Lincoln’s Log 7-4-2021

Expectant Faith

Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you.
Ezekiel 2:4

[Jesus] was amazed at their lack of faith.
Mk. 6:6

Last week, we heard the story of two people of faith: Jairus, the synagogue official, and the woman who had suffered from hemorrhages for 12 years (Mk. 5:21-43). They both received healing (in Jairus’ case, his daughter was raised from the dead), because of their faith.

To Jairus, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; just have faith” (Mk. 5:36b).

To the woman with the hemorrhages he said, “Daughter, your faith has saved you” (Mk. 5:34).

These two people expected Jesus to do something in their lives. They expected Jesus to change things. They had expectant faith. They believed Jesus could and would help them.

Today’s Gospel tells a different story.

Jesus is in his hometown. He has just raised Jairus’s daughter to life. His power hasn’t changed. His ability to heal hasn’t gone away. He is still the Son of God who has come to establish God’s Kingdom.

Yet “he was not able to perform any mighty deed there” (Mk 6:5a).

Why? What is different?

The people of his hometown don’t expect Jesus to be able to do anything. They think they know Him. They know what He can and can’t do. Some things are just impossible for this local guy from Nazareth.

We do the same thing. We let our idea of the impossible swallow our faith. We don’t expect much from Jesus. Sure, we believe that Jesus can work miracles (in theory), but we know how the world works. We know what is impossible. Jesus can’t solve our family problems; that’s impossible. Jesus can’t heal the divisions in our nation; that’s impossible. Jesus’ can’t heal my illness; that’s impossible. Jesus can’t solve my financial problems; that’s impossible.

And so it is. Our hard hearts can shut out the gifts Jesus longs to give us. But what could happen if we expected Jesus to do something?

Ask Jairus. Ask the healed woman. They can tell us what is possible. They can show us what to expect.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Easter Sequence

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.”
Psalm 118:24

On four special days out of the year, the church uses what is called a “sequence.” These ancient liturgical hymns are used on the feasts of Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and Our Lady of Sorrows. They explore the meaning of the feast we are celebrating through profound poetic imagery. The texts are not easy to understand and take some time to digest. But they possess a great depth of imagery and spirit.

Here is a section of the Easter sequence for you to ponder this week and throughout the season of Easter:

Christians, to the Paschal Victim

Offer your thankful praises!

A Lamb the sheep redeems;

Christ, who only is sinless,

Reconciles sinners to the Father.

Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous:

The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.

Speak, Mary, declaring

What you saw, wayfaring.

“The tomb of Christ, who is living,

The glory of Jesus’ resurrection;

Bright angels attesting,

The shroud and napkin resting.

Yes, Christ my hope is arisen;

to Galilee he goes before you.”

Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.

Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!

Amen. Alleluia.

Easter Sequence

May the Lord give you the blessings of new life through the power of Jesus paschal mystery!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-4-2021

Lincoln’s Log 3-28-2021

Betrayal

“The essence of the mystery of the Christian faith is mercy, which is made visible in Jesus of Nazareth… and [is] the deepest storyline of the Church’s story.”
Directory for Catechesis #51

“… the bystanders said to Peter, ‘Surely you are one of them; for you too are a Galilean.’ He began to curse and to swear, ‘I do not know this man about whom you are talking.’ And immediately a cock crowed a second time. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.’ He broke down and wept.”
Mk. 14:70-72

One moment of the Passion of Jesus strikes us to the heart: Peter’s betrayal of Jesus. We all know what it feels like to be betrayed. Some of us have been betrayed by a spouse or a close friend. We know that the wound of betrayal can hurt more than physical pain. It wounds our ability to trust. It undermines our capacity to relate to others with freedom and vulnerability. We know the pain that Peter’s betrayal inflicted on Jesus. Our hearts break.

But this scene of betrayal takes us deeper. We don’t just appreciate the pain Jesus experienced from the betrayal. More deeply, we identify with Peter. On occasion, we may be innocent victims of betrayal, but deep in our hearts, we know that we have betrayed God and others. That’s why Peter’s betrayal touches us so deeply. We know we are just like him: untrustworthy, fearful, and weak.

The story of Jesus’ passion reveals our brokenness. It shows how badly we are in need of redemption and how undeserving we are. The more we uncover our brokenness, the more the Lord heals us. It is a painful experience to engage Jesus’ passion, but it is the type of pain that leads to freedom.

This week, take some time to read the passion (Mk. 14:1-15:45) and talk with the Lord about your brokenness. Then, listen. Like Peter, you may be moved to tears. But you will not be left alone to wallow in misery. The Lord will come to you with healing love. Mercy is the heart of the Gospel. Entrust yourself to Jesus’ merciful heart which will never betray you.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 3-21-2021

Defeating Death

“By the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are allied with him experience it.”
Wis. 2:24

“… Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, ‘Untie him and let him go.’”
Jn. 11:43-44

As lent drives to its culmination, we hear about Jesus’ conquest of the final enemy: death. This is the final Sunday Gospel we will hear before Holy Week. The last two weeks have been building up to this weekend’s Gospel by showing Jesus’ power over sin.

  • Two weeks ago, in the story of the Woman at the Well (Jn. 4), we heard Jesus defeat sin’s power of shame and addiction.
  • Last week, we heard about the Man Born Blind (Jn. 9), which revealed Jesus’ destruction of sin’s power in the dysfunctional systems around us.
  • This week, the final enemy is destroyed.

Death enters the picture with the sin of Adam and Eve. This sin alienated Adam and Eve and us, their descendants from the life of God. “For you are dust, and to dust, you shall return” (Gn. 3:19). That is our condition. We are all going to die, and there is nothing we can do about it. We can delay death by taking care of ourselves, but all of us are mortal and we will die. Through sin, our own sin and that of Adam and Eve, we all are subject to the power of death.

Yet, today’s Gospel reading reveals that, as powerful and pervasive as death is, it is not almighty. In the Gospel we see Jesus confronting the power of death over His friend Lazarus. Jesus is victorious and Lazarus is resuscitated. This victory over the death of one person points us forward to Jesus’ ultimate victory over death through the events we celebrate in Holy Week. It is by His crucifixion and resurrection that Jesus ultimately defeats sin’s greatest power and frees us from the power of death.

This is good news!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 1-31-2021

Question of the Week

“What is this? A new teaching with authority.”
Mk 1:27b

“What can you tell others about Jesus with the most assurance?”
Question of the Week

Over the past few months, we have been including a “Question of the Week” in the bulletin (near the week’s bible readings), in the weekly Powerpoint (the last slide of Mass), and in our weekly Flocknotes. These questions relate to the weekly Gospel and are meant to help us think more deeply and personally about the Gospel. They also make great starters for faith conversations (or “faith-talks”) in the car on the way home from Mass or around the dinner table or anywhere a faith conversation could be appropriate.

This week’s question got me thinking. “What can you tell others about Jesus with the most assurance?” What am I certain of about Jesus?

Several years ago, I taught a course on the historical Jesus at the University of Wyoming. In that course, we sifted through the historical evidence and various theories about what we could know about Jesus as a historical figure. It was a controversial time in the historical study of Jesus with the “Jesus Seminar” making strange and unfounded claims about what was “historical” and what was not. But even in the midst of controversy, there are some facts most historians would agree with.

However, these historical facts are not what I am most certain of about Jesus. Reading through academic analysis and historical studies did not make me more certain (or less certain) about Jesus. It clarified some points and obscured others. It gave my faith deeper roots in history. But it did not tell me the most important thing about Jesus and the thing I am most certain of.

It did not tell me that Jesus is alive. It did not tell me that Jesus is someone I can talk with in prayer, serve in caring for others, or encounter in the sacraments. It is these things that I am most certain of about Jesus.

Pope Francis said it well in his encyclical on evangelization, “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life for you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.” The fact that Jesus is alive and available today is what I am most certain of. I hope that this message is what I can tell others about Jesus with the most assurance.

How about you?

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 1-17-2021

Staying with Jesus

“Jesus said to them, ‘Come, and you will see.’ They went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day.”
Jn. 1:39

This week we enter my favorite season of the church year: Ordinary Time. It doesn’t sound glorious or exciting, but Ordinary Time is my favorite season of the church year. Why?

I think my love for Ordinary Time comes from the fact that it is NOT glorious or exciting. Ordinary Time is about the basics of discipleship. It is a time of learning what it means to follow Jesus in the day to day aspects of life.

Let’s face it. Most of the time, being a disciple is not flashy. It involves getting up in the morning, praying, going to work or school, doing chores, eating, sleeping. The normal things of life. But when we do these ordinary things as disciples of Jesus, going where he leads us and responding to the promptings of the Spirit, they take on a deeper meaning. Following Jesus makes these ordinary things shine with divine light. Simple acts, done in love, become extraordinary.

I think that insight is central to the Gospel this week. The story of the Gospel is simple. It outlines an encounter with a rabbi with some disciples of John the Baptist. However, this encounter changes everything for those disciples. The rabbi invites them to “Come and see” what he is about and they stay with him.

That is our invitation this Ordinary Time. We are invited to stay with Jesus. As we spend time with Him, we learn that love is present in the most ordinary activities of life. No glory. No excitement. But the more we stay with Jesus, the deeper our souls become and the more we are empowered to love.

Discipleship takes place in the day to day routine of life. As we enter this season of Ordinary Time, let’s stay with Jesus. It is the most important thing we can do.

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!

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 3-12-17

“When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them saying, ‘Rise, and do not be afraid.’ And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.”
Mt. 4:11

“We… look upon the transfiguration above all as the celebration of that presence of Christ which takes charge of everything in us and transfigures even that which disturbs us about ourselves. God penetrates those hardened, incredulous, even disquieting regions within us, about which we really do not know what to do. God penetrates them with the life of the Spirit and acts upon those regions and gives them God’s own face.”
Kathryn Spink

Every year, on the second Sunday of lent, we hear the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus. It seems like an odd time to hear this story which so clearly foreshadows the resurrection. Some scholars speculate that we read this story near the beginning of lent to give us the courage to persevere in our lenten discipline.
I have a different theory, at least for this lent as we focus on being forgiven.
Read as a story of forgiveness, the Transfiguration takes on new meaning. Jesus reveals His glory to Peter, James, and John. He also reveals their need for forgiveness. They are confronted with Jesus’ majesty and see how pitiful they are in comparison. They fall short of their calling. Jesus glory confronts them with their sinfulness. They fall prostrate and are overcome by fear. They see their brokenness for what it is. In the light of the Transfiguration, sin is exposed for what it is.
But the story doesn’t end there. After revealing His glory (and the disciple’s sinfulness), Jesus comes to them with the healing words, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” They are forgiven. There is still a long journey of healing and transformation ahead, but Jesus assures them that he will be with them. He is not a judge, but a savior. He does not condemn but forgives.
What is true for Peter, James, and John is also true for us. Jesus brings us face to face with our sin. He does not let us off the hook. The close we come to His glory, the more we realize our need for forgiveness. But the story doesn’t end there. Jesus also assures us that He is our savior, not our judge. He releases us from fear and invites us to continue to follow Him.
We are forgiven. Let’s follow Jesus!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

 

 

 

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 8-31-14

Albrecht Altdorfer 016.jpg

Albrecht Altdorfer 016” by Albrecht Altdorfer – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.“ Mt. 16:24

Last weekend’s liturgy taught us about the need for a personal relationship with Jesus (“Who do you say that I am?” (Mt. 16:15).  We are called to follow Jesus who is “the Christ” and we come to know Jesus through the grace of God.  God wants to be in relationship with us.  That is good news!

The Gospel for this Sunday picks up right where that one left off.  In it we discover that entering into a personal relationship with Jesus does not take away the struggle of life or make life easy.  The fact is that life is not easy.  Suffering is a part of every life.  Being a disciple of Jesus means taking up our cross, and accepting the suffering that comes our way.

It may seem like the good news from last Sunday suddenly takes a darker turn this Sunday.  However, there is still good news here.  In our suffering we are not alone.  Jesus has entered into the place of pain and suffering in our life and in the world.  He is found there.  That is good news indeed.  Jesus teaches us that, “… whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt. 16:25).  When we “take up” the suffering that comes our way and allow it to be transformed by the loving presence of God we find the meaning of life!  The good news is that Jesus redeeming love cannot be stopped.  Where we think God is absent, Jesus assures us that He is there revealing himself to us.  Thanks be to God!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood