4 days ago
4 days ago
Reading I: Exodus 34: 4b-6, 8-9 Reading II: Second Corinthians 13: 11-13 Gospel: John 3: 16-18 God revealed part of himself to Moses on top of Mount Sinai but never fully revealed himself until Jesus Christ was born and walked the earth. People now were seeing God up close and personal. They were not only seeing his face, they were able to receive healing and forgiveness and to listen to and hear his wonderful words of consolation and hope. And yet, we've taken it still a step further in the church where we are able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. God chooses to be one with us. He allows us the opportunity to be one with him. And the real challenge for us is when we leave mass or we go outside this church, will we stay one with him? Each year after Pentecost, the Lord gives us this feast, God, the Holy Trinity. And according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this is the most important doctrine of all the Church's teaching. Catechism, paragraph 234 says Belief in God, The Trinity is the most essential doctrine in the whole Christian faith. We have to believe that God is one and three Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that He didn't just become God. At some point He's always existed and he didn't just become the Trinity. This is how God understands Himself. This is who God is, and this is how He has chosen to reveal Himself to us. Jesus understood that He was part of something far greater than Himself. In John's gospel, he would say, "the father is greater than" I but then he would also say, "the father and I are one." How in the Trinity in John's gospel, began by reminding us that Jesus was there when the worlds were made. And the start of John's gospel. We don't hear the story of the birth of Jesus of Bethlehem. Instead, John starts with the same words as Genesis. Through Him, all things came to be, and without him, nothing came in to be. A statement of faith that Jesus was there when the words were made because a Trinitarian God was creating it. Everything out of nothing. Bringing order to chaos. Jesus. He understood that the He was there long before Moses and Abraham, that He had always been. The ascension, Jesus' Heavenly Homecoming. And as He was journeying home to have and He gave a great command to his apostles, the last verse of Matthew's Gospel, "Go make disciples. Go out to all the nations, baptizing them in the name, not the names in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." Jesus understood the Trinity. He wanted us to be baptized into the Trinity that we might share in its rewards the love of God in Christ Jesus, and the power of the Spirit that God goes all the way back to Genesis and shows us, even in the first chapter of the Bible, he understood who he was and wants us to know him. The same as the Trinity. In chapter one, verse 26 of Genesis, God said, Let us make man after our image and likeness. God is one. But He's referring himself in the plural because He knows that He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And the very next chapter we see the Adam has been created, but he's not animated. He's like a mannequin, a statue, lifeless on the ground until in verse seven, God breathes life into him. Adam didn't have life until God gave him his spirit, the life giving spirit he breathed in to help. This is how God wants us to know Him. And God isn't acting at times as Father, other times as Son, and sometimes as Spirit. It's always in perpetual motion because the Trinity is all about relationship and love. The love that God the Father has for His Son, the love that the son has for his father. That love generates, that spirit which gives rise to the church, to the Bible, and to our faith. And this is that same, immense and intense God that creates everything out of nothing. And yet, in the Trinity, we realize that that immensity and that intensity also has intimacy, that God is intimately connected with all of his creation. We should be intimately connected to him. And then to go and tell others about him and this world that does not know God in this world. When people don't know God, they don't know truth, they don't know life, they don't know beauty, they don't know goodness. And so that's up to us. That's up to us who know God and love God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to go out and touch others with that same truth, beauty and goodness that will lead them to happiness and fulfillment, not only here on Earth, but more importantly and especially and heaven above how we wish that our face would radiate like Moses when He saw God only from the far and only from a distance, and only for a moment, he was glowing. We're not only going to see God today, we're going to receive God today. And every time we need him, he will come to us. And one day He's going to ask all of us to come to him. And we will finally find out that he is just, as he said, a father to us. He has sent his son to save us and a spirit to be our strength.
Tuesday May 30, 2023
Tuesday May 30, 2023
The Catholic Church is Pentecost in America. It's Memorial Day, and we have all our American traditions. What was that commercial that used to be? Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet? Well, we're happy to have baseball well-represented here on this Memorial Day weekend. We have the junior varsity and varsity titans from Lumen, Christi. They're having a great baseball season and their fight continues against Napoleon.
Gentlemen, stand up. And just in case there's anybody from Napoleon here, leave it all on the field. But we wish you well. Yes. Thanks for coming. Good luck. Go get them. Yes. I said in the email that I set out on Friday afternoon, if there wasn't the Holy Spirit, there would be no Catholic Church, there would be no Bible, and there would be no believers.
And all we need to prove that is to look at the Apostles before and after Pentecost. Up until Pentecost, the Apostles were afraid of their own shadow. They were not preaching or teaching or baptizing. They were afraid that those who killed Jesus were coming for them. And even though Jesus showed his risen body to them time and again in various places, they still weren't convinced or convicted that it was really him.
Maybe it was just a ghost. Maybe it was just a cruel trick. But unless or until they themselves were convinced, Victor, that this was the risen Christ, just as he promised, they weren't going to be able to convince anyone else. And therefore, between Jesus resurrection and the day of Pentecost, not a single soul was added to the faith.
And yet, with the rushing of wind and the tongues of fire, when the Holy Spirit of God came down on Jerusalem, 3000 people were baptized that very day. And the Catholic Church has been making disciples ever since to the ends of the earth and until the end of time. And let's put that to the test. I sometimes tell you that the Catholic Church exists in every continent and in every country.
Well, since you don't fact check me, I decided to fact check myself. And I've been lying to you for years. There is no Catholic Church in Antarctica. But it's also the case that the Catholic Church isn't active in every country. And that surprised me in the United Nations in 2023. They recognized the sovereignty of 197 countries on planet Earth.
And sadly, the Catholic Church is only active in 195 of those 197. What are the exceptions? Saudi Arabia, where they banned everything but Islam. In North Korea, where the Catholic Church was thrown out in the communist revolution of the 1950s. But everywhere else, we have a footprint and we're making a foothold for Christ. Even in Afghanistan, where there's only one little church and only 200 Catholics, we're still in it to win it.
And that's us keeping and carrying out Jesus. Great command as he was ascending last Sunday. What did he tell those disciples? Go out to all the world. Make disciples of all nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son or the Holy Spirit. And the Catholic Church has been doing that, teaching and preaching and loving and living the gospel message of Jesus Christ ever since.
For 20 centuries, for 2000 years, all over this world. But we're not only moving horizontally. The Catholic faith has also been spread vertically. It made some headlines on Easter Sunday, April the ninth this year, when for the first time ever the Catholic mass was celebrated on Mount Everest in the Himalayas in Nepal, 29,000 feet above the earth, five miles above sea level, as high as the jets, the fly over the Jackson sky.
The Catholic word of God was preached. The Catholic Eucharist was celebrated. But it's gone even higher than that. Twice in the last 25 years, the Blessed Sacrament, the Catholic Eucharist, has been taken into space once on the space shuttle and once on the International Space Station. And we continue to spread the word further and broader to new audiences.
That is why on that Pentecost day, everybody was speaking a different language, but everybody could understand the message in that same spirit. The Catholic Church leads the effort to translate the Bible into more and more languages. The Catholic Church is overseeing the translation of the Old and New Testament into 700 of the 7000 languages spoken on planet Earth.
The New Testament is now in 1500 of those languages, and parts of the Bible are now translated to 3300 different tongues, so that people all over the world can know the story of the God of Jesus Christ. But on the church's birth day, which is today, we want to hear some good news. That's what gospel means, the good news of Jesus Christ.
And yet, so often when we read or hear about the Catholic Church on the Internet and the newspaper on the television, it's all something bad or bother. It's a bankruptcy. It's a scandal. It's a closure. But we have a story to tell. And it is a compelling one. And we tell it well and we tell it to anyone who will listen.
So let's share some uplifting statistics about what the Catholic Church does on planet Earth every day in 2023. Right now, the Catholic Church operates 150,000 Catholic schools. We're proud the Jackson schools are four of those 150,000, but they're educating 54 million young people every year. And what about looking after the sick so near and dear to the heart of Jesus?
The healer. The divine physician? The Catholic Church on planet Earth is currently operating 5000 hospitals, 16,000 outpatient clinics, mostly in places where people don't have access to good or affordable health care. And yes, even 600 leper colonies. Strange to us in the developed world, but in developing countries, leprosy Hansen's disease is still very much a problem. And the Catholic Church is kissing lepers just as Jesus did so long ago.
But we look after the least among us. The Catholic Church operates 16,000 homes for the elderly, the chronically ill and the disabled. 10,000 orphanages. 10,500 nursery schools. 13,000 marriage counseling centers. 31,000 Catholic, not for profit charities. And the St Vincent de Paul Society that feeds so many people each week. Right of our pantry across the world. The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul helps 20 million people every year.
We don't force any of these people to know God or to love God or to know Jesus. So to love Jesus or even to become Catholic. We help them because we have been helped. We love them because we have been loved. We feed them because we have been fed. Yes. My friends in the churches birthday let the fire fall.
Let there be a new Pentecost in the Catholic Church. Because we still have a story to tell. We're loving it, and we're living it as the greatest story ever told. It's his story. And we will tell it till the end of time when he comes again. Let us stand and profess our faith and.
Friday May 26, 2023
Friday May 26, 2023
Reading 1 - Acts 1:12-14
Reading 2 - 1 Pt 4:13-16
Gospel - Jn 17:1-11a
We're told by Matthew they worshiped, but they doubted. And that's probably why they weren't out teaching. Preaching or baptizing anybody because they were so sure what exactly was going on. And even after Jesus ascended, that confusion would remain until the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the church. What we will celebrate one week from today, when all of a sudden a holy wind came from heaven with tongues of fire and drove out the darkness, took their fears away, and replaced them with faith. So the apostles, yes, they need to be witnesses, but without the Holy Spirit, they will amount to nothing. They will achieve nothing for the glory of God. But today isn’t so much about them. It is really about Jesus. After His mission was accomplished here on Earth, taking to the cross our sins and their conquering our greatest fears and foes sin, Satan and death. Now he returns to heaven, a conquering hero. We don't really have ticker tape parade in America anymore, but if we remember the good old days, you can see these clips on YouTube and watch as the astronauts who went to the moon went down the streets of New York City with everybody in the streets and throwing confetti out the windows. So we think of Lindbergh after he crossed the Atlantic. Everybody united in celebration of a single cause. That's what the streets of heaven must have been like when Jesus finally came home to the father's house and he had pried Open Heaven's Gate, he used that cross as a key to unlock it not only for himself, but for all who believe it. So if we can follow his great command to be his witnesses in the world, then one day we who share in his cross at Calvary will share in his great victory. But it's the second command that Jesus gave on the Ascension Day that we want to focus on this morning, and especially with regard to the graduating seniors of the class of 2023 and the last verse of Matthew's Gospel, Jesus gives the command go out to all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the son and the Holy Spirit. And He wants us to go out to all the world to announce the good news. He wants us to make disciples, to make followers of the way, the truth and the life. Who is Jesus Christ risen from the dead. But as the apostles realized, as we come to realize in our own experience, we can't make a follower for Jesus unless or until we become a follower of Jesus. And that's where the Apostles kept tripping over themselves in that first Easter season, and why that season was a cause of confusion, not celebration. If they were convinced that Jesus was risen, then they weren't really convinced that he has a God who is capable of doing all things, and that's why they couldn't convince anyone else. Bless you. Those who want to be followers of Jesus must first learn to follow Him ourselves. If we're going to make anyone else do it, we have to lead by example. We have to be a follower. If we're going to make a follower, we cannot lead others until we learn to follow. And that's the great lesson not only for graduating seniors who have been taught by their parents, their teachers, their professors and their coaches and how to play by the rules and how to think outside the box. But we want to think, how can I love God? How can I be his witness in the world, in the life that I'm going to live? How can I make out a part of whatever witness I'm going to give by the choices I make, the places I go, and the things I do? That's a lesson for all of us. But it's Jesus last words that are a source of great comfort for us this morning. What did he say as he's disappearing into the clouds? He said, I will be with you always, even till the end of time, even to the end of the age. He was leaving, but he was staying. How does he do that? Further proof that he's God and he can do whatever he says and whatever he wants. But he's still in our midst today. Present in the souls of all the baptized, present in his word, present in the priesthood. But most particularly present when bread and wine still become his body and blood, that was Jesus lasting testament to continue to be among us. It's a vitamin that we need for our souls as a medicine, for the sickness of sin, to give us strength for the journey until he calls all of us to make that Ascension journey to pass through Heaven's Gate. And so the Easter season continues, and we pray that next Sunday we will gather here once again and that there will be a new Pentecost in the church that's perhaps not with tongues of fire, but with hearts full of faith. We too, might go forth to proclaim Christ risen from the dead and now we want to bless the class of 2023.
Tuesday May 16, 2023
Tuesday May 16, 2023
Reading 1 - Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Reading 2 - 1 Pt 3:15-18
Gospel - Jn 14:15-21
The Holy Spirit helped convert the Apostle Paul which led to the spreading of the gospel like wildfire throughout the known world. It is there in the Catholic baptism and many other denominations. It was there at Pentecost in the tongues of fire and rushing wind. It was promised by Jesus to be sent by the father as our advocate for our mercy and our freedom.
Thursday May 11, 2023
Thursday May 11, 2023
Jesus is the answer. He said, I am the way I am The truth and the life would echo in the minds and hearts of Christians for 20 centuries. As true today as they were when Jesus first spoke them, He made it very clear to them, You want to get out of here, you want to go to heaven, you've got to go through me.
No one comes to the father except through me, and He is the way that will lead us home. Jesus is the way that will lead us to happiness. Jesus is the way that will lead us out of darkness, into light and from death to new life. But we must go the way He leads us. And that way, truth in life does indeed include Calvary.
Jesus had to bear his cross. He had to suffer that we might be set free. And He said, Whoever would be my disciple must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me every day, wherever He leads us and we have our own crosses to bear. There are many. They are heavy and the way forward is unclear and full of obstacles.
But when all seem lost, Jesus was preparing for his greatest victory. He will do the same with us. And in us. And for us. And through us. If only we can trusted him not only in the light, but especially when it's dark.
Tuesday Apr 18, 2023
Tuesday Apr 18, 2023
Second Sunday of Easter (or Sunday of Divine Mercy)
Reading 1 - Acts 2:42-47
Reading 2 - 1 Pt 1:3-9
Gospel - Jn 20:19-31
In Johns Gospel we see the Apostles not in a state of celebration upon seeing the risen Christ, but instead we see them in a state of confusion, grief, shame and blame.
After discovering Christs tomb empty John and Peter don’t go out to preach the gospel in Jerusalem like Jesus instructed them to. They run and hide in the upper room. They feared that those who crucified Jesus and now apparently taken His body will be coming after His disciples next.
When Jesus reveals Himself to them they are afraid of Him. Jesus responds by saying Shalom, meaning peace, but then He does something interesting by breathing on them. This is to show them that He is real and not a hallucination; He has air in His lungs. But the divine breath goes all the way back to the book of Genesis. After God creates the heavens and the earth, he creates Adam. Adam becomes animated by the holy breath God breathes into his nostrils.
The breath of God, the word of God, the Holy Spirit; experiencing these send us on mission. But we find in the book of John that Jesus’ disciples have gone exactly nowhere. Jesus was trying to establish the Holy Church but John and Peter have hunkered down in the upper room.
The mission of the Church is to forgive sins. The Easter season is about new beginnings. Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, the new Adam, went into the depths of our humanity and thus into the depths of our sin and was sacrificed on the cross so we may all have a new beginning and new life in His divine love and mercy.
Monday Apr 03, 2023
Monday Apr 03, 2023
Reading I - Is 50:4-7
Reading II - Phil 2:6-11
Gospel - Mt 26:14—27:66
Jesus spoke seven times while hanging on the cross. Two of those times he quoted psalms. Jesus needed people to know that His crucifixion was a plan eternally in the making. This was the plan was a rescue mission for our salvation.
Jesus quotes Psalm 22 and King David from one thousand years prior when he said “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” But what else did David say? “They have pierced my hands and my feet. They have cast lots for my clothes.” David didn’t experience that, but this prophecy for his descendent a thousand years was accurate.
Yes, Christ was trying to tell us that this was part of Gods plan to save us and to set us free. Jesus then quotes Psalm 31 when he says “Into your hands Lord I commend my spirit.” Jesus’ life was not being taken away but willingly given in accordance with Gods plan. Gods Son will die that we might live. Let us live for Him.
Wednesday Mar 29, 2023
Wednesday Mar 29, 2023
First Reading: Ezekiel 37: 12-14
Second Reading: Romans 8: 8-11
Gospel: John 11: 1-45
Christ performed many mighty deeds. Of the seven miracles recorded, three of them were raising people from the dead. First, we have Jairus, the synagogue official’s daughter. Then the son of the widow in the village of Nain. Then there was Lazarus.
Raising Lazarus was Jesus last great miracle before His triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem, ready for His Passover and His Passion. This last great act of raising Lazarus was met with great contempt from the cultural and class elite of that time.
He is also met with anger and emotion from Lazarus' sister, Martha, who tells Jesus, "If only you were here sooner my brother would still be alive". But let it not go unnoticed the faith that Martha is displaying in her emotions. She knows Jesus is not a doctor, but she believes He is the Lord. Jesus makes Martha a promise and tells her that her brother will rise, but I think it's fair to say Jesus senses Martha’s faith and then asks her a question that sort of clears the air when he says, "Do you believe this? If you believe I am the Messiah, you should not be afraid."
The Lord asks us this same question anytime we face death or fear of death. Anytime we have an experience with death, whether it be a close call with death personally, or a family or friend or neighbor. How we answer that question determines not only how we face death but in a very real way it determines how we face life.
Believe Jesus is God. Believe His power over sin, darkness, and death. And we don't need to be afraid to die. Once we no longer carry with us the fear of death we can live boldly. Knowing the Lord has greater things in store for all of us.
Tuesday Mar 21, 2023
Tuesday Mar 21, 2023
Fourth Sunday of Lent
First Reading: First Samuel 16: 1, 6-7, 10-13
Second Reading: Ephesians 5: 8-14
Gospel: John 9: 1-41
The Salvific Journey occurs between the lowest points of our humanity and the Kingdom of Heaven. By his grace, God often selects the lowest, and weakest among us to hear his word and carry out his will. We see this in his instruction to Samuel to go and find the new king among the sons of Jesse in Bethlehem. Jesse doesn't even bother to include David, the soon to be king, when prompted by Samuel to bring forth his sons. David was the youngest, the weakest and surely could not be the one God has chosen.
We find the same truth embedded in many of the events and stories of Jesus. Jesus works miracles for the Gentiles and the marginalized. He eats with prostitutes, and criminals, and tax collectors. He touches lepers and heals the blind and raises the dead. Jesus goes to the lowest of the low in social class and society of the time. Wherever we see Jesus we see goodness and light, but we also see controversy and shadows as many would rather remain in the dark.
As we read the story of Jesus healing the blind man let us remember that so it goes for many stories of conversion. The man is born blind. And upon being given the gift of sight by Jesus, he doesn’t know who Jesus is; some man healed him as far as he’s concerned. Then he recognized Jesus as a prophet before recognizing Jesus as being of God and finally realizing that He is God.
Darkness to light, blindness to sight, death to new life – that is the process of conversion. That is the path that God has laid down before all of us. Jesus is God, let us let Him heal our blindness so we can see the suffering all around us and do something to heal it.
Monday Mar 13, 2023
Monday Mar 13, 2023
Third Sunday of Lent
First Reading: Exodus 17: 3-7
Second Reading: Romans 5: 1-2, 5-8
Gospel: John 4: 5-42
The story of the good Samaritan gives us another example of Jesus controversial teaching and outreach to parts of society that were deemed off limits by the cultural and political structures of that time. Samaria was a land of Gentiles and Samaritans were only considered little better than Lepers in terms of social class. But Jesus frequently traveled to the land and performed numerous miracles there. We can see in this context how Jesus truly is a good shepherd, leaving the 99 in flock in search for the single lost sheep to be brought back. Jesus goes to the people on the margins of society because he wants those last to be first, the least to be greatest, and to give them the hope of heaven.
In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus encounters the woman at the well. She is on her sixth marriage and is an outcast from her own society. Jesus doesn’t condemn her but forgives her. Jesus shows her that a love exists that can’t be provided by the people or things of this world. A Love from Himself, a Love from God, that can lead her to true happiness and to heaven.
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