Father Kris' Korner

Father Kris' Korner

Father Kris

Father Kris’ Korner

August 6, 2017

Our focus this weekend is hospitality, generosity and mercy.  In our first reading, a couple opened their home to a prophet and were rewarded by having a son.  They were not looking for anything in return; they were simply being kind by offering some food and shelter.  And in today’s gospel, Jesus says that we will be rewarded for offering even just a glass of water to one of his disciples.  We must look honestly at our generosity as individuals, as households and as a community.  What experiences have you had with being offered hospitality/generosity/mercy?  Who do you know that exhibits these qualities; who inspires you with their selflessness?  My parents showed incredible hospitality to anyone who came into our house; even the unexpected guest was fed from what we could gather.  And I’ll never forget one cold winter day when we pulled into a gas station and my mother noticed that the attendant was nearly frozen.  We drove directly to a department store and returned with a hat and gloves for the young man.  I was only six years old, but I understood the beauty of this Christ-like gesture.  Catholicism offers the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy as a guideline for those striving to be Christ-like.  The Corporal Works of Mercy are these kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, bury the dead, and give alms to the poor.  The Spiritual Works of Mercy are acts of compassion by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs: instruct, advise, console, comfort, forgive, bear wrongs patiently, and pray for the living and the dead.  Why not chose to perform one of these works within the next few weeks.  Not only will you be helping someone else, you may receive a reward beyond what you gave.

 

July 30, 2017

In today’s first reading, the Lord offers Solomon one wish for himself.  Solomon’s wish pleased the Lord very much. The Lord responded, “Because you have asked for this— not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right - I do as you requested.”

Please reflect on another age old question; If you were to be granted three wishes, what would they be?  There are plenty of stories about the horrors of choosing unwisely; some choose to live forever, others choose fame, fortune, and power, and there are those who choose to inflict harm on a rival.  These all end tragically in some form or another.  The wishes people make tell a great deal about their priorities in life.  What do you “wish” for in your prayers?  Do you pray for peace, understanding, wisdom, a compassionate heart, and the desire and strength to serve others?  Do you pray for a closer relationship with the Lord?   Or do you waste them on things of this world?  May God say to you… “You have chosen wisely.  I do as you requested.”

Here is a reflection that I found many years ago that speaks to my heart:

I asked God to take away my anger
and God said “No.”
He said it was not for Him to take away,
but for me to give up.
 
I asked God to grant me patience,
and God said, “No.”
He said that patience is
a by-product of tribulation.
It isn’t granted, it is earned.
 
I asked God to give me happiness,
and God said, “No.”
He said He gives blessings;
happiness is up to me.
 
I asked God to ease my pain,
and God said, “No.”
He said, “Suffering draws
you apart from worldly cares
and brings you closer to me.”
 
I asked God to spare me
from illness and death,
and God said, “No.”
He said “Your spirit is eternal,
your body is only temporary.”
 
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things...
 
I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise...
 
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of people
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God...
 
I got nothing I asked for,
but everything that I hoped for.
Almost despite myself,
my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all people most richly blessed.
 
I asked God to help me love others as much as He loves me,
and God said, “Ah, finally you have the idea.”

 

July 23, 2017

WEEDS AND WHEAT - GOOD AND EVIL 

Ever since humans were able to speak we’ve been asking questions.  Perhaps the oldest questions of all are: Why does God allow evil in the world?  And why doesn’t God punish evil people?  In today’s Gospel, Jesus must have been answering these very questions.  Jesus taught that weeds (evil people) must be allowed to grow in the midst of the wheat (good people) until the final judgment.  He feared that if weeds are pulled up some of the wheat might be damaged or destroyed by mistake.  And who’s to say “once a weed always a weed?”  Shouldn’t weeds be given a chance for redemption? 

Just imagine a baseball game that only allows one strike per player; one strike and you are out - not only out, but killed right there on the field to satisfy the angry crowds!  Who would ever want to play such a cruel and unfair game?  Now imagine a God who immediately strikes you dead after committing just one sin – no second chances ever!  Who of us would still be alive?!!!  Thankfully the Lord doesn’t work that way; God gives us a lifetime of opportunities to repent and turn from our sinful ways.  If it gives you any satisfaction: We are all judged at the end of our lives when we stand before the Lord.  No sin is forgotten unless it has been washed away by Jesus himself, so those who reject his mercy shall be judged harshly.  But those who repent and accept his love will enter into eternal glory.

 

July 16, 2017

Have you ever had to enrich soil for plants to grow healthier? Whether a houseplant, a garden, a lawn, or a tree; plants need rich nutrient filled soil. In the courtyard of St. Mary’s church we have a beautiful 100 year old tree that we almost lost to disease a few years ago. We had it cared for and fed the proper nutrients and now the tree is thriving once again, but it needs constant attention. Soil and soul are so much alike. Our souls also need tending. Our souls need the nutrients of the sacraments, (especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation), the proclaimed Word of God, prayer, and works of charity; yet so many of us forget to feed our souls. A few years ago, the books “Chicken Soup for the Soul” were very popular and inspired our hungry souls. Some of those stories I found to be too sugary sweet – nothing more than feel-good-fluff; however, other stories relied on scriptural values and these I found challenging, healing and fulfilling. So, how is your own soul doing? Are you starving it to death, or feeding it ‘junk food,’ or are you keeping it alive and healthy with the real sustenance – the stuff of eternal life? Here is a simple soil/soul test… just pause for a few minutes, look deep inside yourself; • are you at peace, are you secure in God’s love, are you filled with joy, do you feel alive… • or do you feel confused, choked by the worries of life, preoccupied with the things of this passing world… • or do you feel like a dry, parched dessert withering away? If you answered yes to any of these questions then FEED YOUR SOUL!!

 

July 9, 2017

In today’s Gospel Jesus says: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me… For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” I share this passage every time I offer the Anointing of the Sick. However, Jesus’ metaphor of a yoke is sometimes lost because only a few people today know what a yoke is. A yoke is a wooden beam that ties two oxen together as they work hard to pull a plow or heavy load. When one gets weary the other pulls him along and vice versa. Jesus says he will tie himself to us in our need and weariness. I find it extremely comforting to know I am not alone in my struggles, in my loneliness and in my pain; Jesus, who endured his own suffering, joins in mine.

A modern example of this concept is the “Footprints” poem by Mary Stevenson. Please, even if you know the ‘punchline’ take the time to meditate on its message. Put yourself into that man’s shoes and relive that ‘ah ha’ moment.

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed He was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from His life. For each scene He noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One belonging to Him and the other to the LORD. When the last scene of His life flashed before Him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of His life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of His life. This really bothered Him and He questioned the LORD about it. LORD you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me. The LORD replied, my precious, precious child, I Love you and I would never leave you! During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.

 

July 2, 2017

Our focus this weekend is hospitality, generosity and mercy.  In our first reading, a couple opened their home to a prophet and were rewarded by having a son.  They were not looking for anything in return; they were simply being kind by offering some food and shelter.  And in today’s gospel, Jesus says that we will be rewarded for offering even just a glass of water to one of his disciples.  We must look honestly at our generosity as individuals, as households and as a community.  What experiences have you had with being offered hospitality/generosity/mercy?  Who do you know that exhibits these qualities; who inspires you with their selflessness?  My parents showed incredible hospitality to anyone who came into our house; even the unexpected guest was fed from what we could gather.  And I’ll never forget one cold winter day when we pulled into a gas station and my mother noticed that the attendant was nearly frozen.  We drove directly to a department store and returned with a hat and gloves for the young man.  I was only six years old, but I understood the beauty of this Christ-like gesture.  Catholicism offers the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy as a guideline for those striving to be Christ-like.  The Corporal Works of Mercy are these kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, bury the dead, and give alms to the poor.  The Spiritual Works of Mercy are acts of compassion by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs: instruct, advise, console, comfort, forgive, bear wrongs patiently, and pray for the living and the dead.  Why not chose to perform one of these works within the next few weeks.  Not only will you be helping someone else, you may receive a reward beyond what you gave.

 

June 25, 2017

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us how intimately God cares for us and how he protects each and every one of us – even as insignificant as we might feel.  If the Father cares for sparrows and the smallest of creatures, how much more will he care for us, his children?  The ways human beings (at our best) care for each other are mere reflections of the ways God cares for us.  We say things like “Don’t worry; I’ll take care of you”  “I’ve got your back”  “I’ll protect you”  “I promise” to our loved ones.  Pause for a moment and contemplate the many, many ways you have cared for and protected your loved ones.  Now, stretch out a bit further and remember the ways you have cared for and protected mere acquaintances or strangers.  These are all glimpses of God’s grace at work within us.  I remember being in a situation when I truly had to protect others from danger.  I had volunteered to help at a youth ropes course and my job was to hold the participants’ safety rope and to guide them through the obstacles as they dangled 30 feet in the air.  No one had gotten hurt and all felt encouraged and safe under my watchful eye.  I took this responsibility very seriously as I stood in one spot on the cold frozen ground all day long.  Only after the day was done, had I noticed that my feet were frozen and dangerously numb.  I limped in severe pain as we all walked back to the bus.  One might think the kids would be concerned for me; just the opposite, they saw this as an opportunity to throw snow balls at me since I was defenseless.  Brats!  Even though we too can be brats at times, God cares for and protects us unceasingly.  But yet, there are still people who die under horrific circumstances: starvation, natural disasters and unspeakable violence.  Some might even cry out “Where is God?”  Saint Mother Teresa reminds us… “When a poor person dies of hunger it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her.  It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed."  Yes, God can only do so much and, by his own design, the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth still requires our help in caring for us.

June 18, 2017

We are getting accustomed to having things delivered to our door: newspapers, packages, Chinese food, pizza and yes, even Holy Eucharist is delivered to you but only if you are too infirmed to come to Mass. You can’t order it online, you can’t get it at a drive through, you can’t bake it at home and you can’t get it from the local liquor store. This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. The Body and Blood are brought to reality by the Holy Spirit through the priest and the prayers of the community solely within the context of the Sacred Liturgy. Each time we receive Holy Communion, we respond Amen which means “so be it” or “truly it is.” But have you ever spent time reflecting on Holy Communion? The Eucharist (which means thanksgiving) feeds our bodies and souls, unites us, and empowers us to feed others through our words and actions. If you know of a loved one who hasn’t received the Eucharist in a while, please use this opportunity to mention it to them. If they are unable to come to Mass, call the office to have someone bring it to them (or perhaps even you could bring it to them!) One of the Church’s greatest mysteries is that through the Eucharist we touch God! Let’s all say AMEN to that!

 

June 11, 2017

Have you ever tried to explain the HOLY TRINITY to someone? The Trinity is the most cherished of all the mysteries of the Church. Our human minds can barely understand the Father and the Son, but to wrap our minds around the Holy Spirit is far more difficult. Some describe the Holy Spirit as the tangible love/fellowship between the Father and the Son; a love so dynamic that it created life out of nothing. Over the course of over 2000 years, the church has tried to understand and teach the mystery of the Trinity, and even though we accept it by faith, our human minds are unable to fathom its totality. Ah, if St. Patrick were alive today, he might use a modern toy to explain the Trinity rather than the shamrock.

Have you seen a Fidget Spinner? It is a toy with three arms that spin around a central hub. Here is a diagram of the Trinity that I’ve found that helps a bit (it looks a lot like one of those Fidget Spinners). In the simplest of explanations, God is a community of persons - a dynamic community of love. All three persons are equal, yet all three have very specific roles in the relationship.

We too are called to be in relationship with others. Each of us has a variety of roles in our lives… son, daughter, spouse, parent, sibling, friend, teammate, boss, employee, parishioner and the list goes on and on. We cannot discover our true being or destiny without relationships. "How have you experienced love from God – i.e. from the “Divine Community? And how have you experienced love from the human community?"

 

June 4, 2017

Come, Holy Spirit, come. At his Ascension, Jesus said his earthly goodbyes to his disciples and promised to send the Holy Spirit to dwell within them so they would not be abandoned. This weekend we celebrate Pentecost, the third most important day in the life of our Church when the Holy Spirit set the apostles free from fear and filled them incredible passion to spread the Good News. Yet most Catholics know very little about the Holy Spirit. The Church uses symbols to represent it: fire, wind, water and the dove. Fire calls attention to the strength and force of the Holy Spirit who sets hearts and souls on fire. The wind that appeared at Pentecost was reminiscent of the wind (Ruah in Hebrew) that blew over the waters at the beginning of Creation. The wind calls attention to the Holy Spirit who continues to breathe life into the Church. Water signifies birth and life. From a faith perspective, it represents the cleansing and life-giving action of the Holy Spirit at Baptism. The dove descended upon Jesus at his baptism and affirmed him when a voice was heard saying “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!"

The Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, offers us incredible strength, courage, passion, guidance, affirmation and wisdom. It is through the Holy Spirit that we are able to defend our faith. It is through the Spirit that we are cleansed from sin and guilt thus enabling us to forgive ourselves and others. Have you ever shown great inner strength and courage? Have you exhibited wisdom beyond your years? Have you made great sacrifices for those you love? Have you chosen love and forgiveness rather than hatred and revenge? If you answered YES to any of these questions, you have the Holy Spirit to thank.

 

May 28, 2017

Saying goodbye to someone you love is never easy and some goodbyes are harder than others; some goodbyes turn out to be our unexpected final goodbye. I would have never imagined that my phone call to my sister Lynn on March 13th of last year would be the last time I would hear her voice. Thank God my family is in the habit of saying “I love you” every time we say goodbye! In today’s Gospel, Jesus is saying his final prayers before He ascends to the Father once and for all. He made it a point to pray specifically for his beloved disciples.

Like most people, I used to think that I wanted to die quickly, but as I’ve gotten older and have been with people as they pass away, I now want to be conscious during the process. I want to be able to experience the poignant goodbyes. I want to be able to tell each and every person how much I love them and what they’ve meant in my life. I want to hug and kiss them, hear their voice and hold their hands. I want to share my faith in Christ and His resurrection. I want them to know I have no fear as I make my journey home. And as my mind and body slip from this world to eternity I want to be in prayer. Please do not take your loved ones for granted or wait until it is too late; pray every day for them with the dedication of a young child praying at the foot of its bed with hands clasped.

 

May 21, 2017

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning is one of the most famous poems in the English language. How do you love those whom you truly care about? Think of the many ways you show them. I’m sure you have ways that come naturally to you but hopefully you work at other ways that don’t come so easily. Remember experiencing the joy and excitement that came from doing something special for a loved one. However, we all know that we can damage loving relationships if we simply just stop trying; if we stop saying “I love you,” or if we allow tempers to fly, or if we disrespect each other, or if we become concerned solely about ourselves and fail to make sacrifices for others.  

Let’s just change one word in Sonnet 43… “How do I love God? Let me count the ways.” In what ways do you personally and uniquely show God that you love Him? We all have our ways that come naturally, but we can always improve by challenging ourselves, thus showing God the depth of our love for Him. Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Following the commandments is a solid foundation but Jesus also challenges us with his teachings and parables, the Beatitudes, and the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. So, please take this week’s challenge and improve the count by doing something special for your loved ones and for God!

 

May 14, 2017

Rejection causes incredible emotional damage to human beings. In evolution those that were rejected had very little chance of survival if they were ostracized from the tribe; thus rejection is deeply engrained in the human psyche and we avoid it at all costs. Yes, you will find lots of quotes about how rejection actually makes some people stronger but the pain it causes is real and difficult to overcome and even harder to forget. Today’s second reading contains the phrase, “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Jesus, the Son of God, was rejected by the people of his time. He came to help us to know God and to understand God’s ways. He told us that we can know God by looking at Him. He treated everyone with respect. He saw goodness in sinners. He never judged. He forgave those who sinned against him. He was patient. He protected the weak, the marginalized, the poor and the lowly. He gave strength and purpose to those who had lost hope. He even performed mighty miracles to prove his authority. Jesus gave His ALL for others even allowing himself to be crucified for us. Yet still people rejected him then and they continue to reject him today. Jesus never compromised who he was or what he taught. He stood his ground even though He knew others were plotting to kill Him. How does fear of rejection by your peers play a role in your life when it comes to living out your faith? How does rejection influence the way you act or speak in general? Yes, even as adults we succumb to peer pressure; how far are you willing to go before the approval of others becomes more important than your faith, morals and values? Ultimately, we will all stand before God and give an account of our lives and we certainly don’t want to be rejected by HIM!

 

May 7, 2017

Sheep need constant protection; they have no natural defenses, plus they aren’t that bright and often lead themselves into perilous situations or are stolen away by thieves. So to gain his flock’s trust, a good shepherd will hold his lambs at their birth. The shepherd’s voice is the first human voice a lamb hears, thus it will follow only him (imprint on him) for the rest of its life. In today’s Gospel, Jesus, the Good Shepherd knows us, his flock, and as we follow his voice he protects us with his life. As much as we would like to be obedient and good, we too lead ourselves into perilous situations and allow ourselves to be lured away from Jesus. When might have you been led astray by someone or some temptation? Praise God that the Good Shepherd somehow rescued you from the peril and carried you lovingly on his shoulders safely home where there is abundant life.

We too are called to be good shepherds – vigilant caretakers of each other, of our children, out “neighbors,” especially the poor and vulnerable among us. How seriously do you take this responsibility? Who trusts your voice? Who needs your touch?

 

April 30, 2017

On that first Easter morning, before the disciples truly understood that Jesus had risen, two of them were walking to the town of Emmaus. On the way, they encountered a stranger who wanted to know all about this Jesus of whom they were speaking. They taught the stranger all they knew about Jesus and in turn, the stranger began to teach them by explaining all the scriptures that foretold of the Christ. (Of course, we all know now that the stranger was Jesus Christ himself.) After Jesus had left them, the two said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” Many people tell me after Mass that my homily spoke to them directly as if I knew exactly what they needed to hear. I have enough experience and humility to know it had nothing to do with me but that the Holy Spirit was completely responsible. I learned in seminary to Preach the Gospel and thus all the Gospel to do what it does best – speak to people’s hearts. I have witnessed those special moments when the scriptures suddenly make sense to a person. I have witnessed heavy burdens being lifted instantly. And I have witnessed despair turn into hope. My constant prayer for our parishioners is that, at some point in each of their lives, their hearts will burn within them as they have that profound moment of faith revelation. If this has not happened to you yet, pray that it will happen; seek and ye shall find, ask and it shall be given unto you.

 

April 23, 2017

In today’s Gospel we encounter Doubting Thomas. I usually say, “poor Thomas;” he had one moment of doubt and now, for all time, he is defined by this one uncertainty. Thomas had to see the risen Christ for himself; he simply wouldn’t trust the testimony of others. Jesus Christ, in his infinite patience, was not at all insulted by Thomas’ doubts. In fact, He invited Thomas to touch his wounds to help him believe. Thomas is a lot like today’s modern skeptics who need scientific proof for nearly everything in whom there is no room for religion or spirituality. Miracles happen every day and there are those who believe in them and there are just as many who immediately denounced them or attempt to dismiss faith in general. Let us model ourselves after Christ and instead of being perturbed by another’s unbelief or antagonism, let us rather invite them to dialogue about faith and truth. Someone may come to believe in Christ because of your humble teaching and witness. This year, in particular, our Easter Celebrations were very well attended and at St. Augustin’s there were many families with young children in attendance. It was wonderful to see young parents passing on their beliefs to future generations. Keep up the Good Work by spreading the Good News! Help someone in their unbelief.

 

April 16, 2017

On Easter morning children will be scurrying around looking for hidden Easter eggs, devouring the chocolate in their Easter baskets, and hoping to get a glimpse of the Easter bunny. Sadly, for some, this is all they know of Easter; in their homes there is no mention of Jesus dying on the cross and certainly no mention of his resurrection. For many adults, the holiest day of the year is just another occasion to get together with family and friends. Four years ago on Easter, my father had a massive heart attack and with only eight more days to live, he said he was honored to his heart attack on the holiest day of the year. On that first Easter morning, all time and eternity changed, all sins were forgiven, the gates of heaven were opened, and a completely new way of being was ushered into existence through Jesus Christ. Have you tried to delve into the f fullness of what Easter is all about? Have you taken time to reflect on how the Paschal Mystery (Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection) affects you personally? It takes work to make sense of it and to make it part of our lives; for most, it takes a lifetime…a lifetime of faith. May this Easter change your life forever for the Loris is risen!

 

April 9, 2017

At Palm Sunday Mass the crowd experiences a tremendous shift in loyalty. At the beginning we hold up our palms as we shout “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord.” But when we read The Passion our mood turns very dark when we all shout “Let Him be crucified!” In just a few days the crowds turned completely against Jesus; at first they gave him a king’s welcome and soon after they crucified Him as a common criminal. Why were the crowds so fickle and why were they so easily swayed? If you were there in that crowd, what would you have shouted… “Crucify Him or Free Him?” Are you loyal to Jesus? Do you live by your faith only when it is convenient or benefits you in some way? Are you able to resist sin especially when it seems fun or immediately gratifying? Do you make conscious decisions based on your faith, or does your faith not even factor into your daily life choices? Our faith maturity is a lifelong process; but face it, at some point we must grow up and put aside childish ways to become a consciously dedicated disciple of Christ. What grade would you give yourself as a loyal follower of Jesus? What grade as a practicing Catholic? Jesus expects us all to reach for an A+!

 

April 2, 2017

In today’s Gospel, we witness the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Jesus appears to be quite insensitive because he did not rush to Lazarus (one of his close friends) when he got word that he was near death; in fact, he delayed traveling to see him for two days! Who of us would not run immediately to a loved upon hearing they were near death? But why did Jesus wait? By the time he arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days! Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, told Jesus that their brother would not have died if Jesus had gotten there in time. A great crowd of people were wailing and causing a commotion; some of them criticized Jesus for not saving Lazarus. Perturbed at all the nonsense, Jesus wept. Jesus assured the sisters that He is the Resurrection and the Life and Martha declared “I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Hopefully we all know that the situation ends on a miraculously happy note. Jesus commanded Lazarus to come out of the temple. Lazarus came forth still bound by all his burial cloths and Jesus commanded that they untie him; symbolically releasing Lazarus from the bonds of death – foreshadowing Jesus destroying the bonds of death once and for all by his own resurrection. The death of a loved one can cause unfathomable sorrow but Jesus cautions us to not grieve like those who have no hope. Jesus still weeps because death and evil seem to prevail at times, even though he has conquered them once and for all. He weeps that we still do not fully trust and hope in the resurrection. May we, one day, declare with our whole hearts and souls that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Resurrection and the Life!