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/110517.cfm 

Our Gospel this weekend comes in two parts.   In the fist section, Jesus criticizes the scribes and Pharisees because “They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.  All their works are performed to be seen.”    The scribes and Pharisees were not deliberately hypocritical.   From their perspective, following the law exactly and slavishly was critically important.  In doing so they believed they were being true to God.  Unfortunately, they had allowed the precise and detailed following of the law to take the place of their relationship with God.  While their actions were correct, they did not flow from heart set on God.  Like the scribes and Pharisees, sometimes we too can “do” the right thing, and think that is enough.  Our actions, though, need to flow from a heart set on God.  It is only in this way that we can truly grow in our relationship with God. 

In the second half of our Gospel this weekend, Jesus reminds us his disciples that: “The greatest among you must be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”   

Our first reading this weekend from the Book of the Prophet Malachi, shares the theme of the Gospel.  In it God, through the prophet, is critical of the priests because they “have turned aside from the way and have caused many to falter by your instruction, you have made void the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts.”  

Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians.  In it Paul gives thanks to God because the Thessalonians: “in receiving the word of God from hearing us, you received not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you who believe.”

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Jesus criticized the scribes and Pharisees for a lack of consistency between their words and their actions.   When have your actions not been consistent with your words?
  2. Jesus invited his disciples to humble themselves.  What does that mean to you?
  3. Have you ever felt the word of God at work in you?   

Recently I attended a lecture by author Kathleen Norris. During the course of her talk she shared a quote attributed to Philo of Alexandria, a first century Jewish philosopher: “BE KIND for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” I loved the simplicity of the words, but also the profound meaning behind them. I suspect all of us have “battles” we are fighting in our lives. They could be bad memories, addictive behaviors, physical or mental health issues, difficulties in relationships, financial problems, job concerns, etc. etc. The list could go on endlessly. Whatever battle an individual is fighting, though, it is very often unseen and in many cases known only to a few.

So, recognizing that everyone has their own personal battle they are fighting, the real question is how do we “be kind” to everyone? Well, I think this is easier than some might think. In fact, I think it can be boiled down to four simple things. 

  1. Give people the benefit of the doubt. It is easy for all of us to observe what we “perceive” to be someone’s bad mood or poor behavior, and then respond in kind. More often than I care to admit, when I think someone is being indifferent, unfriendly, or mean, I mirror that behavior in my response to them. We need to remember, though, that we are dealing with our perception, and perception doesn’t necessarily translate into reality. Perhaps the individual is just preoccupied with a difficulty or a problem they are dealing with. Or perhaps, they are feeling a bit overwhelmed and aren’t ready to deal with the world outside themselves. Giving people the benefit of the doubt is a very simple way to be kind. 
  2. Don’t take out your bad mood on someone else. Too often when I am having a bad day, or when I’m overly tired, or when I am worried about something, I can easily share that bad mood with almost everyone I encounter. The challenge for all of us is to recognize when we are “out of sorts,” for whatever reason, and then make a conscious choice to keep our bad mood to ourselves. I have a friend who regularly gives themselves a “time out” when they recognize that they are in a bad mood. It gives them time to think about what issue/concern is the source of their bad mood, and then find a constructive way to deal with that. Not taking out our bad mood on someone else is an easy way to be kind. 
  3. Don’t talk about people behind their backs. When we criticize or denigrate others, particularly when there is no way for them to explain or defend themselves, this demonstrates a serious lack of charity on our part. In effect, we are passing judgement on them “in absentia.” Failing to honor the name and character of someone in their absence is always inappropriate. Not talking about someone behind their back is another easy way to be kind. 
  4. Say a quick prayer. I suggest this because it never ceases to amaze me what a difference it can make to pause for a moment to pray for someone or to pray for myself. Prayer helps to take the focus off of me and my feelings, and reminds me that God is always offering us God’s grace to help us deal with, work through, overcome or forgive whatever is causing us not to be charitable. Saying a quick prayer for someone or for ourselves is an easy way to be kind. 

Being kind is not always easy, especially when we don’t know what battle someone is fighting. Perhaps, though if we are kind to others, they in turn will be kind to us. And who knows, that kind of mutual kindness could even start a trend. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102917.cfm  
 
In the Gospels, the Scribes and Pharisees, as well as the Sadducees, often were at odds with Jesus.   In our Gospel this Sunday the Pharisees sent one of their members, a scholar of the law, to ask Jesus which was the greatest of the commandments.  Now this would not have been an unusual question.   It is estimated that there were over 600 precepts/commands in the Torah. Asking a “Rabbi” to put some rank and/or order to them would have been within the confines of a legitimate question.  
 
Scholars suggest that Jesus’ response to the question, his linking of love of neighbor with love of God would not have come as a surprise.  They were both found in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6.5 and Leviticus 19.18).  What would have been unexpected, however, was the fact that Jesus put these commandments (love of God and love of neighbor) on par with each other.    For Jesus love of God and love of neighbor go hand in hand and in the words of an old song:  “You can’t have one without the other.”     
 
In Luke’s Gospel Jesus’ response to the question about the greatest commandment prompts the follow up question “And who is my neighbor?”   Jesus responded to that question with the story of the Good Samaritan.  Since the story of the Good Samaritan is not found in Matthew’s Gospel, (where today’s Gospel is taken) we need to look to the first reading for Sunday for an insight into whom our neighbor is.   That reading, from the book of Exodus, tells us that our neighbor is the alien, the widow, the orphan, the poor, the person in need.    
 
Our second reading this Sunday is from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians.   In the section we read today Paul compliments the Thessalonians because they have become "imitators of the Lord, and his fellow missionaries."   
 
Thoughts for Consideration/Reflection: 
 
  1. What “neighbor” do you find difficult to love?
  2. I have a friend who says the reason we have difficulty loving our neighbor as ourselves is that we don’t love ourselves very well.   What do you think?
  3. Who comes to mind as someone you would name as an imitator of the Lord?  

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102217.cfm 

There is an old proverb that says: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”   We see an example of this in our Gospel this weekend.   We are told that the “Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.  They sent their disciples to him with the Herodians………..”   The Pharisees and the Herodians were bitter enemies.  The Pharisees believed the observance of the Jewish law was paramount.   They defended it rigorously.   The Herodians on the other were seen as collaborators with the occupying Romans.   They were willing to make compromises with Jewish law.  They displayed a “go along to get along” philosophy.   A delegation from these two groups approached Jesus with a feigned compliment:  “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.”  They then laid their trap with a skillfully devised question:  “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”  If Jesus said yes to paying the temple tax, he would have lost status with the Jews who were following him.   If he said no to paying the temple tax, he would have been liable to being denounced to the occupying Romans.    Jesus’ response is well known.  He asked for a coin (which had Caesar’s image on it.)  and said: “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”    The question that is unspoken, of course, is if a coin bears the image of Caesar, what is it that bears the image of God?   The answer, of course, is that we do.  

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   In this reading Cyrus, a Gentile ruler, is referred to as the Lord’s anointed because the Lord used Cyrus to defeat the Babylonians and thus allow the Jews who had been in captivity to return home.   The point of the reading is that God can work through anyone. 

Our second reading this weekend is the beginning of the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians.  In it Paul greets the Thessalonians, and reminds them that they are remembered in his prayers:  “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:  

  1. We have all heard that we are made in the image and likeness of God, but what does this mean to you?
  2. God used King Cyrus for God’s purposes.  Have you ever felt God using you or someone you know for God’s purposes?
  3. Paul told the Thessalonians that he remembered them in his prayers.  Are there people you remember in prayer?   Have you ever asked someone to remember you in prayer?   
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/101517.cfm 
 
R.S.V.P.  Re’pondez  s’il vous plait.   This seems like such a simple request.  And yet, so often it is ignored.   Certainly this indicates a lack of social grace.  In our Gospel parable today, however, the people were guilty of more than just a lack of social graces when they ignored the invitation to the wedding feast.   We are told that they not only “refused to come to the feast,” but in some cases “laid hold of and mistreated the King’s servants and even killed them.”   What kind of people would do this?   
 
Well, I suspect they were not all that much different than us.  They were people who had become so self-absorbed that they couldn’t recognize the gift/invitation that was being offered to them.   The anger of the King seems exaggerated (possibly to underline the irretrievability of the invitees decision not to come to the banquet).  It is tempered, though by his largess and generosity in sending his servants out to invite to the feast whomever they could find.    This reminds us that no one is beyond the reach and embrace of our God’s love.   
 
But what about the person who was ejected because he didn’t wear a wedding garment.   Well, since many times guests would come from a distance over dirty and dusty roads, the host often provided an opportunity for them to clean up, as well as a fresh garment for them to wear.  The guest’s refusal to comply with this custom went beyond rudeness and would have been insulting to the host.   The message in this is clear.  It’s not enough just to show up.  Something more is required.  
 
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
  1. Looking back can you see where you have failed to respond or even rejected an invitation from God?
  2. Have there been times when you’ve just shown up in response to God’s invitation, without doing anything else?  
  3. In our second reading Paul talks about living in widely divergent circumstances.   He then says:  “I can do all things in him who strengthen me.”   Can you think of a time when you were strengthened to do something that initially you didn’t think you could do?  

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