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A mixed bag of readings this first Sunday of Advent.  A first reading of fulfillment and of good news.  Then we have a psalm of faith.  A second reading that sounds like a blessing.  Finally a Gospel that is downright scary.  Really, kind of a rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts.

Pretty much captures a typical day.  It captures a life in which we live with God.Photo on 6-23-12 at 12.33 PM #4

So, why then would anyone want to follow, believe, in this God, who can take us on an emotional, intellectual and spiritual rollercoaster?

Here’s the thing.  

The rollercoaster of life is going to happen no matter what.  If we think that because we believe in God, that we follow Jesus Christ that we follow all the rules and regulations we are guaranteeing ourselves a steady, easy life, then we are naive.

However, a life of belief, a life of following Christ, actually can help us to make sense of the ups and downs of life.

Following Christ with heart, mind and soul can give us the strength and wisdom to experience the ups and downs.

Believing in God helps us to see beyond ourselves, and our chaos, to the larger picture.

Because in the end, there is God’s promise, one referred to in the first reading and one we celebrate in a few weeks:  God will always be with us; Emmanuel.

Through thick and thin; good times and bad, sickness and health, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are present, ever close to us.

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What we are called to do is prepare ourselves, be vigilant, be alert to that presence; we are called to believe.

Because God is with us, but not always in the ways we think or want.

We have this special time of advent, a time of preparation to consider how Christ is born into our lives; how Christ is present.

We have this special time to think of our own lives in relation to Christ, and to maybe look back at some of the chaotic times and to see what got us through.

When life seemed out of control, we try to juggle too much…did we hear the words, “trust and let go, stop trying to control every situation”?

When a relationship was struggling could we feel the impulse to listen to the other, share with the other, forgive the other?


When we struggled with a serious illness and/or death..and we felt so alone…did someone come to us and say, “I am sorry.  What can I do for you?”

I often think when my life is all messed up, “okay God get down here and make this person do this, and make that person do that….wipe this person away from existence, etc”.  Thinking that will solve my problems.

That is what I expect…but that is not how God acts, at least so far.

Usually it is the Holy Spirit who does something unexpected to me…that causes me to change and grow, and understand.

Isn’t that the Eucharist?  Of all things unexpected and really kind of weird…we believe that the Father, through the power of the Spirit, transforms the bread and wine into the very real person of the Son of God.

10400763_810307405676055_1541579362175277912_nWe Catholics believe this.

I think that this can call us beyond our narrow thinking about God in different ways.

Eucharist can prepare us to be more alert, more vigilant to the movement of God in our lives and in the lives of others.

Moving us to see how Christ is born into our lives, in those wonderful, surprising, mysterious ways.


So that when those moments of chaos occur; when all seems hopeless, dark, lost.  As St. John of the Cross wrote…we can go into that darkness and walk with the eyes of faith.

Faith or Fear?

Christ our King?

Christ our King…sounds triumphant, like we are part of a crusade, does it not.  And that sense of triumphalism is in the end a bad thing.  It is Bad for the church, bad for the world, bad for us.

Christ our King, is not about triumph for us, for our institution, a triumph over others… but about living values that raise all of humanity to true freedom.

Reflect on Gospel just proclaimed.  Our “king” is in chains confronting the representative of another king, the Roman Emperor.

Clearly, Pilate fails to understand.  He thinks Jesus is a king, in the sense of a geopolitical entity.  He is thinking this Jesus, the King of the Jews, rules a certain group of people in a select geographical area.  Pilate is thinking like a mere human.

Jesus tells him quite clearly, he is not a king of the land, or in the earth, in any sense of human knowledge.

His kingdom is from above; it is a kingdom based on the divine value of love.  His kingdom exists wherever and whenever the divine love is made real.

And Jesus in the Gospel, will shortly show the power of love, the power of his kingdom.  He will surrender himself, out of love.  He gives of his life for others, which is love.

He will respond to the Father’s love by loving as the Father loves.

A love that is made flesh and blood in the bread and wine that we eat and drink.


We live in this kingdom when we live in this love.  We live in this kingdom when we love as Christ loves.  

We proclaim Christ our king not in some triumphant bombastic, (ego driven) manner.

We best proclaim Christ our King when we give of our lives for others.

Whether it be the forgiveness we give to people who have hurt us, or asking for forgiveness when we have hurt them.  


Christ is our King when we see someone who could easily be an enemy, and instead we choose to see a human person, in need of respect; a person hurting in need of care.


Christ is our King when we live humbly and we listen to others, we compromise and collaborate towards a common goal.


I have seen this kIngdom….

I saw it last Thursday at the Crossroads site; where together Catholic Charities and Washoe County work together help to take men and women, who have suffered in homelessness and in addictions, and help them to realize their humanity…to help them conquer addictions, to make good choices.Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 5.19.13 PM

The Kingdom of heaven is happening at a Confirmation retreat up at Camp Galilee on the Lake where teens and parents have given of their time to reflect on their lives in Christ.

The Kingdom of heaven is growing in homes and families, workplaces and schools where husbands, wives, children, students, co-workers have patience, where they seek the good in each other.  Where there is willing sacrifice for the good of others.


Sadly, we have witnessed too much of the earthly kingdom…not just in the senseless violence of Paris, Mali, Beirut, and Syria, but also when too many gave in to fear and closed of compassion.

It is in those who insist that everything has to be their way; they bully people in the parish, in the school, in the home.

It is evident in the ego driven dribble of gossip, lies, and sheer stupidity that we speak, that we post on Facebook, and yet hypocritically we claim we are Christian, we are Catholic.

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It is in this poison we call entitlement.  When we think we deserve anything and everything, guns, abortions, unlimited shopping, etc…without any sense of commitment or obligation, and then we whine about how people just won’t help.  We complain about how society is corrupted.

We are at the end of our liturgical year; next week we  begin our Advent Season.

A perfect time to reflect on the year that has past…who has reigned our lives?

The worldly king, as shown in our acts of selfishness, egotism, meanness, fear.

Divine love, as shown in our acts of compassion, mercy, forgiveness, generosity?

Starting from the new Millenia, how many times has the end of the world been predicted?  We had Y2K, multiple scenarios interpreted from the “Bible”, the famous Aztec calendar in 2012.

Has the world ended?  YES!

The world ends every time our lives take an abrupt change, for better or for worse. Our way of living in the world and experiencing our humanity is always ending, and beginning anew.  The world ends all the time.

The “trick”, if you will, is how we get through the end of one world and live in the next.

I am convinced, mostly, that this is what Jesus and our new Testament writers are referring to.  In the broad scheme of things, they are talking about how the world order of the oppression of poor, sick; the injustice that exists towards people; this world order will be changed when all people live as Christ.  

And in the more personal scheme of things it is also when our lives are changed.

My world ended that day of college graduation; the day I moved to Nevada; the day I quit my geology job to enter seminary; the day I was ordained; the day I had my panic attack and had to deal with my depression; the day I was asked to leave the parish and take an assignment at the Pastoral Center.

Our world ends when we marry; when the first child arrives; when our parents die.  Our world can end when our dreams of a family are ripped from us due to financial problems, marital problems, sickness or death.  Our world ends when our well laid plans are go awry.

imgres  beau  images

Our world ended on Sept. 11, 2001.  It ended on Friday in Paris.  It ended on August 6, 1945.

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In each moment of change, of transition, of going from one life to another, there is Christ.  Not causing the change, because mostly those changes result from us.  No, Jesus Christ is there, to say, “okay…let’s figure this out, and let’s move forward.”

Jesus Christ is there in those moments of “deaths”, to guide us to new life.  The Son of God is there so that we will not be controlled by the chaos, by our fears.


What does Jesus do?  He tells us to forgive and ask for forgiveness.  He tells us to be grateful for the blessings that are present.  He tells us to hope for that resurrection, that future life.  He tells us to seek peace!

All of this is made real and present in the celebration of the  Eucharist.  And this is why we need to be here each week, for our salvation.

It is not a magic act to earn salvation; it is the renewal of the covenant that God is here for us; to lead us from the darkness to the light; from the chaos into harmony.

Our part…open our eyes to the mystery of Christ’s presence.  Enter into those dark nights and trust that Christ leads.  And the more we can do that now and be accustomed to do it; then as some wise Carmelite once told me, when we do finally pass from this life, it will happen in a blink of an eye.
We will see the new reality, because we have been searching for it all along.

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