February 21, 2021
Our Pastoral Council went on a ZOOM Retreat with Alice Camille, the author of Exploring Sunday Readings. It is a great monthly guide to understanding Sunday Sacred Scripture that is available at entrances to church. Her talk was entitled: “Follow the Leader.” She explained the Bible is all about “power.” How God uses power to create, rescue, heal, and restore humanity and creation. And yes, God uses power to destroy evil. The Bible tells us of God’s display of power and our human misuse of power for our own advantage. It is a sad tale of misuse. Alice points out eight models of power in the Old Testament exhibited in Patriarchs, in Moses, in Joshua - a military commander, in Judges, in Kings, in Prophets, in Priests and in Sages. In the New Testament, during Roman occupation, different groups struggle for power – Sadducees, Pharisees, Scribes, Zealots and High Priests. Near the end of Alice Camille’s talk, she shows how Jesus consistently uses God-like power and at the very end “lays down his divine power and dies on the cross.”
Our retreat reflection on power is key to understanding our Gospel according to Mark on this first Sunday of Lent. After his baptism, the Spirit drives Jesus into the desert, and he remains in the desert for 40 days, tempted by Satan.” “God’s beloved Son” is driven into the desert by the Spirit to be tested by Satan. It is a power struggle between good and evil, light and darkness. Satan attempts to entice Jesus to use his power for his own advantage. You got it. Use it! But Jesus is not deceived. He comes to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Jesus will back up these words with the visible manifestations of power through numerous cures and calling of disciples. Later, when Jesus explains to his disciples that he must suffer and die, Simon Peter objects. Jesus turns on him and calls Simon – Satan. The temptations of Jesus are about the use of power.
Lent is a special time or season when we are asked to “Follow the Leader.” In the comic trip Family Circus, Billy says to his older sister and younger brother (with Mom listening): “If I changed my name to Simon, everybody would have to do whatever I say.” “Simon says do this” and “Follow the Leader” are children’s games that come into play during Lent when we ask ourselves whom are we listening to and whom are we following? How am I using my power over others? Our leader is Jesus. He shows us how to use power as God intends to create, to rescue, to heal, to restore humanity/creation and in the face of evil to choose life and to do good.
During the Gloria of the Mass we sing or say “Lamb of God.” It also reappears during the Communion Rite. Today, we hear this title given to Jesus by John the Baptist as Jesus walks by. Could it be the nickname that John gives to Jesus? John forewarns of the coming judgment of God. Does the Baptist recognize something different in Jesus than he expected – not the fire... READ MORE
On this celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, we can ask the question: “Was it necessary for Jesus to be baptized?” John the Baptist explains his baptism as a repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus is with us in all things but sin. Why would he choose to be baptized? The answer may be found in next Sunday’s Gospel according to John. When Jesus is walking ... READ MORE
On Tuesday, returning from St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy, around 5:15 PM, I saw a magnificent full moon – called the Cold Moon or Wolf Moon by Native Americans when packs of wolves howled in the dark night and deep snow. With artificial lights and cloudy weather, we do not always observe the stars and planets. Darkness in the past prevailed before streetlamps. Our ancest... READ MORE
Christmas is an octave, 8 days, to Celebrate the birth of Jesus. On December 25, the Nativity, we focus on Jesus; on January 1 on Mary, Mother of God; and on December 27, on the Holy Family. It is an opportunity for us to reflect on the importance of family as the social unit that deeply shapes our mental, emotional, and spiritual character. Family is a bridge connecti... READ MORE
When we gathered for morning prayer in the Parish Office, we could hear Christmas music playing on the radio. I recognized the sound – from A Charlie Brown Christmas! It was a TV special first airing in 1965 on CBS. The animation was basic produced on a modest budget. Many thought that it would be a flop, but the large audience enjoyed it – it has become a holiday clas... READ MORE