Super Bowl (4th Sun.”A”) Homily and ‘Commercial’

IMG_20150131_145243_262IMG_20150131_145326_383  Photos: interesting wire and steel gridiron statues in Beltsville at Red Hawk building.

Homily for Super Bowl Sunday

Web Version ( extended)

Who will be the dominant team in the NFL Super Bowl and win it all?  Will it be the seriously strong Seattle Seahawks or will it be the pulverizing, powerful Patriots of New England? Surely, the game will be a match of aggression, force and power that will certainly have some injuries and hurts on the field of action, and millions will be watching the game.   Of the pre-game hype, announcers and fans are using phrases like “will our offensive line annhilate our opponent and our running back smash through their defense?” Or,  “Will our teams all-out blitz knock out their quarterback?”   You know–it’s your normal well wishes about your team “imposing its will” on the other team!   And much of America will watch the spectacle to see just who will dominate who.

Yes–the interesting catchphrase used for Super Bowl 2015’s player comments was that “we’ll impose our will on them.”  Domination –power— control— winning:   That’s the name of the game, and it is much they way of sinners in our world, too; and when it isn’t just a football game, but it is real life–we have trouble.

We do live in an aggressive culture, and it is no surprise that we amuse ourselves sometimes with violent and aggressive entertainment.  Yet, as Christians, we also need to step aside and see things, in regard to power, from another perspective.  We don’t live to be so aggressive as to take all we can get, nor do we impose our will on anyone.   We look to our Lord for lessons in this regard…

The Gospel today offers a different perspective on power.  Jesus had it.  Jesus used it. Did he do so for domination? No.  With the gospel passages of Mark 1 today, we hear about a demonstration of power by Jesus, as done early on in His ministry.

Jesus shows He has power and authority.   He is challenged by evil spirits, which have taken possession of someone, and they ‘speak’ through their victim.  Indeed He does use His power in response.  The onlookers are surprised at His power, saying: “He even can make demons or evil spirits submit to Him and be chased/banished away!”

In Mark’s account of Jesus’ life, this is the start of the revelation of Who Jesus Is.  He is the Son of Glory; Jesus has The Power of God.  Yet, as Mark shows how Jesus uses power, in working with His humble coming and service to humankind, it is quite the revelation of God that His coming among us was not one of intimidation, brute force, punishing effects, domination, or imposing the Divine will.

While Jesus wielded power here (in today’s gospel account), He used it to bring the darkness into submission, as the angelic world had already had their time of choice and taking sides, for or against God.  The dark forces stand down and their human captor is blessedly freed of them.   Mark’s Gospel is introducing the SaviorJesus will stand down sin and death for us, too, our worse enemies of broken fallen-ness.  Yet Jesus’ power, which is the ultimate Power of God, does not come in domineering fashion. Humanity will have her free will and choice honored.

In a startling lesson, God comes into our world as one of us, and in Jesus of Nazareth does come offering an invitation to freedom, and He gives living examples of love and its favor for us to see, and from there He gives us the choice for following Him into the “life abundant” or to remain in the world’s system and its ongoing misery and unfairness and its dead end game.

Jesus doesn’t force it, but He invites us to join in Him and to glorify God almighty through Him, as the God/man.   This approach seems quite opposite the way of our dominant world today. We live within an aggressive culture, with many seeking to control, manipulate, or force or dominate to their own gain for the higher and secured place of pleasure over the weaker masses.   It can get pretty ugly too.

As fun as the Super Bowl show and game can be, it seems to also raise the ugly mirror of our society’s craving for excess and also for some hitting and forcing, gladiator-style, of determining who gets to be a winner. In this, the Super Bowl game acts as a mirror of our run-it-over-you culture.  Good thing, though, it’s only just a game!

The Super Bowl telecast is famous for its funny commercial breaks from the action.  Let’s do it, then, here in this homily. As we take our ‘break,’ I was thinking of what the Super Bowl might look like from an outside point of view… If creatures from a distant planet did send a first probe or secret ship on this Super Bowl Sunday to observe what life is like here, and if they had happened to visit the Glendale area of Phoenix, per chance, I bet that they would come back with this conclusion:  The people on this planet have a strange religion where they worship a brown sphere!!  (That what we earthlings all call a football!)

In the alien’s report back to the home planet, their communication would be thus: The great god of this planet’s inhabitants seems to be some laced, leathery-brown-skin thing. This brown thing is shared communally by some men on a green field, among twenty-two men robed in various religious attire and helmets, along with a few other men in striped clothing, who may be their priests(?), and all the men on the said field run around in worship of the brown object, looking to hold it and embrace it, even for just a few seconds. It is quite something to see.  About 75,000 other spectator creatures surround them in a round arena,  and they are screaming and shouting at the action, all in watching the rites below, and seemingly praying down towards the green field at the brown sphere in quite a great hype.

These “earthling” worshippers up in the arena don their various types of religious clothing, with half of them wearing one color and the other half wearing other colors.  There also are libations in all their hand-extensions, along with strange foods in their possession for the rites, and each food offering is consumed heavily in this Worship Event.  Bands play, decorative flags and signs are waved, and chants are sung in worship to the brown object.   When the brown object goes to one end of the green field or the other, there seems to be special worship moment of their god, and they all hail the brown ball and some of the striped-clothing priests put their arms straight up to the heavens.  Some fireworks go off and streamers fly, and people then consume some more libations and foods up in the arena.  The worship event goes on for about three hours–the worshippers have a lot of devotion to offer. At the end, even a few of the onlookers do pass out in ecstacy–as we observed.

(Their home planet receives the info with fascination–asking for more details–so the report continues…)

This worship of theirs seems to be the culmination of various other so-called Sundays and some other special holidays/holy days(?) leading up to this Main Holiday to their god.   All across this land, the live worshippers are joined by viewers and participants in some communication device they call “tv.”  Thus, millions of others join in from their home dwellings with the worship of this god, and especially on this Super Sunday, all in honor to the brown object, which they call the “Foot Ball.”  They even guard the brown objects before the rites begin, as a deflation of any one such object in the rite is forbidden or frowned upon, so much does the rite revere the mighty “football.”   End of report.

Heh. Heh. :).  I hope you liked my fun outside and alien view of football as being mistaken for a god.  Or IS IT a god to some?! Let’s get back from our comical ‘commercial’ and onto the homily finish…

Getting to the example of Jesus, as in the eyes of one evangelist Mark: God’s Son is The Ultimate Power, He is Eternal and Divine, but in Jesus, intwrestingly, what we first associate Him with is things like Love, Mercy, and Freedom.  Why? Because He is not the God of Force, but of free gathering and invitation.  Jesus says: Follow Me.  He is for unity, or community, and He is for justice and peace.   He contradicts the world.  The culture, that turns versus Him, is plagued then in division, unrest, and the survival of the strongest or cleverest.   Jesus’ enemies think that all must be taken and served to self-gain.   He, rather, stands for a whole Other approach. We’ll be studying Mark’s gospel all year to get re-oriented to Jesus’ Way.  His is the surprising way of invitation to grace and not to force us to His side.

End of Homily

For further Super Bowl reflections… See the next blog.

There will be found added comments, mostly coming from a Catholic commentary I read this week about The Super Bowl and American Culture and its interplay in religion.  I  interspersed my thoughts into the commenter’ s words.   ###

Guessing Game at Test Time

Today’s and tomorrow’s feast days are of smart people: Saints Angela Merici and Thomas Aquinas. They were brilliant thinkers and believers. They probably knew all or most of the answers when tested for their knowledge through their lives.

I, myself, have not had all the answers. Sometimes I have had to guess answers. I was told that a blank left blank or a multiple choice left unchosen would always be counted wrong on a test. So I would always take a guess. In multiple choice, I favored “B” as my regular guess answer. In true or false, I just flipped a coin and went with luck. In the Fill in the blank questions, if I had diddlysquat, I would go with the first thought to my head, which often led to some silly answers–but it was better than leaving the space blank.

Those silly answers were subjects of conversation with my fellow students afterwards.  We had a fun time discussing them.   From high school to college to seminary classes–I’ve had replacement fill-in answers.

I wondered about what some of them might have been through those years.  So, I just looked through a catechist magazine at some of the terms and answers that were expected to be familiar to the teachers–and I put in my “funny” answers in the blank, rather than any “right” one–answering them as if I didn’t know the answer, but wanted to fill the space humorously or in ‘far reach.’

Religion Test

What is an Anointing?
When Jesus chased the pigs into the lake? (Or, is that an oinking?)

What is an Absolution?
It is when a good sit-up machine makes the pastor’s stomach firm?

What is a Liturgy?
A trash receptable in a church somewhere–for chewing gum to be thrown into before Mass?!

What is The Catechism?
The place in Rome where the put stray cats?

What is Dogma?
A puppy’s mother? The Holy Family’s puppy’s mother?

What is a Lector?
A stern person who lectures you on right versus wrong? (My upset neighbor next door might be one.)

What is a Cantor?
A person in the choir who can’t sing too well, and they get up to sing the psalm sometimes, and Dad says under his breath “That person really can’t sing!” (?)

What is Matrimony?
It’s a good Catholic pasta, like Italian Linguini.(?)

What is a Confession?
When a good detective(Catholic one) gets the criminal to admit to the crime?

What is it to Repent?
It is when Notre Dame has to keep punting over and over in football games versus USC.(?)

What is Penance?
They are sports’ teams flags, like “Go Saints!” or “Georgetown Hoyas #1!”(?)

What is a Gentile?
It is tile in a church or cathedral sanctuary.(?)

What is Transubstantiation?
For a clergyman or pope to change trains in the subway. (And it’s quite the change!)

What is a pontificate?
It is when a pope talks very smartly and people get impressed.(?)

What is Meditation?
To take pills to go to sleep instead of counting the Lord’s sheep.(?)

What is a monstrance?
I don’t know what it is, but it’s BIG. You need a lot of church space for it.(?)

Where did Moses get the Ten Commandments from God?
Into his hands?  It’s more likely than into his lap.(?)

Where did Elijah go up to? How did he thus go?
Don’t know, but not up in smoke! The 450 prophets of Baal went up in smoke!(?)

Name a minor prophet in the Bible.
When Melchizedek sold part of Jerusalem and the Holy Land over to Father Abraham and Cousin Lot–this deal had to be a pretty good transaction for him, as in getting a nice little prophet.(?)

Who comes after Matthew, Mark and Luke?
Probably Mary, to be sure they’ve got the Gospel stories right.(?)

What was in the night sky at Jesus’ Birth?
Everything that usually was in the night sky! Darkness, maybe a few birds, clouds, a star here and there, perhaps the moon. Angels, though they were hidden, but you could hear them. The wind or light breeze.(?)

Where was Jesus born?
Right from Mary’s belly or womb. (It was not a “C section”, as they didn’t have them yet, and Jesus was thus born in the usual way.)

Who took the Flight into Egypt?
Probably people from Air Israel in Tel Aviv yesterday.(?)

Jesus had Twelve special followers named as “Apostles.” What was the name given to the other key followers?
They were Epistles, and they were some of the apostles’ wives. (In class you said that “most of the epistles were short.” So I guess maybe 4 foot 11″ to 5 foot tall wives?)

How many loaves and fishes were there at the Feeding of the 5000?
As the Bible says, it was just some end bread pieces and fragments in a basket after they all got through. The people gobbled up the meal but good! Maybe a few fish bones around the hillside, too, but no left over fish or fish heads, as the people gathered and cleaned up after themselves very well, so the Good Book says about that time.(?)

Who was the first to say: He is Risen?
Probably Eve, to God, when she saw Adam wake up and wanted to alert God to introduce her to him. (You didn’t teach much on Creation, dear teacher. I don’t think you covered the first human conversations.)(?)

How many books are there in the Bible?
The Bible is just one book. (Every book is just one book, right? Is this a trick question?!)

How did people move around in transportation in Bible times?                                          I don’t know, but in Acts, it does say that some Christians were all in one Accord, in Jerusalem.   I also know that Noah & company took the Ark:  The Ship off the old block!

What is Grace?
It’s the prayer every time before meals, except at the drive-through for meals to eat while driving to soccer practice. We always forget on those times. Don’t you, too?

Define Consecration.                                                                                                         It is my thinking real hard for this answer, for two minutes.   Sorry, I don’t remember the answer.

How many Hail Mary’s are there in a decade of the Rosary?
“One.” It’s just the one and same Hail Mary, although done ten times. There is just “one” version–unless you count the version that Sister Margaret prays, which is “The Lord is with you” instead of “The Lord is with thee”–and then, if you count that, there’s “two” Hail Mary’s in a decade, the regular one and the one Sister Margaret says.(?)

What is the name of the current pope?
He changes it upon being made pope, so hardly anybody knows it, except for the Cardinals. The regular people call him “the Pope” or “His Holiness” because noone knows his real name, though it might once have been Fred Johnson or Rico Mancini.

What is papal infallibility?                                                                                                  It is the measures the Church takes to keep the pope from falling down, such as down the many steps of St. Peter’s–they’ve put a long rail in there for him to hold onto while walking.(?)

What sacred canon describes the ultimate seal of confession, not to be broken by a confessor?                                                                                                                      It’s the cannon that will blast one out of holy orders, like a circus clown shot out of a tent and landing in a lake, not to be found again.  Cannon 5-4-3-2-1!              (?)

What scientist was posthumously exonerated  by the Church for his round-earth theories and other sciences?                                                                                              I think it was Galileo, but there wasn’t anything really humorous about it all. (?)

Where is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church located?
It is in Heaven at the Throne of Jesus: He is Head of the Body, The Church. His Headquarters are up in the sky, and Jesus sends special messages down to us, especially on a holy line to the pope in Vatican City.  Teacher, I was going to put The Vatican as the answer, but technically, the above is more right, as I thought about it.

In two pages or less:  Sum up The Summa by St. Thomas Aquinas.                            Four words:  too difficult to say.

Test Over. How do you think I did on it?

 

Homily 3rd Sunday: Charity and Service isn’t so much about our getting good feelings

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The road of service to God leads to Glory.

HOMILY 3RD SUNDAY A JAN. 25TH

FR. JOHN BARRY
EXTENDED WEB VERSION OF HOMILY

A Holy Heart of Charity and Service
I. What really is Catholic/Christian Charity and Service?  I was wondering this because in February we have the annual Cardinal’s Appeal. I am also wondering this because in today’s Scriptures we have four people pretty willing to go and follow Jesus to live in charity and service (as the Gospel proclaims), while we also have quite the reluctant servant in the opening reading (which is Jonah). Charity might start somewhat easily for a ‘good person,’ or Service might be fairly intimidating for any person of faith. Both lessons are in The Word today.

What is Catholic charity or service? One person said that “charity and service is doing nice things for someone and getting nice feelings by doing it.”  Ok. That definition kind-of-works, but couldn’t any human or philanthropic effort be that? What would make it Catholic/ Christian?

Another person responded by saying that “Catholic charity or service is becoming a vessel of Christ and letting His loving and active will move through you to others, with then perhaps being blessed and converted by the service offered.   It also might be touched with good feelings, but maybe not, (they added), because being Christ’ agent in a situation may also be challenging and a little hard.” Ok. That definition is better because it is Christ-centered and not really centered on good feeling returns. Plus, it is a good definition in how it credits God’s work inside a person as the power, and the human vessel as the open cooperator or applier.

Someone simply answered:  What is Charity and Service? It’s being Christ. In explaining–as you have followed Him–now the goal is that, lovingly and obediently, the disciple is become like their Teacher Jesus.

Ok, now that is a great answer.

Let us take a little look at the disciples of Jesus in today’s Gospel portion. These were fishermen who, at the start here of following Jesus, did generously join in. What a change would happen to them, even while they were religious and good Jewish men already!?! At their calling and “yes,” Simon and Andrew and James and John probably had never gone to be near lepers (as so to love them), nor likely had either of them ever reached out to a widow nor mingled so much as equals with women, and probably had none of them ever been so inclined to go out and help and love Samaritans (nor any such people on their personal “despised list”). However; after being Jesus’ disciples for a couple of years past this starting point—they were later doing all of that— just like Jesus had been. Amazing. Somehow something (or how about SomeOne) had changed their hearts over time.   That factor of conversion in these disciples is the lesson here. How did they get so charitable or service oriented? Being close to Jesus is the only explanation!

Service and charity done God’s way not only brings help to the needy on the receiving end; it brings holiness and conversion on the giving end. These four fisherman did a lot of good for others in their lives as Christ’ disciples, but even more, it did a lot of good in them. All became great saints.

I once asked a long-time veteran of Catholic charities service to define their ministry and its goals. They said: “To bring comfort to the afflicted, and to bring affliction to the comfortable.” What this person meant was that they wanted to help the poor to become more comfortable, by greatly helping them out of their miseries, AND that they wanted to help change themselves and any others who saw their new life of witness from ever being too comfortable in un-connectedness with others.

So years ago the person went and began volunteering part-time at a Catholic charities agency, all in the name of living in The Works of Mercy. Up through today, they have never stopped helping, and now they do it full-time.

Years ago they became “convicted of how little charity and service their lives actually were giving for the Church or Mission of Jesus.” They said that it was because “they were much too selfish.” So, the Spirit convicted them to look to share more love, and it led them to find a challenging spot in a Catholic charity place to go and lend help. This action of charity and service became the means of the greatest conversion in their own life. They said that their holy work for the needy did lovingly afflict them to stop their addiction to self-pleasure and comfort being the aim of their lives.

Loving like Jesus Christ (or even as Jesus Christ, as His disciple) became their new life. No more were they comfortably nonchalant about things, saying “A mature and available Catholic cannot turn down service of God.” They also became “challenged by the Holy Spirit to spend more offerings of charity by money of support to their parish and to Church charities to the poor (even while they also were giving their time). They said that “the fields of the Lord” were not seen by their eyes. While their giving of time and offerings “did bring them a good feeling of being a better person,” they said that “even this became not the aim, but simply to aim to be holy–good feelings or not.” Indeed, their definition of charity and service was clear. They had a Body of Christ conversion by the Loving Affliction-of-the-Spirit (* see John  ch.16). Now they hope that this love of God (via service and charity) can have an influence to win others to this life of love in Christ. They do think that their witness today to other Catholics “probably has that affliction-to-the- comfortable effect,” and they say “I am glad about that! It’s the second part of my charity. I give comfort to the afflicted, but I also hope to afflict the comfortable!”

You’ll recall that on Baptism of the Lord Sunday in my homily in pulpit and on blog, I spoke about this vital identity for a Catholic by their baptism as being in the real Body of Christ. Eventually, one realizes that life in a body means to be a working part.

The charity worker has learned some things about really who the “needy” are. They said: “People like myself, the over-comfortable, are the real ‘needy.’ People like me need to change to be more loving and unconditional and self-less in our living. We are the ‘needy’ to better understand God’s definition of charity, which is to Love as Jesus! As for the poor who are called ‘needy,’ their needs are for food, clothing, money–as well as for jail visits, friendly counsel, and such. Those needs are easier to fill than it is for an un-charitable heart to be changed. Now, as the charity worker, I am ‘the needy one,’ and I thank the poor for accepting me to serve them. You know, serving in charity is not so much anymore about getting good feelings of helping some one. Service and charity is part of my maturing conversion in Christ, even a necessary step. I see now why it has been so important in the history of the Catholic Church and her ministry. Oh, Blessed are the poor in spirit! And we all are the poor (or else we need to become humbled).”

I asked: “What do you think you look for in new volunteers at your charity?” They answered: “A charity worker is looking for people ready for conversion of attitude, away and off of themselves… for people who might figure that charity is never a hand-down or a stooping-down in assistance, but that it is about equals serving equals. In such a new servant’s attitude, then they’ll be of great assistance to others, as they’ll see Jesus in others, and they’ll see themselves in others.” I agreed: “…and indeed, we hope that in such a vision we can better be led to become one body in Christ. That’s the ultimate thing in mind.”

This person in the charity work can go out and help others fully because they have some backing and funding by the Catholic Church. There are people who may not have the time or particular calling to go be at a charity center, but they may have a calling to be the financial help for such a person doing such an effort.

II. How does praying and living Psalm 25 help us to be in true charity and service? In our Psalm of Mass, the psalmist prays: “Teach me Your ways, O Lord.” The prayer goes on to mention that God’s ways are “compassion, kindness, saving, and goodness.” Perhaps we can pray it this way: ‘Teach us of more about these ways, O God, and how You do it, and how You, God, are so holy.’ We need Your discipling us to deeper identity with You, so hear us pray: ‘Let us be godly in compassion, godly in kindness, godly (or holy) in saving outreach and love, and with godly goodness in me. In Christ Jesus: Unconditional. Unafraid. Unbound. Un-selfish. Amen.’

III. How does Jonah’s story tie in today?

Jonah served God’s interests, even when it was not in Jonah’s own interest. The opening reading took us to a lesson of the reluctant servant Jonah, and how God helped his conversion through a series of quite dramatic turns. Jonah had a somewhat pushed conversion to go serve and preach and to love others, and we join Jonah in mid-story today in the story’s chapter 3, in his description of walking in sin-city Nineveh as a public crier and prophet of repentance, to a people he thought of himself as a despicable people. Somehow, this prophet who had resisted his calling to prophesy to the Ninevites, is now walking their streets, speaking God’s word to them for repentance and fasting. Still, Jonah highly doubts this service will produce any change in the nation. That is in his tone. He had company in his low opinion of the Ninevites. The prophet Nahum wrote in his prophetic scroll about them, saying the Ninevites were ‘greatly immoral, full of lies, robbery, violence, and bloodshed, with harlotry, sorcery, and many more appalling sins.’ Yes, believers in the True God were scarce there in this nearby nation!

In the first two chapters of the book, it informs us how Jonah did not feel like going to Nineveh (nearby Assyria), nor did he cooperate with God on this calling. Sometimes God’s calling to the already good person (we assume Jonah was a holy Jew at his calling) is met with stubborn resistance. Not me, God. I don’t want to do that! Get somebody else. Yet, God wanted Jonah to do it. It was for Jonah’s own conversion, and also because Jonah would be the right man for the job. We know from the end of the story of the book of Jonah, that the big evil city of Nineveh did repent and change. Wow.

In application to us here, I know that some of you might feel that God has challenged you pretty hard with a situation, and you really hadn’t wanted that challenge, but He has given you the experience of keeping you in it. I pray for your faith and endurance.

For others, who may be more in the sin of laxity or comfort and detachment from your role and responsibility in the Body of Christ, realize that the Lord is calling us to His Love, and to be living His Love. It is what Eternal Life will be all about.

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Extra thoughts: Post Homily. I can identify with the resistance of Jonah. I have said more than a few times to God: “Nope, not me. I am “that man” for the job. Can you look to someone else?!

Good believing folks today can be like Jonahs, in drawing away from God’s challenges. Here’s an example: One member of another church said, I am not meeting the new pastor, because if I get too familiar to them, it is sure that they will ask something big of me for the church. So, I am keeping a safe distance. Let the available do-ers come out to help them—just not me, at least, not now. I am busy. And then when he saw the pastor walking towards him, he turned and went out a door to his car quickly. But God may just intervene to get them involved in something in His kingdom, because, it will serve as a way for their own salvation. Noone is finished yet with their growth in holiness with God. God certainly isn’t finished yet with us either and our growth (unless perhaps one is a person with a long life well lived in the Faith, then God just may be putting on the finishing touches).

Good believing folks today can be like the four fishermen disciples. We sign up and say we’ll follow Christ, but we really don’t know all that lies ahead on that road, do we? Some surprises await. I think God is wise not to tell us of all that awaits us. If He had let Simon Peter know that He’d one day see His Master, Jesus, get scourged at a pillar and have no way to be able to stop it, then maybe Simon would not have been so immediate to follow Jesus. If James had known he’d die as a martyr in Jerusalem, all for Jesus, then maybe he would have wanted to stay in the boat with dad Zebedee. But Jesus leads us into holiness. As for the rewards of these Galilean fishermen who agreed to follow Jesus and stick with Him, they are seated in the heavenlies on thrones besides Jesus’ throne, as does say the Scriptures. That glorious end also was not revealed in the start by Galilee’s shores. God reveals things along the way to us, with a great culmination coming.

Joke: A Franciscan, A Marist, and A Jesuit meet at the pearly gates…

A humble Franciscan, who had been serving with the poor in the third world slums, gets to the Pearly Gates. Right behind him is a worn-out Marist priest, who had been in challenging mission fields all his life in spreading The Catholic Faith. Following right behind him comes a Jesuit priest, all smartly dressed in a tailored Cassock and fine shoes and in his hands are some great intellectual works, and highlighting a gold ring that’s on his finger. He says to St. Peter, “Pearly Gates, right?!” Peter nods.

The Jesuit says: “Isn’t some great Jesuit like Ignatius going to greet my arrival today?” Peter says, “I say not. It is just me, and I just have a question for each of you, and then each of you clergyman can come in, ok?” The Jesuit agrees, as does the humble Franciscan and mild Marist Father.

Peter asks the Franciscan: “To get into Heaven, can you name the place most associated with your Founder St. Francis, which was his birthplace?” Before the Franciscan can answer, the Jesuit says: “Boy, that’s easy! Can I have that one?” The brown-robed, sandaled Franciscan speaks up: “Dear Peter, that would be Assisi In Umbria in Italy.” Peter says: “Very good, you may step in.” The gates open, by Peter’s keys, and he goes in.

Peter closes the gates, then turns to the Marist, with a question from his official welcome book: “To get into Heaven, answer this, please: Who are the Marist priests named after?” Before the Marist can answer, the Jesuit howls and says, “What a creampuff question again! Such would be insulting to a Jesuit!” Peter says, “This man is a Marist, father! And it is God’s quiz question for him…” The Marist answers: “Our religious order is named after Mary.” The Jesuit shouts: “Correct.” After which Peter says: “Correct,” and he opens the Gates, and lets the Marist in. He closes the Gates, and puts the keys away in his pocket, and gets out another book for the Jesuit’s question, looking at the confidence on the Jesuit’s face, and saying to him: “One question, Jesuit Father, and you too are in through the Gates. ‘Ready?” The Jesuit just motions with his hands to bring in on: “Father, can you name the 266 valid Catholic popes of history and in order, starting, of course with me, the first?”

Well, you might think that the black-robed was denied, but he got in! Here was his answer:
“#1. You, Simon Peter (32-67 a.d.) 2. Then, Linus (67-76 a.d.) 3. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88 a.d.)
4. Clement I (88-97) 5. Evaristus (97-105) 6. Alexander (105-115) and then #7, who actually was called Sixtus (115-125), but maybe should have been Seventhus?! Ha Ha. #8. Telesphorus (125-136)
#9. A real genius: Hyginus (136-140) 10. Pius the First (140-155)–who was quite a pious pontiff! #11. A real nice pontiff called Anicetus (155-166) 12. Soter (166-175) 13. Eleutherius (175-189) 14. Victor (189-199) 15. Zephyrinus (199-217) 16. Callistus (217-22) 17. Urban (222-30) 18. Pontain (230-35) 19. Anterus (235-36) 20. Fabian (236-50) 21. Cornelius (251-53) 22. Lucius (253-54) and 23. Stephen (of 254-257) 24. Sixtus II (257-258), whose short reign due to persecution and such…
#25. Dionysius (260-268) 26. Felix (269-274) 27. Eutychian (275-283) 28. Caius or Gaius (283-296)–you say Caius, I say Gaius! #29. Marcellinus (296-304) and #30, Marcellus, not to be confused with Marcellinus, because the latter lived in (308-309) and had to start a few years late, due to persecution and the confusion going on. Oh, The Lord will remember all of that mess! Then, lots more persecution and short papacies— #31. Eusebius (309 or 310) 32. Miltiades (311-14) 33. Sylvester (314-35) 34. Marcus (just 336 a.d.) 35. Julius (337-52) 36. Liberius (352-66) 37. Damasus (366-83) 38. Siricius (384-99) 39. Anastasius I (399-401) 40. Innocent (401-17) 41. Zosimus (417-18) 42. Boniface (418-22) 43. Celestine (422-32) 44. Sixtus III (432-40) 45. and, Leo the First, or Leo the Great (440-61) because they say he was truly a great pope…”

At which Peter interrupted, and got the keys out, saying: “Just kidding with the 266 Popes question! ‘Just name the one Jesuit pope in history, that’s all it was!

“The Jesuit at the Gate commented, “What– don’t you want me to go on? With Pope #46, who was the funniest pontiff in history: Pope Hilarius? (461-68 a.d.) Or the most simplistic one, #47, Simplicius (468-83 a.d.) or #48. Felix (483-92), he was the pontiff who–
Peter interrupted again, “No, really! Just say the name of the Jesuit pope!” The Jesuit smiles and says: “Pope Francis!” And he walks in.

St. Peter just is exasperated, and calls up to the Lord: “I am sure he was doing all 266 popes!”
The Lord says, “You think you had it bad?! Do you know those theology books he had in his hands? He is coming up here to My Office to point out their theological errors to Me, along with explaining the better, so he thinks, Jesuit positions on those matters! It ought to take a couple of days to go through! Wow.”

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Pope’s list from catholic-forum.com/saints/pop… ’cause I don’t know them! =Fr. B.

Homily: 2nd Sunday of the Year, “Come and See, and Stay (in Christ’ Body as His disciples)

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Homily: Web Version [longer version that preached version]

“Come and See, and Stay (in Christ’ Body as  His disciples)”

On this Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, the touching scene we’ll focus on is of Jesus’ calling of two disciples, Andrew and John, with His “come and see” invitation. He will ask them to come and see and follow Him as His disciples. It is just a starting place, yet Jesus recognizes them as the two very interested Galiliean fishermen that had come earlier to be John the Baptizer’s close disciples.

Jesus was ready to now disciple them, and He was soon ready for more disciples, as we hear of Andrew getting his brother to be added in.

Come and See… Follow Me…. these are the words of invitation, not just to Bible characters in John’s Gospel today but to all of us of whom Jesus wants to lead to freedom and eternal life.

Come and See…. Follow Me.

Do you and I hear Jesus? If one is truly a disciple, then they will hear. Not just once or a few times, but frequently. Jesus is calling us to follow Him all our days and eventually to Glory.

Come and See–says Jesus–come over to give your attention to Me.  Come and join Me where I am staying and going. Come, Follow Me.

Last week in my homily for the First Ordinary Sunday of the Year, and Baptism of the Lord Sunday, I spoke of how, by baptism, we are “Church” or “the Body of Christ.” We are spiritually and bodily connected to Jesus and to one another. It is a physical reality in the spiritual dimension. This embodiment of believers is not just a concept or idea or institutional description, but it is a reality. We are baptized into that reality; it is not just a symbolic ceremony.  Baptism makes us co-disciples (and as heard in last Sunday’s Word–we’re “partners”).  We don’t live and act independently as Christians, we join up into Jesus as like Andrew and John and, as next, Simon does.

Baptism into new life in Christ and into His Body then also goes with the making of disciples, as Jesus’ Great Commision lays out (Mt. 28:16-20 and Mark 16:14-20).  It is Step Two.  Jesus said that we were not just baptized or started in faith, but meant next to go on to become a people He disciples. This implies that we who follow will know and keep to the teachings of Christ the Lord and Master, and that we who follow Him will practice an “I AM with you always” faith, which Jesus said we’d have, all the way until the end of the ages comes. That’s the work of The Church, it helps people remain as one in their being discipled by Jesus.  It’s  one of the main reasons Jesus founded His Church.

The Church is full of disciples of Jesus.  Disciples live in the discipline of The Faith.  We trust God. We listen to God to obey Him.  We keep faith together as The Church since Pentecost.   In today’s gospel as Simon gets called, Jesus chooses him (Peter) to lay the rock foundation of “Church,” for where His disciples will gather. “For where the Church is, there is Jesus…and where Jesus is ( in manifestation to His Body), there is the Church.” That is a quote from the Early Church Fathers.

Not counting Mary, this John 1 text today tells of Jesus’ first official disciples.  The author of it doesn’t put his name in the story, as he is the first person storyteller, but John, with Andrew, had been disciples with John the Baptist, both sharing in that prophet’s revival call for The Christ to come.  They preached repentance for sins, with a renewal bath in the Jordan. They asked people to join in a national cry for the Lord to come to earth as promised in Scripture.

It was quite amazing when they saw their prayers answered in Jesus’ Revelation to be the Savior of promise. God DID come to Israel as promised! Jesus went into the waters of the Jordan to create anew upon that true Hebrew faith. God gave signs and wonders at the Jordan, then John the Baptist declares, as Jesus’ Elijah figure/forerunner: “HE is the One…The Lamb of God…He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit….He will bring good news to the poor, and Favor from Heaven does come from God in Him—I heard the Father say it!!”

So, prompted by this Event and the Baptist’s urging, the two men were willing to follow after Jesus. Yet Jesus said He needed to go alone into the desert for many days, so Andrew and John went home, and expected Jesus, their fellow Galilean, to be coming back soon to His home area of Nazareth.

A quick commercial here for parish service.  As Jesus will be coming to them at Capernaum– so, too, does He come by here.  He wants disciples here in this parish in 2015 who will be listening and looking for Him, ready to be taught by Him, and looking to serve in some way.  And, by definition, a disciple is one willing to follow in the discipline of his Lord, His Master, His Teacher and Trainer. Are we like Andrew or John? Are you and I fellow disciples of Christ who are willing to daily follow after Jesus?  Are we like the person in today’s Psalm saying: “Here I am to do Your will, Lord. “(?)…Or like Samuel, who, while once asleep in the Temple, does surmise after a third calling from God to answer the Lord’ s vocation? (I like the irony of the sleeping in the house of God story today.  God has people to wake up for His work to be done.)

Our parish council has talked in December and in January about a proposed 2015-16 program for parish evangelism.  It calls for a retreat or series of retreats led here by our council and others to attractively present The Faith to people out of the Church to come here, or for the not- so-engaged with the parish to have an appealing program to get back into it.  This retreat-based evangelism effort will need people to come forward to help, particularly to our parish council.  It all will be a “Come and See” approach, as you heard used by Jesus in our Sunday gospel.  End of commercial!

Back to Andrew and John in Galilee…

So, as told in John chapter one, these two men, Andrew and John, meet up with Jesus. He is back in Galilee, free and delivered from his desert experience. Now He is ready for ministry; so are they. They ask: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” In this they communicate a few things:

“Rabbi”—they address Jesus with great respect and recognition of Him being of ministry. Rabbi means teacher. Saying “Rabbi” to him—also means they are asking to be His disciples.

“Where are you staying?”—meaning, can we be with you?  It also first iscthem wondering: Has anyone properly received you, to put you up and feed you as the traveling rabbi for the respect due to that work, as good Jews should offer?  (If Jesus said no, Andrew and John were likely to offer it since they lived in the vicinity, there near the Sea of Galilee by Capernaum.) Jesus indicates that He does have a place for the night.

Ok, the proper respect is taken care of. Now what they really are asking Jesus is if they can be with Him, stay with Him, and draw more from Him. There is so much to follow up on that revelation with John the Baptism and Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan, and the Signs from the Heavens. They want to know Jesus.

Jesus says “Come and see where I am staying.” Jesus notes that they have lots of spiritual thirst for Him and His ministry. It pleases Him. They want to be with Him, and follow Him. Jesus clearly wants such followers and supporters. He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him.

Interestingly, the time is given of their joining up with Jesus. It was about four in the afternoon. I am not sure why its mentioned, save for the fact that sundown in coming soon, and all would need to get inside to their home soon. The mention of the time also is to speak of the urgency of their matter.

This gospel applies to us today. Jesus says to us: So, have you had your interest in Me perked and inspired? Do you have hopes that God truly has come among you and into the world? Well, I am in your neighborhood, and I am here among you. Are you listening and watching? Is their any urgency to your wanting to follow My plans in Bowie for My Good News ministry?  Willl I need to make multiple calls out to you (like with Samuel)? Do you know how mighty a prophet and man of God Samuel became for Me?  I am patient to get My response–but there is Divine work needing My partners on earth to do it.

The key mission of a parish is the salvation of souls. I was just telling that to our parish council last Tuesday. I read that in the meeting since the parish council was so challenged by to the evangelization program pitch in December.   It is a ready-made one, with some volunteers already ready to serve it. But many more disciples of Jesus and His Mission in His Body need to be committed to this outreach, beginning with parish council members and ofvother key people at St. Edward’s. Maybe you.

We need two more council members for 2015, and we are looking for persons with an evangelizing heart. Could it be someone at this Mass?

Jesus says it many times in the Gospel for us to “Come and see.” He says: ‘Come and be where I am. Draw near.’ ‘Come and learn from Me, for I am humbled to be right on your level, right in the particulars of your life on earth, and its issues.’ ‘Come away and rest awhile, you who are heavy laden…’

Jesus is our Master and Teacher (our Rabbi) and we have things to learn together on a regular basis with Him. It will take some rest and time with Him.  Yet, We are “Church” to be molded as one as His disciples for His good purposes. We are called together to that rest.

If the Church is where Christ is…and Christ is where the Church is,.” then we know how we are called together as disciples to be a Body of Christ. Disciples are always a “we” and not so much a “me.”

In thus opening of John’s Gospel, the evangelist immediately tips his hand as to where the message is going. It will be about a “church” as we hear of Simon Peter’s calling and some vital details right away. Simon comes to meet Jesus, upon Andrew (his brother’s) invitation, and he hears Jesus say to him, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter. The name means rock, as in the strong foundation on which to build a house of faith or body of believers. Peter will become, eventually, the first pope, or vicar of Christ. 265 popes later, the one Church has his successor in Pope Francis. Of this office for the united Church, Jesus would say later to Simon Peter: To you I entrust the keys to the kingdom of heaven. You might say that Jesus put the keys for the Bride, His Body, in the hands of the chief servant of the Church, Christ’ Vicar. Pope Francis serves that apostolic Church today. The Church under Rome. The Roman Catholic Church. With keys in hand. And from the vicar’s mouth are encouraging words for having Joy in the Gospel first. Each member of Christ’ Body is given the appeal by Our Lord via him.

A nice response could be “Teacher, where and when can  we meet you? We are your disciples and we have been looking to know and serve You better.

Funeral Homily for 27 yr old young man [A Pro Life memory]

This homily I saved. It was written earlier in my pastorate here at St. Edward’s, and given at Brendan’s (and his mom’s) home parish. It’s now been some time since Brendan has left; his death was a sudden and tragic one. He was a single mom’s only child; a crisis pregnancy babe of the post Roe v. Wade decision, a boy who was welcomed and not aborted. At his parting, Brendan was still a single person at 27, and trying to find himself, yet two things I especially remember of him: He was/is the joy of his mother, and, like his mother, he was not afraid to be his unique self and to celebrate God’s gift of “him.” That makes me smile in his memory.
I have lost touch with his mom, and I wish her well this day. As the March for Life anniversary comes near, I think of Brendan’s mom and her courage to bear her son, versus the culture’s push to do away with his infant life. Brendan’s was a beautiful life, not to be missed!
I was happy to re-find this homily, as I recall the tears and the inspiration experienced in writing it. It was probably meant for me to find this week, in preparation for another March for Life in a few days, as the Church here in America campaigns at its Washington capital for a baby-welcoming nation. It’s amazing how much we are not. (But I did get to co-love the gift of Brendan.)
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Brendan, we say farewell to you for now. We hope the Lord will provide us all a re-union in The Great Day to come.
We bid you adieu from this temporary place we call our world, our earth, our known physical place, where our steps have trod.
The two-pair of footprints that have walked together in your life now become one pair, as the Lord has lifted you up to carry you.
You are passing away from us, but this was not your permanent home, nor is it ours, and one day we too shall pass from it.

In the opening Ecclesiastes reading from this Mass of Christian Burial we heard that “there is a time to be born, and a time to die… and a time to be planted, and a time to take up and harvest.” In the context that there IS a God Who speaks this wisdom to us, we recall that we are all just passing through this world and realm, so to go to another realm and higher existence. God plants and births us into the world, and He may have us in Heaven and Glory if so He wants us ahead. (Thus, He will “take up.”) Due to His great Mercy, there will be a great harvest of souls.

Christ Jesus came to change the mortal to be immortal–all in Himself–and it becomes offered to those who enter the Paschal Mystery in union with Him. Our faith is a Communion with the One Who offered this present and ultimate transformation, this hope of salvation. The great Bible verse from our second reading put it so nicely: We have a “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you…” These are reassuring words to us, and for you, Brendan.

Brendan, I speak to you in this Mass, and not just of you. The life of the soul goes on, even as we, your family and friends, gather with tears around your body with prayers for burial of it today. So, for now, you live in the soulful way. We need not speak just of the past tense in addressing you. Yet there are pictures around of you and many memories of your time with us, when of this world, and you had your time here with us, and we with you, so there is a past, and also the present where we all have been changed in the experience, with our blended and shared lives. It will shape things for the future, too. We are embodied souls going forward, to be souls for a time, then souls with a resurrected body of glory. That’s the lifeline.

As now for your body, Brendan, we lay it down for its time of sleep until the Lord’s Return.

Your mom chose the Gospel of John 14 for this occasion. It proclaims Jesus’ words that ‘He would not leave us, not as like orphans are left by parents.’ Though God the Son ascended to the Heavens to accomplish the Divine Plan, He wasn’t separating Himself away from those on the world. Jesus also said ‘He would send the Holy Spirit to us and into us, to be with us forever’ (chapter 14, verse 16,18). The apostles heard Jesus explain: “So, I am going away, and I am coming to you.” Jesus said He would dwell within us, and the Holy Spirit would make this reality happen on earth.

So, Brendan, this is the life you had as a Christian, since Jesus came into your heart at your baptism. Jesus also says in John 14, at the end and start of the reading, that He is Lord of Heaven, too, to greet your soul there. In verse 28 He states “I am going to the Father” and in verses 1-3 He states “In My Father’s House there are many dwelling places (i.e. for my believers) and I go to prepare a place for you…to take you to Myself.” There are words of hope for your soul.

You can thank you Mom, and your aunt, for their presenting you for baptism as a child, and for raising you Catholic and surrounding you with faith and love. They did their best to give you happiness.

You lived in understanding of that. When going out on your own, that is when you had difficulty, and in seeing some cruel things, unfair things, wrong things. You got a bit confused, and some choices you made reflected that, yet all is forgiven, Brendan. You would have done much better in a loving, accepting, fair and just and good world. Well, there IS a glorious One where you are going now, brother. T

he Holy Spirit may have some deep cleaning and renewal and some orientation to make of your life, Brendan, of the things you did not open to. That is the purification ahead. Trust God, dear soul! Brendan, you saw brokenness in your 27 years, some disappointment, some disillusionment, and you faced some depressed emotions. You struggled. Yet you did strive to be happy, and to be “you,” and to care for others. God sees all that of your life. You longed for goodness. That will make all the difference, and of course, the Savior’s Presence within you as Salvation.

I got to see that goodness in you, and as your Confirmation sponsor. I remember you as a young boy, giving you First Holy Communion, and seeing you serve the Mass as an altar boy, both right here in this church. I am sad that we won’t share more memories here, but for your Mass of Christian Burial, but it is not just sadness here, but a remembrance of Jesus and His Resurrection Hope and His triumph over the grave. All Masses here celebrate the Paschal Mystery and the Triumph of the Lamb, for sinners slain, but now too as our Eternal and Living Sacrifice to God. Our victory.

Thus, there is joy here to help lift the sadness. C.S. Lewis in his work “The Joy Filled Christian” writes: “If everything is lost, thanks be to God. If I must see it go, watch it go. Watch it fade away, die. Thanks be to God that HE is all I have. And if I have Him not, I have nothing at all. Nothing at all, only a farewell to the wind. Farewell to the gray sky. Goodbye, god be with you October evenings. If all is lost, thanks be to God. For He is He, and I am I.”

What a writer. Lewis knew loss and had to deal with it as a Christian. His words here speak to the surrender to the inevitable fact of our helplessness to death. It is part of our broken, human journey.

Well, Brendan, I think I have turned the conversation from you, over to those in church. So for our helplessness, we all feel it. For our faith and what we have in Christ, we put all into it. As it says in the Beatitudes of Jesus: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” And as it says in Ecclesiastes: “There is a time to mourn, while also a time to dance in gladness. A time to embrace and a time to be alone, without embracing.”

Yes. A time to be humbled in our place in this universe before the Almighty, and a time to exult in Jesus Christ Who raises us up , so to stand on holy mountaintops, and onto His shoulders. Amen.

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Brendan was an avid football ‘Skins fan. The Riggo card and jersey above is in memory of his wearing it in his coffin at this Mass of Christian Burial.

To his mom, I salute her with the photo below:

thCAA7T2WD

Immigration and the Book of Ruth

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Some lessons from the Book of Ruth for Immigration and Welfare Reform:

The Book of Ruth has a few interesting points in it that bring up some immigration and welfare understanding from God’s point of view.

Jesus was born of Jesse’s Tree of King David, and we come to see in that genealogy that in David’s grandparents, one was from Bethlehem (Boaz) but the other was an immigrant woman (Ruth) from Moab. Thus, in the root of Jesus’ genealogy in Davidic ties, there was an immigrant in it, and her part played a crucial means for the later coming of the Messiah. That’s a plus for immigration issues as an interest of God. He ‘worked in’ an immigration story into the backdrop of His coming to the world.

Before we look at that Bible story, as with pro-immigration eyes… I want to say that I don’t grasp well the current debates and sides to the immigration policies that should be set for our United States. I don’t really grasp the views of our Catholic heirarchy on it, either, save for the fact that we always have a heart for the stranger, the downtrodden, and the needy. I do have that believer’s heart for the immigrant in that basic Catholic understanding, and also for the fact that I have probably visited the Statue of Libery about 25 occasions in my lifetime. I know that some Irish immigrants to America are my ancestors, too, and how Lady Liberty has meant a lot to them, she who stands with the torch in New York’s harbor. The Catholic Church’s care for immigrant in these United States are was invaluable to my ancestors.

