Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Bread of Life: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Listen to the homily here.

Notes:

As we continue to walk through John 6, a few thoughts to begin
First, after my stroke three years ago, this is about three years ago that I again could receive the Eucharist from Fr. Rich Kunst…the next day was my first time to concelebrate with Mass
·     Fr. Rich said, Ben, put on your stole as you are still a priest.
Second, another great connection between the Old and New Testament
·     Elijah was resting…touched by an angel, and given bread and water
·     Not once, but twice
·     After he ate and drank, he lay down again,
but the angel of the LORD came back a second time,
touched him, and ordered,
"Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!" 
He got up, ate, and drank;
then strengthened by that food,
he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.”
Third, people murmured after Jesus said, “I am the bread of life”
·     And it just gets deeper
·     "Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,and I will raise him on the last day…Amen, amen, I say to you,whoever believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life.”
·     Their ancestors died, even eating God’s bread—manna—for forty years
·     As Jesus went deeper and deeper he said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven;whoever eats this bread will live forever;and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."
The dichotomy today is, do you believe in the bread of life, or not?


Parish Bulletin Article: "3rd Year Anniversary of my Stroke": 8-12-18

Praise God as this will be my third anniversary after my stroke.

On August 8th, 2015, I knew that something was eerie in my brain and I drove to the hospital.  At that point, I was scared for about 15-20 seconds.  The doctor came up to me with the CT scan, and I could see that there was some bleeding in my brain.  My fear was quickly on question to this doctor, “Am I going to die?”  He said, “You’ll be just fine.”  From that moment and beyond, fear was melted into prayer.

Three or four months later, I went back to the same ER to visit with a parishioner.  The same doctor came out of his office, saw me, and exclaimed, “You’re alive!  You are a miracle!” and hugged me.  I quickly answered him, “Wait a second…you told me that I was going to be fine!  You really thought that I was going to die?!” He smiled, and we both laughed.
    
Thank you, my brothers and sisters, for your prayer, support and service.  Thank you to our community members whom I might not even know who did the same.  Thank you to all of the doctors, nurses, therapists (physical, occupation, speech, counselor) as well as our larger family within our Diocese of Duluth and brothers and sisters around the world.  And thank you to my Mom, Dad, Andrew and Michelle, Mychal and Melissa and their kids.
    
God is the BEST, and it is a merely powerful and humble to continue to serve you at St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Columban and St. Thomas Aquinas School.
    
Know of my prayers for each of you, and know of my prayers in a particular way for you who are suffering physically, mentally or spiritually. 

As St. Paul wrote this (one of my favorite passage), I know its essential in each of our lives: "And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.  Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
    
Let us continue to walk together with our Savior, and prepare ourselves to spend eternity in heaven with each other.
    
God Bless!

The best way to start the day: Mass: Thursday, August 9th, 2018

Listen to the homily here.

Desolation and Consolation in Jeremiah, the Disciples, and our lives: Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

Listen to the homily here.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Continuing with John 6 and Jesus' conversation with the crowd: 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Listen to the homily here.

Notes:

The second week within John 6
Let’s begin in the Old Testament in Exodus
·     Just after the Hebrews were freed from Egypt—after 400 years of slavery
o  They wanted to go back into slavery because they were hungry
·     So God fed them
o  In the evening quail came up and covered the camp. 
In the morning a dew lay all about the camp,
and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert
were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground. 
On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, "What is this?"
for they did not know what it was
.”
o  Manna
o  “…Moses told them,This is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat."
Then our responsorial Psalm 78
·     Man ate the bread of angels,food he sent them in abundance.”
·     Hmmm…interesting.  Bread of angels?
Finishing up with the second section in John 6 with a essential conversation with Jesus
·     This took place after the thousands of people were fed from Jesus on earth
·     They asked Jesus, "Amen, amen, I say to you,you are looking for me not because you saw signs
but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”
o  They were like the Hebrews…they were hungry…again
·     Do not work for food that perishesbut for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you
.”
o  Do you notice that this is getting deeper already in John 6?
·     They then asked how to work for God
·     And the nugget today is a simple line: “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent." 
o  Interesting…Jesus was not commanding for the law, or their actions, but first their faith and belief…and God’s son is standing before them!
·     They asked another question for a sign (a crucial word in the Gospel according to John), and reminded Jesus that their ancestors ate manna—they said it was Moses who fed them, but Jesus clarified that it was not Moses, but God from heaven
·     "Sir, give us this bread always."
·     Jesus said to them,‘I am the bread of life;whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst
."
o  At this point, Jesus is teaching these people and is slowly bringing them to the depths of faith, belief, reality, and pointing towards the supernatural food: the Eucharist
Scene #2 is ended until next weekend, or if you finish up John 6 yourself!


Parish Bulletin Article: "Surrender": 8-5-18

Surrender.
Have you ever experienced a situation in which you have no idea where you are going?  I remember several of these in my life, whether small or severe.  I had had several times lost while driving (before cell phones or GPS), moments when I thought high school graduation would take forever.  At the same time, I did not know if I would be going to college or the seminary.  When I then went to the seminary, I thought if I would be called to be a priest or a dad. More recently, while I couldn’t speak well, I could think correctly and was wondering if I would make it back to the full-time priesthood back home after my injury.
Are you in these types of situations now?  (Or, if not, recognize when you have been in it before).
Sometimes our physical and spiritual journeys may feel like traveling knee deep in muck, with frustration and cry to God, “How is this happening to me?!” 
Here are a few thoughts to encourage you during these challenging places.
Go to God. Pray.  If you are so low, feeling like quicksand, and you can’t pray, know that the Holy Spirit will be praying through you.  Read Romans 8:26: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words…”!
Focus and pray for someone else as you could pray for someone else, which we call redemptive suffering.  Whatever you experience, there is always someone in a worse condition.
After praying, face the circumstance head to head (unless you are the captain of the Titanic), in your thinking and heart to heart to your closest people.  Don’t use things like alcohol that merely put a mask over what the real problem is.  Keep this process rolling.
Also, as we were taught in the seminary, only make decisions within consolation, meaning times are peaceful, loved, noticing beyond yourself like God, loved ones, virtues, hobbies, etc.—rather than desolation.  Desolation is when you do not feel God’s presence, feel lonely or unloved.  Know that each of our lives goes up and down like a hiking trip that proceeds in the valley, the plain and the mountain.  In these comments, consider with Psalms 23:1-4 brings this to some strength: “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake [consolation]. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death [desolation], I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”
God does have a plan for you and may His will be done.  God does love you more than you can even love yourself.  He is in control, and you must surrender your life to God’s arms.  
With one last thoughtfulness.  You will get through it!  Many times you have been through a rough patch and went through it to make you stronger after it.  And, if this honestly your last season in life--dying--you can still go forward; and hopefully to heaven!
Know of my prayers for any of you in a dark spot and stay close to our Savior as “God is love.”
God Bless!

The war in our souls and to use the old and the new: Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

Listen to the homily here.