us not fail to see that in spite of their flaws, there is a beauty and craftsmanship in each one.

see Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 19, 2017

November 30th, 2017

Millions of Americans are preparing to gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. For Christians it is a time to give voice to the sentiment expressed in the old hymn: “All good gifts around us are sent from heav’n above; then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord for all his love.”

But it seems to me that the many gifts we receive from God—life, health, food, abilities, material possessions, the people who are important to us, this complicated yet still wonderful world in which we live—are not like the gifts we receive from other people. For one thing, the gifts we receive from God are not really ours, because everything belongs to God. For another, we are not free to do with them as we please.

The gifts we receive from God are really much more like the money the master entrusts to his servants, expecting interest on his investment: God expects that the good things given to us in abundance be used to produce good things in even greater abundance. If I have the gift of wealth, I should be sharing it generously with the poor and supporting the church. If I have the gift of a great mind, I should be developing solutions to great problems like hunger, disease, and homelessness. If I have the gift of children, I should be teaching them the ways of faith—especially through my own example. If I have the gift of compassion, I should be comforting those who are in pain. If I have the gift of musical or artistic skill, I should be inspiring others to seek God, the source of all beauty.

To the extent that we use God’s gifts not just to improve our lives but also to improve the lives of our sisters and brothers, we prove ourselves faithful servants of God.

see Matthew 25:14-30

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm