Father Matthew - the Disneyland Dad

My wife and I have been married for about 14.5 years, and while I the details of our life together before children is a little sketchy I do definitely recall, excepting the laundry which I botched a lot early in our marriage, there being a shared burden of tasks. I did a lot of cooking, tried to vacuum now and again, left my socks around to keep us on our toes. We also were able to spend a lot of time together, and enjoy one another on little weekend trips throughout Indiana (essentially the only place we’ve lived together without children) which was pretty neat. And we were also both wage earners! But once Adeline came, and I started seminary at Nashotah House Jenny was a “stay at home mom” who also worked for the school every other afternoon. And that’s when the traveling started. There were trips to Quincy to meet with the Bishop, a trip to Chicago to sign the Jerusalem Statement, multiple-day stay overs in Sheboygan for pastoral practicums. These were some great experiences. But I was the only one who experienced them.Continue reading

A couple of weeks ago I made the following statement, ironically, a handful of times: “I have a robust hugging ministry.” It is an ironic statement, but I do tend to hug a lot. Well, anyway, thanks to Fr. Andrew Damick for the photo!

We all know that if we want to do better at something we have to work for it. This has been ingrained in us since our youth that when learning or refining a skill, excepting some circumstances, you will see results related to the effort you put into it. But this isn’t just for skills; our managing of money, our investments, relationships, and hobbies will reflect the work that we’ve put into it. If I don’t practice woodworking I’ll never graduate beyond easier boxes and pizza cutters, athletes suffer if they don’t eat a carefully planned diet. The bottom line is if you’re only going to put in a little, if you want to do the absolute minimum you’ll get the absolute minimum result. What if we turned this a little and said the same for our Church? That by providing and doing the bare minimum we’re only going to get a bare minimum back? What if we gave all out to the Church? What would we encounter? This is what St. Paul is addressing in this passage.Continue reading

I’m a little behind on getting my sermons up, but I’ll be caught up this week.

(Sept. 17) In 2007, actor and philanthropist Alec Baldwin got into a little trouble. The media outlets had gotten a copy of some voicemails that he sent to his daughter. They were awful words that he spoke, and it left a lot of commentators and others confused and upset. We see this kind of thing happen a lot in the media, some person who talks a good game, someone who says they want to change the world for the better (and gives money or work towards it) then scandalizing people by their gross behavior.

St. Paul tells us that it’s not he who lives but Christ who lives in him. It’s no longer his own will but the will of Christ that guides his actions, as he says at the end of this reading “the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

This changes the narrative. It’s not a call for humanitarian work; Christ loves us and also gave himself for us. And in today’s Gospel Christ tells us what we are to do if we were to follow him. ‘For whosever would save his life will lose it, and whosoever loses their life for the sake of the Gospel’s would gain it. If you consider how brutal a symbol of the cross would be at that time, you can understand how serious Christ was concerning our own dedication. As I said last week, we’re called to just be nice people, we’re not called to give money to our favorite charity. But rather Christ calls us to a life of holiness, a life conjoined with God, a life transformed by God. And then we’re to take that transformation, that gospel that so deeply affected us, and spread that out to the ends of the earth. Being a Christian is a hard task.

But it’s not just remembering to say your prayers or show up to Church on time.

It’s taking up your cross when:

  1. You help a co-worker who had previously “sandbagged” or otherwise hindered you
  2. you don’t give someone money but instead try to actually help them
  3. you’re forbearing and loving towards your wife, treating her as Christ treats the Church
  4. you’re submissive to your husband when you might disagree
  5. you come to church even though you’re so tired.
  6. You make the effort to go to church even when your kids are crazy.
  7. You don’t just love a person who hates you but actively pray for them and their salvation.
  8. Students speak up for what’s right in their schools. And I mean boys, you’re not taking part in the rough talk towards girls, or the silly macho act towards a marginalized kid. And girls it means not joining in the gossip and meanness that you hear in the school. Not a single one of you would appreciate it happening to you.

As I was thinking about this sermon I also reminded my daughter she needed to empty and load the dishwasher, her nightly chore. Instead of just doing the chore she has to make a number of excuses. “I don’t want to do it” or “Do I have to do it” or my personal favorite “Why can’t they do it?”  Honestly, how much do we hear that in our own communities? We have to be the agents of action and change, we can’t rely on anyone else, we can’t point fingers or make excuses. We’re all called to pick up that cross and follow Christ.

The great irony of these examples is that as hard or inconvenient as they seem you cannot avoid being changed. Not only are you going to benefit someone else you are progressing along the path of Salvation. You’re transforming the world while being transformed, but we’re busy telling God we don’t want to do it, that it’s too much of a bother for us, or that someone else could take care of it.

Brothers and sisters, if we are to call ourselves Christian then the ideal is to pick up our cross and walk. Our call is to endure the sufferings, the little annoyances that come in our daily lives, exuding the light and love of our savior, Christ Jesus, for the benefit of the whole world.