2nd Sunday of Easter Homily

If you heard today’s reading from Acts with recognition, then congratulations, because you realize that it was our Advent theme of the 5 Loaves ( or 5 key ways) to be the Church.  It’s valuable 5 lessons are in the Advent’s blogs (at our parish web site) for your looking back…

Let the Color of your New Life in Jesus be seen before others.

sPeacock–a symbo1l of New Life in the Risen Lord.

On Good Friday I had a seafood lunch out at a restaurant with family members.   It followed a parish morning prayer service, a server rehearsal, and then a Way of the Cross at a Catholic cemetery, with a visit to dad’s grave.  4-16-2004.    It was fitted in to some free time before Evening Liturgy.

At the restaurant, I felt a little out of it.   In this place, the majority of people there looked rather oblivious of it being the day of the Lord Jesus’ death.   People were drinking alcohol and eating meat and carrying on around us, while we ate our fish meal.   While I had a good lunch gathering with my family, the scene around us had me see just how very secular our society is right now.  The stores that day were probably all busy, and while many people had to go to do their jobs or schools, some had it off–but not in acknowledgement of religion.  Those persons who had the day off were likely doing things like golfing, shopping, and maybe the kids were on the video/computer games all day—- and that was all sad to me, as society treats The Day Jesus Died as just any regular Friday.  With little notice.   Even the Washington Nationals had a game, with a bobble-head doll giveaway.  Real sad.

Good Friday is meant to be a day of mourning.   I suppose many were not intending to mourn–not at that restaurant, anyway.   Meaning—it just did not seem how Jesus was relevant to them, nor His death being important to them, nor the realization of His life-saving death happened on this day in history to save sinners.  Didn’t these people feel at all like sinners nor needing any saving?   Well, anyway, I was at the place, too–for awhile.  Maybe someone saw me there, and wondered:  Why is he here?

A Catholic saint once said:  If a person doesn’t appreciate Good Friday, then they can’t really comprehend or celebrate Easter Sunday.   I am concerned that there are an increasing number of people not acknowledging they are sinners in need of God, so what could Easter mean to us.

Now the Lord doesn’t want to win people over using guilt trips or finger-pointing, so my point isn’t of accusing judgment here, but just about the Lord’s perspective over us all.   The Divine Mercy in the Blessed Son saw all the human need and our misery, and came to save us.  Jesus defined His coming, saying:  “I have come to seek and save the lost.”  And, that, is who we all are. The lost folk.  Quite lost.  In a world with so much offered by God to us, even for redemption, but we wander and stray, into indifference or even defiance to Him.   God looked at all of the world and her history of our pride leading us far off-course from His original plan for us, and so from the Cross Jesus, God’s Son, bore our sins, saying:  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”   Maybe in modern lingo, ‘These people are so messed up!  They really need this Divine Mercy, Father.  Forgive them, for they have it all so wrong that they even condemned me to a Cross.   They mock Me, but Salvation will come by here.’

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, can we ponder just how royally messed up we are as a world?   Yet, can we be baffled in joy, that God is come to save us anyway?!

Now, Divine Mercy Sunday is a bit different from the Good Friday perspective.   We have a Risen Lord coming to the apostles, and showing His triumph, while also bearing the marks of His crucifixion.   He will always be the Lamb of God for us.  He is a Lord of Triumph, too.  That is what Thomas sees, a Lord who died and rose, and he exclaims:  “My Lord and my God!”

He sees the two expressions of Jesus, His Sacrifice and Resurrection, joined into one.  So Thomas sees the connection of the Cross and Rising of Jesus as one thing.

Jesus lived out this connection.  As Jesus was up on the Cross, we know He prayed some Psalms in those three hours, ones that connection His dying and rising.  He prays the abandonment prayer of Psalm 22 “why have You abandoned Me to death?” along with Psalm 23, for sure, “though I walk the dark valley, I fear no evil… a table is prepared for Me even in the presence of my enemies… my cup (of victory) is overflowing, surely goodness and mercy shall follow in…to the House of the Lord forever.”   Jesus was praying those such Psalms, along with this one we prayed today, Psalm 118; it was on His mind and heart that fateful Day, as He pondered what lay ahead:  There is Resurrection after the rejection.  Psalm 118: verse 22: “The stone which the builders rejected is become the cornerstone.”  Hear Jesus praying: ‘I will start a work, Father, of saving people into a Living Temple, of My own body.  I am the Cornerstone for a whole new world.  The Building Block.  I was rejected, but I AM what can build up a new people.’

Psalm 118: verse 23:   “By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful to see…”  Jesus could see the New Day dawning, upon His Sacrifice being accepted by the Father.  Hear Jesus praying:  ‘WE have done it.  It is a wondrous gift of love, to bring back this fallen people, this lost creation, and give it a free way back to the Divine Friendship.  By God, US, it is done– for people now to believe and accept and live out.  This work of salvation is a wonderful thing for them, and I shall now arise!’

Psalm 118: verse 24   “This is the day the LORD has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.”   Easter really is the day God has given to us, and actually it is the first day of endless love and possibilities to be born from the fruits of Jesus’ Resurrection.   Easter is a Day, THE DAY to rejoice and be glad in it.   Easter, too, is a Season of the Church.  Easter, as well, is a whole new way of life.   Jesus may live in us now.   Easter is also the promise of Heaven and eternal life, given as a gift in the Redeemer Christ Jesus.

These verses bring a real happiness to our liturgy, for if you have walked with Jesus in sorrow through Lent and Holy Week, you are best ready for the Bright Side of the Story.

For God has a victory to bring for those who come and are humbled by the Cross of Christ.

Jesus sees His rejoicing faithful, and He hopes He may use their witness to bring the Good News out to touch others.   Like here in Bowie.   For the many people who are not surrendered to Christ in their hearts are just filling time, keeping occupied, looking to put off that emptiness of soul inside— Jesus wants to deal out purpose and meaning and love and fulfillment to them.   Jesus is given to be the New Life for these needy souls. You and I are meant to be examples of that, to reach the gloomy and the distracted and the disguised.  Life’s purpose is to live for God.  That’s what Catholic Christians should be ‘advertising’ in our lifestyles, and that Easter and Jesus Alive IS a reality.   And yes—-Grace provides a way out of sin and death and darkness.  We herald how Grace is making breakthroughs to people such as us.   It was in seeing our brokenness and need, and a Jesus to fill it– that brought the enlightenment.  His Cross has met our brokenness and His Resurrection has us truly set free.

“If the Son has set you free, then you are free indeed!”  So says Jesus.   He is Risen and we are free!

I am so glad to be in that realization and revelation, even if I do ask myself:  Who am I to receive this wondrous grace?  But The Lord has a marvelous love to share out.

It is the burden of pastors in churches to worry about the state of people’s souls.  To reach the lost person and help them to be found in Jesus, and then for them to grow in the Lord Jesus.   It is also supposed to be the concern of every baptized person to be interested in helping souls come to know Jesus, and for the body of believers to keep growing deeper, then, in their faith.  Hear our epistle speak to that today.  “May that the genuineness of your faith, so precious to you…even willing to be tested, prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…”   Yes, St. Peter’s letter says that we hope for a genuine experience of Jesus in us, the whole Jesus, in His Paschal Mystery, that others may see their hope is in Jesus, too.  The message continues from Peter,  “Rejoice right along (until into that)…glorious joy, as (when) you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your soul.”   thM30CLBDM
Jesus is that “fisher of men,” so leading the Church at her start.

So, in a suggested follow-through of this Easter message, we present in the bulletin our second appeal to a parish renewal program getting started, with the need for a few to step up and help it get going.  Read the leaflet today and/or visit the parish website under Faith Formation today.    It’s about a training retreat program to learn how to put on a evangelistic outreach to the community of non-believers, tepid believers, and need-to-be-more engaged believers of helping the Good News of Jesus to spread out to others. IMAG0554

A resurrection style Lord of Sacrifice, as seen depicted in the Gate of Heaven cemetery chapel, Silver Spring.

Go out and tell the Good News, He is saying.  Let the colors of New-born Life in Jesus be seen by all.  s

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter Week III at St. Edward

admin-ajaxzzHappy Easter time!

The Four Gospels preach that the Lord Jesus Crucified is He Who is Alive from the dead.  Jesus is Risen!  In the Wednesday Octave Mass of Easter, as in today’s 3rd Sunday of Easter, the Gospel of the day gives us the Emmaus journey account of a man (Cleophas) and friend walking downcast from out of Jerusalem.  The evangelist’s account of this walk describes how a fellow traveler on the road joins along with them and raises some conversation with them of how He thought that the prophet Jesus was truly an amazing fulfillment of all the Messianic hopes for a Hebrew to come and be a savior to people Israel and to the world.   Cleophas and the other man look incredulous at the stranger at first, and blurt out:  “Are you the only person who doesn’t know that Jesus was crucified and done with, just last Friday?!”

Then they the tell the stranger with them that Jesus had been the One upon whom they had trusted all their hopes to– but He and those dreams had been crucified.  It doesn’t say what was said or happened next, but over the course of several miles, they are listening intently to their traveling addition.   There are taking in His word.  By the end of the story, they are welcoming the man to stay with them, which leads to them breaking bread with the man in a holy prayer/gathering.

These two actions–the journeying with a listening ear and heart—and the welcome spirit and breaking bread action–are what we do at every Mass.   We do them in the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.   We listen to the Word of God, taking a Sunday walk with it, and then we break bread with God on High in Christ. The difference is that with us, compared to the gospel persons in today’s account, we know Jesus is alive–or at least we have been told that Jesus rose from the dead.   They didn’t.    Yet can we respond to our hearing God’s Word but letting our hearts burn with the Word, touch us, and have us desire it all the more?   Will we also then call Jesus our Redeemer and the Spirit the burning desire in our hearts by His Word?   Will we flashed recognition of Our Lord in the breaking of the Bread?

Can we be like Cleophas and the other person, all so touched by the Encounter with Jesus, so to become glad and to go seek others in the fold to share it with?

Cleophas and that other person teach us to be glad like them– Jesus IS Alive and HE is the One to trust!0717132025

Easter Homily II: Easter and Mary Magdalene

IMAG1096_1Mary Magdalene came to The Tomb and found the soldiers on guard as dead men, with the Angel of The Lord sitting atop the grave boulder, which He had moved, saying The Crucified Lord is not here. As He is Risen, behold, see an empty tomb.

HOMILY        (Lengthened Blog version)

On this Easter Morn, we hear the Matthew 28 account of Mary Magdalene and Mary of Cleopas at the tomb of Our Lord, and then of the encounter of the Risen Jesus.  Last night at the Easter Vigil I preached on one of these women and of her inspiration to us.  It was of “the other Mary,” Mary of Cleophas.   Today I preach on Mary Magdalene and of her inspiration to us.   Both women were present for the whole Paschal Mystery:  They were there for the suffering Lord Jesus , and below Him as He died on the Cross, as well as coming to Jesus’ tomb to pray, therefore, putting themselves in place as the early witnesses of Jesus’ Resurrection.

At the Cross, Mary Magdalene was a silent witness.  No words are recorded of her, only long sobs– as we hear Jesus address her later, “woman, why are you weeping?”   Jesus saw her weeping below His Cross of Sacrifice.   It moved Him to see His friend there for Him to the end.   So, He would meet her here on the First Easter’s dawn, as her great consolation and new hope.

Mary Magdalene knew Jesus as God’s Love revealed to the world.  She had been amazed with HIm, even since her deliverance from her darkness.   As she saw Jesus on the Cross, she might have commented to the soldiers:   “He won’t really need the nails, for His Love could hold Him up there.   He dies in the fullest Gift of Love ever.”

Mary Magdalen was one of the “three Mary’s” at the Cross.   The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mary of Cleophas, and her made for the faithful trio.   Mary Magdalene was different from the other two, in that she was not related to the Savior by family ties.   The Blessed Mother was Jesus’ true mother, and Mary of Cleophas was Mary’s sister-in-law.   Our Mary was a Galilean woman from Magdala, a city more known to be influenced by Gentile than Jewish life.   Yet Mary of Magdala would meet Jesus and become one of His closest disciples.   As for new family ties, Jesus had said one time that “those who hear the Word of God and keep to it are mother, brother, sister–or family– to me now.”  Mary Magdalene certainly fit that description of Jesus’ new extended family by faith.  We have learned it, too, today, that if we accept Jesus the Word and keep with Him– in Scripture, in love and service, in Sacrament, as members of His body, the Church– then we are called Jesus’ brothers and sisters.   My opening address to you was as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus– just to acknowledge that family tie we have!

In Luke 8, we hear how Mary met Jesus while she was under the possession of darkness.   Jesus heals her out of seven demons.  What those sins or evil spirits were–we don’t exactly know.  Yet she had a full recovery.   7 is a number that denotes fullness.  You know it as such, such as of the 7-fold Gift of the Spirit or 7 days of creation or 7 Sacraments.   Mary of Magdala will be a changed, whole woman now.  Because Jesus will later call her “woman” as in Matthew 28, it tells us that she is a woman of the new creation in Christ.   He came to bring us back into Grace, like humankind had in the Garden of Eden.  In fact, as John’s Gospel describes Jesus meeting Mary Magdalene in that first public, official Resurrection account— it is in a Garden, on purpose.  Jesus is first the mistaken Gardener, in John 20, until Mary cries “Rabboni” in recognition of her Lord standing there.  She knew Jesus when He called her name.   It is the same for us awaiting after death; Jesus will call us by Name and welcome us into Paradise with Him.

On Mary Magdalene’s feast day, July 22, the Church gives the Song of Songs as the first reading, denoting our Mary as the one seeking the Lord as like the dove figure in that Biblical book about God and humankind drawing nearer to our full reunion.  This figure in the Song of Songs so desires to be one with her Lover.thhhh

I’d like to suggest here how Mary Magdalene is our saintly model of desire to be close with the Lord God of love.   We need to want Him so dearly, too.   What made this disciple so want to be near Jesus, that even after death she arises as dawn’s early light to go to Jesus’ tomb, even bringing spices, if perhaps the guards would let her in to pay her respects?   Let us pray for desire for Jesus!   There is a title of The Lord’s Anointed that befits this suggestion:  He is the “Desire of Nations.”   (From Haggai chapter 2.)

Mary Magdalene has the soul need for God.   Jesus is God–so she needs to be near Him.

Jesus accepts her close to Himself.  As we have learned from His episode in Bethany, in letting two women sit at His feet and be taught as disciples– Mary of Magdala would have had that opportunity from her Luke 8 meeting with Him and on.

Sometimes Mary Magdalene is given a mistaken identity or even a disparaging one– as Jesus’ intimate lover on earth, as in girlfriend or wife.  Shame on those who say such things, as they reveal in that ignorance or pride that they don’t know what kind of intimacy Jesus offers His followers.   John the apostle and Lazarus of Bethany were so close to Jesus, they get identified, too, as “the one Jesus loved.”  Mary of Magdala was a pure and close relationship to Jesus, showing what the kingdom of God offers anew.

By the way, Mary of Magdala meets Jesus in Luke 8, so the harlot woman who meets Jesus in Luke 7 is a different person.    Yet the same thing applies– Jesus would have women followers, and some were of those whom He had healed and converted– and they now were disciples, like the others, and with the apostles.

Mary Magdalene is a chosen example for Christians to follow, probably thanks to how John the Apostle appreciated her.   Under the Cross, John was there with the Blessed Virgin Mary, and he did take notice how Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” was there, too.   When Mary Magdalene and the other Mary find that Jesus is Risen, it is to John, and Peter, that the news is delivered.    With Mary Magdalene, she is the symbol of humanity renewed by the grace of God, and bathed into the Paschal Mystery, for a new start to the world for the people of God.  We live in the world now with Jesus.  Jesus is the Gardener of our garden of soul and body, working us to redemption to Glory.

The Tree of Calvary becomes the Tree of Life’s new start, and the Garden of our seeking in faith and hope is where we find the Risen Lord, by faith, more than sight.  Yet He will present Himself as Sacrament to our senses.  Still, we are to know Him first by the heart and soul.  Mary calls Jesus by her favorite name for Him:  Rabboni.   She teaches us that we need to know our Savior so well, that perhaps we even have a special Name for Him.  Why?  Because we are in a personal relationship with Jesus.

It is Mary Magdalene, and Mary of Cleophas (whom I preached about on the Easter Vigil and copied to the parish pastor’s blog), along with Salome who seeking Jesus on that first Easter morn.   In imitation, you and I have come this Easter morn seeking Jesus.   Mary Magdalene and her firsts see Jesus and go prostate to kneel and worship Jesus.  It is what we come here to do on Easter 2017:  to bow and worship, and to be glad we have a Risen Lord.