The Bible Book of Ruth is just four chapters. One can read it in a few minutes. You quickly get the whole picture of it. There was a famine in the land of Israel and family belonging to Elimelech, of Bethlehem, have to move to another country, Moab, so to survive. Elimelech takes his wife Naomi and his two sons Mahlon and Chilion from Israel to Moab. I did a web search on how far it was from Bethlehem to travel to the foreign place he went to in Moab. It was about a week’s distance away, assuming one was traveling the rugged terrain by foot or slow animal. So, for us in Bowie, it would be like an immigration over to Pennsylvania or down somewhere in Virginia. It was not too far, but far enough to be “foreign” territory.
(I also found out that there is a Moab, Utah! My mapquest first took me to there! Then, I corrected my search to the Bible story and about 3000 or more years ago, and it took me to the Middle East. However, the below photo is of the Moab, Utah Ramada Inn. It has a nice view of mountains from the pool!) 3091756vme

So at the start of the Bible story of Ruth, you have people moving in immigration, even if it was intended as a temporary stay in Moab. At the end of the story of Ruth, you have its main character, Ruth, coming as a Moabite woman and immigrating to Israel and Bethlehem town, traveling with its former inhabitant, Naomi, the sole survivor of Elimelech’s family. The famine had ended, and this was the reason for Naomi to be leaving Moab. Ruth wanted to go and care for Naomi, wherever she would live, and so she pleaded to be the companion to Naomi on the trek and return to Bethlehem, since Ruth wanted to act as a faithful daughter-in-law, and that both Naomi and Ruth were widows, and were better off looking after one another. (Widows were low-class in Jewish society; as were foreigners.)

Ruth immigrated legally, assimilated completely, and assumed full responsibility to provide for herself and her family in her new land in Israel. This is the main immigratin lesson in the Bible story.

We have a Jesse Tree in Church on some Advents, and the geneaology of Jesus is proclaimed in a Gospel of the season, but usually the story of Ruth is not connected much with Christmas more than that. Yet, students of the Bible are aware that Ruth’s love story is a touching one in the background of King David (Ruth would eventually become grandma to David). This woman of Moab, a foreigner, who comes into Bethlehem expecting poor treatment, because of her immigrant status, surprisingly receives wonderful treatment from a Bethlehem man. It does help in the story that Ruth was pretty and that the bachelor Boaz had heard numbers of stories of how dedicated she was to Naomi in her foreign sojourn. He is in love with Ruth, and he is warmed of her story of such care to Naomi (and her son) in Moab. Boaz looks to return a favor to her, in his welcome of her to Bethlehem and into his family circle. The Bible story of Ruth ends with the wedding of the happy couple (ch.4.1-12), and then their childbirth to Obed, “who became the father of Jesse, the father of David (Ruth 4:17).”
The backstory is that Naomi and her husband Elimelech lived in Judah with their two sons. When Judah experienced severe famine, they moved to Moab where they could find food. Elimelech and Naomi’s two sons end up marrying Moabite women (our Ruth and another lady named Orpah). The next thing that occurs while in Moab is the sad deaths of all three men to Naomi. Naomi is a widow, as are her two daughters-in-law. It leaves Naomi in a strange land with only her two daughters-in-law for support. When Naomi hears that ‘the Lord has visited Judah,’ and food is plentiful there again, she decides to return home. Both daughters-in-law want to accompany her, but she persuades one of them, Orpah, to stay in Moab with her own Moabite people.
Ruth, the other daughter-in-law, is insistent to remain with Naomi, even if to travel away, and Ruth will not be deterred. As she and Naomi prepare to enter Judah, she says these memorable words, “Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried (Ruth 1:16-17).”

I have always liked those words. They speak of the longing of sharing and of community and, in Ruth’s case, they speak of loyalty and deep caring and being color-blind or ethnic blind to others, in the interest of loving unconditionally.
I was reading a commentary on this Scripture book of Ruth, and hear is what the author said: “From an immigration standpoint, what is instructive here is that Ruth was determined to fully assimilate into her adopted country’s culture. She had no intention of becoming a hyphenated Israelite. She would become an Israelite, period. Your people shall be my people, she said.
She would do so by embracing her new nation’s customs, history, values and faith as her own. “Your God will be my God.” She did not come to Judah insisting that Judah make room for the religious practices she had followed in the land of her birth. She was willing to leave behind the gods her family and ancestors worshipped and embrace the God of her new land.
There is also a lesson about welfare reform in this story. As Bible students remember, in ancient Israel it was law that farmers were to leave the corners of their fields unharvested and were not to make a second pass through the vineyards to harvest grapes.The reason? Compassion for the poor. The poor could harvest the corners of the fields and harvest the grapes the workers missed. In this way, the poor who were willing and able could feed themselves and their families through the labor of their own hands, thus strengthening their self-respect and dignity. Help was readily available for those willing to work, but not for those who weren’t. This was truly a hand up, not a hand out.
Ruth worked from sunup to sundown in the corners of Boaz’s fields to glean enough for her and Naomi. She didn’t expect or demand benefits from the civil authorities of her new country. She knew she was responsible to provide for herself and those who were dependent upon her, and she gave herself without complaint to that task. She understood the godly principle later enunciated in the New Testament: “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10)

So Ruth immigrated legally, assimilated completely, and assumed full responsibility to provide for herself and her family in her new land. She’s the kind of newcomer any nation would be proud to have.”
The last few paragraphs were the words of the commentary on The Book of Ruth. I found them interesting. They could apply in some of the discussion on immigration today to the U.S.A. and what the Church should think of our policies, in light of Scripture.

Baptism of the Lord Homily

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Here are the three points of this homily:
A/ You belong to Christ: Jesus helps you love who you are.
B/ You belong to Christ: Jesus helps us to love others as they are and for who they are.
C/ You and I who are “the baptized” are living in the Sacrament Wonder of The Lord Jesus. We are living in His Body–really!

These are the important lessons I’d like for us to ponder on with today’s celebration. It is what the Lord drove home to me to point out, for the joy of our faith. We’ll start with point C, and then come back to it in the end.
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It is the Baptism of the Lord Feast today. It is a celebration about divine manifestation. We have a Sacrament of Wonder in the Lord Jesus. God has brought His love to the world and into us. Our souls have always been made and equipped for this co-sharing life with God. GSoulfully, God made it so that He be could be with us always.

Being the final day of Christmas time, you know how we have reflected this season upon how God became manifest into humanity and personally to this the world by this Birth and Life of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God and man, a real person of history, and His birth is the real history-changing event of earth’s history. Hence, we of the Church have the holy time of Christmas. This last day of Christmas season gives us the transition to our Baptismal relationship to Jesus. The same Divine Jesus, born in Bethlehem, has also been born to our souls, if we have been baptized. It gives us a born-anew life to live as “The Body of Christ,” as He makes of us His Church, His members. This dear and real connection was preached clearly by Jesus, in such Gospel words as “I am the Vine, you are the branches…remain in Me, and I in you.(Jn.15)”

Today’s Gospel from the start of Mark’s Gospel also speaks of a favor come to us, as the Almighty Father says “This is My Beloved Son in Whom My Favor rests.” To get into Christ, and He in us, is to live in God’s favor (or at least to be offered the Grace to our souls, we still must accept it in faith in our lives).

We hear in this Gospel of Mark 1 today that the Spirit comes down like a dove to offer a Baptism of power to give the earth a God-to-man, man-to-God connection– a Heaven to earth and earth to Heaven connection so intimate that the Father God says He is “well pleased.” In another gospel account of Jesus’ Baptism, the Father adds: “(So) Listen to Him (My Son).”

AYou belong to Christ: Jesus helps you love who you are.

I’d like to talk here of a first key celebration of this day. We believers are celebrating that by Baptism we belong to Christ. And thus by His Grace, Jesus helps us to love who we are. You can best love who you are by letting the new life offered to you hit home: You are the beloved of God. You belong to Him and He is glad to be in you and also preparing you a home in His heart and kingdom of Heaven. This revelation and giving of God is where we should start. We need to love ourselves first, as in communion with God. We’ll never love others fully if we can’t love ourselves. God wants us to get it that He loves us. He comes to put that love in our hearts.

Humanity was made originally to be in kinship and community with God. We lost it, and we name that as Original Sin (a term that St. Augustine explained well). This origin of our break with God was not irreparable. God came to offer reparation and restoration to us. Jesus is that beloved Offer. His Sacrifice in Love to us repairs and restores and renews us.

I think of the start of the Epistle to the Romans and Paul’s opening lines to them about this turnaround. Romans 1:1 “…the Gospel of God…promised beforehand through the prophets…the Gospel concerning God’s Son…Jesus Christ our Lord, through Whom we have received grace (a word meaning favor)…to bring about obedience (the faithful response to listening to Him)…including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ (!)–to all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ… how thankful it is that your faith (dear Roman church) is proclamed throughout the world.”

So, you see, here was an early Church community, baptized in Jesus, who were celebrating that they belonged now to God (and not to the Roman Empire and its emperor or anyone or anything else). They were under Christ. Truly! Belonging to Him and living in Him. Truly! Friends: this is our joy for the community of Catholics here in Bowie and its surroundings where you come from. We belong to God, as His dear child, His son or daughter. That makes the Church have its good foundation. A Church need understand that they are beloved of God.

Celebrate this reality today. You (and I) belong together to Jesus. We each are His. We also then all are His. Delight in that.

BYou belong to Christ: Jesus helps you to love others as they are and for who they are.

Jesus is God’s revelation to us. God is born into the human race and among us in Jesus. He is seen and known and experienced: the “God with us.” Immanuel. God comes in His Son and we discover that we were made in His image and likeness. This Eternal Son is responsible for how we can be beloved of God, since we are created through Him. Thus, every human being bears an image of God, even if they are in sin and living in the fallen way and not in the redemptive way yet. They are still brother and sister to us in an earthly way. God made us all for Himself.

Now in the Christmas revelation, and the Baptism revelation, God comes to put us into a divine favor and relationship to Him and to one another. We are offered a redemptive way to live in new love. Jesus is the loving Savior to us and He can bring joy back to a people who walked in darkness (in original sin and its effects). It is our Christmas song to exult: “Joy to the world the Lord is come! Let earth receive her king… let every heart prepare Him room!” So, while we had relationship to other human people already, in being each created by God, now there is a much deeper connection to others, by the kinship of Christ’ kingship. We have a friendship to God that leads us to be friends to one another by His grace. He is the King of Hearts. He brings hearts together by Him.

In Baptism we are given a new heart, as promised by God (see Ezekiel 36 for Scripture’s promise of it). It is a God-inhabited heart, one that can be possessed in the God of Love, the God of all. We get a divine participation and life with God to be able to start living heavenly. Heaven is filled with love. Earth can start practicing this existence, among the baptized. Yes, you and I are called to love one another. Jesus said it was there for the living. “A new commandment I give you: to love another, even as I have loved you.” How so? Jesus is in our hearts. His love is in us. He wants it to be shared around.

We get Jesus’ help to love others. We can see and love in them what God sees, and not just judge by limited human standards or biases. We can value that they are now family to us, as fellow beloved of God, as brothers and sisters in Christ, via baptism.

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Jesus is our Bridge to Relationships–with God and with others too of our restored family in Christ.
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We now come back around to the point that we are in a Sacrament Wonder in our common baptism. We are in the Body of Christ. The living Body of Christ, as under the Headship or Lordship of the Blessed Son. This is not a concept or nice idea or explanation. We ARE living in Jesus as His body of believers. I will write about that this week in my pastor’s blog, if you’d like to take that point further.

The life of Jesus as Sacrament life to us is our important realization today. The Baptism of The Lord puts us into a redeemed (or restored or repaired place) with God, into being able to live as embodied under God. This is the celebration in the Sacrament of Baptism. I shared with you all through Advent with our parish theme of Priest, Prophet, King–of how the office of baptism and the seal it imparts brings us into co-participation with Christ in these three main ways. The Sacrament is Jesus Who is put into us and given a Seal of the Spirit upon us.

We become baptized to receive the grace and favor of our Lord and King Jesus to come to our hearts. To the heart that prepares Him room. God can be celebrated. Not just as a historic Christmas of 2015 years ago, but of the Christ Jesus Who has made Himself known and available for salvation by the doorway of baptized, “new life” faith. The Lord is in the cradle of our hearts. We may love Him, some of what like Mary or Joseph got to do one-on-one with the Christ Child. Yet we love Him as the Church or Body of Believers or Body of Christ. While Mary and Joseph loved Jesus as “The Holy Family,” now the Church can be a family through time and throughout the world that loves Jesus together, and who is changed by Him.

Happy Baptism Day, Church.

While all of us have different calendar days of when we were given Baptism, the reality now is that we are new creations in Christ Jesus, called to become one with each other, and with God.
As the sprinkling rite in given at Mass today, we renew ourselves to live the Apostles’ Creed and to be the Catholic/Christian we were called to be.

This is the Beloved Son, In Whom God’s Favor is poured out. So, let us love ourselves as God would renew us to realize. Let us love and need others as the fellow beloved of God, our brothers and sisters in Christ. And let us be “Church,” the Body of Christ.

Baptismal Teaching Part 2 Don’t be an independent Christian or Lone Wolf one

In part one, I taught about Baptism as an Incorporation into a Body of Believers, indeed to Christ’ Body, a real embodiment to the Living Lord Jesus Christ.   I was sharing some Catholic perspective on this Gateway Sacrament.

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Baptism is not a ritual or act to do, only for the Christian to then declare: “Ok, now I have spoken in sorrow for sins, therefore, now I am a fully saved individual for God.” No.  That’s not exactly baptism, but a changed version of it.  Merely an individual experience is not what we are baptized into… yet it seems that many professed Christians (outside of the Catholic Church and some other main denominations) do see it that way. Seemingly they profess: I am a Christian. I prayed, I got saved, I am ready for the rapture and I am now fine. It’ s Instant salvation of me.  Microwave Christianity?

There is so much wrong with that quick and independent perspective of becoming a new child of God, baptized into Christ Jesus.  Mainly, it is not the Christianity that was taught and begun 2000 years ago by Jesus Christ, nor the one lived for the past 2000 years. It is an independent version of Christianity. It is catching on, unfortunately, since it is kind of easy and a changed Christianity lacking in further social responsibility and unity under Christ’ Living Authority, but we Catholics need to know and show that it is not a healthy Christianity. We live a baptism of initiation into new life into the Body of Christ .  It is a start with Jesus and not an end.   Once baptized into one body in Christ, we have a lot of growing and living and learning and loving like Jesus still to do.

the body  You ARE the Body of Christ now, via Baptism, and each one of us is part of it.   We are the embodiment of Jesus Christ.   *see I Cor. 12:27

“Do you not know you are a temple of God’s Spirit?”    (1st Cor. 3:16)

We can’t afford to separate ourselves from this “spiritual house” of whom we are baptized into—Christ’ Body, the Church. Many are trying just to do so, in independent spirit, and I must say, that. among those persons in Christ, many have their explanations or excuses to give.  Most of them I do not buy.  (Although a few seem valid or at least interesting.)   Generally, it is not healthy, nor is it Scriptural, nor is it at all what the band of believers under Jesus espoused, nor is it what the early Church of the apostles and their successors did practice, nor is it a practice seen as going through the ages among the best and brightest of Christians of our near 2000 years of practice.

Lone Wolf Christianity is a bad thing, for the most part.

This is the Point of Baptismal Life: We are baptized into Christ, and He is Head of the Body, the Church. Baptism, first, is a death to the self life and the original sin separation life, and a union or common union/communion to God and His unifying Spirit. We are given a Body in Christ to belong to in this new life. It is the life of the kingdom of God. The kingdom life is about being a new people under God, not just becoming a new individual. Jesus said to pray “Our Father…Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…Deliver us from evil.” Thus, we are baptized into His Church, too. The Church is Christ’ Body. Just read all the early Church Fathers who acclaim this identity with Baptism.

If we think we can separate ourselves by some “lone wolf” practice of Christianity, or of the “single stone-block faith, that we can change and make independent of which Christ commanded to be done together– then I think its an unwise thing!

What might be the result of independent Christianity taking over?  Those Lone-Wolf/independents might become as useless stones lying on the ground all by themselves— for how can the Lord use them who want cooperate and participate in His plan to build up one spiritual house?  How can He use a person who will not cooperate in His building up Plan?

There’s never been a time when the necessity of church and fellowship has been called into question as much as today. There are too many smug persons saying that they are better as ‘a church of one.’ Christian authors are writing self-help books recommending a divorce from any Church affiliation or participation. (It seems an outgrowth from the personal salvation, me-and-Jesus approach to Christianity that got some Christians off the mark at their outset in recent decades.) The social media has also had many proud Christian voices and messages saying that most people should be excused now from “established religion” due to the obvious imperfection of the people in established religion or churches.

It smacks of a lot of self-righteousness. The thing Jesus warned about a lot.

The messages are out there: “Christianity is just me and God and how I want it to be.” Or, “I just want a relationship, not a religion.” Or, “I don’t like organized religion.”
In hearing that last comment from someone, I once quipped back: “yes, I think dis-organized religion goes off much better, since there’s no way to fail by it!” 🙂

I think another good answer to the above comments was: “True… I will confirm that a relationship IS what God is seeking of you or of me… but He has a whole family that you’ll be marrying into with Him. You will have many brothers and sisters in Christ to get to love. He wants you to learn to love them now, even as you say you love Him. “A new commandment I give you, to love one another, even as I have loved you.” (John 13:34) “He/she who claims to love God but hates his neighbor is a liar. (1 John 4:20). Another interesting point is that God also is a Community. God is a Community or Trinity of Persons. God works in the plural, not just the singular.

Another good point here is that a relationship with God will includes a religion. And part of this religion is meeting together with a body of believers, sitting under gospel preaching, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (ref: Eph. 5:19). These core things shouldn’t be replaced or seen as unnecessary, not according to people like St. Paul writing about it.

So, some people have placed blame on “church” as being disappointing. They point to pastors or parishioners or the church building or something else. Yes, there are guilty parties in those categories, for sure. Yet, the persons doing the pointing often need to turn the pointer onto themselves: they are the ones whom God is probably calling to be authentic and loving and useful to Him in building up the body of believers, the Church.

I recall in the early 1980’s of how I complained to God that the young adults in church were not being served well, nor did I like some of the priests in parishes. You know what God’s answer was? John, I call you to be an answer to that prayer. I can equip you to help the Church in that young adult area and My progress with My priesthood of the Church.” Upon saying “yes” to God, I ended up in young adult ministry for 2 years, and then ended up in seminary and later to priesthood, with an emphasis in those later 1980’s in young adult ministry. Hmmm. 

Yes, many churches have been disappointing. I have no denial of that. There have been schisms, scandals, frauds and embarrassments. There has been failure of believers to exercise faith and love in the full spirit of Jesus. But the answer to it is not to swing to the opposite end of the spectrum, so to reject church life altogether and adopt a “lone wolf” Christianity. Not only is this completely against Scripture (read Hebrews 10:24-25 of an early Christian community concern in this area), but also it is detrimental to a healthy walk with Christ. When we’re walking this Faith path alone, we’re actually starving ourselves of so many benefits.

A Christian speaker pointed out some things on this subject. I include his points next.

(I find much of what he says as on-the-mark.)

1. Lone Wolf (or Single Stone) Faith starves us of accountability.
Accountability is a strong word. There seems to be a thin line between living under accountability and living under scrutiny. No one likes to be watched, especially by “church folk.” But let’s face this bit of honesty: we can’t take care of ourselves. One of the root principles of being a Christian is that we understand we are weak. We need accountability. We need brothers and sisters who love us enough to warn us, rebuke us even, when we stray or backslide. This cannot be found anywhere other than a community of Christians in a church.

2. It (LW Christianity) starves us of encouragement.
On the flipside, when we are apart from the Body of Christ we are cut off from affirmation and encouragement. We may be doing very well in our walk with Christ, upheld by the grace of God, but the toil and the hardships can still weigh heavily on us, causing discouragement. When we separate ourselves from brothers and sisters in Christ we are separating ourselves from the comfort they can offer, the validation that Christ is sufficient, and the encouragement to stand up and carry on in faith.

3. It (LW Christianity) keeps us from witnessing the work of the Holy Spirit among His people and experiencing Christ in the lives of other Christians.
How many times have you seen two people who did not get along finally come together in forgiveness because of Christ? Or fellow Christians finally emerging victorious over a sin that had plagued their lives? When we cut ourselves off from this fellowship, we cut ourselves off from the corporate blessings of the Holy Spirit working among His people.

4. It (LW Christianity) starves us of (Good) Biblical/(Catechetical) teaching.
It really isn’t enough to do our own Bible reading and “quiet times.” We need to be taught doctrine from a minister of the gospel. Someone who has dedicated his whole life to studying and expositing the scriptures. In the Bible we never see personal study replace preaching and church attendance. In fact, the Apostle Paul spent most of his life concerned with the welfare and spiritual lives of his fellow preachers. We cannot afford to refrain from sitting under Biblical teaching in church.

5. It (LW Christianity) keeps us from sharing our gifts with other Christians and makes us virtually useless in Kingdom work.
“Lone wolf” Christians are at a disadvantage when it comes to exercising their gifts. When we set ourselves apart from the rest of the church we are actually taking ourselves out of the battlefield and working in a place God did not call us to. In military terms, we are disregarding orders. We may be practicing our talents and doing great and good things, but outside of the context of the Body of Christ it is irrelevant. In a body, the eye must remain the eye and do what an eye is supposed to do. If the eye leaves the body, it is useless. In the same way, each member of the Body of Christ is to remain in the Body and accomplish within the Body what they are called to accomplish.

We have to remember something that the cross of Christ accomplished: He abolished the individual self-ego.   He emptied and humbled Himself, as a bond servant, and He became the source of Salvation.   Jesus saves, not the sinner and their self.

Our 1st Peter 2 verse (that began this teaching) said so: “… you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house…” Yes, we are the bricks and mortar of a house, little parts of a greater whole. Our identity is no longer self, but we have been given a new and greater identity in Christ. We can’t afford to separate ourselves from this “spiritual house.” If we do, we’re just useless stones lying on the ground all by ourselves. Christ died so that we could live in this new identity. We cannot reject it.

 

 

 

Baptismal Teaching/Part 1: We are baptized into a community; lone Christianity is not the offer

IMG_20141129_190907_570PART ONE

In this Baptism of the Lord Sunday, we are reminded that we are baptized into a community of believers, the true and living Body of Christ.

Even if you were baptized as just one person in an infant or adult Sacrament rite, you weren’t made an independent God-inhabited believer on that day.  That wasn’t the intention if you were baptized Catholic.  Rather, Catholics celebrate baptism as one’s being put into the Family of Believers, worldwide and present, as well as into the body of believers going multi-generations back to the apostles and to Jesus.   As Catholic-baptized, you were celebrated as to being joined to others in Christ’ Body, yes, into His real embodiment of people, so to be joined under His Headship and Lordship.  In Catholic Baptism celebrations you are told how you are newly-added to quite a throng of people, The One Church, and the Catholic faith shows that in our Sacrament celebration by its rites, such as when we ask for intercession of numerous saints of Christian history in the prayers of baptism.   Sure, we even mention great Hebrew Testament people in the rite, too, mentioning them as people who prefigured (in their faith) their longing to become a people of God united by God’s action.

Baptism welcomes you into a community experience.   Witnesses and sponsors stand up as people to support and engage you into the family of faith for a lifetime with designs to live in eternal life from that moment on.

Some non-Catholic practices of baptism seem to celebrate more of an independent experience, passing over the corporal aspect, rather emphasizing just the personal aspect of the “me and Jesus” relationship of it, or of the baptism adding one to the local church membership doing the baptism, once they have established your personal  “saved” experience of praying to get born again.    I don’t mean to demean other Christians by these comments, but to show what is left out in some practices among them, which is the baptism effect of being put into a wider community of believers in this initiation/gateway Sacrament.  Catholics say “Welcome to everybody under Jesus!” in our baptism rite.  You are now in the family of all who have been baptized believers in Christian history.

Baptism puts the new Christian into Christ’ Body:  His real Body of all believers who have been offered and have lived out their invited place in Him.  Today’s gospel calls it getting into God’s favor.   “This is My Beloved Son (says the Father) in Whom My favor rests.” Thusly, one should desire to be joined into Christ Jesus and be in that favor of God.   Being in Christ means just that— being embodied into Him, under Him, and for Him.   Holy Chrism is applied after the water-pouring of the baptized person, uniting this newly born-again Catholic to their Shepherd Apostle (who blessed the oil at the local cathedral in Holy Week) and it is a bodily blessing of your body.  The prayer that accompanies it is the declaration that you are now chrismated as “priest,” “prophet” and “king” in Christ Jesus, as member of Christ’ Body.

That priest-prophet-king identity to the believer by baptism, so heralded by the Catholic rites, is the lesson we covered all through Advent 2014 in our parish (and in earlier blogs here in that time).   These actions also are all about the corporal dimension of the baptism, of one being now in Christ’ Body.

I have had many ecumenical experiences or I have met (or listened to) people who have had some understanding of the differences in Baptism from how Catholics understand it and how non-Catholics do.     (*The Orthodox can be lumped with the Catholic view here.)   A consensus opinion of the non-Catholic, non-Orthodox is that  these others outside of us (but who are Christian churches) just don’t see the Body of Christ part of Baptism that Catholics have always emphasized and celebrated.  The non-Catholics frequently don’t make connection with family life and parental faith and with the passed-on faith through generations facet, either (hence, a reason many of these other churches don’t permit infant baptism, nor adult baptism without an individualistic got-saved proof to the church.

I think what can happen then by these non-Catholic baptism experiences is that an independence in one’s Christianity can be laid down.  Which isn’t good!
Because Lone-Wolf Christianity doesn’t succeed too much.   Nor does the Isolated-In- This-Little-Group-Over-Here Christianity succeed much.    Don’t be tempted to Lone Wolf/ or Single Brick Christianity : It’s not a healthy Christianity.

Baptism should be likened to the New Commandment of Christ for the Church.  He said “love another as I have loved you, this is my new commandment.”    When we are baptized and put into the Body of Faith, then we have the mission to become one with others in the Church, in a heartful and deep experience, for they are now our “brothers and sisters in Christ.”   Thus, there will be a social dimension to being a baptized person.

Pope Francis says: “The Kerygma (the core Good News belief of the Church) has a clear social content: At the very heart of the Gospel is life in community and engagement with others.” Joy of the Gospel, #177.

Next, Scripture says it:
The One Hundreth Psalm prays: ” Come and worship the Lord for we are His people, the flock He shepherds.”  The One Hundredth-Twenty-Second Psalm prays: “I rejoiced when they said to me, let us go to the House of the Lord.” The Jews loved the pilgrimage experience of walking together to the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem for its feasts.    When Jesus came and proclaimed the anointed kingdom He would share to us:  (i.e. “The kingdom is at hand.”)  He spoke of being the One Lord for the Flock.  John 10:16 proclaims: “…and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

The earliest Christian apostles/bishops leaders said that Church (i.e. Flock) was a reality, not a concept of Christ. “…wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church….” (said St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr ”Epistle to the Smyrnaeans,” c. 105 A.D.) and another quote supports this same teaching, by St. Polycarp:  “Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior of our souls, the Governor of our bodies/embodiment in Him, and the Shepherd of the Catholic Church throughout the world” (St. Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr ”The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp,” c. 135 A.D.).

Baptism puts us into a community called the Church.

Something is real that is being put up under Christ.    When Jesus spoke in His Passion Narrative of a Temple being raised up on the Third Day, He was speaking of “Church” or “His Body of believers,” as 1st Peter 2:5 compliments, when it says: “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priestly people, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God …”

We are brought into Christ, not just individually, but as corporally. We are His body, He is the Head. Each Christian is not a single body under Jesus; but a member of Christ’ One Body.   (1st Corinthians 12:27 is a good verse to point out of support.)

Next teaching:      Arguments versus “independent Christian living.”