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/010520.cfm 
 
For several years I have gotten together with a group of friends during the month of January for a “mini” retreat at a cabin in northern Wisconsin.   One of the things that amazes me anew each year is the clarity and brightness of the stars at night.   When you get away from the illumination of the lights of the cities, the stars seem to shine with brighter clarity and brilliance.  I suspect this is an experience we all have had.   
 
This memory came back to me as I looked at our readings this weekend for the Solemnity of the Epiphany.   Our Gospel this weekend is the familiar story of the visit of the Magi (who were Gentiles) to the new born Christ child.   This story, which is found only in the Gospel of Matthew, reminds us that Christ was born as savior of all people, no exceptions, no exclusions, no restrictions.   
 
As we read this Gospel, it is interesting to note the details that are not included in it, but have been added over the years.   The Magi have been promoted to Kings.   We have identified their number as three.  And we have even given them names.   
 
Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.    It is a description of the city of Jerusalem that awaits the returning exiles.  It reminds them that “upon you the Lord shines and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light and kings by your shining radiance.”   
 
The second reading for this weekend is taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians.  It reinforces the message of the Gospel and reminds us that “the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise of Christ Jesus through the Gospel.”   
 
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
 
  1. The revelation of a star guided the Magi.  When have you ever received a revelation that guided you in your life?
  2. If Jesus is the savior of all people, what would you say to those people who want to limit the number of those who will be saved?
  3. What do you need to do to let the light of Christ shine in you that you might lead others to Christ?   

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/122919.cfm  

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.   Our Gospel this Sunday occurs just after the visit of the Magi to the new born Christ child.   We are told that “When the Magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.  Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him’”    Joseph did as he was told and “took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.”    They remained in Egypt until Herod died.    

This Gospel and the one we read on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, tell us almost all of what we know about St. Joseph.   While the information is scant, it is clear that Joseph was a man of great faith who was open to God’s will in his life even though he may not always have understood that will.   

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Sirach.   It was chosen because it and our second reading this Sunday from the Letter of St. Paul to the Colossians, talk about the virtues of family life.   In Sirach we read:  “God sets a father in honor over his child, a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.”   And in St. Paul’s letter we read:  “Put on as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.  And over all these put on love,”

Clearly all three readings this Sunday extol the values of family and the virtues we are called to display as followers of Jesus Christ. 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Families today come in all shapes and sizes.   What do you think defines a family?  
  2. I have a friend who has several children, now all adults.   When her children were growing she used to quip that “Of course, it was easy for Mary and Joseph to be the Holy Family.  They only had one child, and he was perfect.”    What makes a family holy?  
  3. What is the biggest obstacle to families being holy? 

This Great Gift

Many years ago an older man from a neighboring parish came to see me. He was distraught and troubled. He said, “Father, one of the priests at my parish told me I that my hands weren’t clean enough to receive communion, and that I should come back after I had washed them. Father, I’m a mechanic, and I work with my hands. I did wash them, but apparently they weren’t clean enough.” He then showed me his hands. He concluded by saying: “I didn’t mean to be disrespectful. Did I do something wrong?” His hands were indeed gnarled, and displayed the signs of years of manual labor. They also bore the telltale traces of grease and grime. 

As I looked at the man’s hands, I thought of St. Joseph. As a carpenter his hands must also have been gnarled, and most likely callused and stained from working with wood. And yet they were the same hands that carried and caressed the infant Jesus. They were the same hands that held and hugged Jesus as a child. They were the same hands that guided Jesus’ hands as he learned to use the plane and chisel. And I suspect Jesus held Joseph’s hands as Joseph was dying. With this image in my mind, I talked with the man about St. Joseph’s hands. I told him that Jesus knew that calloused and stained hands were not the measure of a person’s piety or what was in their heart.

I am continually surprised that there are there are many good and well intentioned people who think it is their responsibility and role to publicly determine who can receive communion and/or how they should receive it. Many years ago when I was in the seminary I attended a lecture on Ecumenism. The priest who spoke was not someone who would have been identified as being “liberal.” He was very kind person, though and quite articulate about our Church’s dogmas, doctrines, and teachings. As importantly, he was able to represent our Catholic beliefs well in an Ecumenical dialogue. During the question and answer period following his talk an individual asked when it was appropriate to deny someone communion. The priest’s answer surprised me. He said: “You don’t know what has happened in that person’s life in the last ten minutes. If you have a concern, you mention it privately.” He was clear that publicly refusing to give someone communion is seldom, if ever, appropriate.

We are told that in his life and ministry Jesus associated with tax collectors and sinners. He was also known to spent time with foreigners and other outcasts from society. Jesus also touched lepers and others who had been marginalized or ostracized because of an illness or other physical malady. Jesus was indiscriminate in regard to whom he touched and with whom he spent time. He accepted people as they were, whoever they were.

In addition to hanging around with some questionable people during his life on earth, Jesus continued this practice when he gave us the gift of himself in the Eucharist. It is in and through the Eucharist that Jesus continues to abide with us as individuals and with our Church. None of us is worthy of this great gift. No one earns the right to receive the Eucharist. And no one has the right to determine the worthiness of someone else to receive the Eucharist. 

On the Feast of Christmas, I can’t help but think of St. Joseph holding the infant Jesus immediately after Jesus’ birth. In his callused and stained hands he held the savior of the world. I suspect that Joseph intuitively knew that Jesus wouldn’t object to anyone who held and received him with love and devotion. Like Joseph, may we who hold and receive Jesus today never forget this fundamental and abiding truth.

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
 
When I was a very small child, we lived in a house that had window sills which were just above my sight line.  I remember having to stand on my tiptoes to see out.   This was especially challenging when we were expecting company, because I could only stay on my tiptoes a few minutes at a time.   This memory came back to me when I read our Gospel this Sunday.   I say this because this weekend we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and in our Gospel this weekend we read “how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.”   Clearly this Gospel calls us to be on “tiptoes of expectation” as we enter the last week before we celebrate the birth of Christ. 
 
Specifically this Gospel tells the story of how Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, and that an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said:  “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary you wife into your home.   For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.  She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”    In addition to telling us that Jesus conception was of divine origin, this Gospel also reminds us that God is not limited in the way God communicates with us.   God can speak to us in our thoughts, through the movements of our hearts and spirits, through the people and events of our lives, and even through our dreams.   If we are open to it, God has much to say to us.  
 
In our first reading this Sunday we read from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.  In this reading God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, invites the feckless King Ahaz to ask for a sign that he might remember and trust in God’s faithfulness.   Ahaz declines, but God offers a sign anyway.  “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:  the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”   
 
Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the beginning of the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.   In it Paul reminds the people that he has been “called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures.”  
 
 
Questions for Reflection/Discussion: 
 
 
  1. When have you felt God “communicating” with you?  Was it in your prayer, through other people, through the events of your life, through a dream or?
  2. Ahaz didn’t want to tempt God by asking for a sign, yet God gave him a sign anyway.  Has God ever offered you a sign? 
  3. What do you need to do this last week of Advent to prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ? 

     

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/121519.cfm 

This Sunday we celebrate the 3rd Sunday of the season of Advent.   Our Gospel this weekend comes in two parts.  In the first section, once again we encounter John the Baptist.   This time, though, John is in prison and will soon face death.   Given this, he is concerned whether Jesus was indeed the “one who is to come.”   At first glance, this question from John may seem strange, but I suspect that as John approached death he wanted to be sure that his mission had not been for naught.   In response, Jesus does not give a yes or no answer.  Instead he said:  “Go and tell John what you hear and see:  the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”   As we will see in our first reading for this weekend, these are all signs of God’s grace and favor --- and a promise of hope for the future. 

In the second section of this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus “began to speak to the crowds about John.”   He concludes by saying:  “Amen I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   At the time of this prophecy the Jewish people had been conquered in the north by the Assyrians and in the south by the Babylonians.   Isaiah speaks words of comfort and hope to this conquered people, reminding them there will come a time of vindication when all with see the “glory of the Lord” when God will come “with vindication.”   The signs of the Lord’s return will be the very signs Jesus mentioned in our Gospel today:  “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf will be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.”   

Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the Letter of James.   In it James urges:  “You too must be patient.  Make your hearts firm because the coming of the Lord is at hand.”    While this sentence reflects the early church’s belief that the return of Christ was imminent, it reminds us today that we are called to wait patiently for the Lord’s coming --- whenever that may occur. 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. I suspect there are times for each of us when, like John, we wonder whether our lives are on the right course.   Who do you look to for guidance at these times?
  2. What signs of God’s Kingdom do you see in the world around you?   
  3. How do we wait patiently for the Lord’s coming?     

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