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://usccb.org/bible/readings/090218.cfm 

After reading from the Gospel of John for the past five weeks, this weekend we return to the Gospel of Mark.   In our Gospel this weekend, we find a scene that is often repeated in the Gospels.   Jesus is at odds with some of the Pharisees and the scribes.   (Often in the Gospels Jesus is depicted as being in conflict with either or both of these groups.)   The scribes and Pharisees were strict adherents to the law.  Now, in and of itself adherence to the law is not a bad thing.  In the case of the scribes and Pharisees, however, it was problematic, because in many cases their relationship to God had taken a back seat to their adherence to the law. 

The issue is our Gospel today had to do with the fact that Jesus’ disciples “ate their meals with unclean, that is unwashed hands.”    Prior to eating, Jews were supposed to purify themselves.   These and other “rites of purification” were prescribed for Jews, and yet Jesus’ disciples were ignoring them.   Jesus challenged their position and reminded them that what “defiles” people does not come from outside, but from within a person.   If our hearts are set on God the appropriate actions will follow accordingly. 

Our first reading for this weekend is taken from the Book of Deuteronomy.  In it Moses reminds the people of the “statues and decrees” they have been given by God.   “For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God is to us whenever we call upon him?”    For Moses, the law was to lead people to God, not take the place of their relationship with God.    

Our second reading for this weekend is from the letter of James.   We will read from it for the next four weeks.   In the section we read today, James reminds us that we are to “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.”

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Have you ever allowed “following the rules” to take the place of your relationship with God?
  2. When have you called upon God and felt close to God?
  3. How do “doers of the word” act?    
     

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082618.cfm 

This weekend is the last weekend when our Gospel reading is taken from the Gospel of John.  (We are in year B of a three year cycle for our weekend readings, and in year B we read from the Gospel of Mark.  However, since Mark is the shortest Gospel, we have to supplement it with selections from the Gospel of John.)   Our Gospel today is the conclusion of what is known as the “Bread of Life” discourse.   

In the Gospels preceding today’s Gospel, Jesus has identified himself as the living bread come down from heaven, and his invited people to eat his flesh and drink his blood.   In our Gospel today we are told “Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, ‘This saying is hard, who can accept it?’”   And “As a result of this many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”   Clearly Jesus knew that some of his followers would not be able to accept his words.  He wanted them to make a clear choice, though, whether to continue as his followers.    Peter responded for the disciples who had decided to remain with the unambiguous statement:  “Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”   

Our first reading for this weekend also emphasizes the idea of choice.    In this reading Joshua challenges the tribes of Israel to make a clear choice in regard to God.  “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve………………As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”  

Our second reading for this weekend is taken from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.   Its opening lines --- which are usually omitted --- are every preacher’s nightmare:  “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.”   As we read these words we need to remember, though, that they were written at a time and place, and in culture, where wives were often considered property.   I suspect Paul would have written them differently, if we were writing today.   Also, and more importantly, the main point of Paul’s words is to remind us of how we are to conduct ourselves as followers of Jesus Christ.   In this regard, we are to be “Subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Has there been a time when you have found Jesus’ words too demanding/challenging? 
  2. Has there been a time when you have had to make a clear and decisive choice for God?
  3. What words of Scripture do you find difficult or that rankle you?  
     

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/081918.cfm     

As I have mentioned previously, on the Sundays of August we read the “bread of life” discourse from the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel.  In the section of the discourse we read this weekend, Jesus urges the crowd to believe that:  he is “the living bread that came down from heaven, whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”   In response to Jesus’ words we are told that “The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’”   

The Jews would have had great difficulty with these words of Jesus.  The idea of eating someone’s flesh would have been repugnant to them.   They were not able to see beyond the surface and to understand that at a deeper level Jesus was talking about being present to and within his disciples in the Eucharist under the forms of bread and wine.  As Catholics, it is our belief in the Eucharist that really distinguishes us from other religions.  For as Catholics we believe that in the Eucharist we share in Jesus’ name and memory that Jesus Christ is really and truly present.  This presence is not transitory or conditional.  It is not based on logic or rational argument.  It is for us a matter of faith.   The Eucharist inspires and empowers us in this life, but also it is the foretaste and the promise of the life to come. 

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of Proverbs.   It speaks of a meal that truly satisfies.   “Come eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.”    As Christians we see this feast as fulfilled in the Eucharist.  

In our second reading this weekend, we continue to read from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians.   In the section we read this weekend, Paul urges the Ephesians “not to continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. As Catholics, the Eucharist is at the core of our faith.  How would you explain the Eucharist to a non-believer? 
  2. What helped/caused you to believe in the Eucharist?
  3. How do you come to know the will of the Lord in your life?   
     

For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081218.cfm 

Three things are happening in our Gospel this weekend.  First the people “murmur against Jesus” because he was known to them, and had said that he had “come down from heaven.”  Second, Jesus responds to them and identifies himself as the “one sent by the Father” and the “Bread of Life.” Third, Jesus promises “eternal life” to those who believe.   Each of these things is important.  Let me say a brief word about each of them.  

Certainly it is difficult to see familiar people in a new way.  We sometimes “lock” people into an early perception of them and refuse to see more than that.  This is what happened with the people in our Gospel today.   However, if we truly believe Jesus’ words, that “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do to me,” it behooves us to be open to the presence of God in everyone --- even those who are known and familiar to us.  

As a Eucharistic people we are very familiar with Jesus as the Bread of Life.  We believe that in the Eucharist we celebrate and share in Jesus’ name and memory that Jesus is really and truly present, and that he is for us the Bread of Life. 

The idea of eternal life would have been foreign to the Jews of Jesus times.  For the Jews of Jesus’ time  (and even for many Jewish people today) people lived on through their descendents.   That was why it was so important to have children.   We who have grown up with the promise of eternal life would do well to take a step back every now and then, and remember and give thanks for this gracious and unmerited gift.

In our first reading today the prophet Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert and was ready for death.  An angel of the Lord brought him a hearth cake and a jug of water and ordered:  “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you.”   These words speak to us today and remind us why the Eucharist is so important.  

Finally, in our second reading today we are reminded of the vices that need to be removed from our lives and virtues we are to exhibit as followers of Jesus. 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Can you remember a time when you discovered God’s presence and/or grace in a person or place that was known and familiar to you?
  2. When has the Eucharist helped you when the journey seemed long and difficult?
  3. What vices do you need to remove from your life or conversely what virtues do you need to develop?   

One of the priests I worked with when I was first ordained was a genial Irishman who seemed to have a saying for every occasion or circumstance. When an unlikely couple presented themselves for marriage he would say: "There's no pot so beaten out of shape that you can't find a lid for it." When someone's clothing choice was a bit questionable or problematic he would say: "They must have got dressed in the dark this morning." My favorite saying, though, was when he was confronted with a situation that defied explanation or understanding. In those cases he would simply say: "Sometimes the Lord uses poor sense." This was his way of acknowledging that sometimes things just happen that are beyond our reason and over which we don’t have any control. 

Now to be honest, I have used this saying on more than a few occasions. While it is nice when there is a logical explanation for the things that happen in our lives, this certainly is always or often the case. Now sometimes those unexpected or unexplainable things that happen are good e.g. winning the lottery. I suspect, though, that more often this is not the case, e.g. we face a sudden illness, or someone we love dies unexpectedly. At these times, while we can search for meaning or understanding, these often prove elusive. 

The above is not a new problem. In the Old Testament the Book of Job dealt with the question of why bad things sometimes happened to good people. For Job's friends the answer was simple. Job must have done something wrong or bad to deserve all the terrible things that were happening to him. Job, though, knew that wasn't true. He knew he had tried to live a good life and that he didn't "deserve" what was happening to him. The resolution occurs in the final chapters of the Book of Job. God speaks and in essence says: I'm God; you're not. My ways are not your ways. 

Now I realize that for some people this is not a very satisfying response. For me, though, it helps me remember that God is in charge, and that ultimately the ways and work of God are beyond my ability to comprehend or explain. It also invites me to believe that God knows what God is doing, and that I need to learn to trust that the God who loved me into being isn't capricious or aloof in continuing to love and care for me. 

As there have been in the past, so there were will continue to be times in the future when things happen that cause us pain or anxiety, and over which we have no control. At those times we need to continue to pray. and to remember that it's okay to say: "Sometimes the Lord uses poor sense." 

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