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 .
4th de Easter:
‘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.
We see this lived out in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles. The followers of Jesus, witnessing to the Risen Lord, lived in union and shared all that they had received. They shared their food with the needy and no one was neglected. They all had equality according to their need.
But it is interesting to read that 40% of the world’s population lives on $2.00 a day or less. HOW do they survive? They share as the little boy did!
We live as Christian/Catholics, but do we SEE these 40% of people? WE NEED Binoculars of faith, like the early Christians, to see the bigger picture, rather than just get focused on our Albuquerque problems. We need the bigger picture to see those who are really in need.
We also need to come near to the wounds of the Lord because many of us are wounded. Fr. Richard Rohr speaks of the Father’s wound that many men suffer.
But there are also other wounds that people suffer, even from their childhood which remain and keep them wounded or suffering from the effects of abuse.
These pains and hurts can be HEALED if we come close to the Risen Lord, like Thomas. We need to touch those wounds and BE HEALED as St. Peter invites us to do.
Every Sunday we come here to meet the Risen Lord and it is like St. Pope John Paul II who wrote 10 years ago: Every Sunday is Easter. Every 7 days is the Resurrection. I would say that every Sunday is our opportunity to meet the Risen Lord and if we do not meet the Risen Lord here, our wounds will continue to fester. We need to GROW UP IN OUR FAITH and tell ourselves and our children and many others that every SUNDAY is reliving this Resurrection mystery. It much more than fulfilling an obligation and living in fear of committing a MORTAL SIN. IF WE MISS THIS ENCOUNTER WITH THE RISEN LORD<, YES we are in mortal danger of losing our faith! SO let us talk as adult Christians and see the BIG Picture of the Risen Lord and meet Him here each Sunday. Then we will soon change and not feel that we HAVE TO GO TO CHURCH. We will WANT TO COME AND HAVE AN ENCOUNTER with the RISEN LORD and what a change that 3will make in our lives and we will be witnesses of the Risen Lord as Pope Francis wrote: The JOY of the GOOD NEWS (of the Resurrection of Jesus) affects the minds and hearts of those who encounter the Lord (The Risen Lord) Come and come closer and touch the Risen Lord and no longer doubt, Thomas_______!
Easter 15: “We meet the Risen Lord Every Sunday ”
Several times during Lent we heard the Lord tell the disciples: Don’t tell anyone about what you have seen until the Resurrection from the dead.” Sometimes it seems that we have taken those words to heart and still have tape over our mouths, even though Jesus has risen from the dead. How often do you SPEAK about your meeting with the Risen Lord?
Every Sunday is our encounter with the Risen Lord! Pope Saint John Paul II wrote more than 10 years ago: “The resurrection of Jesus is the fundamental event upon which Christian faith rests. The 2nd Vatican Council wrote: “Every 7 days the Church celebrates the Easter Mystery.” Therefore, the day of Christ’s resurrection is not just once a year but every Sunday. Sunday is the day on which we meet the Risen Lord and the JOY of that encounter with the Risen Lord, as Pope Francis wrote: fills the hearts and lives of all who experience THE GOOD NEWS: HE HAS BEEN RAISED from the DEAD and the Power of the Holy Spirit that Raised Jesus, lives in us! La alegría del Evangelio (la Buena noticia) llena el corazón y la vida entera de los que se encuentran con Jesús. Con Jesucristo siempre nace y renace la alegría. Invito a cada cristiano, en cualquier lugar y situación en que se encuentre, a renovar ahora mismo su encuentro personal con Jesucristo o, al menos, a tomar la decision de dejarse encontrar por Él.
1) Jesus has been raised by the Power of the Holy Spirit of the Father. That Holy Spirit is the Love of the Father for the Son who died giving His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of our sins. He became the Lamb of God who sacrificed His life for us, whose blood frees us from sin and Death, the result of that original Sin. When Peter received the Holy Spirit, his fear was taken away and he joyfully announced Jesus has been raised from the dead. When the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak different languages and Peter told the people: God raised this man Jesus to life, and of that we are all witnesses. And after listening to Peter, about 3,000 were baptised! (Acts 2) The disciples rushed out of their fear filled room and began to tell everyone what they had encountered. They were changed by their encounter with the Risen Lord and the Holy Spirit that now lived in them impelled them to give witness to the Resurrection of Jesus and the promised resurrection of those of us who believe in Him. So what about us?
2) The Power of that Seed of the Holy Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead also lives in us! . San Pablo escribió: El Poder del Espiritu Santo que resuscitó el Señor, vive en nosotros.”
3) Jesus tells us that the grain of wheat has to die to self, die to selfishness, die to a self centered life. It has to be planted in the soil and die to itself in order to produce an abundant harvest. St. Paul writes: “What you sow must die before it is given new life and what you sow is not the body that is to be, but only a bare grain of wheat I dare say, or some other kind; it is God who give it the sort of body that he has chosen for it and for each kind of see its own kind of body. (I Cor. 15:36)
So as we encounter the Risen Lord this day, let us not leave here as we came because if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without substance and so is your faith, it is pointless. (I Cor 15:14)
Let us be filled with the joy of Thomas who touched the wounds and Peter on the shores of the lake of Galilee. Jesus invited him to eat and then after asking Jesus 3 times: Do you love me? Jesus said: FOLLOW ME. When we encounter the Risen Lord, we might feel sad about our denials of our faith in Jesus, but as we meet the Risen Lord and hear again those words: “NOW, do you Love me.” Our sadness is turned into JOY! Can we rise up and grow up to a new relationship with Jesus, with an encounter each Sunday with the Risen Lord? What a difference we will find when we meet the Risen Lord! Just like Mary Magdalene, we will want to cling to Jesus, but He will tell us to go and announce the good News to all the followers of Jesus. Pope Francis has said: We have too many ‘sourpuss’ Christians/Catholics because it seems that they are coming back from Church on SUNDAY like they were coming from a funeral! How do you come back from Church each Sunday? What a difference that encounter with the Risen Jesus will make. They break out with JOY announcing that Jesus has risen. Could it happen today and every Sunday that we too might leave here CHANGED by our encounter with the Risen Lord? It will all depend on how you SEE and how you then allow yourself to encounter Jesus. Isn’t it time to change and meet the RISEN LORD?
LIVING THE EUCHARIST-Viviendo la Eucaristia this has been our Lenten call. More than 60 years after the Passover Supper that Jesus celebrated around a table with many disciples and women too, St. John, the young man sitting next to Jesus, describes what is at the heart and center of that Passover Supper: living the Eucharist. He does not give any detail of unleavened bread or wine becoming the Blood of Jesus. He only tells of Jesus Washing the Feet of the Disciples and giving His NEW COMMANDMENT: “LOVE ONE ANOTHER JUST AS I HAVE LOVED YOU NOW AND IN THAT WAY EVERYONE WILL RECOGNIZE YOU AS MY DISCIPLES.” Se amaran unos a otros como yo los he amado y asi’ roncoceran que ustedes son mis discipulos si tienen amor unos a otros.
WHY John did not include what was in the other 3 Gospels? It would seem that he wanted to remind them and us that the ritual of the Mass is not the most important thing, if it does not move us to LIVE THE EUCHARIST. The early Christians had gone through many difficult moments as they found their identity as CHRISTIANS in various communities formed by the disciples and St. Paul. They were a threat to society and had to even go underground, and yet gathered together to celebrate the Supper/Meal of the Lord’s Resurrection each Sunday. It seems to me that St. John wants to remind them and us that if the Eucharist, the action of remembering the Freeing of the Immigrants in Egypt, all was about living the same example that Jesus set forth for them: Freedom is to do what Washing the Feet of the Disciples was all about.
It was also a reminder of the time when the disciples were asked by Jesus to feed the 5,000 men and children: ‘GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO EAT YOURSELVES’ Mark 6:37. They answered: Are we to go and spend 200 days’ wages on bread for them to eat? Then He asked them: ‘HOW MANY LOAVES HAVE YOU? Go and see.’ They went to see and Andrew, Peter’s brother tells Jesus: “Here is a small boy with 5 barley loves and 2 fish, but what is that among so many? What they and we do not see or understand is that Jesus is calling his disciples to give of what they have. They have enough bread and fish, but are afraid to SHARE it with the rest, out of FEAR that they themselves will not have enough bread and fish for their OWN FAMILY. Nevertheless, when they do what the young boy did, share of what he had, 5,000 men and children were fed and there were leftovers. This boy lived the Eucharist! He gave of all that he had and was LIVING the Eucharist!
Jesus summarizes what being a follower of Christ is and the gathering of Christians/Catholics is all about: washing their feet. He does what he commands us to do: to love one another as He did and as the little boy did. He calls us to LIVE THE EUCHARIST.
Jesus also teaches us by using the example of a grain of wheat. If you have a grain of wheat: that is what you have! You can grind several grains of wheat, make flour, bread or a tortilla. BUT if you let go of the seed and plant it in the soil, then a hidden process takes place. The grain of wheat has to die to itself and then it can grow with proper conditions and produces a harvest of 15-25 grains of wheat. BUT you have to let go of what you have, trust in a process that involves dieing to self. WE have to do the same.
This reminds me of the program called the RICE BOWL. Many of you have participated in this program during Lent. It works this way: you fast or abstain from a certain food, and you send your ‘ 5 barley loaves and 2 fish’ to feed our brothers and sisters who are living on $2.00 a day( 40% of the world’s population live on $2.00 a day). So that sacrifice produces a harvest of great benefit to many people who are touched by our solidarity and our living out the command of Jesus and LIVING THE EUCHARIST. What about the over 60,000 children who have fled here this past year from Central America? WE CAN feed them also and not DETAIN THEM in prison like centers. WE CAN welcome them, who is Jesus!
So what we do here each Sunday is not just a ritual of actions and prayers and here in church, but it is living out the command of Jesus. The Mass, now called the Eucharist, the action of giving thanks, is gathering around the Lord, the Risen Lord, hearing his word, learning from the TEACHER/RABBI who COMMANDS us his disciples, his students to learn and now PUT INTO PRACTICE the most important of His teachings: Love one another as I have loved you. LIVING THE EUCHARIST is carrying out that Command.
There is always time for you to do this, to die to your SELF, TO DIE TO SELFISH FEARS of not having enough.
Jesus said: “I am the Good Shepherd. The Shepherd goes ahead of the sheep and leads them to green pastures and restful waters. The sheep know His voice and He knows them and the Good Shepherd lays down His life for His Sheep, like we see in the Martyr Archbishop Oscar Romero. The Good Shepherd goes ahead of us and leads us to lay down our lives for the sheep. As He says: There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends. Now it is our TURN! HE has given us the best example of Divine Love that is also HUMAN and has commanded us to do the same: LIVE THE EUCHARIST! NOW LET US DO IT!
First impressions are very important. How we enter a room or how we dress or how we drive up, many times gives an impression to the people who are looking on or expecting to meet us. Jesus comes into Jerusalem and the people cry Hosanna, God save us and Jesus enters mounted on a donkey.
He could have ridden in on a horse like a Roman official, a King, a powerful military leader, but rather chose to come like Solomon, mounted on a donkey, an animal of service. He began his entry to give an impression of a God who humbled himself and took on the role of a servant. He will further show this in the washing of his disciples’ feet, but most clearly when he takes on the sins of the people and as St. Paul writes, takes on the punishment for our sins out of love for us and this is the way that God shows His love for us.
The people expected and wanted a military leader to kick out the Roman oppression and yet Jesus comes to free the people from this enslavement, just as Moses was sent to bring about the freeing of the immigrant Jews in Egypt. The freeing of the slaves takes place when Jesus lays down his life for us. He sets the example of a Good Shepherd who does not run away, but stands tall and yet humbly takes on the burden of loving us and freeing us from all that enslaves us.
Do we welcome this type of God, who was surprisingly born in a stable and now comes as a common person carrying the burdens of the people? DO we shout God Save us from all that is enslaving us and oppressing us? This is our opportunity to encounter the God who joyfully takes on our sins and begins the process of freeing us from our enslavement. Pope Francis wrote that the JOY of the GOOD News of our encounter with Jesus affects our minds and our hearts. DO WE allow this encounter to take place each SUNDAY when meet the RISEN Lord? Do see the Lord coming in Word and Action each Sunday, and come to welcome the RISEN LORD into our lives and hearts?
When you look at a movie or video, we usually identify with one of the characters. Perhaps it is the hero of the film or one of the characters who has a sad and tragic situation to face. Today we have looked at many characters surrounding the death of Jesus. Perhaps you identify with one or the other. Most people would not want to identify with Judas and yet we all have a little fear in us and as there used to have a program on tv called ‘The Price is Right’ we too might sell out if the price is right and the temptation is such that we want what is being offered of financial security. Do we identify with Peter who out of fear denies that he knew Jesus? Do we stand and say we are a strong Catholic and yet when the trial comes, we back off? Are like Mary Magdalene, the sinner, who out of gratitude offers her thanks by bathing the feet of Jesus and wiping them with her tears? Are we like the Pharisees and manipulate the crowds to get rid of the religious person? ARE WE like Jesus? That is the most important question. But before we answer that, don’t forget that Jesus was falsely accused, was mocked, bullied, made fun of and made helpless. In his powerlessness, he was taunted to come off and show his power. Are we really like Jesus and can we offer forgiveness, even to those who are there with us? These are important questions to take with us this Holy Week. Only you can answer them.
Jesus entered fully into our humanity and Mark records these events 30 years after these events took place. Jesus suffered for our sake and thus can be the compassionate God who heard the cries of the immigrants in Egypt and felt their suffering and sent Moses and now sends His only Son to take on the punishment that we deserve for our sins, so much does God love us.
Now let us also follow the suffering Lord, not only through death and burial, but to the end result of all this: His Resurrection and the promise of our resurrection. We come here each Sunday to celebrated and meet the RISEN LORD, not just the Lord who enslaved himself for us, but as a result of taking on our deserved punishment and the consequence of the Original Sin, but who was RAISED by the HOLY SPIRIT. This Power of the Holy Spirit lives in each of us through our Baptism and yet we need to come here each Sunday to meet the Risen Lord as did Peter, John, Mary Magdalena, those walking back to Emmaus and THOMAS. We too are not fully believers in the RESURRECTION, but less in the Resurrection of our loved ones and ourselves. And so COME and enter this Holy Week and RISE up to the Resurrection and then be witnesses of that great encounter that we have every Sunday.
Jesus, the great teacher today gives us a summary of all his teaching and how his glory will come about through his suffering, death, and resurrection. He uses the example of a tiny grain of wheat and through that tiny seed, he teaches us a great truth: “A Grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it does die to itself, then it produces many grains, a great harvest of wheat.”
The seed contains all the power and potential for growth and from 1 grain, there can come 10-20 grains in the harvest. Of course there has to be WATER/RAIN, good soil, care and light/sun and enough not to dry the soil and yet enough to warm the soil. For we now see that all winter the seeds and the trees have been dormant. They did not appear to have life, and yet they had life and potential for what we see budding forth now. We see the seeds of fruit trees and will soon see people planting frijol, chili, corn, and wheat and many other seeds. They will at first seem to not be doing much under the ground, but don’t kid yourself: they have all the potential for growth. It is the same when the seed of the man is planted in the woman and she conceives life. You do not see much until about 6 months and yet there is a life process going on in a somewhat hidden way.
We too receive the seed of faith when we are Baptized and it is called the HOLY SPIRIT. It is the Spirit of the Father and the Son and begins to grow when there is a good condition for it. The water of Baptism begins that process and it continues to grow in a somewhat hidden way.\
BUT we have to also let go of the chaff in order to get to the wheat. The grain of wheat has to die to itself and then a new beginning starts. This is the story also of the life of a Christian, a disciple of Jesus. The life begins, the relationship with Jesus begins slowly and perhaps in a somewhat hidden way, but don’t kid yourself: it is there is and is growing slowly if there are the proper conditions.
So let us continue to trust that process that we see in the death and Resurrection of Jesus. He had to die to himself on the Cross to produce the harvest that we are participating in today.So die to selfishness, give of yourself and enter the RICE BOWL program in which we sacrifice for others around the world
. 5th Sunday of Lent 15
4th Sunday of Lent 15
Jesus once again, makes a comparison, referring to an incident in the journey of the Jewish people in the desert when the people murmured against Moses and God saying: ‘WHY have you brought us out here in the desert, to die? Here we have not bread or water and we are tired of this same daily bread called manna.’ The people lost patience and spoke against God and Moses. We are sick of this same daily meager diet of manna. Then we hear that God sent serpents ( or seraphs like winged serpents or dragons?) which when they bit the people, brought an inflammation of the skin and also death to many of the people. Numbers 21: 6. The people came and said to Moses: “We have sinned by speaking again Yahweh and against you. Intercede for us with God to save us from these serpent, snakes. Moses interceded for the people and Yahweh told him: “Make a bronze fiery serpent and raise it as a standard and anyone who is bitten and looks at will survive.” Moses made a at the bronze serpent, they survived. This is perhaps the great symbol which we see serpent out of bronze and raised it up before the people and when the people who were bitten looked at times in the office of a doctor, a symbol of trust in the healing powers of the doctor, but also in the healing love of our God and Father.
Jesus then makes the comparison with a new image which will be raised up before the people. Many times we hold up the familiar cross of his death and forgiving love. But it seems to me, that Jesus wants us to lift up the image of his resurrected body as the one that will bring healing to us who have been BITTEN.
What does the Lord want held up for us today? What is the image that the Lord wants to give us hope? IS it the dying Christ or the Risen Christ???? The early Christians held up the RISEN CHRIST which gave meaning to their following of Jesus. Yes, they talked about the rejection and death of Jesus, but more importantly they spoke of the Risen Lord Jesus as the savior. He is the one who came not to condemn the world, but to save it and gives us hope that if we walk in the light of his teaching, we will show forth his works of Light and not of darkness.
Ask yourself, what is biting at you today? What is biting at your spirit today? Could it a be murmuring against God for a boring way our life is going, or could it be the biting fear that we will be destroyed by violence? Whatever is biting you and threatening to destroy you or is inflaming your anger and spirit, look up at the RISEN LORD here and see the victory over sin and death!
Maybe someone did something to you that is biting at you and destroying your peace of mind. Fear also is biting at us so much today! There are fears that we are going to be destroyed. There is the fear of people, fear of immigrants, fear of ISIS killing people who do not submit their religious ways of thinking. There are lots of fears that are biting and destroying us and the worst one is DEATH!
Now, look up to the RISEN JESUS who came not to condemn, but to save. For as the Lord tells us: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
So God does not want to condemn, but to save us from the bite of death!
But Jesus goes on to say that the challenge is to live in His Light, His teachings which call us to forgive, to trust in the Father, to trust that death is not the end, but only a passing on to an eternal life that the Father wants for all of us his children. We are called to live the truth and come to the light of Christ and be the light to our dark and trouble filled world of wicked things that live in darkness. There are many examples of that dark world today and the works of darkness, but Pope Francis calls us to enter the LIGHT of Christ and find the joy of the Gospel teachings. He begins his first letter saying: The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. No doubt he is speaking of an encounter with the RISEN LORD! This is the same message that Saint John Paul wrote when he spoke of the SUNDAY as being the day of the Resurrection: EVERY SUNDAY is Easter, every Sunday is the Resurrection> Ask yourself, what is biting at you today? What has bitten you and is destroying your spirit. Could it also be the murmuring against God or the boring way our life is going, or could it be the biting fear that we will be destroyed by violence ! Pope Francis wrote:
‘The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts
and lives of all who encounter Jesus.’
Easter is our encounter with Jesus.
‘We are set free from sin, sorrow,
Inner emptiness, and loneliness.
‘We embark on a path marked by
this joy, pointing out new paths
for the Church’s journey.
There are Christians whose lives
Seem like a Lent without Easter.
We must never look like someone
who has just come back from a funeral:
dejected, discouraged, Impatient, or anxious,
but who has met the Risen Christ.’
Pope John Paul II wrote:
Every 7 days, the Church celebrates the
Easter mystery. Sunday always recalls
the dayof Christ’s Resurrection.
It is Easter, week by week.’
That is why, if we miss the Sunday gathering,
our faith will die.
We will be in mortal danger of losing our faith.
3rd Sunday de Lent `15 :
Today we see the Lord going to the Temple for the Passover celebration of the freeing of the immigrants from Egypt. He and his family came every year it seems since it was worth travelling the 90 miles to gather with all the Jewish people for this most important celebration. But this year he saw the commotion, the selling of the market outside the temple which drew all the attention from the Presence of the Lord and the reason meaning of the celebration of the Passover. If you have ever experienced a market in a foreign country as I have in Peru, you know what this was all about and how people were trying to sell their animals and if you ever had to change money in the street in a foreign country, you know what might have been going on. The greed and intrigue of the merchants would be very evident and the fear of the people trying not to be tricked would be the primary focus of the experience. With that in front of the Temple, there was not much consideration for the celebration of the feast, perhaps like the buying of gifts at Christmas take up and take away from the real meaning of the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
Jesus comes with prophetic whips to chase away and turn over these obstacles to prayer and celebration. He is angry and then is questioned as to his authority to do this. He wanted to stop the cheating, greed and taking advantage of pilgrims like when his parent would come each year. He knew that his actions would cause conflict with the religious leaders as did his healing up in Galilee which did not demand travelling to Jerusalem. BUT as a Prophet, he could not go along with this evil greed and engaño, but also with the distraction from the real meaning of the celebration. So he swept away these obstacles out of devotion to the real revelation that he wanted to bring to the people: His Resurrection.
We do not have this commotion outside our churches, but we do have hidden things which are obstacles. Just like a vacuum cleaner finds hidden dirt in the rug, so does Jesus want to clean up our hidden obstacles.
I would suggest 2 great hidden obstacles: Greed and lack of recognition of the Resurrection of the Lord each Sunday.
Greed might not be obvious to us at first, but can be an IDOL which takes our attention: the worry about not having enough money, even in our old age. How often do you worry about not HAVING ENOUGH MONEY? Secondly, greed is an excessive self desire in which we want more and more for me. Even children always want more and more toys, even though they lots of toys already. We all think that THIS or THAT thing or experience will make us HAPPY, and yet even a rich person always is seeking something more and that will promise happiness. WHEN are we going to be happy with all that has been given and what God has done for us this past week? I am grateful for 11 years of cancer recovery that my surgeon announced to me this week. WHAT are you grateful for this past week in which you can say: GOD HAS DONE GREAT THINGS FOR ME AND IN ME THIS WEEK?
The second area that is an obstacle is that we come here Sunday by Sunday, most times out of fear of committing a MORTAL SIN and possible going to HELL if we miss Mass. Does that say WHY you come each Sunday??????
I would like the Lord to wipe that away now as we grow in faith in the Risen Lord whom we meet here each SUNDAY. Just like Thomas and Peter, we too can meet the Risen Lord each Sunday. Thomas was not there the first Sunday, but was present the next Sunday when Jesus once again broke into the locked room where they were hiding out for fear they too would be crucified. He was invited to touch the wounds of the RISEN LORD JESUS and stop doubting. Peter too, after denying 3 times that Jesus was his teacher and guide, met the risen Lord at the Lake of Galilee on a morning after these fishermen, experts at fishing, had come up with NOTHING. Jesus told them to cast on the other side of the boat and they came up with 153 fish! That’s more than their limit, but the amazing thing was his encounter with the RISEN LORD, who did not scold him, did not humiliate him. Rather Jesus asked simply: DO YOU LOVE ME? And when Peter answered YES LORD, each time the Lord told him to care for the sheep entrusted to him and finally: FOLLOW ME. Peter did then follow Jesus and proclaimed that he had met the Risen Lord and followed him to Rome where he was also crucified, but now not out of fear, but out of LOVE!
We are invited each Sunday to meet the Risen Lord here! Pope, Saint John Paul II wrote that every SUNDAY is EASTER, every SUNDAY IS THE RESURRECTION and this where we too meet the Risen Lord. CAN WE let the LORD wipe away our fear of MORTAL SIN and let us see that if we miss the encounter with the RISEN LORD each Sunday we are in risk, mortal risk of losing our faith?
Ask yourself this week, LORD what do you want to wipe away from my life that is an obstacle to meeting you the Risen Lord? IS IT GREED or not seeing you as the Risen Lord each SUNDAY? That is why we come here each Sunday. NOW let us tell our families WHY WE COME HERE EACH SUNDAY. Pope Francis wrote: “The JOY of the GOOD NEWS OF THE RESURRECTION fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” So meet the Risen Lord here and then tell the good news to your family and invite them too, to meet the Risen Lord next Sunday!