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PASTOR'S

CORNER

Homily 27th Sunday year B

      What is the Kingdom of God? Where do we find it?  These are questions that run all through the Gospel of Mark.

     In this gospel the Pharisees come up to question the Lord.  The pharisees want to trap him by getting him to deny the law of Moses.  If they trap the Lord and catch him denying the law of Moses, they, can they go out and tell everyone that he cannot be the promised Messiah and cannot be the one to restore God’s kingdom.  So, they ask the lord is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife.  Lord asks them what did Moses say and they respond that Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.  The Lord in responds to them by quoting the book of Genesis “that what God has joined together no one must separate.”

     The Pharisees at the time interpreted Moses as saying that a husband could divorce his wife but the wife could not divorce the husband.  A man by divorcing his wife was sending her out into the world where she would be along, because in the world at the time unless you belonged to a family you had no place to go and her parents’ family because she was divorced wouldn’t take her in either. Further, as the Pharisees understood Moses the husband could divorce his wife for any reason.

      Jesus is condemning this whole system by saying that a man who does that commits adultery by remarrying and, worst of all, the husband forces the wife to commit adultery because she in order to survive has to commit adultery as well.  The pharisees said nothing in reply perhaps because the Lord had made his point- the keepers and interpreters of the law- the pharisees, were forcing women to commit sin.

       Then the Lord turns takes some children to himself and begins to explain to everyone that the way they see and understand God’s Kingdom, including the Pharisees, is wrong because it lacks love.

     “Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless you accept the Kingdom of God like these little children, you will never what it is, you will never understand what it means to have it, to ask for it.”

     These children take Jesus, take God himself, into their hearts, no questions, no demands, nothing, because they understand that God loves them, that god cares for them, and they open their hearts in their simplicity.  The Kingdom for god is the gift of God.  The law was to help and guide people and to keep them out of sin, it was meant to put the love of God in one’s heart.  It cannot be earned by simply following the law because the Kingdom of God is God himself, the kingdom of God is love itself, and it is pure gift. It is a loving relationship with God himself-and that is what it means to be Christian.

 

25th Sunday year b

     The Letter of James was written by a man known as James the Just who was an early leader of the the Church in Jerusalem.  He died a martyr in the late 60’s after being stoned to death by the high priest Ananus.  His letter, while written to the whole church, was addressed to his congregation in Jerusalem.

     One big theme of James’ letter is that what vices and sins we hold inside of us will always come out in our behaviors one way or another.  If we prideful, and we even know we are prideful, no matter how hard we try that pridefulness will come out in our actions one way or another.  If we harbor anger towards others no matter how hard we try that anger will effect the way we treat others, and it can effect the way we treat everyone not just those we are angry towards.

      If we envy others than we begin to see God as somehow unjust and unfair.  Envy causes us to think that we are not getting our do as if having more things or being more esteemed in the world would some how make us happier.  Selfishness, where every thing is about my needs and desires ,blinds us to the needs of others and to our seeing the will of God for our own lives.

      All of these things destroy the peace within ourselves and that destroys the peace among ourselves.

     It is pretty clear, from our second reading, this was apparently a big problem in the early Jerusalem Church.  James asks “where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?  Is it not from your passions?

     In today’s Gospel some of the Apostles are asking who is the greatest ?  In the other Gospels we learn that it is the sons of Zebedee who are asking which of the two them will be the greatest n the Lord’s new Kingdom.  The question itself is a good example of jealousy and selfish ambition bring discord among the disciples.

     James uses very strong language to get the attention of the Christians in Jerusalem.  We too need to listen to the word’s of St James and allow the Holy Spirit to heal the discord within our selves.  Discord within ourselves really cannot be hidden, it comes out eventually.  We can only

find within and among ourselves by allowing the Holy Spirit to heal and rid us of that discord.

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24th Sunday ordinary time

     In Mark’s gospel Peter acknowledges that Jesus is the Christ-the  anointed one-the Messiah promised by the prophets.

     And then, after peter’s great insight, Jesus describes how he is to suffer greatly, be rejected by the religious leaders of his day, be put to death, and then rise from the dead in three days.  This makes no sense to peter, after all shouldn’t God reward those who carry out his will with a prosperous and peaceful life free of pain and suffering? Otherwise what is the point of following God’s will?  Peter is, as the Lord says, clearly thinking “as the world does and not as God does.”

     Peter fails to see that being one of the Lord’s disciples is about carrying our own crosses and that means suffering.  The suffering we and all lord’s disciples go through-be it great or small-that comes from living out our christian lives and proclaiming the good news to our fallen world.  It doesn’t mean, as Peter was thinking, that the Lord goes to Jerusalem becomes king and solves all of Israels problems or all of our problems we face in our time.

     Being one of the lord’s disciples means, as Peter would learn, means a life giving renunciation of ourselves and our own will for own lives.  Being a disciple entails a dying to self and making ourselves a gift of love to the lord and all his children so that we can grow in Holiness so that others can see and hear the good news and share in the eternal life that we have with our resurrected and risen Lord.  Suffering and death is not what Peter had in mind but he did learn and became one of the Lord’s greatest disciples.  Peter learned that his life and the life of all those who follow him will unfold as the Lord’s life unfolded.  We like the twelve must also be prepared to suffer to suffer greatly if we are called to do so, to be rejected because of our faith and to walk with the Lord with our own crosses proclaiming the hope that we too will be raised up and live on with the lord for eternity.

     Saving ones life could mean wanting to be healed of some physical or mental condition and it could also mean wanting to preserve a safe and pleasant way of living and all of those are good things to pray for-for ourselves and others but the lord is saying to Peter and to all of us the the unique and defining call we have as the Lord’s disciples is that our calling to live out and spread the gospel supersedes our own desires and wishes even unto death.  We like the Lord’s disciples must be willing to give up our own lives and make the Lord’s mission our mission. We are always first and foremost the Lord’s disciples and no suffering, no trials, can change that.  We are, as St Paul says “to endure all things for the sake of Christ.”

 

 

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Letter From

Fr. Barnabas

Feb 4, 2021