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In Memoriam: John S. Lahoda

John S. Lahoda, father of parishioner, Ed,

d. February 16, 2018 at the age of 91.

May he rest in peace.

From the Archives of Fr. Metzler’s Homilies: 1st Sunday of Lent, Cycle B

B023Lent1_2_cf03_4cGenesis 9:8-15    1 Peter 3:18-22    Mark 1:12-15

The Desert: A Place of Preparation

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days.

One of the great ironies in life is that, too often, success brings more unhappiness, jealousy, and destructiveness than joy. Our newspapers daily carry the familiar headlines: Millionaire superstar arrested on drug charges. Movie star found dead of overdose.

Those are the big headlines, but these things happen in our lives at another level. Our successes and achievements are often the cause of self-centeredness, arrogance, jealousy, and destructiveness both inside ourselves and within our relationships.

Why? Why is that the things which should bring us happiness, admiration, and harmony, so often bring us the opposite? Are success, admiration, and money bad? No. All good things come from God, success and money included. What is bad is that, too often, these are attained before a person has been sufficiently prepared to handle them. Then they destroy rather than build up. In biblical terms, what happens is that someone enters the promised land before spending sufficient time in the desert.

The desert, biblically and mystically, is not so much a physical place, a geography, as a place in the heart. The desert is that place where we go to face our demons, feel our smallness, be in a special intimacy with God, and prepare ourselves for the promised land.

In order to be filled by God one must first be emptied. The idea of the desert as a place of purification has deep biblical roots. The scriptures tell us that, before they could enter into the promised land, the Israelites had to first wander in the desert for forty years—letting themselves be led by God, undergoing many trials, and swallowing much impatience. A long period of uprooting and frustration preceded the prosperity of the promised land. This was God’s planning.

Thus the desert came to be seen as the place that correctly shapes the heart and the idea developed that one should prepare oneself for major transitions by first spending some time in the desert. Jesus did this. After his baptism, he went off for “forty days” into the Sinai desert.

Later, the concept of desert was taken to mean more a place in the heart than a place on a map and was understood to be a mystical thing: Before you are ready to fully and gratefully receive life, you have to first be readied by facing your own demons and this means going “into the desert,” namely, entering that place where you are most frightened, lonely, and threatened. In order to be filled by God one must first be emptied.

The desert does this for you. It empties you. It is not a place where you can decide how you want to grow and change, but is a place that you undergo, expose yourself to, and have the courage to face your demons..

The idea is not so much that you do things there, but that things happen to you while there—silent, unseen, transforming things. The desert purifies you, almost against your will, through God’s efforts. In the desert, what really occurs is a cosmic confrontation between God and all the evil things in your life.

Though this happens within and through you, our job is only to be have the courage to be there. The idea is that God does the work, providing you have the courage to show up.

In terms of an image, this is what the season of lent is meant to be, time in the desert to courageously face the chaos and the demons within us and to let God do battle with them through us. The result is that we are purified, made ready, so that the intoxicating joy of Easter might then serve to bind us more closely to God and each other.

Of course the real desert experience is deeper, more powerful and less voluntary than something like Lent. We all have undergone those desert experiences, those heart-wrenching reality, life emptying times when we think that God has abandoned us, when we just want to die, to escape that loneliness and pain.

It is only then that we are ready to accept that gift that God truly gives, that fills our emptiness with love and with true appreciation.

The desert experiences of life are the gateway to the fullness of the love of God. Treasure them, learn through them. Only then can your heart be truly full. (Fr. Ron Rolheiser, O.M.I)

 

Readings: February 18, 2018, 1st Sunday of Lent

    All readings from The Message Bible © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Genesis 9:8-19

God spoke to Noah and his sons: “I’m setting up my covenant with you including your children who will come after you, along with everything alive around you—birds, farm animals, wild animals—that came out of the ship with you. I’m setting up my covenant with you that never again will everything living be destroyed by floodwaters; no, never again will a flood destroy the Earth.”

God continued, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and everything living around you and everyone living after you. I’m putting my rainbow in the clouds, a sign of the covenant between me and the Earth. From now on, when I form a cloud over the Earth and the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll remember my covenant between me and you and everything living, that never again will floodwaters destroy all life.

  • 1 Peter 3:18-22

Beloved: That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.  He went and proclaimed God’s salvation to earlier generations who ended up in the prison of judgment because they wouldn’t listen. You know, even though God waited patiently all the days that Noah built his ship, only a few were saved then, eight to be exact—saved /from/ the water /by/ the water. The waters of baptism do that for you, not by washing away dirt from your skin but by presenting you through Jesus’ resurrection before God with a clear conscience. Jesus has the last word on everything and everyone, from angels to armies. He’s standing right alongside God, and what he says goes.

  • Mark 1:12-15

         God’s Kingdom Is Here

The Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him.

After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: February 18, 2018, 1st Sunday of Lent

Genesis 9:8-15    1 Peter 3:18-22    Mark 1:12-15

Each year on the First Sunday of Lent one of the Gospel writers give us the story of Jesus in the desert, and encounter with Satan. As dramatic as it may seem, an encounter with evil is a part of the human condition. As Mark advises us temptation is a real challenge.

One gift that God gave us is freewill. It is sad to say we have also the freedom to misuse this free will. We can move our life in one direction or another and sometimes to our own detriment we take the wrong road. Lent is a time to think about all of this especially as we look at the whole idea of penance and reconciliation. It is a time of return to the Lord and one another.

Lent comes early this year in the heart of winter time, but as we anticipate Spring we also can anticipate a new life that we can have in Jesus Christ. After all this is why He came into our world to make that difference.

Whatever you do throughout this Lenten Season please remember that it is more for you than for God. As we enjoy Lent together let’s remind ourselves that we are all in this together. We are all sinners and we all need to be redeemed and saved. Hopefully Lent will give us many opportunities to do just that.

May you have a Blessed and Peace-filled Lenten season

1st Sunday of Lent, February 18, 2018

In Memoriam: Jack Scassera, Jr.

Jack Scassera, Jr., former parishioner of St. James,

d. February 1, 2018

May he rest in peace.

 

In Memoriam: Bernard “Bernie” Thiem

Bernard “Bernie” Thiem, from the Noon Mass community at St. James,

d. February 11, 2018

May he rest in peace.

 

 

In Memoriam: Leona Klaus

Leona Klaus

d. February 9, 2018, at 83 years of age.

May she rest in peace.

Readings: February 11, 2018, 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings from The Message Bible © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46

        Infections

God spoke to Moses and Aaron: “When someone has a swelling or a blister or a shiny spot on the skin that might signal a serious skin disease on the body, bring him to Aaron the priest or to one of his priest sons. The priest will examine the sore on the skin. If the hair in the sore has turned white and the sore appears more than skin deep, it is a serious skin disease and infectious. After the priest has examined it, he will pronounce the person unclean.

“When a man loses his hair and goes bald, he is clean. If he loses his hair from his forehead, he is bald and he is clean. But if he has a reddish-white sore on scalp or forehead, it means a serious skin disease is breaking out. The priest is to examine it; if the swollen sore on his scalp or forehead is reddish-white like the appearance of the sore of a serious skin disease, he has a serious skin disease and is unclean. The priest has to pronounce him unclean because of the sore on his head.

“Any person with a serious skin disease must wear torn clothes, leave his hair loose and unbrushed, cover his upper lip, and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as anyone has the sores, that one continues to be ritually unclean. That person must live alone; he or she must live outside the camp.                   

  • 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:2

Brothers and sisters: eat your meals heartily, not worrying about what others say about you—you’re eating to God’s glory, after all, not to please them. As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God’s glory. At the same time, don’t be callous in your exercise of freedom, thoughtlessly stepping on the toes of those who aren’t as free as you are. I try my best to be considerate of everyone’s feelings in all these matters; I hope you will be, too.

To Honor God

It pleases me that you continue to remember and honor me by keeping up the traditions of the faith I taught you. All actual authority stems from Christ.

  • Mark 1:40-45

A leper came to him, begging on his knees, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”  Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there the leprosy was gone, his skin smooth and healthy. Jesus dismissed him with strict orders: “Say nothing to anyone. Take the offering for cleansing that Moses prescribed and present yourself to the priest. This will validate your healing to the people.” But as soon as the man was out of earshot, he told everyone he met what had happened, spreading the news all over town. So Jesus kept to out-of-the-way places, no longer able to move freely in and out of the city. But people found him, and came from all over.

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: February 11, 2018, 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46     1 Corinthians 10:31-11:2     Mark 1:40-45

As we embark on the Lenten Season St. Mark presents us with an unusual story in the healing of the Leper. In many healing stories we learn that healing actually begins with faith. Faith is believing God can change things and with that Jesus performs miracle after miracle showing that He is the Lord of life.  For the Leper the most important thing was not his illness, but that he had faith that he could overcome.

This is very important in our own lives. For many illnesses perhaps we can not get a cure, but we can have faith in the possibilities. Often a spiritual healing is much more important than a physical one. Even if the leper had not been cured the rest of his life would have been spent praising the Lord, for he knew he was loved and was cared about.  As we go about our daily responsibilities we must understand this in our own life and in the lives of our brothers and sisters. Indeed God puts us here to take care of each other in good works.

This coming Wednesday we embark on a spiritual six week journey of Lent. It is a journey that we take together. The most important thing is not what we give up or our fasting during Lent, but how these have the possibility of changing us. Let us make the most of this in our spiritual growth during the Lenten Season. The leper asked to be cured. We ask to grow closer to the Lord and one another during this most holy time.

May you have a blessed and peace-filled Lenten Season.