16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 23, 2017

July 27th, 2017

On Father’s Day of this year, a woman waiting in the drive-thru at a McDonald’s in Scottsburg, IN, noticed in the car behind her a man buying some Happy Meals for his children. To wish the man a happy Father’s Day, she decided to pay for his entire purchase. And so began an unbroken chain of 167 drive-thru customers paying for the people waiting in line behind them. The chain was broken only when the restaurant had to close for the night.

It’s a heartwarming story that makes us smile. On closer examination, however, it wasn’t much of a challenge for the people in those cars. After all, everybody was being kind to everybody else. It would be a different story, I think, if a customer paid for the Happy Meals of the kids who were throwing things at her car; if someone bought dinner for the woman who honked at him to move up in the line; or if a person paid for all the orders coming from the bus transporting inmates from the local prison.

We might dream of a world where everybody is kind to everybody else but the reality is that the kind and the unkind, the good and the bad, the wheat and the weeds, we all live together, constantly interacting with and affecting the lives of one another. In a way, we could say that the wheat need the weeds because they challenge us to be our best selves—the people God wants us to be, faithful disciples of Christ. How can we learn forgiveness if there are no people who have sinned against us? How can learn mercy if there are no people deserving of punishment? How can we learn Christian love if there are no people who look on us with contempt? How can we learn selfless generosity if there are no people who take without giving anything in return? How can we learn humility if there are no people who remind us of our shortcomings—who remind us of the fact that we are both wheat and weed?

see Matthew 12:24-30

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 9, 2017

July 27th, 2017

There are probably some people here who, having received holy communion, will not chew the host but insist on allowing it to dissolve in the mouth. That’s because years ago, some Catholic children were taught that chewing a host was disrespectful to the body of Christ.

So much of who we are today was formed by our childhood. So many of our current beliefs, attitudes, and values—good or bad—can be traced directly back to what we learned from our parents or some other parental figure: Do we remember to say “please” and “thank you”? Do we vote in every election? Do we take leftover food home from the restaurant or do we leave it to be thrown in the garbage?

But without the influence of adults, little children are a clean slate, free to approach the world and other people with an innocent ignorance of what might be inhabiting the minds of people who are much older. For example, have you ever noticed that little children do not see the color of other little children’s skin, or if they do see it, it doesn’t mean anything to them? They are able to laugh and play and have fun with whoever wants to laugh and play and have fun. If we were all little children, we just might be able to get along with everybody else, regardless of place of origin, language, culture, or religion.

Jesus praises God for revealing to little ones what he has hidden from the wise and the learned. We are not slaves of the past. If, at some point in the past, we have learned to be prejudiced, to be people who look down on, reject, or despise those who are different from us, we can, with God’s help, unlearn it and see the truth that little ones already know: we are all the same.

see Matthew 11:25-30

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 2, 2017

July 27th, 2017

Who’s the most important person in your life?

If you said Jesus, I’m not sure I believe you. I think that not many people anywhere would honestly be able to say that. Instead, most people would probably list father or mother, son or daughter, spouse or friend—making most people, according to what Jesus says in our gospel, unworthy of him. But even if there are people here who could honestly say that they love Jesus more than anyone else, they would still be unworthy of Jesus. And that is because absolutely everyone is a sinner and is therefore unworthy of Jesus. No one is exempt from saying those words we say at every mass: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.”

Note that our unworthiness does not exclude us from friendship with Jesus. If Jesus called only those who were worthy of him, the number of apostles would be exactly zero. As unworthy as we are, Jesus wants us to be with him, to follow him and to walk with him in all our unworthiness. We should never be afraid to approach him, in our sadness or in our joy, with our prayers of petition or prayers of thanksgiving.

Nor should we ever stop trying to be more worthy of him, particularly by showing mercy and compassion to those who, because of their sinfulness or simply because of the scorn and judgment of others, are made to feel unworthy of God’s love.

see Matthew 10:37-42

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 25, 2017

July 27th, 2017

Think of the people who know you best in the whole world. They might include a spouse, some friends, maybe a brother or sister. But do those people really know everything about you—or are they missing a few facts? Now it doesn’t have to be something dark or evil. Maybe what they don’t know—what you haven’t told them—is an embarrassing incident that happened in college or your real favorite movie, not the one that you tell everyone is your favorite movie. But I would guess that there is no one who knows absolutely everything about us. After all, we don’t even know everything about us.

But God knows. That’s what Jesus is saying in our gospel when he says that “Even all the hairs of your head are counted.” Even if we wanted to keep some information from God, we would not be able to do it. There is nothing hidden from God’s eyes. God knows what makes us happy and what makes us sad. God knows what excites us and what scares us. God knows everything we hope to do and everything we wish we had never done. And yes, God knows our struggles, our weaknesses, our failures, and our sins.

While God’s knowledge of us is amazing, what is most amazing of all is that God knows absolutely everything about us—and still loves us. There is nothing that God knows about us that can prevent God from loving us. God might want us to change some things about us—there is a very high probability of that—but change is not a condition for God’s love.

Whatever God knows about us, whether good or bad, is not as important as what is in God’s heart.

see Matthew 10:26-33

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Body and Blood of Christ, June 18, 2017

June 22nd, 2017

Although there are plenty of wonderful families with adoptive parents and children, people who speak English sometimes use the words “flesh and blood” to describe a close family connection. Since it is Father’s Day, a couple of examples involving fathers would be appropriate. A teenage son whose father has denied him permission to borrow the car might say sarcastically, “Nice way to treat your own flesh and blood.” Years later, however, the father might say to the son, “Of course I’ll give you the money for the down payment for your house. You’re my own flesh and blood.”

As Jesus makes clear to the crowds gathered around him, those who share in the heavenly food and drink that he gives share in his own flesh and blood. In doing so, they are united to him by a close family connection. But just as some family connections of flesh and blood can be lost because of time, distance, indifference, or conflict, the family connection of flesh and blood with Jesus can also be lost—even for those who receive holy communion at mass each week.

To maintain—or better, affirm—our family connection of flesh and blood with Jesus, we need only to connect with others as Jesus did—through compassion for those who are suffering, welcome for those who are strangers, acceptance for those who are rejected, mercy for those who have wronged us. In other words, we show our family connection of flesh and blood with Jesus when we show to others a connection of love.

see John 6:51-58

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Holy Trinity, June 11, 2017

June 22nd, 2017

Human communication can be a challenge. Sometimes we want to say something but we can’t, maybe because we don’t have the language skills, maybe because we’re overcome by emotion, or maybe because we simply don’t know what to say. There are also times when we do express ourselves but we do it badly or incorrectly, causing misunderstanding, confusion, hurt feelings, and/or anger. And what if the problem is not on our end? What if we are communicating clearly but, for a variety of reasons, those to whom we are communicating are still not getting the message?

From eternity God was a God of love, “merciful and gracious, . . . slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” It is perhaps debatable whether God was always communicating clearly, but many of the people of Israel were not getting the proper message. There was no better way to clarify and reinforce the message that God was a God of love than for God to come into the world as Jesus Christ, the Son sent by the Father not to condemn the world but to save it. In his preaching and healing, in his compassion for the poor and the outcast, and above all, in his suffering and death, Jesus communicated loud and clear the message that God was indeed a God of love.

Now that Jesus no longer walks this earth, that same message has been entrusted to us. Through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, present and active in our world, we can live lives of selflessness and sacrifice, generously putting the needs of others before our own. When we allow the Spirit to work in and through us to do good, we communicate loud and clear the message that God is indeed a God of love.

see John 3:16-18; Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Pentecost, June 4, 2017

June 22nd, 2017

Are you listening to me? That’s a fair question, as we all know that we don’t always listen to other people. For example, we’ve all had the experience of being on the phone with someone who keeps talking beyond the point where we’re interested in what the other person is saying. We might say, “Uh huh . . . uh huh . . . uh huh . . . “ but we’re not really listening.

The Holy Spirit descended on the disciples, enabling them to speak in a variety of languages—languages they did not previously speak. At the same time, the Spirit made it possible for the many foreign visitors to Jerusalem to understand what the disciples were saying. But what if those visitors were not paying attention to the disciples? What if they were focused on some other concern, like a problem with the family or how they were going to get home after their visit? In order for those visitors to understand the disciples, they first had to listen to them.

