Sun, 11/25/2007 - 00:00
Scripture: Colossians 1:12-20
Luke 23:35-43
“Jesus is the image of the unseen God”. This line is today’s scripture reading is so important for Christians. We cannot see he is God invisible. What is He like? What attitude does God take to us humans? Vital questions!
We believe that God Himself, the Son became human. Jesus is his name. Therefore when we humans see the human heart of Jesus, we see the true God. We also see God’s attitude to us humans. Let us look at a few examples, remembering that the scriptures have an eternal present tense. Jesus, God, has the same gentle attitude to us as He had to those 2,000 years ago.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is suffering intensely on the cross. Despite his excruciating agony he turns in kindness to give encouraging words to the repentant thief. “This day you will be with me in Paradise”.
Jesus raised those same gentle eyes to Zachaeus in the tree branches.
“Let us have the enjoyment of a meal together” says Jesus. From an empty, meaningless life Jesus gave Zachaeus new hope and peace.
Jesus saw the tears of that desolate mother of Nain whose only son had died. Jesus felt with her and for her. He is so “compassionate”, in the original sense of the word ? He suffered with that mother + widow.
Jesus saw not only the outward sores of the lepers, but also their inward loneliness. He felt with them. That is compassion.
Jesus looked with compassion on Peter who had denied Jesus. Jesus understands human weakness. We could go on and on with examples!
This is our God. The same God lives today. We ourselves are the people who appear in the Gospels. This is our King and Lord.
“Jesus is the image of the unseen God.” For me that is a most consoling teaching, the foundation of my faith.

Sun, 11/18/2007 - 00:00
Choose a Scripture passage which appeals to you.
This week (Nov.18-25) is called ‘Bible Week’.
The Bible is different from other books because it contains a living message from God. God Himself talks to us through the Bible and what a waste for us if we do not read and listen. "The word of God is alive and active and has the ability to pierce our hearts - even more than a sharp sword" (Hebrews 4)
In reading the Bible here are some points;
(1) Believe in the Bible's power and ask Jesus to enlighten us with the deep meaning for today's life - as he did for the disciples on the way to Emmaus (luke 24) eg. "Jesus! please explain the Bible to my heart",
(2) Both the Old Testament and the New have an ancient background but the basic message is modern pertinent to my life today. It is alive!
(3) After a short prayer asking for light, take a bible passage or scene and read it SLOWLY. (I repeat that key word: "Slowly")
The aim is to pray the Bible. To study the Bible is very good indeed, but is not our aim here. So slow, prayerful reading is important - very important. As we read slowly there will come echoes in your heart. Be sensitive to them, this is the way God speaks to us personally. These echoes will usually be now. The Bible (and God of course) is not in two different worlds.
(4) We will meet passages that give us comfort, but also passage that will challenge and perhaps disturb us. Both are valuable - one for encouragement, one for growth to maturity.
(5) Sometimes we will meet passages that are difficult to understand. Jump over those and taste the understandable - the aim is prayer now. We can come back later to the difficult passages - in study.
My favorite passages: "Come to me you who are tired...." (Matthew 11:28)
"I call you by name. You are precious... Gear not. I am with you." (Isaiah 43:1.)

Index of sermons

Sun, 11/11/2007 - 00:00
Scripture; 2Thess 2:16-3:5
Luke20:27-38

For 5 Sundays I have used the Scriptures to talk on prayer. But really more important than how we pray is the One to whom we pray God. If we imagine a strict God of laws and punishment our prayer will be rigid and cold. If we have just a vague image of “Someone-up-there”, our prayer will be vague and tasteless.
We meet the true God in Jesus. When we see the gentleness and sympathy of Jesus in his humanity, we see the heart of our true God.
Jesus makes a solemn promise to each of us: “I am with you, I will protect you.” He will never repeat, never break this promise even if we forget Him. In the reading from 2 Thess. Today: “The Lord is faithful. (i.e. He keeps His promise). He will give us strength and guard us from the eveil one” And Jesus says to each of us: “You are my friend.”
Sometimes prayer might seem to be talking into an empty bucket, but it is never so. Our God calls each of us by our name, and each of us is precious in His sight, and He loves us. (Isaiah 43).
God turns an always sensitive listening ear to our prayer. He asks us to always add:”Your will be done.” He will only give what is good for us. When I was young I prayed very fervently that I pass a special examination. I failed. I was very disillusioned with God for some time. My life had to take a different road. NOW I realize that the road I took was far better! Now I thank Him for that failure! God’s nature is gentle and loving, and He understands human frailty. In the Gospel we learn that our God lives NOW, he is a living God. In a voice that is alive today He says: “Come to me, you labor and are burdened and I will refresh you. I call you by name, you are my own. You are precious in my eyes and I love you.” God really does enjoy human company. Let us enjoy God’s in prayer.

Index of sermons

Sun, 11/04/2007 - 00:00
Scripture: Wisdom 11:23-12:2
Luke 19:1-10
Psalm 42

St Luke is an artist! With words he paints a vivid picture of the meeting between Jesus and Zacchaeus. This is not a scene of 2000 years ago. Jesus is alive now, and I am Zacchaeus!
Precisely because we are human, each of us has a yearning in our hearts for something better. We may suppress that yearning, but is there, and will often come to the surface when we are tired, stressed, suffering or hurt. Being "busy" is c way to suppress the yarning! ONLY GOD HIMSELF can satisfy that yearning in our hearts.
Zacchaeus was rich, but he had an emptiness - a yarning. He went to listen to a talk by Jesus, but couldn't even see him because he was so small in stature. He forgot his dignity and status and like a small boy climbed a tree to see Jesus. That took courage, but his yearning was deep. Jesus passed under the tree and looked at Zacchaeus (and each of us). "I would like to be your friend." That friendship brought peace to Zacchaeus and his family. This can happen to each of us. Are we ready to climb our tree?
Let us be quiet and feel that yearning. This in itself can be a prayer. (It is one of my favorite forms of prayer - I want to meet Jesus in a deeper friendship).
Yearning is the first step in praying. It is an important step.
Try it won't you? I like Psalm 42, a yearning Psalm, "As a deer gets thirsty for streams of water
I truly am thirsty for you, my God
In my heart, I am thirsty for you,, the living God.
When will I see your face?" (Ps42 CEV)

Index of sermons

Sun, 10/28/2007 - 00:00
Scripture: Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 32:12-19
Luke 18:9-14

Is your prayer too formal, or too polite? If so, maybe it is coming only from your mouth and not your heart!

Today's Scriptures tells us that God wants our prayer to come from an undecorated heart, from our true self. To pray from our true self entails that we
acknowledge just how frail, weak and sinful we are. (In the Scriptures "sinful" does not mean making a list of sins, but rather that we do not respond to
God's love or as scripture puts it, we are "missing the target").

In today's Gospel two men go up to the Temple to pray. The first man was outwardly religious. He tells God (in what he thinks is prayer!) that he says long
prayers, keeps all the rules, and give one-tenth of his income to the Temple. He tells God all the "good" things things that he has done. In effect he
compares himself to others, and judges them, and all the "bad" things that they do! What he means is "God! I have earned your blessings".
He judges others. He looks down on them. His prayer is only a surface prayer, not from his heart. He was full of himself.

The second man, whom Jesus praises, acknowledges that he is a frail human, he has weaknesses, that is, in the sense of scripture, that he is sinful. He prays
a simple, short, gem of prayer that we can use:
"O Lord! Be merciful to me a sinner."

We acknowledge our human fraility but also strongly believe that God in His unconditioned love accepts as we are - that is God's mercy that is so generously
available to us.

What is going on in your own heart right now? That is the raw material of prayer. This is the type of prayer God wants - the prayer of one's true,
undecorated self.

Index of sermons

Sun, 10/21/2007 - 00:00
Scripture: Exodus 17:8-13
Luke18:1-8

Do you know someone who is sick or is suffering? Do you pray for them? Do you know someone with marriage problems? A child being bullied at school?
Unhappy children or grand children? Someone who seems to have abandoned Christ? Do you pray for them?

Praying, not for yourself, but for others is called "the prayer of intercession" . Moses in the 1st reading is an example. Then Jesus says: "Keep praying
without losing heart"

Here is another example of the prayer of intersession. On November 3, 354 in Algeria a son was born to Patricio and Monica. They called him Augustine. Monica
was a fervent Christian. The parents made great sacrifices to give their son a good education. Augustine entered University and showed himself as a scholar.
But his moral life was a great worry to his mother. Augustine gambled, had a son with his mistress, rejected his mother's Chrisitianity and joined a way-out
anti-Chrisitan group called the Manichees. All through this, his mother Monica, prayed for her son without losing heart. At 29 Augustine left Algeria and
went to Rome to advance himself. Because of lack of money he later moved north to Milan where he taught oratory at the university. His mother kept praying
for him. At that time in Milan, Bishop Ambrose was famous for his preaching. Augustine went to Mass to study Ambrose's oratory only. But gradually rather
than the style of sermon, he began to take notice of its content. He felt drawn again to Christ. On Easter Eve, 387, Augustine, with his son Adeodatus, was
baptized. Monica, his mother had been praying 20 years for that conversion. That is a model for us. Augustine later wrote:"O Lord God! You have made us for
Yourself and our hearts cannot find rest until they rest in You." Thanks to his mother's prayer we now call her son, Saint Augustine.

Index of sermons

Sun, 10/14/2007 - 00:00
Have you ever notices how your heart is lifted up when someone says, and really means, the words “thank you”. Do we ourselves perhaps say these words with our lips only? Or do we never say “thank you” ? just taking the gift or kindness for granted. Ingratitude hurts one’s heart. Let us say a genuine “thank you” to people who live or work with us. But let us not forget to say “thank you” to God who has showered us with gifts. Do we take God’s gifts for granted? In today’s Gospel Jesus heals 10 men of a fearful skin disorder. 9 went off without thanking him. One comes back with a heart full of gratitude. Jesus gives him the gift of love. Are we among the nine, or the one who returns? Here is a practical (and interesting!) way to enter into the prayer of thanksgiving to God. God is the basic source of everything we have and are. Before we can make our prayer of gratitude concrete, we begin by re-discovering all the gifts, graces, and good things that we have and are. Before we can make our prayer of gratitude concrete, we begin by re-discovering all the gifts, graces, and good things that we have received during our whole life. So take a pencil and paper and make list from one to nine of favours and blessings you have received. (‘Nine’ to replace the 9 ungrateful ones in the Gospel!) In a quiet atmosphere of prayer some very interesting, long forgotten things come to the surface. For example I remember a very kind Mr.Roberts who taught us “Woodwork” when I was in middle school. “Woodword” is still my hobby and recreation. It relaxes me. Thank you God! Thank you Mr.Roberts! The prayer of gratitude to God is vitally important. Try it. (An interesting side-effect of this prayer is that it is heart medicine against pride. Gratitude acknowledges that everything I have is from God ? not me.)

Index of sermons

Sun, 10/07/2007 - 00:00
Everything was going wrong for Habakuk in the 6th century BC. His country had been defeated and was occupied by the conquering army. He felt empty and deserted by God. Have you ever had that feeling? Habakuk pours out his heart to God just as it is, with no decoration of politeness. To God he cries out: "Why? why? why? Have you forgotten us God?" Here is a model for prayer when you feel desperate. It is not an insult to God - far from it. It is the prayer from an honest heart. That is the kind of prayer God wants from us.
Crying out to the Lord in desperation using strong language appears often in the Bible. Eg.Hanna, Jeremiah, Psalm 22 prayed by Jesus says: "My God! My God! why have you forsaken me?" This prayer comes from an empty heart but is on solid foundations because it is based on God unconditional love for each of us.
But at times we might even doubt that "unconditional love". At such a time let us use the prayer in today's Gospel: "O Lord, increase my faith"
When we experience what is called "the dark night of the soul" when God seems to be silent, let us cry out to the Lord in our emptiness and desperation.
The reply of God to Habakuk and to each of us today is: "The Lord answers: I do not deceive. If my help comes slowly, wait, because come it will, without fail."
Lord, you give each of us your unconditonal love. I beilieve this, but please, please, increase my trust in you.

Index of sermons

Sun, 09/30/2007 - 00:00
Scripture: Amos 6:4-7
Luke 16:19-31

Here is a modern prarable. In the middle of a hot summer the managing director of a company went to his office in an air-conditioned car. His office had a big glass window facing a beautiful garden - with lawn, flowers, shrubs. He wore his tie and suit because his office was air-conditioned to 23C. It was a hot, humid 32C outside.
At 10 a.m. he was drinking his tea and admiring the scenery when from his window he saw a day-lablurer in the garden .He had employed him only today and intended to employ him for 4-5 days if he was a good worker. But now the director saw him working so slowly, pulling out the weeds. At once he said to himself: "These day-labourers are all like that - so slow, unreliable and cannot be trusted."
At 3 p.m. he looked out again and the worker's pace was the same as this morning, perhaps even slower. The director was so angry that he decided himself to go outside and scold the worker. He stepped outside the door. From a cool 23C he stepped into a very humid 32C. It was a real shock-like stepping into an oven! The president broke out into a sweat, his energy seemed to evaporate. Unitl he had experienced this, he had no idea under what conditions the hired man was working. It was only then that understanding came to him.
Do we understand what it is like to be homeless, to be a day-labourer, to be alone and sad, to be without hope, to be poor, etc. Do we try to enter the heart and circumstance of another or do we live only in our own cosy selfish world? Do we see the Lazarus at our door? To understand is the first step to being mecciful. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy."

Index of sermons

Sun, 09/23/2007 - 00:00
The teaching of Jesus has a beautiful balance between consolation and challenge. Today Jesus presents a challenge! He says:"You are free to choose your path in life. Choose either God or money. You cannot serve both." So let us ask ourselves:"What is my priority in life? Goods? Work? Getting on? Pleasure? or is it God? If we choose to walk the path of Jesus here are some things I feel are essential.

#1 Acknowledge one's human fraility. I cannot manage my own life on just human strength - I need God's help. Each of us has a calling - e.g. as father, mother, student, employee, retired etc. To fulfil that calling I need God's help. Humbly acknowledge this.
#2 Daily prayer. Get up in the morning and ask God to help and guide you this day. During the day create a small quiet time, open your Bible and just ponder the words.
#3 Kindness to others. We have been gifted by God to share with others. According tour abilities do we care for the poor of this world in some way?
#4 If we experience suffering in our life do we unite ourselves to Jesus who suffered for us. He sufferes with us.

Puttinginto practice these four points can give our everyday life a new and delightful taste. Please try it.

Index of sermons

Sun, 09/16/2007 - 00:00
We read and hear of God's love, compassion, mercy, kindness and tenderness. Here is the challenge! Have we really deep in our hearts grasped the meaning? To do so, let us spend a special quiet time, acknowledge that human effort and study does not bring enlightenment but this comes only as a pure gift of God. This gift will make us a new person!

The Pharisees of Jesus' time were a group who had a very severe image of God. He was the God of Law, and those who broke that Law were punished by God. Jesus was absolutely opposed to this kind of God. For example in Luke's Gospel chapter 15 Jesus gives us 3 parables on the mercy of God. They are (1)the lost sheep (2)the lost coin and (3)the lost son.

The shepherd leaves 99 sheep and searches for just one! The lesson is that every single person is precious to, and loved by, God.

The housewife loses one of 10 coins - she searches for it, finds it and rejoices. Our God is a rejoicing God - think over that aspect of God!

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, rather than emphasize the son's sins, put emphasis on the kindness, mercy, love of the father - that is our God!

I read this sentence yesterday, it fascinates me; "Mercy, love and compassion are not just facets of God, but rather they are God himself, his very essence." To me, a thought provoking sentence!

This week very slowly and prayerfully read all of Luke's Gospel Chapter 15; then just sit quietly and taste God's personal love for you.

Index of sermons

Sun, 09/09/2007 - 00:00
Today in Hodogaya Church we celebrated (one week early) Japan's "Respect for the Aged Day". Instead of a homily I read the famous prayer by Fr.Hermann Heuvers S.J. (R.I.P.) of Tokyo. Here is my own translation:

Life's Greatest Task
What is this life's most important task?
To grow old with a cheerful heart,
To be still even when I would like to be active,
To be silent when I would like to talk,
To have hope in times of frustration,
To carry my cross in humility and serenity of heart,
To put aside envy even when I see younger people walking God's path full of health and energy,
To humbly accept help from others when I would rather work for the sake of others,
So when I can no longer be useful for others because of frailty I need to gently and humbly accept the heavy burden of old age as a gift from God.
I have an aged heart that has been in use a long time and now God is giving it a final polishing so that I can return to my true home all shining.
To gradually release myself from the chains that bind me to this world is indeed a wonderful work.
When I cannot do things let me humbly accept these circumstances in humility.
However for my closing years God has kept for me the most important work of all, and that is:
PRAYER
Even if I can no longer do anything else with my hands, right to the very end I can join those hands in prayer.
I can pray, asking for God's blessings upon all those I love.
And when I come towards my end, approaching death may I hear God's voice when He says to me;
"COME! YOU ARE MY FRIEND. I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU"
Fr Hermann Heuvers SJ from "Autumn of Life" translated by Barry Cairns

This prayer, well loved and used in Japan, deserves slow prayerful pondering.

Index of sermons

Sun, 08/26/2007 - 00:00
Scripture: Isaiah 66:18-21
Luke 13:22-30

God loves all people as His children - all, without exception. Some people are called by God to know that love. Such a call is a great privilege. But let us note well that this definitely does not make Christians on elite group. Jesus was strongly against such thinking! The Bible uses the words "called" and "chosen" in a unique way. We are called or chosen by God to serve others. We are not better than others.

For me personally, living in Japan where less than 1% are Christians, has given me a realization of just how wonderful is God's call to faith. Faith puts meaning and taste in my everyday life. To have a God who says to me: "Fear not, I am with you" is a marvelous support. It gives me hope.
So to all who are gifted with faith I suggest this biblically based programme:-
(1) reflect on how gifted you are, and thank God for faith. Gratitude acknowledges that each of us has not earned faith, but that it is a sheer gift of God.
(2) express that gratitude by giving time to God in prayer. Prayer is relaxing in God's companionship.
(3) express that gratitude by sharing the joy of faith with others. This means, according to the circumstances, a word of praise or encouragement, an act of thoughtful kindness, a warm smile, and at times forgiveness etc.
This is what it means to "enter by the narrow gate" - it takes humility, or putting aside one's own favorite agenda.
The selfish and proud people go to the wide gate thinking that they are the elite, that they have a right to the big entrance! No!!

Index of sermons

Sun, 08/05/2007 - 00:00
Ecclesiastes 1:2& 2:21-23
Luke 12:13-21
Do you remember the "Bushman" movies. They were about the nomad families in the African Kalahari desert. In the 3rd. of the series it showed how a Kalahari nomad built aningenious trap to catch a monkey. He made a box-like structure with a hole in it just large enough for the monkey to squeeze his hand into it. inside the box the nomad put some sweet smelling nuts that the monkey loved. Smelling them the monkey put his hand in and grasped them. But because his clenched fist (paw) became bigger, the monkey could not withdraw his hand. He could do 2 things. #1: he could let go the lovely food and become free; or, #2: he could keep clasping the nuts and become captive. Most monkeys chose the later! There is a message there for us!
Are we captives of material goods? Do we put too much emphasis on "getting on in life"? What priority do we put on God and prayer?
Material goods are of course not evil in themselves. But sometimes we get so engrossed in them that we forget God and prayer. Henri Nouwen has written a truly beautiful book on prayer called "With Open Hands" I recommend it.
Open your hands letting go of material goods, and let God give you love.
St Augustine in the 5th century wrote in his "Confessions". "Lord God, You made us for Yourself, and our hearts cannot find rest until they rest in you".

Index of sermons

Sun, 07/29/2007 - 00:00
Scripture: Genesis 18:20-32
Luke 11:1-13
Sometimes I find myself wanting to pray, but just cannot get going. Then I realize my basic mistake: I think that I can pray by my own human effort alone! I need God's help, even to pray to Him. So I use the words in today's
Gospel: "Jesus! Teach me to pray."
When Jesus' disciples used the same words He taught them what we call the Lord's Prayer. The most important word is the first:"Our Father". This very word tells us what prayer for a Christian is all about. It is the expression of a gentle, warm relationship of a fully loved child towards a Father God who accepts us as we are. Jesus Himself in praying to God the Father used a small child's word "Abba"- a word full of love and trust. Jesus tells us to put our requests to God with the confidence of small children. "Ask and you shall receive!" God only wants us to be truly happy. He never wishes us bad things (Today's parable about the snake and scorpion).
In today's first reading from Genesis we see Abraham, the friend of God, daring to ask God requests. That word, daring, is important. We too dare to approach the all high God as children with our requests. Jesus taught us something very important: - we can dare to approach God as little children without fear and full of confidence. Like Jesus in Gethsemane we add to our requests: "I leave the granting of this request to you."
Personally I find I have 2 kind of requests:
#1 Requests for immediate needs - health, exams, solution of problems etc.,
#2 Requests from my deep heart. And Yearnings that come from deep inside
me. These yearnings become my prayer. Lord, teach us to pray.

Index of sermons

Sun, 07/22/2007 - 00:00
Scripture: Luke 10:29-42
The Good Samaritan parable says: prayer only (the priest) is not enough, love of neighbor is also necessary. Today's Martha and Mary scene is a parable in action. It says: love of neighbor only (Martha) is not enough, prayer is also necessary. These 2 readings go together for balance.
In John 11:5 we read:" Jesus loved Martha, her sister (Mary) and Lazarus" They were his friends. He really loved them. As a friend Jesus gently tells Martha:"Martha! Martha! You are too busy doing things" (Martha's name twice intimates the friendship).
I personally like Martha - she is so like me! I too can get too busy doing things! So Jesus' gentle admonition is for me too.
We get so busy in Japan! Precisely because that is the atmosphere of the society we live in we need to stop and like Mary of today's Gospel, sit at the feet of Jesus and listen; that is, we need to spend time in quiet prayer. Do not in this case, say prayers already prepared nor do not even ask for blessings, just sit and taste the love and friendship of Jesus.
He is God who says:"I call you by name. I call you my friend" That love and friendship is the very foundation of prayer.
So this week please spend 3 minutes each day in quiet prayer. Personally I light a candle in my room as preparation; then sit and relax (especially loosen a tight jaw); I imagine Jesus saying my own name, I taste and enjoy His friendship and am grateful that Jesus accepts me as I am. (i.e.some days I have a quiet heart, some times it is in turmoil).
I like to imagine Martha putting aside her kitchen knife and pots, calling Lazarus, and all 3 sit and listen quietly to Jesus. And Martha finds she can do the cooking so much better!

Index of sermons

Sun, 07/15/2007 - 00:00

Before you read my word, please read again with new eyes the parable of Jesus called 'the Good Samaritan' Luke 10:25-37.

