Archive for December, 2013

Holy Family, December 30, 2012

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Parents vs. children: It’s the battle in every family since the beginning of families. The parents want the children to do something; the children refuse to do it. The parents can try persuasion, negotiation, bribery, threats—and they can still end up with rebellion.

Should children obey their parents? I would say yes. Look at Jesus in our gospel. Once again, he’s a good example. He did get into some mischief in the temple in Jerusalem, but the gospel says very clearly that he was obedient to Mary and Joseph after that time. And like Jesus, children need to grow in wisdom as they get older. Obedience to one’s parents is the recognition that they have a wisdom that comes with age and with more experience in life.

But here’s the catch for parents and other elders who might want obedience from younger generations: like Mary and Joseph, they must first show they are worthy of obedience. The best way to do that is to lead lives of obedience to God, putting God first, serving others selflessly and generously, seeking justice for the poor and oppressed, and displaying all of the qualities mentioned in our second reading: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, love.

If those who want obedience don’t show that they are worthy of obedience, they shouldn’t expect anyone to obey them. But if parents and elders live lives of holiness, obeying God in all they say and do, they just might be able to inspire younger generations to follow their lead.

see Luke 2:41-52; Colossians 3:12-17

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Christmas 2012

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Not long after the terrible tragedy at Newtown, CT, on December 14, a memorial to the victims sprang up in the center of town. Among the teddy bears, balloons, and flowers left there by residents and visitors were also many candles. A group of high school students took on the job of keeping all of the candles at the memorial lit at all times. They were doing it, they said, because they wanted to give people hope.

It couldn’t be easy to keep all of those candles lit. But much more difficult, I think, is to keep the light of hope burning. There always seem to be things that threaten that light of hope, things that can dim that light or extinguish it altogether. And we don’t necessarily have to look across the country or across the world to find them. As we celebrate Christmas, there are undoubtedly many among us struggling to keep the light of hope burning, dealing with the sickness or death of a loved one, seemingly insurmountable financial problems, inability to find a job, the loss of a home, the breakdown of a marriage, rejection by family members, failure in work or in school.

The prophet Isaiah tells us, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” That light is more than the light of hope; that light is Jesus Christ. That light assures us that the same God who became one of us to save us in our darkest hour is still with us in all our struggles, still loving us, still somehow working for our good, no matter how dark or gloomy or hopeless our situation may be—and that light can never be extinguished. Today, as we remember the coming of that light into our world, let us welcome that light into our hearts and into our lives, where it will keep burning always.

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

2nd Sunday of Advent, December 9, 2012

Monday, December 9th, 2013

My family recently had to deal with a medical emergency—an experience that I’m sure many here have shared. This was a busy, exhausting time of concern, anxiety, and fear, along with a lack of energy for or interest in normal activities like work, watching television or eating. And how did God fit in? Well, there was certainly a lot of praying but at least until the situation began to improve—and it did–I don’t know how much anyone was aware of God’s presence.

During the season of Advent, we Christians seem to pretend that God is coming into our lives—as if he were not already here. But the fact of the matter is that God is always with us. The problem is, we’re not always aware of his presence. The biggest obstacles to this awareness are the hardships that can dominate our lives at any given time: sickness and death, the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, financial disaster, professional failure, rejection by loved ones, the destruction of hopes and dreams for the future. These hardships, these sources of pain and suffering, are the valleys and mountains, the winding roads and rough ways that can make it so difficult not for God to come into our lives but for God to enter into our consciousness.

There’s no easy solution to this problem. I want to say first that God doesn’t mind if at times we are so overwhelmed by the challenges of life that we are not quite in touch with him. He understands our situation and will still go on loving us, whether we know that he’s doing it or not. It’s also important that we do as much as we can to support one another during times of crisis. During this recent family emergency, I marveled at all the family members and friends who rallied around us–visiting the hospital, sending cards, making phone calls, dropping off food—and I was so thankful for the kindness of doctors and nurses. I saw God in all these people. God works through human beings and will always strive to use us to make his constant presence known.

see Luke 3:1-6

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

1st Sunday of Advent, December 2, 2012

Monday, December 9th, 2013

I don’t know about you, but for a number of years now, Christmas seems to sneak up on me. I no sooner hear the children on the playground on the first day of school than I hear Christmas carols on my car radio. It’s like a movie where somebody wakes up and discovers that he’s lost a whole chunk of time that he doesn’t remember.

But there are definitely some things that should not catch us by surprise. One is the second coming of Christ, just as Jesus warns in our gospel reading. Something else that should not catch us by surprise is, to use the words of St. Paul in our second reading, our “love for one another and for all.” It should not be surprising that members of our community have the ability to forgive those who have hurt them. It should not be surprising that members of our community are generous in giving of their time, talent, and treasure in support of the parish. It should not be surprising that members of our community are welcoming to all who choose to join us. It should not be surprising that members of our community serve the poor with devotion. It should not be surprising that members of our community show compassion to the sick, the grieving, the lonely, and the lost. Our love for one another and for all might be surprising to people outside our community—but it should not be surprising to us. That’s because we’re all supposed to have that love; it’s what makes us who we are as Christians.

When Christ does come again, let’s not surprise him with a lack of love for one another and for all.

see Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 18, 2012

Monday, December 9th, 2013

There’s an end to everything. Some things we want never to end: good times with friends, time off from work, a really great movie, the pumpkin pie from Thanksgiving dinner. But we earnestly pray for an end to other things: grief over the death of a loved one, a long illness, an unjust situation, fighting and bickering between family members, joblessness, loneliness.

In today’s gospel, which uses traditional Jewish imagery of the end of the world—not to be taken literally–, Jesus says of that end, “But of that day or hour, no one knows, . . .” Equally unknown to us is the end of trouble and pain. That lack of knowledge tries our patience and tests our strength, sometimes causing us to lose hope that the end will ever come.

However, I also draw your attention to another line in our gospel reading today: “And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, . . . ‘ It is important for us to remember that the Son of Man—that is, our Lord Jesus Christ—already possesses a power and glory that is unsurpassed by anyone on earth. His power and glory is our guarantee that our hope is not in vain. We may not know the day or the hour, but he can and will bring an end to our trouble and pain, the answer to our prayers.

see Mark 13:24-32

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 28, 2012

Monday, December 9th, 2013

I don’t have teenagers but I understand that telling them to stop doing something—leaving a mess in their rooms, dressing a certain way, seeing a boy or girl you can’t stand—is the surest way to get them to keep doing it.

It’s not just teenagers, of course, who don’t like other people telling them what or what not to do. Who among us hasn’t tried –or at least wished–to assert his or her independence? We value our freedom as Americans but I think our personal freedom is even more important to us. We encourage one another with words like, “Do your own thing,” “It’s your life,” “Don’t listen to anyone else,” “Be your own person,” or simply, “Just be yourself.”

In general, these are not bad pieces of advice. I’ve given all of them to parishioners, to friends, and, from time to time, to me. But in our rush to be independent and free, we can forget that others may be right and we may be wrong, others may be wise and we may be foolish.

This is why I think the blind man Bartimaeus is a good role model for all of us. After his conversation with Jesus, the Lord says to him, “Go your way”—but Bartimaeus, now able to see, does not go off on his own but instead chooses to follow Jesus, to allow Jesus to give him the direction he needs in his life. For us, the way of independence and freedom will be good only if it is also the way of Christ.

see Mark 10:46-52

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 21, 2012

Monday, December 9th, 2013

We tend to hide our weaknesses. We comb our hair over a bald spot. We suck in our gut to give the impression we haven’t gained weight. We pretend we can hear someone when we really can’t. We don’t want visitors when we’re in the hospital. We wear sunglasses at funerals when we think we might get emotional. We don’t ask people out because we’re afraid of rejection.

It’s no wonder, then, that while we often talk about the power of Christ to do this or that, we hardly ever talk about the weaknesses of Jesus. They’re right there in the Bible, if we look for them: Jesus weeping at the death of his friend Lazarus; Jesus getting angry at the hypocritical Pharisees; Jesus losing patience with Peter—even calling him “Satan”; Jesus fearfully begging his Father to let the cup of suffering pass him by; Jesus crying out on the cross, feeling totally abandoned by God.

But it seems to me that the weaknesses of Jesus deserve more of our notice. In fact, we should celebrate them. In our second reading, the Letter to the Hebrews says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been similarly tested in every way, yet without sin.” Jesus’ weaknesses not only make it possible for him to sympathize with us; they also unite him to us and us to him. Those weaknesses that Jesus shares with us are ultimately a sign of God’s great compassion for us, the assurance that God knows and understands the weaknesses of each one of us–from insecurity and loneliness to a lack of faith and an inability to forgive—and still he desires to save us, to lift us up and make us strong.

see Hebrews 4:14-16

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 14, 2012

Monday, December 9th, 2013

If you travel by air these days, you may have to give up a few things, including that bottle of water you’re carrying; any hope of getting a hot meal or even a bag of peanuts; room for your legs; and, of course, your dignity, if you happen to get chosen for “special” screening when you’re going through security.

If we want to follow Jesus, we may have to give up a few things. Unlike the man in the gospel, we might be able to keep our possessions—a relief to many of us, I’m sure. But the sacrifice Jesus asks of us may still be daunting and very painful. Jesus might ask us to give up the grudges we have held against those who hurt us or any desire for revenge. Jesus might ask us to give up our arrogance and self-importance. Jesus might ask us to give up our prejudice towards people of certain ethnic groups or religions. Jesus might ask us to give up our need for status or popularity. Jesus might ask us to give up our focus on having fun and feeling good.

Jesus might ask us to give up anything that might keep us from following him with hearts and minds like his—hearts and minds that are devoted to the service of God and of our sisters and brothers. The man in the gospel could not say yes to Jesus’ request. I wonder how you and I will respond.

see Mark 10:17-27

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm