Weekend: Sat. 5 pm; Sun. 9 am & 11 am Weekday: Fri. through Wed. 9 am Holy day: 9 am & 7 pm Confessions: Sat. 4:15 to 4:45 pm Eucharistic Adoration: (1st Fri.) 9 am to 12 Noon
Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 21, 2013
Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor
Acts , 43-52
Psalm 100:1-3, 5
Revelation 7:9, 14b-17
Usually your restaurant waiter will introduce himself or herself as they approach your table.“Hello.I’m Suzie and I’ll be serving you this evening.”Sometimes, if this doesn’t happen right away or if I’m just in a silly mood, I’ll speak up first.“Hello.I’m Anthony and I’ll be your patron this evening.”It usually gets a laugh.I know the waiter’s self-identification is part of the restaurant’s marketing technique, or maybe just the waiter’s way to assure a good tip.Despite that, it portrays a human craving to be known by name.
We are not comfortable being “the broken leg in room 327” or “the portly gentleman over there.”It’s important to be known by name.All of us have felt de-personalized when we’ve been identified as a number or we’re looked upon as a job, a functionary.Our names are lost and we’ve become the tall nurse, the black waitress, the manager with glasses.And so there is power in the names of those who died on 9-11, names engraved into the wall surrounding the infinity pool at the former site of the WorldTradeCenter towers.
Another powerful sign of the importance of a name is evident in the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington:Slabs of marble emerging from a trench, with names carved into the stone.Because of the names, that war becomes personal as people search out that special name and leave tokens, or touch the letters, or make a rubbing, or embrace one another under that looked-for name.For many, seeing the name on The Wall brings that war to a conclusion for them, just as fingering the names in New York City is a way of connecting with real people now gone from our sight.Names are powerfully important.
We’ve gathered here today because Jesus knows your name and my name.“My sheep hear my voice [Jesus said].I know them, and they follow me.”If we are familiar with sheep herding at all, perhaps through books or movies or maybe we’ve visited a ranch, we may think of the shepherd as standing behind the flock, urging them forward, perhaps employing a sheep dog to channel the sheep toward the desired direction.Jesus never saw anyone shepherd like that.The shepherds in the Middle East walk in front of the sheep, and gently call their flocks as we would call a pet.Sometimes the shepherd would have names for his sheep, able to recognize each one individually, as the mother of identical twins is able to distinguish one from the other.Even when these sheep had intermingled with another flock, the sheep would recognize their own shepherd’s voice when he called them.“My sheep hear my voice.I know them, and they follow me,” Jesus said.
We’ve gathered here today because Jesus knows your name and my name.He calls and we must follow.
Saint John described heaven as being filled with people “who have survived the great period of trial; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”John now pictures Jesus not as a shepherd but as a lamb, the sacrificed Passover Lamb.By our connecting with the Lamb of God we are capable of getting through the great period of our own trial.
Jesus calls us by name through our times of trial, summoning us first to survival and then to joy, as we prevail over the difficult loneliness after we’ve managed to alienate a friend, our devastation when someone we love has committed suicide (or for that matter, the death of anyone we may love), the anguish when a spouse leaves with the children, the scar of an unforgotten abortion, the humiliation of being misunderstood or misjudged, our failure to achieve a treasured goal, anxiety as our debts pile up or our job seems to be in jeopardy, our frustration at the injustice of friends and neighbors who thrive as they live by standards and values which seem contrary to the gospel that we are trying so hard to follow.Perhaps not the great period of trial Saint John wrote about, but each a great struggle in our own life.
We’ve gathered here today because Jesus knows your name and my name.And we have someone to follow.Jesus calls and guides us through these periods of trial.Those who recognize the voice of Jesus and follow him are promised more than mere survival: We’re promised eternal life.Saint John, in the Book of Revelation, wrote, “... the Lamb on the throne will shepherd them.He will lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
That is why we have gathered here today:Jesus knows your name and my name.We have someone to follow.And he calls us to this table to provide food for our journey.Our food is Jesus, the Lamb of God.Jesus is our good shepherd.Our survival and our eternal life begin here.“My sheep hear my voice.I know them, and they follow me.I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”
Third Sunday of Easter
April 14, 2013
Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor
Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41
Psalm 30:2-6, 11-13
Mark Twain liked to brag about his fishing exploits.Once he spent three weeks fishing in Maine.And it was not the lawful fishing season.His catch was on ice in the train’s baggage car as he returned to New York.Relaxing in the lounge car, Twain boasted to a stranger of his sizable catch of fish.The stranger was at first blasé and then positively grim.“By the way, who are you, sir,” Twain inquired.“I’m the state game warden,” the stranger replied.“And who might you be?”Twain gulped and responded, “Truthfully, warden, I’m the biggest darn liar in the whole United States.” 
And so, “one hundred fifty-three large fish.”Quite a haul for a small boat on a lake.And the nets didn’t even tear!Just another fish story?This third post-Resurrection appearance of Jesus to his disciples tells a wonderful tale, and it is not a fish story.
Believe it or not, over the centuries there has been an immense amount of speculation about the 153 fish.To mention just a few opinions: in the early fifth century Saint Jerome, who first translated the whole bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin (known as the Vulgate), opined that, since the Greek scientists had identified 153 species of fish in the world, this miraculous catch of fish signified that the gospel was for all the peoples of the world, just as 153 represents all the types of fish in the world.These fishermen who were about to become fishers of men  were to go to the whole world preaching the gospel.On the other hand, at about the same time Saint Augustine suggested an esoteric answer in numerology: that the numbers from 1 to 17, when added together (1 + 2 + 3 + 4, etc.) totaled 153.“Why 17,” you might ask?Augustine would answer:17 represents the 10 commandments and 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit.There were several other numerological and geometrical speculations about the 153 fish.Might I suggest this?John the Evangelist was John, son of Zebedee, a fisherman; and he was there that morning.And being a professional fisherman, John held an authentic memory of the unusually huge catch of fish that had not torn those primitive nets.He sold those fish, and remembered just how many there were.Simple as that!
This miracle of Jesus’ post-Resurrection presence among his friends has something to tell you and me.Perhaps the most significant thing is that Jesus is present to the ordinary things of life:work and breakfast.Not yet embarked on their missionary work, the apostles were still fishing for a living.And Jesus was interested and involved.The Lord is present in even the seemingly innocuous, ordinary activities of your life and mine.There is dignity in our labor, first because it provides us a livelihood, then because it serves the needs of our community.And for those reasons our labor is another way in which you and I are connected to our Creator and Savior.
Speaking of innocuous and ordinary, Jesus made breakfast.This famous “most important meal of the day” is where those disciples again experienced their union with the risen Christ.And Christ is present in our own family’s groggy start to our busy day.He is present in the one who turned on the coffee or popped the waffles into the toaster.He is there in our family’s preoccupation with its plans for the day.He is there as the sign that – even as the family scatters in different directions – this family will remain united in love, will reassemble and gather again around that same breakfast table.Christ is really with you and me throughout our day.
There are at least a couple more outstanding messages in this post-Resurrection encounter.One is the word “children.”“Children, have you caught anything to eat?”Our bible study discovered that John’s Greek word that is translated here as “children” is the plural of the word paidion, which can be properly interpreted “little boy.”Jesus was not demeaning his hearty fishermen apostles as little boys.He was, instead, manifesting an intimate closeness to these men, his friends; the way a man may speak of his buddies as “the boys.”Another translator suggested words that I prefer, “Lads, have you caught anything to eat?”Jesus extends that same, loving relationship to you and me.Are we ready for such intimacy with Jesus Christ?
Another message may be found in Jesus’ suggestion that the fishermen cast their nets anew, this time over the right side of the boat.Someone speculated that from where Jesus stood he had observed signs that fish were on that side.But I think Peter, as a professional fisherman, would have been just as aware.Someone else suggested that the Greek word dexios can mean “right,” but it can also mean “lucky.”It seems to me Jesus had no need to rely on luck.
Let me suggest that Jesus was saying to his disciples what every parent has said to a child, every supervisor to a worker:“Just do it the way I told you to do it.”In other words, though Jesus invites you and me into an intimate relationship with him, though Jesus is concerned with every aspect of your life and mine (even the seemingly “non-religious” things like work or breakfast), even so Jesus is Lord.And we are disciples who are to do things as the Lord teaches, not according to our own preferences or whims.Jesus is, after all, “the way, the truth, and the life.”  As disciples of Jesus, we are to follow him precisely.He knows where the abundant catches of our lives will be found.Trust and abide in his friendship.And do as he guides us.
Clifton Fadiman (editor), The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1985).
“‘Peace be with you.As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’”What an awesome possibility:to forgive sin!This is what Jesus did.Forgiving sin led to his being targeted as an enemy of God and faith.The scribes of the law asked, “Why does this man speak that way?He is blaspheming.Who but God alone can forgive sins?” 
And what an even more daunting burden:to be capable of retaining another person in sin.What a frightening responsibility!At least at first glance.But consider that the one who gave this commission is the one who never retained anyone in sin.
The essence is that Jesus’ ministry continues in the Church.This is what Jesus breathed onto the disciples.The word John the evangelist used was emphysan.Emphysan can be translated “breathed on.”But it can also mean “inflated,” as one may inflate a balloon or a tire.It is an unusual word, used in the bible only three times.In the Greek translation of the Old Testament emphysan is used in this verse:“the LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.” God constructed Adam’s human body, but Adam was not a living being until God inflated him with the breath of life.
The only other time emphysan is used is in Ezekiel, when the prophet was shown a vision of dry bones scattered all over the ground that God was reassembling and adding to them muscle and flesh. But these reassembled people were not alive until the prophet prophesied as God directed:“From the four winds come, O spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life.” This was a vision of God rejuvenating Israel through Ezekiel’s prophecy when the people had lost faith in God’s presence among them.God inflated Adam with the breath of life.Ezekiel’s vision inflated the once-dry bones with the spirit that made them come to life.And Jesus inflated his disciples so they could continue his ministry of forgiveness.
Sometimes you and I may forget that this is the primary mission of the Church:to do what Jesus did.He preached.He healed.He forgave sin.He invited followers by word and example.And as we will hear throughout Eastertide, the early Church did just that:preached, healed, forgave sin, and invited others by word and example to follow in the name of Jesus.And the Church thrived.
There is an episode of The Simpsons when Homer is stranded on a Pacific island with a pagan tribe.In the course explaining his culture to them, the natives inquire about God.Homer, theologian that he is, struggled with explaining God.But he got the tribe to build a primitive church.And when it was completed, Homer admitted, “I may not know much about God, but I have to say we built a pretty nice cage for him.” 
Sadly, theologian Homer Simpson was correct.Unlike the Church of the earliest days, today’s Church can rightfully be described as putting God in a nice cage; the nicer the better.What our government and society seem intent on doing:keeping faith out of the public marketplace, keeping faithful people quiet and “tolerant” of others, Christians have already been doing on their own:keeping God in church and not mixing their faith with “the real world.”
Since soon after the accounts recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, the healing power of Christians seems to have subsided.There has always been some healing – in special circumstances.And there has been healing in the establishment of hospitals.But Christians quickly insulated themselves from the miracles of Jesus, because Jesus is God and we are not.“Belief in Jesus became more important than carrying on his life and work.” 
But Jesus inflated the Church with the Holy Spirit not so that we would admire him, but so that we would continue and complete his mission of preaching, healing, forgiving, and inviting followers.The New Evangelization of which John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Francis are proposing is precisely the original evangelization, for which Jesus inflated the Church with the Holy Spirit.It is the reason for the Church’s existence, though we have sometimes drifted from that purpose.Or, perhaps more truthfully, we have entrusted evangelization to bishops, priests and missionaries.But evangelization – continuing the mission of Jesus of preaching, healing, forgiving and inviting followers – is every Christian’s vocation.You and I have been filled with the Holy Spirit for just that purpose.
The Church is not primarily in existence to serve itself.From the beginning the Church has been called into service as was Jesus.Jesus himself said it, “Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The Church – you and I – is sent to those outside the Church.
This does not mean, of course, that we can deny the need for the Church as its own community.What do we call others to, if we first are not a community of faith, infused with the Holy Spirit?Just as the flight attendant warns, “If you are traveling with a child and there is need for oxygen, put the mask on yourself first; then come to the assistance of the child.”You and I need this community of worship and support and nourishment in the faith.This is why we need to gather to pray together at least weekly.This is why we need the Eucharist.What has been inflated, I fear, can become deflated.Only when we are in a community of faith and worship, continually replenished with the Holy Spirit’s breath of life, can you and I be nourished for the Church’s primary mission: to go out and to preach, to heal, to forgive, and to invite followers to the Lord Jesus.“‘Peace be with you.As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
[Ezekiel 37:2-12] He made me walk among them in every direction so that I saw how many they were on the surface of the plain.How dry they were!He asked me: Son of man, can these bones come to life? “Lord GOD,” I answered, “you alone know that.”Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life.I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put spirit in you so that you may come to life and know that I am the LORD.I prophesied as I had been told, and even as I was prophesying I heard a noise; it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone.I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them, and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them.Then he said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus says the Lord GOD: From the four winds come, O spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life.I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them; they came alive and stood upright, a vast army.Then he said to me: Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.They have been saying, “Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, and we are cut off.”Therefore, prophesy and say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel.
Roger D. Haight, “Mission: The Symbol for Understanding the Church Today,” Theological Studies, Vol. 37, no. 4 (December, 1976), p. 634-635.
The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus
March 31, 2013
Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor
Hope.That is what Christians celebrate at Easter time:hope.And our Christian hope is not just a positive attitude brought about by the improving weather, the longer daylight, or the early crocuses appearing in the yard.For remember, our Christian brothers and sisters in the southern hemisphere face the opposite:the approaching winter, the longer nights, and deciduous plants going dormant.And yet these people south of the equator also celebrate our Easter hope.
On Good Friday I attended a man who was about to be taken off life support.Surrounded by family – among them a sister, a daughter – and still awaiting the arrival of others, the spirit of hope permeated that hospital room.Theirs was not wishful thinking; the family knew death to be inevitable as soon as “the plug” was pulled.They spoke of his birthday party that was to occur two weeks hence; a large family gathering had been planned.Now they talked, instead, of a new gathering in which their father, their brother, would celebrate at home with Jesus.Christians can celebrate “not only moments of joy but also moments of pain, thus affirming God’s real presence in the thick of our lives.A … Christian always affirms life, because God is the God of life, a life stronger than death and destruction….There is always reason to hope, even when our eyes are filled with tears.” 
Scoffers might describe Christian hope as wishful thinking.For the scoffers or the unconvinced we propose two answers.Religious hope is not wishful thinking.Wishful thinking is a daydream, a passive reverie about things possible but unlikely.“What would I do if I won Megabucks?!”I haven’t purchased a lottery ticket, but let the imagining begin!
On the contrary, hope is a way of living.One believer said this:“Hope goes hand in hand with deeds, otherwise, it is just wishful thinking.” Hopeful people share an attitude like that of a child who is just learning to walk.How many times the child wobbles and falls.Success seems so elusive, hopeless even.If that was all we knew of the child, we would think it cruel to watch his struggle, like gawking at one of those TV shows that laughs at videos of people’s foolhardy missteps and accidents.But in spite of repeated failures, there is joy in the child which keeps him going despite the seemingly impossible task of walking.The child is not thinking of the falls so much as of the joy of keeping his balance, even for just a moment. Christians of hope endure the falls in life like anyone else.But they focus on the joy of living in a trusting relationship with God in a life that is motivated by love and service to others.
The reason for that hope is found in our second answer to scoffers and the unconvinced.Actually this answer should have taken primacy of place.It is itself the resurrection of Jesus, which we celebrate today and every day of our faith-life.Because the Second Person of the Trinity became flesh and dwelt among humankind, and because this Jesus died for our sins yet rose from death on Easter, we are able to abide in hope.
Hope does not mean believers find life easy.But believers are able to face the turmoil of life in a way impossible for people who have no hope.We recognize our sins and hope for forgiveness.We face an illness and hope for healing.In fact, our hope is made stronger in the turmoil.As Saint Paul wrote, “Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly.” 
That is our reason for hope.Jesus willingly died in our place to answer for our sins.And Jesus sent the Holy Spirit into each of us so that we could embrace his dying and his rising from death.In his resurrection, Jesus revealed that life, and not death, has the last word.Jesus, risen from the grave, is God’s revelation that death is not more powerful than life.Life is more powerful than death.And in this lies our hope.“The Christian ultimately has hope in the loving power and presence of the Lord who promises to be with us until the end of time and whose love is so strong that it can overcome all obstacles, even death itself.” 
And we know the resurrection of Jesus is not a fairy tale, a story of wishful thinking.We know this because the disciples witnessed with their own eyes Jesus crucified, dead, but then on the third day alive.And these witnesses were so secure in their knowledge of the resurrection of Jesus that they were willing to – and in fact did – die rather than to denounce the truth of their Easter joy.These disciples, those early Christians, and even Christians today, died in the hundreds and thousands in the sure and certain hope that Jesus was raised, and that death had been defeated.And because of our faith in the Risen Christ, you and I live in the certain hope that we too will rise on the Last Day.Life, and not death, has the last word.Alleluia!
Henri J.M. Nouwen, ¡Gracias! (San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1983), p. 179.
Ibn ‘Ata’illah, The Book of Wisdom (Kitab al-Hikam), translated by Victor Danner, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York:Paulist Press, 1978), p. 67.
Rabindranath Tagore, as quoted in Good News (homily service), 1976, p. 58
Charles E. Curran, “The Relationship of Moral Theology to Other Theological Disciplines,” New Catholic World, Vol. 226, no. 1351 (January/February, 1983), p. 9.
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.