Four years ago I taught a course with the broad name:'Christianity' for health care workers. One question at the end of term examination was:'Put the Parable of the Good Samaritan into the context of today's Japan." Here is a translation of one answer, but what would your answer be? Then Jesus says to each of us: 'Go and do likewise!" Quite a challenge isn't it! The student wrote:

"At high school I wore thick glasses and tended to stutter when I got excited. As the Japanese proverb puts it:"The nail that stands out gets hammered: I was a victim of bullying. One day was especially bad. My mathematics teacher mocked me in front of my classmates by imitating my stutter. when I gave a wrong answer. At the lunch break, other students continued this harassment. I was very hurt. I felt as if I could commit suicide as I sat alone on a bench at the edge of the baseball field.

The teacher responsible for the overall care of our class ignored both me and the bullying. The elected student-leader looked across at me but pretended he was busy. I was desperately lonely and hurt.

Then an ethnic Korean class-mate whose family had been in Japan for three generations and was still discriminated against, came and quietly sat beside me.
For five minutes he just sat there, saying nothing. Then he spoke:"I know what it is like. Be brave. You have your values. You are a good person. Through this experience you will be able to feel with others"

My Korean class-mate not only healed me but I now see that he sawed the seed for my choosing this Course to help those who are on the edge of Japanese society; the elderly, battered children, those who are physically and /or intellectually handicapped."

Index of sermons

Sun, 07/01/2007 - 00:00

Scripture: 1 Kings 19:16-21 (Call of Elisha)
Psalm 16
Luke 9:51-62

In Luke's Gospel, chapter 9, verse 51, right through to chapter 19 verse 28 is called 'The Journey Theme.' Jesus sets off on a journey to Jerusalem which Luke sees as a model of our journey in life.
A Christian receives a call from Jesus to walk life's path with Him. Note well : we never walk alone, always with Jesus who gives us strength and guidance. Today's Psalm says:"I keep the Lord ever in my sight; since He is at my right hand, I shall stand firm".
In the Gospel 3 people are called. Notice they have no names, because we are those 3.
The first person says: "Yes, Jesus I will follow you." Jesus warns him (and us ) that we, like Jesus will meet suffering and sometimes loneliness.
The second person says:" Yes Jesus I will follow you after my father dies." His father is healthy now so will probably die in 5, 10, 20, 30 years time! In other words, the called person is using his father as an excuse not to follow yet. Today we would say: "Sorry Jesus I am too busy to follow you!" or "I am full time at my work-place", i.e. delaying tactics!
The third person called also uses excuses not to follow. This person looks back at his former life and does not want to commit him/herself to Jesus. In other words, following Jesus means we have to trust our future into His hands. We have to trust Him when He says to us: "Fear not because I am with you."
Giving our lives into the hands of Jesus by following Him can put real meaning and taste into our daily lives. It can make us better parents, workers, friends etc. because "the Lord is at my right hand, therefore I shall stand firm" (Ps 16:8).

Index of sermons

Sun, 06/10/2007 - 00:00

Food is vital for life, strength and health. Without food we get sick and finally die of starvation. Jesus has given us Holy Communion. He used the symbol of bread or food. The meaning is we get our spiritual strength, health and life from this holy meal.

At the Last Supper, and at each Mass, Jesus says over the bread:'This is my Body'. Here in Hebrew, the language Jesus used, 'body' means the person himself. In holy Communion under the appearance of bread Jesus himself is present and comes into our hearts when we receive Communion. Jesus becomes our strength and support for life's journey. For me personally receiving Jesus in Holy Communion has been the main strength that has kept me going through both tough and also joyous times in my life.

Jesus says:'Come to me, you are my friend. You labor and burdened, I will refresh you'. I see this as an invitation to talk to Jesus any time, but especially after receiving Holy Communion. Jesus wants us to talk to Him as a friend. That means, as we are, without embarrassment, without being so polite that He becomes distant. Opening our hearts before Jesus without decoration is an important aspect of prayer to Him.

We say 'Holy Communion'. Communion means union with Jesus Himself but also union with our fellow Christians. St.Paul says; we all receive the same bread, Jesus Christ, therefore we are united to each other through Him. But of course we are weak humans and have our prejudices. That is why at the first Holy Communion at the Last Supper Jesus washed his quarreling disciples' feet We too need foot-washing heart for Holy Communion.

Index of sermons

Sun, 06/03/2007 - 00:00

Let us look at the Mass. Let us come to Mass with joy,rather than obligation.
The atmosphere of the society in which we live has as its priority material goods and success which involves competition which is so stressful. The Way of Jesus has an opposite priority -the heart- God. It is difficult and sometimes lonely to be a Christian in such a society, but it is so worthwhile. As encouragement our Sunday community Mass means a lot I feel. The first Mass was the Last Supper on the night before Jesus died for us. That first Mass was the family festival of the Passover, in which there were Scripture readings and hymns song. So today in our Mass we have ① the Liturgy of the Word, i.e.readings and psalms song from Scripture. The Vatican Council says:"We hear Christ's living voice, especially when the Scriptures are read in church." Jesus himself is speaking to us. Ponder what that means sometime it is consolation, sometimes challenge. Let us listen carefully and become sensitive to anything that makes an echo in our hearts. that is God talking!
Today in our Mass we have ② offering. At the Last Supper Jesus spoke of his offering of his life on the cross on the next day. On the Cross He said: 'Father into your hands I give my life.' Let us too have this same sense of offering. Give God your joys and your pains, your daily round of chores,your work, your study -in other words, your whole self. So with a sense of ① listening, and ② offering, our Mass can mean a lot to us and become a joy.
We listen and offer ourselves as a community, as the same children of the same Father. This sense of praying together as a family can give us courage, hope and joy in today's world with its emphasis on the material goods which can never really satisfy the heart.

Sun, 05/20/2007 - 00:00

'Abba' is the actual word that Jesus used for God. In some places in the New Testament it is left as is, not translated, in other places translated as 'Father'. 'Abba' is a small child's word for Father, something like 'Papa'. Behind the word is a very deep truth, the very essence of all Jesus' teaching. That is, God is a loving, caring Father, we are his special children. This is a message from God for everyday life.

The strict Pharisees objected strongly to this intimate way of addressing God. They said "It is impolite, it is close to blasphemy." Jesus insisted; "God is Abbba. God is gentle, loving, caring, understanding of human weakness. He is not strict God, not a punishing God. He is the very opposite. You are his very much loved children."

Jesus spoke for 3 years so often about God as a loving Father that one day Phillip, disciple, said; "Jesus! Show us that Father. That will be enough!" (I use this request of Phillip's as a prayer.)

If we have a narrow, strict, fearful image of God, we are just not yet real followers of Jesus. Such as a fearful image will make prayer only formally polite words, with no joy or taste. Our everyday lives will be the same. Religion becomes mere obligation. God is my loving Father who accepts me as I am. This is the truth that can set me free, that puts joy and taste into our daily lives.

Open your Bibles and prayerfully read these suggestions.

Luke 15:11-24 emphasizes loving acceptance of Father, not the waywardness of the son.

Mark 14:36 'Abba...'

Romans 8:15 To really grasp this deep truth, human effort is not enough, we need light from the holy spirit.

N.B. When Jesus speaks of God as Father it is to emphasize God's gentleness, not that God is male. For God as gentle Mother, Isaiah 66:13.

Index of sermons

Sun, 05/13/2007 - 00:00

"Jesus! You are my Lord" Those few words were an expression of faith in the early Church. For us today they also have a deep meaning. They mean that we take Jesus into our daily lives and hand everything over to him as our Lord. But this very important act of giving our very selves into Jesus' hands means that we must get to know him and be able to trust him with something so important. To get to know Jesus in a deeper way, in order to meet him as a friend, we need to open the Scriptures and pray them. Here are some Scripture passages that I recommend in order to meet Jesus.

