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James Sharpe<br /><br />
Please hang up and try your call again.

Check out my friends   photo blog Determination  at http://jdetermination.tumblr.com/

Here are a couple of links from my talk on April 15th to the RCIA class at St. Patrick’s in Markham:

The Triduum Year Slides

The Way of the Cross with St. Dismas

Please e-mail if you have any question at [email protected] .

Folks today- March 14th- marks the 60th anniversary of my arrival on this earth.

I wanted to send this message to my mother who is in heaven looking down on me and asking herself- How did my baby get to be so old!

In honour of my mother- who was the one who did all the hard work- all I did was show up-on this date, I want to say thanks for making the momentous decision to have me on that cold March day in 1954.

Every birthday as it turns out is Mother’s Day.

Miss you Mom.

 

Does God Laugh?

A simple question for all who have some doubts about  this deep theological point:  If we are made in the image of God then what does the following video tell us?

OK it’s not really proof that God laughs and I have no footnotes to prove the biblical sources for this theory but tell me honestly-doesn’t that bring a smile to your face!

This Sunday’s Readings

This weeks readings from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which uses the New American Bible.

Click here for THIS SUNDAY’s  readings

Click to Listen to THIS SUNDAY’s readings

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The Word on Fire

The Word On Fire – Fr. Robert Barron’s internet site offers many interesting insights into all things Catholic. Fr. Barron has a full library of homilies that he has prepared and we will be featuring a link here to his 15 minute reflections on this week’s readings.

This Sunday: “The story of the Transfiguration has beguiled artists, poets, spiritual masters and the faithful for centuries. The meaning of this extraordinary revelation is in the haunting details that the Gospel presents. ”

Click here to listen to Fr. Barron’s Homily for This Sunday

Fr. Greg Friedman

Sunday Soundbites is a weekly, 90-second radio homily based on the Sunday readings, written and read by Fr. Greg Friedman, O.F.M. Sunday Soundbites is also heard on Catholic radio stations around the country.

 

This Sunday: One of the most dramatic scenes in Catholic liturgy comes at the Easter Vigil when adults are baptized. They come up out of the water, dripping wet, and after leaving to change, re-enter the church in their white baptismal robes.

Click here to listen to This Sunday’s Soundbite.

The ChurchYear.Net site is a resource that provides short and highly readable information on the Church Liturgical Year.

 

Lent is a period of fasting, which leads up to Easter. It recalls Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness. The Catholic Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday and ends right before the evening Masses of Holy Thursday, although Lenten penance continues through Holy Saturday. In 2014, Lent begins on March 5th in the Latin Church

Click here to read more about Lent

I am just back from an extended car trip with my family. We drove about 4,000 km in total and many times had to find our way around an unfamiliar territory.

Several years ago, we bought ourselves one of the newest toys on the market called a Global Positioning System or GPS for short. This technology has become so accepted that many new cars have it included, and most smart phones come equipped with GPS functions.

Over these past few years, I have learned at least three lessons about life from my GPS’s:

·        If the GPS is going to help me, I have to turn it on;

·        I am the one that needs to tell the GPS where it is  I want to go to;

·        And because I often make mistakes, the GPS has taught me that there is always more than one way to get to where it is I want to go. Sometimes the directions need to be recalculated

What makes a GPS work is the software installed within it that contains the maps needed to plot a course for the trip. Any GPS it turns out is only as good as the maps it uses and not all Global Positioning Systems are created equal. Some are simply better at getting you to your destination than others.

It occurred to me that the GPS is a potentially powerful metaphor. Lent is an opportunity to take some time to go to a quiet place and ask ourselves some important questions about the directions our life is taking.

 

·        Where is it that I want to go with my life?

·        What maps, am I following?

·        Is it time to re-calculate the directions?

 

What would we need to change if we truly made Christ the centre of our lives, in a sense we let God become our GPS?

 

The gospel today talks about three possible alternatives we might be tempted to make the centre of our lives instead of God.

 

This weekend’s gospel begins right after the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordon. Notice how Jesus is led into the desert by the Spirit.

 

Pope Benedict, when reflecting on this passage shared that  in the earthly life of Jesus, [He] always seeks moments of solitude in order to pray to his Father and to remain in intimate communion, in intimate solitude with him, in an exclusive communion with him, and then to return to the people. (BENEDICT XVI GENERAL AUDIENCE Wednesday, 22 February 2012)

 

We all need these quiet times to remain connected with our God. This journey into the desert is a time of preparation for Christ and for us.

 

It is during this period of solitude and fasting that Christ encounters the “evil one.” The devil is not depicted in scripture as some crazed fallen angel with a pitch fork and ugly scales.

 

In this passage, he sounds more like a well-dressed salesperson quietly testing which MAPS Jesus will choose for his internal GPS to follow in his ministry.

 

The three temptations in this reading are metaphors. Theologians, scripture scholars and preachers have many different understandings of this passage.  

 

I am partial to the interpretation offered by Fr. Richard Rohr and others who highlight that these three tests are symbolic of the three temptations we all face as human beings. Jesus does not run from this encounter with the clever devil. He faces the tests and makes a decision to follow the route his Father has asked him to take.  

 

Father Richard summarizes the three tests in the desert in the following ways:

The First Temptation- To make ourselves feel relevant.

The first temptation of Christ was to turn stones into bread (Matthew 4:3). Sounds good, but this is likely our need to be immediately impressive and effective, successful, relevant, and make things happen right now. It is our natural desire to look good.

The Second Temptation- Being Pride filled in the name of God.

The second temptation of Jesus is another one that all of us must face. Satan takes Jesus up to the pinnacle of the Temple, symbolizing the top of the religious world itself, and tells him to play “righteousness games” with God. “Throw yourself off and He’ll catch you” (Matthew 4:6). …this second temptation is to think of yourself as saved, superior to others, the moral elite on the side of God and religion, and to quote arguable scriptures for your own purpose—being against God in the name of God.

The Third Temptation- Adopting the False God of Power

The third human temptation is the need for control, importance, and power. The devil tells Jesus to bow down before the power systems of this world: “All of these I will give to you” (Matthew 4:8). Make these into your actual belief and security system. Formal atheism is rare, but this kind of practical daily atheism is almost the norm. Adapted from Radical Grace

Lent is a period of 40 days where we can take the opportunity to do the hard work of self-reflection. It turns out that being quiet and asking ourselves some hard questions is a much more difficult type of fasting than simply giving up our favorite coffee or video game.

 

With God’s help, we may need to ask ourselves if we are trying so hard to be perfect, relevant and important, that we are missing the opportunity to be in service to others.

 

Perhaps we have given into the temptation to hold up our faith in front of others as some kind of trophy that we have earned that somehow makes us better than those that struggle. In doing so we may be missing the call to be compassionate.

 

Finally, the most difficult question because this third test is the most difficult. Have we decided, consciously or unconsciously to make the secular world the dominant MAP of our internal GPS?

 

Are we spending our time pursuing riches and pleasures that will more than likely have us arrive at a destination only to ask – “Is this all there is?”

 

Lent is a time to examine where we are going with our lives. We are called to be brutally honest with ourselves and our God about who we are and what we are doing with this gift of life.

 

Lent is an opportunity to admit that it might be time to pick a new destination and then to let God recalculate the directions.

 

When we choose to take Jesus up on his offer in the next verse of Mathew’s gospel, which is to “come follow him”, then we are committing to make Jesus our primary GPS.

 

When we do this then “be aware” that the roads Jesus may ask you to travel will not always be easy, but they will be ones that will allow you to go in peace and to use your life to glorify the Lord.

 

The story of Jesus in the desert has resulted in many different interpretations. Yesterday I posted a reflection from Fr. Richard Rohr. Below is and insightful look at one possible meaning for this encounter between Jesus and a very cleaver fallen angel.

“After his Baptism of penance in the Jordan, when he takes upon himself the destiny of the Servant of God who renounces himself, lives for others and puts himself among sinners to take the sin of the world upon himself, Jesus goes into the wilderness and remains there for 40 days in profound union with the Father, thereby repeating Israel’s history, with all those cadences of 40 days or years which I have mentioned.

This dynamic is a constant in the earthly life of Jesus, who always seeks moments of solitude in order to pray to his Father and to remain in intimate communion, in intimate solitude with him, in an exclusive communion with him, and then to return to the people.

However in this period of “wilderness” and of his special encounter with the Father, Jesus is exposed to danger and is assaulted by the temptation and seduction of the Evil One, who proposes a different messianic path to him, far from God’s plan because it passes through power, success and domination rather than the total gift of himself on the Cross. This is the alternative: a messianism of power, of success, or a messianism of love, of the gift of self.

BENEDICT XVI
GENERAL AUDIENCE
Paul VI Audience Hall
Wednesday, 22 February 2012

 


The following interpretation of the three great tests Jesus faces in this week’s gospel is adapted from Fr. Richard Rohr’s book Radical Grace:

The First Temptation

The first temptation of Christ was to turn stones into bread (Matthew 4:3). Sounds good, but this is likely our need to be immediately impressive and effective, successful, relevant, and make things happen right now. It is our natural desire to look good…. You can be a very popular and successful person when you operate at this level, and you will easily think very well of yourself. That is why Jesus has to face that temptation first, to move us beyond what we first want to what we really need. In refusing to be immediately relevant, in refusing to respond to people’s immediate requests, Jesus says, Go deeper. What do you really desire? It is not usually what you first think. “It is not by bread alone that we live” (Matthew 4:4).

The Second Temptation

The second temptation of Jesus is another one that all of us must face. Satan takes Jesus up to the pinnacle of the Temple, symbolizing the top of the religious world itself, and tells him to play “righteousness games” with God. “Throw yourself off and He’ll catch you” (Matthew 4:6). It’s the only time in the Bible where the devil quotes Scripture. Holy words can be used for evil purposes, it surely says. This second temptation is to think of yourself as saved, superior to others, the moral elite on the side of God and religion, and to quote arguable Scriptures for your own purpose—being against God in the name of God. Actually it is quite common.

The Third Temptation

The third human temptation is the need for control, importance, and power. The devil tells Jesus to bow down before the power systems of this world: “All of these I will give to you” (Matthew 4:8). Make these into your actual belief and security system. Formal atheism is rare, but this kind of practical daily atheism is almost the norm.

Jesus refuses to bow down before these little kingdoms… He knows that the price of such love of power is to “fall at Satan’s feet and worship him!” (Matthew 4:9)… [Jesus says] ,“You must worship the Lord your God, and serve God alone,” then the devil left him (Matthew 4:10-11). When you can face these kinds of well-disguised demons, Satan doesn’t have a chance.


There are a many things that are important if one is to truly understand the teachings of Jesus the Christ.

One of those is that we need to become comfortable with metaphors. Here is one definition of the word “metaphor”:

Metaphor definition

Here are a few metaphors Jesus uses to describe the Kingdom of Heaven:

·       A farmer (Matt. 13:24);

·       A mustard seed (Matt. 13:31);

·       A king (Matt. 18:23);

·       A net (Matt. 13:47);

·       A merchant (Matt. 13:45);

·       Yeast (Matt. 13:33);

·       A barn (Matt. 3:12);

·       A sower of good seed (Matt. 13:24);

·       A treasury (Matt.6:19);

·       Father’s house -Jn14:2 

I have been thinking recently about what modern day items/objects might be good metaphors for being a follower of the Christ?

Any ideas?

 

This Sunday’s Readings

This weeks readings from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which uses the New American Bible.

Click here for THIS SUNDAY’s  readings

Click to Listen to THIS SUNDAY’s readings

The Word on Fire

The Word On Fire – Fr. Robert Barron’s internet site offers many interesting insights into all things Catholic. Fr. Barron has a full library of homilies that he has prepared and we will be featuring a link here to his 15 minute reflections on this week’s readings.

This Sunday: “The source of our greatest suffering is the deification of the will. We make ourselves God. However, once this move is made everyone else, in a self-defensive stance, tries to be God. The product of all of this is isolation, self-consciousness and self-protectiveness. Do not put up walls of self-protection, but become servants of the will of God. ”

Click here to listen to Fr. Barron’s Homily for This Sunday

Fr. Greg Friedman

Sunday Soundbites is a weekly, 90-second radio homily based on the Sunday readings, written and read by Fr. Greg Friedman, O.F.M. Sunday Soundbites is also heard on Catholic radio stations around the country.

This Sunday: Do you recall comedian Flip Wilson’s famous phrase: “The devil made me do it!”? That line hits home because we human beings often make excuses when we give in to temptation. But in reality, no one “makes” us sin, we choose it, just as we freely choose to do good.”

Click here to listen to This Sunday’s Soundbite.

The ChurchYear.Net site is a resource that provides short and highly readable information on the Church Liturgical Year.

 

Lent is a period of fasting, which leads up to Easter. It recalls Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness. The Catholic Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday and ends right before the evening Masses of Holy Thursday, although Lenten penance continues through Holy Saturday. In 2014, Lent begins on March 5th in the Latin Church

Click here to read more about Lent

Pope in Prison with quote jpegHere is an excerpt from a challenging little article titled- “Beware of Pope Francis.”

I often tell folks that if you think Christianity is easy then you aren’t paying attention.

Timothy Shriver picks up on this theme and applies it to Pope Francis. If you think what he is teaching is easy- then BEWARE or at least Be Aware.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

If we pause to look beneath the surface of a few of Francis’ most celebrated moments, his challenge is clear.

When he embraced the young man with severe disabilities, he was calling on the world to change its approach to how we value human life by putting the most vulnerable at the center. To do so, each of us needs to become more vulnerable ourselves. That’s not easy or comfortable.

When he washed the feet of a Muslim convict, he was calling on the world to end the scourge of discrimination. To do so, each of us needs to face our own prejudices, be they ethnic, social or personal — and most prejudices are deeper than many of us care to admit.

When he invited the homeless to his home for his birthday, Francis was calling on the world to end the gulf that separates those who have from those who have almost nothing. To do so, the guest list at almost every party in Washington would have to change. Those who have no need for power over others should have an urgent longing to welcome those who are victims of power. Most of us have a lot of work to do to achieve that level of solidarity.

The initial praise for Francis may not endure. Prophets often enjoy popularity until people hear the full depth of their challenge. People on the political right are already distrustful because the pope, like many mystics, seems to be abandoning certainty and trusting in the spirit that “blows where it will.” Order and control are at risk. The layers of conformity are being peeled away and what might emerge is uncertain.

But the left should be equally nervous because the spirit also invites a firm faith in the divine. It is not elitist. It is not arrogant. It does not come with doctorates in policy and economics and the sciences. It dethrones every kind of power. Its only principle is life—the more vulnerable the more beautiful. It only makes sense with an embrace of faith.

It is that faith in the goodness of God and that freedom in the spirit that are at the heart of Francis’ example—the man of God who embraces those with disabilities, those with no home, those who are strangers among us. Beware, lest we miss the full challenge to each of us of a faith like his.

Click here to read the complete article.

Dear Dad

This Sunday’s Readings

This weeks readings from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which uses the New American Bible.

Click here for THIS SUNDAY’s  readings

Click to Listen to THIS SUNDAY’s readings

 

The Word on Fire

The Word On Fire – Fr. Robert Barron’s internet site offers many interesting insights into all things Catholic. Fr. Barron has a full library of homilies that he has prepared and we will be featuring a link here to his 15 minute reflections on this week’s readings.

This Sunday: ““Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and the rest will be given to you.” Make God the center of your life, and you will be spiritually ordered in Christ’s image. If you make wealth and security your center, you will be empty. You make the choice: will God be your center? ”

Click here to listen to Fr. Barron’s Homily for This Sunday

Fr. Greg Friedman

Sunday Soundbites is a weekly, 90-second radio homily based on the Sunday readings, written and read by Fr. Greg Friedman, O.F.M. Sunday Soundbites is also heard on Catholic radio stations around the country.

This Sunday:

Click here to listen to This Sunday’s Soundbite.

The ChurchYear.Net site is a resource that provides short and highly readable information on the Church Liturgical Year.

Ordinary Time is the liturgical period outside of the other liturgical seasons, and runs 33 or 34 weeks. In Latin, Ordinary Time is called Tempus Per Annum (“time throughout the year”). The season falls between Christmas and Lent, and between Easter and Advent, exclusive.

Click here to read more about Ordinary Time

homeless womanHear our prayer today for all women and men, boys and girls who are homeless this day.

For those sleeping under bridges, on park benches, in doorways or bus stations.

For those who can only find shelter for the night but must wander in the daytime.

For families broken because they could not afford to pay the rent.

For those who have no relatives or friends who can take them in.

For those who have no place to keep possessions that remind them who they are.

For those who are afraid and hopeless.

For those who have been betrayed by our social safety net.

For all these people, we pray that you will provide shelter, security and hope.

We pray for those of us with warm houses and comfortable beds

that we not be lulled into complacency and forgetfulness.

Jesus, help us to see your face in the eyes of every homeless person we meet

so that we may be empowered through word and deed,

and through the political means we have,

to bring justice and peace to those who are homeless.  Amen.

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