November 23, 2014
Rev. Anthony Medairos,
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
Psalm 23:1-3, 5-6
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
There is a parable in the Book of
Judges  in
reaction to the peoples’ demand that Israel should have a king like
other nations. In it, the trees want a
king and ask the olive tree to reign over them, but the olive refuses to give
up its precious olive oil. They ask the
fig tree to reign over them, but the fig would not surrender its sweet, good
fruit. The trees beg the vine to rule,
but it would not stop producing wine that cheers men’s heart. Then the trees ask the buckthorn, and the
buckthorn gladly invites the trees to take shelter in its shade, which
overwhelms every tree in the pain of its prickly thorns. For, so it is with kings.
we enter the last week of the Church’s year we celebrate Christ as our
king. This is awkward for us. We live in a republic that has rejected royalty. Even when most contemporary kings and queens
are benign figureheads with insignificant power, as in the United Kingdom
we remain leery of those who arrogate to themselves the trappings of
royalty. Yet, here we are, foisting on
Jesus a title that we can barely tolerate.
did have kings, it seemed comforting to think of them as “shepherds” of the
nation, guiding and guarding people as shepherds guide and guard their
flocks. So it might seem more reassuring
if we were to celebrate the end of 2014 with a feast for Christ the
Shepherd. We certainly are reassured by
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, 
who lays down his life for the sheep.
in today’s parable of the final judgment, Jesus did not describe a “good
shepherd.” Jesus compared divine
judgment to what shepherds actually do.
Shepherds are as dangerous to the sheep as are kings to the people.
course the shepherd guides and guards his flocks, but it is not out of love,
rather it is out of economic necessity.
Yes, he will keep his sheep for years of sheering that provides wool for
clothing. But there will come a day when
the sheep is old, and then it will become a delicious leg of mutton. Yes, the shepherd will protect his goats that
provide milk for the children and cheese to enhance the menu. But there will come a day when the goat dries
up, and it will then provide meat for the skewer and flesh to be made into new
wineskins. The shepherd decides the fate
of his flock.
he set up this parable, Jesus used a phrase that he often applied to
himself: Son of Man. Jesus compared himself to a shepherd. But here he did not describe the good
shepherd. He described a shepherd who
judges the value of each member of his flock.
In his parable the sheep and goats can speak, just as the trees in the
Book of Judges spoke to each other. And
the Son of Man invites some of the flock – the sheep – to enter the kingdom of
the Father. Others – the goats – the Son
of Man excludes from the Father’s kingdom.
what basis does the shepherd choose?
Those who gave water, food, comfort and companionship to others had
provided the same blessings to himself.
“Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you...?” Those who failed to give water, food,
clothing, shelter, and fellowship to others had failed to share the same with
himself. “Lord, when did we … not
minister to your needs?” On this alone
was their fate determined. To the right
went those blessed by the Father. To the
left were consigned those bound for eternal fire and the devil.
before, the prophet Ezekiel had also prophesied to the people of Judah that the
Lord God “will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and
goats.” The Son of Man will shepherd but
he will also judge. This divine judgment
on you and me will be based on the choices we have made in life and the actions
each of us has taken. Every decision you
or I take makes a difference; every action lays claim to the direction of our
eternal life. Our choices may seem small
at the time. Sometimes they could be
heroic – even traumatic. But, for the
most part, divine judgment will be about human compassion in daily living,
about our going out of self to reach another.
And by reaching another in their need, we are extending ourselves to the
Son of Man.
we end Anno Domini 2014, it is
fitting to reflect on those decisions and actions of ours in this passing year
that will be summed up at judgment day.
By our actions today may we prepare ourselves to hear, “Come, you who
are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the
foundation of the world…. Amen, I say to
you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for
Thirty-third Sunday in
November 16, 2014
Rev. Anthony Medairos,
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20,
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
A burglar – a thief at night – broke
into a New York
company that manufactures burglar-proof glass.
He did it by – guess what – smashing the company’s glass doors. The firm’s president said, “It never occurred
to us to put burglar-proof glass in our own
As we near the end of the Church’s
year, there is a strong suggestion in our scripture selections that we prepare
for the Lord’s unexpected arrival. Saint Paul wrote, “that
the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.” Shouldn’t you and I, then, prepare?
But the parable of Jesus heard today
is not so much about our expectations
of Christ’s return as it is about Christ’s
expectations of us.
parable is not about making a profit, or even about developing one’s God-given
abilities. A talent was a weight of
money, scholars estimate between 60 and 75 pounds of silver. (At approximately $720,000 per talent in
currency, the first of the servants received about $3.6 million.) Historians surmise a talent was at that time worth
6,000 drachmas (or Latin denarii), each denarius considered a minimum wage for a day’s pay. Doing the math, a single talent in those days
was equivalent to a year’s income for a wealthy family, or 16 years’ wages for
a common person.
Jesus hinted that money is not the point of his story. Notice the Master referred to the talents as
“a small matter” (though the sums were considerable, even for a wealthy
person). So Jesus implies money is not
the point of the story. Following this
hint, contemporary use of the term “talent” no longer means a weight of silver,
but a metaphor for a person’s God-given capabilities.
But that’s another detour, because the
key to the parable is not the talents, but the reaction of the Master upon his return. His response to his servants was to grant “greater
responsibility” to the first two, who share in their Master’s joy. Then the Master took away all responsibility from
the timid servant, who ended up outside in the darkness, where there is no joy,
but only the “wailing and grinding of teeth.”
this parable Jesus revealed God’s expectation of you and me, his servants. If we wish to enter the kingdom of God,
you and I must become adventuresome like those first two servants. We should not trust caution, like the timid
servant. There must be daring in our
lives, if we are to become part of God’s kingdom. To double each sum of silver required great daring
– they could have lost all of their Master`s money, perhaps forfeiting their
lives! But their daring was richly
rewarded. Timidity, on the other hand, paralyzed
the third servant: he did nothing. He stayed safe. And he lost everything!
Where is the adventure, the
risk-taking, in our life of faith – as a Church and as individuals? Although the consequences are profound, Jesus
is not looking for cautious, safe participation in the Kingdom of God. The participation to which Jesus calls us is
risk-taking; it’s adventure.
Our young people are good at
risk-taking. Every nervous parent who
lends their teenager the car keys knows what that means. Every teen who has taken a dare knows what
I’m talking about. And every adult who
has started a business or who has boldly taken a responsible position in the
corporation knows what I’m talking about.
Abundant life comes from risk-taking and it’s an adventure.
That’s what Jesus is talking about
in this parable. Who’s ready for the
adventure of a lifetime? Who’s ready to
take our faith seriously and do something with it? That’s what the Master will be looking for
when he returns at the end our own life or at the end of all time.
It’s going to be an adventure to be
a Catholic or a Christian in these days.
The Church has been sorely wounded by the sexual abuse scandals,
exposing the Church’s standing as a moral leader to ridicule by comics on TV and
smart-alecks at work or school. That
makes it adventuresome to stand up for our Catholic beliefs. Criticism doesn’t change the fact that our
beliefs are from God.
As American Catholics we face
temptations to play it safe, like that third servant, because leadership in the
White House and Congress and Beacon Hill is so completely pro-abortion and
pro-the Gay Activist agenda. For us to
propose a moral, religious, and political position that is Pro-Life and follows
the natural law concerning sexuality demands great courage. It will also require well informed
consciences and articulate arguments. It
presupposes deep faith, especially when we may be afraid of being accused of
being weirdly religious, homophobic, closed-minded or hate-filled. All these are words intended to make us bury our
talents. But what will the Master say
when he returns? That should be our Catholic concern, not how others may criticize or
Catholics will need more courage
than we’ve needed since the early days of our nation when in many colonies (and,
later on, some states) Catholics were persecuted and priests had a bounty on
their heads for celebrating Mass. Those
kinds of laws are unlikely today, but we do face so many so-called Catholic
politicians who embarrass our faith by living immodestly and by supporting laws
that offend our Catholic teachings and consciences. Some of our fellow citizens – our neighbors –
also hold the Church in disdain and ridicule, or dismiss the Christian faith is
irrelevant. To stand up to proclaim and
live our faith in the face such people and leaders will be an adventure!
law and politics, Christians meet the immediate needs of people around us. Are you and I afraid to extend ourselves to
our neighbor for fear of rejection – or worse, of getting too “involved?” We have a responsibility to be involved. “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus was asked. And he told the story of the Good Samaritan, [i] who
pitied and helped the wounded traveler.
Besides our response to a neighbor’s practical needs, an end in itself, showing
compassion to neighbors also calls them to belief. Compassion is evangelization. The faith may become their adventure, too!
Prepare! Prepare for the adventure by discerning our
talents through our study of scripture and in prayer. Prepare for the adventure by nurturing our
talents in the sacraments of the Church.
Those who have boldly undertaken the adventure of a living faith will
gain more until they grow rich, while those who are fearful of this
adventuresome spirit will lose the little they think they have.
November 9, 2014
Rev. Anthony Medairos,
Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12
Psalm 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9
1 Corinthians 3:9c-11,
This is one of the Church’s special
celebrations that may seem puzzling, an anachronism. We commemorate the dedication of a church
building that most of us will never see, nor could we identify its picture in a
lineup. But this is a tradition that’s
been celebrated by us since November 9, 324.
that day Pope Sylvester II dedicated a church in Rome called Saint John Lateran, a building
donated by Emperor Constantine.
Originally it was a palace owned by the Laterani family, hence the
name. The palace was adapted into a church. (So it’s not that unusual for the Church to re-purpose
a building, as we are doing here in Carver.)
The bishop of Rome
(that is, the pope) chose this church as his cathedral, and it was the pope’s
residence until about the year 1000.
Only after that did popes have a residence in the Vatican
district of Rome.
church was dedicated, which is unusual, to two saints named John: John the Baptist and John the
Evangelist. It was re-constructed in the
fourteenth century and again in the sixteenth century. Today it is still the pope’s cathedral. As such, it is the central church in the
inscription is carved over its entranceway.
It’s in Latin, of course. Be
prepared to hear words that are familiar in English. One is urbis
as in “urban,” pertaining to a city.
Another is orbis, as in “orb,”
meaning a globe and “orbit,” that of traveling above the atmosphere around the
earth. And the words are: Omnium
urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput, translated “Mother and head of
all the churches of the city (meaning Rome)
and the world.” St. John Lateran
Cathedral is the mother and head church building of our religion. From its chair (or cathedra) infallible matters of doctrine have been pronounced since
the fourth century.
instead of focusing on the architecture of this venerable church, take a moment
with me to reflect on the nature of – not the building – but of the Church
itself. We find an outline for doing
this in the Nicene Creed that you and I recite nearly every weekend. The outline describes the “marks” of the Church: that the Church is one, holy, catholic
One. Jesus promised, “… I will ask the Father, and
he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth,
which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you,
and will be in you. I will not leave you
orphans; I will come to you.”  And so, with the descent of that Holy Spirit
on Pentecost, Christ established a visible Church with human leaders inspired
to guide it. Through the Church, the
graces of God flow to each of us. The
Church is not, as Protestant tradition claims, an invisible community of
believers linked together only by the Bible.
From the beginning, God sent leaders to preach the Gospel without error,
and sacraments to nourish and heal us.
The Church is our source of grace.
Though there are many historical varieties and
cultural expressions of Catholicism, 
Christ left us one Church guided by the Apostles led by Peter, to whom Jesus
gave the power of the keys, 
the authority to forgive and to bind sins.
Peter’s successors, the bishop of Rome
along with the college of bishops throughout the world, continue to lead that
same Church. Sadly, there are profound
differences in Church polity between Catholics and Orthodox, but there is unity
among us even there because of the sacraments and correct doctrinal teachings
that make us one. The Church remains
united through the consistent teaching of the bishops since the Apostolic age,
truth carefully handed down from generation to generation.
Holy. The Church has all the human flaws its
members bring to it. But because the
Church was established by Christ to continue his ministry – the Gospel –
through the ages, then it is holy simply because it is Christ’s. It may be symbolic or even ironic that while
other Christian church buildings may top their steeples with a weathervane to
test the direction of the wind, Catholic churches are topped with a cross, for
our mission is to preach honestly the Gospel of “Jesus Christ, and him
Catholic. “Catholic” is a Greek word that means
“universal.” The Church reaches out to
all people. It serves all people,
without distinction of social status, ethnic origin or even faith itself. Pope Benedict and Pope Francis remind all of
us: each one of us is to be an
evangelizer. It is in your nature and
mine as disciples of Christ to bring the Gospel to those who have drifted away
from the Church, and to introduce the Gospel to those who have never known the
faith. It is also our mission to see in
all people our neighbor.
Apostolic. The Church’s mission is to continue the
preaching of the Apostles. To do this,
as the Church expanded beyond Israel
and the Apostles’ lifetimes, it was necessary to pass on the authority to teach
and preach the truth to others.
Matthias, for example, was chosen by the Eleven to replace Judas, who
had betrayed the Lord. 
This passing on of authority continued throughout the apostolic period and
beyond. The symbol for doing this is the
“laying on of hands” first done by the Apostles and then by their successors
ever since. The first deacons were so
ordained by the Apostles.  Even Saint
Paul, along with Barnabas, was ordained by the
Apostles.  Every Catholic bishop today can trace his
ordination back to bishops in a chain leading directly to one or more of the
so, as we commemorate the dedication of Saint John Lateran cathedral 1,690
years ago, we acknowledge the gift of God’s grace that flows through the Church
to us. We give thanks for the Church
that has kept alive Christ among us in authentic preaching and in
sacrament. And as a community of faith
we are reinvigorated in our own vocation to evangelize – each of us to bring
the Good News of Christ to the world today.
 Among these
are the Melkites, Ukrainians (“Greek”), Byzantines, Maronites, and now even an