Archive for November, 2011

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Father Anton Luli, an Albanian Jesuit who died in 1998, endured an astonishing 42 years either in prison or in labor camps, all because he was a Catholic priest. Seventeen of those 42 years Father Luli spent in solitary confinement. It is difficult to imagine how martyrs like Father Luli can hold onto their faith in the midst of suffering, even as they experience such great loneliness and deprivation, even as they face torture and death.

Our gospel story today can give us the impression that the persistence that Jesus teaches means nothing more than constant prayer, ceaseless asking, seeking, and knocking. But I think that if that is our conclusion, we are incorrect. Persistence in praying is not nearly as important as persistence in believing that our God is good even when things look bad. Persistence in praying is not nearly as important as persistence in believing that God is a loving Father even when snakes and scorpions are everywhere. It is this kind of persistence—a stubborn conviction that God knows what is best for us and somehow, someway, everything will work out in the end—that Jesus wishes for us in those dark moments of fear and loss, in times of sickness, unemployment, failure, and betrayal.

Admittedly, faith in the midst of suffering can be a real struggle. It requires us to put aside our usual ideas about how God works and where God is and see his activity and presence in new and challenging ways. Faith in the midst of suffering requires lots and lots of persistence.

see Luke 11:1-13

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

We’re busy, busy, busy. We’ve got meetings to attend, kids to drive, phone calls to return, yards to maintain, friends to visit, projects to complete, dishes to wash, appointments to keep, gifts to buy, TVs to watch, e-mails to send, houses to clean, bills to pay, dogs to walk, meals to prepare, errands to run, and, if we’re lucky, vacations to plan—but aren’t they busy as well?

And in the midst of all this busyness, in the midst of all these things on which we expend our precious time and energy, how much do we think about Jesus? Even if we are performing some good deed—comforting the sick, giving advice to someone with a problem, lending a hand to a neighbor, volunteering at the parish—and we say we are doing it in the name of Jesus—is he really on our minds? What’s more, while we may be talking about Jesus a lot during this mass, are we really thinking about him in this church today—or are we really thinking about something that happened last week or what we’re going to do when we get home?

Martha is busy serving the Lord—and he’s right there with her—but unlike Mary, she’s somehow missing him, focused more on what she’s doing than on the one for whom she’s doing it. Jesus is always with us but because we’re so busy, all of us—including clergy, religious, and lay ministers—can miss him too. Let’s not get so caught up in our lives that we forget Jesus—the best part of our lives.

see Luke 10:38-42

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 27, 2010

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Those of us of a certain age will certainly remember a very catchy advertising jingle from years gone by:

Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce.

Special orders don’t upset us.

All we ask is that you let us

Serve it your way.

“Have it your way” was the slogan created for Burger King in 1974. But “Have it your way” is not something that Jesus would tell any would-be follower. Look what happens in today’s gospel story when a couple of the men Jesus calls try to follow him on their own terms, one wishing to bury his father before setting off and the other simply wanting to go home to say goodbye to his family. Neither request is granted.

Jesus makes the same high demands of all of his followers. He doesn’t give each of us the option of changing those demands to suit his or her preferences. He doesn’t give each of us permission to create his or her version of what being a follower means. He doesn’t say, “Have it your way.” I can’t be respectful towards just some ethnic groups. I can’t forgive every offense except the one that hurt me the most. I can’t help only the poor people who aren’t dirty and don’t smell bad. I can’t be against abortion for everyone’s daughter but my own. I can’t claim to be a member of a church community without contributing to its growth and vitality. I can’t be a person of faith on those days that are sunny and happy, then lose my faith on the days when everything looks bleak and depressing.

No, Jesus doesn’t say, “Have it your way.” What he does say is “Do it my way,” because as difficult as it may be, his way is the way to peace, his way is the way to life, his way is the way to the kingdom of God.

see Luke 9:51-62

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 20, 2010

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

When I was a child, perhaps the first inkling that anybody got that I might someday grow up to be a priest was that I would dress up like one. Or, to be more specific, I would do my best to dress up like a priest with what was available to me for a costume, namely, a white bathrobe and some toilet paper. Luckily, we also had an upright piano, which served nicely as an altar for mass.

Kids like to dress up like they’re someone else. Even adults occasionally put on costumes for parties or other special events. But there’s a big difference between putting on a costume and clothing ourselves with Christ, as St. Paul mentions in our second reading. When we put on a costume, we’re just pretending to be somebody else; in fact, in reality, we don’t have to be like that other person at all. When we clothed ourselves with Christ in baptism, we were supposed to be transformed into the likeness of Christ, with every future word and action meant to be reflective of that likeness.

The question for us is, is the Christ with whom we have clothed ourselves in baptism just a costume? Are our attempts at being holy people—including our prayers and participation in this eucharist—just playacting, part of some elaborate game of pretend? Or are we sincerely trying to be like Christ, trying to speak and act as he would: loving those who hate us, rejecting violent solutions to conflict, valuing human beings over material things, placing ourselves at the service of the poor and oppressed, sharing our gifts with our parish community, making God the center of our lives, doing everything for him and with him and through him?

I couldn’t fool anybody with my childhood priest costume– I hope the one I’m wearing now is more convincing. If the Christ with whom we have clothed ourselves in baptism is just a costume, we’ll never fool God. He can see who is really like Christ and who is merely pretending.

see Galatians 3:26-29

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 13, 2010

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Today Catholics can and do have endless debates over what they consider appropriate or inappropriate at mass. Some Catholics will say it is inappropriate to have dancing during the liturgy or homilies on immigration policies. Some Catholics will say that gold is the only appropriate material for chalices or that traditional hymns are the only appropriate music in church. Of course, what some Catholics consider inappropriate, other Catholics will consider appropriate, and vice versa.

In our gospel today Jesus is in attendance at a formal dinner in the home of a Pharisee, a home where everyone does what is appropriate, adhering strictly to religious laws, including those regarding ritual purity. But suddenly and silently, a woman known to all as a sinner enters and begins to do things that are inappropriate: she cries over Jesus’ feet and wipes them with her hair, then kisses them and anoints them with oil. And then Jesus does things that are inappropriate: not only does he let this sinful woman come near him but he also shows her kindness and mercy; he forgives her sins.

When it comes to people we know to be sinners, people who have hurt us or others, people who are horrible or contemptible, maybe even evil, we think it appropriate to hate them, reject them, shun them, in some cases, remove them from society, even execute them. And when we do these things, we’re happy, satisfied that we have done what is right, confident that justice has been served and we and our families are protected.

But once again Jesus is doing things that we might consider inappropriate. Instead of endorsing our response to sinners, he is challenging us to use his, challenging us to show kindness and mercy; challenging us to forgive, no matter how much people have hurt us or others, no matter how horrible, contemptible, or yes, even evil they may be. As shockingly inappropriate as it may seem, Jesus is teaching us that if we are his followers, the only appropriate response to those who sin against us is love.

see Luke 2:36-50

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm