Benedictine University and’s Mark Kurowski reflects on how God has given us so very much.  In the midst of rainy days, marrital problems, troubling roommates, what does that mean for us?  The Epistle of James has something very important to say. Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time. Please read James 1:17-27. #GreatCatholicPreaching #Catholic #BenU1887

{mp3}B 53 2012 22 Ord{/mp3}

For Benedictine University and, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, September 2, 2012 The 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read James 1:17-27.
Even on our worst of days, isn’t it just a gift to look out at the Sun shining in the window?  What an amazing gift in the sky! The Sun, put in the heavens, that massive expanse where we are but a drop in a large sea of space, the Sun was put in the heavens to keep us warm.  It was put there by God.
    Even on a rainy day, there is something majestic.  The rain, drenching and wet, is one key ingredient to the flowers, trees, and to our own bodies.  Water, without which we start to get dizzy and uneasy, is necessary for life.  Water keeps us safe in the womb before we are born.  Water sprinkled on our head in the name of the Trinity washes away the guilt of original sin and implants in us a seed of the Holy Spirit.  That seed, watered by prayer and a close relationship with God gives us a second birth.  Water, a gift from God, not once, but twice.
    People.  People of every shape, color and size.  Created to be with each other in peace and love.  They are gathered together in the presence of God to praise him.  Look around at your brothers and sisters.  They are truly a gift.  Even a world where we cannot leave our bicycles out in the yard because they will be stolen, we have people who restore our faith in humanity through their faith in God.  They are a gift.  Without Jesus Christ, would we all be in University Ministry or in our local churches and know the people we know?  If we didn’t we would be the worse off.  Look around, people are here who have been made good by the grace of God.  They are a gift from God for you to enjoy.
    It is a profound understanding when we come to grips with the fact that the Epistle of St. James proglaims a truth that we know only by faith, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits.” (James 1.17-18).
    Have you ever stood on a beach in the middle of the week after school has started and it is isolated?  The wind is strong off the water and relaxing in your face.  The clouds are few in number and cotton white.  The waves are caressing the shore line and you can see for miles across the top of their blue field.  There in the midst of a City, in the midst of steel mills and traffic, there is a rhythmic stillness in all of the activity.
    In the midst of the stillness you can hear the Father of all the heavenly lights say to you, “This is mine, and I give it to you.  I made it and I made you, and for you I created all things. I gave them to you to be enjoyed in a profound faith that knows truly how to love.”
    No matter where you are, city or countryside, barrio or mountains, there the creation of God is.  There in everyplace is a gift from God awaiting you.  If you happen to carry your Bible with you wherever you go, there is another gift for you.  For in the pages of Scripture is the revealed will of God which points us toward the person Jesus Christ.  In Jesus is the gift of forgiveness come in a stable to die on a cross.
    The Epistle of St. James has had enough critics over the years.  Yet, as we are lead through this Epistle in the next five weeks, we will see that there is more to the Epistle of St. James than mere wisdom or works.  There is a fundamental question for all of us, “If God is the giver of good gifts and gives us life, how are we to respond to that?”
    Are we to be a community like the world or is there something which makes us different than the world?  We all know that Jesus Christ is the only sacrifice who can be offered for our sins.  We know that works alone do not gain us entry into heaven,  but does that mean that we sit on our hands?  What is the proper response to all God has given us?
    Take a moment to think of your children, your grandchildren, your spouse, your job, your hobby.  What is it that makes you full and complete?  Aren’t all of tehse things gifts given to us from the Father in Heaven?  Even at their worst, our spouses are people who were given as a gift to live with us through thick and thin.  Even at their worst, our children were given to us because God trusted us enough to take care of his children.  Even at its worst, our jobs show us that we are not worthless, we have some value to our neighbor and community.  The Lord our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit has given all these things for us for our benefit.  What do we do with them?  That will be the question I will answer from the Epistle of St. James in the coming weeks.
    For now, let’s enjoy this place and this peace.  Let us look around and be thankful that there is a place that we can go and worship our Lord and God.  In the quiet that is going to happen in between the readings at Mass and prayers, let’s not be antsy or agitated.  Let us realize that amidst the hustle and bustle of email, smart phones, ipad, ipods and other noisy gadgets, that there is a gift from God in the silence.  So, instead of dreading the silence or anticipating that there is something that should be happening, let’s just relax, take a deep breath and say in our hearts, “Thanks be to God, the Giver of good gifts.”  Amen?  Amen.
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