Archive for February, 2017

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 26, 2017

Monday, February 27th, 2017

People are worried. Some are worried about finding—or keeping—a job. Some are worried about terrorism. Some are worried about being deported. Some are worried that their rights will not be respected. Some are worried about becoming homeless. Some are worried that they or their loved ones will be victims of violence. Some are worried about the direction of our country.

Jesus’ words in our gospel today may give some people the impression that all we have to do is look to God and we will have no cause for worry: “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you.” But we would be wrong if we think that seeking God’s kingdom is merely a spiritual activity, a kind of attitude adjustment requiring total trust in God and God’s ability to take care of us. No, seeking God’s kingdom means engaging with God in the hard work of living as citizens of that kingdom each day, always with an eye to making that kingdom more of a reality on this earth. Seeking God’s kingdom means living the way God wants us to live, following God’s priorities and not ours or anybody else’s. Seeking God’s kingdom means being merciful to those who deserve punishment; promoting peaceful solutions to conflict; respecting those of different cultures, religions, and opinions; ensuring that all have a life of dignity and security; and defending those who are weak and vulnerable in our society.

People are worried. But if we are really serious about seeking God’s kingdom, we will work with each other and with God to make this nation and all nations more like that kingdom—a place where everyone has everything he or she could ever need. The more we succeed in this endeavor, the less people will have to worry.

see Matthew 6:24-34

By Rev. Gregory Kimm

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 19, 2017

Monday, February 27th, 2017

On October 7, 2006, Charles Roberts IV, a milk truck driver from a small town in Lancaster County, PA, was buried in his wife’s family plot behind the Methodist church. In attendance were his wife Marie and their three small children. What was truly astounding was who else was present at this sad, simple funeral. Among the mourners were members of the Amish community—the same community whose peaceful life was shattered just days earlier when Roberts stormed into their one-room schoolhouse and killed five young girls and wounded five others. The Amish, who had buried the girls who had died not long before the funeral for Roberts, hugged his wife and some of his relatives, offering their condolences. When the service was over, some of the Amish took it upon themselves to stand together and turn their backs to the many photographers gathered at the burial site in order to shield the Roberts family from further publicity. Later, the Amish donated money to help the family with their expenses.

We struggle with forgiveness; it is one of the most difficult demands that Jesus places upon his disciples. But, as Jesus makes clear in our gospel today, even forgiveness is not enough: “love your enemies and pray for your persecutors,” Jesus says, “that you may be children of your heavenly Father.” It can be done but I think most of us still have a long way to go before we become the kind of disciple Jesus wants us to be.

see Matthew 5:38-48

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Chinese New Year), February 12, 2017

Monday, February 27th, 2017

In an effort to insure that a new year will truly be happy, Chinese people throughout the world still practice certain customs. They may decorate their homes with red paper inscribed with good wishes or display auspicious fruits and flowers. They may set off firecrackers to drive away evil spirits. And on the first day of the new year—a particularly important day, as it sets the tone for whole year—they may avoid cutting things, to avoid cutting off good luck; avoid sweeping things, to avoid sweeping good luck away; and avoid any talk of unpleasant subjects with which they don’t want to deal in the coming months.

In a way, those who follow these customs are attempting to choose their future—or, to use words from our first reading, make a choice between fire and water, life and death, good and evil. But the future is in God’s hands, not ours; we cannot choose it.

Or can we? We can choose how we live in the future. Are we people who will choose to follow God’s commands or will we choose to go another way? Will we serve the poor, sharing generously the gifts we have been given? Will we welcome newcomers and strangers, seeing in them Christ in disguise? Will we defend the weak and the vulnerable among us, strengthening them with our support? Will we live in peace with everyone, treating all with respect and love?

It seems to me that if we make choices about how we live that are consistent with the desires of God’s heart, we are working with God to shape the future and we can, with God’s help, make this new year happier for us, for those around us, and for our world.

see Sirach 15:15-20

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 29, 2017

Monday, February 27th, 2017

I am one of what seems to be a shrinking number of Americans whose do their taxes by hand, without the use of an accountant or a computer program. Doing my taxes is a laborious and time-consuming process to which I am not at all looking forward. But, like many taxpayers, I do look forward to receiving my refund. Imagine how you would feel if the IRS said to you that your refund is coming sometime in the future but no one knew when it would actually arrive: it could be weeks, months, even years.

The beatitudes are all about the future: something good is coming, but no one knows when: it could be weeks, months, even years. That future aspect is why I’ve always had a problem with the beatitudes. Yes, I believe that they who mourn will be comforted, the meek will inherit the land, they who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied, etc., but people in sorrow and distress, victims of hatred and injustice, can’t wait that long. They need help now.

I think the beatitudes are more than just a statement of what God will do in the future. I think they are also a call to action today, for us. It is not God’s intention that we all just sit around waiting and praying for the day when God’s kingdom becomes a reality. Rather, it is God’s intention that we go to work today to do whatever we can to make that kingdom a reality now. Of course, this means doing what we can for those in need but it means as well affirming and upholding in our own lives the values God holds dear, values like meekness, mercy, and peacefulness.

No matter how feeble our attempts, no matter how incomplete our efforts, we are to work with God to transform the world. To hope in a bright future is wonderful but wouldn’t it also be wonderful if we could join God in making today a little brighter, too?

see Matthew 5:1-12a

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm