Archive for March, 2015

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 19, 2014

Monday, March 30th, 2015

In 1982, Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle became a prominent national figure when he refused to pay half of his federal income tax as a protest against American nuclear weapons. The IRS still got its money, of course, by taking the taxes owed directly out of his $10,000 annual salary. While I admire him for his courage and his commitment to the gospel value of non-violence, I doubt that I could do what he did. I doubt that most of us could do what he did.

We often find ourselves in uncomfortable situations that challenge our integrity as Christians, situations where our faith seems to demand hard choices. If America is going in the wrong direction, do we move to another country? If Church leaders promote teachings in which we do not believe, do we stop going to mass? If we discover that coworkers are dishonest, do we report them to their supervisors? If our neighbors are involved in some scandalous activity, do we ask them to change their behavior? If friends hold opinions with which we vigorously disagree, do we associate with other people? If our children get married in some non-Catholic ceremony, do we decline the invitation?

While I think Jesus would definitely approve of his followers living out their faith, I also think that he would say there is sometimes room for compromise in this imperfect world. After all, he permitted the paying of an unjust tax to the Roman emperor. If, in the interest of upholding our principles, we simply end up cutting ourselves off from or alienating others, are we are really helping to spread the gospel message—or just making a mess? We are called not just to proclaim the truth but to practice humility, patience, and charity as well.

see Matthew 22:15-21

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 12, 2014

Monday, March 30th, 2015

When it comes to invitations to social events like parties, receptions, or dinners, there are some we happily accept and some we happily decline. Then there are the invitations we accept not because we really want to accept them but perhaps because we feel obligated, because we don’t want to offend somebody, or just because we’re afraid of what might happen to us if we don’t show up. These social events we attend halfheartedly, doing our best—more or less—to smile and make small talk but constantly waiting for the just the right moment to make our escape. True, we are physically present, but this kind of halfhearted attendance is not much better than not attending at all.

We might say we would never turn down an invitation from God to enter the kingdom of heaven but I wonder just how eager we are to live as citizens of that kingdom right now, to live the new life that God has already given to us through the death and resurrection of his Son. How much time do we spend in the service of others? How generous are we to those in need? Are we enthusiastic about participating in the mass? Do we pray outside of church? Do we try to grow in our understanding of the faith? Are we concerned about the condition of our parish? Or is the answer to each of these questions, “Not much”? Have we accepted God’s invitation—but only halfheartedly, without true dedication, without true commitment?

Look at the gentleman who appears at the end of Jesus’ parable. He cares enough to accept the invitation to the wedding feast but he doesn’t care enough to dress properly. So he ends up back on the street, as if he had not been invited at all. The question that God has for all of us is not, “Do we care?” but “Do we care enough?”

see Matthew 22:1-14

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 5, 2014

Monday, March 30th, 2015

When I was a seminarian, I went on a couple of ski trips with the youth group from St. Catherine’s Parish in Morgan Hill. On the first ski trip, I learned two important lessons: first, that I can’t ski, and second, that teenagers don’t sleep much when they go away together. Sure, they go to bed at the appointed time, they even turn off the lights. But they don’t sleep for several more hours. Unfortunately, their constant chattering meant that I couldn’t sleep either. Later, when my birthday arrived, the teenagers gave me a very thoughtful gift: a pair of earplugs—which I gladly used on the second ski trip.

The tenants in our gospel did everything they could to resist the message of the landowner. Like them, we try very hard not to hear what we don’t want to hear. But while we can try to avoid it, we can try to ignore it, we can even try to destroy it, nothing can change the word of truth that God is speaking to us.

Perhaps the truth is that our marriage is in serious trouble. Perhaps the truth is that we have to let go of a past hurt. Perhaps the truth is that we’re not as respectful of other’s differences as we claim to be. Perhaps the truth is that we’re forcing our children to be who we want them to be, not who they want to be. Perhaps the truth is that we can do a lot more for our parish than what we’re doing now. Perhaps the truth is that it’s time to get help for an addiction. Perhaps the truth is simply that we are sinners in need of a savior.

All the earplugs in the world will not keep God from speaking the truth. Why? Because as unpleasant, as painful as his word to us may be, it is ultimately the word of guidance, encouragement, and love.

see Matthew 21:33-43

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Feast of St. Joseph of Cupertino), September 21, 2014

Monday, March 30th, 2015

You don’t have to have money or material possessions to be generous. Our patron saint, Joseph of Cupertino, had no money and no material possessions and yet was as generous as the landowner in our gospel story and a model of the generosity of God.

Because of his clumsiness, forgetfulness, and inability to learn, Joseph in his youth endured verbal and physical abuse from just about everyone, including his classmates, his teachers, and even the members of his own family. Later, he suffered rejection by religious communities he tried to join and, when finally admitted to religious life, ended up living in the stable. When people began to notice that he would fly into the air during moments of spiritual joy, this only brought him more trouble. He had to go on trial before the Inquisition, which found him innocent of any wrongdoing. However, as his fame grew, his superiors increasingly kept him away from the many visitors who came to him for advice or perhaps a miracle, eventually not permitting even a single person to be present when he celebrated mass. The last ten years of his life he spent in what we might describe as solitary confinement. And yet, in spite of a lifetime of ill treatment and the pain it undoubtedly caused, there is no record of any bitterness or anger; there was no cursing, no lashing out, no seeking revenge.

It is easier to be generous with money or material possessions than it is to be generous with mercy and forgiveness. Of all the things we have, mercy and forgiveness are probably the most difficult with which to part. Let us ask God to be generous in bestowing upon us the grace to be more like Joseph of Cupertino, who showed generous mercy and forgiveness to all.

see Matthew 20:1-16a

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Exaltation of the Cross, September 14, 2014

Monday, March 30th, 2015

In Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, all public transportation was segregated. It was the law: buses were roughly divided in half, with seating for white people in the front and seating for black people in the back. If there was not enough seating in the white section to accommodate all the white people who wanted to ride the bus, the bus drivers would create more space by moving the sign separating the white and black sections and, if necessary, asking black passengers to give up their seats.

On December1 of that year, Rosa Parks was going home on the bus after a long day’s work as a seamstress at a department store. She seated herself in the first row of the black section. As the bus continued on its route, more and more white people entered, until the white section was full and some of the white passengers ended up standing in the aisle. The bus driver proceeded to enlarge the white section to include the row in which Rosa was sitting with three other black people. But when the driver asked Rosa and the others to give up their seats, she refused to comply. “Why don’t you stand up?” the driver demanded. Rosa replied, “I don’t think I should have to stand up.” She was arrested, brought to trial, found guilty, and fined. Subsequently, she lost her job and her husband, too, was fired. After unsuccessfully looking for work, they were forced to move to Detroit, Michigan, where they were finally able to start new lives.

Rosa Parks is now known, of course, as the “mother of the civil rights movement.” Her simple act of civil disobedience sparked a 381-day bus boycott and inspired legal action which led to the end of racial segregation in this country. Her story, like the story of the savior to whom she was deeply devoted, illustrates the message of today’s Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross: what appears to be disgrace can be honor; what appears to be weakness can be strength; what appears to be defeat can be victory.

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 31, 2014

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Christmas ornaments made out of dough; macaroni necklaces; ceramic dishes; drawings of some unidentified object scribbled in crayon: parents love the little gifts their children make for them—no matter how ugly or misshapen those gifts might happen to be. They love those gifts because they love the children who made them. And while their children’s hands may not be skilled, their gifts come from the heart, making them the best gifts of all.

In our second reading, St. Paul says to the Romans and to us, “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” Hearing St. Paul’s words, we might be tempted to think that our lives are too unworthy a sacrifice, that with all our sins and weaknesses, we could never be holy or pleasing enough for the Lord.

Fortunately for us, our first reading and our gospel reading help to correct this understanding. In our first reading, we meet the prophet Jeremiah, who is feeling so angry at God for making him a laughingstock to the people around him that he tells God “You duped me, . . . and I let myself be duped.” In our gospel, Jesus calls the Apostle Peter—who just last week was named by Jesus as the “rock” upon which he will build his church—a “Satan”—an adversary—because of his inability to see things as God sees them. I think we can relate to Jeremiah’s lack of faith and to Peter’s ignorance. Both men are models of human imperfection—and yet, in the end, both men surely offered to God lives that were holy and pleasing.

Like the gifts we give as children to our parents, the lives we offer to God may be ugly and misshapen but our imperfection does not prevent God from accepting them with love and cherishing them for all eternity.

see Jeremiah 20:7-9; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm