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11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

11th SUNDAY in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
Ezekiel 17: 22-24 + Psalm 92: 2-16 + 2 Cor. 5: 6-10 + Mark 4: 26-34
Holy Spirit Catholic Church: Sunday, June 13, 2021

Today, on this 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, in the Year of Mark’s Gospel,
we return to a consecutive reading of Mark’s Gospel at Sunday Mass.
We left off on our consecutive reading of Mark’s Gospel way back on Valentine’s Day.
Remember the deep freeze of that time and the snow that followed,
preventing many of you from attending Ash Wednesday services
immediately after Valentine’s Day.

Back in mid-February we began the 40 days of the Lenten Season, then entered the 50 days of the Easter Season, and then these past 2 Sundays celebrated important beliefs about who God is as Trinity and how God draws us into the life of the Trinity
through the great gift of the Eucharist.
After all that passage of time, today we return to a consecutive reading of Mark’s Gospel.

The challenge, though, is we are dropped right into the middle of Chapter 4 of Mark’s Gospel with these 2 parables: The Seed that Grows of Itself and the Mustard Seed.
It’s like going to sleep in one place and waking up in an entirely different place—
we have to get our bearings in order to understand where we are
and what Jesus desires to teach us through his word.

For we cannot understand what Jesus is trying to teach us without understanding
the context in which the evangelist Mark places these 2 parables.

In Chapter 4 of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus uses agricultural images in speaking about
the mystery of the Kingdom of God.
In doing so, he chooses images from material life
to point to the hidden workings of the spiritual life.
This is how Jesus uses parables, speaking about what is visible to point
to the invisible workings of God’s grace, the hidden movements of the Spirit.

The two parables we hear today toward the middle of Chapter 4 of Mark are connected
to the first parable at the beginning of this chapter—The Parable of the Sower.
The parables we ponder today—the “Seed that Grows of Itself” and the “Mustard Seed” illumine this previous parable about the Sower who sows the seed.
The three parables in Chapter 4 can only be understood together.
In the parable that opens Chapter 4 of Mark’s Gospel, “The Parable of the Sower”,
there are 4 types of soil that the Sower encounters—
three types that do not receive the seed and the fourth soil that is receptive to the seed.
In Jesus’ explanation of that parable to his disciples, away from the noise of the crowd,
he states that the Sower stands for himself, the seed is his word,
and the soil represents the hearts of the listeners.

However, since Jesus did not say much about the characteristics
of the 4th type of soil, he tells 2 more parables shed light on the qualities of good soil.
Since Jesus did not elaborate much at all about the 4th type of person
who is receptive to his word and produces abundant fruit,
he tells 2 more parables to about this type of person of faith.

The Parable of the “Seed that Grows of Itself” (productive soil)
and the parable of the “Mustard Seed” (transformative soil)
both point to qualities needed in order for the word of God to take root
in the heart of the listener and produce abundant fruit.

A very important quality of good soil is to cooperate with God’s grace
even when we do not see the results immediately.
For we walk by faith, not by sight. We demonstrate this most powerfully
when we follow the teachings of the Lord Jesus which are contrary to popular culture.
We do what we are commanded to do, even though others tempt us by saying,
“What good does it do?”
So, we are kind, even when others are rude in return.
We are patient, when having everything right now is the norm.
We forgive, when everyone else is seeking revenge.
We are faithful, while others glibly break their vows.
We are honest, even when others who lie and cheat and steal seem to be getting ahead.
We are grateful, while others are never satisfied with what they have.
We worship God with our brothers and sisters in Christ,
which does not appear to produce anything concrete,
while everyone else is at the lake having fun.

Another one of these very important qualities of good soil revealed by today’s parables
is trust!
We must trust that the Sower knows what he is doing,
that the instructions of Jesus are worth following.
So, in trust, we remain open to Him and to his word.
We do so by turning to him daily in prayer, so the water of our baptism can flow freely
in our lives, nourishing the growth of our spiritual lives.
Receiving the Eucharist, week after week, also enables the water of baptism
to flow freely through our life, watering the seed of faith.
We know not how prayer works, we simply know that prayer works.
We know not how the growth of God’s life and love happens in our lives, but prayer,
this ongoing relationship with the Lord, assures us that it is happening.
Spending time with the Lord every day is essential,
even when nothing on the surface appears to be happening.

A quality which takes trust to a deeper level is surrender.
We surrender ourselves and our lives daily into the hands of the Lord,
recognizing that a lot is not in our control.
For this is how it is with the Kingdom of God. Surrender is a deeper form of trusting,
of placing all that we have and are into God’s hands.
When we surrender in love to God,
we admit that we do not need to have the blueprint of our entire life—
only give us today our daily bread, and that will be enough.
Surrendering to God means we can say,
“You don’t have to show me the whole road ahead. Just the next step will do.”

For we only see the mustard seed of our small lives, the mustard seed of our faith,
but when we surrender the little we are and have into God’s hands,
something remarkable happens.
We grow into something beyond what we dreamed could be possible.

We become bread for others who hunger for God.
We become a welcoming shade for those seeking comfort
from the blazing heat of suffering and despair.

Ultimately, being good soil for God’s word is not about individual achievement.
It’s not about “self-help” or “self-improvement,”
but about being of loving assistance to others, producing fruit for the Kingdom of God.

When we do so, we will not be afraid to stand before the judgment seat of Christ
and give an account for our lives.
Actually, we will not need to say a word.
Others will speak on our behalf.
Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi

Trinity Sunday

Deut. 4: 32-34, 39-40 + Psalm 33: 4-6, 9, 18-22 + Rom. 8: 14-17 + Matt. 28: 16-20
Holy Spirit Catholic Church: May 30, 2021

The Church in her wisdom places the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
immediately after the great celebration of Pentecost. Why?
Because the Holy Spirit leads us into the life of the Triune God.

We are carried on the wings of the Spirit into the heights of joy of being chosen
by the Father in the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit to share life with God.
As the river of life-giving water, the Spirit transports us into a relationship
with the Father and Son, and we are caught up in their love for each other.
By the fire of the Holy Spirit, we see clearly this truth—
love not only makes the world go round, but love is at the center of the Trinity—
the Father loving the Son, the Son receiving the Father’s love and returning that love, and the fiery passionate love they share being the Holy Spirit.

Most Christians, when asked which member of the Trinity they relate to
on a consistent basis, would answer either the Father or the Son.
The Holy Spirit is often the forgotten member of the Triune God.
Yet it is the Spirit who enlightens our minds to understand who Jesus is as Son of God
and what Jesus has done for us as Redeemer, Savior, and Lord of all.
Yet it is the Spirit who reveals that the Father has adopted us in baptism,
chosen us to be his own beloved sons and daughters.
In fact, it is by the power of the same Spirit, as St. Paul notes,
that we can even dare to address God as “Abba, Father”. (Romans 8: 15)

Whether we realize it or not, the Holy Spirit is the divine person of the Trinity to whom we relate most, because we can only relate to the Father and the Son through the Spirit.
We are not Moses—we cannot see God face to face on the mountain— and actually
Moses did not exactly see God’s face, only God’s back as God passed by.
We are not Peter, James, or John, nor Mary Magdalene, Martha, or Mary—
we do not see Jesus, the Son of God, face-to-face as they did in the 1st century.

Therefore, it is the Holy Spirit who reveals to us the Father and reveals to us the Son.
Without the Spirit we would not know either one.

The Holy Spirit draws us deeper and deeper into the life of the Trinity.
The Holy Spirit performs this important work in our lives in many different ways.

The desire which propelled you here today, the desire you have
for a closer relationship with God—that is the Spirit working within you.

The voice you cannot silence arising from your conscience—
that voice which says, “Do the right thing no matter what it costs”
is the voice of the Holy Spirit.
That voice of compassion which says it is wrong to turn your back on the hungry
or those who are hurting, that is the Spirit.
The powerful voice reminding you that every single person is to be treated with dignity,
regardless of their race, ethnicity, color of skin, or gender—that is the Spirit.
That pestering voice which says “forgive” when you would rather feed resentment,
that’s the Spirit.

The Spirit is always at work repairing relationships that have been broken—
whether that’s our relationship to God, to others, to our truest self,
or the relationship we have with our common home, the earth itself.
For the Spirit is the energy needed for reconciliation.
It is the Holy Spirit as the 3rd Person of the Divine Trinity who makes us one—
one in Christ, & strengthens our relationship with each other as children of One Father.

The Spirit’s work is to encourage and console and to INSPIRE.
That word—inspire—reveals what the Holy Spirit most often does.
When out of nowhere we are inspired to call someone
who we have not spoken to in ages—that’s the movement of the Spirit.
When we are inspired to write a note of gratitude or encouragement,
the breath of the Spirit moves our pen.
When we are inspired to speak a word lifting another up, or when we are inspired
to step forward and offer a helping hand—there is the Spirit at work.

The 3rd Person of the Holy Trinity empowers us to give witness
to the Son’s redeeming love and the Father’s providential care.
The Holy Spirit, a Spirit of power, gives us the courage to be witnesses to the Gospel,
so that the life-giving relationship we have with the Father, Son, and Spirit
is something we naturally share with others.

Whenever we fall in love, we want to tell everyone about our beloved.
We want others to meet the person whose love has transformed us.
We cannot keep this news, this great good news, to ourselves.

So it is when we realize how bountifully we are loved by God
and invited into relationship now and forever with the Triune God.
It is a love that cannot be kept to ourselves, and it is a relationship
we want others to share.
We want to give witness to what the Beloved—the Triune God—
has done and is doing in our life.

It is the particular role of the Holy Spirit to help us share
this divine life and love with others and invite them into relationship with the Trinity.
So, we baptize—ushering those baptized into this life & love of the Father, Son & Spirit.
We invite others to join in the joy of the dance with the 3 Divine Persons.

It is the Holy Spirit who propels us to reach out and make a friend,
and then nurture and develop that friendship, and then bring that friend to know
the Father and the Son and the Spirit.

The heart of the mystery of the Trinity is relationship, for our God is a relational God.
The Triune God has made us in God’s image-we are made to be in relationship with God,
and we are hard-wired to be connected to others in relationship.
One of the lessons we have learned from the coronavirus pandemic is we are not made to live in isolation—we are made to be in bodily relationship with others.

In baptism, the Triune God has chosen us to be a Trinitarian people.
By baptism, we are “an adopted son (daughter) of the Father, a member of Christ,
and a temple of the Holy Spirit.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1279)

Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi

Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2: 1-11 + Galatians 5: 16-25 + John 20: 19-23
Holy Spirit Catholic Church: May 23, 2021

The Holy Spirit, being “spirit”, is not visible to the human eye,
but is visible to those who have eyes of faith.
We do not “see” the Holy Spirit, but we do see evidence of the Spirit’s work,
signs of the powerful, life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit.
This is what St. Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit.
When we see someone who is loving or kind, full of joy or peace,
we know the Holy Spirit is moving in their lives.
When we see someone who is patient or faithful, generous or gentle,
or guided by self-control, we can say, “There is a Spirit-filled person.”

By examining more closely the fruit of the Holy Spirit,
we can better understand what it means to be a Pentecost people.

The fruit of the Spirit is love. But not just any kind of love,
rather the love revealed by the Spirit-filled Son of God.
He commands us to love one another as he has loved us (John 15: 12),
by laying down our lives for others,
generously giving of ourselves for the good of the other.
This love sacrifices, is generous and kind and joy-filled.
It’s the kind of loving that is attractive to others and draws their attention:
“Look at those Christians. See how they love one another and others.”
When we make use the Spirit’s gift of piety, which draws us closer to the All-Holy One who is Pure, Absolute Love, we produce more readily this fruit of the Spirit—love.

The fruit of the Spirit is joy.
This joy in the Spirit, this joy spilling forth from the Spirit,
is permanent where happiness is temporary.
When Jesus prays to the Father, he “rejoices in the Holy Spirit” (Lk. 10:21).
Jesus, full of joy springing from wonder, preaches parables rooted
in the awesomeness of life springing up all round him—a sower sowing seeds and the bountiful harvest that results (cf Mk. 4: 1-8; Mt. 13: 1-13) or how the Father provides for the birds of the air and clothes the fields with flowers (cf. Mt. 6: 26-30).

Jesus welcomes children who are bundles of joy,
because of their hearts are filled with wonder.

Moved by the Spirit of joy, we can become like little children
(cf. Mk. 10:15, Matt. 18:3), alive with awe and wonder.
Anytime we unpack this particular gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of awe
and wonder, we are able to marvel at life erupting all round us from the frozen death of winter, we rejoice in frozen hearts now thawed by the mercy of God.
With masks are removed from our faces, we breathe in more easily
the breath of the Risen Lord, the fresh air of the Spirit, and we sing for joy.

Filled with awe and wonder at the many glorious gifts of God,
we can then produce the fruit of the Spirit identified as generosity.
For the Spirit’s gift of awe and wonder produces not only joy
but generosity, which flows from joy and gives birth to even more joy.
Those who are joy-filled are also generous, because these fruits of the Spirit
go hand-in-hand.
Jesus notices generosity welling up and out of the widow
who gives all she has to the temple treasury, two small coins (cf. Lk 21: 2-3).
Jesus embodies generosity by the great gift of his body broken for us,
by the magnanimous gift of his blood poured out for us.
Parishioners in their generosity not only break open their bank accounts
to build a new church or to help those who have lost everything to fire
or struggle to make ends meet, but also generously share the gift of their time and talent in a multitude of ways.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace.
“Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you,” says the Lord.
“Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and afraid.” (John 14: 27)
When our world turns upside down and the foundations of life
are shaken, this fruit is a sure sign of the Spirit of God at work.
It blooms forth in the lives of people of faith who persevere in the face of hardship, rejoicing in the gifts of God each day, relishing life in all its richness,wonder and delight.
The Spirit helps us produce this fruit by the gift of knowledge of the ways of God.
For peace flows from us because we know that suffering love leads to glory,
that every trial is a new opportunity to trust in God’s goodness,
that death never ever has the last word.

Another fruit of the Spirit of the All-Merciful God is patience.
Patience as a fruit of the Spirit is not passive, but active. (cf. 1 Cor. 13: 4)
It is what Jesus displays toward his hard-headed disciples,
who do not understand him nor his ways.
Patience as a fruit of the Spirit is rooted in God’s love as seen
in Jesus’ marvelous mercy toward sinners, trusting they will turn back to God.
It is manifested in the many St. Monica’s of this world who faithfully pray for their wayward Augustine’s, trusting that God hears their prayers and will act to save the lost, to bind up the broken, to lift up those who fall.

Patience looks a lot like persevering in hope, which is why the Spirit gives
the gift of fortitude, to strengthen us to keep on keeping on even when things are not going our way, trusting that in the long haul that God’s plan will be victorious,
that life will spring from death.

Connected to the fruit of patience is the fruit of faithfulness,
because faithfulness also springs from the Spirit’s gift of fortitude,
giving strength to persevere in good times and bad, in sickness and in health.

Husband and wife produce this fruit of faithfulness to God and to each other
as they support each other during times of trouble
and rejoice with each other during times of blessing.
Those who suffer through the pain of divorce produce this fruit as they stay close to God and their church community through thick and thin and are resurrected to new life
on the other side of the death of divorce, a life where they learn they can love and be loved again, where they recognize they have gifts to share which bless the lives of others, gifts which flow from God’s faithfulness to them.

This fruit of the Spirit named faithfulness is produced by a people of faith,
who persevere through a pandemic, who endure in trust the shutting down of the Sacramental life of the Church, who then worship in spite of the hindrance of masks and social distance, who say to God who has said to them in Christ—“I am with you always” (cf. Mt. 28:20)—that they are there always for God—to adore and praise and give thanks.
Yes indeed, a fantastic fruit of the Holy Spirit is faithfulness.

Kindness and gentleness are fruits growing from the living water of the Holy Spirit.
Spirit-infused disciples look upon others with a “kind gaze”,
bringing to light the goodness residing in them.
This is the way Jesus looked upon every single person he encountered in his life.
Kindness is a particular way of loving which benefits and helps others
and is ever ready to be of assistance. (cf. 1 Cor. 13:4)
A kind deed done every day transforms the world in which we live.

Kindness fits hand-in-glove with the fruit of gentleness.
Jesus, the Gentle One, fulfils the prophecy of Isaiah, for by the anointing of the Spirit
“a bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench”
(cf Matthew 12: 18, 20; Isaiah 42:1-4), as he gently reaches out to touch with tenderness
those who are hurting and in need of healing.
Jesus, the Gentle One, is the Good Shepherd who carries the wounded sheep
on his shoulders after binding up its wounds.

Jesus, full of the Spirit, reveals the kindness and gentleness of God
by reaching out to those broken by suffering, rejected by the world,
and he wipes away ever tear from their eyes (cf. Revelation 21: 4).
Jesus, full of gentleness and kindness toward his first followers, reaches out
to tenderly touch their feet, to wash them clean, and then tells them to do the same.
The fruit of kindness and gentleness, nourished by the life-giving water of the Spirit, springs forth from using the Spirit’s gift of wisdom.
For those who are wise in the ways of God, know that kindness and gentleness
ultimately win the day, not brute strength and violence.

The 9th fruit of the Spirit is the fruit of self-control.
Jesus reveals this fruit of self-control as Pilate interrogates him, as the soldiers mock him, as the religious leaders scoff at him hanging from the cross.
This fruit becomes evident in the life of one who does not respond to hate with hate,
who holds his or her tongue instead of lashing out.
The gift of the Spirit which produces this fruit in us, if we make use of this gift,
is the great gift of understanding.
Understanding that when another person is hateful toward us
they are most likely responding from a place of deep woundedness,
helps us to control our response to them.

The fruit of the spirit is:
Love, joy, and generosity;
Peace, patience, and faithfulness;
Kindness and gentleness and self-control.

Making full use of the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit helps us produce
these nine fruits of the Spirit, so we may magnify the Lord by our life.

Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi

Ascension Sunday

ASCENSION SUNDAY: Honor High School Graduates
Acts 1: 1-11 + Psalm 47: 2-9 + Ephesians 1: 17-23 + Mark 16: 15-20
Holy Spirit Church: Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Scripture readings for this Solemnity of the Ascension speak about power,
either directly or indirectly. What do we think of when we hear that word, “power”?

Some think of the sheer physical power of athletes, like
Lebron James executing a tomahawk slam that no one can stop, or
Aaron Judge of the Yankees flicking his wrists and a baseball rockets 400 feet
out of the ballpark, or Adrian Peterson running right through several tacklers.

Others think of power by focusing on “Superhuman Power,” like of the Avengers:
Captain America taking on a whole horde of alien soldiers, or
the Hulk tackling an alien spaceship, or
Tony Stark as Iron Man manhandling a nuclear warhead,
directing it wherever he wants it to go.

Others think of the power of a nation, such as the disciples in today’s 1st reading
who ask if Jesus is going to restore the Kingdom to Israel in order to kick out
the Romans and retake their land and country.

However, the Scriptural meaning of Power in the readings for today refers
to the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Scriptures speak of power not in terms of sheer physical strength,
superhuman strength, or strength of a nation, but in a quite different way.

The power of Holy Spirit is a divine gift which energizes the disciples
of the Risen and Ascended Lord to do deeds of love & faith
previously thought impossible.

For the Lord Jesus ascends into heaven, to be seated in glory at the right hand
of the Father, so the Holy Spirit might descend upon his followers.
This gift of the Spirit, 1st given to us at Baptism, empowers us as it did
those first disciples to be witnesses to Risen Lord and to continue his saving work.
The Holy Spirit empowers us to love as Christ loves.

We are given a mission – to bring others to the Father as Jesus did—
a mission that is only possible by the gift of a Spirit of power.

In Mark’s Gospel, when the disciples are given the power of the Holy Spirit, they are given over Evil. We are given the same power so that nothing will stop us from being witnesses to the Risen and Ascended Lord Jesus.

In Mark’s Gospel, the disciples are given the Spirit of power in order to
drive out demons; pick up serpents; and drink any deadly thing.
All of these are meant to be taken symbolically, not literally.

For we are not called upon to be an “exorcist,” although we are empowered
to cast out the demons of hatred and the fear that gives birth to prejudice.

We are not called upon to go play with cobras or cottonmouths,
but to courageously confront those who would twist and turn the truth into deadly lies.

Jesus, by gifting us with the power of the Holy Spirit is not asking us to drink
Coca-Cola laced with arsenic.
Rather, when we drink in the deadly air of this culture—
a consumerist culture that places things before people,
a hedonist culture that places pleasure before sacrifice,
a me-first culture that encourages destructive selfish behavior—
we know that even when we drink in such poison,
even when we breathe in such pollution
it has no power over us because of the power of Spirit.

But we have to stay connected to our power source, to the Spirit
who continues to flow into our lives through a community of faith called “the Church.”
High School Graduates, stay connected to your power source, to the Eucharist,
so that you might have the energy to live out your faith,
to grow in love of God and others during college.

It is not easy to be a disciple of Jesus Christ,
to witness to Him by lives of sacrificial love.
It not easy to live lives marked by forgiveness and mercy—
but when we are “plugged in” to a community of faith,
in the power of the shared Spirit,
there is nothing to fear.
The power of evil wilts in the face of the power of the Holy Spirit.

We are also empowered by the gift of the Holy Spirit to speak new languages.
This does not mean we can easily start speaking in a language which is foreign to us.
Rather by the power of the Spirit we can speak in a new way to God
and speak in a new way about God.
This “new” language is called the “Language of Prayer.”

Parents teach their children how to speak in this new language, by kneeling
at their child’s bedside night after night teaching them how to talk to God, or
at the dinner table by thanking God for the gift of food and drink,
or by bringing their children to Mass Sunday after Sunday.

You high school graduates learned this language while being part of the Church,
a language of Christ-like love and sacrifice,
of being connected to Christ like branches to a vine in order to produce abundant fruit.
You have learned the language of seeking the common good
and the language of self-giving service,
By the Sacrament of Confirmation, you were empowered by the Spirit
in a very special way to be witnesses to the Risen Lord, to love as he loves.

This new language that you have learned is very different from the language
used by those in positions of power,
who use language to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.
Instead, we use prayer language to talk about God and what God has accomplished.

It is this “new” language called prayer that puts us into proper relationship with God
and with each other.
It is by praying in union with others, by uniting ourselves to others in worship
by praising and adoring God,
that we are able to accomplish what before seemed impossible.

As we grow in our life of Prayer, we become more and more open
to the power of Holy Spirit, who is given to us to complete what we previously thought as Mission Impossible:
To love as Christ loves, so as to continue His saving Mission of bringing all people home
to our Heavenly Father.

Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:8-12 || Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29 || 1 John 3:1-2 || John 10:11-18

Every year on this Fourth Sunday of Easter, we hear from John’s tenth chapter…Jesus’ discourse on the Good Shepherd.

As disciples who desire to follow the Lord’s lead, this 10th Chapter of John offers us some important insights and challenges for our faith and how we live that faith.

It’s important to note what is meant by the term “good.” It is a word that we often gloss over and associate with some kind of moral implication. But here what is meant by “good” is really “model” or “true.”

Jesus presents us in this chapter a definition of who we are called to be as his disciples. This discourse is not meant to be simply a self-description of Jesus, or a model of how God cares for us. Jesus intends for us to be shepherds ourselves.

He provides the example of the model shepherd, the true shepherd that he calls us to be. 

With this paradigm, we can hear the second reading we just heard with a different understanding.

See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God….And when that love is revealed, as it is in Jesus, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

This intimate love is at the heart of resurrection and the resurrected life. Resurrection is about a laying down life kind of love. Four times in today’s gospel Jesus says that he lays down his life. Four times he says to us, “I love you.” Four times he describes the pattern for our lives.

John’s first letter is explicit about this pattern: “He laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for one another” as we hear in John’s First Letter.

Or as we heard on Palm Sunday from our pastor…We are called to die, before we die, so that when we die, we won’t die. This kind of sacrificial love, this “agape” love, is at the heart of resurrection and the resurrected life.

In laying down his life Jesus chooses us. He is not the victim of another’s power or agendas. If he is a victim at all, he is the victim of his own all consuming divine love. His life was not taken from him, it was given to us; a choice and gift he freely made. That is what makes Jesus the good shepherd, the model shepherd, the true shepherd.

For Christ, love is lived; and how we live is always a choice. It is a choice driven by our recognition of, compassion for, and willingness to do something about the life and needs of another, whether they are family or friends, people of this parish community or in this community of Mustang, strangers who pass through our lives, or anonymous ones talked as we turn to those trapped in poverty, hunger, homelessness, or lack of education.

The opportunities for laying down life love are not just circumstances. They are people, human beings created in the image and likeness of God. We cannot claim to believe in Jesus if we are unwilling to lay down our life for another, regardless of who he or she is. If we believe, we will love. If we do not love, neither do we believe.

Our belief in Jesus cannot be separated from how and whom we love. Our belief in his name, our relationship with him, our call to be his disciples, is all revealed in laying down our life for another. Even if we never say the name “Jesus,” laying down our life for another reveals our belief in that name.

Whenever we lay down our life for another we proclaim that resurrection is not just an event in the past. It is a present reality, not just a historical remembrance. Laying down our life makes Jesus’ resurrection tangible and real. The only reason we can ever lay down our life for another is because Jesus first laid down his life for us. Jesus is the source of the goodness that dwells in us. The shepherd never takes his sheep somewhere he is unwilling to go. He never asks of his sheep something he is himself unwilling to give. Every time we lay down our life in love for another we remember Jesus’ death and proclaim his resurrection even as we await the day of his coming.

We need only be present, open our eyes, listen, and pay attention to know how and where love asks us to lay down our life for another. A laying down life kind of love means we will have to change our usual routines. It is no longer business as usual. The life and well being of “the other” now sets our agenda, guides our decisions, and determines our actions. That sounds a lot like how the model shepherd, the true shepherd lived and died.

Laying down our life is not, however, the end of life. It wasn’t for was Jesus, nor will it be for us. It is, rather, the beginning of a new life, a more authentic life, a life that looks a lot like Jesus’ life. It is the life in and by which we hear the voice of the good shepherd call our name and we follow where he leads.

Call it what you want…Easter, resurrection, the good shepherd; it’s all the same…a laying down life kind of love.

Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Tim

February 7, 2020

Fr. Joseph Jacobi

When Jesus reaches out to touch someone, they are healed. By the compassionate touch of Jesus, human beings are made whole.

He speaks no words to Simon’s mother-in-law, who is laid low by a fever, bedridden, and unable to welcome Jesus and his friends to her home. Jesus simply reaches out and lifts her up from her bed, and the fever flees at his touch.

In next Sunday’s Gospel as we continue our journey with Jesus through the 1st Chapter of Mark, Jesus will reach out to touch the untouchable one—a leper— reuniting him with his family and community, making him whole. Jesus could have stayed at a distance and spoken a word to heal the leper, but instead he reaches out to touch a man no one touches for fear of catching his contagious disease.

By touching those who are ill and whose illness isolates them from others, Jesus shows God’s concern to not only cure the body but to heal the sick person from the effect of their illness by reuniting them with their loved ones and community. And to let them know by his touch that they have not and never will be cut off from God.

Curing deals with only the physical malady while healing makes the person whole again, as Jesus heals broken hearts and crushed spirits resulting from physical illness.

Later in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ touch will restore life to two children thought to be dead. He strides into the room of the 12-year old daughter of Jairus and takes her hand, saying, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you arise”. (5:41) He then lifts her up from what was thought to be her death bed and gives her back to her parents.

Then, when coming down from the Mountain of his Transfiguration, Jesus encounters a boy possessed by a demon, whom he sets free. However, it appears the exorcism has killed the boy, as he lays lifeless on the ground. But Jesus takes his hand, raises him, and the boy stands up, his life restored. (9:27)

The healing, life restoring touch of Jesus reminds one of the Creation scene crafted by Michaelangelo into the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, where God reaches out his finger to touch Adam’s finger and voila— the human being is given life and created in the image and likeness of God. The way Jesus raises up Simon’s mother-in-law, the 12 year old girl, and the little boy in Mark’s Gospel is echoed in the words of the priest in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. As the priest makes the sign of the cross with the holy oil on the palms of the sick person, he says, “May the Lord who frees you from sin, save you, and raise you up.”

These words refer not only to the ultimate hope of being raised up from physical death resulting from illness but the power of Jesus’ touch in the present moment, raising up the sick person to a new life now.

Raising them up from the death of despair to a new life filled with hope. Raising them up from the death of isolation that sickness causes to know they are never separated from the love of others or from the love of God.

Jesus longs to heal whatever is broken in us, to make us whole. All of us need to experience his healing touch in one way or another.

Some of us need to be healed of the despair caused by this pandemic, to be able to trust again in God’s goodness. We open ourselves to the Lord’s healing touch when we express honestly to the Lord the hurt in our heart in the form of a lament, like Job does.

If we didn’t know Job’s backstory, we might assume he is suffering the effects of a pandemic. Listen again to his words: “Life is a drudgery, months of misery, troubled nights, I shall not see happiness again.” Who among us have not felt what Job feels, especially during the past 11 months! But Job has it worse off than we do, because he has lost everything, and I do mean everything: all of his vast riches, his entire family, and even his health.

The words we hear Job speak today are actually spoken to his friends, but if we continue on to the next verses in chapter 7 in the Book of Job, we would hear Job turn to God and addresses God: “Why have you set me up as a object for your attack, or why should I be a target for you?” (7:12) These are strong words to address to God, but they are honest words. Job is not afraid to lament, to tell God directly about his suffering and to question God about the reason for his suffering.

The book of Job is actually one long prayer as this man of faith addresses God from the depth of his pain and ultimately encounters God, receiving not answers but healing, not a solution to the mystery of suffering but an assurance that God’s presence is more than enough.

For others of us, the healing we seek from the Lord might not be from despair in the face of human suffering, but rather the longing for the Lord to touch and heal a broken relationship. Or we might need to ask the Lord to touch the memory of a hurt, which is still like an open, festering wound. Or sometimes we carry hurts from our childhood which are buried so deeply, we are not even aware they are there, but the Lord is, and longs to touch them, if we give Him permission. Others among us live in the shadow of deep sorrow which impacts every part of life, a bed of sadness which only the Lord can lift us from and restore us to joy again.

Whenever we experience the healing touch of the Lord restoring us to life, we respond as Simon’s mother-in-law did by serving others.

As the Lord raises us up to new life, we want to serve him in others. We desire to reach out and touch those who are hurting and share the healing love we have experienced.

To bring hope to the hopeless, joy to the joyless, and peace to troubled hearts.

As we touch others with the compassionate touch of the Lord, something remarkable happens.

We experience not only his healing love flowing through us but also surrounding us, strengthening us to love even more.

Homily for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 31, 2021

Fr. Joseph Jacobi

Mark’s Gospel has just begun and already Jesus is facing resistance. Though the brothers Andrew and Simon, and the brothers James and John, are open to his call to follow him, there are others who resist. That resistance happens from the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

With today’s Gospel passage we are only 21 verses into Mark’s Gospel and right away there is a man with an unclean spirit who rises up to resist Jesus and his message. Where does this take place? In the synagogue. In a place of prayer, a place where Jesus is teaching about God’s word proclaimed in a holy place.

The resistance which Jesus faces from the beginning is only a prelude to the resistance he will encounter to His person and to His message from many others. The opposition which Jesus encounters from the start of his ministry will continue on a regular basis from a number of different groups and people.

As soon as Chapter 3 in Mark’s Gospel, the Pharisees and Herodians will start to plot his death. (3:6) The Gospel Jesus proclaims and the actions he takes threaten the religious and civil leaders of his day so much so that from early on in his ministry they plan to get rid of him. Later on in Chapter 3, as the religious scribes witness Jesus casting evil spirits out of people, they will make the claim that he is possessed by Beelezbul, the prince of devils. (3:22)

In the same chapter, some members of Jesus family, seeing the crowds surround him and seeking his help, so much so that he cannot even eat, come to take him home, claiming he is “out of his mind.” (3:20-21).

So it is not a surprise when Jesus faces opposition in his hometown of Nazareth (6 : 1-6), those who think they know him so well and think he is too “full of himself.” Their resistance to him and his message is so strong that he cannot even work a single miracle in his hometown.

This resistance comes from all places, even from the inner circle of his disciples, from one of those closest to him. When Jesus shares with his inner circle of followers that he is going up to Jerusalem to suffer and die, Peter, the leader, takes him aside and rebukes Jesus, almost as if he is saying that Jesus has an unclean spirit. Jesus’ words to Peter are some of his strongest in the Scriptures: “Get behind me, Satan.” (8:32-33)

What is important to note is that Jesus identifies the source of his opposition, that like the man in the synagogue Peter is being controlled by an unclean spirit. What Peter is thinking and saying is not from God, but from the evil spirit.

It is important to remember where Jesus encounters resistance from the very beginning— in a place of worship where the word of God is being proclaimed. It is important to remember when Jesus encounters resistance from the very beginning— on the sabbath day, the day set aside for worship. Therefore, that man being controlled by unclean spirits is US!

For all of us come to this place of prayer struggling in some way with “unclean” spirits. All of us, in one way or another, resist Jesus and his message of conversion. Each and every one of us have parts of our heart that are hardened that need be softened. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart.”

Every one of us has part of our heart that is hardened, telling Jesus: “I’m not going to let you in here.” For each of us in our own way resist Jesus’ command to love God with all we have and are and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

This unclean spirit manifests itself in many different ways, but most often in the lives of Christians it shows its face in the form of pride– pride in the sense that we give thanks to God that we are not like all those other people out there who are great sinners. We are so quick to judge and so quick to condemn.

Pride can also show itself in the refusal to forgive ourselves for the things we have done, that we still hang onto out of shame or guilt. The Lord is ready to forgive but we out of pride, thinking we should have been better, still hold onto the sin out of pride.

The unclean spirit shows its face in many different ways of selfishness. Selfishness manifests itself not only in self-centered actions but also in the attitude energizing those actions: “I will do what I want!” or “I will do my own thing,” forgetting that to do the will of God is where we experience the greatest freedom of all.

Each of us need Jesus to free us from these unclean spirits continue to control us and which prevent us from responding more fully to the love of God. For some that takes the shape of “unforgiveness.” Some need to be freed of “grudge-crete,” that hardening of the heart resulting from a pride-filled refusal to forgive. Only the jackhammer power of Jesus’ authority can free such a person from this malady.

Others knowingly choose sin, over and over again, even though they know this action is leading away from God. Only the authority of Jesus can free one from such an unclean spirit.

Others find themselves enslaved to the meanness of some social media and denigrate those who think differently from them.

For all of us there are parts of our hearts that are hardened of which we are not aware at all.

In this time of pandemic it so easy to listen to the evil spirit, to be tempted to despair, to hopelessness, to throw up our hands and say, “There is nothing I can do.” That is not the voice of God.

The voice of God which we hear through Jesus is always a voice of hope, calling us deeper and deeper to trust in his promises and in the power of his love. We have been so accustomed to listening to the voice of the evil spirit that we are not even aware we are walking in darkness.

So we come like that man in the synagogue, crying out in our aching need:

Come, Lord Jesus, shine the light of your love wherever there is darkness! Expose the darkness and expel it from me! Come with the fire of your love and purify me, melt what’s grown hard in my heart, and help me to love!

Jesus has the authority, the power to set us free if we but turn to Him in trust and hope.

Homily for the Baptism of the Lord

January 10, 2020

Fr. Joseph Jacobi

With today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we come to the end of this Christmas Season.

During the past 2 weeks we have gone from the manger to the Jordan River, from encountering Jesus as the babe of Mother Mary to seeing him as the Beloved Son of God His Father, sanctifying the waters of the Jordan.

With the magi, we adored him as the newborn King hidden from the world, to now we see him beginning his public ministry at the age of 30, bursting forth onto the world scene after his baptism by John.

This feast concludes the Christmas Season as a very strong reminder that the Son of God became the Son of Mary not only to save us from sin and death but also to share divine life with us.

The Son of God takes on our human nature so we can share in his divine nature. The 2nd person of the Most Holy Trinity, the Eternal Word, comes into the world as the Son of Mary so we human beings might become sons and daughters of God.

It is mind-boggling— God’s burning desire is to share God’s life with us. God’s love for us seen in Jesus is a love inviting us into Communion with the divine.

God’s sends His Only Beloved Son into the world is not out of pity— look at these poor, pitiable creatures that need saving— but out of love, longing to share divine life with all humanity.

For joined to God’s Son in the waters of baptism, we have indeed become daughters and sons of God.

The meaning of all baptisms can be found in this one baptism in the River Jordan. If you want to understand the beauty and the power and the mystery of your own baptism, plunge deeply into this account of Jesus’ baptism. As the fully human Jesus comes up from the waters of the Jordan, the Spirit comes down. Through that hole in the heavens flies the Spirit like a dove, the Spirit of love, which rests upon Jesus and upon all who are baptized into Him.

Then comes the Father’s tender voice, “You are my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Though we may not have been aware of this voice of the Father at our baptism, the same voice whispers in the ear of our soul every time we bless ourselves with holy water. “You are my beloved son, my beloved daughter.” Every time we shower or swim or drink, water calls forth the Father’s voice, resounding from the center of our being: “You are my beloved daughter, my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.”

Beneath the surface disturbances of our life, beneath all the failures and the sins, beneath the doubts and the fears is this current of divine life, the water of life, from which we drink and from which we hear how we always will be children of God in whom God delights.

At our own baptism, we were immersed into this saving truth— because of the Incarnation of the Son of God and because of His baptism in the Jordan River, there are no longer any barriers between humans and God, between the human and divine.

With Jesus’ baptism, God has aligned God’s self forever with sinful humanity. Remember John’s baptism is for sinners, and even though Jesus is without sin, he allows John to baptize him. By this act of loving union with humanity, the heavens are no longer closed, but torn open forever.

Jesus’ baptism signals the beginning of his public ministry. He will rise up from the waters of the Jordan and go into the world to teach others about God’s love and how to love God and neighbor. He will heal those who are broken and free those imprisoned by the power of evil. He will announce good news to the poor, open the eyes of those blinded to God’s goodness, and in him and through him others will learn of God’s favor, God’s pleasure.

Jesus’ mission is our mission. Our baptism signals the beginning of this mission, which is ongoing until our last breath. For those of us baptized as infants, we come to this mission gradually as we learn from parents, godparents, and the Christian community what it looks like to love God and neighbor.

At the beginning of the baptismal ritual, the parents of the child to be baptized are addressed by the minister: “You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him/her in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring your child up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and neighbor.” The duty of Christians parents, with the help of godparents and the Christian community, is to initiate their newly baptized children into the mission of transforming the world by loving God and neighbor.

Baptism is our birth into the family of God, our being joined to the Son by the Holy Spirit in order to become a child of God. The weekly celebration of the Eucharist strengthens that identity. As food gives strength to the physical part of our being, so this food come down from heaven strengthens the life of the Spirit within us. With every celebration of the Mass, we are invited to grow more and more into this life with the Lord Jesus. We are to become more and more open to the Holy Spirit, the dove who is love, who conquers the world through us with the humble power of love.

For we have been given a mission by God, who calls each of us by name, to be in a world beset by so much chaos and cruelty: instruments of peace, advocates of mercy, and bearers of joy and reconciliation, We have been given this mission by our Heavenly Father, who keeps calling us His beloved.

For Jesus, his baptism not only propelled him into his public ministry but assured him that he would not be on mission alone. Rather, the Father would accompany Him with his love and good pleasure and the Spirit would empower Him in loving. Jesus would never be alone, even at the cross.

I recently blessed a crucifix which revealed this truth. It had the tortured body of Jesus on it supported by the Father’s embrace and the Spirit flowing out of that tender embrace at the cross.

So it is true for us, as we go through our life living from this deepest, most real identity of ours as God’s beloved daughters and sons.

We are never alone, though we may feel alone at times.

We are sustained by the Father’s love, forever joined to Son, & empowered by Spirit.

Homily for the Epiphany of the Lord

January 3, 2020

Fr. Joseph Jacobi

The Epiphany story is a favorite of just about everyone, what with the star of wonder and the mysterious visitors from the East and their gleaming gifts. But beneath the glory of this story is the reality of the magi being faithful to something others did not see. They had a vision which guided them through unknown and dangerous territory. They saw something which others dismissed as unimportant.

Surely as they struck out on their journey they would have been ridiculed by others. Following a vision that few others share is a very hard thing. Surely others who did not see what the magi saw mocked them, thinking the magi to be silly or worse, just plain stupid. Remaining faithful to the vision is a difficult decision. The journey is long and full of challenges.

If it would have been easy and obvious, there would have been more than just a few wise men making the journey. If the vision would have been so readily believable, then all the folks in Jerusalem would have been going with the wise men on the short trek down to Bethlehem. But the magi saw something others did not see, in the darkness a light to guide them, a star speaking to them of something of great importance happening in the world.

It had to have been a hard decision to remain true to their vision, to remain faithful to what they felt called to do, especially when no one else saw what they saw.

Being faithful to your life, following the path onto which you have put your feet with fidelity and confidence, is a very hard thing. To set out on a journey that does not make much sense to many others is difficult. To respond to a call that no one else hears is challenging.

Being in church every time the community assembles to make your commitment to its mission and life is a very hard thing. To do so during a pandemic is even more challenging. It is even challenging for those who because of health issues or advancing age, choose to join Sunday Mass by way of livestream. There are so many other more “productive” or “fun” things to be doing with our valuable time on a Sunday morning.

Remaining faithful to the vision is a hard decision.

It can be hard to choose marriage in a culture which mocks commitment. Or, after earning a college degree, and then answering the call to work with the poor in a 3rd world country, one can be looked upon as crazy. Or, you want to be a priest—are you out of your mind? To choose a lower-paying job that gives one more time with one’s family—loco! In a culture which views children as a burden rather than as a blessing, to decide to have more children or to adopt a child is looked upon with disbelief. Or when a nurse or doctor chooses to come out of your retirement during the middle of a pandemic others look upon them as if they have lost their mind.

Remaining faithful to the vision is an ongoing hard decision.

Holding on to the vision of the kingdom of God that our Church proclaims and wanting to share that vision is a hard thing, too. To choose mercy over vengeance, to choose forgiveness over resentment, to choose peace instead of violence is challenging in today’s world. To choose to respect and honor all life from conception to a natural death— that’s a difficult journey of faith.

What keeps us going on the journey, following the star of faith? What keeps us faithful to the One who is calling us to walk to the beat of his drum? How do we keep our head up and focused on the light instead of being swallowed by the darkness?

Having the support of other “wise” sojourners makes all the difference. Notice that there were several “Wise Men” who followed the star. If there was only one, then the Scripture text would have read, “behold a magos from the east” but instead the text reads,”Behold magi from the east appeared in Jerusalem.”

The wise men had each other’s support and encouragement to remain faithful to the vision, to keep putting one foot in front of the other on the long journey. Remember they had to journey at night, in the dark, in order to see the star. They did this together, as lights to each other in the midst of the darkness.

Really, there is no such thing as a “wise man” or a “wise woman” because as human beings we are only wise together. We can only see the way ahead and find the strength to keep moving toward our goal with the help of others who are wise in the ways of faith, hope and love.

To make important decisions and keep them, we need the support of other people of faith.

Together we accept and respond to the calling of a star which others tell us is folly, impractical, or old fashioned. When we are tempted to give up on what we have seen and hope for, others are there to encourage us to overcome the temptation. And we are called to support them, to urge them on, to hold them to their commitments which seem like foolishness to a secular world.

Because together we are called to bear God’s glory to the world. One light shining in the darkness is not much. But when we join the light of our lives to others’ light we shine like the sun, bringing the Son of God’s love to the world.

Do you see what I see? A star, a star shining in the night. Do you see what I see? The child of promise, the child of hope, the source of love, the source of all light laying in a manger. Do you see what I see? The king of kings nailed to a tree. The Lord of Life coming to share his life with us in this sacred meal!

Homily for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

January 1, 2021

Fr. Joseph Jacobi

The Scripture readings for this 8th day of Christmas begin with a blessing prayer from the Book of Numbers, acknowledging the truth that God is always blessing his people, whether they are aware of it or not. On this Solemnity of Mary as Mother of God, Mary teaches us how to recognize and receive God’s blessings.

A quick glance at Mary’s life would seem to reveal not blessings from God, but trials. She goes through an unexpected pregnancy like none other. She lives under occupation. She is poor. Her beloved Joseph dies. Then her only son suffers terrible torture and dies a horrific death. Blessings? She would appear to be cursed by God.

But because Mary ponders what is said about her son, she sees blessings in the midst of trying times. Because Mary reflects on all that her son says and keeps these things safely guarded in her heart, she receives God’s blessings even in times of suffering.

For her unexpected pregnancy is a blessing, bringing her a child like none other. She lives under Roman occupation but experiences the blessing of profound freedom because of her faith. She is materially poor, but rich in God’s love shown her by Joseph and Jesus. Even Joseph’s death bring blessings back to light, as she recalls how he provided for her in Bethlehem a place to give birth, protected Jesus and her from King Herod’s murderous wrath, and provided and protected for their family as refugees in Egypt.

Because Mary pondered and treasured all that her Son said and did, because she meditated on his life and held him in her heart just as surely as she had held him in her womb, she was even able to trust that God would bring blessings from his death. Though even Mary could not have imagined the great gift of Jesus’ resurrection.

As Mother of the Church, as our mother, Mary teaches us how to recognize and receive the blessings of God. As mother of gratitude, she teaches us how to be grateful for all God has done for us.

In order to move into 2021 with hope, we need first of all to give thanks to God for the blessings of 2020. Many people would like to take the Year 2020 and toss it in the trash can. However, Mary teaches us that we need to ponder what God has done for us in and through Christ in this past year, even to take a second or third look below the struggles to the blessings hidden there. She teaches us that even from the sorrow of the loss of a loved one we can experience anew the blessings of God that flowed into our life through them.

As we worship today, we are enjoying one of God’s blessings from 2020— the gift of this holy place raised up for the glory of God. God provided this building in a nick of time, or what faith-filled people would call “Kairos” time—the fullness of time.

We began celebrating Mass in this building at the end of May a week or so after the Catholic Church in Oklahoma had reopened for communal worship in the celebration of the Eucharist. We could not ask for a better place to worship safely during a pandemic— a large, airy building with plenty of space for physical distancing that can seat almost 300 people. It would have taken three Masses in the old church building to allow for all the people who come to one of our Sunday morning Masses to safely distance. In addition, the blessing of having the newest technology to livestream our Masses to people who could not attend for fear of their safety, and to be able to do it in high quality, to make it the best experience possible to connect those not physically here with us.

If we join Mary in meditating on the blessings of God, we will begin to see many of these blessings hidden underneath the struggles of 2020, such as creatively finding new ways to connect with others, new ways to reach out and share the love of God. We now recognize as daily blessings all those whose work is essential to our life together, people who we most likely took for granted before the pandemic. But it takes time in solitude in silence, time alone with our Blessed Mother, to recognize and receive these blessings from God.

Gratitude expressed to God propels us into 2021 as a hope-filled people. Instead of making resolutions for this New Year, we can instead dare to dream with Jesus about God’s Kingdom. Mary, as Mother of God and our mother, also teaches us how to first receive Jesus as God’s dream in order for us to dream with him about the transformation of our world.

Pope Francis says it this way in his post-synodal exhortation to young people in 2019 entitled, “Christ is Alive:”

“Jesus can bring all the young people of the Church together in a single dream, a dream whose name is Jesus, planted by the Father in the confidence that it would grow and live in every heart. A concrete dream who is a person, running through our veins, thrilling our hearts and making them dance” (#157).

These very words could have been spoken by Mary, the one who gave birth to the dream of the Father, the one who experienced Jesus thrilling her heart and making her heart dance for joy.

These words of Pope Francis, directed to young people, are actually directed to all of us who are spiritually young enough to remain open to imagining a future full of hope. So, we reflect with Mary upon the words of actions of her Son which reveal his dream of the Kingdom of God. Joined to Mary’s Son and filled with the Holy Spirit at baptism, we now dare to call God, “Abba, Father” and to rejoice in the truth that we are adopted sons and daughters of God. By baptism, we are now as close to God the Father as God the Father is to his very own Son whom he sent into the world. By baptism, we are able to see how all people on the face of the Earth are brothers and sisters to each other, with one Father.

With Mary’s help, we can enter more profoundly into the dreaming of her Son, which moves us into a life lived in relationship to others, not to things or to “screens.” Turning away from the “passive” watching of TV together, couples can spend more time talking and listening to each other, especially sharing their dreams and acting on them. Parishioners can share their dreams for our parish, rooted in Jesus’ dream of God’s kingdom. Citizens can move away from spending way too much time in social media “echo chambers” and instead participate in ways to make their communities better.

By dreaming in Jesus and with Jesus, we can move from the virtual to the real, to real encounters with Him living in those who are on the margins, who are different from us.

We can dream with Mary, His Mother, about a world transformed, where God lifts up the lowly and fills the hungry with good things.