Friday, April 23, 2010

4th Sunday of Easter – Year C 2010

Sheep were very important to the people of Jesus’ time.

They provided clothing and food. 
Every town had a flock of sheep which were cared for by local shepherds.

Jesus frequently used common experiences from everyday life to convey profound religious truths.

When he spoke about the relationship between sheep and shepherds the people who listened understood completely.

Once upon a time in my youth I took about 25 ruffians from the projects just outside of Rome to a small town called Bagnoregio it was a beautiful place out in the country.

Many of the kids were in middle school and had never been out of the asphalt jungle or city projects of Ostia Nuova where they grew up.

They were very poor.
To give you an idea how isolated they were, when we went into the city of Rome to catch the bus for Bagnoregio some of them discovered an escalator for the first time and a riot broke.

It was like going to Disney world for them.
Up and down Up and down running down the up and up the down… you know the drill. 

The transit police were not amused and they tried to run after the kids and  catch them needless to say they were not successful.

It was beautiful in Bagnoregio they played soccer all day on grass.

One day  I decided to give them a little culture and take them to a larger town called Orvieto.

We were late as usual and as we walked down the road to get the bus they notice the bus was already there and  started yelling l’auto l’auto l’auto   running toward it yelling and screaming like normal kids from Rome do.

The only problem what that in between the bus and the kids in the middle of town were around 100 sheep being led by two young shepherd to pasture and a dog.

They were coming back from being shorn.

When the kids saw the bus and started running and yelling, the sheep could no longer hear the shepherds and became afraid.

They started to run into each other and to scatter all over the place.

Back then People in small towns kept their doors open in the summer heat.

The sheep ran into stores and houses
and because they were afraid they pooped all over.
What a mess. What mess What mess…

The people of the town came out and started yelling we literally all had to run for it and catch the bus or they would have done us in. There was you know what all over the place.

That night we got off the bus outside the town and tried to sneek back to the friary we were staying in.

When we got back the old friar who had welcomed us came into the room and was so upset he couldn’t speak.

All he could do is stand there and shake his hands.
Needless to say we snuck out of town and went home never to return.

Sometimes when we read the newspaper or listen to the news the world seems like a bunch of scattered sheep, frightened and leaving their mark all over the place.

When we like the sheep fail to hear the voice of our Shepherd,
when we fail to be guided and protected by the voice of our shepherd,
when something suddenly happens to us, a tragedy, an illness, a death, a challenge whatever,

it is so easy for our lives to become a mess like that  street in Bagnoregio.

Chaos can come so quickly to our lives.
It can come quickly and without any warning.

Today’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus is our Shepherd and we are his sheep.

Some people might be offended at being compared to sheep.
In reality they are offended because they don’t realize we need God.

Yes, sheep are not really smart,
they can’t see well
they get lost easily.
But they know enough to follow the shepherd and trust the shepherd.

The question of the day is simple.
Do we do we know that we need to listen to the Good Shepherd in our lives?

Do we know how to even recognize his voice?
Do we ever take the time to listen to him?
Have we ever helped someone else listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd?

Without the voice of Jesus our shepherd,
it is so easy to make a mess of our lives and the lives of the people around us.

Without the voice of Jesus guiding us it is very possible to even mess up the lives of the very people we love the most.

In the Gospel today Jesus said simply.
“My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.”

Jesus knows us.
He knows what we need.
He know what challenges we face.
He knows what our temptation, our fears, our weaknesses.
He knows our sins.
He knows us and He knows us and He knows us.
And he loves us he loves us he loves us .

And if we are willing to be guided by Him
Jesus reminds us
“No one can take us out of His hands”

When we are one with the Shepherd
When we conform our lives to His.
Then we too can be one with God Himself.

Lest we get lost along the way of life.
Let us always be attentive to  to the voice of our Good Shepherd.
He alone can guide us home.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

3rd Sunday of Easter Year C - 2010

May the Peace of Christ Reign in our Hearts.

Just three years ago this week all of us witnessed a tragedy,
when a young man filled with hurt and rage killed 32 of his professors and classmates and then took his own life.

The events at VT should gave all of us pause.
They should call all of us to stop and reflect.
They should compel us to ponder their meaning.
There is a lesson to be learned in this tragedy.

Let us be attentive and let us not forget history lest we be doomed to repeat it.
I believe that the heart of that young man gave us a glimpse of what
a world without Christ would look like.

It is a world where people feel
Frightened, worthless, isolated.

It is a world where people are
tragically confused angry or sadly filled with rage.

It is a world “out of control” a world where people just can’t think straight,
a world without Christ lacks justice, respect, or any real semblance of peace,
a world without Christ can be a tragic world indeed.

As we remember the events of that tragic day
we see how when even one person in our world lives and feels that way,
they are capable of making the whole world cry.

Yes fear, isolation, rage, can make us all cry.
Brothers and Sisters we are in the season of Easter

We have just celebrated with joy the resurrection of Christ.
Jesus Christ - God made Man
Jesus Christ - Who by his life taught us how to love
Jesus Christ - Who conquered sin and death by dying on the cross
Jesus Christ - The alpha and the omega the beginning and the end.
There is no room for fear, or hate or isolation, or resentment in a world redeemed by our Jesus our Risen Lord…

In today’s Gospel, a post resurrection narrative,
there are three key components
the restoration of Peter
the command to feed and tend God’s flock
and the shadow of the cross.

We all know that tragically Peter who was chosen by Jesus to lead the Church publicly denied Jesus three times.

He denied that he even knew him.
Because of fear he tried to convince those people standing around the fire on the night of judgment that Jesus was never a part of his life.

He tried to convince them that his was a world without Christ.
“I don’t know him
I don’t know him
I tell you I don’t even know him,”
He said.

What sad words,
fear has the power to make us do terrible things watch terrible things and say terrible things indeed.
In Today’s Gospel
Jesus doesn’t lecture him
Jesus doesn’t scold him or make an example of him.
Jesus simply asks him a question three times
Once for each time of the times Peter denied him

Do you love me Peter?
Feed My Sheep
Do you love me Peter?
Tend my Sheep
Do you Love me Peter?
Feed my Sheep

With those simple words
Peter is forgiven, restored.
And they are given publicly so that there is not a shadow of a doubt where Peter stands with Jesus.

His forgiveness is complete. 
He is healed of his apostasy
and Jesus refocuses Peter on his mission to shepherd God’s people.

Not only is he forgiven and restored but Christ reminds him that fulfilling God’s will, will cost him.
He encourages him not to be consumed by fear again.

In that same moment of restoration and forgiveness
Christ foretells the type of sacrifice Peter will be called upon to make.
We can never forget holy ones that Love is never free
True Love is never without sacrifice

We all know that in the end Peter would pay the same price of love
that Christ paid

We all know that like Christ Peter was crucified…
Crucified upside down to be exact….

When Peter paid the final price of love.
there was no denial
there was no fear
Fear had no more power over him.
Love the love of Christ had won the battle in Peter’s heart.

What does all of this have to do with us?
What should we be thinking about as we hear this Gospel and reflect on the tragedy of Virgina Tech and so many other places in the world like it?

The first thought which came to my mind was this.
All of us like Peter need to be restored.
All of us like Peter need the forgiveness that only God can give.
All of us like Peter have denied Christ both in word and deed.
Not three times but over and over again
all of us.
And all of us can be forgiven.

Forgiveness is one of the key components of Christ’s message.
We all can be forgiven.
And all of us are called to forgive and be instruments of God’s forgiveness and God’s healing.

The second thought which came to my mind is this.
none of us are extra,
none of us superfluous
all of us are needed
all of us are essential
we are all key players in God’s plan.

There is not a person alive now who doesn’t wish that someone could have reached into that young man’s heart,
And pulled him away from is horrifying isolation and rage.

How many chances were missed?
How many tries were made?
What happened?
How did he not come to know that he could be loved?
How did he not know that he had value?
How is it that in our great age of science his sickness what not recognized and treated appropriately?
How were the cries for attention, found in his writings and in his bizarre lifestyle not get the attention and healing they were so desperately seeking ?
How did fear and hate win in the heart of this young man?

No none of us are superfluous
all of us are needed.

When Jesus calls upon Peter to feed his sheep and tend his lambs
He calls upon us all to do the same
To reach out to the isolated
The awkward
The lonely

He called us all to be messengers of the power of love.
The message of Christ is meant for everyone
No matter what.

Finally today’s Gospel reminds us that love is never free.
And that all of us will be called to pay the price of love

When Jesus reminds Peter that he will have to face the cross
Jesus reminds all of us that the same cross that awaited him will be shared in some way by anyone who loves,
all who heal,
all who build up,
all who try to make people feel whole,
everyone who follows Christ,
will have to face the cross.
If we never feel the pain,
if we never face the cross,
if our religious practice is easy,
then we have to ask ourselves
is our love real and authentic?

Brothers and Sisters,
let us ponder all of these things in our hearts.
Let us put them into action in our lives.
Let us live and love without fear and without counting the cost.
For world without Christ’s message is a terrible world indeed.
We have a lot to do

Sunday, April 11, 2010

From the mouths of Babes !!!

Lately  the new Student Ministers and the Professional Staff have noticed I have felt called to memorize some scripture... then I found this video and I feel really called.....  This little girl and her family inspires me !!! Sometimes it takes a while to load but it is worth the wait !!!

Friday, April 09, 2010

2nd Sunday of Easter – Year C 2010

I heard this story from a dear friend and I thought I
would share it with you.

Once upon a time, certainly in my life time, this little hard working lady from NE Washington would get on several buses to get to work and help support her family.
She worked in the cafeteria in  or near the Pentagon. She would get on the bus in Washington and would sit down in any seat for the long journey to work, many times she made the journey under the hot Washington sun (no air-conditioning then). 

When the last bus she had to take got to the 14th Street bridge it would stop right on the bridge  at the border between Washington and Virginia and the driver would stand and shout “Negros to the back of the bus.”

The bus would not move until all the Negros moved even if there were lots of empty seats or even if there weren’t any white people on the bus at all. 

When the bus finally moved on you would have the surreal  scene of a bus empty in the front and a whole lot of people squeezed in the back like sardines . Thank God such foolishness seems so foreign to me today.
It is easy to  imagine how frustrating and humiliating  and ridiculous it was to have to go through this ritual every day over and over again when you were just trying to help your family and you were tired after a long day’s work.
But this little hard working lady who loved her family and  travelled so far  to help provide for them refused to be conquered by such foolishness.

She simply told herself and her loved ones that she was not going to let anyone take her peace and that no one had the power to take away her joy.

Her quiet steadfast refusal to allow herself to changed by stupidity of others was an incredible sign of strength.

It was a simple, quiet, but strong “NO” to ignorance. The anger and bitterness and ignorance of other people would not conquer her.

They might get her seat but the wouldn’t get her heart and they wouldn't get her peace.

The strength she showed could only have by a profound life of prayer and the consolation of living one’s life based on the Word of God.
Her faith taught had her that Jesus wants us to live in peace and that the life of a Christian should be filled with joy.

Change finally came because of the strong witness of people like her who refused to allow themselves to be conquered or defeated by anger, despair or prejudice.

God wants us all to have peace... and he doesn't want us to let anyone or anything take it from us..

In today’s Gospel over and over again Jesus said “Peace be with you…”  And in fact all of the readings today point to the same call to peace.
In the first reading people find strength and healing,  faith and joy in the good works of the Apostles, in the good works of the Church.
In the second reading from Revelation John finds himself on the Island of Pathos consoled with the revelation that Jesus is particularly close to those who suffer. Those who suffer persecution those who suffer anything.
In the Gospel Jesus appears and tries repeatedly to  convince a terrified groups of dear friends that he is not a ghost. He even eats a piece of baked fish, ghosts can’t do that.. and let’s Thomas touch his wounds.
Yes, Jesus wants us all to live peace filled  lives in peaceful families surrounded by peaceful communities, and someday his dream for us will be realized.
But understanding the human heart as much as he does in today’s Gospel Jesus also gave the Apostles and the Church an  astounding gift.

He knew that because we mess up over and over and over again we humans need the ability to simply start over, to begin anew, to leave our past and our sins and failures behind .

And so he breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

With this simple phrase The Church has believed for 2000 years that Jesus gave the apostle and those who would follow in the footsteps of the Apostles the gift to forgive sins.
Today’s readings and the faith of that little lady riding the bus to feed her family should cause us all to ask ourselves “Who or What is taking our peace Better yet…who or what do we allow to take our peace ?

Why don’t we live peace filled lives ?

Is it because we’ve given into the epidemic temptation to always want more and more and more thing?
Is it because we’ve given into the temptation to always want to be the first in line the most recognized?

You know the “I’m number one syndrome”
Is it because we really don’t believe that God loves us?
Have we lost our peace because we just can’t seem to shake away the burden of our sins?

When’s the last time we went to confession? The church asks us to go once a year, I go every week and I always have enough to say.

With all the crap going on in the world I’m amazed that after regularly going to confession themselves priests, aren’t living in the confessionals of their Church reminding everyone that God loves them, forgives them and wants us to be at peace.
Who or what are we allowing to take our peace ?
Who or what are we allowing to take our joy ?
Very important questions indeed. 
“Peace be with you,” he said…..

Thursday, April 08, 2010

With sadness and expecation…

It has been such has been such a privilege for me to serve at Catholic for these last 12 years, every moment has been a gift. I will always treasure my time here at CUA. I have received so much more than I could ever have given.
I leave Catholic with very mixed emotions. I am grateful for the time I have spent here. I am thankful for the privilege of being a part of your lives. I am sorry for any time I may have let any of you down or failed you, please forgive me.
I want to thank Fr. O’Connell for his support and vision over these last 12 years. His support has meant so much to me and the spiritual life here at Catholic. I want to thank the Campus Ministry Staff who has  sacrificed so much to develop our program. You inspire me! I want to thank my colleagues in Student life for your friendship and for all of the sacrifices you make for our students.

Please pray for me that I may have complete confidence in God as I look to the future will lots of expectation. May I practice what I preach. Trust Surrender Believe Receive. Amen

Thoughts from Mayor Ed Koch.... on the Media

April 6, 2010
He [Or She] That Is Without Sin Among You, Let Him [Or Her] Cast The Next Stone…  Enough Already
I believe the continuing attacks by the media on the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI have become manifestations of anti-Catholicism.  The procession of articles on the same events are, in my opinion, no longer intended to inform, but simply to castigate.
The sexual molestation of children, principally boys, is horrendous.  This is agreed to by everyone, Catholics, the Church itself, as well as non-Catholics and the media.  The Pope has on a number of occasions on behalf of the Church admitted fault and asked for forgiveness.  For example, The New York Times reported on April 18, 2008 that the Pope, “came face to face with a scandal that has left lasting wounds on the American church Thursday, holding a surprise meeting with several victims of sexual abuse by priests in the Boston area….‘No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse,’ the Pope said in his homily.  ‘It is important that those who have suffered be given loving pastoral attention.’”
On March 20, 2010, The Times reported that in his eight page pastoral letter to Irish Catholics, the Pope wrote, “You have suffered grievously, and I am truly sorry…Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated.”  The Pope also “criticized Ireland’s bishops for ‘grave errors of judgment and failures of leadership.’”
The primary explanation for the abuse that happened — not to excuse the retention of priests in positions that enabled them to continue to harm children — was the belief that the priests could be cured by psychotherapy, a theory now long discarded by the medical profession.  Regrettably, it is also likely that years ago the abuse of children was not taken as seriously as today.  Thank God we’ve progressed on that issue.
Many of those in the media who are pounding on the Church and the Pope today clearly do it with delight and some with malice.  The reason I believe for the constant assaults is that there are many in the media and some Catholics as well as many in the public who object to and are incensed by positions the Church holds, including opposition to all abortions, opposition to gay sex and same-sex marriage, retention of celibacy rules for priests, exclusion of women from the clergy, opposition to birth control measures involving condoms and prescription drugs and opposition to civil divorce.  My good friend, John Cardinal O’Connor, once said, “The Church is not a salad bar, from which to pick and choose what pleases you.”  The Church has the right to demand fulfillment of all of its religious demands by its parishioners, and indeed a right to espouse its beliefs generally.
I disagree with the Church on all of these positions.  Nevertheless, it has a right to hold these views in accordance with its religious beliefs.  I disagree with many tenets of Orthodox Judaism – the religion of my birth — and have chosen to follow the tenets of Conservative Judaism, while I attend an Orthodox synagogue.  Orthodox Jews, like the Roman Catholic Church, can demand absolute obedience to religious rules.  Those declining to adhere are free to leave.
I believe the Roman Catholic Church is a force for good in the world, not evil.  Moreover, the existence of one billion, 130 million Catholics worldwide is important to the peace and prosperity of the planet.
Of course, the media should report to the public any new facts bearing upon the issue of child molestation, but its objectivity and credibility are damaged when The New York Times declines to publish an op-ed offered by New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan on the issue of anti-Catholicism and to offer instead to publish a letter to the editor, which is much shorter and less prominent than an op-ed.
I am appalled that, according to The New York Times of April 6, 2010, “Last week, the center-left daily newspaper La Repubblica wrote, without attribution that ‘certain Catholic circles’ believed the criticism of the Church stemmed from ‘a New York Jewish lobby.’”  The Pope should know that some of his fellow priests can be thoughtless or worse in their efforts to help him.  If the “certain Catholic circles” were referring to The New York Times, the Pope should know that the publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., is Episcopalian, having taken the religion of his mother, and its executive editor, Bill Keller, is also a Christian.
Enough is enough.  Yes, terrible acts were committed by members of the Catholic clergy.  The Church has paid billions to victims in the U.S. and will pay millions, perhaps billions, more to other such victims around the world.  It is trying desperately to atone for its past by its admissions and changes in procedures for dealing with pedophile priests.  I will close with a paraphrase of the words of Jesus as set forth in John 8:7:  “He [or she] that is without sin among you, let him [or her] cast the next stone…”
- Edward I. Koch

Monday, April 05, 2010

How the Church finishes Her day and we finish Wednesday Night Adoration in Eastertime...

Queen of Heaven Rejoice
For He whom you merited to bear
Has Risen as he said
Pray for us to God

Rejoice and be glad of Virgin Mary
for the Lord is truly rise

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Easter Vigil - 2010

tomb Can you imagine their anticipation and their fear as they gathered to begin their journey?

Moses had convinced Pharaoh to let them go pray in the desert.
They all knew they would never come back.
The secret had been whispered over and over again in hushed voices. 

As bad as their life was in Egypt it was all that they knew and now they were beginning something completely new both wonderful and unknown.

There was a rush of emotion in their hearts.
They were excited and worried,
afraid and ecstatic,
sad but filled with hope.

There may have even been a few tears as they left the homes they had always known and the graves of their loved ones.

And when they had left the cities of the Egyptians in the distance their hearts began to calm and they began to hope for something better.

All of a sudden someone noticed a cloud of dust back in the distance and their hearts sank for they knew that their slave masters had changed their mind and were coming to get them.

Fear almost overtook them but when all seemed lost
suddenly a pillar of smoke appeared at the front of the line.

And they all understood that it was the very presence of God.
When the night grew dark the pillar of cloud became a pillar of light.
It comforted them and it calmed their fears and it showed them the way to freedom and faith.

This is the story of how God led His people out of Egypt and it is an incredible testament to God’s love His protection and His providence.

In fact all the readings we just heard remind us of God’s loving providence.

When God said “let there be light he led all of creation from darkness into light.”

When God established a relationship with Abraham he led Abraham and his descendents into a relationship that lasts until this day.

As we saw God led his people from slavery to freedom.
He led them through the darkness of desert.
He led them to the promised land.

And over and over again when they  and we would wander
into the darkness of sin
He led them and us to back to righteousness.

The story of our salvation reminds us that God is always with His people
even at their darkest and most frightening moments even in our darkest moments.

Our  history with God should convince us that He is always leading us.
Like the flame of this candle led us into this Church.
Like the flame as Israelites crossed the red sea.
God always shows us the way.

And so all of the readings we just heard have common themes.
They remind us over and over and over again
That God loves us and all of humanity.
That God is faithful
and if we follow him he will guide us home.

The women in the Gospel loved Jesus
They loved Him so much that they could not even think of leaving his body in the tomb without anointing it.

They were probably upset that they were unable to anoint His body before the Sabbath.
They longed to do this one last thing for Him.

They went to the tomb even though they weren’t sure how they were going to accomplish their task.

They weren’t sure if the Roman guards would let them in.
They weren’t sure how they were going to roll back the heavy stone.
They were aware that the Jews were looking for anyone who followed Jesus and that must have been frightening.

Remember the disciples (the men) were so afraid that they were in hiding.
But the women went anyway.
They were not deterred.
Their love compelled them to go.

And when they arrived they saw that God had taken care of all of the obstacles
the stone was already was rolled away
and that the tomb was empty.

When they met the men dressed in dazzling white garments
they heard that Jesus was alive their hearts dared to hope again.

After that incredible encounter they did not return to their homes
or keep the reason for their new found hope and joy to themselves,
but they went back the apostles.

And they shared what they had seen and heard even though as the Gospel said it seemed like nonsense.

Peter the sinner,
Peter the betrayer,
Peter the impulsive one,
Peter the great leader who was also hiding for fear of the Jews
Peter was also compelled by love to take a risk and he left the room.

He wanted so desperately to believe what the women had said.
and because of the risk he took he too was rewarded
with the same startling experience.
The experience of Jesus’ resurrection

It changed Peter’s life forever.

Our encounter with God’s word tonight is very important.
There are not many opportunities for us as a community to reflect on all of the readings of the Easter Vigil

We have to let them speak to us.
We have to let God speak to us.
We have to let our history with Him recounted, in the readings, change our hearts.

So often we too seem to be lost in the darkness.
So often we don’t know where to turn or where to take the next step.

Sometimes when we face a new challenge or opportunity
just like God’s people we are filled with fear and apprehension.

We might be faced with the darkness of an habitual sin or addiction,
we might be faced a difficult job or marriage,
Maybe our challenge is a child we just can’t figure out how to love,

We might be filled with apprehension as we approach or wedding day or begin a new job.

In moments like this we need to hold on to the witness of God’s long and loving relationship with humanity.

God’s long and loving relationship with us.

We need to see that God is always present.
We need to search for His light and remember
He will always guide us.

Like the women in the Gospel sometimes we know what we have to do
but we aren’t sure how we will be able to accomplish it.
We know where love calls us but we also know there are so many obstacles.

Maybe We know our temper is not of God but we can’t figure out how to change it.

We know that we have to be more generous but it is just so hard to open our hands in generosity.

We know that in order to be better people we have to give God more time in our lives but there are so many things,
even worthy things, which call for our attention.

Like the women stepped out in faith without fear.
We have to be willing to step out in faith.

We need to be willing to walk to the tomb without knowing all of the details
or having all of the answers.

If the women had let all of those obstacles or their fears hinder them or discourage them.
They would never have known that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Like them let us always be willing to share the reason for our hope.
We have to be willing to share the consolation of our faith,
This is not an easy moment to say the words “I’m Catholic”
it hasn’t been easy to admit that for almost a decade.

When I got on a plane not to long ago… the Stewardess said to me… Lucky you
When I asked here why she said… you get two seats…
I responded why the plane looks really full.. and she said. No one sits next to priests anymore. 
(Difficult times indeed)

Let us always be willing to trust  and be guided by the light of God’s love

If we step out into the unknown
we too will find the tomb empty and like the women in the Gospel our hearts will be filled with anticipation and Joy.

Strengthened by our encounter with the living Word of God

And challenged by the example of these 6 fine people who are seeking entrance into our Church even in these difficult times.

We must stand up and be joyful witnesses of Christ’s ressurection

Let us always be willing to proclaim the reason for our hope.

He is Riseneaster-empty-tomb
He Risen


Thursday, April 01, 2010