Blog on Hold!!

Folks, in my Transfer to Resurrection Parish in Burtonsville, I löst my site for a Blog. My old parish took it off their web site before I could figure how to put it on the new one .   Sorry.  I still have not figured how to do it.

Fr. John Barry aka Papajohn

Photo at new parish

Homily Jesus walks on the sea: Another miracle account to ponder… 19th Sun. C.

Like last Sunday’s gospel, we have a miracle of Jesus to ponder– His walking on the water–from Matthew 14.  Last weekend we thought about Matthew 17’s Transfiguration Story.  It was “the peek at the peak.”   Now we have “what one sees on the sea.”

Let’s examine this sea miracle by going verse by verse, verse part by verse part….

Matthew 14:22a says:  “He, (Jesus) made the disciples get into the boat and precede him (via the Galilean Sea) to the other side (presumably, we are talking a distance of several miles due west around the shoreline.  So the disciples figured he’d come later by the good shoreline road)…. Matthew 14:22b says:  “He remained and dismissed the crowds.”   (They figure how the plan is that He will meet them later at this arranged place at Gennesaret, which is halfway to Magdala from where they are.) …

Matthew 14:23 “Then He, (Jesus), went up on the mountain by himself to pray.”  The disciples figure that Jesus has a few reasons to get alone.  First, He will purposely avoid the crowds after that day’s miracle of the feeding of the five thousand.  Some apostles guess that Jesus won’t want the crowds to re-direct His ministry to that of popular wonder-worker or a political-power-figure Messiah, due to the fame of that miracle.  They know Jesus is on a specific and humble mission.   He takes prayer breaks often to keep on track with His Mission.

Secondly, though, the apostles know how Jesus needs a break.  In Matthew 13 and 14’s text preceding this moment in His ministry, Matthew the apostle has just observed how the Lord has met clear rejection and offense, such as in an account in returning to Jesus’ home town of Nazareth, where they belittled their Nazarene brother Jesus and His family.  It wasn’t pretty.  On top of that, knowing He’d never be welcome back to His home town, nor be able to have visits with Mother Mary there, now Jesus has just got word of the news of cousin John the Baptist being executed by beheading.  Of course Jesus needed time alone to pray…

Matthew 14:23b says “When it was evening He was there alone.”  Evidently, Jesus was in some high-up place where He could see the apostles rowing the boat out to sea.  So He has His eye on them, but is alone praying…  Matthew 14:24 says                  “Meanwhile the boat (with the apostles in it), already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.”   As Jesus could see the situation from His vantage point, He noticed that a sudden squall coming which would kick up shallow-shored Galilee into high waves.  He watched over those apostles in the boat from afar, looking to when He would be definitely needed, but also He would be spiritually observing if His trusted followers would exercise some faith in their troubling situation.   Jesus kept praying with the Father… and the Father probably said to Him: THEY HAVE SOME FEAR IN THEM, EVEN AFTER WITNESSING THE AMAZING BREAD AND FISHES MIRACLE, BUT THEY ARE TRYING TO HAVE FAITH.  YET, THEY CANNOT SEE YOU.  THEY FEEL A BIT ALONE OUT THERE IN THEIR STORMY SEA.

Now we move on to Matthew 14: verse 25, which says: “During the fourth watch of the night…” (which is the end of the night before the dawn’s early streams of light would come, like our 3 a.m. or 4 a.m.) “…He came toward them… (this was because of His love for them and their need of Him, but also in this case, Jesus knew how The Father wanted Him now to reveal another great miracle to them, and to give them an added understanding to His identity as the Blessed Son.  ‘The new miracle?  It would be His walking on the sea.   Jesus exercised faith in His Person, in the Father, and He took His steps on top of the sea.  Despite the wind, He made good time in reaching the spot where the disciples were, as verse  24b pre-described), “in the boat being tossed about by the waves …”

(Here comes the miracle part now, in what they see on the sea, verse 26) “…The disciples saw Him walking on the sea.”   (Yes, it was startling, and amazing, and bit too powerful and godly for them, so) …they were terrified.  “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.   At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”  (That is what verses 26 and 27 say.)

The second part of the miracle story will be of Simon Peter’s walking out on the water, via the bidding of Jesus, Who said “Come” to him, (meaning, in direct words, if it gives you the proof you need in knowing that it IS I, and that this miracle IS real, then walk out and participate in it, Peter).   Peter does come out of the boat and out of some fear, and co-walks on the water for a time.   It’s real, alright, the other apostles see!

What did they all see on the sea?   The divine identity of Jesus.   He is the Lord of all miracles.   He IS LORD.   In verse 33b, they conclude with “truly you are the Son of God.”                                                         

 

Application:  This is a Miracle Story, yet it can also be applied to our own lives and stories, even in the ordinary flow and ebb of things in our days.

What can we take from it today?  What do you see by the sea in Matthew 14, out there on the Galilee?

Maybe the boat has felt somewhat like this parish, going through its things lately, or maybe its a bigger boat, like our nation or world feeling stormy and causing fears…  maybe it’s an uncomfortable relationship situation that you are afraid is turning overboard and capsizing, or maybe it’s a family thing, or school thing, or a health thing that has you on stormy seas.

And where is Jesus in all of this?   Does He care to help us out of it?

He’s not in the boat in this miracle story, though they don’t realize that He IS watching them and in prayer with the Father for them, and ready to act in their behalf.   Jesus will make it a faith-growth moment.  Miracles are not just for wonders, they come for some reasons from God and with purposes not just for OUR emergency rescue, but for teaching us how to live in communion with God from our soul-place or our community place.   You have come to know this, right?

This Matthew 14-gospel version of a sea storm story differs from another one, when Jesus will be inside the boat with the apostles, though He is asleep in the stern, when a similar squall hits them and rocks the vessel.   That other account is in Luke 8:22-25.    But, at least, Jesus was right there visible in the boat with them.  They just had to nudge Him to wake Him up to handle the storm.

Not in this sea storm account of Matthew.   Jesus is not right there with them.   He’s on shore and out of sight of them.   They feel left alone and pretty defenseless.   Even with a few experienced fishermen on board, this squall was a scary one.

So in applying it, we can relate to the difference when Jesus feels like he’s right there in the boat, so to say, with us, to when He is not in the boat, and how one can doubt the Lord’s presence and readiness to help.

Yet what of the times you did practice faith and took a step forward in your faith?  That felt good, didn’t it?   ‘You want that faith force in you, by God’s Grace and Spirit, right?  Again and again?!

An application for here at Resurrection parish, is that you’ve had some tests to your faith, but some of you have come through without being overcome by fear or lack of faith.  You’re handling things.  Maybe the miracle there is of your strength, the depth of your faith, your community spirit.    Or, for any other tests going on for others, is has you looking for Jesus.   I have a friend my age who has suddenly lost his voice. He’s been through other things where He has seen the Lord of deliverance for him, but this situation is tough.   His voice had been raspy of late, but now is just about all gone.  Imagine what he’s going through.  His prayers:  Jesus– I need you.   Lord, save me.

Jesus saves even when we do not notice.   He is doing things to your favor, whether you see them, or not.   Last Friday at 8:45 p.m., I drove in the windy rain down Old Columbia Pike to pick up an order from the Caribbean restaurant at Briggs Chaney. As I went with the green light, towards the lot turn-in, I suddenly saw three kids run out in the road right into my path.  They had not seen me, obviously, or would not have run in front of my Jeep vehicle.  The rain and the dark led to very-poor misjudgment on their part, anxious to get across the road to the 7-11 which they sought to visit.  I hadn’t seen them dashing into the road, at first, but, when I suddenly did, I braked hard and turned my vehicle away to avoid hitting the young jaywalkers.   No traffic accident happened.  Praise God, and I mean, Praise God.  As I very well could have, in that storm.   If I had hit them, then what injuries would they had suffered, or would even a fatality had resulted?!  It was in the realm of possibility there.  But I had seen them, keeping attentive to my driving in those conditions.  What if I had that accident, and it was bad?  Could I have continued my new work here among you in our renewal at Resurrection?   I am just so grateful I saw the kids.   I met them later and gave them lots of money for future 7-11 runs, and they wondered “why for, sir?”  I said for your guardian angels and mine keeping us out of an accident.  They said:  “What accident?”  I said: “The one with you almost winding up in my Jeep grill.”  I told them to “wait for the light and to be much more cautious ahead.”    So there was a situation I know God watched out for me, somehow.

But some people get caught in troubling things that so can affect us.   It can hurt us and shut us down.   I saw a sibling in pain at a funeral this past week.  This person was the adult child of the deceased, but they would not talk to their siblings or nieces or nephews or relatives, and sat alone in pain and isolation.   I did all I could to be kind to them, and I offered my future assistance “to handle all your going through here.”

Sometimes we minister to people even out of our pain and loss.   I think of our parish member called home last week, Ginny Bouvier, and she showed such faith and inner strength living through her lupus in life, and going into a career/vocation of aiding peace processes with her ardent work, even while seeing so much human misery and tragedy, like in her work down in the country of Columbia.  She helped the people there get out an inner war versus themselves, and when the Columbian President won the Nobel Prize for Peace, Ginny had a big part in it.

Jesus does today’s miracle on the water out of his pain of rejection at Nazareth, making visits to Mary much harder ahead and having no one believe upon Him where He master-carpentered for years as a Nazarene neighbor.  Then He gets the news of John the Baptist’s cruel and hideous execution.   Yet Jesus will minister to His apostles, coming off the mount of prayer and walking to help His dear, fledging friends on sea.  Sometimes, amazingly, like Jesus, we find love to share even of our pain.

What do we see on the sea in this miracle story?   We see a caring Jesus.  A human Jesus.   A Jesus Who does want His apostles to live by faith, not by convenience.   A Jesus Who wants His followers to finally see more deeply of Who He really is:  The Lord and Savior.  The Deliverer.   The Redeemer.   The caring intercession of a Loving God Almighty.

He knows our fears and other problems and about our stormy seas.   Can we see that every day life on this planet is broken and fairly desperate if people are to ignore God? Do we confess to God we need Him– daily?   Do we realize Jesus prays for us, even as our Lamb of God, to take away our sins– if we’d just admit them and surrender them to Him?    Do we realize that the times that we have been like Peter, and tried to exercise some stronger faith– that Jesus is really moved by those moments of trust in Him?

We may not know how to walk on water— but we are engaged in the miraculous, whether we see it or not.   It’s there.  These two Summer Sundays of miracle stories tell us that God is at work on you being the miracle–becoming a child of God and someone welcome to His victory supper table in Glory one day.   Eat and sup with Him here, He is in this boat of a parish, and He is miracle with us.   See that by faith on this sea called the Summer of 2017.

Homily. A peek at the peak. The Transfiguration Miracle. 18th Sun. A

Three friends of Jesus went up a mountain to pray with Him in the Feast time of Tabernacles, also called the Jewish holy day of Booths.  More than some holy day praying, these men got a miraculous glimpse at the true divinity of Jesus.  He unveiled Himself in a transfiguration miracle.   They got a peek at the peak.

Where it happened, on Mount Tabor, is a place pilgrims can visit today.  Yet in this homily and in your life, God is inviting you to deeper revelation, too.   But pilgrims go up the steep mount to see a pretty Franciscan Church of the Transfiguration with a prize view of Israel, a vista that apostles Peter, James and John saw, but then upon realizing the God Creator of it all was with them in their Rabbi-Prophet friend called Jesus.  He shone out His divinity, well, at least given them a peek at it, and the brilliance and power coming from within Jesus was dazzling and dizzying. They fell down in great awe.

Jesus was much more than they had realized.  This miracle showed divinity within Him. Even the appearance came of prophets Elijah and Moses was manifested, but to show how they bowed to Jesus as Lord and God.

At the finishing part of the miracle on the heights, Peter remembers it’s the feast of booths, and fumbling for something to say, offers that he with James and John could set up holiday booths now, in remembrance of the Jews’ exodus journey way back when.   What Peter will be asked to do, later, after Jesus’ rising and ascending, will be to build a church. It will be for a new exodus pilgrim people following Jesus into new life, revelation, and Glory.  That’s us with Pope Francis and the apostles’ lead today.

We are meant for a pilgrim’s purpose- filled life, with new intimacy into Jesus, more revelation, more community with one another, and awe and wonder for a life in The Spirit in this Catholic Christian faith.

We get our own peeks into Jesus and to who we are with Him.  Some have conversions , too, as in iike a mountain top experience, discovering salvation in Jesus. Those would be peak experiences (p-e-a-k) with the Lord.  The miracle is then how we recognize Him, the Lord Jesus, and that by his grace he allows us to see him that way as our great Savior and friend and deliver and Hope.

I have had moments in my own life of peeks at Jesus’ reality.   I have asked that the Lord help me to see Him really as near and friend and Head of the Church.  He has shown Himself, even if in ways not so obvious or big.

I know of people who have had major peek experiences, or peak (p-e-a-k) mountaintop experiences with God and in Jesus and Mary or the saints.   I am happy for them, but I have been more of a slow conversion, a work of faith in the crock pot mode.

In my last parish, some one in the church began to see Mary, and sometimes it was on our property.  Now he receives those visionary experiences in private.  But I believe he has had them, for it changed him towards much more holiness of life.   I just have to joke with him:  “I am on the church property every day, but it’s you who sees Mary.  Ok!”

Yet he may need revelation in a dramatic way like that.  The Lord knows the revelation that will work in us.   I have different kinds of revelation, like in having fruitful Bible study.  I just get blessed with some occasion in just meditating on Bible reading.  Yet I have a priest friend who went to public college and Catholic seminary with me that has quite extraordinary experiences.   Good for him.

I find that people can be blessed with a revelation, and one not as dramatic as a Transfiguration Mount experience, but it still affords them the “peek” at the Lord’s Presence that they need.   Some experience the Lord in prayer, but others through loving relationships, and others in doing works of mercy or charity.   Others in writing in journals, and others in art, and others in just quieting themselves to a sweet bliss.

The thing is, in all of this, we need to be longing for more with Jesus.   I think it was true in the three who went up Mount Tabor with Jesus.   Peter and James and John sought an intimacy of faith and an understanding of Jesus that was a true seeking after righteousness.   We need to note that, because, if we want revelations and blessings of the Lord, it might readily come when and after we ask to be intimate of heart with our Lord.   Then one might have the peek on the Lord’s reality, or even the mountain peak experience of a lifetime.    From the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus offers the simplicity of the approach, saying:  Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all things shall be added unto you.

I wish and pray and hope on you all the Light of God to shine in your heart, mind, soul and spirit.   Alleluia.

Oh, I have a funny story on the kid’s level.   Can I add it on?    I was during the feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles as what marked the time when Jesus had this Transfiguration Moment.    We know that Peter, in an awe filled moment, and fumbling for words, suggests that they get on with the Feast of Booths celebrations and build three booths or houses or tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah– who they saw all floating in the sky.

So, it reminds me when I built a house for a little girl in our Catholic school down in my Leonardtown days.   It was coming on the occasion of her birthday, and she and her family invited me to the birthday party.    At that time, our parish had a large double refrigerator delivered in a box to us, and I took the big box and made a playhouse for the girl of it.   Then, with much difficulty, I brought it to her house for the party, by carrying it atop my car, going 5 mph all the way there.  She was excited to get her unique present– her very own small house from me!   So, it was like I was Peter asking if a booth would be nice to build for Jesus, but it was instead for this young student in my class, whose parents I often visited, who were generous in their faith, and quite likable.  So I just did this house building thing on a spontaneous inspiration.

Later, she recounted that it was a sweet memory for her.   I was glad I made her new year of life and that birthday a blessed one.   Maybe that was one of my better Transfiguration moments, where I got to peek at how the Lord wants to build a mansion for me in Heaven, as I do little acts for Him down here on the earth like that one for the girl.

Miracles of Jesus, 4

The Lord’s Supper – The Lords Sacrifice for Our Salvation

Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you. Luke 22:19-20

How this miracle can inspire us:

In the story of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus ate his last meal with his apostles. During this time he performed what could be the greatest miracle in the Catholic Faith: He transformed bread and wine into his body and blood. This miracle is commemorated in every mass through the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

In the Lord’s Supper, the bread signifies Jesus’ body being the bread of life. Accepting Jesus’ body is like accepting Him in our daily lives and that we must live the way Jesus wanted us to live. The wine signifies the blood of Christ, that was willingly given to man’s salvation.

This miracle is important because it shows us Catholics how Jesus selflessly gave His life to all of us and that he is a servant not just to his apostles but to all of humanity. There is no reason therefore to feel alone or unloved in this world.

Miracles of Jesus, 3

The Raising of Lazarus – God has power over death & darkness

​So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father,* I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” John 11:38-44

How this miracle can inspire us:

In the story of Lazarus, Jesus told his disciples that his dear friend Lazarus had died and that it was time to visit his tomb. In the midst of the mourning crowd and disbelieving people, Jesus called out to Lazarus and brought him back to life.

We live in a world filled with death and suffering. People discriminate against one another. We destroy our bodies with excess alcohol, food, drugs and even work. Acts of terrorism annihilate entire towns and there are so many more depressing realities.

Despite all of this, the story of Lazarus being resurrected reminds us that God has power over death and darkness. This miracle lets us see that death is not the end and that there is more to life than pain and suffering but true life can only come from God. We must surrender our lives to our Lord and have faith that he will give us eternal life.

Miracles of Jesus, 2

Calming of the Storm at Sea – Have trust in God

He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm* came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?”* Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?”           Matthew 8:23-27

In this story, the disciples are gripped by fear because of a violent storm developing around them. In the midst of the fearsome situation, Jesus wakes up from his sleep and commands the waves and winds to calm down. He also rebuked his followers for having “little faith”.

Just like Jesus’s disciples, we are sometimes vulnerable to our human weakness. During life’s storms, we might find ourselves faltering and failing. We become afraid and we rely on earthly solutions instead of spiritual answers to fix our problems.

The miracle of Jesus calming the storm at sea reminds us to grow faith in God. As long as we believe in the power of God and his unwavering love for us, we can weather any storm and overcome upheavals that come our way.

This story is similar to the one when the disciples are in another storm on the lake, but Jesus isn’t in the boat.   He is far offshore.   Yet, Jesus comes to them walking on the sea.    The story ends with a sea calmed, too, but then an added walking out in faith lesson for Peter and the other apostles.

Miracles of Jesus, 1

The Bible is filled with stories about the miracles of Jesus. These miracles open our eyes to the glory of God and serve as physical evidence of his power and presence in our world.

It helps to revisit the miracles of Jesus whenever we feel discouraged because they remind us that nothing is impossible with God and that we can trust in him to help us regardless of how difficult our problem may seem.

There are many accounts of Jesus performing amazing acts. Here are five of his most important miracles and how they can help us have hope in our day to day lives.

Feeding of the 5,000 – God is faithful in providing for HIS children

Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over*—twelve wicker baskets. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children. Matthew 14:18-21

How this miracle can inspire us:

In the feeding of the 5000, men, women and children followed Jesus to hear the Word of God. The disciples of Christ wanted to send the people away when evening came because they were in a place that was far from the towns and everyone might get hungry. Instead of sending the people away, Jesus multiplied “five loaves and two fish” and fed everyone.

The feeding of the multitude teaches us that God is faithful in providing for His children. We must look beyond our earthly resources and limitations. Trust that He can meet our every need. Jesus not only gave his people physical nourishment, he fed their souls and spirit. Similarly, we must realize that God is great and will provide for our every need whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual.

When we feel our resources are too limited to sustain us and hopelessness looms on the horizon, this miracle provides comfort in the reminder that Jesus has extraordinary plans for our lives. His grace is sufficient and His provisions will always come in the most unexpected ways. All we need to do is trust and have faith in Him.

What is Meekness?

My last homily at St. Edward parish in Bowie was for the monthly Filipino Mass.   I first spoke of my history with the Filipino community building at the parish, but then I gave a homily on meekness.   The homily part is about 12 minutes.   It is a video included here.  I thank Steve Duhig for taping it for me and making it available.