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

A few weeks ago I made an attempt (which ultimately was only minimally successful) to clean off my desk. In some ways my cleaning attempt was like an archeological dig. The deeper I got, the more interesting things I discovered. Now I used to feel bad about how my desk looked. Several years ago, though, I went to a talk about how to be better organized. The presenter said one thing in particular that really spoke to my heart. Specifically she said: “Some people file things to find them. If you are one of those people your desk is always neat and clean. Other people, though, file things when they are finished with them. If you are one of those people you almost always have piles on your desk. The reason for this is that you need to keep everything you are working on in plain view. If you put something away you are done with it.” These words immediately brought me a sense of comfort and peace. And while I don’t brag about the appearance of my desk, I no longer feel bad about it either.

I suspect that most of us have had similar experiences—times when someone has said something that calmed our fears, eased our distress, or lessened our guilt. These times are islands of peace amid the often stormy sea of life. There are other times, though, when someone says something that can cause us to feel uneasy or even anxious. For me, the words of Jesus often do both of these things. 

At times, Jesus’ words can be enormously comforting as when he reminds us that God loves us and forgives our sins. At the same time, though, Jesus’s words can also challenge us as they remind us that we are to love others as we have been loved and to forgive others as we have been forgiven. Jesus’ words are often a two-edged sword. They comfort and console us, while at the same time challenging us and perhaps making us feel a bit uneasy about how we are living. 

While I definitely like living in my comfort zone, I find I function best when I am on the edge of my comfort zone as opposed to being in the middle of it. Most often Jesus’ words challenge me to move out of the middle of my comfort zone and live on the edge of it. They remind me that if I want to experience God’s love and forgiveness, then I need to work to extend these to others. This isn’t easy and in fact I fail at it regularly. If I look to Jesus’s words for comfort and consolation, though, I must also hear and be open to the challenge in them. The promise, as well as the challenge of Jesus’s words can not be separated. Being a disciple of Jesus is not just about recognizing this, but also living so as to give witness to it with our lives. 

 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/030820.cfm  

Each year on the 2nd Sunday of Lent we read one of the accounts of the Transfiguration of Christ.   This weekend we read Matthew’s account of this event.  The basic details are the same in each of the Gospel accounts of the Transfiguration.  Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a high mountain.  (In the scriptures, mountains were often the place for an encounter with God.)  While there, Jesus was transfigured before their eyes --- “his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold Moses and Elijah appeared to them conversing with him.”   After Peter voiced his desire to stay in the experience, a voice from a cloud announced:  “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”   After the experience was over, Jesus charged his disciples:   “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”  

I believe there are moments in each of our lives that are moments of great grace --- times when we see or experience things on a deeper level and feel God’s presence.  These moments don’t occur regularly and certainly not often.  They are not under our control, but they are “transfiguring” moments, nonetheless.  Our “transfiguring’ moments may not be of the same intensity as that of Peter, James and John, but I believe they are no less real.    

For our first reading for this 2nd Sunday of Lent we always read a section of the story of the call of Abram (soon to be Abraham).  God told him:  “I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you.”  

Our second reading this weekend is from the second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy.   In the opening sentence of our reading for this weekend Timothy is admonished:  “Beloved:  Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

1.   As I mentioned above, I believe we all have “transfiguring” moments in our lives ---- certainly not as intense or to the same degree as Peter, James and John, but no less real.   When have you had a “transfiguring” experience in your life?  
2.   How many people have you told about your “transfiguring” experience?   If you’re like most people, it is a very limited number (if anyone at all).   Why is it hard for us to talk about these experiences?
3.   When you have had to bear a hardship did you find the strength that comes from God? 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/030120.cfm 

This weekend we begin the season of Lent.   Now as you may have heard me say previously, when I was growing up I used to look forward to Lent with all the excitement of a trip to the Dentist.  (My apologies to the dentists in our congregation.)  As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve come to realize how important and how good the season of Lent is for our Church, as well as for me personally.   It is a time to step back from the usual activities of life and focus on our relationship with God.   We do this through the primary activities of Lent:  Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving.    In our prayer we attend to God.  Through our fasting we deny ourselves what we want to discover what we really need.   And in our almsgiving, we offer from our surplus, to those who have little or nothing.  

Each year on the first Sunday of Lent we read one of the accounts of the Temptation of Christ in the desert.  This year we read from the Gospel of Matthew.   The basic details of the temptation are the same in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  In these Gospels Jesus faces three temptations:  The temptation to take care of his own needs (turn stones into loaves of bread); the temptation to a grandiose display of power (throw yourself down from the parapet of the temple); and finally the temptation to worldly power and might (all the kingdoms of the world I shall give you, if you only worship me).   We all face similar temptations in our lives --- certainly not to the extent that Jesus did --- but temptations that are similar in kind, if not strength and intensity.   Jesus has shown us, though, that God’s grace is sufficient to resist these temptations.    

In our first reading this weekend we read the scriptural account of the temptation of Adam and Eve.   It serves as a counterpoint to the Gospel.   Unlike Adam and Even, Jesus does not succumb to temptation.  

Our second reading this weekend is taken from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.   It follows the theme of the Gospel and first reading and reminds us that “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one, the many will be made righteous.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1.  We all face temptations in our lives.   Now certainly the temptations we face aren’t nearly as intense or as powerful as those faced by Jesus.  Would you agree, though, that in one way or another we all face temptations similar to those faced by Jesus?   
2.  Christians did not invent temptation.  We do believe, though, that we have found the remedy for temptation in Jesus Christ.   When has God’s grace helped you to resist temptation?  
3.  Why do some people seem better able to resist temptation than others?    

Follow the link below or copy and paste it into your browser for this weekend’s readings.   
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/022320.cfm

In our Gospel this weekend, Jesus tells his disciples:  “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you…………………..”  Later Jesus says again:  “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I say to you…………................”   

Now there are some people who have suggested and continue to suggest that in these words Jesus was seeking to abolish the law the scribes and Pharisees held so dear.   I don’t believe this was the case.  Rather I think Jesus was calling his disciples to a deeper commitment to the law and an entirely new way of living.  Jesus is clear about this at the end of this weekend’s Gospel when he said:   “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.”   These words remind us very forcibly that as followers of Jesus our lives are to be substantially different from those of non-believers. Certainly we don’t always do this well, but that does not mean that we can ever stop trying.  

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of Leviticus.  It shares the theme of the Gospel.   Specifically God told Moses to tell the whole Israelite community:  “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge again any of your people.  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”    

Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.  In the section we read this weekend Paul reminds the Corinthians (and us):  “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

1. Why is it so hard at times to love our neighbor? 
2. What helps you let go of hurt and resentment, and forgive?
3. What do you think Paul meant when he said we are Temples of God?    

There is both a long form and short form of our Gospel this Sunday.  The remarks below are based on the short form of the Gospel.  For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/021620.cfm

I suspect we have all encountered people who could be described as “holier than thou.”  This oft used phrase paints a picture of an individual whose words and actions suggest an attitude of religious superiority and/or self righteousness.   Such were the scribes and Pharisees at the time of Jesus.    They were not necessarily bad people.  The problem was they thought that by knowing and following the law to the letter, they were models of holiness and righteousness.   The difficulty with this was that they had allowed the following of the law to become an end in itself and not a means by which they could grow in and develop their relationship with God.     That is why Jesus’ opening words in our Gospel today are important:  "I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”    Jesus then goes on to challenge those who would be his disciples to go beyond the law in their words and actions.  This continues to be our challenge.   We may not have born false witness or harmed a neighbor, but have we truly tried to love our neighbor as our self.   Following the letter of the law is far easier than giving witness to the law by the witness of our lives.  

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Sirach.  In the section we read today the author reminds us of the importance of following God’s commandments. The commandments, though, are given to help us live justly and uprightly.   Following them is not an end in itself.  

Our second reading this Sunday is once again taken from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.   It reminds us of God’s mysterious and hidden wisdom.  It closes with the wonderful promise:  “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:   
1. Has there been a time when you have followed the letter of the law, but have stopped at that point? 
2. Do you think your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees? 
3. What do you think God has prepared for those who love him?   

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