Friday, June 24, 2011
a picture which in some small way makes him/her feel the presence of that special person whenever they look at it.
When Daddy goes away on a business trip many times a mother will show their little children his picture.
“Here’s daddy” they say to remind the kids that he loves them, and cares for them, and misses them.
Sadly a picture is not enough it is never enough.
What the soldier needs on the battle field is a kiss or an embrace.
What the little girl needs is to dance on Daddy’s feet or to lay on his chest and feel his heart.
What the little boy needs is to throw play ball with his Dad or be tackled by him.
No a picture, or a memory, is never enough
they never satisfy.
Pictures and memories never fill the space which exists in our heart when we are alone, absent from the ones we love.
Human beings need presence.
We yearn to be in the presence of the one we love.
God understands the human heart and God understands the human body.
He created them and God Himself became incarnate.
Remember the Word was made flesh and dwells among us.
And when you think about it and pray about it.
Our bodies are they way that God has given us to be in communion with each other
and His Body is the way we can live in communion with Him.
Our bodies are how we relate.
Our bodies are like a window to the soul of the one we love
even a smell,
- bring us into communion with each other
A long time ago I met a woman who refused to wash a pillowcase because it smelled like her deceased husband. It made him present in a special way.
What a gift it is to be in communion with someone else,
what an incredible gift.
And just like we need our bodies and the bodies of others to be in communion with each other…
Jesus understood that we could only be truly in communion with Him if we shared His Body, His Blood , His Soul, and Divinity.
That is why we come here to be in the presence of God…
That is why this place is holy
That is why this beautiful little church is set apart
That is why we call it a sacred space
That is why some of us genuflect or bow when enter and leave.
That is why we should try not to talk unnecessarily
As if we met someone in front of JC Penny’s in West Farm Mall..
In the synoptic Gospels we hear the narrative of the Last Supper, in which Jesus plainly says,
“THIS IS MY BODY
THIS IS MY BLOOD.”
He doesn’t say this could be my body.
He doesn’t say this could be by blood.
No, He says “THIS IS MY BODY.”
And sadly for some strange reason,
some who read the scriptures literally in every other aspect….
those who believe that
there were really seven 24 days during creation,
and Moses was really 120 years old, etc.
refuse to take Jesus literally when He says, “this is My Body.”
So how do we know that Holy Communion is really the Body and Blood of Christ ?
Jesus also says He is the vine and we are the branches.
and in these cases he is speaking figuratively.
To find more evidence that Jesus was not speaking figuratively and meant what he said…we have to go to the 6th Chapter of John’s Gospel and the Bread of life discourse.
Which is what we read today. In it Jesus said
“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood you have no live within you.”
Many took Jesus literally as he intended and turned away.
They say to themselves… this is too weird for me.
How can this man give us his flesh and blood to eat?
They leave because they refuse to comprehend or accept this incredible teaching of Jesus.
They refuse to accept Him at His literal Word and they make the mistake of their live time and walk away.
Knowing that they are leaving because they are taking him literally JESUS does not call them back and say wait you misunderstood I’m talking figuratively or symbolically.
No He lets them go their way in the hope that someday they would understand and return.
Then He simply turns to the Apostles and says.
“Are you going to leave me too?”
To which Peter, the impulsive one, responds.
“Lord to whom shall we go You have the words of everlasting life?”
No a picture is not enough
And a memory is not enough
God understands that just like we need the real presence of those whom we love to live in communion with them….
God understands that we need His real presence, His body and His blood to live in communion with Him.
Why is this so hard to understand?
Why is this so hard to believe to accept?
If God can make the whole universe with all its wonder and beauty..
Why can’t we accept that God can take some bread and some wine, ordinary things and turn them into his body and his blood his real presence so that we might live in communion with Him?
Holy ones… our world, our culture, our nation, our neighborhoods and sadly even our families are becoming more and more isolated and isolating.
Don’t be afraid
It is possible to live in communion with God,
and God longs to be in communion with us much more than we could ever desire to live in communion with Him.
“Eat his flesh and drink his blood”
Live in communion with Jesus the very Word of God
Those who do can never be alone…
He is here
He is present
Not simply in a memory or a written text or a picture
He is here His body and His blood, His Soul and divinity.
He longs for you to live in His presence of and be nourished by His body and blood.
To be in communion with him
This Church has been filled with people longing to sit in the very presence of God.
for over a hundred years.
People come here
To sit with him
To listen to him
To sing to him
To pray to him
To be with him in a special way.
May we always find great solace both at the celebration of the Eucharist or at the feet of our Lord at present in the Blessed Sacrament.
May be always strive to be in communion with God who loves us so much that He gives us His Body and Blood.
God is near very near indeed
Saturday, June 11, 2011
I would like to propose three thoughts for us to ponder on this Feast of Pentecost 2011...
THE FIRST IS THIS...
A person can get along without a lot of money.
There are a many people who don't have a lot of money these days.
We can get along with minimal food. We certainly don't need all that we eat.
We can get along without the latest fashions and toys and gadgets and we can have a very good quality of life.
A poor boy in China didn't understand that and sold one of his kidneys for an IPAD.
However, it is very very hard to get along without other people.
God made us to be in relationship, relationship with others and relationship with God.
That's why is solitary confinement so difficult to bear for a person in prison.
Its so difficult because it denies our very fundamental need for relationship our fundamental need to be with others.
If a child it is not held, if it is not nurtured he/she will never thrive, sometimes they will even die.
This fundamental fear of being alone manifests itself is so many ways during our lives:
Bullying is so hard to bear for a child because it implies rejection. No one will play with me. I will be alone...
One of the most important things for a young person growing up is being accepted. They try so hard to be a part of the group. Educators spend so much time helping them understand and deal with and figure out peer pressure... or pressure to belong.
A little later in life people fear that they will not find someone to spend the rest of their life with. They fear that they will be alone. This fear is so strong and sometimes so reinforced by family members that in desperation it is not uncommon for people to marry the wrong person or the first person to come along. Disaster disaster disaster...
After the loss of a spouse of many year, people long for companionship and relationship. When their spouse of many many years dies sometimes its as if a part of themselves has died. It is so very painful.
All of this is true because we are made to be with others and we are made to love.
It is indeed so painful to be alone....
Today is the feast of Pentecost.
Today God promises to be with us always.
Jesus said “I will not leave you orphans.
I will send you the advocate, the comforter the Spirit of Truth.”
I becomes clear from today's readings that Holy Spirit was not given to the apostles individually for their own benefit or purpose.
The gifts of the Spirit were given to us in the context of the community the Church.
The apostles and Mary were gathered together in prayer when the Holy Spirit came.
That's how God wanted the gifts of the Spirit to be received and only when they were gathered together as Church did they receive the Holy Spirit.
We all know that the Church is not perfect.
If you don't know that I don't know where you have been living these past 10 year or last 20 centuries.
You think things are bad now you should have been around during the time of St. Francis or St. Theresa of Avila. What a human mess.
Jesus knew that we would make mistakes.
Jesus knew that our community our church would be broken and holy at the same time.
Jesus knew that there would be scandals and problems in every age, yet he still chose to ask the Apostles the first leaders of the Church to be gathered together in prayer to receive the Holy Spirit.
And it is the Church which is tasked with recognizing and channeling the gifts of the Holy Spirit where they are needed the most.
Many say that Pentecost was indeed the birthday of the Church and it is through the community of the Church that the gifts are shared.
The second reading today reminds us that each member of the community receives a different gift and each of these gifts are holy and special.
Some can preach, some can discern God's will,
some are great prophets,
some can be lost in prayer,
some have incredible energy and strength and stamina and are constantly able to serve their brothers and sisters,
some are smart, really smart etc etc etc
Yes we have a multitude of gifts to share and all of our gifts are to be placed at the service of God’s Kingdom and each other.
And so on this the third most holy day of the year
after Easter and Christmas,
on this day when we celebrate and recognize the both the gifts and the presence of the Holy Spirit,
let us find comfort in the fact that God is really present in our lives.
Men and women of faith can never be alone..
When Jesus said I am with you always until the end of time
He meant what He said.
He is with us always in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Let us remember that the Holy Spirit did not reveal himself to individual people but rather in the presence of the community or Church gathered in prayer.
Authentic use of God's gifts will always be at the service of the community of faith and they will always build up the Church.
Finally Let us recognize the gifts that each of us has been given.
We all have gifts every person in this Church has gifts to share.
Let us and rejoice in the diversity of gifts that can be shared in the church.
We should never be jealous of the gifts a person has received.
We should never be prideful of the gifts that we ourselves have received.
We must be grateful for the gifts God has given us.
Every gift we have must simply be put at the service of others.
Come Holy Spirit fill the heart of the faithful and in-kindle in us the fire of your love send for your spirit and we shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.
Thursday, June 09, 2011
Dear Graduates of St. Paul School,
Today is a special day. Today is a day many of you have waited for with expectation; a day you have been ready for and a big step forward in your lives. When many of you came to St. Paul’s years ago, it seemed so big; and now for some of you, it seems so
very small indeed. That’s OK… Your desire to move and explore new horizons, your desire to try something different and raise the bar a little, all of these things mean that St. Paul School has served you well.
Everyone has been telling you that High School is really different and it is. However, we know that you are ready. You’ve done well here and you have the ability to do well wherever you go. I was so proud of you when the Office of Catholic Schools told me that the Science scores in our Middle School were in the 90% percentile. Let me tell you, I was never that smart in Middle School. In addition to preparing yourselves intellectually in the classroom and physically in the playground, the parking lot and the basketball court, it is my fervent hope that we have helped you understand that you are special in God’s eyes. God’s love is not dependent on what you say, or how you act, or what you accomplish. God’s love is unconditional.. He loves you now and He will love you forever, even if in the end you choose not to love Him.
You chose the 1st reading wisely… because it speaks of light, God’s Light. Let me teach you a little phrase which is very special to me. Deus lux mea est (God is my light). Let me assure you God’s light will never grow dim; it will be a light which will always be visible somewhere in the distance no matter how far you wander away. Deus lux mea est. I know people who have been lost for years and years and years, people who have been lost for decades even,
and have finally chosen to look up and follow the light of Christ. If you ever get lost, and I hope you don’t, look up and you will find the light of God’s love in the distance. I promise. Follow it home. Deus lux Mea est.
In the Gospel you chose, we hear the call of the disciples. They were just normal people; hard working men trying to make ends meet. They were not theologians or scholars of the law; they probably weren’t even as smart as you, yet God chose them to found the Church. He entrusted them with the power of the Gospel and the salvation of the world. And once they got it, once they understood who Jesus really was and what God needed them to do, (and let me tell you it took them awhile to figure it out), they were so brave.
They were so courageous that they willingly gave their lives for Jesus and the Gospel and for love. They willingly gave their lives for love. Think about it…Deus lux mea est.
Dear 8th Graders, God has a plan. God has a plan for you. Each and every one of you is a very important part, an indispensable part in the wonderful puzzle of God’s loving providence. There is nothing more disappointing to spend tons of time putting together a huge puzzle and finding a piece missing. When that happens, everyone who looks at the puzzle and your hard work notices the piece that is missing.
In the next four years of High School, begin to dream, but remember. . . .Deus lux mea est. Find what you like to do. Try lots of things… make sure that they are all legal, age appropriate, and exciting. Maybe God will begin to show you where you fit into the puzzle of his divine providence. Maybe God will show you where he needs you. Listen carefully when Jesus says come follow me. He may lead you to be a teacher, a computer programmer, a financial guru, a priest or friar, a religious sister, a doctor or lawyer, a social worker, a counselor or, whatever…..Yes, high school is a time when God begins to let you understand the dreams he has had for you from the beginning of time.
Well Holy ones, it has been a privilege for us to be a part of your lives. I wish I could have had the chance to get to know you more… the first year in any new assignment is always hard. You have to figure out where all the light switches are.
Dear 8th Graders, Say your prayers, follow the light, dream your dreams, find your place in God’s plan and
remember to keep us posted on where your dreams take you. And never forget. . .
Deus lux mea est.
Yes, He is and may He always be. Amen.
Saturday, June 04, 2011
May the Peace of Christ Reign in our Hearts
You know I used to live in Rome and Assisi.
In fact I lived there for 6 years
I’ll never forget being so moved the first time I saw St. Peter’s at the end of the “Via della Consolatione.”
Sad to say the utter fascination and awe I experienced when I saw St. Peter for the first time slowly but surely wore off.
So much so that after I while I would glance over toward St. Peter’s as I was running for the bus on “Lungo Tevere” as if to say oh yeah there’s St. Peter I hope I didn’t miss the 97 bus to Trastevere.
I visited Florence so much that it became like going to Rocky Hill for me.
You know it’s part of our human nature that wonder and awe don’t always last as long as we would like.
Each and everyone of us have been given a wonderful gift, an incredible gift. It is the gift of our faith.
Our faith roots us in God’s love.
Our faith gives us hope when everything and everyone else tells us to give up hope and throw in the towel.
Our faith helps us understand what is right and what is wrong, how to live and how to love.
Because of our faith we stand on the shoulders and benefit from the life experiences of the countless men and women who have come before us mark with the sign of faith.
Because of our faith every generation does not start from scratch trying to find their way.
There are very few challenges and experiences that humanity hasn’t dealt with before and our faith helps us understand how to deal with them.
our faith in Jesus Christ,
handed down to us from the time of the Apostles,through the faithful ministry of the Church,
a church both broken and holy at the very same time,
is indeed a most precious gift.
Like I grew to take the warmth of Assisi, the beauty of Florence, and the majesty of St. Peter’s for granted when I lived in Italy.
Quite frequently we forget, the incredible gift of our faith.
its majesty fade and we take our faith for granted.
Frequently we simply get stuck in the everyday worries of life.
Think about it, are grateful, are we in awe, of the incredible fact that right in that tabernacle,day in and day out is the real presence of Jesus Christ.
God Almighty, all loving, all merciful,
the creator of heaven and earth.
Right there… right there.
actually most of the time, I feel that my heart and mind and my soul aren’t able to take all of that in and appreciate it.
How many times has our faith been a consolation in times of sadness or sorrow?
How many times has our faith been a light in what seemed to be a sea of darkness and confusion?
How many times has our faith pushed us to look beyond our own needs and wants?
How many times has our faith pushed us drawn us to something more
Some One holy?
Yes our faith is a gift, a privilege,
and a hope which so very many of us take for granted.
Our faith has been entrusted to us by God.
Which brings me to the second point.
Our faith is not ours to create.
We cannot rewrite the Gospel in every generation.
We don’t adapt the Gospel to fit our culture.
It is our task to bring our culture in communion with the Gospel.
When the Gospel points one way and the world and our culture goes another we have to change the world not the Gospel
Someone one said to me recently in a very angry and bitter tone .
Our faith is old fashion, get with it,times have changed the Church has got to change,
our faith is got to change.
There was so much emotion when she spoke that something very personal had to be going on in her life.
I pray that God gives me the chance to talk more to that person.
It was as if she felt that somehow we know better than God
As if somehow we have the wisdom
or maybe the arrogance to think that we can change the very Word of God.
In school we used to play a game when I was a little boy which we called telegraph
A long line kids would form a circle and the first one would whisper a phrase to the second person and by the time it got to the last person in the line it was all changed.
If every generation felt it could change to Word of God
What would we have left of God’s self revelation?
Would our faith resemble in any way the gift that Jesus died on the cross to share with us.
Our faith is not ours to change.
Our faith is not ours to adapt.
Our faith is ours to preserve.
Our faith is ours to hand on to the next generation.
Just like someone gave it to us.
We must pass it on so that they many may also share it’s wonderful consolation and
benefit from its challenge
and understand the warmth, beauty and majesty of God’s love.
We must pass on our faith In season and out of season.
When its popular and when it’s not.
Let us always be faithful to the wonderful gift that God has given us in our faith.
Please repeat after me.
Lord help me believe
Lord Help me seek You
Help me see to love you Lord
Help me be faithful
And help me pass on to the next generation
the Wonderful gift you have shared with me
my Catholic Faith.