Archive for October, 2011

6th Sunday of Easter, May 9, 2010

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

I’ve never been married but I’ve lived with plenty of people: family members, college roommates, priests in rectories. And not one of my living arrangements has been 100% peaceful. I’m sure you would agree that there’s always conflict between people who live together, whether it’s over household chores, finances, food, or the position in which to leave the toilet seat.

Sure, we say we want Jesus and his Father to make their dwelling with us, but there’s always conflict. We want to make a nasty comment about how the neighbors’ behavior is typical of people of their ethnic group; Jesus and his Father want us to be respectful. We want to hold onto our bitterness over the unfair treatment we received from certain people years ago; Jesus and his Father want us to forgive. We want to spend our free time relaxing and doing things we think are fun; Jesus and his Father want us to use that free time volunteering at the parish. We want to take popular positions and be like everybody else; Jesus and his Father want us to take unpopular positions, ones that set us apart.

There’s always conflict with people with whom we live but we can receive benefits from them, too, like good advice about new directions in which we need to go, or encouragement when the road before us is frightening or difficult to travel. Jesus and his Father can give us these same things—and more. It may not always be peaceful dwelling with Jesus and his Father but the benefits will ultimately be better than we can even imagine.

see John 14:23-29

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

5th Sunday of Easter, May 2, 2010

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

It’s not the words printed on a baptismal certificate that tell people we’re disciples. It’s the words we speak boldly in defense of the poor and the oppressed.

It’s not the kids enrolled in Catholic school or in religion classes that tell people we’re disciples. It’s the patience we show to children when it would be easier to blow up at them.

It’s not the cross on the wall or around the neck that tells people we’re disciples. It’s the way we help others carry their crosses with our acts of kindness and support.

It’s not our knowledge of the faith that tells people we’re disciples. It’s our forgiveness of those who are ignorant of or refuse to believe the truths we hold dear.

It’s not the frequency of our church attendance that tells people we’re disciples; it’s the time and effort we put into improving the life of our church community.

It’s not the reverence with which we receive the eucharist that tells people we’re disciples. It’s the reverence we have for Jesus present in every one of his sisters and brothers.

Jesus says, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

see John 13:31-33a, 34-35

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

2nd Sunday of Easter, April 11, 2010

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Force: the U.S. government requires that I file my tax return by April 15. Fear: if the IRS finds out I didn’t really donate $1 million to the parish, I could go to jail. Manipulation: if you really love me, you’ll do my taxes for me

Force, fear manipulation: we’ve all tried to use them to our advantage at one time or another, but probably with limited success. They’re not the most effective ways of convincing someone to do something. Sure, using force, fear, or manipulation might get someone to do what we want, but we’ll also cause resentment, to say the least, and we’ll never win the person’s heart.

Thomas didn’t believe that Jesus was alive. But there is no record of what the other apostles did to try to get him to believe. All the scripture says is that Thomas was with the apostles a week later, suggesting that they were gentle with him, that somehow their brotherly bond remained intact despite the obvious difference in opinion. By allowing Thomas to stay with them, to stay a part of them, the other apostles made it possible for him to come to faith at a later date.

Many people around us don’t share our faith. Some of those people, much to our disappointment, are family members or friends. But it doesn’t do any good to use force, fear, or manipulation to get them to change their minds. And it will certainly not help to reject them, disown them, cast them out. No, along with prayer, constant love and patience provide the most nurturing environment when faith needs to grow.

see John 20:19-31

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 14, 2010

Friday, October 7th, 2011

We live in a time when it seems like no one can wait for anything. Everything has to be quick, if not instantaneous. With all of the technological advances we have today and their wide availability, we fully expect to be able within seconds to communicate with friends, no matter where they may happen to be; to get directions to an address; to find a restaurant review or a historical fact; to buy a birthday present; to check the balance in a bank account; to print a copy of a photograph. We have become people with no patience, people for whom a few extra seconds is too long to wait.

Jesus’ words to us in our gospel are a lesson in patience, a reminder that not everything can be hurried, reduced to the push of a button or the click of a mouse. The poor will receive God’s kingdom, the hungry will be satisfied, those who are weeping will laugh, those who are hated will be rewarded–but all of that will happen at some point in the future, known only to God. Jesus merely assures the people that these reversals of fortune will occur; he does not say when.

