Lincoln’s Log 2-5-23

A Crucified Life

I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom…
1 Cor. 2:3-4a

Paul practices what he preaches.

For the last several weeks, we have heard Paul reminding the Corinthians to focus on Jesus, to think with the mind of Jesus, and to be humble. In short, Paul calls on them to remember the cross of Jesus and apply it to their lives.

In the reading for this weekend (1 Cor. 2:1-5), Paul makes it clear that they are not to think of Jesus as a great and powerful hero. “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2 emphasis added). The cross is central to understanding Jesus. The power of God looks like weakness and a cross.

Paul reminds the Corinthians that he showed them this kind of crucified life when he was with them. In Paul, a leader of their community, the Corinthians see a person applying the cross of Jesus to his life. Paul does not hide his weakness. He boldly proclaims that he is weak. Just like the Corinthians, Paul needs God’s power of salvation. And God’s power of salvation looks like a cross.

So Paul does not write to the Corinthians as an “expert” or someone who is above them. He holds himself to the same standards he expects from them. Paul points to his life and not just his words. This is what gives him credibility and integrity.

Let’s pray that we all live with this same kind of credibility, by relying on the cross of Jesus.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 1-29-23

Good News for Who?

God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.
1 Cor. 1:27-29

I find it helpful every once in a while to pause when I am reading Scripture and ask the question, “Is this good news?” This weekend’s reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:26-31) raises a different question. That new question is, “ Who is this good news for?”

Paul is writing to a community torn by divisions with each person or group trying to prove that they are better than everyone else (see last week’s log). In last weekend’s reading from this letter, Paul reminded the Corinthians to put on the mind of Christ. He invited them to think like Jesus.

In this week’s reading, Paul takes a slightly different approach.

Instead of reminding them to think like Jesus, Paul reminds them to remember who they really are. He points out that they are not wise or strong. They are lowly and weak. The source of their rivalry is that they have forgotten their own weakness and need for Jesus. In effect, Paul is saying, “If you are not weak or lowly or foolish, you have no need for Jesus. You should be able to fulfill yourself. Without weakness, there is no need for Jesus or His cross.” Paul is calling them to humility and trust.

Without humility, we do not need a savior.

Without trust, we cannot accept salvation from the savior.

Paul writes that God reduces to nothing “those who are something so that no human being might boast before God,” not because God is afraid of someone competing with Him, but because we need to remember our need for God.

The Gospel is only good news for those who know that they are weak and foolish and lowly. When we forget that, we forget the Gospel.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 1-22-23

The Cure for Rivalry

I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.
1 Cor. 1:10

Paul opens his First Letter to the Corinthians by reminding them to focus on Jesus (see last week’s Lincoln’s Log). This week, he uses his pen to disclose the primary reason he is writing to them.

Paul has heard from “Chloe’s people” that there are divisions in the community. The Corinthian Christians are fighting amongst themselves. Chloe, apparently a well-known Christian who Paul trusted, informs him of the rivalry and dissension in the community. She reaches out to Paul, the founder of the community (see 1 Cor. 4:15), to see if he can put an end to these harmful divisions.

Paul responds clearly and forcefully. He instructs the Corinthians to stop fighting. Like a parent trying to break up a fight among the children, Paul tells them to knock it off. But he goes further than just telling them to stop fighting. He tells them what to do instead. He goes to the heart of the problem

The problem is deeper than jealousy or rivalry. The problem is that the Corinthians have forgotten who they are. They are trying to form an identity by being part of a particular group. Paul challenges them to be united in the same mind (1 Cor. 1:10). What does he mean by that? He means to put on the mind of Christ, the one who “emptied himself and took the form of a slave” even to the point of dying on a cross (Phil. 2). Paul isn’t just calling them to behave better, he calls them to deeper conversion. He knows that it is only through conversion that the community’s problems can be solved.

The same is true for us today. The factions and divisions of our world can only be definitively healed through putting on the mind of Christ and being willing to suffer with Him. We can’t just “knock it off,” we have to be converted to Christ.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 1-15-23

Greetings – Focus on Jesus

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Cor. 1:3

I often chuckle at the end of the second reading this weekend. The short reading comes from the beginning of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:1-3). The last part of the reading (above) is also one of the greetings used at Mass. As the reader concludes the reading, people often respond, “and with your spirit” out of habit. It makes me smile.

From now until the first Sunday of Lent the second reading will come from First Corinthians. We will be reading selections from the first four chapters of this letter.

In this letter, Paul is writing to a community he knows well and helped form (see Acts 18). He has been away from the community for some time and has heard that they are having many problems. Paul writes to them to address these problems by helping them look at their thinking and behavior through the lens of the Gospel.

He begins this letter by reminding the Corinthians that Jesus is the heart of their community. He points out to them that he is “an apostle of Christ Jesus” and that they have all been “sanctified in Christ Jesus” along with everyone who calls “upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In fact, Paul mentions Jesus’ name four times in two sentences.

This is a good way to begin. When we keep our hearts and minds focused on Jesus, many of our problems take care of themselves. For the next several weeks, listen to the second reading. How is Paul applying the life and message of Jesus to the problems the Corinthians are facing? How can you apply Jesus’ life and message to your own problems?

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 1-8-23

What flows through you?

Raise your eyes and look about… Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow…
Is. 60:4a, 5a

What do you see around you? Do you see the Holy Spirit working in the world? Do you see the power of Jesus, the Word made flesh, continuing to bring the joy and love of Christmas to the people who walked in darkness?

Or do you see only darkness and despair?

What we see around us affects us deeply. The things we give attention to can fill our hearts with joy that overflows into the world. On the other hand, if we let our minds be filled with fear or anger that, too, overflows.

This weekend, the Prophet Isaiah reminds us to look around with hope.

Hope is not naive. It does not pretend there are no problems to be solved and real suffering that needs to be alleviated. But hope recognizes that God is working in the world. Hope trusts in God’s promise. And “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5).

On this feast of the Epiphany, “Raise your eyes and look about….” God’s love is all around. The more we can see the Holy Spirit at work, the more our “hearts shall throb and overflow” with the Good News of salvation.

What we pay attention to flows through us. What is flowing through you: hope or fear?

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 1-1-23

Mary, Mother of God

God has to have two pictures of us: one is what we are, and the other is what we ought to be. … There is, actually, only one person in all humanity of whom God has one picture and in whom there is a perfect conformity between what He wanted her to be and what she is, and that is His Own Mother.

Fulton Sheen, The World’s First Love

Today we celebrate the feast of Mary, the Mother of God. This feast reminds us that God always deals with us with the utmost care and concern for our dignity. We honor Mary because she is the one person in all of creation who said a complete “yes” to God. She perfectly lived the life God had planned for her from the beginning.

A common misunderstanding is that God used Mary to bring Jesus into the world, and then she was no longer important. A moment’s reflection should help us realize that this could not be the case. God does not work that way. God never “uses” someone and then forgets about them. Instead, God calls us each to a unique vocation that encompasses our entire life – including our life in eternity.

God chose Mary to be His mother for eternity. Her “yes” to the angel Gabriel represents her “yes” to living the life God had chosen for her. It is a life united with her Son in a distinctive way. Because of her free “yes” to God, Mary is always the Mother of God.

This means that Mary’s exceptional position as the Mother of God continues today. As His Mother, she is still a part of God’s plan of salvation. This is why Mary is an important part of our spiritual lives and why we continue to honor her and ask for her intercession on this feast day (and every day). St. Louis de Montfort’s words that open his classic work True Devotion to Mary are worth pondering on this feast day.

It is by the most holy Virgin Mary that Jesus has come into the world, and it is also by her that He has to reign in the world.

What is your relationship with Mary?

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 12-25-22

Christmas!

Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
Lk. 2:11

Words fail when we encounter the reality we celebrate at Christmas. Awe, fear, love, gratitude, warmth… . these feelings (and more) well up within us. God, the infinite Mystery beyond all creation, has come to us as a tiny child. Our hearts explode in wonder! Even the angels are overwhelmed and respond the best they know how, with music. This Christmas season let us join them in their song of adoration and praise.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.

We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory, O God, almighty Father.

Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer; you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.

Amen!

May the music of the angels, and the music of this season fill our hearts, minds, and bodies as we sing the joyful praise of God who has become one of us. May the Lord bless you this day and always.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 12-18-22

Advent 4

Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord,

Your grace into our hearts,

That we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son

Was made known by the message of an Angel,

May by his Passion and Cross

Be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.

Opening Prayer Advent Week 4

The opening prayer for this weekend’s Mass is the same prayer that is used to conclude the prayer called the Angelus. The Angelus is a simple prayer often prayed three times a day: in the morning (around 6 am), at noon, and in the evening (around 6 pm). Many churches, including St. Thomas More, ring bells three times a day.

The purpose of the Angelus bells, and the prayer, is to remind us to make God a part of every moment of our day. By framing our day with prayer, we are reminded that God is always present.

During the Advent and Christmas seasons, the Angelus is a great way to focus on the meaning of these seasons and form a habit to carry through the year. The Angelus focuses directly on the Incarnation of Jesus. The heart of the prayer is three Hail Marys surrounded by a few lines which orient our prayer to the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary. The prayer itself takes less than 5 minutes.

I know people who have set their phones to chime at the times of the Angelus. This is a creative way to remind yourself to pray throughout the day.

Our St. Thomas More staff gathers virtually every Monday through Friday to pray the Angelus at 11:45 am. It is a chance for us to connect with one another each day and share what is closest to our hearts. We also pray for the intentions of parishioners at that time. If you have something you would like us to pray for, just let us know.

If you would like to find out more about this simple prayer, visit The Angelus Prayer at theangelusprayer.com.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 12-11-22

Advent 3

John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”
Mt. 11:2-3

In this weekend’s Gospel (Mt. 11:2-11), John is sitting in prison and he begins to doubt. Perhaps he is thinking to himself, “Is Jesus really the Messiah? Things seemed so incredible when I baptized him. He was so passionate and filled with the Spirit. Yet, now nothing seems to be happening. I thought the Kingdom of God was coming and here I am in prison. Alone. There are no miracles here, only the darkness of a cell. Was I wrong when I thought Jesus was the Lamb of God who would change the world?”

I think John the Baptist could have used James’ advice. In this weekend’s second reading James writes, Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord (James 5:7). John needed to remain patient. God’s time doesn’t always follow our schedule. It is hard to wait when you are sitting alone in a cell, but there is not much else you can do.

Fortunately, Jesus gives John more than advice to be patient. Jesus encourages John to look around at the good things that are being done. “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them” (Mt. 11:4-5). When we are closed in on ourselves it is important to look around. Sometimes we can’t see the good things God is doing in the world. Much of our media bring us bad news. It is easy to forget that God is still at work in the world. This week consider the following questions:

When you feel alone or trapped, who brings you good news?

Do you bring good news to others or simply repeat the bad news of the world?

Who needs to hear some good news from you this week?

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 12-4-22

Advent 2

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! … I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Mt. 3:1, 11

John the Baptist is the forerunner of Jesus. He prepares the way for Jesus to come. John knows his place. He is not the Messiah. He is not the one who is the ruler of God’s Kingdom. He is merely the messenger who announces that the Kingdom is coming.

John knows his baptism is incomplete, as well. Unlike the baptism that Jesus provides with the coming of the Holy Spirit (See Acts 2), John’s baptism is merely preparation. It is a little ritual to help get God’s people ready to receive the One who is to come. Jesus’ baptism is the one that will transform us.

John the Baptist points us to more. We can never settle for less. We are called to be completely transformed by the fire of Jesus’ love. There is a story of the ancient desert fathers that makes this point well. The disciple, Lot, approaches his teacher, Joseph:

Lot went to Joseph and said, ‘Abba, as far as I can, I keep a moderate rule, with a little fasting, and prayer, and meditation, and quiet: and as far as I can I try to cleanse my heart of evil thoughts. What else should I do?’ Then the hermit stood up and spread out his hands to heaven, and his fingers shone like ten flames of fire, and he said, ‘If you will, you can become all flame.’

This Advent, are you willing to become “all flame”?

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

P.S. Check out the song based on this Desert Dweller’s story at: https://youtu.be/kaKGwI-_EHE