Fr. John Bauer

Rector and Pastor

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.
In our Gospel this weekend Jesus talks about the difficult subject of forgiveness.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I believe forgiveness is one of the hardest things we have to do as Christians.  Yet in our Gospel this weekend, Jesus, in response to a question from Peter about whether we are to forgive as many as seven times, states clearly:  “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”   For the Jews of this time, this number would have symbolized forgiveness without end.  After startling Peter and the other disciples with this number, Jesus then told the parable of the owner who forgave the loan of a servant who owed him a huge amount of money.   Unfortunately, that servant refused to forgive the loan of a fellow servant who owed him a much smaller amount, and instead had him thrown into prison.  At the conclusion of the parable Jesus offers the ominous conclusion:   “So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”  
What are we to take from this Gospel?   Three things come immediately to mind.  1.  As Christians, forgiveness is not an optional part of our lives;    2.   We can’t expect or ask God to forgive us unless we are willing to forgive one another;  and  3.  The forgiveness we offer to each other must be real and sincere.    
Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of Sirach.    It shares the theme of the Gospel.  In the section we read today we are reminded:  “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.”   
In our second reading this weekend, Paul reminds us that “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.  For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord;”   
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
  1. Why, at times, is it so hard to forgive?
  2. What helps you to forgive?
  3. What does it mean to live for the Lord?   

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 

Our Gospel this weekend comes in two parts.   In the first part, Jesus gives some practical directives as to how to deal with disputes.   “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone ……….. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you ………. If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.   If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or tax collector.”   Sadly, all too often we reverse this process, going first to others and only last to our brother or sister.   The really important thing to note in this section, though, is Jesus’ last words:  “treat him as you would a Gentile or tax collector.”   And as we know from Jesus’ ministry, he welcomed these people and treated them with respect and love.   These are very challenging words. 

In the second half of today’s Gospel, Jesus appears to make an impossible promise:  “if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.”   In this regard, it is important to note that if two people are really united in prayer, they will also be united in their desire to do God’s will ----- and will pray to do God’s will.  

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.  In it we are reminded that we have a responsibility to try to “warn the wicked” and turn them from their way.   It is not enough simply to be concerned about our own welfare.

Our second reading this weekend is once again taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.  In it Paul reminds us that the commandments of the Old Testament are summed up by the new commandment of Christ:  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. In this weekend’s Gospel Jesus is clear that we are to go to our brother or sister to try to resolve issues before going to anyone else.  Why do so many of us do just the opposite?
  2. How do you know when it is appropriate to confront someone, and when it is better simply to accept their faults?   
  3. What is a practical way to love someone as you love yourself? 

Judge Not

The column below was submitted as a letter to the editor for the Catholic Spirit. It was written in response to two letters to the editor that appeared in the August 10 edition of the Catholic Spirit.  

I hate waiting in lines. Unless there is just a single line for people who want to check in/out; get gas; pay for their groceries, or whatever, I always choose the wrong line. I inevitably end up behind someone who is sure they have the exact change—if only they can find it; or someone who can’t find their credit card; or someone who doesn’t quite understand why they can’t use a coupon that expired three weeks ago. 

Given my abhorrence to waiting in lines, you can perhaps appreciate how surprised I was to read the letters to the editor in the August 10th Catholic Spirit. (The newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.) The issue they were writing about concerned an Illinois Bishop’s decision to prohibit Catholics in same-sex marriages from receiving communion or having their funeral in a Catholic Church. One of the writers was clear that God “does not have a place in heaven for those who decide his rules are outdated and don’t fit the current whims of individuals.” Another suggested that: “Those who claim they are loving others by allowing forbidden practices may just be loving them into hell.” As I read these comments I couldn’t help but think that these writers had found a way to expedite the judgement line at the end of world. 

This is pure genius. I am surprised that no one thought of this before. By narrowing down the issues that Jesus articulated in Matthew 25:31-46 to a single question: “Did you question/wonder about/believe in same sex marriage?”—in effect, by doing some pre-judging in this world—it will save God time at the end of the world. In fact, the line at the judgement at the end of the world should move along quite swiftly. We won’t have to worry about whether or not we fed the hungry; gave drink to the thirsty; welcomed the stranger; clothed the naked; comforted the ill; or visited the imprisoned. Of course, though, if we narrow down the criteria for judgement to a single issue/question, it does make it difficult to explain why Jesus told that parable in the first place. 

We need to be clear. The idea that we can save God time at the end of the world by doing some pre-judging here is complete nonsense.  God searches our hearts, our minds, and our souls; and God—and God alone—is the only One who is qualified to do any judging. And while I can’t say for sure, I suspect God is not all that appreciative of those who think it is right and proper to save time at the end of the world by doing some pre-judging here.   

As for me, I am grateful that judgement belongs to God alone, and that it is something God doesn’t need any help with—however well intended. I am also hopeful that at the end of the world God will grade on a curve.  I say this because the older I get, the more I realize how much in need of God’s mercy I am. 

For the readings for this Sunday click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 

No crown without a cross.”   A former parishioner used these words whenever she encountered a difficulty in her life.    It was her way of saying that life wasn’t always going to be easy, but by staying true to Christ, she believed that heaven would await her.   In our Gospel for this weekend, Jesus told his disciples that “he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes and be killed and on the third day be raised.”  Peter responded:  “God forbid, Lord!   No such thing shall ever happen to you.”   Jesus, though, reminded Peter that “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”   Jesus then went on to tell his disciples that “Whoever wished to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”    No one could accuse Jesus of false advertizing.   He is clear.  The cross --- in one form or another --- is a part of the life of every Christian.   

Our First reading this weekend shares the theme of the Gospel.    In it Jeremiah, the prophet, laments that he has been “duped” by the Lord.   Because he has prophesied in the name of the Lord, he is mocked and the object of laughter.   He vows:  “I will not mention him, I will speak his name no more.  But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.”    Clearly being a prophet has caused Jeremiah pain and ridicule --- this is his cross --- but he cannot turn away from his prophetic calling.   Instead he submits to the will of God knowing that ultimately God will vindicate him. 

In our second reading this weekend from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans, Paul urges the people:  “Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of god, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. What cross(es) have you been called to carry?
  2. What has helped you to carry your cross(es)?  
  3. Like Jeremiah, have you ever felt that you have been “duped” by God?    

For this Sundays readings click on the link below or copy and  paste it into your browser.    

I would guess that at some point in each of our lives, someone has asked us for our “honest” opinion about something.   What would you do, if you were me?   Do you think I’m wrong?   What’s the worst that could happen?   Something akin to this happened in our Gospel for this weekend.  In that Gospel Jesus asked his disciples:  “Who do people say that the Son of May is?"    His disciples must have been proud to be able to fill in him on the local gossip:  “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”   Jesus, though, wasn’t satisfied with knowing what others thought of him.  His next question was:  “But who do you say that I am?”  In reply Simon Peter said:  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”   Jesus then told Peter:  “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.  And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”  

Jesus was clear with his disciples.   He didn’t want them simply to know about him.   He wanted his disciples to know him.   This same thing is true for us.  Jesus wants us to know him, not just to know about him.   And the way we come to know Jesus is by spending time with him in prayer.   

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   In the passage we read this weekend, “Shebna, master of the palace,” is demoted for something he had done, and in his place Eliakim is promoted:  “I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder.”    The emphasis in this passage is that, just as Peter was proclaimed “rock,” so too it is by God’s authority that Eliakim is given a position of responsibility and authority. 

Again this weekend, our second reading is taken from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.   In it Paul reminds us:  "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!”   

 Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Who do you say that Jesus is? 
  2. The giving of keys was mentioned in both the First Reading today and the Gospel.   I suspect this was a sign of authority.   Has anyone ever entrusted you with their keys?   How did you feel about that? 
  3. More often than I care to admit I have discovered anew that God’s judgments are inscrutable and God’s ways unsearchable.  Has this also happened to you?