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.  https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071617.cfm 

I have never been much of a gardener.   I am lucky if I can remember to water the few plants I have.   Our Gospel parable today, though, seems to suggest that there really isn’t much of an art to being a gardener/farmer.  In fact, in this Gospel, the process of sowing seeds seems almost haphazard.   We are told that when the sower went out to sow “some seed fell on the path and birds came and ate it up.”  Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.  It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep and when the sun rose it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.  Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.”   Given this random and seemingly chaotic sowing process, you wouldn’t expect much of a harvest.  We are told, though, that the seed which fell on rich soil “produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”   This is an extraordinary harvest.   What are we to make of this?

First it is important to remember that parables were simple stories that Jesus used to teach his disciples something about God.   They were not meant to be taken literally.   Given this, we need to ask what was Jesus trying to tell us in the parable of the sower and the seeds?    Well, we know from the interpretation of this parable that the seed represents the message of the Kingdom of God.   The message of the Kingdom goes out to all people, but is received in a variety of ways.   Ultimately, though, the Kingdom of God will flourish, despite any obstacles to its growth. 

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   It shares the theme of the Gospel and reminds us that the word of the Lord “shall not return to me void, but shall do my will achieving the end for which I sent it.”   

In the second reading this weekend Paul reminds us that “the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.”  

Questions for reflection/discussion:

  1. In our Gospel parable I was impressed with the size of the harvest for such a haphazard sowing process.  Usually sowing in the manner indicated in the parable would only produce a harvest of about 7%, but in this case Jesus talked of a harvest a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.   What does this suggest to you?   
  2. Have you ever experienced the message of the Kingdom taking root in your life?
  3. A friend of mine is fond of saying:  “No crown without a cross.”   Certainly we all experience some measure of pain and suffering in our lives.   Does believing in the “glory to be revealed for us,” help you when you experience suffering?      

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070917.cfm   

When I was growing up in Anoka, above the sanctuary in old St. Stephen’s Church were the words:  “Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”   As a small child I remember reading those words week after week and thinking “What a wonderful God we must have who will give us rest when we are weary.”   As an adult I have come to know the truth of those words on occasions too numerous to mention.  When we are weary or feeling burdened, God gives us the grace we need to carry on and not to give up or give in.  

In our Gospel this weekend, though, not only does Jesus offer us rest in our weariness, he also invites us to “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me ……………….. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”   According to Miriam Webster’s Dictionary, a yoke is a wooden bar or frame by which two animals are joined at the heads or necks for working together.  What this suggests to me that when Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon us it means that he will work with us to help us carry what ever burden we are called to carry.   I find this thought very comforting.  

Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of the Prophet Zechariah.   In it Zechariah prophesized that the King will return to Jerusalem and that the “warrior’s bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.”   We believe this prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus who is meek and humble of heart.   

Our second reading this weekend is taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.   In it we are reminded that “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.” 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:  

  1. Have you ever felt Christ giving you rest?   How would you describe the experience?
  2. Can you recall a time when you have taken on Christ’s yoke?  Did you feel Christ’s grace helping you to carry a burden? 
  3. When have you felt the Spirit dwelling in you?  

For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070217.cfm 

Many years ago when I was in college, one of the books I had to read for a class was “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   In the book Bonhoeffer argued that in many ways Christianity had become secularized, accommodating the demands of following Jesus to the requirements of society. In doing this, he argued, the Gospel had been cheapened, and following Christ had become easy and without pain.  And while following Christ doesn’t mean that our lives will be full of difficulty and pain, Bonhoeffer argued that there will be times when being a disciple asks something of us that we may not want to do.   There is a cost to discipleship.    

I thought of Bonhoeffer’s book when I read our Gospel for this Sunday.   In the opening lines of that Gospel Jesus is clear that being his disciple means loving him above all, and then taking up our cross and following him.   Jesus is also clear in the second half of today’s Gospel, that while following him may involve some pain or difficulty, we will also be rewarded.  Jesus does not promise, though, that the reward will occur in this life.    

Our first reading for this Sunday is taken from the second Book of Kings.   We are told that whenever Elisha came to the town of Shunem, a woman of that town offered him hospitality. Because of her kindness and hospitality Elisha asked his servant, Gehazi if he could do something for her.  His servant told him that she had no son, and her husband was getting on in years.   Elisha then promised the woman: “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.”   

For our second reading this Sunday we continue to read from the letter of Saint Paul to the Romans. In the section we read today Paul reminds us:  “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? ………. so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. When have you experienced a “cost” in following Christ?
  2. Like the Shunemite woman, it would be nice if we were rewarded in this life for our good acts. Unfortunately, most often that is not the case.    What helps you believe that we will see the reward of our goodness in the life to come?  
  3. What does it mean to live in the “newness” of Christ’s life?  

Faith and Action

It seems to me that in our world today there are often two competing visions of “Christianity.” On the one hand there are those who see Christianity as a set of beliefs and rules that believers are expected to accept and adhere to in order to live a good and righteous life, and so be fit for heaven (this is known as orthodoxy). On the other hand there are those who see Christianity simply as a loving way of life, in which we are called to live in common care and concern for one another (this is often referred to as ortho-praxy). 

I think both of these visions, in and of themselves, are incomplete. It is not enough simply to give allegiance to a set of beliefs and rules. Somehow what we believe must have an impact on and find expression in the way we live. Likewise, while it is good and important to manifest a loving way of life, our lives must be grounded in faith, and in a set of beliefs. Without this anchor, it is too easy for a “loving way of life” to become whatever suits one’s fancy at a given moment in time. 

Now certainly the above is not a new issue. It has been around since the beginning of the Church. In the letter of Saint James we read: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone may say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works” (James 2: 15-18).

When we talk about a vision for Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular we need a both/and, not an either/or approach. It is too simple to profess a set of beliefs without giving witness to those beliefs in the way we live. I have encountered too many people who were steadfast in the profession of their beliefs, but who were cranky, judgmental, and in some cases, downright mean. On the other hand, I have also encountered people who identified themselves as Christians, and who lived good and loving lives, but who, when pressed, couldn’t tell you exactly what they believed and/or why their beliefs made a difference in the way they lived. 

Both orthodoxy and ortho-praxy are good, important, and necessary. We need to remember, though, that they go together. They are inseparable from one another. Whenever we overemphasize one, or worse, pit them against one another, we are going down a dangerous path. Jesus knew this. I think that is why, when he was asked which was the greatest commandment, he gave two and yoked them together. Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular require that we believe and profess our faith, and then give witness to it through our words and actions. This is what Jesus asks of and expects from all of us. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062517.cfm

This weekend we celebrate the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  (Ordinary Time is that time between the major seasons of our Church year --- Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter.)  In our Gospel this Sunday, Jesus instructs “the twelve” about their mission and ministry.   There are three things to note in this Gospel.  1.  Three times Jesus tells the twelve not to be afraid.  2. Rather, they are to be bold in their witness and fearless in their preaching. 3. For “even the hairs of your head are counted.”      

Jesus knew that his disciples would face stiff resistance and even persecution as they sought to continue his mission and ministry.   Given this, he wanted to be honest with them in regard to what was to come, while at the same time assuring them, that they would not be alone as they went forth.  God would be with them 

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah.  In the section we read today, Jeremiah has been imprisoned and beaten.   He hears “the whisperings of many; “Terror on every side!  Denounce! Let us denounce him”   And yet, even in this terrible situation Jeremiah is able to say:  “But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.  In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion.”   

In both our Gospel and our first Reading we are reminded that God never promised us a trouble free life of ease and comfort.   God did promise, though, that He would be with us in the midst of our trials and sufferings.  

Our second reading today is from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.   In the section we read today Paul reminds us that although sin is a part of our world, “how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.” 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:  

  1. When have you experienced God’s grace in the face of difficulties or trials?
  2. During difficulties, has there been a time when --- only in retrospect --- that you were able to see God’s grace in your life? 
  3. Where are you called to give witness to God in your life? 

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