Archive for June, 2011

Christ the King, November 22, 2009

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Jesus’ kingdom does not belong to this world–which means that it is unlike any country in this world.

In the countries of the world, millions upon millions go hungry because food is not distributed fairly. In Jesus’ kingdom, everyone shares what he or she has.

In the countries of the world, enemies destroy each other with guns and bombs. In Jesus’ kingdom, opposing sides solve conflicts peacefully.

In the countries of the world, minority groups are hated and persecuted. In Jesus’ kingdom, those who are different find welcome and respect.

In the countries of the world, leaders seek their own self-interests. In Jesus’ kingdom, the greatest are the ones who serve.

In the countries of the world, revenge is disguised as justice. In Jesus’ kingdom, mercy flows freely from people’s hearts.

In the countries of the world, the unborn, the elderly, the disabled, the very sick are all expendable. In Jesus’ kingdom, every human life is precious.

In the countries of the world, the acquisition of money and material things is the top priority. In Jesus’ kingdom, there is an awareness that treasure in heaven is more important.

In the countries of the world, God is forgotten, ignored, or the laughable figment of someone else’s imagination. In Jesus’ kingdom, God is the center of life.

Jesus’ kingdom does not belong to this world–but it can belong to us, as long as we reject the sin of the world, commit ourselves to spreading the kingdom by all that we say and do, and obey the commands of our king.

see John 18:33b-37

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 15, 2009

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Perhaps you have heard that the world is coming to an end in 2012. At least that’s what some people believe, based on what the ancient Mayan calendar says. There’s even a new movie about all this, entitled 2012. I have a few comments. First, the Mayan calendar has been ignored for thousands of years and I’m not sure why people are suddenly paying attention to it. Second, experts in Mayan culture think this conclusion is erroneous. Third, in our gospel today Jesus has this to say about the end of the world: “But of the day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

Someday Jesus will return and the world will come to an end, just as we pray week after week in the creed: “He will come in glory to judge the living and the dead.” But frankly, we don’t think much about the end of the world. We’re much more concerned about what constitutes the end of the world for us: the loss of a job or a home; loved ones getting sick and dying; estrangement from family members; financial ruin; divorce. And even if it hasn’t happened yet, we still worry about terrorist attacks, flu pandemics, earthquakes, and other disasters. We wish that we could see Jesus “coming in the clouds, with great power and glory,” not to end the world but to rescue us.

The good news is that Jesus is already here. As he teaches the disciples in our gospel, we need to read the signs “that he is near, at the gates.” We can see him in a wondrous way in this and every eucharist, in the body and blood he shares with us. But he is also with us in the love and support we share with one another in times of trouble. If there are people here–or anywhere–who cannot see that Jesus is near to them in their need, who cannot feel his presence, then that should impel us to work harder to be of help to others, impel us to be more giving and courageous. Things as simple as kind words, a listening ear, some good advice, a home-cooked meal, or a thoughtful gift, all can reveal to those in pain the same Jesus who will come with power and glory at the end of the world.

see Mark 13:24-32

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 8, 2009

Monday, June 13th, 2011

As you may already know, the priests who serve you here at St. Joseph’s are diocesan priests; that means we are attached to a geographical area called a diocese, in our case, the Diocese of San Jose. But there are also priests, as well as sisters and brothers, who are members of religious orders, like the Franciscans, the Jesuits, and the Dominicans. While diocesan priests can own property, priests, sisters, and brothers who are members of religious orders take a vow of poverty. Still, in spite of their lack of personal possessions, most members of religious orders have everything they need, provided by the order: a roof over their heads, food on the table, a car in the garage, a decent health plan. You see, even those with a vow of poverty don’t depend entirely on God.

Very few of us, and I include myself here, do depend entirely on God. We say that God will provide but that doesn’t mean we’re voluntarily going to give all our things away to charity, leave our homes, and go and beg for food on the streets. We’re not going to quit our jobs, cancel our insurance, stop putting away money for retirement, and avoid calling 911 in an emergency.

But let’s think about this: Do we have more faith or fear? How much do we really believe that God will take care of us?