What happens to Mary Magdalene later?  We know she is a witness for the Church in the Holy Land for 14 years after Jesus’ Resurrection.   The non-accepting Jews of Israel resist the movement of Jesus and this Way of the Lord (Christianity), and they put Mary Magdalene adrift on a large boat without oars, to ban her from Israel, and on that same vessel is said to be Martha of Bethany, Maximillian, Sinonius (the healed blind man of Jesus’ miracle), the Magdalene’s servant Sera, and the remains of Anne, Jesus’ grandmother.  They end up floating to Gaul, which is now known as France.   Mary Magdalene continues as an evangelist there, and a Basilica attests to that, in southern France, and Mary dies at 72 as a mystic in a cave dwelling, matching what the Song of Songs says as a “dove cooing her voice in the clefts, longing for her Love of Loves.”  The testimony is given, that like Mary Magdalen met the Angel at the tomb, so would she sees angels through her lifetime, even being ministered by them in her final days.”

This homily about Mary Magdalene is meant to reflect back on the One she so honored with her life–the Meaning of Easter.   JESUS is the Risen One.   HE is our Love.   HE is our New Life and Hope.   HE is the One whom we seek for a fullest knowing of Him, and WHO so promises us that such will be given to us, even in an Everlasting Way.

Mary’s seeking so diligently for The Lord, and not giving up, nor letting up after a Risen Jesus visit, tells us the same, as the Scriptures reminds us:  “It is whoever perseveres to the end who will be saved (Matt. 24:13).”   So seek the Lord fully!  The Lord has much to show us, even forever and ever, to our highest happiness!

Mary of Magdala also tells us to gather with others in this faith.  Jesus says to her, as in today’s Gospel, ‘tell the Good News that I Am Alive, then tell the apostles and others to go gather as one back to Galilee, where everything begins again with you.”  Mary tells Peter, and after they find Thomas, all go back to begin anew with Jesus: together.   Peter and the Church have been one since that time, when at Pentecost, the Spirit came to them to be the one, inspired, holy, out-to-the-world Church.   Amen.

we begin anew in Galilee– go tell Peter.

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Easter Homily 1 Easter and “The Other Mary”

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MARY OF CLEOPHAS, WITNESS TO THE CROSS AND RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.
I thought it might be an interesting meditation tonight, to just highlight one person in the Story of Jesus in this climatic time of His ministry.  It will be of Mary of Cleophas, often referred to in the Gospels as “the other Mary.”  Who was this woman?Of course, as I lead in to this Easter Message, let us be clear that this Easter Day is all about the Lord Jesus, and His triumph over the grave, and His rising up.   His resurrection is our victory.   He came to defeat the hold of sin on us, so we could freely live in Mercy, and He came to set us free, too, from the slavery of death.  All because Jesus rose from the dead, is this all made possible for us.  Alleluia to Jesus, to the Father Who sent the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, that we may live in glorious union in them as children, a people reborn by Grace via The Lamb, to as many as received Him.
We are called to live saintly lives in loving response to Jesus Christ.  We have models to follow in the Gospel story.  In Holy Week we heard it proclaimed that “… there were standing by the cross of Jesus His mother and His mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen.”  Tonight (in the Easter Vigil) we hear: “After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb….an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.  Then the angel said to the women in reply, Do not be afraid!  He, Jesus, has been raised from the dead!  Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.  And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.  They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.  Go tell my brothers we begin again at Galilee, they will see me.”Let us get to know this “other Mary” in the Crucifixion and Resurrection scene.  By her own fidelity and response to Jesus, we learn from her how to love and serve Jesus so ourselves, as is fitting to our Savior.First — the factual part on Mary of Cleophas.  Second– the emotional story of “the other Mary” and the bigness of her faith.

The factual stuff on this Mary of Cleophas:  How should we understand this Mary called Jesus’ “mother’s sister?” The short answer is that Mary of Cleophas is probably the Blessed Virgin’s husband’s sister-in-law.  Mary of Cleophas may have had a previous husband named Alpheus, or this Alpheus may have been Cleophas. Going by an ancient historian Hegesippus, Cleophas was St. Joseph ‘ brother, who had a wife, Mary.  (Another lesser historical theory has Mary of Cleophas as sister to Joseph. )

She IS definitely, though, the third Mary in the scene at Calvary and the Risen account of Jesus, and this “other Mary” is called as such so as to be distinguished from The Blessed Virgin Mary, or of Mary of Magdala, who both were witnesses like her to the Crucified and Risen Lord up close.

Just like in a few of number among Jesus’ followers, Mary of Cleophas was a family relation to Jesus.  Reading the Bible, we find that Jesus had “brethren” in the Semitic sense who were named James, Joseph, Simon (Simeon) and Jude (Mt 13:55).  They were close kin to Him—is what that means—as Jesus was an only child of Mary.  We also know that Jesus’ mother Mary had a “sister” (in the general sense of the word as a close woman relative), and this woman is our Mary of Cleophas.  This is the “other Mary” who had the husband named Cleophas, so we think.

What else do the Gospels tell us? That, at the death of Jesus, we are told this Mary, wife of Cleophas /Clopas (Jn 19:25), was present right besides Mary, The Lord’s Mother.  In a gospel account, this “other Mary” was described as to be the mother of James and Joseph (Mt 27:56), but then in another account, she’s called the mother of James the Less and Joses (Mk 15:40).  So what gives?  It’s that Semitic way of describing things again. For, on one hand, James is described as the son of Alphaeus (not Cleophas) in three Gospels’ listing of the Apostles (Mt 10:3, Mk 3:18, Lk 6:15). Thus, we can infer that Mary the wife of Cleophas is unlikely to be a true sister of the Virgin Mary, since they bear the same name.  Mary’s mother wouldn’t have had named two Mary’s in-a-row, is the sensible conclusion here.   However, the inference is made that Mary of the Holy Family and Mary of Cleophas are closely related.  Likely, she is St. Joseph ‘s sister-in law or sister.  We can go with that explanation, as it all makes sense, and it shows her importance, while being called “the other Mary.”  On the Church calendar, Mary of Cleophas shares April 24th with Salome, the co-witness with her to Jesus.

Now for the emotional and spiritual/faith dimension of this special Mary of Cleophas.  She would be in the story of Jesus early on, even to His infancy. She would be in the story of the Mary, too.  Whether she sojourned to Africa with the Holy Family for safety isn’t known, but she was there to know it.  In the end, as Jesus goes to the Cross, this sister to Joseph is faithfully there.  She is a steadfast witness, maybe a model for cradle Catholics.

As sister-in-law to Mary, this other Mary was a very good, faith-filled, supportive person to her family, and a great co-believer in Jesus as Lord.

Now I think it’s amazing that anyone went up to Calvary to witness Jesus’ death.  It must have been wrenching and horrific and devastating.  Even if Mary, Jesus’ Mother, went there in confidence of her Son’s rising, and fulfilling the Father’s will—it had to be just unbelievably hard for her to be there watching, and even at the end, to be beneath His feet, and then receiving Him down off the cross.   But this “other Mary” was also there.   Probably she was borrowing off of Mary’s great faith and courage, and came along.   I have done that myself: borrow off of Mary.  There are things in life I wouldn’t have taken on, but for Mary’s assistance besides me.  (The priesthood may be one.)

Mary of Cleophas, was also there on Calvary’s hill to support Mary.  Someone needed to be besides her, as she kept near with Jesus to the end, at Golgotha.  This Mary also had the obvious reason of her co-wanting to show her great love for Jesus, going to Him to offer compassion and prayer in His time of most need.  Jesus would have deeply appreciated it from his aunt.

Of the leading men followers of Jesus, only John got up to Calvary among the Twelve.   So, we can’t underscore how hard it was to do this. thhhh

It was the same above reasons that this “other Mary” went to the tomb at the first morning light of Sunday’s dawn.  She courageously loved Jesus. Her compassion led her to the tomb, and it put her in place to be an early witness to the Resurrection of Christ.  This Mary, along with Mary of Magdala, and Salome, came to the Sepulchre. They were expecting a guard to still be posted there, to chase them off, but they came anyway with their spices, to see if they could put them on the shroud of Jesus.  With the boulder expected to be in front of the tomb, too, what were the chances?  Yet, they came, and in haste at morning light.   Love and courage does such things.

I think you and I know of some times that we found the love and courage to be somewhere or with someone.   An internal strength, supplied by God’s grace, just moved us to be where God wanted us to be, and where we hoped we could be in great love and give support out from our hearts.

That’s our other Mary.  She found that inner drive, the inspiration on that first day of the week, in Jerusalem.  It would put her in place to witness first the most amazing site of all time, the Risen Jesus.  Seeing the angel was stupefying enough, but then these women saw the Risen Lord.  “Do not fear, it is I.”    They recognized Him—though in great awe.   They immediately went into worship before Him.

You and I as Catholics, or related and supporting believers, know of the importance of worship of the Lord.   We are here this night to do it.   Coming just a little earlier than this “other Mary” did, but it was her first opportunity of when Sabbath was over.   We have the Easter Vigil come as a Saturday, it is day’s end now.   It’s sundown.  We begin our Easter praises.   We don’t wait for Sunday morn.   It can begin tonight.   And we’ll celebrate big tomorrow, too.

Let us be worship-ful and in awe of the Lord, Who is here among us, not as obviously, but just as real.  Faith believes and receives.    ###

Hardly anybody really ever goes far to explain who all the brothers, sisters, cousins and such are to Jesus—but from John the Baptist to Mary of Cleophas—He had some family in His ministry.  We do not hear of Cleophas or Joseph (Jesus’ adopted father) in the Gospels during Jesus’ adult life. We can imagine that after their deaths, the two families—deprived of their protectors and heads—came together under one roof. This would further strengthen their ties: the two Marys as “sisters” and Jesus and His cousins as “brothers”. Gospel and tradition kept these names without denying Mary’s perpetual virginity.

To end this whole study, we can see is that Jesus had dedicated followers to Him, and some were family.  Yet what was important about them was emphasized once by Jesus when, of praising His mother Mary, He said:  “Blessed is she who has listened to the Word of God and kept to it.”   It could be also said of Mary of Cleophas. Hopefully, it will be said of us, too.   Amen.    ###

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We borrow info above from Hegesippus. A native of Palestine, Hegesippus finished his Memoirs in the reign of Pope Eleutherius (AD 175-189) when he was an old man. He draws his information from personal sources, as he was able to question some surviving members of Jesus’ family. Hegesippus can tell us that: “After the martyrdom of James, it was unanimously decided that Simeon, son of Clopas, was worthy to occupy the see of Jerusalem. He was, it is said, a cousin of the Saviour;” Hegesippus recounts in fact that Clopas was a brother of Joseph.    To research more, see Prat, Ferdinand. Jesus Christ: His Life, His Teaching, and His Work, 2 vols. (Milwaukee, 1950).

Holy Thursday Homily (longer blog version)

It’s the Year of Grace, and we’ve been talking of the various ways God showers His favor upon us.   The Grace of God can certainly be noticed in the blessings of Jesus’ New Passover Covenant of Eucharist and how it is shared via Holy Orders for His Church.

Two of the things that’s so important about Holy Thursday is that it’s the Fulfillment Day of the Passover by God from the old covenants to the Jews into the new one of Jesus, AND, that it’s the Institution Day of the Catholic Priesthood.   When Jesus gathered His apostles and said over the bread and wine “This is My Body…this is My Blood… (and then gave it to them to receive), He then said:  (From this time on) “Do this in Memory of Me.”  Here He commissioned them to “do this” that is, be His priestly vessels to share HIS High Priestly Gifts to the Church, His own Body and Blood, His very Self.

God’s Son Jesus gave fully of Himself on Holy Thursday and into Good Friday, and the same Gift is passed onto The Church, God’s people.  Jesus gives and still says “take…receive….Me.”   We have a new covenant in Jesus’ Body and Blood, and we have priests to serve the High Priest in continuing on this special participation in His Offering.  Jesus says “I AM Eucharist–even in His words–I AM the Bread of Life.” These apostles He chose were thus charged with the sacerdotal ministry (to be priests) beginning on Holy Thursday, and they were to pray Holy Mass in His Name and Person for Him, as priests serving The Priest.   Once Jesus returned to reign in Glory and gave us His Spirit, this priesthood was put into work.   The Holy Mass was to be the main ministry for them to do in “Holy Orders.”  Teaching was important of them too in their commission.  Tonight, we recall that original vocation started for Jesus’ purposes.   This night is the anniversary of the priesthood Jesus shared with His body of believers, the Church.  We are nearing the 2000th anniversary of it, from 33a.d to 2017a.d.

On that Thursday of the Jewish Passover in Jerusalem, about 1984 years ago, Jesus was really there in an Upper Room giving up His Body and His Blood for the salvation of the world.   His Last Supper was to be the New Passover, whereby His Body would be our ransom and sacrifice for sins, and His Blood would then be our pardon and our Passover from death.  The action of this Last Supper into the action of His Cross at Calvary would be all the same Offering, and Altar, and Victim.   It is why the Church’s Liturgy tonight doesn’t have an ending, but is picked up tomorrow in the Good Friday Liturgy.   Just like the Last Supper led along to the Cross—it was all one action.  For Jesus, that was all evident, in that it was an overnight in which Jesus never slept, until His human ‘sleep’ into death on Golgotha’s Crossbeam.

This Great Offering of Jesus, as the conclusion of His Man of Galilee earthly ministry, was purposefully done as The Main Event of the Savior, on that Jewish Passover.  It was done there to become the New Covenant Passover in Jesus’ Name.  Jesus told them to “do this in memory of Me.”  His parting Gift was Himself, and this Last Supper Gift was the Mass continued into the Church, to receive in Sacrament His Body and Blood. This Main Event Pasch of Jesus, on that original Holy Thursday, had the elements of the Pasch of the Jews, but with updates of fulfillment in Him, the Son of God.  For example, now the bitter herb would be Jesus’ suffering or Passion, the story to be told would now be changed from what Moses did to what Jesus accomplished, the unleavened bread for the journey out of Egypt and the mystery manna bread was to now be given as the Body of Jesus, His Real flesh for the life of the world (as John 6 puts it–for Jesus said: “I AM the Bread of life).”  The blood on the doorpost of the Exodus, that saved those Jews who put it obediently over their entranceways, was now the Blood of the Lamb, The Lamb of God, Jesus, who saves us who obediently receive Him into our being.   And so many other connections were made—for Jesus to now offer a Paschal Mystery.  (Recommendation:  Read Brant Pitre’s “Jesus and the Last Supper.”)

Jesus, the Eternal High Priest, commissioned priests to serve the Paschal Mystery, particularly in service of the Holy Mass.  If you peruse the latter part of the Bible book of Hebrews, you can see how it was all written and explained by that Bible author, who saw Jesus primarily as the High Priest, come down from Heaven, to author a way for us to participate in salvation by Him, and to have Him as our holy mediator to God.

I mentioned the term Paschal Mystery…you recall what it is, right?  We have had a whole preaching series on the Pascal Mystery not so many months ago here—it is the Mystery we celebrate of salvation by Christ’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection, and the hopeful promise that comes in participating in it, which is Glory—life with God forever.

The simple Mystery of Faith formula can be remembered as the one we often sang in churches, as a song:  “Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again.”  Meaning:  Christ to our past, Christ to our Present, Christ to what is yet to come.

Or, better, stated biblically, as St. John records in Revelation, we celebrate our Jesus as The One “Who Is, Who Was, And Who Is To Come.”  John starts out His apocalyptic book with Jesus as Priest and Paschal Mystery.  Rev. 1:8 says (as on Jesus lips, reigning in Heaven): “I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, Who is and Who was and Who is to come.”

Catholic priests know something of this three-fold identity of Jesus the Priest and Pascal Mystery.  I will briefly tell you of Jesus Who Is, Who Was, and Who Is To Come.

Jesus Who Is. He is the Priest Forever, every making intercession for His people.    Cardinal Wuerl was talking about this in his Chrism Mass at the Cathedral on Monday.   Jesus lives.  He is Emmanuel, God-with-us, which is the great prophet Isaiah’s view of the Christ. Jesus says “I Am with you always, even to the end of the age.”   One sure way He is– the Eucharist– is supplied for the Church’s whole journey, providing the people of God discern their priest vocations to serve her, and have them pray their Masses.  Please pray tonight on how you may support priestly vocations.  We need to find them and support them.

Jesus Who Is.  In a new book by N.T. Wright about Good Friday, he says that this Day of Christ’ Death (and its Holy Thursday lead-in) should be seen as a new starting point, as in Jesus as Alpha, and Wright say for too long some churches have seen the Crucifixion as just one day of wrath, when God took out His anger about sin, and had Jesus punished for us, to take our sins.   But that punishing definition is off, because then it leaves the Cross only as a past event, as if the Friday of Jesus Crucifixion was for wrath, and then an ending.  A closed event.   Yet read all of Revelation or the Book of Hebrews, and one can find how Jesus lives as Priest to keep on making intercession, and He can re-present His Sacrifice as He likes, without it being changed or having Jesus be re-crucified.  (As people crazily and wrongly claim of Catholics doing.)   Jesus is still seen as Lamb in a present tense in Revelation, as well as a future tense.   Because Jesus must be a present Lord, not only a past one.

Speaking of the past, Jesus did come into time and offer His life.   There was a definite day of Crucifixion for Jesus.   Jesus is the God who was—too.  We remember precisely the day He committed Himself to the Sacrifice, as on Holy Thursday He said:   “Would that I could pass from drinking this cup of suffering, yet, not as I will, but as You will, Father.”  Jesus chose to die for us, carrying out His destiny to be Yeshua–the God Who Saves.  He came and on that Cross could even offer up in Himself the sins to all the people in the past centuries and millennia who had sinned.   His offer at the Cross would be able to go way back into the past–even to the original sin.    We remember that in the Eucharist prayer at Mass.  Jesus died for us.  (Fact.  Historical Event.)

Who Is To Come.  Jesus’ offering also could go far into the future, for to give Mercy to the modern world of sinners, too, like ourselves.  Even from nearly 2 millennia ago, and 5892 miles away from here, on the other side of the planet.  He wanted to bless us in His Mercy and Peace and lead us to eternal life.  And His Love outpouring reached us.  And where are we headed?   We are headed to Glory.    Jesus said of Himself, that He is Who is, Who was, and Who is to come.    The Holy Mass is a prayer for preparation for His coming.  We await Him in a holy worship in His Body and Blood.   How more personal can a holy waiting for His Glory Arrival be?   St. Paul said of the Mass:  “We proclaim the Lord’s Death (Sacrifice) until He comes again (in Glorious appearance to us). ” When we get to Heaven, what will we do?  Worship Him.  So, we get started here, even in Jesus’ Body and Blood.

I tell you all of this because priests know these things of the Priesthood of Jesus and of the Pascal Mystery.   We also know why Scriptures like Revelation was written.  It is a letter by John to his churches (7 in Asia Minor) about how he sees a Heavenly Liturgy going on (via visions he received from Jesus) and how John urges the churches to have earthly Masses mirror the One above, celebrated in the same Lord Jesus among them on earth (as Sacrament).   This life in Sacraments (such as by Holy Mass) was to upbuild their ongoing relationship to God as His people in Christ.   Yes, take note, Jesus is speaking as the Book of Revelation starts, Who says He is the I AM–  the source of everything.   He is The One who first spoke to Moses with that title, and the one to institute a priesthood, even via Aaron, Moses’ brother, to celebrate the Sinai covenant He had made, and Jesus was also around in the bread and wine covenant with Abraham and Melchizedek the priest atop this very Jerusalem city.  Jesus speaks now in victory from Heaven of the New Covenant He has accomplished.  He speaks to one of his first priests, John, in this amazing revelation.   John the Apostle knows Jesus as “Priest.   Jesus is the One Who, as Priest and Perfectly Holy High Priest, did institute a New Covenant priesthood to serve His purposes for the Church.  John was there in the Upper Room when it was inaugurated– Passover Day.  John was now living the Mass as he wrote this letter.  He reminds us how Jesus, the Alpha, the new beginning, wanted to use priests them to lead His people in salvation to the Omega point, the life of living forever.  “I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, Who is and Who was and Who is to come.”

Oh my, I could go on…. but let’s end on a personal reflection.

Have you had some real memorable Masses in your life?   I have.   I’ve been a lifelong Catholic.   I can remember school Masses in St. Joseph’s School in Penfield, New York in my third grade year, when excitedly, I could receive Holy Communion with my class at Mass.    I can remember six years after that when I was in a Mass with Bishop Hermann over at St. Pius X Bowie with a big Confirmation class.   I remember being given the Sacrament by him, under the patronage of St. Anthony, and I remember it being a windy afternoon outside, like it suddenly was Pentecost or something.

I can also remember being in college Masses with my buddies at Ohio U. or University of Maryland.   I had many enjoyable ones there.  I had a Mass on a Sunday at St. Pius one Sunday night on the Feast of St. Augustine where God really touched me.  It would lead me to a deeper commitment to Jesus, eventually leading me to be called to seminary and priesthood.  Seminary Masses were quite edifying, like my first Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday as a twenty-six-year old in a Cleveland seminary was so great.  It was quite dynamic and faith-deepening.   Jesus is clearly leading every Holy Mass.  Priests are instruments of His choice to do what He wants for His Church.

Then as a priest, there have been too many amazing Masses to try to single certain ones out.   Well, how about just one.  Down in one parish assignment in Leonardtown on a Holy Thursday, I recall a parish woman named Grace, who really lived out her faith, by the grace of God.   I would tease her– “you are the Grace of God in our midst.”   She so loved the Lord and the Sacred Liturgy.  She was on cloud nine on that Holy Thursday.  She came back on Good Friday to pray the Stations, and after the 14th one, she died.  She literally went on to the 15th station on her own, the Resurrection, as Mary Magdalene sees Jesus.   Well, Grace saw Jesus in person one Good Friday ago.  As she did the stations so prayerfully, I suppose He could not be without her another moment, so much did Our Lord love her.   Grace’s funeral Mass filled the parish church in an Easter octave weekday following.  You know, all through this Year of Grace, I keep thinking of her.

Lastly, there are many, many very nice liturgies that have occurred here in St. Edward.   Maybe this very evening I could also single this Mass out, for it is the ninth Holy Thursday I’ve had here, to celebrate back in my home town another anniversary of the priesthood day.   That’s special to me.   It is good to be here!   As Psalm 133:1 says:  “Behold, how good and pleasant it is, for brethren to gather in unity.”  That’s how I feel tonight.  Or as the Psalm line in Hebrews goes:  “Hinneh mah tov u mah nahim, sebet ahim gam yahad!”

So it’s the New Passover and with the Holy Orders in the priesthood serving Jesus by it.   It’s so good!

Palm Sunday Homily (and prep for Good Friday–the Day of Sacrifice)

In my actual homily on last Sunday, I had a shortened homily, but I’ll refer to the whole message being here on this blog.    Palm Sunday is a long liturgy, and a homily should be short.  Yet I have three pages of thoughts below (9-10 minute homily), as so much can be said for this solemnity!  If you have come here, then you get it all.  

THE GRACE ROAD BEHIND JESUS— FOLLOWING IT WILL GET YOU EVERYWHERE (IN GOD’S REALM) 

THE ROAD TO JERUSALEM

untitledThe driver in her vehicle was having trouble seeing in the heavy storm and its very-low visibility.   The driver then saw what surely looked to be her neighbor Jeanne’s red corvette car ahead of her.  She thought—what good fortune!  If I can just stick close behind and follow her home—I think I can make home in this awful weather!   Following the faint tail lights ahead of her, she followed the corvette out ahead of her.   Slowly they went along, straight on, and then they made a few careful turns, and then went on straight, and then a turn, and then, all of sudden, her neighbor’s car in front of her just came to stop.   She could tell this was too soon to be home.  She began wonder what had happened, perhaps Jeanne in the car in front had hit a deer or something like that, but she began to feel uncomfortable, thinking that being stopped in the middle of the road can often times lead to accidents.   She beeped her horn.   Much to her alarm the car in front of her turned off their lights. Her concern was perhaps now turning to anger. Why was this person stopping in the middle of the road and then turning off their lights?  th2ZVIFNLN

She was then startled in a moment or two by a knocking on her window. She looked up and there was a man standing in the pouring rain wanting to speak to her. She cracked the window open and asked:  “What’s the problem up there?  And, where is Jeanne, the usual driver of this car, my neighbor?”

The man replied by stating that “he knew no Jeanne,” but the question he was going to ask her was why she had stopped where she did.  She retorted that “she was not the one , thank you, who had stopped in the middle on the road and then turned off the lights.  She was just following behind!  And now they both were in danger!”  The man’s reply was that “they were not in the road but in his driveway.”

And this driveway was not of her neighbor, nor even her neighborhood!  It wasn’t Jeanne she followed, but some other, rather perturbed fellow, who wanted him off his property now.  Now she was truly lost!   The upset driver of the Corvette went into his house and left her out there to figure out what next to do!

FROM THIS STORY we can see that the driver had chosen the wrong leader, that is, the wrong one to follow. She had followed someone who would not take to where she wanted to go. Many times in life we too are faced with storms and trials and fogginess and bad visibility on where things are going, and it can be hard to see that road ahead. It is at this time that we too need to find a leader who can guide us. We need to make sure that we are on the right road, one that will get us to where we want to go. We have to choose the right leader who is on the right road.  The Right Road is Grace Road, and the Leader is Jesus.

Where is this road?   You are on it.   This Grace Road is a pathway of following Jesus.   You need to keep your eyes are on Jesus ahead. You need to keep in communion with Him, humbly.   Much will be out there to distract you or mislead you, or you can also make a bad miscalculation, just relying on your own private judgment.

Today is Palm Sunday, which marks the day that Jesus made his entry into Jerusalem. It marks the beginning of the last week that He would spend as a man in ministry on this earth among His disciples.  One of the gospel lines about Jesus’ Entry in Jerusalem says that “Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethpage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. “And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ’The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”  IMAG0558_1

So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.  And we know what happened next….

A Gospel account says:  “And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ’Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!” And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Here is the beginning of the end for Jesus’ earthly ministry. On that road to Jerusalem, Jesus is traveling towards His death, burial and glorious resurrection. And while this Grace Road led Jesus to Jerusalem, that Jerusalem road will lead us to heaven.  That is, if we are willing to follow Jesus along that road. We must be willing to travel the road that Jesus traveled, that road to Jerusalem.        

For us in Holy Mass, we repeat the same words in song:  “Holy Holy Holy Lord… Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord, Hosanna in the Highest.”   We are like the Bethany crowd, as they lead Jesus in to His Sacrifice (although many of them back then didn’t know it).   Yet, we know it.  We celebrate a Lord of Sacrifice here.   He goes before us to save us.

Notice clearly that, for Jesus, this way up to Jerusalem was a road of humility.  Notice how Jesus rides the donkey and colt, on the ascent into the Holy City. Scripture prophecy explains to us how this was done all in fulfillment of a foretelling of the prophet Zechariah, in how to notice the Messiah arriving in Jerusalem to save her: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ’Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”  Now normally on earth we like to see our hero enter the capital city in a conquering blaze of glory and power.  Like a Napolean or Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan.   Or, at least, if a person is important, would that they have a grand entrance!  Like a visit from the Queen today, or the Queen of Sheba of three millennia ago.

And when we think of the King of Kings and Lord of lords, Jesus, making a entry, we would think that there would be all the power, or pomp and pageantry that would be befitting for such a royal figure.   Yet as Jesus rode into town, the King of kings chose the road of humility. He did not come riding into Jerusalem on a white stallion, or marching with an army of tens of thousands, but He came on the back of the colt of a donkey. And it wasn’t even his donkey but a borrowing one at that.   An unbroken, innocent one, even!  This reflected the life of Christ which was a life of humility.  Jesus did not come into this world with wealth, but he came in poverty. He did not enter or exit it in grandeur but with meekness. He was not one who had a lot of material fortune and fame, but He possessed all grace and humility.  He came as Salvation.

When Jesus spoke of his kingdom he spoke in terms of it begin one of service and servanthood, and one of humility.  What is interesting is that on the last night that Jesus spent with His disciples, only hours before He was to die, his disciples were arguing over who would be greatest in the kingdom. Luke 22:24: “Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.” After all they had been through with Jesus, they still not get it. They simply did not understand that the road Jesus had traveled on was a road of humility, and I do say, friends of Jesus in St. Edward’s this morning, it is a road that He requires His disciples to travel on, such as us.

This 2017 Year of Grace reminds us that humility is always paired with grace.   You see it in Jesus, our model. Our leader.  We must follow and imitate our Leader.   Not the flashy red corvette leaders of the world.

I think sometimes we lose thought of this ourselves—that Jesus is Humility.  To accept Him is to ultimately accept humility of ourselves.   We love and desire the blessings of God, but do we really want to follow Jesus on this road of humility?  It’s Holy Week, and He will show us that He tests us a bit on it.  Only the penitent man shall pass into Glory.  It is the bowed man who enters the sanctuary of God.  If we walk along after Him this Grace Road, this Grace Way of Humility, then we shall learn that lesson.

Jesus did say:  “Unless you deny your very self, take up your cross, and follow Me—you cannot be My disciple.”   St. Paul teaches Jesus’ Way by saying that in Glory, every knee shall bow, every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of the Father.”    (*Passages from Mark and Philippians)

To follow Jesus means going down that road, the road of the cross. It means giving up our selfish desires, it does mean denying ourselves, and it surely means putting not only God first in our lives, but putting others first as well. Our family, our friends, even those God will tell is our neighbor to love, and perhaps loving an enemy or someone at bad odds with us.

The road of humility is the road that says I will live like Christ lived. I will strive to be conformed to His image. The Jerusalem road is a road of humility, a road that we are called to follow Jesus on.  Can you walk it?

This road we are told was also a road of fulfillment. Notice what a verse says; “All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: Tell the daughter of Zion, ’Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

The fact that Jesus enters Jerusalem on a colt of a donkey is not just by change or luck. That fact that the colt was right where Jesus said it would be was not just a lucky guess on His part, but it was all part of fulfilling the divine plan of Almighty God.  This is just one of a few hundred prophecies (332 actually) that we see in the Old Testament concerning Jesus, of which He will fulfill by His life. [Examples include being betrayed by friend, Psa. 41:9, sold for 30 pieces of silver, Zech 11:12; having false witnesses accusing Him, Psa. 27:12; remaining silent when accused, Isa. 53:7, being struck and spit upon, Isa 50:6; standing and suffering in our stead, Isa. 53:4-5; having His hands and feet pierced, Ps. 22:16; being mocked and insulted Ps. 22:16-18; with His side pierced, Zech. 12:10; with soldiers casting lots for his clothes, Ps. 22:18; but not a bone broken in Him, Ps. 34:20; and being buried with the rich, Isa. 53:9. And on and on and on…]    Now– the mathematical odds of all of the 332 prophecies being fulfilled by one man is unreal. The odds are one in 84 to the 123rd power. That is 84 with 123 zeros after it. That might seem unlikely to happen, but you see, the Road to Salvation was being laid out by the Eternal Son, Spirit and Father—even along through the Hebrew covenant history—to be fulfilled when God’s Anointed came among us.

God brings to pass His mighty plan.   One might easily miss it, without the eyes of humility and the grace of faith. What it shows is that the whole life of Christ was the divine plan of an almighty God to redeem us, to save us from our sins. All that Jesus when through was for the fulfillment of the salvation of you and I.  Jesus traveled down that road of fulfillment knowing that it would lead to His death on the cross, but also knowing that He would bring salvation, eternal life with the Father in heaven for you and I.

As we pray Mass, we humbly travel life with this Lord of Revelation, while praying every time: “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord of Hosts… Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the Highest.”  Today we even do it with palms branches in hand.   Lift them up during the “Holy Holy” today and make the connection.   We are a people not walking behind a Jesus of our own making and liking, but a Lamb of God/ Deliverer/ and Hero of Love.   We know the cost He gave, and the mistaken notions of Him even by some of those Bethany and Bethpage and Jerusalem people, that He would be what they wanted of a Savior.  Yet rather, Jesus is the Savior that we needed, and God saw that would be provided in His Son.  Hosanna to the Lamb!  Let us hail Him for Who He really is!   The world has a great need for Savior Jesus, while she won’t admit it much, yet Savior Jesus Crucified is our Grace supplied for our immense need in this fallen world. He builds a Grace Road, of humility, to become our highway to heaven.

Let us be willing to travel down that road of fulfillment with Jesus. Let us be willing to fulfill and follow the will of God for our lives.   Like Jesus said, let us say:  Not mine, O Lord, but thy will be done, in me.   Father, I take this road behind your Son as a co-road of submission: submission to Father God, obedience to the Father, a steadfast trust in the Father to be saved by His Son.   Amen.    Let us imitate Jesus Who said of His own life:  “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 3:38)

Wedding Homily for Kent/Erin AND 5th Lent Sun. Homily April 1-2

Wedding Homily    April 1st

Dear Couple,

As you know, Kent and Erin, we begin April today with this occasion we call “April Fools’ Day.”  In ancient cultures, April Fools’ Day, which comes close to the first day of spring, marked the beginning of a new year. Then in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered the use of the Gregorian calendar that made January 1st as our “New Year’s Day” and start of a calendar year.  Some people, however, didn’t know about the new schedule, or perhaps they just didn’t think it made any sense. They continued to celebrate on April 1st (as the “first day,” their “spring start,” the beginning of a new year) and were called “fools” for doing so. This is the origin of our annual day of pranks and practical jokes.  It’s a little wedding day factoid that I bring to you!

Here you are, in this wedding, taking us all back to the original calendar of long ago—as you are saying, “This is our first day—first day of marriage!”  “This is our “spring start”—and love is in blossom and love blooms in spring!”   “This is the beginning of the rest of our lives, in marriage, and April 1st will be a new year’s day– our anniversary of love each year. ”

How about that?!   So April 1st is a quite dandy day to become married.  That is, since it’s the original new years, spring thing, and all that!!  And we’ll party with you later like it’s New Years!   And Kent, you have the easiest wedding anniversary day to remember!

About April the ‘oneth’ as your day, too, the custom today is for people to remember to take themselves lightly.  With the tradition of some silly stories, surprises, and teases of this calendar day, it reminds you that you’ll be able to live marriage out only by enough smiles and laughs and excuses you give one another for being imperfect.   Spoiler alert: You don’t marry a perfect mate, and that’s a relief (!) for you.  Your humanity will need to be accepted of one another.

/in the live homily I added an illustration of a forgiveness tool and method, linking it to the epistle reading./

Lastly, I need to put a word in about how the Lord is the Third Person in this marriage.  The sacrament bonds and binds you not only to each other but to Jesus.   That’s been the Christian faith, even back to good ol’ St. Valentine, priest of Rome, who married so many couples in the Lord as a legacy of his holy orders.    He enjoyed helping people to make love promises in the Lord, for a Holy Matrimony, because God IS love and all should be lived in return to Him and to His Glory.  Yes, there’s a Glory of Love.

The opening Scriptures today here spoke of a three-ply cord that cannot easily be broken. (Eccl. 4:12)  I show an example of it here in front of you.   This cord rope of three rope lines bound as one, united to. make it very strong.  Keep the Lord in the middle cord, and you’ll do fine.   Find the many ways to unite in God, bodily, and spiritually, and in the uniqueness of who you are to one another.   God will inspire many things to lift you up in love, for He wants it to be together and lasting even more than you do.   He can help you live as one, if He gets to be in the middle, you’re good!  You’re of one accord (a-cord!).

So there you are!  April 1–lots of fun.   Point 2:  Be light!   Point 3: 3 ply cord in the Lord.  IMAG1181_1

Your advice from Fr. John Barry– God bless you both, Kent and Erin.

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IMAG1183_1Homily. Lenten Sunday of April 2nd. Lazarus arise!

The Gospel of Lazarus.  The Grace To Hear the Shepherd’s Voice.

They say with hospice patients that hearing is only at the last of things to go.

So there in her home bed, surrounded by some family and a few old neighbors, was Gertie. She hadn’t spoken or opened her eyes all month to anyone, and now her blood pressure was very low.  A family member said aloud to another sibling. We have her plot next to dad ready, the coffin picked out, her green dress cleaned and prepared for her wearing for the viewing, and a barbeque caterer for the repass set. The sibling nodded and verbally approved, when all of a sudden Gertie, that hospice patient, their mother, spoke up:  “I said I wanted to be buried in the pink dress! And, I don’t barbeque, why are you serving it at my farewell party?! I never liked pit beef!”

She was almost six feet under, but the hearing’s the last to go.

Lazarus, in our gospel story, was already gone , three days hence, but evidently his hearing was still working in the cave tomb.  Jesus called forth: “Lazarus!  Lazarus!  Come out!”

And he did.  That’s good hearing, I’d say. And he did well to do as was said!

Of course, as Jesus’ great Bethany friend and disciple,  Lazarus was a good listener of The Lord.  He loved hearing and doing what Jesus said.   There is a grace in that.

In this Year of Grace, we appreciate the favors of God to equip His followers with a way of hearing that connects ears, mind and thoughts with the heart and soul.  The ultimate hearing is found that way–to hear the Voice of The Good Shepherd Jesus.

John 10 tells of how Jesus says “the sheep of His pasture will hear His voice and know Me.” That ‘hearing’ goes on even after our passing, so we learn, as Scripture says:  “the days are come when even the dead will hear God’s voice abstruse up from their tombs.”

As witnessed a bit pre-resurrection with Lazarus.

What’s a lesson to take from this today?  Listen for God.  Pray, with much listening and pondering and reflecting.  Plead the Holy Spirit to best hear the Good Shepherd.   Know that God has communication to get to you.  One day it will be rising up instructions.

So, use your connections of heart to mind, faith to feeling, soul to ears.  Act as the embodied Spirit ( or body/ soul.person) that you are.

It started with your open welcome of Jesus into your heart and hearth. Like it did with Lazarus with his sisters Martha and Mary welcoming Jesus.   It is deepened with your desiring to know Jesus as Savior and Friend, as obviously this Bethany household did.   It is letting Jesus close in, even intimate with you.  You hear His invitation.  How readily do you ( or I) respond to His Voice?

We need to know His Voice.  He’s the Shepherd that leads our lives to all that is good.

What a grace it is to have learned to hear His Voice.   Some believers here can shout Amen to that.

To some others, perhaps the Bible verse applies to you: ” If today you hear His Voice, harden not your hearts.”. Confess your deep need of Him.  Wait for His answer.

That’s for the supernatural ear ability to hear so well, your ears will keep working, even when the rest of your body won’t !

For natural hearing help, there’s a Catholic doctor with a Bowie office named Dr. Micheal Damiano, ear, nose and throat– that I recommend to you.  He’s very good.

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4th Sunday of Lent Homily “Redemptive Suffering”

Live Homily was trimmed short.  Here’s the fuller, blog version…

The Help of Redemptive Suffering

A man goes into the doctor complaining of aches all over, and points and touches his kneecap and says to the doc: “I have pain here.”  Then he points and touches his elbow and says:  “I have pain here.”   Then he points and touches the back of his neck, and says:  “I have pain here, too.”   Then, he’s ready to point to something else, but the doctor interrupts him and says: “ Sir, I think I already know what’s wrong with you.”  The patient is elated—saying: “’You do, Doc?  That’s great, because I need help.  What is it– arthritis, bone degeneration, injuries?”   The doc says:  “Just let me look at your pointer finger—I think you must have injured it.  Ah yes—you’ve cut your pointer finger!   Nothing else is wrong!  (Everything you touch therefore just feels like it’s hurting…)”  :)   Oh, if suffering only had easy solutions like that one, in the joke!

But when we are in some serious pain, it’s no laughing matter.

We also can struggle in the spiritual life when we suffer.   Like the false assumption made in today’s gospel about the blind person, some people can think that suffering happens just to bad people, or to people who have it coming to them from God, or suffering happens to dumb people.  So when suffering comes to them, they are looking for how the sufferer might be at fault, for being bad, deserving of hurt, or just dumb.  Wrong assumption.  Jesus says that suffering was not the fault of the man born blind, nor the fault of his parents.  But then Jesus adds something important, that the man’s suffering will be involved with God’s compassionate help.  Jesus says the man’s blindness was there that the works of God might be made visible through him.

What? People must have wondered.  Did Jesus just say God is with suffering?

God is with sufferers, though He’s not the cause of suffering.  Yet God can work with any suffering person to have the experience be redemptive and saving.   Yes, we are already broken people to start with—but God is a healer.  God is a Redeemer, too.

Redemptive Suffering might be hard to believe of Jesus, but for the fact that He practiced it in a grand way in saving sinners by His crucifixion on a Cross, and then in His rising up afterwards in a victory to share with us—and it won our salvation and our right to have Him live inside our souls– so we take heed of Him to listen and learn.

Suffering, first, causes the person acting in soul and conscience to reflect on life.   You or I ask: Where is God in my suffering? Did I do something wrong? What will be the quality of my life from here on out?  Simply, we want to make sense out of that which doesn’t seem to make sense.

Understanding a share of the meaning of suffering has come via some experiences in my own life.  While my pains have been small compared to others, one big accident I had suffered in life pointed me to a higher meaning for my life (since I survived it—and looked to know why), another incident showed that I need to exercise some caution over my need for success and acceptance of others, and another suffering situation showed me that I cannot always be in control of things, even my own life, but that it’s ok.    These are some life lessons in redemptive suffering.   I came out better due to the suffering.   I used the suffering for good.   I accepted it as part of God’s plan to shape me, or to shape another via me.   It’s not an easy thing, but it is reassuring that, as Jesus said, “the works of God might be made visible” through me in some episodes of life.

Jesus has redemptive power.    It is part of His whole being of Grace.   He answers our questions of suffering in some simple lessons— like that of the pearl fisherman seeking a treasure embedded in the dark heart of the oyster, so we have shining pearls of grace hidden in the darkness of our suffering.  God will bring forth His grace and pearls in our own oyster’s to open.   (So let’s start shucking, rather than ducking, our pain.)

