Sunday, April 19, 2015

WITNESS

Acts 3:13-15,17-19; Ps 4 Lord, let your face shine on us;1 John 2;1-5; Luke 24:35-48

there is a common theme in the readings for today and it can be summed up by the following: witness.

Peter int he first reading is give  testimony to what he has witnesses, "the author of life you put to death; God raise whim from the dead.  Of this we are all witnesses."


In the gospel Jesus reminds the Apostles of what they have witnessed, "Thus it was written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things."

If that isn't obvious enough, then the 2nd reading as well as something to say about being a witness, "Those who say, "I know him," but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them. "   This is definitely about being a authentic witness, where what we profess and how we live are in harmony.

Witness! Witness! Witness!

Think about being a witness for a moment.

Normally, we associate being a witness in a court case or hearing.

There is the eyewitness, someone who has first hand experience of the matter at hand.  Then there is the hearsay witness, someone who heard or read from another source what has happened in regards to the matter of interest.

There is the expert witness, someone who has specialized knowledge in regards to expertise in a particular field relating to the case.

My personal favorite is the reputation witness.  This is someone who is called to the stand to testify about the reputation of another who has already testified or who is on trial.  The reputation witness will help determine whether someone's is reliable and trustworthy and all around good person or  a fraud.

What does our life give witness to as it unfolds each day anew?  What is our life give credibility to the witness of our faith?  How does our life prove our faith true and trustworthy?

What choices do we make that corroborate our profession of faith?  This is our witness.

Think about your witness, the witness you give by what you say or don't say, do or don't do.

How does our lifestyle as a witness corroborate our faith?

If we were to bring in a reputation witness on our behalf, what would they testify in regards to the faith we profess and the life we live?


Thursday, April 9, 2015

BLESS YOU

Acts 3:11-26; Ps 8 O Lord, your God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!; Luke 24:35-48

We continue to follow i the footsteps of Peter in Acts of the Apostles and the disciples in the unfolding narrative of the resurrection according to the gospel of Luke.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter and John become instruments of healing for a beggar and the whole crowd gets stirred up with excitement.

Then Peter addresses the crowd with an exhortation that is brought to a close with these words, "For you first, God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways."

To bless you by by turning you from your evil ways.

Think about that phrase for a moment and what reality it signifies.

We think of blessings normally on another line of thought.  We think of God blessing us with good health. Many preachers today proclaim blessing in the form of prosperity or wealth.  We often think of blessing to show itself in a new position or status, perhaps fertility, maybe a break through in particular relationships.

But when have we thought of a blessing as god moving us beyond wicked ways.  God wants to send us freedom to be no longer bound by the sins we commit and the tempting spell we fall under time and time again.

To bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.

Ponder that for today.  Evaluate your life and see where God's blessing is trying to break into your life for a change for the better, for the good.

We glance at the gospel for today.  We read that it is Jesus himself who "opens their minds to  understand the scriptures."  One of the first things that get a deeper understanding for is the necessity of the cross, "thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  Yo are witnesses of these things."

There is no detour around the cross for Christ or for us.  The more we enter in to the cross, dead, resurrection of Christ, the more we are able to live as witnesses of "these things."

Luke paints for us the bedrock of all preaching in the early church.

Jesus' passion in the possibility for our repentance and thus transformation.  The condition for the possibility of renewal comes through the cross.

Think about how many communities remove the cross from their sanctuaries because it is a downer.  Yet, Jesus doesn't remove it.  Grace is not cheap though it is free.

We must be witnesses of that reality daily in our life.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

FOOLISH

Luke 24:13-35

We continue the Easter Season with the stations of the resurrection.  We are all familiar with the stations of the Cross and Jesus' journey to Calvary and the tomb.

There is also the stations of the Resurrection, where Jesus makes himself known to various disciples at various times within the 40 day period prior to the Ascension.

Today with get the station of Emmaus.  Two disciples are on their way to Emmaus which is 7 miles from Jerusalem.

Many suggest that the journey away from Jerusalem is a sign that the disciples have lost their faith or least entertain doubt.  But I'm not sure if that is accurate.  But it does have something to add to the attitude of the disciples for they have heard the news that Jesus was risen.  Rather than running to the other disciples to get the low down of what occurred, they simply seem not chant or at least indifferent.  Which seems a bit striking!  How could one be indifferent.

Yet, aren't each of us a bit indifferent at times.  How seldom do we blow off the resurrection in our own lives?  How often do we make decisions in our life with little reference or though to the resurrection?  These disciples were business as usual.  Perhaps they had plans and didn't want to bother with changing them.

It is hard and not hard to comprehend the indifference of the disciples.

Perhaps that is Why Jesus addresses the disciples with these words, "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!"

Oh how foolish we are.

How often we let trivial things take on such great importance and we lose sight of that which matters most of all?

We do it all  the time.

Even now, we, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus are business as usual.  We fail to let the resurrection really have a foot hold on our life.

Perhaps now is the time to change things.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

MYSTERY

John 20:11-18

Here are a few words from pope Francis from the Easter vigil in regards to entering the tomb as we see the ladies do in gospel of Mark and Mary in today's gospel:

"Entering the tomb is an entering into mystery, going beyond our own comfort zone, beyond our laziness an  indifference which holds us back, sign out in search of turret, beauty, and love. Entering the mystery means seeking a deeper meaning, an answer, not settling for the easy score but encountering faith and fidelity which is a challenge to our existence."

We see this unfold in today's reading with Mary as she goes form being bent over with grief peering into the empty tomb to standing erect and running forth to proclaim the news to the disciples.  The drastic change revolves around her searching and responding to the call of he name by Christ.

What a thrilling discovery!

Jesus invites us through Mary to a new kind of intimacy, "I am going to my father and your father, my God an your God."

With a certain divine madness Jesus invites us into his relationship with the Father.  He wants to share that intimacy with us.  In this desire to share we encounter the foundation of mission activity.  Everything is founded on that thrilling discovery that we too now share in God's embrace, our Father's embrace in and through Christ's resurrection.

We should meditate on this: God is my Father.  We belong together in him.  We are no longer a people of God but a family of God.  The kin ship God wanted it humanity that began with Adam and Eve now begins to be realized, a realization that will be cemented in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

We are children of our Father, bearers of the only flame that can light up the paths of the earth for souls, of the only brightness which ca never be dimmed, darkened, or overshadowed,  The Lord uses us as torches, as St Josemaria Escriva reminds us, torches to make light shine out.  IF we respond like Mary then people will be in darkness no longer, but will walk instead in along paths that lead to eternal life.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

DO NOT BE AMAZED

Mark 16:1-7

Reenactments have become a big part of our life in society. Many often reenact big events especially in regards to local historical events.  Just this past weekend, we had the reenactment of the Goliad Massacre.

People dress up.  They get into the mindset of the era of the particular event with clothing, weaponry, even food and drink.

We do it in order to remember, to not forget, but mostly to deepen our appreciation for those who have gone before us, perhaps that we might be a little more grateful as we move forward.

It is an intense emotional experience for many.  It helps the past become real and tangible.  We need the the past to be real and tangible.  Now whether you like or dislike these reenactments, doesn't really matter.

We do them.  We do them in the church as well.

Palm Sunday is a reenactment.  We have a procession.  We wave palms in the air.  We unite our voices to the crowd as we sing Hosanna to the son of David.  Then we allow the words of the crowd to be pressed upon our lips when we shout 'crucify him.'

We don't stop there.  Holy Thursday we reenact the washing of the feet.  The priest takes off his outer garment and bends low to wash the feet of the men chosen as they represent the apostles.   We witness the humility of Christ as seen in the person of the priest.  Though it isn't exactly historical, nonetheless it makes it real and tangible and for some an intense emotional experience.

Friday we had the living stations.  Again, people reenacted the way the cross and the crucifixion. Then we gathered and had the veneration of the cross.  We touched it, kissed it, bowed low before it. Again we entered the passion of Christ and witnessed his breathing his last. Then Friday evening we had the Tenebre service of the burial service of Christ as we read the ancient psalms from the Old Testament. Psalms that were read long before the time of Christ.  We place a burial cloth over the statue of the deceased Savior.

We extinguished the candles one by one until only one solitary flame remained as a symbol and sign of hope to come.

On the Easter vigil we continue our reenactments.  But rather than one moment in time we reenact the moment before time.

We start outside in the dark.  The darkness represents the time before time when the world was a formless waste.  The darkness represents danger and uncertainty.  We gathered around the fire burning bright on the outside of the church which represents the presence of God outside of time and space.

Then with a word the fire leapt from the outside to the inside with a single solitary flame.  Of course this brings us back to the words of the Genesis, God spoke let there be light an light was.

Then the light was proclaimed as it slowly spread through the church, as the light of God's word spread through the world.  Each proclamation represents God entering into time and space making himself known, preparing us for the gift of his son.  This is why the  proclamation is the, "light of Christ" because everything prefigure Christ.  Then after each proclamation pressed upon our lips was the only suitable and fitting response, "Thanks be to God."

Gratitude is the only response to the gift offered, God's presence in our midst.

Then after the third proclamation, the whole church was bathed in light.  The third proclamation represents of course the third day.  The third day represents hope for all humanity.  From the resurrection, light began to spread through whole world.  The light of the resurrection illumines the darkness of man's mind and heart.  It imparts to us the importance of the missionaries who carried the light of faith to the far corners of the world.

Then we nestled down and retold the economy of salvation history.  We read how God intervened in history continually.

We entered in to the narrative from the beginning of Genesis, through Abraham's ready willingness to sacrifice Isaac, through Moses and the Israelites marching forth on dry ground, to Isaiah's prophecy of the maker becoming our husband, God's desire to unite himself completely to us.

Then St Paul spoke of how Baptism initiates us into the life of Christ.

It is how we become part of the story of salvation, a story that in light of the resurrection has no end.

Then the gospel retells the resurrection.  The women go the tomb and are amazed, yet they are told not to be amazed, which I find amazing.

Should we not be amazed by the resurrection.  We should be amazed, only if we doubted God's word.  Jesus simply does what he said he would do.  So we should not be amazed.  We should expect the unexpected.  We should expect God to fulfill his end of the bargain and to fulfill our end as well.

In the resurrection God offers us the single most important gift, "All that is mine is yours."

God never tires of intervening on our behalf.  He is relentless.  He is risen.  He offers us love with out reserve; love that knows no bounds.   Love shows itself indestructible..  Life stretches itself out toward a boundless future.

Amazement has become for us the new normal.  This is why we are told in the gospel, "do not be amazed."
Jesus has proven he is the way the truth, the life.

Friday, March 27, 2015

PASSION AND LIFE

Jeremiah 20:10-13; John 10:31-42


This morning, shortly after 2 am, my sister gave birth to her second child.  I believe that makes 23 or 24 grandchildren for mom and dad.  I received a photo of her, this little jewel that was 7 lbs 13 oz and 21 inches long.  wow!  I still hurt to think about delivery.

My first thought was, what a special gift on this friday in lent, this friday before that friday we call good.  A beautiful friday baby as entered our world.  It reminded me that Every Friday because of Good Friday is always about life.  Now we have one more reason to remember it so.

the readings for today are all about darkness and the anticipation of death.  From Jeremiah we hear, "terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him! All those who were my friends on are the watch for my misstep."  

Of course in the gospel, Jesus is in hot water and the Jews have stones in their hands and are taking aim.  Jesus again escapes from their power as St John informs us.

Yet we know Jesus will not escape from their grasp.  We know Jesus will allow himself to be taken.  He will hand himself over.  Beginning this weekend with Palm Sunday, things will begin to take shape once again.  We will be confronted with the Cross, the crucifixion, the passion of Christ.

Thus we recall the words of the anima Christi prayer, "passion of Christ Strengthen me."

Because his passion is about life, we need to be fully alive and that fullness only comes through the cross.

This friday may the passion of Christ strengthen you and the fullness of life embrace you.

Happy birthday to my niece and happy birthday to all of us who count the passion of christ as our gift of new life.




Thursday, March 26, 2015

WANTING OR GIVING

Numbers 21:4-9

The first reading for this tuesday of the 5th week of lent began with these words, "With their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses."


Now, I don't suppose any of us can't relate to this particular reality and sentiment.  How often have our patience been thread bare because of the journey.  We get worn out because of the struggle with life, the fight for love, the refusal to give in or give up or change.

We wear out in all the wrong places.

Yet, St Jose Maria Escriva has a solution.  He states that we should always be aware of the gap between our "wanting" and the "giving of oneself".  This gap directly corresponds to how we have or don't have patience in life.

The gap between the wanting for our self, that is doing things with ourselves in mind, seeking our self in love, and the giving of ourself, making a gift of our life for the other.

If we are to truly be effective in life and happy then we have to continually uproot self love and plant love for Jesus Christ.  Here the gap shrinks and patience abounds in an through our life.