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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

 


Seventh Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2015

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

 

Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26

Psalm 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20

1 John 4:11-16

John 17:11b-19

 

The Bowery is a neighborhood in New York City, famous to most of us only because of a song by that title from an 1891 Broadway musical. [*] About 30 years ago, before Mayor Rudy Giuliani brought some sanity and safety back to that great city, a teenage boy stood on a ledge high above a Bowery street, ready to jump to his death.  Some in the crowd yelled for him to jump.  A police officer talked with the boy for nearly two hours.  The boy told him of his life of beatings and abandonment by his parents, culminating in a lonely runaway existence in the Big Apple and his despair on that rooftop.  The boy’s story went to the officer’s heart.  His desperation brought an unexpected response.  The policeman told the boy someone does care for him.  In fact, the policemen said, “I’d be proud to have a son like you.”  The boy took a big risk about that cop – that he was not being conned just to get him off that roof.  So he went down with the policeman.

 

Six weeks later that policeman won legal custody of the boy, took him into his home and helped him get settled in a new school and a new life.  It was a well publicized story at the time.  It had that “human interest” that attracts people’s attention, celebrating the idea that life can be restored to a dying person, just by showing some love.          

 

Saint John wrote, “If God so loved us, we also must love one another.”  Just when we thought we could have a nice, comforting and comfortable religion – with its Easter message that Jesus gave everything for us (even his life), that Jesus forgives every failing in us, that Jesus understands all our needs and temptations and consoles us in our anxiety and doubt – just then, we are reminded that this is not the entirety of what the gospel is about.    

 

Until Jesus returns, we proclaim a gospel with a mission.  We are a people commissioned.  The love we experience in our faith in Jesus as Lord must be shared.  The Lord loves us.  And implicit in this love is that you and I are expected to love others.  There is a story that one time Eve asked Adam in the Garden, “Adam, do you love me?”  Adam shrugged his shoulders and answered, “Who else?”  If the Lord were to ask us whether we loved him, would our response be a similar non-committal answer, “Who else, Lord?”  The Lord wants more than that.  He desires some action behind any of our protestations of love.

 

Several years ago, I received a photocopy of a sort-of “newsletter” that some gentleman produced, a fellow who, to put it kindly, we could probably call eccentric.  His most recent issue was about how the Cardinal was such a phony leader, because he supported activities in the Church like the St. Vincent de Paul Society (which gives practical help – like food or heating oil to the poor) and Catholic Charities (which provides social services like counseling and, at that time, used to do adoptions).  Our faith, this gentleman protested, is for going to church and receiving Communion, not for “travesties” like St. Vincent and Catholic Charities.

 

This misguided man should have considered what Saint John taught:  “Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God.”  Is that our reality?  Are our life’s choices guided as if God – who is love – dwells within us?  And are we prepared to share this love – which is of God – that we have experienced?  What if Jesus, filled with the Father’s love, kept this a cozy little secret to himself?  As Jesus shared the love of his Father, so are we commissioned to share.  Our faith in Jesus must surpass an individualistic, private acceptance of Christ and our living a passive, quiet life.  Our faith in the Lord Jesus means believing deeply enough to love others.  That was Jesus’ intent when he prayed to the Father, “As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.”

 

We are sent to love.  Of course, “love” is only a word.  In English it is almost a meaningless word, for we can love our country, love our children, love Milky Way bars, love fishing.  And some people diminish that already tepid word to mean just sentiment or emotion.  But love is a commitment to others; love is a motivator to act, specifically to act on behalf of another person.   

 

Putting love into action will not always be as dramatic and life-changing as taking a lonely, desperate boy from a rooftop into one’s heart and home.  It may be something as simple as being really nice to the kid in school who doesn’t have many friends.  It may mean stopping on a road to help a guy change a flat.  It may mean doing earnest prayer and fasting on behalf of someone who is in spiritual turmoil.  And here is where it really makes a difference:  to do these things for the Lord – and not because it somehow is to our own advantage.  Jesus was not proposing a Christian form of karma – what goes around, comes around.  We do not love because it is a “you-scratch-my-back-and-I`ll-scratch-yours” kind of world, but because in loving one another we love God in us.

 

“If God so loved us, we also must love one another.  No one has ever seen God.  Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.”



[*]  “A Trip to Chinatown” by Percy Gaunt and Charles H. Hoyt.



The Sixth Sunday of Easter

May 10, 2015

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

 

Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48

Psalm 98:1-4

1 John 4:7-10

John 15:9-17

 

            Fictional characters sometimes seem more real than our actual friends.  And we want to know all about their make-believe lives:  Harry Potter, for example.  There are TV shows that have been around so long that we need to know all about their characters.  NCIS begins its 13th year next season.  Over time we’ve come to understand how the murder of his wife Shannon and daughter Kelly affected Jethro Gibbs, his failed marriages, and his testy relationship with his dad.  We learned that Ziva had been an assassin for Mossad and Tony was once a patrolman in Baltimore City.  Writers call these their characters’ “back stories.”  Real people have history or context.         

 

            So it is with today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles.  The selection about the encounter of Cornelius and Saint Peter was probably chosen because it segues with the gospel verse “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you….”  Cornelius had not chosen God; God had chosen him.

 

            Now here is the context of the Cornelius story as found in the Acts of the Apostles.  It takes 67 verses to tell the story.  Our reading from Acts is whittled down to 8 verses.  Here’s the story:  Peter – whose birth name was Simon – was in Joppa staying at the home of another Simon, who was a tanner [1] of leather.  Joppa is modern day Jaffa, a suburb just south and west of Tel Aviv.  While Tel Aviv faces wide, sandy beaches along the Mediterranean, Jaffa abruptly rises atop steep, rocky cliffs that drop suddenly into the choppy waves of the Med.  Joppa provided Simon Peter a cool, breezy place of rest.

 

            While there, Simon Peter was praying at noontime on Simon Tanner’s rooftop terrace  [2] and he had a vision in which a large sheet descended from the sky in which appeared various animals, reptiles and birds that Jews considered unclean.  A voice was heard, telling Peter three times to slaughter and eat, but he refused these profane or unclean foods, professing faithfulness to the dietary laws of Moses.  Then was heard:  “What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.” [3]  As it happened, at that very moment the friends of Cornelius arrived.

 

            Cornelius was a Roman centurion, not a Jew but still a spiritual man sympathetic to Jewish culture.  While at prayer, Cornelius himself had had a vision directing him to seek out a certain Simon Peter in Joppa.  His Jewish friends interceded with Peter on his behalf, [4] so Peter traveled to Cornelius’ home in the Roman seaside port of Caesarea, whose ruins are a tourist destination in Israel today.  Upon Peter’s arrival, Cornelius humbled himself, but Peter raised him up saying that Peter was only a man, like himself.  Though it was not religiously lawful for a Jew to enter a non-Jew’s home, because of his vision Peter had come to understand that he “should not call any person profane or unclean.” [5]

 

            Cornelius related to Simon Peter his own vision.  And while Peter was telling Cornelius and his household about John the Baptist,  [6] and about Jesus’ preaching, crucifixion and resurrection, and his commission to believers to bear witness to all this and to forgive sins, the Holy Spirit was suddenly poured out onto Cornelius and his household and they began speaking in tongues and glorifying God.  So Peter baptized them all. 

 

Later at Jerusalem, Simon Peter had to justify his baptizing non-Jews.  He related this story.  When the other Apostles heard it “they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying, ‘God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.’” This was the watershed moment when the Church began reachng beyond Judaism to the whole world.

 

So, now that we’ve heard the context of today’s first reading, we are left with the question of what difference it is supposed to make in our lives.  What has this story of Cornelius to do with us?  What difference does this baptism in first century Caesarea make in our lives? 

 

First of all, it reminds us of the importance of prayer.  Perhaps we may not have visions like Peter’s sheet full of unclean animals or of 

Cornelius’ angelic message to send for a stranger named Simon Peter.  But if you and I don’t make time for quiet prayer, surely God will never be heard speaking to us or guiding us.  If a husband does not listen to his wife’s voice, then he won’t be picking up the milk on his way home and there won’t be milk for cereal in the morning.  If we are not making time to be quiet, to listen to the still, quiet voice of the Spirit, and to surrender to God’s will, we shall have missed some significant opportunities in our lives. 

 

The second thing we take from Peter and Cornelius is their response to prayer.  We must be people who are responsive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  It is incomplete to hear God; one also must act.  Had Cornelius not sent for Peter as the angel bade him, had Peter not shed his reliance on the laws of Moses as the vision prompted him, had Peter not broken the taboos of Judaism and entered a Gentile’s home, then you and I today might be Jewish or we may have never even heard of Christ Jesus at all.

 

Finally, Cornelius reminds us that there are people waiting to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.  You and I have good news to share with a hungry world.  And sometimes the people who hunger for spiritual growth are not the “safe” ones we might have expected or even preferred.  God touches people’s lives in ways unexpected.  Who would have thought the commander of a hundred Roman soldiers, would respond to the preaching of a Jewish fisherman?  Who would have thought an observant Jew would associate so generously with a Gentile? 

 

Beyond expanding our expectations of others, Simon Peter reminds us to enlarge our expectations of ourselves.  It is your vocation and mine to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others.  Who else will do this?  Saint Teresa of Avila said, “God has no hands in the world but our hands.”  To paraphrase Teresa, the voice through which God usually speaks to others is our voice.  You and I are called by Christ Jesus to share boldly our Catholic faith.  God has chosen you and me.  Who – us?  Yes, us.  Jesus himself said it:  “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain….”   



[1]  Acts 10:5-6.

 

[2]  Acts 10:9-15.

 

[3]  Acts 10:15

 

[4]  Acts 10:17ff.

 

[5]  Acts 10:28.

 

[6]  Acts 10:34ff.



 

Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 3, 2015

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

Acts 9:26-31

Psalm 22:26-28, 30-32

1 John 3:18-24

John 15:1-8

 

            The forsythia at my home finally bloomed.  For a brief week or so these shrubs will explode in all directions their fiery, yellow blossoms that will soon implode into ordinary green leaves.  Forsythia love to climb things, but my home’s previous owners established a row of eight free-standing forsythia to preserve privacy from the next-door neighbor’s long driveway at the side of the house.  I like the privacy.  But it’s hard to keep forsythia in check and in a few weeks I’ll get out a tall step ladder to again re-shape the shrubs into spherical hedges that block the neighborhood’s view of my favorite, shady reading place.  The andromeda along the street also will need my attention soon.

 

            I don’t talk to plants.  I don’t think they have feelings, as some gardeners do.  But if they did have feelings, I wonder what they would be thinking as they see me approach with loppers and pruning sheers.  Perhaps it would be like watching the dentist approach me with a syringe full of Novocain®.  Yikes!

 

            And I wonder if the plants would appreciate the difference between lopping off the dead branches and pruning back some healthy ones.  The need to get rid of dead branches is obvious even to people who don’t garden or landscape.  Pruning is a bit harder to understand; it takes skill and experience.  A branch may grow long and display several buds along its length.  It takes a lot of energy for a plant to sustain a branch with many buds, so if one cuts away some of the healthy buds at the end of the branch, the remaining buds will receive more of the plant’s energy and may blossom more fully, potentially producing beautiful flowers or even fruit.

 

            Jesus borrowed the image of vines and branches from the Old Testament [1] to portray our relationship with him.  It is obvious that “a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine.”  But even a branch connected to the vine needs care.  This is what pruning is about.  Jesus is the vine and Heavenly Father is the vine grower; we are the branches.  Barren branches are taken away.  What remains is pruned “so that it bears more fruit.”  Then Jesus said, “You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.”

 

            I am not talking to those who may be withered branches.  They follow their own ideas and have their own pursuits.  They neither feel nor want a connection to the vine.  And they are not here.  I pray that some day they may perceive the fruitlessness of their lives apart from Christ.

 

            But the rest of us understand we’re connected.  And we face pruning.  That is not fun.  It’s understandable that we might become anxious as we see God approaching us with loppers and pruning sheers.  Sometimes the pruning process seems excessive and our faith is challenged.  We may not be able to distinguish that God’s hand is pruning away the excess of our life so that we may bear greater fruit – as opposed to the impression that God is discarding us as dead weight.  The struggles in our life may sometimes feel as if we have been abandoned by Heavenly Father. 

 

            So here Jesus reassures you and me.  He encourages us to stay with him.  “Remain in me,” Jesus says.  “You cannot bear fruit ‘unless you remain in me.’”  “Remain in me, as I remain in you.”  That is the key. 

 

On some occasions the “pruning” may be the closing of a door that we had preferred to enter, a hope or plan of ours that seemed so important at the time.  But that way might have led us away from a relationship with Christ.  At other times the “pruning” may be more dramatic, even painful.  It may be an illness, an estrangement from or loss of a loved one, or a financial setback. 

 

Though being pruned may feel as if God has disappointed us, or even abandoned you or me to our troubles and worries, Christ Jesus always remains with us.  If we do not surrender to doubt, even the most troubling circumstances will bear fruit.  It is part of God’s plan.  “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.  By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

 

Saint John wrote in his first epistle, “We have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”  Here John speaks as Jesus did: “Those who keep [God’s] commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.”

 

            So the alternatives are set before us.  Somerset Maugham, the great Catholic novelist, had one of his characters express the first alternative.  He wrote, “It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive.” [2]  That is our first alternative:  As the people around us take note of our struggles, they can be negatively affected by what they witness, because they observe that we ourselves have become disheartened.  So, doubt and despair grow.  This adds nothing to the glory of God. 

 

But if you or I remain with Christ, confident that the struggle is not a sign of God’s wrath but is part of a painful pruning leading to new fruit, other people may be edified – not that we are such long-suffering saints, but that in us they may come to accept that Christ is present even amidst trouble and turbulence.  In this way, we do become disciples.  In this way is God glorified.



[1]  Hosea 10:1; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 15; Psalm 80:9-16.

 

[2] Somerset Maugham, Moon and Sixpence (1919), Ch. 41.

 




Third Sunday of Easter

April 19, 2015

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19

Psalm 4:2-4, 7-9

1 John 2:1-5a

Luke 24:35-48

 

            We’ve all heard the saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”  I’ve never been there.  You?  Gambling and the night life of Las Vegas hold no attraction for me.  For those who’ve been, it may be prudent to keep to them selves how much money was lost, how many scotches were imbibed, and so forth.  But, I suspect, just the aura of having been to Vegas leads people to wonder about a person who’s been there, adding to the glamour (or the shadiness) of that tourist’s reputation.  Some people like the idea of keeping other people wondering about them.

 

            Let me suggest another saying:  “What happens in church, stays in church.”  And that, by the way, is not a good thing.  Too many Christians live this way.  They say they believe in God and they live as if they do not.  Faith is reduced to worship (which, by the way, is how secular humanists think religion ought to be).  We participate in Mass on Sunday, but there is no difference in the way life is lived on Tuesday.  Faith is minimized to mean going to Mass.  “What happens in church, stays in church.”

 

            St. Peter had just healed a crippled beggar outside the Temple. [1] The passers-by were amazed.  Now that Peter had their attention, he taught the crowd.  He reminded them of what their leaders – and they – had done to Jesus, choosing freedom for Barabbas instead of for the Son of the Father.  Peter testified of Jesus that “God had raised him from the dead.”  And what ought the response to this great news be:  repentance; conversion.  Forgiveness would not be granted just because they felt bad about their poor decisions.  Forgiveness would be granted if they changed their life, if they were converted. 

 

            St. John’s first letter confirms this.  John wrote boldly, “Those who say, ‘I know him,’ but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them.”

 

            Jesus himself, in those spectacular Easter appearances, calmed his terrified and confused disciples.  Cleopas and his companion had encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus and only recognized him when Jesus broke bread with them. [2] Then they ran back to Jerusalem to report what had happened.  (This is where today’s gospel selection begins.)  And Jesus appeared again.  The disciples thought him a ghost.  But he reassured them, ate with them, and explained yet one more time the prophecies concerning the Christ, crucified and raised from the dead on the third day so “that repentance, for the forgiveness of sin, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

 

            And then Jesus added a phrase that we might dismiss as pertaining only to those disciples.  But it applies to you and me as well.  “You are witnesses of these things.”  To “witness” is not only to observe some event.  To “witness” means to give testimony.  You and I say we believe in Jesus Christ.  Now is the time to give testimony to our faith, to witness.  Do not keep our faith inside the walls of this building.

 

There is a story of a young girl visiting her grandmother in a small country town in the South.  She attended a very emotional religious service, where people expressed their feelings by jumping around and shouting.  It was a completely new experience for her.  She asked her grandmother if all the activity really meant that people were being touched by the Spirit or whether it was merely a huge piece of self-indulgence and emotional release.  Her grandmother wisely answered, “Honey, it does not matter how high they jump up, it is what they do when they come down that will tell you if it is the real thing!” [3]  We don’t do much jumping up at a Mass.  But the same can be said of you and me:  It does not matter much how profoundly we genuflect, how intently we listen to the gospel, how enthusiastically we sing hymns of praise.  It’s what we do when we leave all this behind and go into that world out there that will tell if this worship is the real thing.

 

The real thing begins with conversion, a change nurtured by grace in the way you and I are determined to live.  The greatest witness you and I can give is to be our better self.  Authenticity will convince.  This authenticity must inevitably spill over into acts of Christian charity.

 

In front of Christ the King Parish in San Diego there is a statue of Jesus.  This Christ figure has no hands.  But the statue had not been vandalized.  Instead, it was the intent of the sculptor to illustrate that Jesus needs the hands of his followers now.  Those who believe in and love Jesus are changed by the quality of that relationship; they act differently than they would if they did not believe in and love Jesus. [4]

 

So, give no one the impression that our motto is “What happens in church, stays in church.”  We believe that Jesus is the Christ, crucified and risen from the dead.  This faith impels us to our own repentance.  And we accept that the message of repentance is to be preached in the name of Jesus to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem and continuing from this place.  And we hear Jesus’ commission to each one of us:  “You are witnesses of these things.” 



[1]  Acts 3:1-11.

[2]  Luke 24:13-34.

[3]  As quoted from Good News (homily service), 1992, p. 663.

[4]  William A. Barry, God’s Passionate Desire and Our Response (Notre Dame, IN:  Ave Maria Press, 1993), p. 103.

 

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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