God is not so much interested in us gaining an understanding of what people say as in gaining an understanding of who people are. Misunderstanding can lead to fear, suspicion, and unfair judgment; understanding can lead to respect, empathy, and even appreciation. This is especially true when we encounter people whose cultures, religious beliefs, or points of view might be different from our own. The Holy Spirit can help us to grow in our understanding of others, but first we have to be open to growing in our understanding others; we have to be willing to listen with our ears and our hearts.

see Acts 2:1-11

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Ascension, May 28, 2017

June 22nd, 2017

Pope Francis is known for his deep humility. In September of 2013, when he had been pope for just a little over six months, an interviewer asked him to describe himself. The pope responded, “I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.”

In our gospel today there is a line that is very simple and yet full of meaning. Upon seeing Jesus on the mountain from which he was to ascend to heaven, the disciples “worshiped, but they doubted.” These words essentially say of the disciples the same thing that Pope Francis said about himself in that interview back in 2013: they are weak, imperfect, human. And yet, none of this makes any difference in terms of the commission that Jesus gives to them before his ascension. He still says to them, “Go . . . and make disciples of all nations.”

The fact that each one of us is weak, imperfect, human does not disqualify us from spreading the gospel message to all those we may encounter in this life. Instead, we could say that being weak, imperfect, human actually makes us more qualified to do this task. The gospel that we and the other disciples of Jesus are called to proclaim by word and example is a gospel of mercy and forgiveness, a gospel that says that God loves us not only in spite of our sinfulness but even in our sinfulness. Who could be better for the job of spreading that gospel of mercy and forgiveness than people who have recognized their need for that gospel and continue to benefit from it—people who can say, “I am a sinner”?

see Matthew 28:16-20

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

6th Sunday of Easter, May 21, 2017

May 26th, 2017

I dare say most Catholics don’t notice it, and if they do, they likely don’t know what it means. I’m referring to a gesture the priest makes during mass, when he holds his hands together over the bread and wine on the altar. This very important gesture, called the laying on of hands, signifies a request for the action of the Holy Spirit. It is the same gesture that Peter and John use in our first reading when they ask the Holy Spirit to come upon those in Samaria who “had accepted the word of God.”

The laying on of hands appears today not only during the mass but also in many other rituals of the Church, including baptism, confirmation, reconciliation, the anointing of the sick, and the ordination of bishops, priests, and deacons. The gesture is one of power—not the power of the person laying hands, but the power of God. Without that power of God, the Church can’t do anything: it can’t change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ; it can’t bring in or strengthen new members; it can’t forgive sins or heal the sick; it can’t send forth those called to serve the Church as clergy.

But all of us are equally dependent upon the power of God. Without that power, we can’t do anything good: parents can’t raise children to be decent human beings; married couples can’t have or keep a truly loving relationship; teachers can’t pass on knowledge; artists can’t create things of beauty; scientists can’t figure out mysteries; lawmakers can’t make wise laws. Most important of all, we all are dependent upon the power of God to enable us to be faithful to Christ and keep his commandments, serving God and others as he did, with selfless devotion and dedication.

Whether we are at church, in need of spiritual nourishment, at home, in need of patience with family members, or at work, in need of help with a project, we all need the power of God to come upon us.

see Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; John 14:15-21

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

3rd Sunday of Easter, April 30, 2017

May 26th, 2017

Things that happened that we wish had not happened. Things that didn’t happen that we wish had happened. Like the two disciples in our gospel story, we all have our disappointments in life—and, like the disciples in our gospel story, we could talk about those disappointments at great length with friends or anyone else who might be willing to listen. We might not think about those disappointments every moment of every day, but they are with us, perhaps to the end of our lives.

But besides the fact that all of our disappointments have been disappointing, there is one other thing that they all have in common, and that is that they are in the past. They’re history. No matter how much we might want to change what did or didn’t happen, there is nothing we can do about it now.

The risen Lord offers us the chance to walk with him on the road, to move on from the past, to live a new life. For those of us willing to take him up on his offer, there is mercy and forgiveness, as well as the grace and strength we will need to let go of those disappointments and keep walking. Jesus may have vanished from our sight, but he is still with us. If we choose to walk with him, we will not be disappointed.

see Luke 24:13-35

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm