Fr. John Bauer

Rector and Pastor
Clergy

Serves on the Parish Council, Finance Committee, Stewardship Council and as a member of The Basilica Landmark Board.  Fr. Bauer led the successful merger of 3 parishes (St.Therese, St. Gregory, St. Leo) to become the new Lumen Christi in St. Paul, and completed their major building expansion.  Former Pastor of St. Therese, Deephaven and Associate at St. Patrick’s in Edina. 

(612) 317-3502

Recent Posts by Fr. John Bauer

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102917.cfm  
 
In the Gospels, the Scribes and Pharisees, as well as the Sadducees, often were at odds with Jesus.   In our Gospel this Sunday the Pharisees sent one of their members, a scholar of the law, to ask Jesus which was the greatest of the commandments.  Now this would not have been an unusual question.   It is estimated that there were over 600 precepts/commands in the Torah. Asking a “Rabbi” to put some rank and/or order to them would have been within the confines of a legitimate question.  
 
Scholars suggest that Jesus’ response to the question, his linking of love of neighbor with love of God would not have come as a surprise.  They were both found in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6.5 and Leviticus 19.18).  What would have been unexpected, however, was the fact that Jesus put these commandments (love of God and love of neighbor) on par with each other.    For Jesus love of God and love of neighbor go hand in hand and in the words of an old song:  “You can’t have one without the other.”     
 
In Luke’s Gospel Jesus’ response to the question about the greatest commandment prompts the follow up question “And who is my neighbor?”   Jesus responded to that question with the story of the Good Samaritan.  Since the story of the Good Samaritan is not found in Matthew’s Gospel, (where today’s Gospel is taken) we need to look to the first reading for Sunday for an insight into whom our neighbor is.   That reading, from the book of Exodus, tells us that our neighbor is the alien, the widow, the orphan, the poor, the person in need.    
 
Our second reading this Sunday is from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians.   In the section we read today Paul compliments the Thessalonians because they have become "imitators of the Lord, and his fellow missionaries."   
 
Thoughts for Consideration/Reflection: 
 
  1. What “neighbor” do you find difficult to love?
  2. I have a friend who says the reason we have difficulty loving our neighbor as ourselves is that we don’t love ourselves very well.   What do you think?
  3. Who comes to mind as someone you would name as an imitator of the Lord?  

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102217.cfm 

There is an old proverb that says: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”   We see an example of this in our Gospel this weekend.   We are told that the “Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.  They sent their disciples to him with the Herodians………..”   The Pharisees and the Herodians were bitter enemies.  The Pharisees believed the observance of the Jewish law was paramount.   They defended it rigorously.   The Herodians on the other were seen as collaborators with the occupying Romans.   They were willing to make compromises with Jewish law.  They displayed a “go along to get along” philosophy.   A delegation from these two groups approached Jesus with a feigned compliment:  “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.”  They then laid their trap with a skillfully devised question:  “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”  If Jesus said yes to paying the temple tax, he would have lost status with the Jews who were following him.   If he said no to paying the temple tax, he would have been liable to being denounced to the occupying Romans.    Jesus’ response is well known.  He asked for a coin (which had Caesar’s image on it.)  and said: “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”    The question that is unspoken, of course, is if a coin bears the image of Caesar, what is it that bears the image of God?   The answer, of course, is that we do.  

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   In this reading Cyrus, a Gentile ruler, is referred to as the Lord’s anointed because the Lord used Cyrus to defeat the Babylonians and thus allow the Jews who had been in captivity to return home.   The point of the reading is that God can work through anyone. 

Our second reading this weekend is the beginning of the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians.  In it Paul greets the Thessalonians, and reminds them that they are remembered in his prayers:  “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:  

  1. We have all heard that we are made in the image and likeness of God, but what does this mean to you?
  2. God used King Cyrus for God’s purposes.  Have you ever felt God using you or someone you know for God’s purposes?
  3. Paul told the Thessalonians that he remembered them in his prayers.  Are there people you remember in prayer?   Have you ever asked someone to remember you in prayer?   
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/101517.cfm 
 
R.S.V.P.  Re’pondez  s’il vous plait.   This seems like such a simple request.  And yet, so often it is ignored.   Certainly this indicates a lack of social grace.  In our Gospel parable today, however, the people were guilty of more than just a lack of social graces when they ignored the invitation to the wedding feast.   We are told that they not only “refused to come to the feast,” but in some cases “laid hold of and mistreated the King’s servants and even killed them.”   What kind of people would do this?   
 
Well, I suspect they were not all that much different than us.  They were people who had become so self-absorbed that they couldn’t recognize the gift/invitation that was being offered to them.   The anger of the King seems exaggerated (possibly to underline the irretrievability of the invitees decision not to come to the banquet).  It is tempered, though by his largess and generosity in sending his servants out to invite to the feast whomever they could find.    This reminds us that no one is beyond the reach and embrace of our God’s love.   
 
But what about the person who was ejected because he didn’t wear a wedding garment.   Well, since many times guests would come from a distance over dirty and dusty roads, the host often provided an opportunity for them to clean up, as well as a fresh garment for them to wear.  The guest’s refusal to comply with this custom went beyond rudeness and would have been insulting to the host.   The message in this is clear.  It’s not enough just to show up.  Something more is required.  
 
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
  1. Looking back can you see where you have failed to respond or even rejected an invitation from God?
  2. Have there been times when you’ve just shown up in response to God’s invitation, without doing anything else?  
  3. In our second reading Paul talks about living in widely divergent circumstances.   He then says:  “I can do all things in him who strengthen me.”   Can you think of a time when you were strengthened to do something that initially you didn’t think you could do?  
This past August, Fr. Greg Welch, one of our weekend presiders, sent me a link to a story from “CBSN: On Assignment.” The opening sentence of the story indicated that “With the rise of prenatal screening tests across Europe and the United States, the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased, but few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.” In Iceland, close to 100 percent of those women who received a positive test of Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy. Unfortunately, other countries don’t lag far behind in pregnancy termination rates for those who received a positive test for Down syndrome. The report also stated that “according to the most recent data available, the United States has an estimated termination rate for Down syndrome of 67 percent (1995-2011).” 
 
One Icelandic health care professional, when asked about the high rate of pregnancy termination rates for those who have received a positive test for Down syndrome, said: “We don’t look at abortion as murder. We look at it as a thing that we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication …. preventing suffering for the child and for the family. And I think that is more right than seeing it as murder—that’s so black and white. Life isn’t black and white. Life is grey.” 
 
Now certainly, the human condition is no stranger to suffering, and efforts to alleviate suffering are laudable. But we all know Down syndrome children and adults who live happy, productive lives. In fact, it’s safe to say that many lives are enriched when we experience the zest and resilience with which those with Down syndrome face life, despite any limitations it brings. Given this, I think it is fundamentally wrong to say that aborting Down syndrome babies prevents suffering. Further, from my perspective, the fact that the health care professional used the words “possible life,” demonstrates the fundamental flaw in their reasoning. In this regard, we need to be clear. Other than nutrients, nothing further is added to the fetus to make life. It isn’t “possible life.” It is life—plain and simple. 
 
The great lie to the above way of thinking is that children with Down syndrome are somehow inferior and undeserving of life. Quite frankly this is wrong. Life—all life—from the moment of conception to natural death is sacred: no exceptions, no exclusions, no qualifications. The sacred image we bear exists from the moment of our conception. We don’t grow into it. It cannot diminish with age. It is bestowed on us by the gracious favor of a loving God. Created in the image and likeness of God, and infused with a soul that seeks to know and love God, all human life is sacred and is to be respected. 
 
For many years now our Church has designated October as Respect Life Month. During this month particularly, we are called to remember and give witness to our belief that life—in all stages of development and in all its manifestations—is a gracious gift from a loving God. There are no qualifications or limitations to this belief. Because God is the author and source of life, all life is sacred. Our task, our challenge is to seek to promote and enhance life at every moment and in every circumstance. 
 
Human life is indeed a precious gift from a loving God. As followers of Jesus, we are called to show our respect and reverence for life in all we do. To the extent we fail to do this, we fail to give witness to our respect for life. To the extent that we do it well, however, we truly live up to our calling as people created in the image and likeness of God. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100817.cfm

Some scripture scholars suggest that today’s Gospel parable may represent an allegorization of another of Jesus’ parables by one of the early Christian communities.   The parable of tenants rejecting the many messengers (i.e. the prophets) sent by the owner of the vineyard (God) would have supported this belief.   In suggesting this, of course, these scholars are not in any way questioning that it is not the inspired word of God.  Rather, they suggest that the early Christian community had begun to see itself as replacing Israel as God’s chosen people.   Regardless of the origins of this parable, though, it contains a powerful and ever current message.   It invites us to consider how we respond to the many overtures and/or messengers God sends into our lives. 

As an important aside, we need to be clear that the Catholic Church does not teach that God has rejected Israel or that its election as God’s chosen people has ended.  “The Church cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in his inexpressible mercy deigned to establish the Ancient Covenant.”    (The Documents of Vatican II   Decree on Non Christians)    Our Church also teaches, though, that Jesus Christ, “the Lord, is the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the center of the human race, the joy of every heart, and the answer to all its yearnings.”  (Documents of Vatican II; Decree on The Church Today)

Our first reading today from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, shares the theme of the Gospel.  It speaks of a vineyard that, despite the loving care of its owner, yielded only “wild grapes.”  In the Old Testament the “Vineyard” was a symbol for God’s people.   

In our second reading today from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, Paul reminds us that by prayer and petition and thanksgiving we will come to know “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.”

Questions for reflection: 

  1. Looking back on your life can you see times when you have not recognized or perhaps even rejected messengers of God’s presence and grace?
  2. Who have been messengers of God’s presence and grace in your life?   
  3. In regard to this weekend’s second reading have there been times in your life when you have experienced the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding?”   

 

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