Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Feast of Corpus Christi - Year A - 2017


The words the priest says at the Consecration of the Mass,

The words which I will have the incredible privilege of saying in a few moments echo the words that Jesus himself spoke at the Last Supper.

“Take this all of you and eat of it for this is my body
This is the chalice of my blood”

And Catholics have always taken Jesus at his word.
From the very beginning of the Church we have always believed that If Jesus said this is my Body, it is…
If He said this is my blood it is.

We believe that Jesus intended the literal meaning of the words when he spoke them at the last supper.

If God can make the whole universe he can surely change a piece of bread into his body and a cup of wine into his blood even if they don’t change in appearance.

Many Christians simply don’t believe that Jesus literally meant what he said.

They take the bible literally in so many instances but just can’t take it literally in this one.

They think he was speaking symbolically or allegorically rather than literally and it’s easy to see how someone could come to that conclusion until you read today’s Gospel. John Chapter 6

It is called the bread of life discourse and in it we just heard Jesus say

“The bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."

When the people listening to Jesus began to complain that it didn’t make sense if you understood his words literally  he doubled down and said,

"Amen, amen”, Remember in the Gospels whenever you hear Amen Amen it’s important

“Amen Amen I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you. “

Then many people who were listening to Jesus who heard him speak said to themselves this is crazy he can’t mean it literally  and they walked away.

That day was a very sad day for our Lord because he lost many followers simply because they refused to take him at his word

When this happened Jesus didn’t run after them and saying wait I misspoke, I meant what I said  symbolically rather than literally.

He didn’t run after them and say wait you misunderstood, he sadly let them go and later on in the chapter he said to his Disciples are you going to leave me too?

Peter responded “Lord where could we go you have the words of everlasting life.”

Today is the feast of Corpus Christi or the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Today the church asks us to reflect upon and be grateful for the mystery of the Eucharist through which Jesus is himself broken and shared among us.

With the Eucharist, Jesus wishes to be present to us and even more than simply being present to us, Jesus longs to be in communion with us.

That’s where the phrase “Holy Communion” comes from. We were made to be in relationship and Jesus desires to be intimately united with us.

With the Eucharist Jesus longs to satisfy our hunger with heavenly food.

All of us hunger for something and in the end only God can and will satisfy our hungers.

Every desire we have is in some way a reflection of our desire for God.

In the Eucharist we recall both the last supper and the suffering and death of our Lord on the cross.

The Eucharist is more than just a meal it is also a sacrifice and through the Sacrifice of the Mass Jesus offers up his Body and Blood to God in remission for our sins and the sins of the whole world.

And so every Sunday the Church gathers the People,
We listen and reflects on  the Word
We break and the bread, which becomes the body and blood of Christ
And we enter into holy communion with our Lord and Savior who longs to be a part of our lives.

We do this and have done this not because the church needs an excuse to gather but  simply because Jesus told us to when he said “Do this in Memory of Me” Those words were meant for the 12 and those words were meant for every follower of Christ for all time.

Finely,  with the Eucharist we are transformed, changed and become more and more like the image and likeness of God.

While this change may not be apparent to us and those we live with, when we receive the Eucharist worthily we are indeed changed.

In some small way we become more and more like Christ and we are better able to conform ourselves to his will.

Centuries ago St. Thomas Aquinas summed up the meaning and mystery of the Eucharist In the best possible way when he wrote this prayer…
Please repeat it after me.

O Holy Banquet
In which Christ is received
The memory of his passion is recalled
The soul is filled with grace
And the promise of future glory is given to us

He have given us bread from heaven
Containing in itself all delight.

May we never miss an opportunity to receive Our Lord in his Body and in his Blood.


Amen

Saturday, May 20, 2017

6th Sunday Of Easter - Year A - 2017


 May the Peace of Christ Reign in our heart.

Today’s readings present us with three simple truths that each and everyone of us needs to take to heart.

To understand them we need to situate the first two readings into the life and reality of the early Church.

The first reading from the acts of the Apostles follows right after Stephen’s Martyrdom.

Stephen was one of the first Deacons, and was the first disciple of Jesus to give his life rather than renounce his faith.

His violent death by stoning shocked and frightened the early church.

His death drove home the point that anyone who professed faith in Jesus Christ might be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice.

The experience was so strong that many believers left Jerusalem out of fear.
One of those who left was Philip who we read about in the first reading.

He fled to Jerusalem and went to Samaria and when he arrived there he did not curl up into a ball and hide in fear, rather he began to share his faith in Jesus despite the danger.

His preaching was so convincing that some Samaritans came to believe and be baptized.

When  historians look back on stephen’s martyrdom they tell us that his sacrifice served a two very special purposes

It strengthened the commitment and resolve of the early disciples and it help to  spread the Gospel to a much larger area which would not have happened if the members of the Church had remained in Jerusalem.

What was at first glance seemed tragic in the long run turned out to benefit the Church.

As Tertullian a early follower of Christ. The Blood of Martyrs is the seed of the Church.

In the Second reading from  the first letter of St. Peter the author is writing to console the Church in Asia Minor.

That was Paul’s territory and Peter would not have written them if Paul was still alive.

This leads the scholars the believe that Paul had probably already been beheaded just outside of Rome.  

Peter’s letter seems to have been written shortly before his own martyrdom.

It was clear that the Roman Empire want not pleased with this new sect of Jews some called Christians.

For the next couple hundred years there would be decades of peace for the followers of Christ and decades or persecution sometimes severe persecution.

Peter knew as the leader of the Church in Rome his life was in danger, yet he did not run

And in those challenging dangerous times we find him writing the incredible words we heard today.

You see in 1st Peter the author was trying to convey to the Church what it should say and how it should act in a world hostile to the Gospel.

His message can be summed up as
Always be willing to share the reason for your hope.
But do so humbly and gently even if your are being persecuted.

So here are the three truths we need to take to heart

1. The example of Stephen and Philip cause us all to accept the fact that being a follower of Christ bears with it a cost and in some cases a significant cost.
A cost which all of us must recognize and be willing to pay
We may be misunderstood,
we may be ostracized,
we may be persecuted,
we may be passed, over or made fun of,
and sadly in these times many are even called to give their lives rather than renounce their faith.

Every true follower of Christ must accept the cost of discipleship.

2. The second lesson is that sometimes the bad things we endure may really be good just waiting to happen. Once I met a man in the hospital who had suffered a severe heart attack when I

A dear friend I had in washington used to say.
The Devil meant it for bad but God made it good.

Stephen's murder was bad but in the end his sacrifice spread the gospel, grew the church and strengthened the resolve of the other disciples.

There are difficult moments in our own lives and sometimes we have to accept them for what they are and wait until the final word is written on them.

The third truth is simply this Peter reminds us in the second readng that all of us every single one of us is called to share the good news with whomever we can.

Our faith is not simply given to us as, some kind of private consolation or feel good pill

Rather we must be willing to share the reason for our hope with anyone we meet.

Our world is becoming more and more hostile to religion almost any religion.

The world needs to hear the reason for our hope and Peter reminds us that we must do so gently and patiently even when we are persecuted.

No one will ever change a human heart with anger and bitterness…anger and bitterness don’t give peace or hope the only thing they can give is anger and bitterness.

Only humble, patient, gentle and maybe even suffering love, can change a heart and bring it to faith and to hope.

Our world needs faithful loving disciples of Christ to restore it’s hope

Amen


Sunday, May 14, 2017

5th Sunday of Easter Year -A- 2017


If anyone reads this blog I'm sorry I've been so lax in putting up my homilies. I'll try to do better.  Peace 


May the Peace of Christ Reign in our Hearts


The beautiful words “ Do not let your heart be troubled” were meant to encourage the Apostles as they would witness Jesus being arrested tortured and hung on the cross but they were also meant for us.


Fear has always been a part of the human condition.


We are afraid of so many things.
Fear is so prevalent in our society that John Paul II felt it necessary to almost continually remind us not to be afraid.


The very first words he spoke to the world after his election as Pope were simply
“Do not be afraid.”


In the Gospel the Word reminds us that when fear comes upon us
It is important to have faith in God and Faith in Jesus.


we have faith in Jesus then we value what he valued and discard what he didn’t think was important.


Faith in Jesus liberates us from the cares of the world
Faith in Jesus frees from so many fears.


Believing in Jesus sets us free
by showing us what is really important in our lives and by showing us how to get home.


The Gospel also encourages us to have faith in God.
But many of us ask ourselves how can we trust God?
How can our belief in God give us peace and encouragement?


The real question should be how can we not trust God?


If God was willing to send us His only Son to pay the price of our sin and lead us home then doesn’t it follow that God will give us anything we could ever possibly need to come home to him?


Yes Fear is such a part of our world our entire world


The poor fear dying from hunger or sickness and they fear for the future of their children like anyone else.


The poor are often very afraid of the violence which is so sadly commonplace in the lives of refugees and those in desperate need even in our country.


The rich fear not having enough even when some have so much they could never spend  what they have.


The powerful fear that someone will grow more powerful than them.


The influential fear that someone will become more popular and take their place.


Children fear they will be abandoned.


Teenagers fear they won’t fit in or that they are not handsome or beautiful enough.  


Some are so afraid that they even stop eating. Eating disorders are a sad example of just how fearful our society has become.


Young adults fear they won’t find a husband or wife they can share their lives with.


College students fear they won’t find their place in the world


They are afraid they won’t find that special place in our world which is life giving to them and where they can make their contribution.


Young families fear not having enough to give to their children


People starting out in their careers fear that they won’t get that special break they need or that they will screw things up.


As the children get older Mothers and Fathers are so often afraid for them.
Will they be happy ?
Will they have friends ?
Will they do drugs?
Will they find someone to love?
Will we be able to protect them from the struggles of life?


In middle age many people ask themselves is that all there is?
Is this what life was about? They are afraid life pasted them by


In their fifties… people often wonder if they have gone as far as they can go in their careers.


They fear the young smart talented people who are following them..
They wonder if they still have what it takes to make their contribution.


In their sixties and seventies thoughtful people wonder if they have ever really made any difference with their lives.
They often ask, did I do anything at all of value?


As people grow older they fear getting older
They are afraid of aches and pains
They are afraid of sickness
They are afraid that they won’t have enough to retire on
They are so afraid of losing their independence


When people are near death many are afraid to meet God
We pray our whole life thy Kingdom Come but when it does we say not yet.


Yes fear is all around us.
If we let it ….fear can rule our lives.
GOD DOES NOT WANT US TO BE AFRAID
LET ME REPEAT THAT
GOD DOES NOT WANT US TO BE AFRAID


God DOES NOT WANT US TO LIVE IN FEAR.


The Gospel says “Do not let your heart be troubled”


If we allow Jesus to be the way the truth and the life
then we really need very few material possessions
We can even be surprised by how little we really need.


If we base our lives on God’s truth
Then we can look at other people as our brothers and sister and not merciless competitors


If we pattern our lives after Jesus
Then we don’t have to work 60 hour weeks so we can have the wrap around porch and the garage that could fit three third world families  but rather we can play with our kids and never miss one of their games.


If we pattern our lives after Jesus
Then we don’t have to be the most powerful
Remember Jesus saved us by being weak


If we pattern our lives after Jesus
Then we don’t have to fear for our children because we can see that they are held in the loving hands of God


If we pattern our lives after Jesus
Then we don’t have to fear sickness or old age because even these experiences through which almost everyone must pass can make us better people more generous people.


Sometimes older couple grows apart until one of them gets sick and needs the other.
The salvation of many people and many marriages has been found in the challenge of sickness and the necessity of caring for your husband or wife who is ill.


Caring for someone or being cared for changes a person’s heart.


This week let’s meditate on these powerful words


Do not let your hearts be troubled have faith in God and faith in me


God meant what he says. Amen

Sunday, May 07, 2017

4th Sunday of Easter Year A - 2017

Good Shepherd Sunday
(And First Communion)

Boys and Girls
Sheep are beautiful gentle animals
Before the farmers take their wool to make clothes they are big and fluffy and soft.

Sheep never get angry when a wolf or some other animal comes a sheeps only defense is to run away

One thing that sheep are really good at is eating

The love new grass so they keep their head down looking for the next blade to eat and they eat and they eat and they eat.

Sometimes they are so focused on eating that they don’t even see that the flock has moved away and then they become lost. Sheep are always getting lost and the shepherds have to go our and find them.

No Sheep aren’t the smartest animals but they do know who they are and who their shepherd is.
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Every night the Shepherd puts the sheep into a pen or  sheepfold to keep them safe.

Then when morning comes their shepherd would come out and calls their name.

Because Tthey know their name and because they know the voice of their shepherd they will only come out when he calls.
If someone else calls their name will not come out.

Why do the sheep only follow their shepherd?
Because they know the shepherd loves them and they know that he will keep them safe and take them to good pastures.

Boys and Girls we have to ask ourselves who do we listen to?
Who do we trust?
Who do we follow?

Whose voice should we listen too and follow.

We should never follow anyone who is angry or a bully
We should never follow anyone who always thinks about themselves first
We should never follow someone who only cares about money and what people have.
We should never follow anyone who thinks they are better than others.

We need to follow the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
We need to listen to him.
Jesus loves us
Jesus teaches us how to love, how to forgive, what is right and what is wrong.

Jesus loves us so much he died for our sins like a good shepherd

We should also always listen to the voice of those who care for us.

It’s important to listen to your parents and your grandparents

There is no one in the whole world who loves you more than them.

They love you with your faults they love you when you're good they even love you when you’re bad.

Your family is your family…

Boys and Girls on this day on which you will receive your first communion please make it your plan to listen to always listen voice of Jesus  your Good Shepherd  and to listen to the voices of those who love you.

If you do you will have a good and happy life and that’s what everyone in this Church wants for you.

Amen



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