Archive for August, 2012

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 23, 2011

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Anyone familiar with air travel will also be familiar with the safety instructions, to which I never fail to listen, even if I look like I’m thinking about something else. At one point during these instructions, the flight attendant will tell the passengers that if there is a loss of cabin pressure, the oxygen masks will automatically drop down from overhead. The flight attendant will then say that adults traveling with children should place their own masks on before assisting the children. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t be in any position to take care of others.

As Christians, we’re taught to follow the example of Jesus, the man for others, the one who came to serve, not to be served. It sounds strange, even unchristian, to talk about the necessity of taking care of ourselves. And yet Jesus already presumes that we have love for ourselves when he teaches as part of the greatest commandment “love your neighbor as yourself.”

The simple truth is that we cannot hope to look after the needs of others in any adequate way without looking after our own needs. How can we feed the hungry if we are weak from hunger? How can we bring joy to those in sorrow if all we feel is sadness? How can we help to shoulder the burdens of others if we are too tired to go on? Without becoming selfish and self-centered, we must pay attention to the condition of our bodies, minds, and spirits, so that we may be ready and able to take on the challenge of being God’s instruments in the world. To ignore or neglect the condition of our bodies, minds, and spirits is to lessen the quality of God’s instruments, to diminish their ability to do the work God has for them.

Proper diet, exercise, visits to doctors, time for leisure, time for prayer—all are important elements of a Christian life. Important as well is the development and maintenance of good relationships, especially with friends. And here we return to Jesus’ words in our gospel, for the first and foremost relationship any of us should develop and maintain is with God, to whom we owe love with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind.

see Matthew 22:34-40

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 16, 2011

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Nobody likes paying taxes. I hate paying taxes, mainly because I’m not happy about many of the things my tax money is buying. But whether we like paying taxes or not, we pay them, if for no other reason than it’s required by law and we’ll get in trouble if we don’t.

If we don’t like paying taxes, imagine how the Jews of Jesus’ day felt about it. Their country was occupied by foreigners—the Romans—and their hard-earned money was going to support a government that wasn’t even theirs. Still, while not exactly promoting the paying of taxes to the Roman oppressors, Jesus didn’t have a problem with it.

As we journey through life, there will be many, many times when will find that we have to do something that is objectionable to us. Some of these things, like the paying of taxes, are required by the government. Some things may be demanded by the Church—and believe me, nobody knows more than priests about the challenge of dealing with all of the Church’s rules and regulations. We may have to follow the policies of our workplace or school. We may have to honor family obligations. In all of these cases, we may feel that we are forced to do something we don’t really want to do, that we’re doing it because we want to escape some penalty or punishment.

God certainly expects us to be good and just and avoid sin. But God also understands that there will be times when, for the sake of safety, security, and peace, we will do things in which we do not believe, things in which we do not have our hearts. And that will be fine, as long as we make sure that our hearts always belong to God.

see Matthew 22:15-21

By Rev. Gregory Kimm

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 25, 2011

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Brides and grooms are understandably nervous at weddings. But I’ll tell you one thing that makes me nervous about weddings, and that’s completing the marriage license. Each of two witnesses—usually the best man and the maid of honor—has to provide a signature and address, while the priest has to do all that, plus fill in the date and place of marriage. Easy, right? Yes—except you can’t make any mistakes on the form. You can’t accidentally sign in the wrong space or write in the wrong year. If there is the littlest mistake, the county will reject the license and require you to do more paperwork to amend it.

The problem is, we all make mistakes. They’re part of our imperfect human nature. Sometimes our mistakes are harmless and inconsequential, like leaving an extra space between words when typing a report or forgetting to record a TV program. Other mistakes are more serious: lashing out in anger at someone who doesn’t deserve it; being unfaithful in a relationship. Of course, some of our more serious mistakes we call sins.

Today’s gospel really does bring good news because it assures us that as far as God is concerned, it’s okay to make mistakes, just as the first son does when he initially refuses to go out and work in the vineyard. What is most important to God is not the mistakes we make in the past but what we’re doing in the present and what we will do in the future to make up for or correct those mistakes. Our mistakes can even turn out to be valuable if, with God’s help, we can learn from them and allow them to point us in new and better directions.

see Matthew 21:28-32

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 18, 2011 (Feast of St. Joseph of Cupertino)

Monday, August 6th, 2012

If our patron saint, Joseph of Cupertino, were a character in our gospel story, he would be the laborer who didn’t get paid anything because either he got the schedule confused and showed up after everyone else was gone or he didn’t show up at all because he forgot he had a job.

Clumsy, completely lacking in academic ability, and downright odd in so many ways—not the least of which being his tendency to fly into the air in fits of religious ecstasy—Joseph suffered ridicule and rejection all his life. He was what people today might call a freak and a loser—definitely not somebody many people would want to have around.

And yet I am certain that God did not see Joseph that way at all. Just as the landowner was able to look beyond the number of hours that the last laborers worked to see people worthy of the usual daily wage, God could look beyond Joseph’s clumsiness, his apparent stupidity, and his odd behavior to see the purity of his heart, his deep love for others, especially the poor, and, of course, his holiness. I think ultimately, Joseph’s gift of flight was God’s way of saying, “I see the real you, Joseph, and you are much closer to me here in heaven than most of the people around you.”

The challenge for us is to do what God does: to look beyond our perception of people—a perception based on anything from their work schedule to the color of their skin—and see them as God sees them, to make our ways more like God’s ways and our thoughts more like God’s thoughts.

see Isaiah 55:6-9; Matthew 20:1-16a

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 11, 2011

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Not long after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, I read in the newspaper about a woman whose son, an electrician, was killed as he worked on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center. As a memorial to him, she had his name, the date, an American flag, and a cross tattooed on her back. That way, she said, he would always be with her.

Ten years later, people all over the country are again finding special ways to honor those who died on that September day. How fortunate most of us are that finding an appropriate way to honor the memory of those who died is not as intensely personal a project as it must be for the family and friends of the victims. Nevertheless, I think it is a good project for all of us, no matter how we have been affected by what happened.

In our reading from the Book of Sirach, we hear the words, “hate not your neighbor.” It seems to me that if we were to look for one simple reason for the terrorist attacks, it would be hate. What better way, then, to honor the memory of those killed than to destroy the hate that killed them? In other words, we can love. I’m not talking about the kind of love that is just hugs and warm feelings; I’m talking about the kind of love that is painful and sometimes ugly, the kind of love that enables us to tolerate those who are the least tolerable, to be patient with those who most try our patience, to be merciful to those who are wholly undeserving of mercy. This is the kind of love against which hate doesn’t stand a chance.

By making it impossible for hate to exist, we will honor those whom hate has killed. We will also cooperate with God, who longs to create a world in which, as we said in our opening prayer, “those who are at peace with one another hold fast to the good will that unites them” and “those who are enemies forget their hatred and [are] healed.” By making it impossible for hate to exist, we will help God to create a world in which we do not have to find ways to honor victims of hate.

see Sirach 27:30-28:7

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm