Saturday, May 28, 2011

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A

Today I would like us to reflect on three simple questions.

The first is this. Why do we come here ?

Every once in a while it is very important to stop and reflect on why we come here each Sunday.

There are many answers.
Each of us has our own reasons.

Many of us have several reasons that we carve out a small portion of our week and give it to God and ourselves.

There are those how come out of fear.
They reason If I don't go to Mass then God will not be happy with them or even worse that God will get them.

There are those who come out of habit. Going to Church...  is what my father or mother or family always did so this is what I do this is what I've always done.

Some people come because they see their friends here.
It is a place where they reconnect once a week.
I am amazed at the web of relationships that are centered here in this Church.

There are many people who have known each other for decades here.

Some come because it makes them feel better.
Its like a feel good pill.

Some of us come simply because God asks us to.

They realize that  each week at Mass we are challenged by God's word and fed with the Bread of Life.

They take to heart God’s Word in the 6th Chapter of John’s Gospel.

“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life with in you. “

There are those who have come to understand that Mass on Sunday is the best possible place for us to be.

Yes some of us are here because we have come to see that regular attendance at mass changes us it molds us and shapes us.

Regular Mass attendance reminds us of God's love and helps us be faithful to God's will.

Coming to Mass keeps us focused on how we should live and love.

Without regular Mass attendance it is so easy for the world and worldly concerns to sweep us up and demand all of our attention.

Without giving God a regular part of our day let alone a regular part of our week it is possible  to forget the special place each and everyone of us has in his heart.

We all know people who live their life as if God didn't exist.

Living without the consolation of faith can be a very lonely life indeed.

Living our faith and coming to Mass gives us hope.

The second Question is this…

Who brought us here to Mass and who brought us here to faith.

Very few of us found our way here on their own.

Maybe it was our family, our parents who shared their faith with us.

Maybe it was a spouse who brought you back and introduced you to God.

Maybe you are here because your Mother or Mother in law wanted her grandkids to have their religious education and you found your way back to Church through them.

One of our parents from St. Paul School told me candidly that he and his family come to Mass regularly because his little girl asked him to.

His then 1st graders brought the whole family back to regular Mass attendance.

Yes we come for many reasons and someone brought us here.

Someone touched by faith someone moved by love brought us here.

At a recent funeral the Son of the deceased pulled me aside. And said to me “my Dad never lost hope through all of his illnesses and hospitalizations.”

We were all a mess. He was always calm and peace filled

He was stronger than all of us put together... I wish I had his faith.

I looked at him and said you can…

Faith is a choice and when we choose to believe we also choose ho hope.

Hope comes from faith.

In the second reading we hear St. Peter challenge us to share our faith and share our hope... with those we meet.

“Always be ready to share the reason for your hope but do so gently and with great reverence”

Some translations say But do so gently and humbly”

The third and final questions is simply this.

Who have we shared our faith with or who have we share the reason for our hope with?

We don't have the power to make anyone accept faith and to hold on to hope

Faith Hope and Love are a choice but we must never grow tired of lovingly suggesting faith and offering hope.

The starting point for Catholics is going to Mass.

At the Last Supper Jesus said to this in memory of me... and Catholics have done just that in every conceivable place and circumstance for 2000 years.

Weekly Mass attendance is not some rule to priests made up so they wouldn’t be lonely or have a small collection.

We pray the Mass each day because God asked us to do so.

I had this dream once that has always stayed with me.

I was standing at the pearly gates asking to be admitted to heaven.

St. Peter looked  me in the eye and  quickly asked how many have you brought with you ?

Always be willing to share the reason of your hope but do so humbly.

Have a great weekend everyone.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

The 5th Sunday of Easter – Year A – 2011

Reading 1
Responsorial Psalm
Reading 2

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

Today’s Gospel is very important for all of us to hear.
So often we find ourselves worried or anxious.
We worry about so many things.

Some people seem to worry about everything.
We worry about what people think of us.

We worry about the things we have and the things we want.

There is a whole industry called marketing whose job it is to make us worry more about what we don’t have
and convince us we need it.

We worry about our health but quite frequently we worry about it when it is too late and very difficult to do anything about it.

We worry about our loved ones and that’s not bad

But when you think about it
besides loving without condition,
helping them out when we can,
and giving a good example what exactly can we do for them ?

This week a lot of people were worried that the world would end yesterday and if you are hearing this it didn’t.

Some people were very worried..
Both Fr. Michael and I received lots of questions.

Here’s my advice if the world ends during our life time.
Go to confession,
Don’t pack anything,
Find the people you love and a bottle of wine and go home together to God.

Worry Worry Worry Worry
Maybe I’m projecting my own problems on all of you but
I don’t think I’m alone in this regard.

Many of might be tempted to say,
“Jesus just doesn’t get it.
Doesn’t he see that we have to worry ?
There are bills to pay and jobs to get done and disaster is always just around the corner.

Some might say…
What are we supposed to do just sit back and take life as it comes accepting everything that comes our way?

Does God want us to be like a blade of grass blown around in the wind.
No.. we are more than a blade of grass

God has given us gifts.
We have an intellect we can think and reason.
We have a free will and we can choose.
We are able to create, to dream, to work, and to love.

God would not have us waste these gifts but use them.
We have all of these gifts to serve one purpose.
They were given to us with one goal in mind salvation.

The purpose of our life  and all the gifts we have received is to find our way home to God.

Everything we do should be directed toward our salvation,
the salvation of our loved ones
and the salvation of the whole world.

Everything we do
Every energy we have should be directed in that toward that one goal.

No God has not given us this live to sit back passively sit by and watch life go by.

But God also does not want us to be consumed by worry and anxiety.

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

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

My mom is a refrigerator person.
Our whole life the front of the refrigerator has been filled with stuff
Our school work..
Our pictures
Telephone numbers
Now there is a list of her doctor appointments and medications
All of her emergency numbers and pictures of her grand kids
If you want to know anything about Mom just go to the refrigerator

The last time I was home there was another small piece of paper..

On it was written
Hello this is God and I want you to have a good day today
Nothing will come your way that we can’t handle
Don’t worry
You are very precious to me and you are very talented.
I love you now and I will love you forever .
signed God..

If we could every put those simple words into practice
What a different world it would be.

Do not let your hearts be troubled…


Friday, May 06, 2011

3rd Sunday of Easter – Year A - 2011

Reading 1
Responsorial Psalm
Reading 2

The Emmaus story is so important for us to meditate on.
Let’s look a the key components of the story.

First of all it is important to note that the disciples were headed away from Jerusalem when Jesus met them, or rather, when Jesus sought them out.

That’s important to remember, Jesus sought them out.

They had left the community, they were walking away, they were discouraged and questioning filled with doubt and disappointment.

Even the news from the women in their group that Jesus had risen from the dead did not restore their faith.

At that moment in their lives it was easier for them to doubt than believe.

Next the account says that Jesus walked with them a while. He listened to them he tried to figure out where they were,
what they were thinking,
what they were feeling
what they were afraid of.

He didn’t just begin telling them how they were wrong.

Only when he had heard them speak from their hearts did he enter into dialog with them.

In other words he respected them and their doubt.

Then with a question not with an affirmation he entered into their world and their experience.

By asking them what they were talking about. He listened attentively as they explained

“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene”

He spoke only when they had finished. I’ll be honest the phrase“ O how you foolish are” put me off for a while… as I prepared my homily.

I’m not sure you enter into dialog with someone by telling them that they are foolish they are.

In a commentary I read it explained that when Jesus spoke those words to the disciples on the road they probably heard something like “don’t you get it?”

From the story it is clear that they were not offended. They did not distance themselves from him but remained attentive.

Then slowly but surely he helped them understand the teaching of the prophets.

He helped them see that it had indeed been foretold that the Messiah would have to suffer and die to enter into His glory.

They listened attentively to Jesus and they were now able to understand.

When the road split he pretended to go on… in other words he did not force himself on them.

It was now time for them to take a step. It was time for them to seek more understanding.

Faith in not a one way street it demands a living response.

“Stay with us” they asked him.
They wanted more.
Jesus was happy to remain with them.

Then at the table when he broke bread they recognized him and he vanished.

His work was complete their faith was restored.

Who knows how many disciples Jesus visited that day?

How many experienced His concern and His respect ?

Who knows how many recognized him in the breaking of the bread?

The disciples of Emmaus immediately returned to Jerusalem.

They immediately returned to community to the Church. They were no longer quiet, no longer afraid, no longer walking away, no longer in retreat

Rather they shared their experience of the Lord with anyone who would listen.

What a beautiful passage in God’s word and today how important it is for us all to mediate on it and follow Jesus’ example.

A couple years ago a study was released by the “Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life” stated that

"No other major faith in the U.S. has experienced greater net losses over the last few decades as a result of changes in religious affiliation than the Catholic Church,"

While The Church is still growing in the United States it is only because the significant number of “cradle Catholics” who leave are being replaced by Hispanic Immigrants.

The findings of this reputable study should give us all pause they should challenge us.

They should help understand how pertinent the Emmaus story really is for our contemporary experience.

For the study proves that people “our brothers and sisters” are walking away from the church away from Jerusalem, just like the disciples in the story.

Remember Jesus did not just let them walk. He intervened. He respected them and reached out to them.

He showed them how important they were to Him. He spent time with them.

Sadly so sadly, sometimes, many times we don’t even seem to notice when someone no longer practices their faith. Or we say to ourselves that’s none of my business.

We don’t seem to notice or even give an indication that we care when someone is walking away from the Church.

Frequently there isn’t any response from us at all not even a goodbye,  not even we’ll miss you

And in those rare moments when we do respond quite frequently we respond poorly.

We don’t listen we just we judge.

We start talking before we even understand what has happened.

Jesus didn’t appear to the disciples and start yelling at them or say something like…

It’s a sin to walk away from the community it’s a sin to miss Mass.

He loved them where they were and brought them to more.

Holy ones… there a so many people in our parish who no longer practice their faith.

That’s why we have 11,000 on the books and 2100 attending mass every Sunday.

They are not bad people

There are so many people who no longer appear in our pews

What are we doing about it?
What have we really done?
How have we reached out?
How have we loved them cared for them, listened to them?

How have Walked with them like Jesus walked with the disciples?

Somehow we just expect them to find their way home and we are disappointed in them when they don’t.

Our Emmaus response to those who leave, to those who walk away is not the only the responsibility of the priest or the staff of the parish.

Yes we should be willing to help and we are but this important task has to be shared by every one who says Jesus is Lord

Lots to think about
Lots to pray about
There is so much to be done
One thing is certain love demands it a loving response.