The story of the poor widow in our gospel is often used as an illustration of Christian generosity. What I think we often overlook is what the story says about faith. By contributing “all she had,” the poor widow showed that she was placing her life, her health, her whole future in God’s hands. We may not be able to imitate her perfectly but we can try harder to have faith in what God can and will do for us.

see Mark 12:41-44

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 25, 2009

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Many years ago, when I was assigned to another parish, I used to go to Great America theme park every year with the altar servers. I usually did not go on any of the rides, preferring to read, talk with the other chaperones, or just wander about the park. One year, however, I felt a little bored and got in line to go on a seemingly harmless ride connected with the latest movie about James Bond, secret agent 007. Little did I know that I would find myself on the back of a motorcycle that moved up, down, and sideways as images of some extremely dangerous and obstacle-filled roadway were projected on a screen in front of me. I can’t tell you more about this all-too-realistically simulated high-speed chase because I soon decided to close my eyes and just hang on for dear life until the ride mercifully came to an end.

Sometimes we don’t want to see. If we saw everything Jesus wanted us to see, we might not like it. We might see that those people we think are so evil are actually decent human beings. We might see that violence only begets more violence. We might see that we try harder to get other people’s approval than God’s approval. We might see that we could do more for the parish than we’re doing right now. We might see that forgiveness is an expectation, not a suggestion.

Can you or I really say with Bartimaeus, “Master, I want to see”? Or are we reluctant to have our eyes opened, afraid of the challenges that will appear before us? It’s important for us to remember that it will be very difficult to follow Jesus on the way if our eyes remain closed.

see Mark 10:46-52

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 18, 2009

Monday, June 13th, 2011

In the well-known story of Cinderella, the title character is a young woman forced to live with her evil stepmother and evil stepsisters, who treat her like a servant. One night, with the help of her fairy godmother, Cinderella is able to attend a royal ball, where she meets a handsome prince, who falls in love with her. Eventually, using only a glass slipper that Cinderella leaves behind during her hasty exit from the ball, the prince finds Cinderella again and rescues her from her life of misery. But has it ever occurred to you that after marrying the prince, this servant-turned-princess almost certainly ends up with servants of her own?

An awful lot of us, if not most of us, are like Cinderella in this sense: we’d like to avoid serving people and instead get to a position in life where other people serve us. Think about it. That’s one of the reasons why we stay in school as long as we can; why we work hard and save money; why we try to get promotions or raises; why we look forward to quitting one job and getting another. That’s one of the reasons why we buy lottery tickets. We want to be the people who eat in restaurants, stay in hotels, and shop for clothes. We want to be the people who have other people clean up after them, mow their lawns, haul away their garbage, and bring them a shoe in the right size.

But maybe it would be better for us to be less anxious to escape serving others. Maybe it would be better for us to be more respectful of those for whom there is no escape from serving. To each of us Jesus says, “whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.”

see Mark 10:35-45

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 27, 2009

Monday, June 13th, 2011

The first verse of the patriotic song, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” concludes with the stirring and memorable words, “Let freedom ring!” As Americans, we cherish our freedoms, especially the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of the press, all included in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is sadly all too evident that there are many places in the world that do not share our freedoms, places where efforts to exercise freedoms like ours are routinely squashed and people are punished for not going along with the wishes of those in power. Many of us have ancestors or relatives who came to this country seeking freedoms they did not have in their native lands. And we often say that our brave men and women in the military are fighting to preserve our freedoms.

But if freedom is so important to us, if it is really as valuable to us as we claim it is, why don’t we give more freedom to God? Like Joshua in our first reading and John and the other disciples of Jesus in our gospel reading, we don’t like to give God the freedom to use as his instruments people of his own choosing. No, we insist that only those people who meet our standards, who pass our inspection, are capable of doing God’s work and receiving God’s favor. If we exclude people who pray differently than we do, people who think differently than we do, people with a sordid past or people who have simply offended us in some way, we expect God to do the same.

Throughout human history, God has proven time and time again that his saints, prophets, and faithful servants don’t fit into a particular mold. God can use anyone to accomplish beautiful and good, sometimes even great things. It would be a mistake for us to try to limit God’s freedom in any way.

see Numbers 11:25-29; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 6, 2009

Monday, June 13th, 2011

In the 1992 Disney animated film Aladdin, the title character, a poor boy masquerading as a prince, convinces the sultan’s daughter, Jasmine, to go with him for a ride on his magic carpet. High in the sky and looking down on everything below, they sing about what they have found:

A whole new world!

A new fantastic point of view

No one to tell us no

Or where to go

Or say we’re only dreaming

When Jesus healed the man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, he did more than just open his ears and his mouth: he opened up a whole new world for the man, enabling him to do things he thought he would never be able to do.

Jesus can open up a whole new world for us as well. Having encountered Jesus and empowered by his Spirit, we can do more than we ever imagined:

  • We can forgive people who have hurt us deeply
  • We can respect people with an opinion totally different from ours
  • We can do good things for others without any thought of getting something in return
  • We can put aside all our prejudices and see every person as a human being and child of God
  • We can place our trust in God instead of worrying about our problems
  • We can live our faith among those who do not share it and who may even be hostile to it

The man in the gospel wanted to be healed. While Jesus can open up a whole new and beautiful world for us, we must decide if we are willing to enter and be part of it.

see Mark 7:31-37

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 30, 2009

Monday, June 13th, 2011

You’ve probably heard of the Ten Commandments but I wonder if you are also familiar with the six Precepts of the Church. These are six rules that every Catholic in the world is expected to follow. They are:

  1. To attend mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.
  2. To fast and abstain on the days appointed.
  3. To confess at least once a year.
  4. To receive the Holy Eucharist during the Easter season.
  5. To contribute to the support of the Church.
  6. To observe the laws of the Church regarding marriage.

Now we’re not going to go around the church asking each person how he or she is doing with these precepts, as that would just take too much time But I’d like to point out something that is absolutely true but may not be obvious: someone could follow perfectly every one of the rules I mentioned above–and be an atheist.

Rules have their importance. Imagine what life would be like if there were no rules anywhere–not in government, not in business, not in families, not in personal relationships. If everyone did whatever he or she wanted to do, without any consideration of anyone or anything else, there would be chaos, to say the least. But just because people are following rules doesn’t mean they are following their hearts.

The next time we get concerned because either we or others are not following rules, let’s stop to remember that Jesus is most concerned not with what is on the outside but with what is on the inside.

see Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 23, 2009

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Just north and west of the tiny town of Lebanon, KS (pop. 364) lies a stone monument marking the geographical center of the contiguous United States, that is, the United States minus Alaska and Hawaii.

It’s not only common but also often beneficial for people to move towards the middle. Imagine how many strikes are averted, bills get passed, and couples stay together only because there is a willingness to compromise. But I don’t think compromise is always the best course of action.

Our gospel today relates that “many of the disciples,” unable to accept Jesus’ declaration that he gave his own flesh and blood as their food and drink, “returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.” Note, however, that Jesus did not go chasing after these disciples, offering to work something out.

For those who expect to keep accompanying Jesus, there are many fundamental beliefs that do not allow for compromise, despite their challenging nature. These would include the necessity of loving all people, regardless of color, class, religion, or opinion; the necessity of forgiving all sins, no matter how large or small the offense; and the necessity of valuing all human life, from the moment of conception to its natural end. While we must always be kind to and patient with those who disagree–something else about which we cannot compromise–we must honor these demands of our faith without fail, never giving in to the pressure exerted by those who would change our minds and never giving in to the temptation to be like everybody else.

The middle is generally not a bad place to be–unless it’s the middle of rejecting Jesus and his words of eternal life.

see John 6:60-69

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 16, 2009

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Getting a gift is great–unless it’s something you don’t really want. Then it sits unused and forgotten in some closet or under the bed, awaiting the day when it will be carefully regifted, donated to a rummage sale, or tossed regretfully into a trash can. Yes, it’s the thought that counts but we have to admit that a gift that is unused and forgotten has little value to us; an unwanted gift is almost like no gift at all.

Jesus assures us, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” At every eucharist we celebrate–including this one–we receive the gift of Jesus’ life-giving flesh and blood. But what do we do with that gift? Do we put that flesh and blood to good use, allowing it to form us into people of compassion and love? Do we put that flesh and blood to good use, allowing it to strengthen us for the difficult tasks of forgiving our enemies, caring for the sick and suffering, and insuring that all people can live in peace and security, free from war, persecution, and injustice? Or does that gift of Jesus’ flesh and blood end up unused and forgotten–perhaps as soon as we see someone in church we don’t like or as soon as another parishioner cuts us off as we’re trying to rush out of the church parking lot? Do we make it seem like we have not received the gift of Jesus’ flesh and blood at all?

We might say we want to receive the gift of Jesus’ life-giving flesh and blood but it’s truly wanted by us only when we put it to good use: when we let Jesus’ flesh and blood become part of our flesh and blood, changing our lives and changing us, little by little, into the image of Jesus.

see John 6:51-58

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm