Archive for August, 2015

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 30, 2015

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Every day, from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, we make countless decisions that speak of the priorities we have in life: what is important to us. Just look at attendance at this mass. Not only your attendance but also everything that you do here at church says something about your priorities. The time you arrive and the time you leave say something about your priorities. The effort you make to respond to the prayers and sing the songs says something about your priorities. The money you place in the collection basket says something about your priorities. Whether or not you take a bulletin says something about your priorities. And, yes, how much you are really listening to this homily says something about your priorities.

We all have priorities in life, and everybody’s priorities are different. God has priorities, too, but I wonder how similar our priorities are to God’s. In our gospel today, Jesus informs the Pharisees and scribes that to God the laws of ritual purity that they consider so important are actually of no importance at all.

Like the priorities of the Pharisees and scribes, our priorities are often out of proper order and sometimes just incorrect. Surely, God shares some of our priorities, such as concern for our health and well-being and the health and well-being of our loved ones. At the same time, I think God questions the importance that we give to popularity and social standing, wealth and material things, as well as the importance we do not give to peaceful solutions to conflict, justice for the poor and the oppressed, understanding of those who are different from us, support of the church community, or a deeper relationship with God.

In the Lord’s Prayer—the prayer that we repeat at every mass and the prayer that we will recite together at this mass—we say, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Those words will come true only if we make God’s priorities our priorities.

see Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 9, 2015

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

Bill Gates will not give you $5,000.

Those of us who regularly receive e-mail have inevitably received messages forwarded from well-meaning friends and relatives with all kinds of seemingly valuable information, including shocking secret news stories, life-saving safety tips, and ways to get something for nothing. But much of this information is false—an internet hoax. That’s why it’s important to verify information before believing it. And how do we do that? By going on to the internet. Ironic, I know.

In our gospel reading, Jesus claims to be “the bread that came down from heaven.” But his listeners think they have detected a hoax. They know his parents and his origins, and this man most definitely did not drop out of the sky.

I hope that people don’t think we’re trying to pull off a hoax when we claim to be Jesus’ followers. The way to avoid that suspicion, of course, is by actually living the way Jesus’ followers are supposed to live: by welcoming strangers; by being a friend to those who have been rejected; by making peace with enemies; by serving generously those who are in need; by placing God’s priorities above our own or those of the world.

Jesus’ listeners could not verify his claim to be heavenly bread; they could do that, just as we can, only with faith. The people around us don’t need faith to verify that we are Christians; they should be able to do that just by getting to know us.

see John 6:41-51

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 2, 2015

Saturday, August 8th, 2015

“Always be yourself” is generally good advice, but it’s difficult to follow, especially if you seem different from other people. It takes courage to stand out from the crowd, and you have to be willing to live with possible disapproval or rejection. I should know. I was the child who preferred to sit in a corner and read a book rather than play outside with the other children. Later, when I was teenager, I was studious, unathletic, and interested in strange subjects, like Chinese history and the Catholic religion. Even as a priest, I often find that some of my views are not shared by other members of the clergy. Still, I strive to be who I am, and I continue to encourage others to be who they are, in spite of any pressure to be somebody else.

But isn’t somebody else exactly who St. Paul is telling us to be in our second reading, when he says, “put away the old self . . . and put on the new self”?

Well, in a way. What we all have to realize is that as much as we should value who we are as individuals, with our unique personalities and backgrounds, gifts and talents, there are certain things about us that are not helpful in our relationships with God and with others, things like selfishness, materialism, prejudice, a judgmental attitude. While things like these may be part of who we are, they are not things of which we should be proud and we should do everything we can to be rid of them.

Putting away the old self and putting on the new self is a lifelong process, not something that can be done overnight—and we can’t do it by ourselves. Fortunately, we have the support of God’s grace and the strength that comes to us from receiving the “true bread from heaven,” the body of Christ. At the end of the process, which most likely will be in heaven, we will discover that the “new selves” we have become are not really new but the most authentic versions of who we are, the persons God intended us to be from the moment our lives began.

see Ephesians 4:17, 20-24; John 6:24-35

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm