What we can’t share.

November 12th Sunday Readings.

What is the first lesson most of us were taught when we began school? Share. Share yourshared toys with someone who wants to play with them. Share your lunch with a kid who is still hungry. Share your time, attention, joy, good news, and yourself with those who need those things. Share.

So when Jesus tells us a parable where the good guys don’t share, it can be a little unnerving. In the gospel this weekend the wise virgins, the hero of our story, don’t share their oil with the foolish virgins who don’t bring enough with them. How rude, right?  Why would Jesus tell the parable this way?

We need to remember that this story Jesus tells is a parable, a meaningful metaphor or allegory. Often when Jesus tells a parable about a wedding feast, he is really talking about heaven.

In this particular metaphor the wise virgins don’t share because they can’t. They can’t share because the oil represents their love for the groom. The oil represents their willingness to prepare and go above and beyond in support of the groom. The foolish virgins did the bare minimum when it came to their duty, but the wise virgins did more. The wise virgins acted out of love, not fear in preparing to serve the groom.

Love is a choice each of us make. The wise virgins couldn’t make that decision for the foolish virgins. When the foolish virgins try and enter the dinner after the doors are shut the groom doesn’t say, “You weren’t there when I needed you,” or “why didn’t bring extra oil.” No, instead he says, “I don’t know you.” Entrance into the wedding feast is about knowing, loving, and serving the bridegroom.

When we are in love we don’t count the cost. When we love well, we don’t do the littlest we are able. In fact, when we love well, we don’t even ask the question, “How little can I do and still be okay?”

If we want to go to heaven, we won’t get there doing the bare minimum. We won’t get there doing just enough. If we want to go to heaven, we will only get their by love, by God’s love and our loving response.

LIVE IT: Pray this fantastic prayer by St. Ignatius Loyola for generosity.

Lord, teach me to be generous.

Teach me to serve you as you deserve;

to give and not to count the cost;

to fight and not to heed the wounds;

to toil and not to seek for rest;

to labor and not to ask for reward

save that of knowing that I do your will.

The Good Word for July 12th

kickballFor the complete Sunday readings click here. 

At Bellerive Elementary School, I played a lot of kickball. Our field was lava-hot blacktop with yellow painted bases and base paths. If we kicked it far enough the ball would race past the hop scotch kids run all the way down a hill to the dumpsters behind the school – automatic homerun. We used to divide into two teams by naming captains and then have them pick their teams. Classic.

It was always such a relief to get picked. Sometimes I was a captain, but most of the time I was picked in about the middle of the group. Someone would call my name and I would confidently strut over to my team. Getting picked felt like someone was saying, “I choose you. I think you can help us win. I want you to be on my team.”

In our readings this Sunday, we hear about people being chosen by God. In the first reading, Amos explains that he was a shepherd, minding his own business, when God called him and sent him to prophesy to Israel. In the gospel, Jesus chooses the Twelve to go out and proclaim the good news, to call people to repent, and to heal the sick. In the 2nd reading, Paul reminds the Christians of Ephesus that they have been chosen to praise God. The thing with all these readings is that they show us that God has chosen us too.

God chose you.

And God continues to choose you. What has God chosen you to do? First, God has chosen you to be loved by Him. God chose you to be loved before you were ever born. The 2nd reading says, “He chose us in Him (Jesus), before the foundation of the world.” God chose us to be loved through Jesus Christ before creation of the world even took place. From the beginning of time to the end of time God loves and chooses you.

Second, God has chosen us to respond to his love. When someone tells us that they love us, we respond in some way, right? Same with God. God, through the scriptures, Mass, Reconciliation, our daily life, our spouse/family, and more is telling us that He loves us. How we respond matters. God showers His love down upon us, and our response is what we call “worship.” The 2nd reading says, “In him we were also chosen…so that we might exist for the praise of his glory.” If you’ve ever seen an overwhelmingly beautiful sunset and quietly said, “Oh wow God, thank you,” you’ve worshiped. Really praying the words or songs as Mass is another example of worship. Saying the simple prayer, “God you are awesome. Today was tough, but you got me through.” That is worship.

Third, God has chosen us to tell other people about our experience of God. Amos was sent to Israel. The Twelve were sent to the towns around them. You and I have been sent to our friends, our family, and Plymouth/Maple Grove/Wayzata/Medina, MN. When we have a profound experience of God’s love, we respond to God with praise, and we tell others about it. We were made for this. We have been chosen by God for this.

Live it:
Read the readings for this Sunday, July 12 by clicking here. Hear more about being chosen by God.

The Good Word for November 16th

For the complete Sunday readings, click here.

huffyOne Christmas I received an amazing gift – a Huffy White-Heat Bike. It was rad. (Okay, the year was 1991. Totally rad.) That year I road my new bike everywhere. My neighborhood was my domain. That summer I road my bike to Aaron’s house for wiffle ball, to Jason’s house to play the original Nintendo, and to swim practice nearly every morning. Short of a few rainy days, I think I road my bike everyday.

The three servants in the gospel reading for this weekend are also given a gift. Each is given a sum of money. The first two servants take that money, and through investment, make back more money then they started with. The third servant is afraid of the master, so he digs a hole and hides his gift.

Why is the master so upset with the last servant when he comes home? The third servant doesn’t really use the gift he is given. The third servant doesn’t take full advantage of the incredible generosity of the master. The third servant acts out of fear and hides his gift. By not using the gift he is given, it’s as if the third servant doesn’t really accept the gift at all.

Jesus tells his parable as both an encouragement and a challenge. Continue reading