Similarly, whatever our needs may be–whether we find ourselves poor, hungry, weeping, hated, or facing some other kind of hardship in life–Jesus invites our trust–and our patience. Our prayers will be answered, our cries will be heard, but in God’s time, not ours. Good things will come to those who wait.

see Luke 6:17, 20-26

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 7, 2010

Friday, October 7th, 2011

We know the apostles had some success in “catching people.” Perhaps the best measure of that success is the fact that today about one-third of the world’s population claims to be Christian. We also know how the apostles did it–the “net” or “bait” they used to bring people to Jesus: modeling themselves on their Lord and Master, they embraced poverty and simplicity, they preached the forgiveness of sins, they healed the sick, and ultimately suffered and died for the gospel.

We too are supposed to be fishers of people; it is a universal calling for everyone who is a follower of Christ. But how successful have we been in our fishing? How many people can we say we have led to the waters of baptism or even inspired to seek the Lord? If that number is low, I suspect we should take another look at the kind of net or bait we have been using for our fishing. What exactly are we doing to attract people to the Christian life?

Do we attend mass in a way that shows we value it? Or are we lazy or indifferent, going to church only when we feel like it, not participating or paying attention when we’re there, routinely coming late or leaving early for no good reason?

Are we enthusiastic in being members of our parish community, joyfully helping out when needed and eager to take part in parish activities? Or do we do nothing, not even take a bulletin, preferring to be invisible and unknown?

Are we accepting and respectful of people of other cultures and beliefs? Or do we mock them, look down on them, resent their presence in our community?

Do we generously share the gifts God has given us, revealing that it is better to give than to receive? Or do we greedily hold on to what we have and keep trying to get more, making the acquisition of money and things our highest goal?

Are we people of hope, people who clearly believe that there is a good God who cares for us and is worthy of our trust, even in the darkest of days? Or are we always sad, depressed, or angry, spreading the bad news that people have no chance for light or happiness in this life or the next?

Will we ever catch any people for Jesus? That will depend largely on what we’re doing to catch them.

see Luke 5:1-11

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 24, 2010

Friday, October 7th, 2011

“[T]he eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.”

Where are our eyes focused?

Are we looking at the troubles of the world–the devastation caused by war, famine, disease, and natural disasters–or are we looking at Jesus, who calls us to get up and actually do something to help those who are suffering.?

Are we looking at our own problems–sickness, debt, bad relationships, joblessness, loneliness,–or are we looking at Jesus, who invites us with compassion and understanding to draw strength from him and to trust in his love?

Are we looking at material things–the things we have or the things we don’t have–or are we looking at Jesus, who teaches us that it is wiser to store up treasure in heaven?

Are we looking at work–with all its stress and the seemingly endless hours and demands–or are we looking at Jesus, who hopes to inspire us to spend more time and energy doing the work of building God’s kingdom?

Are we looking at the people in our lives–family, friends, significant others–are we looking at Jesus, who reminds us that we must care for all people, not just those who are closest to us?

How easily we can be distracted; our eyes can wander. If we try always to look at Jesus, we will surely see the light.

see Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Epiphany, January 3, 2010

Friday, October 7th, 2011

For those who are part of a 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous, the second step is a belief in a higher power that can enable them to recover from substance abuse or other dependency problems. But there are a lot of other people in our world for whom it is very difficult to believe in anything higher than them. It might be because of their political position, their education, their wealth. It might be because of their accomplishments, their talents, their beauty or their popularity. It might be just because they have a lot of confidence in themselves and in their own abilities.

The gift-bearing men who visited Jesus shortly after his birth were probably not kings; their royalty was a later tradition. But they were definitely not common people like, say, Mary and Joseph. No, they were men whom others–even King Herod–treated with respect and deference. And yet these men had no problem acknowledging that there was something higher than them–something that led them by a star on a journey of many miles, something that brought them to a tiny child before whom they prostrated themselves and left their precious gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In this way, they proved themselves truly wise.