(1)Zachaeus was rich, but despite that he had a great emptiness in his heart. He forgot his dignity, climbed a tree, and he met Jesus who fulfilled all his yearnings. Jesus acts this way today for us (read Luke19:1-10).
(2)The widow of Naim lost her only son. Imagine her sorrow. Jesus saw her sorrow and felt with her. Jesus is the same today (Luke 7:11-17).
(3)Peter's faith got weak and he sunk in the waves. He cried out to Jesus, who accepted. Peter's frailty saved him. Likewise Jesus forgave Peter for the 3 serials. (read Matthew 14:22-33 + John 21).
(4) Jesus' Agony in Gethsemane Garden: Jesus was 100% God while being 100% human. As a human like us he suffered in heart and body. Shusaku Endo writes of Jesus as being one who walks life's path with us (Mark:14).
(5) Jesus calls each of us by name. He knows each of us well and accepts us as we are (John 20:11-18)
(6) Through the Scriptures Jesus says in a living voice: "Come to me all you are tired and carry heavy burdens. I will refresh you." (Matt.11:28) What a wonderful invitation! Let's respond.

A scripture passage that appeals to you is special, because the Holy Spirit is telling you something. Let us get to know Jesus through the Scriptures and pour out our hearts to him. Such out-pouring is Prayer.

Index of sermons

Sun, 04/22/2007 - 00:00

Scripture: John 21: 1-19

In the Gospels we have a vivid pen-picture of Peter, the man whom Jesus chose to be the leader of his Church. Peter is painted with his strengths, but also his faults. He is consistently impulsive, frequently without thought, doing or saying the wrong thing! Peter 3 times denies ever knowing Jesus or being his follower.

In today’s Gospel, after the Resurrection Jesus meets Peter again. To balance the 3 denials Jesus asks Peter 3 times: “Peter, do you love me?” It is the parable of the Prodigal Son in action.

What does this scene tell us today? We are told some very important truths for daily life ? truths that will set us free.

  • God knows our every human frailty and still loves us. This unconditional love by our gentle God is one of the most consoling and encouraging truths of Jesus’ Way. Do I have the courage to accept acceptance?
  • This scene tells us that if we are truly sorry, God forgives sin absolutely, entirely ? it ceases to exist. So any unhealthy, nagging sense of guilt has no place in Christ’s Way ? just gratitude for forgiveness should remain.
  • In a living voice Jesus calls each one of us by name and says: “OOOO Do you love me?” Before we can even start to answer that vital question we must have the background of Jesus’ unconditional love for each of us. Only with that immense love as a basis can we answer Jesus’ question. “OOOO Do you love me?”

In quiet prayer let us ponder over the unconditional love that God- Jesus has for each of us and let us reply to His challenging question. Remember Jesus does not expect perfection, but He would like an answer!

Index of sermons

Sun, 04/15/2007 - 00:00

Scripture: John 20:19-31

The risen Jesus says to you today in the eternal present tense of the Scriptures: "Peace be with you."

Today is called Divine Mercy Sunday. We see just what God's mercy means when we see the concrete actions of mercy of Jesus. Let us look at one such act of acceptance and kindness.

Thomas was a twin. He was one of Jesus 12 Apostles, but when Jesus first appeared to the Apostles after His Resurrection Thomas was not with them. We can only imagine why he was not there! Thomas had such great hopes for himself and his country. But Jesus dying on the cross dashed those hopes. Did he want to escape from people in his disappointment? It is a common human reaction. When he came back to the group he stubbornly refused to believe the other Apostles that they had met the risen Jesus. "Unless I touch the wounds of Jesus I will not believe." He had doubts. Cardinal Newman says: "Faith without doubts dead." Most of us experience doubt, but these very doubts can cause us to think over what our faith is really all about.

Then faith becomes alive. Doubts can be good for faith-life.
Note well, that when Jesus appears again to all (with Thomas present), He does not scold Thomas. Jesus accepts Thomas as he is - doubts and all. THIS is divine mercy. Jesus is so kind, so accepting, so thoughtful, so compassionate. Jesus is mercy.

This week let us just sit quietly with the risen Jesus who is so close to us. (Do you doubt about it? - do not worry). Taste his understanding kindness. Give Him your hurts, your worries. He will be merciful to you as He was to Thomas. You will taste His peace. "The peace of Christ be with you"

Index of sermons

Sun, 04/08/2007 - 00:00

Scripture: Luke 24:1-12

The Resurrection! I can look up a dictionary and find out what the word means - that satisfies my head but not my heart.

For me Jesus resurrection means that Jesus is alive and is beside me RIGHT NOW. It means that his words which I read in the Gospels are not of 2,000 years ago but are living words to me RIGHT NOW.

Jesus says to each one of us RIGHT NOW; "Fear not I am with you." "Come to me you who are tired and who carry heavy burdens, I will refresh you", "I will give you strength in your weakness", "Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened." Those are just some of the words of Jesus which I find help me to walk the path of life.

And again - these are living words spoken today - all because Jesus is risen and lives amongst us. That is Resurrection for me.

I am much helped by two Japanese authors when it comes to the Resurrection. Endo Shusaku in his "Life of Jesus" uses about Jesus the Japanese word "do hansha" many times. It means that Jesus travels the path of life with each of us - he shares our sorrows, our joys, our disappointments. We are never alone. To me that is the Resurrection and the essence of what it means.

The other author is the Nobel prize winner Oe Kenzaburo. He says Japanese society is facing a grave crisis - it is a society without hope. We are so busy with material things we forget the needs of the heart. For me the resurrection of Jesus is the very foundation of my hope.

I pray you will experience the comfort and hope that having Jesus as a fellow journeyer with you brings to me. Happy Easter.

Index of sermons

Sun, 04/01/2007 - 00:00

Scripture: Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22
Phil.2:6-11
Passion according to Luke 23:1-49

This Sunday has two names -Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. The blessing and procession of palms shows us the kingship of Jesus-that is, Jesus is God. The Passion shows us Jesus as human who suffers with us humans. Jesus is 100% God while being 100% human. That mystery, and getting the balance is important.

Luke in today's passion narrative emphasizes that Jesus is innocent. Jesus is declared innocent 3 times by Pilate, and once each by Herod, by the 'good thief', and by the centurion.

Being inoccent Jesus freely offered his life to save each of us and bring us peace. In Galatians 2:20 Paul says:'Jesus loves me and delivered himself up for me.' That makes Jesus' sufferings very personal and present day.

Shusaku Endo explains it this way. 'In order to show the reality of the God of love, Jesus himself had to meet death in its most harrowing form. Jesus faces us and says:"Look, I am at your side. I have suffered like you. Your misery - I understand it because I went through it myself.' (Life of Jesus, ch.10) In the Epistle to the Hebrews 4:15-16, we read: 'Jesus feels our weakness with us... Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.'

Do you need help? Think over the sufferings of Jesus in prayer. Let us approach Him with confidence. Jesus' sufferings bring us consolation and his Resurrenction gives us hope.

Index of sermons

Sun, 03/25/2007 - 00:00

Scripture: Gospel of John 8:1-11

The Gospels of the 3rd, 4th, and today 5th Sunday of Lent are very special. All 3 emphasize a basic truth that will set us free. That truth is: God loves us as we are. God knows how weak we are and is so patient with us. Our God is definitely NOT a punishing God.

These 3 Gospels are (1) The parable of the non fruit-bearing fig tree ("Don't cut it down, I will tenderly nurture it" says the gardener. Then (2) the parable of the ever-loving father who waits for and runs out to welcome his returning prodigal son. Then today (3) Jesus puts these teaching into action. A woman is taken in adultery. "Stone her" say the cold unforgiving Pharisees. They are so judgmental. Jesus says: "Anyone of you who has not sinned please throw the first stone!" They all slink away.

I personally delight in the line drawings of the Swiss artist Annie Vallotton in the "Good News Bible." One drawing shows Jesus in today's Gospel so humanly doodling in the dust. This is followed by Jesus looking right into the face of this poor woman. Jesus looked into the face of Zachaeus up the tree - that look of understanding changed his life. Jesus looked at Peter who had just rejected him 3 times. That look on Jesus' compassionate face changed Peter's life from despair to hope. The same gentle look on Jesus' face changed the life of the woman in today's Gospel.

But it is very important to remember that the gentle looks of Jesus, our God are not just event of 2,000 years ago. He looks on you and me with the same gentleness and understanding today. Therefore we read in the letter to the Hebrews: 'let us approach this throne of grace and compassion with confidence.' That is what prayer is about. Let us try it!

"O Lord, my heart tells me to pray. I am eager to see your face. So do not hide from me!" Psalm 27:8 (C.E.V.)

Index of sermons

Sun, 03/18/2007 - 00:00

Scripture: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

‘God is love’ ? we have heard it so often! But has this deep truth really entered our lives. Today Jesus gives us the famous parable of the Prodigal Son. (really it is the story of the Generous forgiving Father). We know the story; this week let us reflect again on the message that God loves me as I am.

There are 3 characters in the story;

  1. the younger son ? do not over-emphasize his dissolute life, more than his Father’s acceptance, and unconditional love.
  2. the elder son ? he is cold, unforgiving and takes his Father for granted. In fact he too insults his Father,
  3. the Father of these 2 sons. He loves his two sons.

The younger son insults his Father, leaves home and wastes his father’s generous gifts. Despite this, his Father comes out of his home and gazes own the road waiting for his son to return. He sees him, runs out and hugs him “Welcome home, my son!”

The older son resents this kindness. He thinks his brother deserves punishment not forgiveness and welcome. He will not even go inside the house to meet his Father. But this loving Father comes out. A Japanese man said to me “In fact no father on earth is so forgiving “. That is true! But GOD OUR FATHER HAS THIS KIND OF COMPASSIONATE HEART TOWARDS EACH ONE OF US>

This week spend at least a quiet 5 minutes just feeling the hug of God. He accepts us we are. We are wrapped in His love. Realizing this profound truth can give a wonderful flavor taste to our everyday life.

Index of sermons

Sun, 03/11/2007 - 00:00

Scripture: Exodus 3:1-15
Psalm 103
Luke 13:1-9

Do you want to put a special flavour into your everyday life?

If so, give some time to God and pray. But what is this God like?

The 1st reading gives us a glimpse of what God is like. As He did with Moses, He wants to contact us. He calls us personally by name (see also Isaiah 43:1). He hears our cries for help as He heard the cries of the slaves in Egypt. Indeed, "the Lord is compassion and love slow to anger and rich in mercy" (Ps103). He invites us to a warm, loving relationship. But balanced with respect (that is, figuratively, take our shoes off as did Moses). Having a healthy Biblical image of God puts real flavour into our prayer and daily life. Jesus is the self-portrait of a loving God. We see Jesus and so meet God.

In the Gospel Jesus is very much opposed to a punishing God. God just does not work that way. But an insidious superstition often influences us to think that way . The Galileans and those who fell under the tower did not die because they were wicked. God loves sinners and invites them to start again.

After 3 years and no figs, the owner says "cut it down". "No" says the gardener, "give it another year and I will care specially for it". The message of the parable is: "Make that new start NOW, do not put it off, we only have a limited time."

We have a limited time to be serious about prayer - start NOW.

We have a limited time to forgive someone - do it NOW.

We have a limited time to be good parents (or children) - start NOW.

We have a limited time to be kind and thoughtful - start TODAY.

But remember we need God's strength to put this into practice. Pray for it. Do-it-yourself fresh starts do not work!

Index of sermons

Sun, 03/04/2007 - 00:00

Scripture: Genesis 15:5-18
Psalm 27
Mark 9:28-36

The bible has 2 sections ? Old Testament and New Testament.

Testament is a word that means a 2-way promise (or covenant). So this promise is the dominant theme of the whole Bible. God Himself makes a solemn promise to humans, we make one to God.

In the Genesis reading today God makes a solemn promise to Abraham.

That was 3,500 years ago! But God makes a solemn promise to each of us now. God’s promise is: “You are my specially chosen child. I am with you always. I will always look after you”

As Christians we believe that God makes this promise formally and publicly through the Church at Baptism.

God’s promise is eternal and has no conditions. That means that if we forget God or even if we reject or deny Him, He will never forget us or stop caring for us. That is a wonderful promise?

Relying on God’s promise, with full trust in God caring for him, Abraham left his settled home in Haran and set off into the unknown desert not knowing where he was going. He only knew that God had promised to look after him. That was enough for Abraham. “I will trust you my God” was Abraham’s promise to God. Abraham is our model, or as the Bible puts if, “ Abraham is our father in faith.”

Say to yourself: “God Himself has made a promise to insignificant me.”

Think over, pray over those words. They can put new life, a fresh meaning into our daily lives. Trust God ? He always keeps His promise.

Index of sermons

Sun, 02/25/2007 - 00:00

Scripture: Deuteronomy 26:4-10
Psalm:91
Romans 10:8-13
Luke 4;1-13

We are beginning the season of Lent in preparation for feast of the Resurrection. Lent is a time for spiritual stock-taking, i.e. Looking at the fundamentals of life. Today's readings guide us.

In the 1st reading we see an example of the Prayer of Remembrance. Using that as a model, recall your own ancestors, your grand-parents and parents. Recall the good times and the times of suffering in your life. Recall these events and people together with God. This puts a new light on them! We discover God and how He has always worked in our lives, "with a mighty hand and outstretched arm". The second reading (Paul) has the early Church's most basic Act of Faith, i.e. 'Jesus is my Lord.' Recalling that God always cares for me, is always at my side, I give everything into his hands. In the Gospel we see Jesus going into the desert where he went through 3 basic human temptations concerning the use of material goods, the use of power and the use of the spectacular. We need to go into the desert in spirit. It is here that we meet God because there are so few worldly noises, goods or comforts. We meet our own very inner self and realize how truly poor we are. In other words we come to realize we need God and His help.

On Ash Wednesday our foreheads are rubbed with ashes and the words are: Repent and believe the Good News. Repent in Japanese is written with characters than mean 'turn around'. The Good News is : God Loves us as we are. So let us take a new look at ourselves, turn around, making new start and really trust that God loves each one of us.

Index of sermons

Sun, 02/18/2007 - 00:00

Scripture:
1 Samuel 26:7-23
Psalm 103
Luke 6:27-38

"Love your enemies; be good to those who hate you." "Pray for those who gossip about you and treat you badly"

"Impossible" you say - and you are right! Differences, clashes etc are part of life, because each human is different, but Jesus tells us to forgive. "Impossible" you say again! We get hurt by another and so often we have a grudge or resentment against that person. We can suppress it or try to forget it, but when we are sleepless, down-hated, or stressed these hidden hurts arise to the surface. They are like a deep unknown cancer gnawing at us. Here is a practical way to deal with them. This process MUST be done within prayer (it is NOT a mere psychologicalical excercise).

  1. ask God's help, acknowledging that you are helpless by yourself,
  2. face your hurt under God's warmth,
  3. prayerfully try to get into the heart of the one who hurt you his/her upbringing, personality, stresses, way of thinking. The workings of a human heart are most complicated. Our understanding of the other is a vital step to forgiveness. We are not trying to white-wash the other, just understand him/her.
  4. prayerfully consider how God has accepted, understood and forgiven you so many times in the past-again, again & again.
  5. prayfully call to mind, imagine Jesus being nailed to the Cross. While the soldiers were hammering the nails into His hands the leaders were insulting him (we would call it "bullying"). He prayed "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing".

If you have come to the stage where you say " I WANT to forgive him/her", you are on the way to peace. Slowly read the Gospel again, feeling helpless, and so asking for help. It will come. God is generous.

Index of sermons

Sun, 02/11/2007 - 00:00

This is last week I read teh 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki by Diego Yuuki S.lJ. (enderle Boods JPY1,050). These 26 were made up of 20 Japanese, and 6 missionaries from Spain, Portugal and Mexico. There were 3 young Japanese boys, aged 15, 13 and 12. Their death sentence was proclaimed by Hideyoshi for being Christians. (He was suspicious of the unity Christians had with each other, thinking it could damage his own power). Their left earlobes were cut off as a sing that they were judged to be criminals and paraded on a long winter foreced march from Kyoto (Jan. 3) to Nagasaki (Feb.5) where they were crucified. From reading their story what impresses me is the sheer JOY these 26 had. They helped each other, theyrealized that they were soon to die but so looked forward to being with God in Heaven (Paradise). People who saw them were not frightened away from becoming Chrisitans, but on the contrary were attracted to become Chrisitans, by their example.

Here is a page from the above book giving the letter written by 13 year old Thomas Kozaki to his mother. (His own father was also among the 26).

"Today Mihara is an industrial city, but then it was a "fortress," that is, a castle with its jokamachi: the castle was constructed in 1588 by Mori Motonari's son. He had died only a few months earlier and the lord of the castle was then a nephew of Hideyoshi, Kobayakawa Hideaki, whose treachery at the battle of Sekigahara would pave the way for leyasu's victory. In the center of the city the foundations of the central tower and its moat may still be seen, and the neighborhood to the north still preserves the outline typical of a jokamachi, with its narrow, straight streets. There, on the night of the 19th, hiding it from the eyes of the guards, Thomas Kozaki wrote a farewell letter to his mother. Stained with blood, the letter was found after the crucifixion within the garments of his father, a fellow-martyr. The text needs no comentary; it amply proves the stout heart of the fourteen-year-old boy:

With the help of the Lord's grace I am writing these lines. The priests and the others who are journeying to be crucified in Nagasaki number in all twenty-four, as testified in the sentence that is carried on a board ahead of us. You should not worry about me and my father Michael. I hope to see you both very soon, there in paradise. Although you need the priests, if you are deeply sorry for your sins and have much devotion at the hour of your death, and if you remember and acknowledge the many blessings of Jesus Christ, then you will be saved. And bear in mind that everyone in this world has to come to an end, and so strive so that you will not lose the happiness of heaven. Whatever men may impose on you, try to have patience and show much charity for everyone. It is really necessary that my two brothers, Mancius and Philip, do not fall into the hands of heathens. I commend you to Our Lord, and I send you prayers for everybody we know. Remember to have great sorrow for your sins, for this alone is important. Although he sinned against God, Adam was saved by his sorrow and penance. The 2nd day of the Twelfth Moon, in Mihara fortress, In the kingdom of Aki.9

The band set out on the road once more on 20 .January. The prisoners were not allowed a single day to rest, although they were exhausted and suffering greatly from the cold. After all, they had been condemned to death, and their guards considered themselves lucky if none of the captives delayed them on the road. " (From "The 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki" by Book Diego Yuki S.J. (Enderle))

Index of sermons

Sun, 02/04/2007 - 00:00

Scripture:
Isaiah 6:1-8
Luke 5:1-11


Like so much of Scripture, today's Gospel has 2 levels. The upper level is the ancient historical event, the lower and deeper level has a present day meaning for you and men. Please again read the Gospel, Luke 5:1-11.
God is at work in our everyday lives as we "wash our nets". He works in strange ways! He always works for our good and for our growth as humans and Christians.
Have you ever been, (or are you now) at a low ebb in your life?
As a spouse, as a parent, as a friend, at your school or at your work-place? (For me, as a priest). It is in these very depths that Jesus calls us: "Launch out into the deep, let down your nets" i.e.'Be brave, take a new step in life. Make a new start."
This challenge from Jesus may come by way of a friend's words, an experience something we read in a book or see on TV. This challenge to "launch out"(i.e. start again) may come in the midst of failure, rejection, sickness, loss of a loved one, a feeling of helplessness.
The challenge comes to different people, in different ways, but the challenge from our God surely comes. Be sensitive to this call, this challenge.
To answer the challenge scares us. We make excuses: "I labored all night and caught nothing." "Leave me alone Lord, I am a sinner." We realize that human courage is not enough to make this vital step to start again. We humans are so skilful at making excuses for not answering God's call. We are skilful at escaping!
And then if we quieten ourselves in prayer we will in some way hear the voice of the Lord who says in a living voice today to each of us "Fear not I am with you. Together let us launch out"
It is then that we can re-enter life and be fishers to our family and friends by giving them light in their darkness (to change metaphors!)
"Launch out into the deep, put down your nets. Fear not I am with you."

Index of sermons

Mon, 01/29/2007 - 00:00

Scripture:
Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19
I Cor. 12:31-13;13
Luke: 4:21-30

Jeremiah (1st reading) is a very human prophet. People rejected both himself and his teaching, and as a result he felt very hurt. His heart was wounded. But God says: 'Fear not, I am with you, I will save you.' God says he same to us today.

Jesus (Gospel) was also rejected by his own friends and relatives in Nazareth. Because He was human, he too felt this hurt.
But Jesus is also God, and we pray to Him. He says: 'Fear not, I am with you in your heart.' When we feel lonely, hurt, or rejected we can got to Jesus with confidence knowing that He has experienced the same kind of hurt. He understands.

Why did the people of Nazareth reject Jesus? They could not accept this mere son of a carpenter as their teacher. Even more, they could not accept his teaching that God loves every human being - even those that the people of Nazareth regarded as outsiders, i.e. foreigners! Their vision was so narrow and insular.

Paul in the 2nd reading tells us that the love that Jesus speaks about is like. Through over-use the word 'love' has lost much of its deep meaning. What is my love for people like? Is it also narrow and insular? Is it selfish and confined? Let us read this passage of St Paul slowly as an examination of conscience. Let us expand our love for others.

God loves each one of us- let us share that warmth.

Index of sermons

Sun, 01/21/2007 - 00:00

Scripture:
Nehemiah 8:2-10
I Cor.12:12-20
Luke: 1:1-4, 4:14-21


In each Mass we have the liturgy of the Word, i.e. reading of the the Bible. "Jesus speaks to us today, especially when the Scriptures are read in Church" (Vat.II) . The Bible is God's message to us and we need his light to get the deep meaning. When we hear or listen to Scripture always have this attitude: 'what message does this Scripture have for me, NOW?' The Bible is God's message for everyday life.
Let us look at today's reading.
The 1st reading is a scene from the old testament around 600 B.C. The Jews had just returned to Jerusalem after forced exile in Babylon. But the Temple and Jerusalem was in ruins. They were discouraged: ' we cannot possible rebuild' Ezra read the Scripture to them and the People got anew heart, wonderful feeling of encouragement. The Scriptures, and God work the same for us today!
In the second reading Paul uses a parable. Each church community has people who have talents, small or large. Let each work together in unity, just like a human body had different parts but works as one body. Please, never say that you are useless! In one church I was in a lady said that she was a little toe. She saw that the 8 toilets in the church had paper. Some because of age, health etc cannot be active, but they are sure most valuable by praying for all.
In the Gospel Jesus tells us why He came on this earth as a human.
Do you feel you own poverty? Unable to do or remember things? A feeling of inadequacy? Rely on God's strength. That is what Jesus tells us to do. He gives us that always Good News that God loves us as we are.
Do you feel a captive to a person, place or habit? Jesus gives liberation.
Are you blind to another's suffering? Pray for new sight - Jesus gives it .
Are you downtrodden? Are your ground down by being too busy, or by stress? Jesus has come to set you free. Each can read the Scriptures with what is going on in your heart. Read slowly, prayerfully - there will be a small bell ring in your heart.
The Scriptures have an eternal present tense. They are for you NOW.

Index of sermons

Sat, 01/13/2007 - 00:00

Scripture:
Isaiah 62:1-5
John 2:1-11

Jesus performs only 7 miracles in St.John's Gospel, but he has a special word for them. He calls them 'signs.' He means that the miracle was an historical fact, but also that it points to a deeper meaning for us today.

Today we read of the wedding feast at Cana where Jesus changed water into wine. And we read:"This was the first of the signs given by Jesus."

There are 6 stone jars filled with water for ritual ablutions. That is, there was tasteless water for what had become an empty but very rigorously enforced religious ritual. But God seemed fearful, distant and communicating with Him was unjoyful, tasteless.

Jesus changed all that. God became near because He shared our human life, we can now approach him and talk to Him with JOY.

Tasteless water has been changed to rejoicing wine.

Jesus is God become human. We see our God at a young couple's wedding, eating, drinking, talking, laughing, having fun with all present. A new era has begun- the 'sign' shows this.

Jesus has come to bring us joy. He invites us to his feast, his table.

Even if we are experiencing pain, suffering or sadness we can still also experience this special joy. How? By being quiet before God in prayer and hear Him say: "Fear not! I am with you". We are never alone, we have companionship; we have support. That is the source of our joy. But to experience this joy, Jesus asks us to do 2 things.
(1) Communicate with God, with Jesus in prayer. He says:'Come to Me...'
(2) Share with each other in the fellowship of this faith and joy.
I pray that you who read this will taste that joy.


Sun, 01/07/2007 - 00:00

Scripture:
Isaiah 60:1-6
Ephesians 3:2-6
Matthew 2:1-12

There are so often 2 layers in the Bible. The top layer or level is the ancient historical event. The lower layer is the present faith meaning for us today. Let us take today's Bible readings for the feast of the Epiphany (this word means:'God reveals Himself to us). The three wise men were non-Jews - this is the ancient event. But Jesus is available to all peoples. We have been given a star, as it were, to guide us to God - Jesus Himself.

I reflect on my own life. I have been gifted by God with the tremendous gift of meeting Jesus. He guides me on life's journey, he is beside me on that journey giving strength and encouragement. He shows me that God loves me and accepts me as I am - i.e. a frail human.

I thank God for His great gift. But he asks me to share that gift with others.

Let us open the treasure box of our hearts. In place of gold let us offer to others the valuable gift of thoughtfulness.

In place of frankincense let us offer to others the fragrant gift of gratitude and kindness.

In place of myrrh let us offer to others that beautiful, wonderful, aromatic gift of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Thank you God for showing us with your gift. We thank you.


Sun, 12/24/2006 - 00:00

Scripture;
Micah 5:1-4
Psalm 80
Luke 1; 39-45
Hebrews 10:5-10

These 4 Scripture Readings are a fruitful inspiration for deeper prayer. In Micah and Psalm 79 the promised Savior is seen as a shepherd - i.e. one who really cares and looks after each one of His flock. The Gospel shows Mary not thinking of her own convenience or things to be done for herself but goes on a 4 day journey to help her cousin Elizabeth. Indeed Mary is an example for us.

But let us look at the words in the reading from Hebrews. "Lord! here I am". These words are just what we can say when we start to pray. Prayer is simply meeting God and talking honestly to Him. First we address Him and say "Lord". That gives our prayer both direction and focus. Then we say:"Here I am", which means we come before God as we are, we do not decorate ourselves up, we come as always fragile (and sometimes broken) human beings. God understands our fragility and our brokenness - our God has experienced the same humanity. So, the words "Here I am " have a deep meaning. But, as in this reading from Hebrews, we add: "I come to do your will". That means: "Lord, I know you really care form me so I leave everything in your hands."

Try this way of praying in your own words. What is in your heart now is your raw material for prayer.

 

Sun, 12/24/2006 - 00:00

Scripture;
Isaiah 9:1-6
Luke 2:1-20

  There are many layers to Christmas.
  1) Christmas of the shops. - which is buy, buy, buy  to the music of Jingle Bells. We can see this and say: What is the true Christmas?
  2) Christmas of present - giving.   If one's heart is in the present and it means a really felt "thank you" - this is good, but don't let gift giving  be a mere formality.
  3) Christmas of a special meal. - If this meal is together with family unity, it is of great value.  Is there an estranged member of your family? How about an attempt at reconciliation.
  4) Christmas of the Crib and Christmas Play. These try to tell us what Christmas is really about.
  5) Finally there is the Christmas where God Himself says to each one of us: "I love you."
That is what the Baby in the crib means.: "I, God, love you this much. I became human to show that love. " This gives deep meaning to Jesus' words:"Fear not  I am with you." Usually we do not emphasize prepositions, but in these words of Jesus, the "with" means so much.
 
This is the basic mystery of the Way Jesus showed us. God himself put aside the glory and majesty of being God, and became truly, truly, 100% human - just like us.
 
  So he understands our human frailty and gives us strength and comfort. In other words, He loves me as I am.
  Look in your mirror - take a good deep look at yourself - then point to yourself and say;
"God loves me as I am"
That is the message of Christmas - let us share this love with others. 

Index of sermons

Sun, 12/10/2006 - 00:00

Scripture:
Baruch 5: 1-9
Philippians 1:4-11
Luke 3:1-6

Advent is the season during which we prepare for Jesus’ birth. How do we prepare? By taking a new look at the basic meaning of our faith and Jesus’ teaching. ( a “new look” = conversion!) And the basic teaching of Jesus is: God loves each of us as we are. A deep realization of this basic truth brings us the gift of joy.


In the first reading from Baruch we see the Jewish people in deep sadness because the Temple has been destroyed and they are prisoners in distant Babylon. God says through his prophet Baruch: “Do not despair, do not wear clothes as if for a funeral, but put on bright, joyful clothes”, in other words: ”Have hope because God loves you; He cares for you”. God says exactly the same words today.


In the second reading, Paul speaks of Joy and he says “Christ Jesus loves you. God’s love and our joy are always connected. In the Gospel John the Baptist calls on us to be converted, to repent, that is, to make a new start, by looking at the way we are living now. (Always being able to make a new start on Jesus’ path for me is a great comfort + encouragement!)


All of us, precisely because we are human, in same way have crooked roads and rough, bumpy paths in our hearts. Let us open the doors of our hearts and let the love, the light and joy of God’s love shine in those hearts. Only with God’s strength can we make the paths of our heart straight and smooth.


Here is an exercise for Advent. Look very closely in a mirror. Look closely at your face, especially your eyes.

Through your eyes, look deeply into your heart. See yourself as you are, and then say to yourself out loud:

GOD LOVES ME AS I AM.


Do that often this week. The result will be peace and joy which is a gift from a loving, accepting God.

Index of sermons

Sun, 12/03/2006 - 00:00

Scripture;
Jeremiah 33: 14-16
Psalm 25
Luke 21; 25-36

Today Advent starts. Advent is the 3 weeks of preparation of the heart for Jesus' birthday, i.e. Christmas.

In the Gospel Jesus gives us a gentle warning: "Be careful not to let yourselves become occupied with the worries of this life" (GNB).

The Greek word for "worries" is "merimna".

This word is often used in the New Testament which was originally written in Greek. For example in Jesus' parable of the seed that is planted. Some seed falls among thorns (weeds) and the thorns that are the worries of life choke God's life in us. Again the 12 disciples were concerned about their future - they had the worries of life; Jesus says, "Look at the birds, look at the flowers. God knows where each one is and you humans are far more precious in His eyes. So do not worry ("worry" here is the verb of "merinma")."

But in our busy and competitive society that so emphasizes material possessions and getting into a good school, a good job and advancing in it - we all are influenced by this atmosphere and consequently we all have "worries".

How doses Jesus guide us when we have such worries?

One word: TRUST.

Trust our kind God because He is looking after each one of us. He says: to each one:

"You are precious in my eyes and I love you. Fear not" (Isaiah)

That is the message of the birds of the air, and flowers of the field. But today I give you this passage from the 1st letter of Peter, 5:7 "Cast your (merinma) worries on the Lord: He is looking after us". In today's Gospel Jesus says to us: "Be alert! Pray!"

In prayer let us throw all our worries in God's gentle hands because He really cares for each of us. that is the road to peace of heart.

Index of sermons