Archive for February, 2017

“I Will Never Forget You”

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 49: 14-15; 1 Cor 4: 1-5; Mt 6: 24-34

Deacon Larry Brockman

“I will never forget you”. These are the Lord’s words to Zion this morning. And that’s each and every one of us- we are all part of Zion.

You know, it is really hard to conceive of just how much God loves each one of us. Each and every one of us was specially created by God. That means God thought about you, just you, and made you what you are. Each of us was given a unique set of talents, a unique body, and our own immortal soul. We are all one of a kind; there will never be another you.

And God loves all of us equally. Why would God create a being in his image and likeness that he didn’t love? God loved us so much he gave us a free will- so that we can determine our own destiny. But our main choice is whether we return to God or not.

Now we are even loved by God when we are sinners. In Luke’s Gospel, he tells a parable about the lost sheep. Yes, God goes after each lost sheep because he loves them. God is relentless in his pursuit of each one of us too. It’s that little voice in your conscience you hear all the time.

Realistically, all of us are sinners. It may be a matter of degree, but none of us is perfect. And if we feel that we are perfect, or close to it, we are deceiving ourselves. Part of the lesson of life is to realize that and to recognize and accept the suffering, disappointment, and imperfection that are part of life for each one of us. It’s part of God’s plan that we be tested and follow his script for dealing with our test. His script is the Gospel.

We also learn by recognizing that all the bad things that happen to our neighbors but for the grace of God can happen to us as well. Even when we are on a high plateau in our lives, it is all temporary; it can and probably will change. So, understand that God and God alone is under control. Humility is recognizing the truth of one’s status. And the fact is that no matter who you are, you are not in control. When you embrace that fact and all the uncertainty that it entails, then you will know and understand yourself better, and that is true humility.

Now I say all this because this morning our Gospel calls us to recognize that worrying is another limitation we have as human beings. We worry about our problems, our status, our future, and all kinds of things. But the fact is that we really don’t have control over the events of our life, God does. So, it is pointless to excessively worry about them. Just as we must accept that suffering and imperfection are part of every life, we also have to accept that excessive worrying over things makes no sense.

Because God loves you that means, as Isaiah remarked, that he will never forget you. If you really believe that God will never forget you, then the thing that each of us must do is to trust in God. That may be easier to say than to do. Just how do we trust in God that all of those things we worry about will be taken care of?

Well, that brings us to the topic of serving just one of two masters. In 19th century US politics there was a term called a Mugwump. A Mugwump had his “mug” on one side of the political fence, and his “wump” on the other. So, a Mugwump tried to play both sides of the fence at the same time. It was a derogatory term that accurately described people who tried to finesse the system. It just didn’t work.   Jesus is also telling us you cannot do that; you cannot have it both ways. You either belong to this world and the Master of this world, which is the devil and his followers, or you belong to Christ, and have a trusting relationship with God.

If you belong to this world, you attempt to be in total control of your life. You will determine how each need will be met; you will take care of yourself- even if it is at the expense of others. And you will depend on all of your abilities. It’s all up to you; you don’t need God. So when things don’t go your way, you will worry. And you will worry and worry.

Now you can try to be a Mugwump, and be in control yourself when things are going well. And then fall back on God when things go wrong. But my point is that it doesn’t work that way. It is all or nothing with God because God reads your heart. And if you have to always be in control, then you haven’t given your heart to him.

If you belong to Christ, then He is your master in this world. That means two things. First, you know God; you have a relationship with him. And like any special relationship that you have, you have to nourish that relationship often. That means you have a regular prayer relationship with God. You can hear him when he talks to you.

Second, you must learn to trust in God always. That means you share your successes with him, and your joy with him because you know God is the source of all blessings. So, you thank God as the source of those blessings- your family, your career, and whatever talents and good things you have. But you also share your sufferings, your worries, and your failures with him. You trust that, just as he helped you with your successes, so he will also help you when you experience things beyond your control.

After all, God has promised that he will never forget you.

Salted With Fire

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Thursday of 7th Week in Ordinary Time

Sir 5: 1-8; Mk 9: 41-50

Deacon Larry Brockman

So, “Everyone will be salted with Fire”! Yes, every one of us will be tested, that’s the fire. And the salt represents the good effects, the good taste, that the testing produces in us. The salt flavor is the cumulative goodness from our ability to resist temptation.

Now Sirach gives us an interesting perspective on temptation. He walks us through various attempts to rationalize bad behavior. And people do rationalize in this way. They say to themselves: “I can live with this temptation, flirt with this temptation, because I am strong enough”. Or even worse: “I can get away with this because I will have time to reform”. But Sirach is clear: “Rely not in your strength.” And Sirach admonishes us “not to put off our conversion”.

Jesus message echoes this yet with a little hyperbole. Not only are we to avoid temptation, but we should eliminate the source of the temptation, even if it means cutting off our feet or hands or gouging out our eyes if they facilitate our temptations to sin.

We have just finished the year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis. And so, we are all sensitized to God’s great mercy. God does love each and every one of us unconditionally, even when we are sinners. And he is constantly offering us an opportunity to repent and reform. Further, all of us have an obligation to facilitate that mercy by evangelizing our brothers and sisters who are separated from the Church.

But this morning, we are reminded of our obligation to hold firm to the law and the teachings of the Church. It’s not that God will not be merciful to us when we sin. It’s just that we ought not take it for granted just as Sirach explicitly says in the first reading.

You see, our attitude must be one of abandoning ourselves to the Lord’s will at all times, and to obedience to the Lord in the face of difficulty. Then, when we find that we have fallen, mercy will be extended to us. But if we live our lives day to day, knowing in the back of our minds that things are not quite right, but not taking the time or effort to sort out God’s message for us, then we will be like the folks in Sirach’s reading, making excuses, hoping for mercy no matter what we do and what our attitude is.

Not only that, our actions are seen by others. And so when we flaunt with temptation, we can be influencing others. For example, our children see what we watch on TV. What we do speaks louder than the words they hear in religious education classes.   A

ll of us are caught up in today’s whirlwind of daily activity. So, we don’t always take the time to listen to the Lord and reflect on where life is taking us. The message today is that we need to do that. Because we are held accountable for our actions especially if we don’t have the right attitude in our approach to daily life.

In our morning offering, each of us should spend a little time reflecting on where God is pointing us today. And understand that the devil is persistent in offering seemingly attractive and pleasurable things. But we need to contemplate the consequences of all these things. That is how we can assure that our salt does not lose its flavor.

Being Stewards of Our World

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Sixth Thursday of Ordinary Time

Saint Onesimus

Gen 9:1-13; Mark 8: 27-33

Deacon Larry Brockman

Power corrupts. That’s really what Jesus was telling the Apostles when he rebuked them. “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do”.   And the way human beings think all started with the way man misinterpreted God’s commands to Noah. For God told Noah to be fruitful and multiply; and he gave us the flesh of animals to eat. Then he told us: “Abound on the earth and subdue it.” And subdue it we have.

And so, mankind has become master of the earth, so much so that many movements have arisen amongst the educated that take this command to subdue the natural world to the extreme. Some of the educated elite claims there is no God and they believe mankind can control our destiny totally on our own. They believe they can explain how everything came to be; and can control how everything will be. Yes, power corrupts.

It’s almost as if society has gone full circle And we have returned to the days before the flood where society forgot the God that had made them, and used the earth and its pleasures indiscriminately. For a great deal of the world, the secular vision is this: “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.”

Yet God was very clear with Noah. In exchange for the power he delegated to mankind, we were given a responsibility as well. For God said: “I will demand an accounting”; and then “I will demand an accounting for human life.” Yes, Noah and his descendants were given a New Covenant, and charged to be God’s agents for proper domination of the forces of nature on our planet. But in exchange for that new chance that the remnant on the ark was given, God demanded an accounting from us.

Are we thinking the way God does, or are we thinking as the world does? First, as custodians of the world we dominate? Pope Francis Exhortation dealt with this topic extensively. We all have a responsibility to share in the things of this world with those who are less fortunate; and we all have the responsibility to treat all of God’s creation with respect.

Second, on life issues? It is striking that God tells Noah specifically that an accounting will be demanded on each human life. In today’s world, the lives of unborn babies, older people, those who are sick, and the poor are all valued less by society. That’s because mankind’s stewardship of the world is based on mankind’s attitude about what is prudent and efficient.

This morning’s scriptures are a wake-up call for all of us. It is time to reflect on our thinking. Are we thinking as man does- based on pride and self-sufficiency? Or are we thinking as God does? For God loves all of us, all human beings equally. And proper stewardship demands that we love all equally.

We need to reflect on this because all of us will be held accountable.

Reflecting on Love on Valentine’s Day

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017


Deacon Larry Brockman

God is love and God loves each one of us. Recently, my bible study group learned from the Catechism that the Church teaches that there has never been a single person, a single human being, that has ever existed that God didn’t love. When Jesus died on the cross, he suffered for all of us, that’s how great his love is for us.

Today is Valentine’s Day, the day we celebrate our love for our spouses and loved ones. We are made in the image and likeness of God. That means we are called to love all other persons as God loves us. That is hard. But here’s what each of us can do. We can consider the person in this world that loves you the most- your mother, your spouse, your dad, your grandparents- whoever. And ponder how much you love them because of their love for you. Well, God loves you infinitely more than even that.

So as we reflect for a few minutes, consider how you can emulate God’s love, Mary’s love, and your most precious loved one’s love- unconditional, accepting, pure love. Because that is our calling.