Lincoln’s Log 10-25-2020

The Law and the Gospel (Kerygma)

“‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ Jesus responded, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.’ ”
Mt. 22:36-38

Last week, I wrote that the heart of the Gospel “is not primarily about words or doctrines or laws or structures or systems. The Gospel is about a person.” Our reading from Matthew’s Gospel this week clearly makes this same point.

When asked by a scholar of the law about the greatest commandment, Jesus does not point to any particular behavior that is commanded, but rather to a person’s relationship with God. Rather than behavioral compliance, Jesus roots greatness in a personal loving bond with God. This bond affects the person at every level (heart, mind, soul, strength). Jesus interprets the law in the context of love.

What does this mean for us?

It means that everything we do needs to be rooted in an ongoing encounter with our loving God. This is the Gospel. It is personal. It affects every level of our being. It changes our behavior, not because of our own willpower, but because of the grace of God given to us in Jesus. We do not initiate this relationship. “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:10). We are called to respond to this invitation to a new way of life.

St. Augustine famously said, “Love God, and do what you will.” As we respond to the loving invitation of God to new life, we are transformed and our actions become more loving. The law can show us what love looks like, but it cannot change our hearts. Only the Gospel, a loving encounter with Jesus, has the power to change our hearts.

Today, right now, take a moment to invite Jesus into your heart and into your life. Give Him permission to affect you at every level and change the way you think, feel, and act. Say “yes” to the Gospel and live a life of love!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Our Pilot Podcast is finally here!

The Image of God, Love, and the Devil Exploring His Kingdom

We explore Wisdom 2:23-24What does it mean to be created as the Image of GodWhat is love?Who is the devil and how does he affect us?
  1. The Image of God, Love, and the Devil
  2. Homily 6-13-2021 Ordinary Time Week 11 The Kingdom of God
  3. Homily on the Holy Trinity 5-29-21
  4. Homily Easter Week 6 5-9-2021 version 2
  5. Homily Easter Week 6 5-9-2021

Lincoln’s Log 10-18-2020

Why Kerygma?

“For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction. ”
1 Thes. 1:5b

Last week in this Log we looked at some of the core scriptural expressions of the Kerygma. This kerygma is the core content of the Gospel message. But why is the church returning to this basic proclamation?

The reasons are pretty simple. The kerygma is the seed from which everything else the church does flows. The kerygma is an encounter with Jesus Christ. As Paul writes to the Thessalonians (above), the Gospel is not primarily about words or doctrines or laws or structures or systems. The Gospel is about a person. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said it this way,

Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. (Deus Caritas Est #1)

Everything we do is changed by our encounter with Jesus. The kerygma proclaims and makes present this encounter which opens up “a new horizon” and gives our lives “a decisive direction.”

As we reboot faith formation (now called Discipleship Formation), we return to the seeds of faith so that we can find our new horizon and direction. We are hoping to make this year a foundation to build on. The heart of the Gospel must be our guide. As our church teaches, “At the center of every process of catechesis is the living encounter with Christ” (GDC #75). As we reboot, I want to challenge each of us to return to the seed of our faith.

For a fuller explanation of the Kerygma, visit the St. Thomas More Facebook page and the Discipleship Formation playlist. You can also tune in to the “Exploring His Kingdom” podcast. But most importantly, open your heart for a new beginning. The seed of God’s love has been planted in you at baptism. Return to the source and encounter the Lord anew!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 10-4-2020

The Good News at the Heart of Jesus

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
By the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes.”
Mt. 21:42 (see Psalm 118:22-23)

There is something wonderful about our faith. At the very heart of what we believe lies the message and person of Jesus Christ. He is the “stone rejected by the builders.”

While each of us has been created in the image of God, we have also all fallen into sin and betrayed that image. We have traded away the great gift we have been given for all sorts of things that will never satisfy our hearts. We are broken and helpless. Like the tenants in the parable this week (Mt. 21:33-43), we have betrayed and rejected our Lord through sin and disobedience. Our hearts have turned to greed and tried to possess what we were meant to care for. We have failed to love as we should. We have not cared for one another or our planet the way God intended but have used people for our own ends and exploited our resources for selfish gain. Underneath all of this lies a profound rejection of God’s plan for us.

Yet Jesus came to restore our lost image. He came to teach us how to live. But more importantly, to make new life possible by dying for us and in rising from the dead, he opened the gates to eternal life. He became the stone rejected by the builders so that he could become the cornerstone of our new life the Kingdom of God. This new life is offered to all who will accept it.

Living this new life is an adventure. It is “wonderful in our eyes.” It is a life filled with joy because our dignity as children of God has been restored. We are free to love as God loves and produce the fruit of the Kingdom.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

P.S. Stay tuned for the “Exploring His Kingdom Podcast” coming soon!

Lincoln’s Log 9-20-2020

Seven Streams of Discipleship Formation Part 2

“Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near.”
Is. 55:6

Our Discipleship Formation year kicks off soon! This year we will be seeking the Lord by exploring seven key streams of our tradition that flow from the heart of Jesus. Last week’s Log gave a brief description of the first four themes: 1. The Heart of Jesus, 2. The compassionate life,. 3. The prayer-filled life, and 4. The sacramental life. Here are the other streams we will be diving into this year:

February – A disciple … Lives a virtuous life. They are not driven primarily by rules or perfectionism but are attentive to the sources of their actions. They seek the purity of heart the Gospel speaks of (Mt. 5:8) and intentionally take on new patterns of living. A disciple strives to develop holy habits that flow from the grace of God dwelling within them.

March – A disciple … Lives a Word-centered life. They study, live, and proclaim the good news of God revealed in Jesus Christ and transmitted through the Scriptures and great Tradition of the church interpreted by the Magisterium. They see God’s Word as the light for their path and the light of the world (Ps. 119:105; cf. Mt. 14016).

Apri – A disciple … Lives a Spirit-empowered life. They are aware that the Holy Spirit enables them to do more than their natural abilities allow. A disciple grows in the ability to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and the gifts the Spirit gives. In short, a disciple lives “by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16).

May – A disciple … returns to the heart of Jesus to live and proclaim His Kingdom.

Our whole parish will be drinking from these streams together each month. For families, we will have an orientation for parents on Wednesday, September 23 at 6:15 pm in the church to give an overview of the year.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 9-13-2020

Seven Streams of Discipleship Formation Part 1

“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
Psalm 95:8

God’s invitation never ceases. He is calling each of us to deeper discipleship every moment of every day. But what does that mean? This year our discipleship formation process is focusing on seven streams of discipleship that flow from the heart of Jesus (see Jn. 37:37-38). We are planning some creative new ways to engage these themes (stay tuned), but today I wanted to let you know what these themes are. We will explore one of these themes each month. Here are the first themes we will be exploring:

October – A disciple… drinks from the streams of living water that flow from the heart of Jesus.

November – A disciple … Lives a compassionate life. They seek justice, compassion, and peace in every area of life from the personal to the social to the global. The activities of a disciple are motivated by the love of God and neighbor Jesus’ taught (Cf. Mk. 12:31). Disciples work to bring all relationships into harmony, unity, and balance.

December – A disciple … Lives a prayer-filled life. They are continually drawn into the love of God. A disciple values the inner life, especially silence, solitude, and prayer.

January – A disciple … Lives a sacramental life. They recognize that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn. 1:14). They live in a God-soaked world and strive to see the divine presence in the material world. A disciple shares in the sacraments of the church and sees them as primary ways of encountering God.

Next week I’ll share the themes for the rest of the year!

Our whole parish will be drinking from these streams together each month. For families, we will have an orientation for parents on Wednesday, September 23 at 6:15 pm in the church to give an overview of the year.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 2-19-17

commandments-49012_640“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Mt. 5:48

“Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.”
Lv. 19:2

Today’s readings challenge us to be like God.

Yes, you read that right. Today’s readings challenge us to be like God. Leviticus tells us to be holy as God is Holy. Jesus tells us in the Gospel to be perfect as the Father is perfect.

How is it possible to be like God?

The short answer is one word: love!

Love changes us. On a human level, we see this all the time. Fulton Sheen reminds us, “We become like that which we love. If we love what is base, we become base; but if we love what is noble, we become noble.” If we surround ourselves with things that are beautiful and noble, we start to become nobler ourselves. However, if we surround ourselves with things that are wicked and dishonorable, we quickly find ourselves descending to their level. This is especially true of our friendships.

It is even more true on a spiritual level. St. Paul reminds us, “Whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” 1 Cor. 6:17. Our love for the Lord binds us to Him and we become like Him. Rooted in the gift of faith given at our baptism and the other sacraments, our love for the Lord makes all the difference in our lives.

Love is how we become holy, as God is Holy. Love is the key to becoming perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. The greater our love for the Lord, the more we become like Him. This is the core of Jesus’ teaching on the Law that we’ve been reading the last several weeks. The Law is a matter of the heart. It is a matter of love.

May we continue to grow in love for the Lord so that we can become like Him in all things!

 

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 2-23-14

“… be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect..”  Mt. 5:48

This is a dangerous Gospel.  It is dangerous because we misinterpret Jesus teaching in two ways.

One way we misunderstand Jesus teaching to “be perfect” as God is perfect is to think that it means to be perfect by human standards.  It is easy to think that God wants us to be like “Little Miss Perfect” whose hair is always in place, who dresses immaculately, and who always has the right thing to say.  Or we think that God wants us to be like “Mr. Perfect” who is liked by everyone and always has the right answer.  We may even think that God wants us to be like the “perfect” child who is seen but not heard, gets straight A’s, and always obeys their parents. Jesus is not talking about human perfection.

The other mistake we often make in understanding this teaching is to think that Jesus wants us to “try harder” at being good.  This can play into our natural perfectionism and lead to burnout.  We get so busy trying to be good that we lose track of what God wants from us. Inevitably we will fail to live up to this teaching of Jesus.  This failure throws us into the arms of the merciful Father (the very Father we are called to imitate) who “makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust (Mt. 5:45).”

And mercy is the heart of the matter.  The perfection Jesus is calling us to is not human perfection.  It cannot be brought about by human effort.  It is the perfection of the Father,  a perfection of mercy and forgiveness.  Like our heavenly Father we are called to respond with gentleness instead of judgment, forgiveness instead of retaliation, generosity instead of frustration.  This is the perfection Jesus is calling us to.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 9-29-13

I confess to almighty God

and to you, my brothers and sisters,

that I have greatly sinned,

in my thoughts and in my words,

in what I have done and in what I have failed to do…

Penitential Act – Confiteor

The Gospel this Sunday (Lk. 16: 19-31) reminds us of the importance of acting. We are not simply called to avoid doing evil, but we are called to actively do good. God has given each one of us a mission to accomplish in this world. We have been created to give ourselves away in love… that is what it means to be created in the image of God. That is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

The rich man in the parable is not an evil man. He does not seek to harm Lazarus. He simply fails to respond with love and compassion to the person right in front of him. He allows his own selfishness to blind him to the reality of suffering “lying at his door” (Lk. 16:20).

Poverty, hunger, and other forms of injustice are complex issues. We can get overwhelmed. But feeling overwhelmed does not let us off the hook. As disciples of Jesus we are not called to solve all of the world’s problems. We are, however, called to respond with compassion to the suffering around us. Simple actions to help alleviate the suffering we encounter every day helps us to develop a heart that is sensitive and responsive to the actions of the Holy Spirit. Building relationships with those who are suffering keeps us in touch with Christ suffering in our world.

Disciples do not ignore or flee from suffering. We enter into the suffering of our friends and neighbors. Why? Because we have confidence in the one who has been raised from the dead (Cf. Lk. 16:31).

Peace,

Lincoln A. Wood