Are we wise enough to believe that there is something higher than us? Can we admit that we need God, that we need his guidance, his help, his protection, during this new year? What is more important, do we recognize God’s authority over us, do we recognize that we are here to serve him, that to do his will should be our top priority in life? Or are we like the fools in every age, who either deny God’s existence altogether or simply cannot be bothered to pay attention to him?

No matter who we may think is below us, God is still above us, the highest of any power on earth or in heaven.

see Matthew 2:1-12

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Holy Family, December 27, 2009

Friday, October 7th, 2011

No one expected much from Susan Boyle when she appeared on the British TV show Britain’s Got Talent earlier this year. A 47-year-old spinster who lived with her mother and her cats, she was greeted with laughter when she took the stage. But then she began to sing, and her rendition of the song “I Dreamed a Dream” was so stunningly beautiful that the laughter of the audience was replaced by tears. With an album that has now sold well over one million copies, Susan Boyle is a perfect illustration of the old adage, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Today, probably more that ever in the history of the world, there is great diversity in the groups of people calling themselves family, sparking heated debate over just what a family should look like. But if it is true that you can’t tell who someone is just by looking at her, couldn’t we say the same thing about families? On this feast of the Holy Family–a family which, incidentally, was far from the norm in any day and age–I suggest that regardless of what it looks like, a real family must have within it the forgiveness, patience, and love of which our second reading speaks. Forgiveness, patience, and love do not depend on a particular family structure but depend instead on what is in the hearts of those who call themselves family. In fact, many families that appear to be ideal, looking every bit the way some demand that all families look, may be completely incapable of forgiveness, patience, and love, and for this reason may be equally incapable of being a real family.

Just as we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, we shouldn’t judge a family by what it looks like. But God, who sees all and knows all, will judge all of our families by the forgiveness, patience, and love, that live within them.

see Colossians 3:12-17

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Christmas, 2009

Friday, October 7th, 2011

“I’m only human.” You and I say that when we make a mistake, suffer a failure, do something we regret. To us, to be human is to be weak, imperfect, sinful.

And it’s true: all human beings are flawed. But Christmas should remind us of another reality, one that often eludes us. God became human because being human is also good. Even with all of our idiosyncrasies and quirks, bad habits and vices, personal issues and problems, all of the things that really annoy people and the things that drive others crazy, we are good–good enough that God decided to be born into our world, born as one of us. We can see glimpses of human goodness even now, in joyful family reunions; in those who generously share what they have with the poor; in those who uncomplainingly sacrifice holiday time to serve in firehouses, police stations, and hospitals; in those who must spend Christmas defending our country in dangerous places; in volunteers who work for many hours to ensure that our Christmas liturgies are wonderful experiences for all.

Yes, we are only human but God, seeing the goodness that is in us, has honored our humanity by taking upon himself this frail and fumbling and faulty flesh. Let us in turn, this Christmas and always, honor God and try to see the goodness of other human beings.

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

4th Sunday of Advent, December 20, 2009

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Almost every Sunday we recite a prayer called the creed or the profession of faith in which we say what we believe. But how many people here really know what we mean when we say that Jesus is “eternally begotten of the Father” or “one in being with the Father”? How many of us could explain what we mean by saying that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son” or that the Church is “catholic and apostolic”?

Let’s face it: sometimes it seems like there is more about our faith that we don’t understand than what we do understand. Creation, revelation, salvation, redemption, heaven, hell, forgiveness, sin, the Trinity, the incarnation–what’s it all about? And then when we try to apply our faith to our daily lives, we can find ourselves just as perplexed, if not more, confronted by all kinds of challenging questions: Why did God allow my loved one to get sick? Why won’t God help me to get a new job? Why is God blessing my dishonest neighbor, while leaving me in misery? Why does God close his ears to the prayers I have been offering in sincerity every single day?

Mary believed that God’s promises to her would be fulfilled but she didn’t necessarily understand the meaning of what she believed. That understanding probably came slowly over the course of her lifetime and, chances are, even at the end of her life she did not fully understand. Mary is a good role model for us as we struggle to believe in the midst of so much ignorance, confusion, and doubt. We don’t have to understand everything; we just have to try to believe in the faithfulness of God.

see Luke 1:39-45

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm