From Ashes to Easter – Br. James Koester

Br. James Koester

The Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany

Leviticus 19: 1 – 2, 9 – 18
Psalm 119: 33 – 40
1 Corinthians 3: 10 – 11, 16 – 23
Matthew 5: 38 – 48

It is hard to believe that our journey from the ashes of Ash Wednesday to the baptismal waters of the Easter Vigil begins in only ten days. It seems that just a few days ago we were gathered here, around the Christmas crèche, singing carols and celebrating the Feast of the Nativity. Already, the season of Epiphany is almost over and we stand at the threshold of Lent. Our Lenten journey will begin, as it does every year, with the mark of our mortality, which we will wear on our foreheads, until newly washed and smelling of the oil of chrism, we emerge dripping wet from the baptismal font. This journey which we take each Lent is not simply a liturgical or sacramental journey, it is a journey through life, when we face again the paradox of our humanity, which is that we are both fallen and redeemed. We are both sinners and saints. We live both in the wasteland outside the gates of Eden and in the garden outside the Empty tomb. We have something about us both of our First Parents, Adam and Eve, and the Second Adam, our Lord and Saviour. Continue reading

Jesus’ Baptism; Our Mission – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis Almquist

Isaiah 42:1-9
Matthew 3:13-17

The first lesson appointed for today, the reading we heard from the Prophecy of Isaiah, begins with the words: “Here is my servant; …I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.”[i]  Now this reading is like a supernatural transcription of what the prophet Isaiah heard from God: God’s spirit being promised to the long-awaited Messiah, and also, God’s spirit reaching to foreign nations and distant lands, to the gôyîm, the non-Jews, people like many of us.  How will we know?  What will be the evidence of God’s spirit at work?  What will be the outward sign, the fruit of God’s spirit among us?  Justice.  Justice to the nations.  These opening words of Isaiah, God’s prophet, about the forthcoming Messiah, and then, later,when Jesus, the Messiah, begins his ministry, his opening words are about justice.[ii] Continue reading

Laudato Si – Br. Jim Woodrum

Br. Jim Woodrum

Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

Today, we celebrate in the calendar of the Church, Saint Francis of Assisi who died on this day in the year 1226.  Born 44 years earlier to wealthy parents, Francis grew up in the lap luxury and as a young man enjoyed a care-free lifestyle, gallivanting with the other upper-crust youth of Assisi with whom he was popular.  Upon returning home from fighting in the Crusades, Francis had a conversion experience.  After a prolonged illness he stumbled upon the ruins of a church in San Damiano where he heard the voice of Christ say, “Francis, repair my falling house.”  He returned home and sold some of his father’s expensive silk to pay for the repairs.  Angry, his father brought him into the public square where, with the citizens of Assisi witnessing the display, disowned and disinherited him.  Francis likewise renounced his father’s wealth and tradition says he took off his expensive clothing and laid them at his father’s feet and walked away naked.  He left Assisi and began to rebuild the church at San Damiano all by himself.While engaging in this work, he ministered to the poor of Assisi, especially the lepers who were feared by the townsfolk and were literal outcasts.  Francis would sneak back into town and scavenge for scraps of bread and vegetables to provide nourishment for those he cared for. Continue reading