Archive for June, 2014

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 4, 2013

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Right after Pope Francis was elected earlier this year, people zeroed in on his shoes. They weren’t the elegant and presumably very expensive red leather loafers that people were accustomed to seeing on the feet of popes but instead, a pair of well-worn black lace-ups given to him by friends in his native Argentina—the same shoes he wore before he became pope.

Think about all of the stuff we have. Depending on our circumstances, we might have houses, furniture, cars, clothing, jewelry, computers, books, artwork, knick-knacks, toys, tools, souvenirs from our journeys—and, of course, money to buy more stuff. It might have taken a lot of time and energy, even sacrifice, to acquire our stuff, and yet how necessary, how important, is it really?

The lesson Jesus is trying to teach us today is similar to the lesson Pope Francis was trying to teach us: there’s nothing wrong with having stuff but let’s focus on what’s really necessary, what’s really important. What we should be working on is getting some things that I think we will all find in short supply in our homes and in our lives, things like compassion for people who are suffering; respect for those who are different from us; forgiveness for those who have harmed us; courage in standing up for what is right; generosity towards the poor; patience in dealing with those who cause us trouble; and, of course, a deeper relationship with God.

Acquiring these things may be much more difficult than acquiring the things we already have or hope to have. We’ll need God’s help. But these are the things that are really necessary and important. These are the things that matter to God.

see Luke 12:13-21

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 21, 2013

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Even when we were kids, I was very different from my two brothers. When we would go over to the home of another family to play with their children, my two brothers would go outside with the other kids and run around; all I wanted to do was stay inside and read a book.

Martha and Mary were sisters but it’s not difficult for us to see in our gospel story that they were very different people. We notice immediately that Martha busied herself with all the details of hospitality, while Mary found a comfortable place at the feet of Jesus and spent her time listening to him talk.

When we encounter other people, it’s often the differences between us and them that draw our attention. First, we might focus on differences in the way we look or speak or act; later, perhaps after getting to know each a little better, our focus might shift to differences in values or attitudes, how we spend our money or how we raise our children, the political opinions we hold or the religious beliefs we profess. Sometimes, we can become fixated on the differences between us and other people, to the extent that those differences become all we can see, to the extent that we forget all the things we have in common.

Martha and Mary were sisters, of course, but they shared something much more important than blood: they shared a deep love for the Lord Jesus, a love that moved Martha to serve him untiringly, a love that moved Mary to listen attentively to his words. As members of God’s family, we must never allow our many differences to cause us to forget not only our common baptism but also the love that we share for the Lord Jesus. It is that love that makes us one.

see Luke 10:38-42

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 7, 2013

Monday, June 16th, 2014

For many years, I have been a supporter of two Catholic missionary groups, Maryknoll and the Columban Fathers. Both groups regularly send me magazines with inspiring stories about the work of these people who have devoted their lives to spreading the gospel message in places far from home, often enduring the same daily hardships as the people they serve or suffering religious persecution. But reading stories in magazines is as far as I am going to go. The missionary vocation is not for everybody—and I don’t have it.

Actually, everybody here is already on mission—and we don’t have to go very far. Jesus may have sent the 72 disciples to proclaim the good news “to every town and place he intended to visit” but he sends you and me to proclaim the good news wherever we happen to be: at home, at work, at school, whether we’re visiting with friends, doing some shopping, grabbing a bite to eat, or, yes, attending church. Wherever we happen to be, there are people in need of hearing about the love of God and we have the opportunity to communicate it, most especially through words and actions of encouragement, kindness, comfort, and healing.

As Jesus said to the 72, as he continues to say to every missionary of the Church, he says to us, “Go on your way.” But he wants us to know that wherever that way takes us, whether we go far or stay close, we are on a mission from him and we bring with us the good news of God’s love.

see Luke 10:1-9

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 23, 2013

Monday, June 16th, 2014

I experienced a lot of bullying in junior high. Looking back, I can see that there were two main reasons why other kids made fun of me. The first reason was one over which I had no control: my ethnic background in a school that had just a handful of Asian students. The second reason was something I could have changed easily, and that was my habit of carrying all my books around instead of using a locker. I’m not sure why I did that; it could have been laziness, it could have been fear of forgetting my locker combination. But in any case, I was dubbed the “walking library,” and there was always some cruel but clever kid who would come up to me and say, “Can I check out a book?”

I don’t think it really mattered to Jesus who other people said that he was. All that really mattered was who he said that he was, the person he believed himself to be, and he was confident and secure in that self-knowledge–even if his identity caused him to suffer greatly.

Sometimes we can let other people dictate to us who we are. Afraid of their rejection or ridicule, disapproval or disdain, we hold back from voicing an unpopular opinion or intervening in situations where our actions may be unwelcome. In the face of opposition, it is easier for us to say and/or do nothing as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer; politicians encourage violence as a way of resolving conflict; and the rights and dignity of people are not respected because of where they were born, the religion they practice, or the people they love. Unfortunately, by becoming who other people want us to be, we can diminish who we are as Christians, followers of Jesus, people faithful to their baptismal calling.

We need strength and courage from God, that we may be not who people say that we are but who God has created us to be in Jesus Christ.

see Luke 9:18-24

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 16, 2013

Monday, June 16th, 2014

I know from experience that babysitting requires focus, especially when children are very young. Once they are old enough to crawl, walk, or worst of all, run, they require constant supervision. You never know when they might fall down, bump their heads, or put something into their mouths that should not be there. You really can’t take your eyes off them for an instant.

We can focus on people for the right reason or the wrong reason. In our gospel story, the “sinful woman” focuses her attention on Jesus as if there is no one else in the room. In an extraordinary display of love, she silently bathes his feet with her tears, then wipes them with her hair, kisses them, and anoints them with ointment. Meanwhile, the host of the dinner, the Pharisee Simon, has focused his attention on the woman, not out of love but out of disgust. He cannot imagine why Jesus would permit this “sort of woman” to touch him.

We can decide to focus on people out of love and compassion, to see how we can serve them in their weakness, their loneliness, their poverty, their need. Or we can decide to focus on people out of disgust and contempt, to see how we can judge and scorn them because of their sins, their errors and all the other reasons why we think we are so much better than they are.

The Lord Jesus is focusing on us, at this moment, and waiting for our decision.

see Luke 7:36-50

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 9, 2013

Monday, June 16th, 2014

In the span of six months, from the beginning of November 2012 to the beginning of May 2013, I lost three close friends and my father. While the death of someone close to me is not a new experience, never before have I experienced the deaths of so many people who are close to me in such a relatively short period of time.

Sooner or later, we all have to deal with death. For us as people of faith, losing a loved one is just as painful as it is for others. We don’t expect miracles like the ones recounted in our readings today, but it’s hard not to wonder why God allows some people to die and other people to live. If the young man in our gospel comes back to life and the people say that God has “visited” them, does this mean that if our loved ones die and stay dead, then God has not visited us, that he is somehow absent from our lives?

What I realize when I think about family members and friends who have died is that God did visit me: he was present in all the good times that I shared with those family members and friends, in the joy, the laughter, in all the ways they enriched and blessed my life and, yes, in all the ways I enriched and blessed their lives. What’s more, the beautiful memories that I have of these people can be nothing less than God continuing to visit me.

May the God of all consolation reveal his presence to all those whose hearts are grieving and who long for his visitation.

see 1 Kings 17:17-24; Luke 7:11-17

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Body and Blood of Christ, June 2, 2013

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Whether we’re talking about loaves and fishes for five thousand men gathered to hear someone talk about the kingdom of God or sack lunches for five kids going off to school, food can be a lot more than just nourishment. Sunday dinners at Grandma’s house; a casserole for a family that is grieving; a box of candy on Valentine’s Day, all are signs of love.

The eucharist—the sacred meal in which Jesus shares with us his own body and blood in the form of bread and wine—is a sign of love as well. But it is meant to do more than simply signify love: it is also meant to empower us to love, to give us the ability to imitate the generous, self-giving love of Jesus, who willingly suffered and died for us. This food that Jesus gives us is meant to empower us to forgive our enemies, welcome strangers, protect the weak, fight for justice, comfort the sorrowing, and help all those in need.

All of us who come to the altar today and receive the body and blood of Christ will also receive the power to love. Whether we use that power—or just let it go to waste—is up to us.

see Luke 9:11b-17

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Holy Trinity, May 26, 2013

Monday, June 16th, 2014

In our gospel, Jesus says to his disciples, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.” One of the things we probably still cannot bear is trying to understand the doctrine of the Trinity, which tells us that God is one but has three different modes of existence: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

However, even if we don’t fully understand the doctrine of the Trinity, there are still some practical lessons we can learn from it. For example, Christians believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equally God: the Father is not more God than the Son, and the Son is not more God than the Holy Spirit. As human beings, we are equal: no one among us is more human than another. Our faults, our weaknesses, our sins may be different from those of the people around us, but we have our faults, our weaknesses, and our sins, too. We are all equally human, subject to all the limitations of our human race—and therefore equally dependent upon the mercy of our good God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

see John 16:12-15

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm