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Founded:1950
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish
130 Main Street
Carver, MA 02330
Phone: (508) 866-4000 Fax: (508) 866-5588
A Parish of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston MA

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_______________________SCHEDULE______________________

Weekend: Saturday 5 pm; Sunday 10 am
Weekday: 9 am (except Thursday)
Holy days: 9 am & 7 pm
Confessions: Sat. 4:15 to 4:45 pm
Eucharistic Adoration: (1st Friday) 9 am to Noon

 


Second Sunday of Lent

March 1, 2015

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

 

Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

Psalm 116:10, 15-19

Romans 8:31b-34

Mark 9:2-10

 

            Our culture is still deeply influenced by Greek mythology.  Classical literature about the Greek gods is studied at university.  Recent movies like the Percy Jackson series introduce youngsters to the imaginative world of gods and demigods.  Pagan gods are portrayed as entertaining themselves by manipulating humans into doing things for their amusement.  Pagans conceived of these great gods as actually being like petty, egotistical human beings.  Most pagan cultures seem to envision their god or gods in the same, petty way. 

 

            But isn’t today’s event from the Book of Genesis pretty much the same thing?  Isn’t God uncertain of Abraham and so God imposes a quest on him as a test?  Isn’t God manipulating Abraham into sacrificing his son Isaac as a test of absolute obedience?  At first it seems so.  Perhaps the original author of this book thought this way.  But take note that God has already provided the sacrifice: “a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.”   

 

            Consider whether, rather than testing Abraham in a petty, egotistical way, God is actually showing Abraham that Abraham is ready to live greatly in the name of God.  Here, God is like a dad teaching his son how to throw a fastball.  “I know you can do it, son.  You have the strength.  I’ve shown you how to hold the ball and how to aim.  Now just do it!”  And when the boy throws a really fast pitch, he gains confidence.  If you can do this thing, you can do greater.  Maybe now he’s ready to try a curve ball.  Or here God is like a mom teaching her little daughter how to swim.  “Mommy’s got you.  I’ll hold your tummy while you stroke with your arms and kick your legs.”  And then mom lowers her hand and the child is still swimming.  And when the girl realizes she’s doing it without mom’s protective hand, she gains confidence.  If you can do this thing, you can do greater.  Before you know it, she’s swimming laps. 

 

            Now Abraham knows how far he will go to worship and serve his God.  He was brought to the verge of sacrificing his only son, the son of God’s promise that elderly Abraham would father a multitude of nations.  In this act Abraham discovered that his trust of God was powerful.  Abraham knew then that he could do anything with God’s friendship.  He was ready for the covenant God desired to make with him, blessing Abraham with countless descendants.  Jews, Christians and Muslims all consider themselves children of this same Abraham.

 

            Abraham had to experience God’s abiding presence in his life and the power and authority that that gave him before he could be really bold with God, throwing fastballs, if you like, swimming laps.  Abraham became a stronger person. That is the Heavenly Father’s message to each one of us. 

 

            You and I confess that God in Jesus Christ has given himself to us.  So, we already have a bold relationship with God.  God “did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all….”  This ultimate gift of God calls for us to respond as boldly as did Abraham.  We must call upon God.  We must be people of prayer who plead with God.  God listens to us.  We should not insult God by remaining silent [1] – silent in talking with God in prayer and worship, or silent is speaking out for God in this world, among our own friends and family, among our neighbors, even with strangers.

 

            Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross not to appease a vengeful, capricious, manipulative God.  Jesus’ sacrifice was not a pagan sacrifice that changed God’s mind into loving us.  There was nothing in it of putting an angry demon into a good mood.  God did not need to be changed.  By the cross Jesus reconciled man to God, not God to man.  The sacrifice of the only Son of the Father changed not God, it changed us. [2]  Any enmity or distance between God and us has been removed. 

 

            This is the time of our testing.  And I say this especially to the youngest among us, for you will experience the most turbulent years of testing.  Our faith is under attack.  Our fellow Christians are being beheaded, crucified, and dispossessed in the Middle East and Africa by Islamic extremists.  Christianity is under severe political restrictions even in Islamic countries that are not yet violent. 

 

The secular humanism of our Western culture is poised to attack our beliefs, deriding our ancient values as being antiquated and irrelevant.  We are shoved into the background by laws and judicial decisions, consigning our faith to being private, kept behind the walls of our churches.  Our faith will not be tolerated in the public square for debate or evangelization.  So a Christmas manger scene becomes offensive because it doesn’t include everyone’s beliefs.  And correctness claims that a politician’s religious beliefs should not inform his or her position on public policy. 

 

            But this is the time for us to be bold.  This is not God’s testing us to check whether our faith is real.  No, this is the time when believers will come to realize that we can be bold because, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  If we will but listen to our God, we will realize that God has made a covenant with us in Jesus Christ.  Therefore, the world will not defeat us.  Instead, we can transform the world.  We have good news for the world.  And the good news is Jesus Christ.  In delivering this good news, you and I must be bold!



[1]  A.M. Besnard, Take a Chance on God (Denville, NJ:  Dimension Books, 1977), p. 121.

 

[2]  Hans Küng, On Being a Christian (Garden City:  Doubleday & Co., 1976), pp. 424-425.

 



First Sunday of Lent

February 22, 2015

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

Genesis 9:8-15

Psalm 25:4-9

1 Peter 3:18-22

Mark 1:12-15

 

            Jesus was tempted.  We are tempted.  Every day most of us pray the words, “Lead us not into temptation.”  These words are not what Jesus actually said.  Advances in biblical scholarship now translate Jesus’ words as, “Do not subject us to the final test.”  In Jesus’ time there appeared in Jewish apocalyptic writings (that is, about the end of time) predictions that before the end of the world there would be a great period of testing, with people turning away from faith during a time of great tribulation. [1]  One scholar wrote that to focus this part of the Our Father on avoiding “enticement to sin is to narrow its meaning to the point of distortion.” [2]  More expansively we should instead pray, “Our Father … do not subject us to the final test.” 

 

However, the way we’re accustomed to praying about temptation is deeply rooted in Christian tradition.  And, after all, temptation is real – whether today or at the end of days.  Jesus was tempted, as Mark briefly described for us today.

 

We all face temptations, like the overweight man who tried so hard to avoid his temptation for sweets so he might lose some weight that he even changed the route he traveled to work each day to avoid a certain bakery.  He did well for a while until he arrived at the office one morning with a large cake.  His coworkers expressed their disappointment.  But he explained, “Without thinking, I took the old route to work.  And there was the bakery with all its goodies calling to me from the shop window.  And I prayed that if God did not want me to buy some sweets there would be no parking space in front of the bakery.  But there it was:  a parking space!  The ninth time around the block, and there it was.” [3]

 

            Haven’t we all played that game with ourselves – the bargaining that inevitably leads to our giving in to temptation?  And we do this about things far more significant than a chocolate layer cake.  We play the bargaining game with lust (“God wouldn’t have invented the bikini if he didn’t want me to look.”), with property or money (“A big company can afford this piddling amount – they expect things to fall off the back of the truck.”), with the truth (“I only say that sort of thing to keep the peace.”), with personal responsibility (“Everybody does it.”). 

 

This was the situation that God found so intolerable in the days of Noah.  It was not so much that sins were suddenly being committed in the world.  There had been sinning since Adam and Eve.  It was that no one called them sins.  As our own days, everything was “natural.”  If it feels good, it must be good.  God determined to wipe this attitude off the face of the earth.  So God hit the “reset button.”

 

            Temptation after the Flood remains.  But God wanted temptation to become an encounter with godliness rather than a dance of excuses.  This is what Jesus experienced in his own temptations, as recorded in the other gospels.  Rather than finding excuses that surrendered to his impulses, Jesus’ temptations became places to meet God and to lean on the Father.

 

            It can be the same for you and me, if we observe these four simple, though demanding, steps in our every temptation.  First, name the temptation.  Use the right, true name for things.  Some critics propose that this is a problem with our national defense: that the government does not “name” or identify a real threat against the U.S. as jihadist Islam.  But until the problem is accurately named, possible responses will never be found.  It is the same with personal temptations.  Name them.  It is not “borrowing;” it is stealing.  It is not “being friendly;” it is flirting that may lead to adultery.  It is not “controlling my own body;” it is abortion, the killing of innocent life.  It is not “improving my image;” it is lying.  Name the temptation.

 

            Then, name the tempter.  Of course, we can always say, “The Devil made me do it.”  But if the Great Deceiver were capable of honesty, the Devil would have to agree with all confidence men: You cannot con an honest person.  Most of the time, the Devil doesn’t need to get involved.  The actual tempter is our own impulse:  our own lust, greed, selfishness, indifference to others, egoism.  Unmask our own attempts at rationalizing.  Name the tempter.

 

            Next, practice resistance.  Like athletic abilities or musical skills, virtue is power acquired through practice.  Truth telling in small matters, kindness in caring for others, rigorous respect for others’ possessions and relationships – these develop into habits that become nearly automatic when greater temptations are before us.  Practice resistance.

 

            Finally, call for help.  Be a person who is open to an ongoing relationship with God.  Pray.  This divine relationship began in our baptism.  And our baptism also brings us into union with all the baptized: this community of faith, the Church.  Use the good people whom God has placed in our lives.  Talk to friends.  Seek prudent advice.  Listen to the wisdom of the teachings of the Church.  There are some things that a person just cannot do on his or her own.  Call for help.

 

            Every Lenten season begins with the temptations of Jesus in the desert.  This is not an accident.  It is a reminder that, like Jesus, we also can experience temptation not as a time for personal failure, but instead as a time and a place in which to meet God and to lean on God’s grace.



[1]  Howard Clark Kee, “The Gospel according to Matthew,” The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1971), p. 645.

 

[2]  Charles W. F. Smith, “Lord’s Prayer,” The Interpreters’ Dictionary of the Bible (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1962), volume 3, p. 157.

 

[3]  Peter Gomes, The Good Book (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1996).




Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 15, 2015

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46

Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 11

1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

Mark 1:40-45

 

            We receive two revelations about Jesus in today’s scripture readings.  Both revolve around leprosy.  But leprosy is only the starting point.

 

            The first revelation is found in Jesus’ reaction to the leper who “came up to Jesus.”  Hansen’s disease, the medical term for leprosy, was thought to be a highly contagious infection.  It hideously disfigures the body of its victims.  Besides an understandable fear of contagion, there was a strong cultural bias against “unclean” people.  They seemed cursed by God for their sins.  Remember Charlton Heston’s role as Ben Hur when Ben Hur’s mother and sister were deliberately infected with the disease and forced to live, impoverished, in the wilderness.  They hid from Ben Hur, preferring that they be thought dead, lest Ben Hur search for them and infect himself.

 

            At that time any skin lesion (psoriasis, a bad rash, boils, even acne) might be considered “leprosy.”  This explains the procedures priests used to validate cures for leprosy, which is actually incurable.  A rash resolves itself; so leprosy must have been cured!

 

            Biblically speaking, leprosy was not really about a diagnosis of Hansen’s disease.  More than that disease, it represented social and theological disfigurement that made someone “different” and especially unattractive, that set someone apart from the community, thrust outside the village.  Consider that you and I may have adopted behaviors that are unattractive in God’s eyes.  Perhaps it is sin.  Spiritual diseases have consequences far worse than leprosy.  When we recognize our spiritual failings, we may feel that we have been thrust outside the Christian community.

 

But Jesus was not repulsed with disgust or fear of leprosy – whether Hansen’s Disease or any other physical or spiritual disfigurement.  In fact, Jesus’ reaction was quite the opposite:  Where our translation blandly says Jesus was “moved with pity,” the original Greek is more closely translated as a “gut wrenching” experience for him.  So he allowed the leper to approach, and even touch him.  And Jesus did will to heal the leper.  Far from repulsing Jesus, any sin or flaw in us he wills to touch and heal.  So Jesus welcomes every one of us.  And every part of us.  And everyone. 

 

The second revelation is that Jesus had not only the will but he acted to heal those whom he welcomed.  You can read in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Leviticus the elaborate ritual for validating a cure of leprosy.  After a physical examination of a healed leper by the priest, two birds were needed: one slaughtered and its blood mixed with some vegetation, the living bird then dipped in that blood and then freed to fly away.  The patient then washed and shaved.  After seven days, the patient was reexamined and made to shave all his hair, even the eyebrows.  Two lambs and a goat were sacrificed in the Temple and their blood mixed with flour and oil, which a priest touched to the patient’s right ear, right thumb and right big toe.  After further reexamination, the skin still being clean, the leper was given a bill of health and then had to make an animal sacrifice and a cereal offering before being allowed to re-join the company of “normal” people.  This ritual took about eight days.

 

Jesus did not simply feel bad for the leper.  Nor did he revert to ritual.  Jesus acted.  He touched the leper and said, “Be made clean.”  And the leper was made clean.  It was not ritual that was needed.  All that was needed was the faith of the one in need.

 

There is nothing in you or me, there is nothing lacking in you or me that Jesus cannot touch and heal.  There is no virtue in us that Jesus will not foster to grow within us.  You and I need only acknowledge our need and to trust in the Lord.  Allow the Lord to act in our lives.  We are not condemned to broadcast ourselves to be “Unclean; unclean.”  Recognizing our failings does not mean things are hopeless, rationalizing that we cannot change. 

 

That is like a woman who once said to me that whenever a priest had asked her to come to Mass weekly, paradoxically she found that invitation unwelcoming.  I suspect that the “unwelcome” part of the invitation was her rationalization denied that she just wasn’t ready to come to a fuller experience of her Catholic faith. 

 

Some people fear that the Lord does not welcome them.  They sense they are unattractive to God.  So they continue to wallow in their current, unfulfilling way of living, thinking it impossible for themselves to change, or that it is too difficult for them to change the things perceived as unattractive to God. 

 

But as we’ve heard today, we lepers are all welcomed by the Lord.  All that is needed for God to act in our lives is for us to declare, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”  And we will be made clean. 

 

Then, when you or I feel that we’ve been healed by Jesus in some way, then we must continue that ministry of Jesus today.  As disciples we can participate in the Lord’s healing ministry.  Recognize those who are in need, who feel excluded, who are marginalized, who make us feel squeamish, who are “different,” not “our kind of people,” our “lepers.”  Then reach out. 

 

And it’s not enough simply to have compassion about them, however gut wrenching and sincere our feelings may be.  We, like Jesus, must act.  You and I need to welcome others to know the Lord as we have been welcomed, to be healed as we have been healed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUR MISSION STATEMENT

This Roman Catholic, God-centered community of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish seeks to be compassionate and faith-filled, empowered by the Holy Spirit through the grace of the Eucharist and the sacraments to proclaim and live the gospel as believers in the risen Christ.  Therefore, we commit to share joyfully our time, talents and treasure in works of mercy and justice both within and beyond our parish. 



                                                                            

 

 
 

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