Family Centered Living

Homily Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Image result for bulgaria city buildings

Sofia, Bulgaria (shutterstock.com)

As you may or may not know, Nissa and I adopted two children from Bulgaria about a year ago.  As part of the adoption process, we visited with the children in Bulgaria two different times.  The first was in a very small village in the far distant region of the country.  And the second was in the capital city Sofia.  We got an opportunity to see much of the country.

Bulgaria is a former republic of the Soviet Union, who recently became an independent nation.  No matter where we were, the country looked like pictures you’ve probably seen, all the buildings are the same color, the same architecture.  Almost all are what we would consider run down, walls cracked, plaster and paint falling off.  Inside, they were not any better.  Even the national museums were obviously in disrepair.  The roads were terrible, torn up and patched together.

By our standards, Bulgaria is a third world country.  The thing that really stood out was within that environment of poverty, everyone was wearing designer clothes, everyone sported their own smart phone, everyone drove expensive cars. 

And there we were, traveling 5000 miles to rescue two children abandoned in an orphanage, minimally cared for, while everyone around them was more concerned with pretending to be wealthy than loving their neighbor.

Everyone was focused on the wrong thing.

And that is exactly what today’s Scripture readings are trying to save us from.  We must stop and reflect on what God is telling us!

The first reading is from the Prophet Zephaniah telling us how to follow the Lord:  do no wrong and tell no lies!  What a wonderful world this would be if everyone lived that way! 

Even when we fail, we need to keep striving to live that way.  The challenge of course is that our present world no longer knows what is good and what is wrong.  The world does not know truth from lies. 

We are surrounded on every side with values that are so different from the values given to us by Jesus that we can become confused.  Far too often, whatever the present cultures wants to call good is accepted as good and whatever it wants to call bad is accepted as bad. 

Yet, we who follow the Lord Jesus, have the Word of God to form us and to guide us into all truth.

The second reading is from a Letter from St Paul to the Corinthians.  This letter reminds us that if we actually do choose to follow the Word of God and to follow Jesus as our Savior, we will be considered fools.  And this is still true for us today. 

But we are told in this reading:  “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise.”  It is our foolishness in following Jesus that can actually bring light to the world and perhaps even draw the world back to God. 

The early Christians knew that to live in Christ was to fight against the values of their world.  The early Christians even knew that they might have to die to proclaim the truth given to us in Christ Jesus.

Today, we like to be comfortable and to be well off.  There is nothing wrong with that by itself, but when we are willing to water down the Word of God in order to maintain a comfortable life style, then we must recognize that we are betraying Jesus as our Lord. 

We must be able to stand up for the truth of the teachings of Scripture and of our Catholic Church.  When we find ourselves compromising because we don’t want to bother others, then we are guilty of passing on the lies of our current culture.

Today’s Gospel reading gives us what is called the Beatitudes.  These are the all important teachings of Jesus that tell us how to follow the Lord:  poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, clean of heart, peacemakers, persecuted for the sake of righteousness, insulted for Christ, persecuted for Christ, and evil spoken about us because of Christ.  This is a pretty strong list of characteristics for us!

The implication today is that we must give our whole being to God.  We must follow Jesus with all of our strength.  When we fail, we must get up and start again.  Compromising with anything less than Jesus simply means following the world and its values and not following our Lord.

Today we are invited us to renew our commitment to the follow the Lord.  We should walk in His ways and accept all the suffering that may bring us.  That way we can walk in His kingdom but now and forever.

Some content from Homily by Abbott Philip OSB

Mama’s Helper

I love having little helpers in the kitchen.  For our family, food is love.  And teaching them how to prepare food is one way of teaching them to love others.  My older kids all have an appreciation for home-cooked meals, homemade breads and treats.  I feel very proud to be instilling this in them because I know they will share the gift with others for as long as they live – whether it is as a chef, or as a happy host at home.

©Nissa Gadbois

Here’s Georgie helping to knead the saffron dough for lussekatter on the afternoon before St. Lucia’s Day.

Noël

Then let us all with one accord
sing praises to our heavenly Lord;
that hath made heaven and earth of nought,
and with his blood mankind hath bought. (The First Nowell, 17th century trad.)

©Nissa Gadbois

©Nissa Gadbois

Tree Cutting

The kids had been waiting for days for Tree Cutting Day.  Going out to get the tree on the farm is so rich with memories for all of us.  This year, I couldn’t go, so our daughter Carrie took photographs for me to treasure.

Tree Cutting

©Nissa Gadbois

©Nissa Gadbois

©Nissa Gadbois

©Nissa Gadbois

©Nissa Gadbois

©Nissa Gadbois

I waited at home for them to come back.  When I saw the sheep skitter across the knoll, I knew they were on the way.  First, I saw Caroline come around the bend, pulling the sled with Georgie on it.  Not far behind were the rest of the children, talking, laughing, skipping.  Last, came an enormous tree with two pair of legs, boughs jauntily bouncing to the rhythm of their steps.  I couldn’t believe what a gift I have been given in these people, in this place.

“I could leave the world with today in my eyes.” – Truman Capote (from A Christmas Memory)

Going Home

A couple of weeks ago, Brian had his monthly weekend off from serving Mass – and we didn’t have Religious Education classes, so we went home to church.  This is more than the parish for the town we grew up in, it is also my spiritual home, and the place where my conversion happened at age 10.

It felt warm and welcoming, familiar, and comfortable.  Everything was just as it was when we were last there except that the choir was in the transept rather than the loft.  And this time around, my beautiful family filled a pew to brimming.  It did my heart good.  So, so much good.

©Nissa Gadbois

The altar where Brian and I exchanged vows 25 years ago, during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, 133 years to the day after Ss. Louis and Zélie Martin.

©Nissa Gadbois

The side altar dedicated to Our Blessed Mother.  I was baptized at this font, and nearly a decade later, so was our oldest daughter.

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