I always welcome comments on the homily:
send on Parish e mail: Good Morning GOOD PEOPLE: PEACE AND ALL GOOD-I greet you as St. Francis did. 18th Sunday of Ordinary time
Many times today we see groups forming to end hunger. In September there will be another effort to confront hunger in New Mexico. The ad says that 1 in 3 children in NM are suffering hunger. These efforts of course, deal with FOOD hunger, but there are other hungers which exist and are at deeper levels, such hunger for:
The list could go on and are those hungers which are harder to satisfy than physical FOOD hunger.
Jesus tells us however, that if we eat the Bread which He gives, we will never suffer hunger or thirst. That is quite an offer to make and a great invitation to come closer, like the Samaritan woman at the well who was invited to taste this LIVING WATER which Jesus promised to give her. What was that WATER? He spoke with her about her husband and that she had not found a real husband which she thirsted to find. When he compassionately talked with her, she went to her village excited and invited the people to come and find this WATER also. They came and found that Jesus had teachings and a way of seeing and treating people that satisfied their deepest thirst. The people asked for another sign and also that Jesus would give them this bread that would satisfy their hunger. He of course, was offering a bread of teachings which would then lead to a satisfaction of the deeper hungers that the people felt and we feel today. There is the great hunger for peace and trust which overcome the fears that are growing today. There is the hunger for justice and respect for the life of each of us. There is the hunger for a refuge where children can live without the threat of being killed or threatened.
Perhaps that is what people in El Salvador found in Archbishop Oscar Romero. When he spoke each Sunday on the radio and the Cathedral, they would listen attentively to hear what he would say and found that he satisfied their hunger for justice and their thirst for understanding. He was the voice of the voiceless who wanted to voice their fears, their cries for justice and peace. He called on the rich and the government and armed forces to attend to the needs of the poor, to their hungers for peace, for a suitable living wage and much more. In the end he called for the soldiers to not obey a command to kill their brothers and sisters. In this way the hunger for peace and respect for life would be satisfied. This week I will be accompanying a group of youth to El Salvador. We will learn first -hand of the great hungers that students and teens and families are thirsting to find. We hope to come back with a greater awareness of what hunger is all about and how we can find the greatest relief in the teaching of our Lord.
Pope Francis has given us the challenge to attend to the hungry and the cry of the poor. ‘Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor and be attentive to the cry of the poor and come to their aid. We need to understand Jesus’ command to his disciples: “You yourselves give them something to eat!” Mk 6:37: it means working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor as well as small daily acts of solidarity in the meeting the real needs which we encounter. It presumes the creation of a new mind set.: 187 of The Joy of the Gospel.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta lived this mindset and so did Mons. Oscar Romero and so many men and women and children in El Salvador. WE have to find that way of thinking and welcome the immigrant, the children who are hungering for food, but also a refuge where they can find what they really hunger for: a peaceful home and family life. May we bring that about for those who hunger!
17th Sunday of Ordinary time: `You give them to eat"
Have you had someone ask you for money on the street corner? I saw a young woman sitting on the sidewalk outside Walgreens last week one evening. She had a little cardboard sign saying: PREGNANT HOMELESS HUNGRY. The first night I passed her up since I didn’t have any small bills and thought I would help her on the way out. She seemed to be with a man who came out of the liquor department. So she was gone and the next night was there again. I gave her a $5.00 and she said God bless you.
This reminds me of what was happening in the Gospel today. The people, 5000 + were hungry and tired after walking to catch up with Jesus. Jesus to test his disciple as to whether they ‘had caught the lesson’ asked Phillip to feed them. But Phillip said they would never have enough money to BUY food for them. Jesus had asked them according to the Gospel of Mark to feed them since they had food along. ONLY a little boy offered ALL THAT HE HAD: 5 barley loaves and 2 dried fish and that was scoffed at: what is that for 5000? Yet as Jesus tells us: unless you become like little children you will not get into the Kingdom, this boy caught the lesson and ACTED on it! He did not do like we often do: offer a dollar, even though we have more money in our billfold for a hungry person! Remember how people come up to you at times and ask: Do you have any spare change that you can give to me? What do we offer this person? We surely don’t give all that we have! The boy did! When he did, then the Miracle happened- all the people saw that a boy who probably was selling barley loaves, the bread of the poor and dried fish---GAVE ALL THAT HE HAD and TRUSTED that God would provide for TOMORROW. In Old Testament the people were asked to no more than 10% from the top of their harvest or animals. JESUS ASKS us to give all that we have for the feeding of the hungry people, the children who have come here running away from violence and certain death. Can we feed the HOMELESS? There are so many! Just do what the little boy did and what the 5000 did when they saw what he had done: he gave all that he had to live on.
The Blessed Mother, the daughter of Anna y Joaquin was taught to give ALL that she had when God asked it of her. She gave HER WHOLE SELF-----body to carry the Savior, blood for him, faith to sustain him, and a trust that when we act on the Word, the impossible will happen: So she said: LET IT HAPPEN ACCORDING TO YOUR WORD---if a woman beyond her childbearing days can have a son, then what seems impossible is not impossible for God to accomplish. We just have to be willing to give our whole body! In marriage, if you just give your 50% and expect the other person to give their 50%, it will not work. You have to give 100%, all that you are and all that you have and all of your work and love and then it will work! It is no different for a Priest or a Religious like a Franciscan. If we only give some or a little, it will not produce happiness. When we give our whole self, then we are happy, just like Pope Francis. When we hold back and just give a little, we will be like he said: sourpuss Catholics. Joy comes when we give all and that is what the blessed Mother proclaimed when she met her cousin, the mother of John the Baptist. She said: My soul rejoices in God my savior because he has done great things in me. She announced with joy and John the Baptist also lept for joy when the Savior came in the body of the Mother who gave all for us: she gave her body, and her time, and her faith and along with St. Joseph gave the best example for us all of that TOTAL giving, like the little boy who gave all that he had: 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. May we give our ALL and find real joy!
He sent them out 2x 2 simply and to preach repentance. It has always caught my attention that Jesus sent the 12 in pairs rather than singles. 12 could cover more territory than 6 pairs it seems, but there is a great wisdom in sending them out 2x2. If you are acquainted with Intervention strategy, you know that when a person has a drug or alcohol problem, the most effective way is to confront the person with 2 or more family members. I remember when I was asked to intervene with a classmate of mine. He had a growing drinking problem and so Fr. Crispin asked me to join him in an intervention. It was one of the most difficult experiences to encounter, because the person denied that he had a problem and went on the attack at times also. We urged him to go to a program which would help him to then work a 12 step program of recovery. He strongly resisted, but in the end went to the program and happily went on to work the program of AA and its 12 steps of recovery which involves going to meeting and working with a Sponsor. The secret of these 12 programs is the wisdom of going together 2x2. If the person tries to continue to do it alone, it will not work. It only works when the person meets with a sponsor and attends meetings where others join together in a common effort of seeking sobriety TOGETHER with other people.
Jesus did the same when he sent the disciples out 2x2 knowing that the message that they were to bring would be rejected as he was rejected in Nazareth and other areas. He prepares them for the message that calls the people to repent, which really means to take a new path, a more difficult one, but one which leads to LIFE. He taught that the only other path is wide and easy and many are on it, BUT it leads to DESTRUCTION. But he was very clear that there is a strong possibility that they would be rejected for their prophetic call to change to a new and narrow path. It is seen so often in the Old Testament when the true prophets go and call the people to change their behavior, many times they are rejected. We also know that many prophets like Amos fear being called to be a prophet to the government official and the people. Jonah even rain off the other way, but finally came back to Nineveh and surprisingly the people repented and changed their ways. Jesus told the disciples that if they were rejected, to do a prophetic action of shaking off the dust from their feet so that nothing of the spirit of the people would go along with the prophet and the people would see what the rejection really meant.
Pope Francis, as he travels to Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay has continued to be a prophetic disciple also and gives a prophetic call to repent. He calls the government officials to make changes in terms of the needs of the most vulnerable people in their countries, even in the prisons. In Bolivia, one prison is built for 500 people and there are 5,000 prisoners detained there. He appeals to the government officials and Presidents to make changes for the best of the most poor and needy people in their countries. He comes with great kindness and compassion, not in a judgmental or condemning way to call the government official to REPENT and take a new path. Only time will tell if his message is rejected.
Pope Francis also has spoken and written that all of you are also called to GO OUT and bring the Good News to our world today. It is called evangelization, the effort to bring the message of Hope and Good News of Jesus and his teachings which call us to take that narrow path and to urge our family members and our communities to make changes which take us to the narrow and difficult path of his teachings. Let us remind ourselves however, that it is best that we go out as pairs 2x2 and work in a community of faith filled people who come together each Sunday, the day of Victory, the day of the Resurrection. Pope Juan Paul II wrote that every Sunday is Easter and is our gathering to come around the Risen Lord and gain strength and be sent out again to be prophets to our families and our communities.
It is interesting that when the Priest dismisses us here at the Eucharist, it is to be seen as a SENDING out, rather than an end or a conclusion that it is ALL OVER.
There is wonderful film on the Blessed Mother and it concludes when Jesus ascends to Heaven. One of the disciples tells her: It’s over now! But the Virgin replied: Oh no, it is just beginning: We are to go out and live like he lived, teach what he taught and do what he did. That is what the apostles did after they were sent and we are sent to do also. SO it is not over when the Mass is over, IT IS JUST BEGINNING!
. 15th Ordinary time:14th Sundary ORdinary time
This 4th of July weekend, many parents might warn their children of the dangers of setting off fireworks, but many might reject these warnings. Have you ever been rejected? Rejected by a family member? How does that feel? Why do you think that person rejected you? Was it an idea that you presented? Was it something you disagreed about? It is very hard to be rejected and more so when it is someone like your family or a close friend.
Today we hear of Jesus going back to his home town of Nazareth. At first he is warmly welcomed, but suddenly the people begin to question his authority because he is one of them, just like them. THEY KNOW HIM! Jesus was rejected by his village and his religious community. WHY? In this simple account of the Gospel of Mark, we do not hear of why, but in the Gospel of St. Luke we hear Jesus focus on the words of the prophet Isaiah: “The spirit of the Lord is one me for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord.” Luke 4 18 These words might seem rather comforting and positive, but again we have to ask, WHY do the people of Nazareth reject Jesus and even want to throw him over a cliff where the village is located? When we go into this message, we find that the year of grace is the Jubilee year when every 50 years the people have to return the land to the original owners and start over. It is a joy for the people who are poor, but not to the ones who have acquired the land. It derives from Leviticus 25 8-55 which describes the Jubilee year.
These are people who know Jesus and know him as the carpenter and they know his family.
DO WE know Jesus in that sort of way? Perhaps we can ask ourselves if we also reject Jesus when we reject his teachings?
Do we reject his call to forgive, not just once or twice, but like the Father who forgives us over and over?
Do we judge and condemn people like we are a god who knows it all? And do we think that God wants to punish the person who has offended us?
Do we reject the teachings of Jesus in regard to WHO HE says He is: I was sick, I was a stranger, an immigrant and YOU >>>>>>>> ……………………………….
Jesus was rejected and finally was crucified like many others down through history who were martyred, like up to our day for example with Oscar Romero. When he told soldiers they had to obey a higher law and not kill their brothers and sisters and that they could disobey a commander who commanded them to kill, he then became the martyr. Jesus called the people to an ancient custom, calling for the return of lands back to their original owners, which is called the Jubilee year, when the poor find great news that they will have land to cultivate again and can begin again. Of course this would not be good news for those who now possessed the land. And so we might better understand why Jesus was rejected and was threatened to be thrown over the cliff on which the village of Nazareth was built. But he walked away as a prophet and went to other towns and people who were willing to listen. He later would suffer death for these teachings and as St. Paul writes: he suffered the punishment that we deserve for our sins, so much does he love us. And so when we think of our loved ones who have died, we need to change our way of seeing them and look to the joy they are seeing as they ‘sleep in the hands of the Father and where no torment touches them. This surely gives us a different perspective on beliefs about Purgatory that have come down to us at times of people suffering in tormenting flames. These visions and beliefs do not correspond to the Word of God and so we need to change how we see our loved ones who died. But to change our beliefs, we have to ask the Lord to do that for us. CHANGE is hard and we tend to reject it, just like the people of Nazareth. But if you are rejected for bringing the teachings of Jesus, follow his example, walk away and continue to call the people to change their ways of thinking in accord to the word of God. As Peter was told, we tend to think as human beings and not as God thinks. Let us pray that we slowly take on the mind of Christ.
“Who has touched my clothes? Jesus asked. He was very sensitive to touch, even in a large crowd. Why is this concern such an important dialogue in the Gospel of St. Mark? It is hard to understand what it meant to be touched by a person who was suffering for 12 years from hemorrhages. Yet in the Book of Leviticus15: 25 it clearly states that when a woman is suffering hemorrhages or loss of blood from childbirth, she is considered unclean. When a person is named UNCLEAN they cannot TOUCH anyone or anyone who touches the unclean person will be unclean and must wash his clothes and bathe with water. When the unclean woman is cleansed from the flow of blood she has to bring 2 doves or 2 pigeons and bring them as a sacrifice for the sin.
This law regarding the flow of blood and the resulting unclean character is probably why Jesus was concerned about being touched. YET the woman, with great faith, RISKED touching the cloak of Jesus, which could have made HIM UNCLEAN. The teaching of Jesus is clear however, that what makes the person unclean is not what they eat or flow of blood, but rather what lies in the heart of the person. Then he also touches the girl who people believe is dead. Once again, this TOUCH of the dead person would be considered making the person unclean. Perhaps that is why Jesus clearly states that the girl is not dead, but only sleeping. By touching the sleeping person, he is not making himself unclean. Yet the people outside would talk about him touching a Dead person and a woman who was considered UNCLEAN. SO Jesus tells them not to tell the religious authorities about what he has done or the teaching which he is proposing.
Jesus clearly teaches that it is not a sin to touch the person who has suffered for 12 years, nor the girl who has died. Jesus, comes to TOUCH the suffering and the dying people with the compassion and mercy of God’s love. HE TOUCHES THE SUFFERING AND THE DEAD and offers hope and the connection of intimacy.
Touch is very important for us all. To be touched in a gentle way is a wonderful healing experience. So when Jesus touches or allows himself to be touched, he signals a great revelation about the loving merciful compassion of God.
Sometimes we lose touch with the feeling of touch and as we say GET OUT OF TOUCH WITH SOMEONE. We can also get out of touch with God!
How can we get back in touch with God? One of the best ways is the words of Psalm 46 which states: BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD. This is a popular mantra that people use to enter into the silence of contemplative prayer or to enter more fully into the presence and touch of God.
Another part of this practice is to sit quietly, breathe deeply from the stomach area and HOLD THE THUMB TO THE NEXT FINGER. This is a prayer practice that might help you. TRY IT! Put each of your thumbs connected to the next finger and feel how that FEELS. When you FEEL the other finger or the thumb, you realize that your mind has blanked out of thoughts and you are concentrating on the TOUCH of the fingers. When you hold these fingers together for a while, you can sit and be in the presence of the Lord. It is a quieting exercise which can be helpful for you to enter into prayer and listening to the Lord, but more importantly TOUCHING or feeling the TOUCH OF THE LORD.
Finally it is interesting that the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is very much seen as a TOUCHING of the sick or dying person. Even if the person is unconscious, they can FEEL the touch of the finger which anoints them with the oil of healing and forgiveness.
SO I invite you to try to reach out like the woman who suffered for 12 years and risk TOUCHING the Lord. Also remember what Jesus said about the girl: She is not dead, she is only sleeping. This is a wonderful teaching and statement for any of us who have felt the death of a loved one or of a child. They are only SLEEPING and one day Jesus will TOUCH THEM and RAISE THEM UP to the everlasting life that He promises, Someone who is asleep, wakes up, and can be woken up by someone. So can Jesus wake up our loved ones who have died and are sleeping and now as the prophet Isaiah states: The souls of the just are in the hands of the Father, and no TORMENT TOUCHS them! This is the great teaching of the 1st reading from the book of Wisdom also: God did not make death nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. God formed us to be imperishable. Death entered our humanity as a consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve. GOD DOES NOT WANT DEATH! That is also a great teaching to stay in TOUCH WITH!
13th Ordinary Sunday:12 th ORdinary:
Psalm 46 has a wonderful line which says: ‘Be still and know that I am God. This verse is used in prayer exercises to center on God. The psalm also has these words: God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. The Lord Almighty is with us’.
‘A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up with water.’ How would you feel if you were in that boat crossing over a 5 mile wide lake? A squall is described as a sudden violent windstorm or a sudden downpour. Yet there is Jesus sleeping on a pillow, perhaps exhausted, sleeping through the storm! They wake him up, like someone being awakened in the night when a violent storm or lightening/thunderstorm is threatening a home. He speaks the words which he used for the man who had a violent spirit in him of fear: Quiet! Be Still! Perhaps he is using the words of psalm 46: Be still and know that I am God.
Then he turns to the disciples and asks them:”Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith? These questions serve us also to reflect back on the terrifying events that have occurred these past months and years, perhaps going back more clearly to September 9 /11. Terror has been a part of our lives for many years. And we are terrified, and afraid of what might happen next. What will be the next terrifying event to take place, like the young man who went into the church in Charleston, South Carolina and after sitting with the group studying the Bible, began to shoot and kill 9 people. This and many other shooting have created great fears in many of us. A good talking point for family gathering would be a round table sharing using the words: “What frightens me most is . . . or What I am most fearful that might happen is . . .
This would be a good beginning with our children and parents to bring the family together to talk over. But after everyone has shared about their greatest fears would be to move it toward the question that Jesus asks: WHY ARE YOU TERRIFIED? This question then focuses us on the deeper question of what or WHO could help us overcome our fears?
Maybe you have seen a small children wander away in a store or even in a room and suddenly realize that their father or mother is no longer close by. What does the child do? Usually fear overtakes the child and we see it on their face and hear the child break out crying or screaming for help. Usually the crying baby attracts the attention of the father or mother and they come to give back a secure feeling to the child. It is somewhat like the disciples crying and waking up Jesus. Yet Jesus calms the storm, and then asks them: Why do you not have faith in Me? Why did the disciples feel great fear even though Jesus was right there? He was asleep!
So how do you handle sudden and fear-filled situations? Do I forget the presence of God among us? Do I forget or not believe in the power that God has over nature?
Perhaps this is why the words: BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD are so important to keep on the tip of our tongue. This is what we call a MANTRA, a phrase that we use in the morning on waking up and which we come back to throughout the day: They can be words of our Lord such as Be Still or Be not afraid or I am with you or any other short phrase that grabs our attention. Then just simply repeat that phrase when a SUDDEN VIOLENT STORM enters your day.
It is also helpful to learn the power of deep stomach breathing when we do that. When we breathe deeply, we come back to remember the power of God, we center on the presence of God within us and we gain back a calm that is lost when a sudden storm crosses our path during our day. It is a good practice, because many times we or someone begins to panic and we can come back into a calmness, a peaceful spirit which we need to get through the storm that has suddenly attacked us.
So try this, remember that we too are in the boat and sudden storms do come up in our lives, just like the strong winds which can make us feel that we are going under. USE the practice this week after you have talked with your family. IT will keep us calm in the midst of the storms that violently attack our lives.
11th Sunday of Ordinary time:
Let me tell you about what happened in me more than 44 years ago. When the Archbishop came to confirm us children in our small village, he asked if anyone wanted to become a Priest. I still do not know why my little hand went up and quickly was pulled back down when no one else’s hand went up. Later, when I looked at this desire, and tested it out for over 9 years, I said, Yes, Lord, let it happen in me, if you have planted a special seed in me. If you want me to minister to the people as a Franciscan Priest and be a shepherd for people, then it will happen and it did! Here in New Mexico, Juarez, the jungle of Peru, and many other places that seed has developed over 44 years. From that little seed, seeds of a kingdom of God have been nurtured and developed. Seeds of forgiveness, anointing of sick and dying persons, celebrating the Eucharist, giving counsel from what I have found hidden in my spiritual experiences, as the Mother of Jesus said, so can I say: God has done great things in and through me. It is awesome!
Today Jesus explains great spiritual realities to us using examples from nature. The Kingdom of God is like the person who sows a seed in the ground. No matter how small the seed, even the tiniest seed, like the mustard seed, or a grain of wheat, or a cornel of corn, all contain within them the life power to produce a great harvest of the same seed.
El grano de mostaza, the grain of mustard is not very known to us, but the grain of corn or wheat is perhaps better known. All of these seeds are tiny and yet when someone sows them as the Lord tells us, a process takes place that is hidden. The seed grows without the person doing anything about it. First see a tiny sprout, then the stock of corn grows and then an ear of corn appears and then it is matures, from 1 cornel of corn, 2 ears of corn are given and from 1 grain of wheat around 20 grains are produced. Isn’t that amazing? That is the story, the example that Jesus uses to explain how a great kingdom of spiritual growth takes place. It is all contained within the seed. The growth is not ours to understand, or for us to be concerned about. It takes place and is hidden in the tiniest of seeds. La semilla contiene todo la fuerza para producer algo grande. Any seed contains within itself all the life force and power to produce a fruit with the seed within it.
SO the kingdom of God can be understood from this comparison that we understand. The growth of the kingdom is LIKE the growth of the seed. It begins like a spark of a match that can ignite a candle and can give off great like for many people to see. So to repeat: it is LIKE a small seed that we sow and a HIDDEN process takes place and something great comes in the end.
This weekend 26 men came here with a tiny seed of desire, a tiny hidden desire to allow something with them to develop. It came with them from the moment of Baptism, perhaps lying dormant for many years, small and hidden. THEN in these 3 days it began to grow quietly and without the person realizing it, it began to grew step by step until it has developed into grew a great deal only by the good will to let it happen within them. On Thursday night when the men gathered, it was like a referee who starts a game and says: let it begin! Noe, the director said: “let the retreat begin” and it began to take place in each of the men, a hidden growth that has the potential to develop in something great in the life of each of them. Hidden within the walls of the Halls of Holy Family Parish, something great has been developing, without us understanding HOW it came about, but surely a great change took place from the men who came on Thursday night to the men who are here at the Eucharist today! Is that true? All we can say is what the Mother of Jesus said : Yes God has done great things in me. WOW! It’s Awesome to see this change take place.!
Do you understand it? Let me say that this same process can take place by someone who begins to open the Word of God. Something mysterious and great begins to happen. Just look at someone who each day opens the word of God and even if it is a small phrase or even a word of Jesus, it can produce great changes in us. Listen to the those words of Jesus when the boat was going to capsize: ‘BE NOT AFRAID. I AM WITH YOU!’ Or the words of the Mother of Jesus: ‘ DO WHATEVER HE COMMANDS YOU TO DO’. When the servants did not question his command, not knowing what could happen, they went and got the water, which then turned into wine! The mother of Jesus said: I don’t know how this will happen, but said: “Let it happen according to your word”. We pray so often also: “YOUR KINGDOM COME, YOUR WILL BE DONE.”
This is the way that St. Francis of Assisi also lived. When he finally could not avoid a leper in his path and he could mysteriously go up, kiss his hand and give a coin, he came to realize that he had met Jesus. This was a small thing, in a sense, but was the beginning of a big change in him. It is like the psychologist who said that his marriage began to change when he began to see the words of Jesus: I was sick, I was homeless, I was a stranger/immigrant and YOU reached out and helped me. When he applied this to his wife and he began to see her as JESUS, his whole marriage began to change. When we can see each others as members of our family, as we do when someone gets sick or is in need or in the hospital, changes begin to take place. When we begin to appreciate each other in the home and see the homeless person, the immigrant as Jesus, then great things begin to happen, a change of vision takes place in us. Our Archbishop John Wester stated in his installation: As Christians we welcome the immigrant and do not first ask if they have papers. He reminds us that see the immigrant as a person, a member of the family of God, as our brother or sister makes a great change in how we see and treat that person.
There is a seed that has been planted in each of you! It was planted in you at Baptism. Perhaps it has been dormant, but when you allow it to be sown and allow you to be changed, it will develop into something great. That seed also is inside that great book we call the Bible. That book is the instruction book which helps that seed to develop. The Bible explains the process and how God allows that process to develop. All I can urge you to do is allow that seed to develop, be nurtured by the Word of God and come here each Sunday to give it a transfusion of God’s own Body and Blood to be that Miracle Grow for that seed. May it be done in you as it was done in Mary and in her Son Jesus! Just trust that it is taking place and will produce a great change in you and in our world.
Body and Blood of Jesus:
Have you had a blood transfusion? If you had, you know how important that donation of blood was in restoring you or getting you through a crisis. It can save one’s life after an operation or from hemorrhage as a result of an accident. Blood is precious, it is life giving and nourishes all the tissues of our bodies. Happily, we can receive the blood of another person when our blood is weak and unable to sustain life. When a person receives blood from another person, the one receiving feels tremendous gratitude.
In today’s 1st reading we hear of the blood of animals being sprinkled on the altar and on the people after having arrived at the mountain where Moses had met God many years before. God spoke to Moses telling him that He had heard their cries, felt their pain, and saw their misery as enslaved immigrants in Egypt. AND He was coming down to send Moses to free the people from this terrible suffering. (Exodus 3) Moses went back to Egypt and the final event which brought about the freeing of the people was the blood of the Lamb poured on the doors of the homes of the Jewish people. This BLOOD freed them from enslavement and death. The blood of animals was also part of the sacrifices which were made for the forgiveness of sins. Our 2nd reading from the letter to the Hebrews tells us that the blood of Christ offered to God cleanses our consciences from dead works so that we can then worship this LIVING God. Jesus entered into the suffering of the people and continues to free us from sin and gives us the promised inheritance of eternal life that the Father wants for all of us.
So let us not forget that the transfusion of blood comes from another person. Last weekend there were 38 people who volunteered to donate their blood here at our parish. Each donation of blood helps at least 3 people and if the person can donate plasma there is even more ways that the blood can help people in life-threatening situations. What an impressive sacrifice that people are making for sustaining the life of others as the Lord said: there is not greater love than to give your life for your friends. Let me tell you how grateful I felt when I was coming out of liver surgery and needed blood which had been lost in the surgery. When my sister and brother heard about that need and how much it helped to bring through recovery, they went to a part of the hospital and each donated their blood in gratitude for those who gave it for me.
Now let us take this to what happens each time when we gather here for the Eucharist, the word which means, the action of giving thanks. We hear the words of Jesus being repeated by the Priest: “This is my Blood given for you, which will be poured out for you and for many: Take this, all of you and drink from it, this is the chalice of my blood.” What a great and wonderful transfusion of blood! It is the BLOOD OF JESUS the Christ, the one who saves our life!
If we can once again comprehend what is being offered here, and what we can receive: the Body and BLOOD of Christ, then our response should be THANKFUL and gratitude for what we have received to sustain our life.
Secondly, we need this transfusion of the Blood of Christ to keep us going and how marvelous is this transfusion of the Blood of Christ. Just as a transfusion of blood goes throughout the body and to nourish all of the tissues of the body, so also the Blood of Christ can penetrate all of our body and spirit and give us the strength to sustain us in our great needs and desire for intimacy with God. Can God be any closer than by this transfusion of blood, the Blood of Christ?
Thirdly, can we remember how important it is that someone has made the sacrifice to donate blood for us? Why are we not more grateful and thankful for the blood of Christ which we receive routinely each Sunday?
I greet you in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi: ‘Good Morning GOOD PEOPLE! ‘Today we celebrate the mystery of the Holy Trinity. GOD IS a MYSTERY which we try to understand, but never completely understand. St. Thomas Aquinas said that the only certain thing that we know about God is that we do not know God. Anthony de Mello told about a man who wanted to go to Calcutta and began to walk on the road from his village. He came to a sign that said CALCUTTA and turned around and went home. When his friends asked him what Calcutta was like, he described it as a white sign with an arrow and the words Calcutta.
The Bible, De Mello then says, is like that too: it points us to God. A laser beam is sort like that too. It points us and mysteriously can enter another person, yet the source of the power is here and extends out to another object or person.
When Moses saw a burning bush that continued to burn, he met God. He was told to took off his sandals and heard these words: “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt and the cruel way in which they are oppressing you. I have heard them crying for help on account of their taskmasters. Yes, I am well aware of their sufferings. And I have come down to rescue them from the Egyptians and bring them to a country flowing with milk and honey and SO I am sending you to Pharaoh for you to bring my people out of Egypt.”
Moses said to God: “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and bring them out?” I shall be with you, God said. This is the God whom we discover in the Bible, a God that feels, sees our suffering and enters our condition by sending help of someone.
This is the God who is described in Psalm 102: The Lord God is tenderness and pity, slow to anger and rich in faithful love. He does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor repay us as befits our offences. As tenderly as a father treats his children, so the Lord God treats those who reverence him; he knows of what we are made, he remembers that we are dust.”
When Jesus told Peter and the others that he had to go up to Jerusalem, be rejected, suffer, die and be raised from the dead, Peter could not image that this would be God. Jesus told him: Get behind me, Satan! You are thinking not as God thinks, but as human beings think.” (Mark 8 33) Jesus is the best and clearest revelation of God whom he confides in as a child trusts in his father. He felt a close intimacy with God and called him Abba, the most intimate way of speaking of God. This the God whom we find in the Word of God, one whom we sometimes do not imagine because we create a God who thinks like us and not the one who is revealed in the Bible.
I come to you today here in Denver to speak about the Franciscans and the mission that St. Francis of Assisi lived and which we see lived in Pope Francis.
I belong to a group of Franciscan Brothers and Priests who carry out a mission in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. We work among the Navajo Indians, the Pueblo Indians and the Hispanic people in those areas. Our group came to the Navajo Reservation in 1898 and lived among the people. One of the Friars was able to generate a written language of the Navajo people and also help them to preserve their water and mineral rights on their Reservation. I have worked in various places in New Mexico and also 4 years in Juarez Mexico and 11 years in the jungle of Peru. I was asked to go and help the Franciscans in one of the most isolated areas of the Amazon jungle. Brother David and I lived as brothers there, went out to visit over 60 villages every 2 years, bring the good news of Jesus’ teaching and baptize their children. I later was able to train men and women to gather their villages together each Sunday for prayer, reading of the Bible and song. Later I helped the people in over 20 villages to build small wooden chapels where they could gather. For me, that is what Jesus told us all to do in the Gospel passage today when He said: GO and make DISCIPLES of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you and I am with you always. It sounds like what God said to Moses. God sends us, people to bring the good news of a freedom from enslavements, and cruelty and humiliation, because we are children of God through Baptism and as St. Paul says, TEMPLES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT>
So I come here to ask you to continue to go out and bring the good news, the Joy of our encounter with the Risen Lord and His command to Love one another as He has loved us. Your first place to bring the good news is in your family and community here in Denver. But we are also sent to bring that good news to ALL NATIONS, be Catholic as a missionary is willing to do: go to foreign countries and to people of other cultures and people who are running away from violence and terror such as the more than 60,000 mothers andchildren who came here last year seeking asylum and protection, being freed from enslavement and human trafficking.
You can help by contributing to the Franciscans so that they can also continue their mission in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. I ask you to reach out like a laser beam and touch the hearts of all nations, especially those most isolated and in need of knowing the teachings of Jesus. Thank you for your prayer and financial support that you can offer to us. As ST. Francis said: Peace and all good!
Trinity Sunday May 31 2015:
6th of Easter season:
I recently found a small booklet named: One of a Kind Mom. It is a collection of small quotes about moms such as: ‘The hand that rocks the cradle rules the nation and its destiny.’ ‘There was never a great man who had not a great mother.’ George Washington wrote: ‘ All I am, I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.’
One author said: ‘Many of us grew up with a loving mother who gave us life and cared for our needs. Perhaps not word in any language carries more weight or more feelings than the word MOTHER. It carries images of comfort, undying love, first intimacy and complete acceptance. Few mothers ever fulfill those images and they would be the first to tell us that. ‘
Today Jesus continues to build on the image of the vine and the branches from last Sunday’s reading of his teaching. He tells us to remain in the vine like a branch that needs to be nourished by the connection with the source of love. When we remain connected to the Real Source of Love, the joy of the Lord is in us also and is complete because we are connected to the greatest type of love which is to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. We can become then the FRIENDS of Jesus rather than feel enslaved by commands. The RELATIONSHIP becomes the difference and we no longer do things out of obligation, but rather out of desire to respond to this relationship of friendship.
What a difference that would make in terms of coming here each Sunday. Many times we have come out of obligation and fear of committing a deadly sin. But when someone has a REAL friend, they want to be in the presence of that friend as much as possible. That is what we see when a teen falls in love with their friend. It is hard to keep them apart, because they WANT to be together, talking, sharing, listening, smiling, supporting, encouraging and just BEING THERE for that special other person, called MY FRIEND. If we could see that every Sunday is our time to meet the Risen Lord, that way of looking at our time here would make a great difference from feeling OBLIGED to come here to WANTING to be here with our special FRIEND, JESUS. Perhaps we could ask ourselves: Am I OBLIDGED to visit my mom or is it a joy and DESIRE to visit her as often as possible??????
What brings joy to a mother or a grandmother is when her children come to visit her. The same is true of Jesus and God the Father: Jesus tells us that there is more joy when 1 lost sheep is found and brought back , or 1 person like the Prodigal Son comes back to the Father’s house than for the 99 who are there already. What joy a mother feels also when her children come here and meet the Risen Lord!
Finally, it is worth repeating that Love is not just emotion and feeling romantic, it is what a Mother feels when she LABORS to give birth to us, it is like Jesus who gave His life for OUR SAKE and suffered the punishment that we deserve for our sins, so much did He love us. He showed the depth of God’s love by doing this for US. That is real love: actions which the person does for the other person. However, I would like to remind you what Jesus says about a mother suffering labor pains to give us birth: When the mother sees the child, the new life, she BEGINS TO FORGET the pain of giving birth and can say joyfully: IT WAS WORTH IT!
So today and always, let us continue to develop and ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE for those who have loved us unconditionally. Let us include our mothers, grandmothers and others who have been our spiritual mothers. Let us thank them for the gift of life and love and the example which shows and TEACHES us what REAL love is all about:’ to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’
We have been loved, and now let us love one another as we have been loved!
‘I am the vine and you are the branches, I remain in you---and if YOU remain in me and my words remain in you, you will bear you much fruit and become my disciples. These words of Jesus call us to a very close intimate connection with Jesus, like a grape vine and its branches. ONLY if the branches stay connected to the source of life, to that extent will they produce the grapes. If we get DISCONNECTED from the source of life, then there is sadness, loneliness, fear, anxiety about the future and all that troubles us many times in our life. THIS DISCONNECT is like a lamp that has a bulb and a beautiful shade, but since it is disconnected, it looks pretty sad.
How do we connect with the Source of eternal Life, with God the Father, with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, the Power that raised Jesus from the dead?
1) The same way that Jesus maintained connected to the Father through prayer, listening to the Father, crying out in His agony, and yet willing to accept a better plan that the Father had in mind, which was not the 1st desire of the human Jesus. We too can connect with GOD by listening and being willing to be formed like clay and accept in faith what we do not understand or want or even what looks very painful. God can do things we cannot even imagine.
2) Study of the Word of God is very important also. We connect with God by getting acquainted with God who reveals Himself in the Bible, for example a God who Psalm 103 describes in this way: God is tenderness and pity, slow to anger and rich in faithful love. His indignation does not last forever nor his resentment remains for all time. He does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor repay us as befits our offences. As tenderly as a father treats his children, so God treats those who reverence him, he knows of what we are made, he remembers that we are dust.” These words no doubt describe a God that we many times do not conceive in our minds, because often we fashion a god according to how we might think a God would act. When the Jews were in Egypt and were enslaved and persecuted, God spoke to Moses that He had heard their cries, felt their pain and was sending Moses to free them. That is a God of feeling for the pain and suffering of his children, like a loving mother or father feels the pain of their children.
3) We also connect with the God of power and Life in the Sacraments where we receive adoption as children, then Forgiveness when we mess up as God’s children, like Peter and the others. We receive the Hope of going forward and entering into full intimacy with Jesus in Communion and at other moments such as Confirmation and Marriage.
4) Then we meet God or Jesus in the sick, the troubled, the homeless,, the immigrant---I was sick, hungry, needing clothing, a stranger, in prison and YOU Attended to ME, as the Lord tells us in Mathew 25 in regard to the final Judgment. St. Francis of Assisi met Jesus in the leper whom he embraced. That meeting of Jesus in the leper then became the turning point in his conversion and continued in his caring for lepers. He also met God in all of Creation, seeing that God the Father is the Creator and the Provider for our daily bread and all of Creation becomes our brother and sister and leads us to the Creator.
5) No doubt there are many ways that we can stay connected with God and so we need to come here each Sunday especially to connect with the Risen Lord who made the change in the disciples. From fear, they became the witnesses to the Risen Lord and brought the good News of the Risen Lord and His Promise to give us eternal life if we believe in Him and His teachings.
Pope Francis wrote that the JOY of the Good News affects the minds and hearts of those who encounter the Risen Lord. That is the CONNECTION: meeting and clinging to the Risen Lord each SUNDAY and staying connected and if disconnected, getting RE connected on the Sunday. FORGIVENESS of Sin is also a wonderful way to get back connected with the Lord and Loving Father who FORGIVES AND FORGETS as Psalm 104 tells us.
‘I am the Good Shepherd, because I do not run away from danger, but rather am willing to lay down my life for the sheep. I know my sheep and they recognize my voice,’ says the Lord.
Have any of you been a Shepherd? Do you know much about raising sheep? I don’t either! I remember one time driving on the Navajo Reservation where many families raise sheep. I was behind a car and as we came over a hill, there was a flock of sheep crossing the road, led by a GOAT with a bell on its neck. The car in front was going fast and could not stop and hit several sheep. When it stopped, to my amazement, the sheep kept coming and with heads down ran into the side of the car. They had their heads down looking for a spear of grass. As I watched back from this scene, at the end of the sheep came a young shepherd. It has always amazed me that the GOAT was leading the sheep and running ahead got across the road without any personal harm. AND the shepherd came after the sheep and was not in front to protect the sheep from danger.
Jesus uses this example to help us see what qualities a GOOD Shepherd has and what is a bad shepherd. He tells us that a HIRED shepherd will run away when a wolf comes to attack. THERE IS NO COMMITMENT on the part of the Hired Shepherd. A good Shepherd is most concerned for the sheep and will not run away. That shepherd will even give his life for the protection of the sheep.
Sheep are very much like many animals that we have in our homes. A pet dog comes to know who loves it. Even Fr. Richard’s dog Venus likes the friars who feed her, but runs away from certain Friars because they tease her. Those of you who have a pet dog are very devoted to the animal and will sacrifice for it, even when it costs a lot of money. The owner of the dog also knows the dog and its needs for food, water, rest, and love. A dog also knows the voice of the one who loves and is willing to follow that person or child.
These 3 qualities are what the Good Shepherd is talking about:
1) Devotion to the sheep-willing to give one’s life for the sheep.
2) The Shepherd knows the sheep.
3) The sheep learn to trust in the voice of the shepherd.
JESUS is a Good Shepherd because He gave his life for our sake, He knows us very well and we are learning to trust His voice and guidance.
It seems that the challenge for us is to trust the Voice of Jesus the Good Shepherd. We might remember that Jesus called 12 men to follow Him. He trained them to trust in Him, BUT when He said they had to go to Jerusalem to suffer, die, and rise from the dead, they RAN AWAY! Are any different???? Often w e run away from the suffering and cross and feared death that is given to us in life. Yet when Thomas, Peter and the others met the Risen Lord they began to regain a trust in the VOICE of Jesus. Jesus asked Peter 3 times: “Do you love me?” When he said YES, Jesus told him to care for the sheep and finally to FOLLOW HIM because Jesus is still our GOOD SHEPHERD for us!
Secondly, it would be good for us to remember that many of us are like Shepherds because we have children and others who we are taking care of. I am a Shepherd because another name for a Shepherd is PASTOR. I have to ask myself: Am I a GOOD SHEPHERD/PASTOR? You who are Parents, Grandparents, or GOD parents, are you good Shepherds to your children?
Remember what is a good Shepherd:
1) The Shepherd is willing to give their life for their sheep. Are you willing to give your life for your children? Are you committed to them and have a permanent commitment to them? Even if you are divorced, are you willing to pay child support, for example?
2) Do you really know your children? Are you willing to get acquainted with them and learn what they are doing and what they are thinking? Do you stop to listen to them? Do you REALLY love them and treat them like you are their COACH? Do you yell at them and scold them? If so, you might scare them away!
3) Do they trust your VOICE when you talk to them? I often say that a parent is like a COACH: the parent played the sport, made mistakes, and wants the player to be a winner. Do you remember your mistakes as a child, do you want your child to be winner or a loser? Do you yell and humiliate or give them compassionate counseling and guidance?
These are good questions to ask ourselves:
1) Do I listen and trust the voice of Jesus the Good Shepherd, who is Risen?
2) Am I a good Shepherd to my children? Am I a good shepherd to my brothers and sisters in the family?
3) Am I willing to give my life for my sheep, my family and those most in need? Do I go out for the lost ones and protect the most vulnerable one?
3rd Sunday of Easter:
“You are witnesses of these things” concludes Jesus who boldly confronts the disciples about their fears and lack of belief. But then he opens their minds to what the Bible predicts would happen to this Servant of God: Suffer and die, but rise from the dead on the 3rd day and call those who put him to death and those who ran away to change their minds and be WITNESSES of all that they are seeing and experiencing.
What is a WITNESS? In a court of law, the witness is ask to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, with God as their witness of the FULL TRUTH.
If you were called upon to give witness to the Resurrection of Jesus, what would you say or how would you give testimony? If the judge asked you questions like this, how would you answer?
How well do you know this man Jesus?
When did you meet him and how long have you been associated with him?
They say he died and rose from the dead, when did that happen?
How do you know that this is the truth?
What evidence from your life can you give that this is true?
What would be some ways that you would give evidence of the Resurrection?
Pope Francis writes that the JOY of the Good News affects the minds and hearts of those who encounter the Risen Lord. So one clear point of evidence would be a JOYFILLED spirit that you show day by day. Pope Francis surely gives evidence of that JOY and give great evidence to our world today. DO YOU?
How often have you spoken about the Resurrection of Jesus within the last month. While we talk about suffering and death, do we speak enough about the Resurrection so as to give evidence of our faith centered in the Risen Lord?
Are fear filled or bold in proclaiming the Resurrection and what it implies for you and those who are grieving the death of a loved one? When the Holy Spirit descended on the fear filled disciples, led in prayer by the Mother of Jesus, Peter, John and the others break out and became to boldly try to convince the Jews and people of all nations ( =Catholic) that Jesus is the Savior, the Christ. DO YOU boldly speak about the Resurrection to your family and those living under the shadow of death?
Jesus breathed the power of forgiveness to the disciples when he entered their locked rooms. Do we give evidence of that forgiveness?
How then can we WITNESS to the Resurrection
First we need to come here each Sunday to meet the Risen Lord and invite others to come to this with joy and not with threat of Mortal Sin or going to hell, but rather that if we miss our encounter with the RISSEN LORD , yes, our faith is in mortal danger of dying and we have missed what we need to do each Sunday, meet the Risen Lord like Peter, Thomas, Mary Magdalene and other witnesses of that experience.
So as Pope Francis wrote: The JOY of the GOOD NEWS (Jesus is Risen!) affects the minds and hearts of those who encounter the Lord ( the Risen Lord).
Now are ready to stand up and swear to God:
To tell the Truth and nothing but the Truth: That Jesus is Risen???? If so, you will be a “WITNESS of the Risen Lord, of all these things”!
2nd Sunday of Easter:
Binoculars are great aids to help to get closer, get a better view up close of whatever we are interested in. I can see those sitting in the back bench of church, I can see a bird up close or a beautiful part of nature or whatever. WE SEE the big picture and we can see greater detail.
Wouldn’t it be better if we got closer to the Risen Lord? We would SEE much better an intimacy with the Lord who promised to rise and also to give us the power to rise. St. Paul tells us that the POWER that raised Jesus from the dead, the Holy Spirit, lives also in us. WE have the POWER to be raised from the dead! It is like a grain of wheat that perhaps is small and tiny to the eye, but has all the potential to grow into a bigger growth. When we get closer to Jesus, then we are like Peter and the others who met the Risen Lord. Jesus invited Thomas, the one who was hard to convince, to come closer and touch the wounds and side from which flows forgiveness, sacrifice for our sins, and healing for our woundedness. HE INVITES us as He did to Thomas. COME HERE and TOUCH MY WOUNDS, put your hand in my WOUNDED SIDE and stop doubting. Thomas did touch those wounds and his wounds, his doubts, his fears were healed as Peter wrote: by His wounds, his stripes, we are healed (1 Peter 2:24 Isaiah ). I want to ask you to get a CLOSE UP of the Risen Lord, just like Thomas, and all the fear filled and doubting Thomases. When we come closer to the Risen Lord, we come like Mary Magdalene, the people walking back to Emmaus, and Peter who later met the Lord at the Lake. After the catch of 153 large fish, Peter met the Lord who invited him to bring the fish, like Jesus asked the apostles to bring the 2 fish and 5 loaves that the boy offered. Peter brought what GOD HAD GIVEN, just like the faith of the little boy who gratefully recognized that God had given and so he just gave what he had received and gave it to Jesus and thus showed the faith that now Jesus was asking Peter to show. Jesus then asked Peter 3 times: Do you love me? HE ASKS US the same when we come close to the Risen Lord. Jesus tells Peter to feed the sheep and to FOLLOW HIM. He tells us to do the same.