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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

 


Fifth Sunday of Lent

March 22, 2015

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

 

2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23

Psalm 137:1-6

Ephesians 2:4-10

John 3:14-21

 

            We gather here to encounter Christ.  This will happen in a number of ways:  in the witness of our fellow Christians, in hearing the proclamation of the word of God, in the grace of Christ’s sacramental presence in the Eucharist, and also in the preaching of the Church. 

 

When it comes to preaching, since we are overwhelmed by the depth of today’s readings, the preacher must glean one, clear focus from the Word of God that might prepare worshipers to hear God’s word and to receive Christ in this Eucharistic bread.  So, I will focus on only one thing.

 

            “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”  This foundational covenant between God and his people is summarized in the Ten Commandments, carved on stone tablets and in ancient times reserved within the ark hidden within the Holy of Holies of the Jerusalem Temple. 

 

But instead of being the touchstone of believers’ covenant with God, today those stone tablets have become unwelcome reminders of God.  Legal courts require replicas of those tablets of the Law to be dismantled or covered over, lest they offend our fellow citizens or even stand as a critique of democracy itself.  It seems the virtue of diversity has been diverted from a kaleidoscope of various cultures melding together to enrich the color of this great nation into a pallid, lowest common denominator that cannot possibly offend or challenge anyone.  Diversity is being perverted into the homogenization of all things into a dull, colorless “sameness.”

 

But as upsetting as removing God’s Commandments from the public conversation may be to some of us, it may actually be a good thing.  Because, as the prophet Jeremiah revealed, that same Law was intended by God to be written upon our hearts rather than just on stone tablets.

 

            Think of things that are written upon the heart.  My first thought was of Mary at the birth of Jesus.  “All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.  And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” [1]  And later Jesus taught his disciples, “But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” [2]  It seems the heart is the hiding place, the deepest part of us, where our treasures find protection and nurture.

 

            When the Law of God is moved from the external place (the words on stone tablets) to the internal place (one’s heart), a profound transformation happens.  What was once only “important” becomes “precious” as one makes the commitment to allow it into one’s heart. 

 

Our heart is the hiding place of God’s covenant with us.  Consider one instance of “hiding,” namely:  the choice to hide a fugitive from the authorities.  When a Gentile family decided to hide Anne Frank’s Jewish family in their attic to save them from Nazi extermination, that family made a commitment that could have cost them their own freedom or even their lives.  You could say the same of someone hiding a real criminal as well; the law punishes those who abet a fugitive. 

 

When one hides a fugitive in the heart of one’s home, or embraces the Law of God in one’s own heart, there begins a commitment that is real and goes beyond rule-keeping.  It changes one’s way of life.  Once internalized, a person cannot ignore God’s Law as one might ignore or be distracted by something external to us.  When internalized, God’s Law informs our every choice.  Everything that one does can become an expression of one’s love of God.  Every betrayal of that Law becomes a rending of one’s relationship with God.  This is because the Law, once written upon the heart, is no longer a burden imposed from the outside.  The Law is embraced from within as a privilege and a blessing. 

 

This kind of personal commitment always costs.  It may be a heavy price.  Jesus’ love for the Father was complete in just this way.  It led Jesus to the cross on Calvary.  However, only through that cross on Good Friday could Jesus experience Easter resurrection.  Though internalizing the Commandments will probably not lead to our own crucifixion, it will always involve the cost paid in changing the way we live.

 

Someone once put it this way, “The law, if you will, is not a ceiling beyond which we need not go; rather it is a floor on which we stand.  It is a support from which we can reach out to do more and more for God and for our sisters and brothers.” [3]  Internalizing God’s covenant becomes our life’s journey into love of God and doing selfless service to our neighbors.

 

And if ever one should decide to wander from that Law that one has internalized, it does not mean some rules have been broken, but instead it is a sad admission of one’s estrangement from God.  Betraying one’s own heart, one is now choosing to work in opposition to God’s will.  But, thanks be to God, Jeremiah also prophesied:  “All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.” 

 

The heart is a living thing.  And a person can make mistakes about the Law that is written upon it.  But because the heart is a living thing, God is always ready to revive it, to heal it, and to enter it more deeply.  God promises to remember our sins no more.

 

And since our hearts have encountered Christ in God’s word, we now beseech the Lord to enter not only our heart, but our whole being, spiritually and physically, in the Bread from Heaven, the Eucharist upon this altar. 



[1]  Luke 2:18-19.

 

[2]  Matthew 6:20-21.

 

[3]  William H. Shannon, Seeking the Face of God (New York:  Crossroad, 1988), p. 78.  




Fourth Sunday of Lent

Laetare

March 15, 2015

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

 

2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23

                                                                                                                        Psalm 137:1-6

Ephesians 2:4-10

John 3:14-21

 

            I am a student of history.  Nonetheless, it seems true what Aldous Huxley, most famous for his novel A Brave New World, said of history:  “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” [*] However, I propose that there are echoes from history that reverberate even today, from which we can still learn.  While I do not want to sound like a fundamentalist preacher who draws direct equivalencies between things that happened centuries ago with what is happening today, attaching these equivalencies to dire predictions in the Book of Revelation, there are some of what I call “echoes” that provoke an interesting perspective on today’s events.  These echoes, like a distant military bugle, call you and me to action.

 

            The history is well known.  In 586 BC the Babylonians defeated Judah, destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple, and brought the intellectuals and artisans of that land into captivity in Babylon, where they remained for about forty years.  When Cyrus, the King of Persia, defeated Babylon, he returned the Jews to their homeland, endowing them with resources to begin rebuilding their city and their holy place.  

 

            The Jews interpreted their utter defeat as punishment by God for their unfaithfulness to the covenant.  They had forgotten how God had formed them as a people, making covenant after covenant with them even when they sinned.  Prophet after prophet they had ignored.  They “added infidelity after infidelity,” even “polluting the Lord’s temple” with idols.  To chasten his Chosen People, God took away everything with which he had blessed them.  When reformed by their exile, God used a foreign ruler to restore to them all they had forfeited, making a new covenant with them.

 

            These are the echoes from history:  Our nation has been blessed.  It is not the theocracy God had ordained in Israel and Judah.  The United States is a new sort of blessing – a land of abundance, a land of freedom, a land of hope, a land of new possibilities.  But our republic has its roots in the Biblical message spoken to the Chosen People.  And like the Chosen, this nation is forgetting its roots.

 

            Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking recently to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, referenced those roots.  He pointed to a carving over the door of the House chamber – the image of Moses, the great Law Giver.  The Ten Commandments appear on the walls of the U.S. Supreme Court, as do the words “In God We Trust.”  Christopher Columbus, and the Spanish explorers who followed to the New World, claimed these continents for Christ.  The story of the Pilgrims who landed here is replete with references to their inhabiting a new Promised Land.

 

            But today the Commandments and ideas that under-gird our republic are under constant suspicion and attack.  These attacks are not just our own personal offenses as sinful individuals.  They are a deliberate, structural philosophy intended to replace that on which our nation is built.  Remove the Commandments!  Do not bring God into the marketplace! 

 

            In the background there is the noise of a foreign power.  Right now Secretary of State John Kerry is negotiating with the government of Iran to limit their nuclear technologies that can develop nuclear weapons.  The foreign power we call Iran was once known as Persia.  But unlike the benevolent Cyrus of Persia, who controlled that part of the world while allowing vassal states like Israel to remain free and unmolested, Iran today is said to be a state sponsor of terrorism and a military power imposing Shiite Islam throughout Syria and Iraq and dominating most of the Middle East and parts of Africa.  Iran’s mission is the opposite of Cyrus’:  the elimination of Israel, the destruction of Jerusalem.

 

            So these are the echoes:  a believing nation that is drifting away from its Biblical roots, and a powerful Persia dominating its neighbors, perhaps even the whole world.  As God used a pagan King to lead the Jews back to the center of their faith, perhaps God is using today’s turbulent diplomacy to remind you and me of our own religious values.  You see, the Jews had forgotten who they were.  They had grown comfortable with dealing with difficulties through compromise.  They tried to be like other nations; they tried international political maneuvering; they tried worshiping foreign gods.  The Jews compromised their way into their own defeat and destruction.  Is our nation compromising its Biblical values, leading to our own defeat and destruction?  Might the prospect of ineffective diplomacy leading to a nuclear Iran shame our nation into returning to the values that once made the United States a strong leader for the good of all mankind?

 

            The Babylonian exile changed the Jewish culture.  Because of it, the Jewish people began relating to God in a new way.  Observant Jews could no longer simply join the throng going up to the Temple.  There now had to be a personal, interior commitment to their faith.  Instead of a punishment, it seems God had placed the Jewish nation in Babylon so God could reach his people in a new way.

 

            This is an echo for Christians and all people of good conscience.  In times like ours we must confess our own waywardness.  Is God, perhaps, inviting you and me to greater faithfulness to the Table of the Lord, to worship and the sacraments?  God is approaching us in new ways to bring us home to him.  In Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we are reminded that “God, who is rich in mercy” has “great love for us.”  We were created “for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.”  In other words, each one of us is to lead the life of good deeds.  We don’t boast in these deeds as if they come from ourselves.  Rather, they are God’s gift to us.  Jesus told Nicodemus, “Whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”

 

            Rather than fixating on the turmoil and discouragement of these days, consider that God is reaching out to our Church and to each of us individually in new ways.  As God used the political turmoil of that day to call the Jews back to true worship in Jerusalem, so God calls Christians to embrace him more deeply in our own time.  And through the example of our personal and Church renewal and public action, our nation can also be renewed and restored to its original foundation on the Bible.



[*]  Aldous Huxley, “Case of Voluntary Ignorance,” Collected Essays (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959).



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).




 

 

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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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