When we survey human history, it becomes evident that suffering is an inextricable part of the human condition. It’s not a matter of whether we will suffer during our lives, but when. And more specifically, how will we suffer: poorly or well?

When we fail to find meaning in our suffering, we can easily fall into despair. But once we find meaning in our suffering, it is astounding what we can endure, both mentally and physically. The key is not the suffering itself, but the meaning found within it.   Here is where our Lent and our standing at the foot of Jesus’ Cross might truly help us.  Jesus calls us to join Him, to even become His body, or an embodiment of believers under Him, the Head of the Church.   He permits us to give our suffering with His perfect suffering, again in trust of the Father Almighty. Christ asks for us to offer our suffering as part of our becoming fully one with Him.  Jesus did this redemptive work as one of us, suffering many things, all with a goal in mind—to present it to the Father as a perfect, saving act of service and love.   When Jesus perfectly offered it all at the Cross, as His final act, the Father received it as “redeeming.”  Jesus is Risen.   Our path in His paschal mystery now can lead us to gains from our pains, victory over any misery.   Trust in God.

Let us understand that we are called to co-suffer with Him.   You see—some people want a convenient and easy theology or faith approach that claims that Jesus suffered so that we wouldn’t have to?  But that’s wrong teaching.   Jesus suffered the Cross, because we couldn’t save ourselves, so that we gladly have had Him stand in for us.   But Jesus didn’t eliminate suffering here on earth.   His believers were expected to go through some of it, even as the Beatitudes say of our life in Him.  We are blessed, but we suffer some for it, too.   Also, not everybody was healed by Jesus from states of suffering.  For one, He did not overthrow the Roman Empire in His 33 year visit to Israel, so there would be much persecution and suffering ahead to the Church because of that.   Yet Jesus does say a whole healing is coming to His people, and an eternal life.   That is a very good thing He promised, so to make all the ordeals worth it.   We won’t suffer damnation nor separation from God any longer, provided we cling to the Lord and His salvation.   We need to suffer through what He allows to happen to us.

Pope John Paul wrote an apostolic letter on suffering, and in it he says that the work of Christ doesn’t guarantee an escape from suffering.  No-instead, Jesus has changed the meaning of suffering. We are now joined through baptism with Christ in His death and resurrection, and we have become intimately united to Him, so much so that we are His Body. Because of our union with Christ, even our suffering is changed; it becomes redemptive. Because Christ loves us so much, He invites us to participate in His redeeming work by allowing us to offer up our sufferings in union with His.  Pope John Paul II said, “in the cross of Christ not only is the redemption accomplished through suffering, but also human suffering itself has been redeemed” (Salvifici Doloris, 19). In other words, our suffering is changed and is worth something if it is in union with Christ. Every time we suffer, we have an opportunity to either run from Christ, or embrace the suffering as an opportunity to love and walk as He walked.

St. Paul experienced much weakness and suffering, but when he prayed about it, Christ answered: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” As a result, the apostle could proclaim, “I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:7-9). Paul understood that our life is a cooperation with the work of Christ when he wrote: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (Colossians 1:24). Think about that: Paul said that something is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. What could possibly be lacking in Christ’s afflictions? Answer: Our part!  While that is miniscule compared to Christ, “we still have little part to play in the world’s Redemption.” (SD27–Pope JPII)  It’s a grace of “redemptive suffering.”

We can participate with Christ in redeeming the world.  So offer up your pain.

Homily Sun. St. Joseph Day

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HOMILY

When I think of St. Joseph on this March 19th, there are a few words or phrases that come to mind to describe him.  One is “good” St. Joseph. Another is Joseph the “just man.”. A third phrase to describe his life is how he was a man committed to “redemptive suffering,” as how he knew it.

Let me expound on each.

And, as we look at St. Joseph (and to Jesus by him), may we ask ourselves:  How am I good?  How am I just?  How do I live out “redemptive suffering?” or make my own sacrifices for good to come about to God’s glory?

Joseph the Good.

Good St. Joseph is a fitting first description of this saint.  The goodness in his character is certainly something that won the loving heart of Mary to him. There was deep goodness in this man, which spoke of what Israel was supposed to produce in its holy nation.  Mary saw that model goodness in Joseph; she loved him for that good fidelity to God’s call, and she knew he would likewise be true to her.  She became betrothed to him, seeing goodness in her future.

Joseph, thus, can be contrasted with the kind of Jews that gave Moses a stubborn, selfish time. In that opening Exodus text today in Mass, Moses loses his temper over the lack of good, courageous people he has to work with in his exodus company.  Yet Joseph, caretaker of the Holy Family, was indeed good, and so reliably good.  Joseph would be a worthy assistant in the Kingdom of God coming in his foster-son, Jesus, in the Savior’s “new exodus” promise, delivered in the Good News, for a new covenant of God to be kept.  

Joseph was a very good father figure to the Lord God Incarnate.  Jesus learned from his promise-keeper, covenant-keeper Joseph, and could trust to be submissive to him (Lk. 2:51-52)– and He was.  Jesus would grow to shine in Joseph’ good example – modeled so well in the Holy Family home.

Joseph the Just

St. Joseph is truly a just man; he is fair in every godly way, and reverent in the soul.  He was just in his work and how he treated people daily. Joseph was respectful always, not just to his family, but also to others he met.  Joseph’s life and social and just influence on Jesus is evident, as I see it, in today’s gospel, as one observes Jesus’ just behavior to the Samaritan woman and her townsfolk.  For instance, Jesus was fair (in some imitation of Joseph) in not excluding the Samaritans in his mission, nor to exclude, particularly, this public female sinner at the well of Sychar.  Hear Jesus’ just, fair approach to her in the John 4 account.  Note his respect to the woman who didn’t even have respect from anybody in her own home town.  She only was their town sinner. Yet, amazingly, she is given respect by this kind man at the well.  He sees her as a human being, somebody made in God’s image first.

Jesus puts her in control by asking her for a favor, a drink. This justly opens a dialogue. It breaks down barriers.   He draws out of her guarded self, even to some reference of faith (as she speaks of Jacob and this well at which they meet at, which was where Jacob’s Ladder had appeared in history).  Jesus is not harsh, but fair, in then raising in the verbal exchange about her immoral activity, to point that she might be thirsty for God’s help. She is.  He notices how her isolation in her sins do cry for mercy, freedom and justice  She responds openly by saying that maybe one day God would use that holy Jacob’s ladder to come down to help people.  Jesus then says:  ‘That day is here. I am the Christ, and I have come to help my people, such as yourself.  I can now offer you a drink in the Spirit of God.’  Friends, this exchange of Jesus, in such total respect to the sinful Samaritan woman, is a tribute to Joseph’s influence, so I think. Sure, the Holy Spirit helped Jesus a lot, as well as His divine nature to his humanity was a big factor to His actions, but do not doubt, for a second, how noticeable Joseph’s great mark is on how Jesus lived His ministry.

St. Joseph the just man helped form Jesus for us.*  Jesus’ own perfect fairness was in Him at birth, surely, but you could say it was planned to be nurtured by the one whom God chose to foster the Christ Child, the model just man:  Joseph.   Into Jesus’ development towards manhood, he and Joseph even worked together in the Nazareth workshop, and perhaps in nearby Sepphoris, as just workers in a just trade, doing it all inspired by faith.  Joseph died before Jesus went into ministry, though we don’t know what year it was.  Jesus’ carpentry times probably stopped at that time, with Him then looking for preparation for the ministry life, once Joseph passed on. 

By the way, and of course, Joseph certainly would have been most blessed in the relationship with Jesus.   He is the most holy male saint in history, just due to the fact that he was in close family contact with God Incarnate, Jesus, for many years.  Being with divinity, in caring for Jesus, The Lord, would highly rub off on him.   He was receiving, even much more than giving, in the pairing with Jesus, and the spousal relationship with Mary, Jesus’ mother.   He would have been aglow in holiness with them.                  

Joseph, the Redemptive Sufferer 

There is a third aspect of Joseph’s life– most apropos to our Lenten season in this Year of Grace–it is the example the Joseph of redemptive suffering.  Redemptive suffering is a term that Deacon and I will address a few times during Lent.  It is defined easily as a holy suffering experience with the good-of-others in mind, pertaining to salvation and God’s glory.

Joseph knew the Old Testament version of redemptive suffering.   It was an involvement, surely, to be “poor in spirit.”   When Jesus began His ministry, His first sermon line was “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”   I believe Jesus was thinking of his foster-father’s example here.  His foster dad was a man of the remnant faithful of Israel, the “anawim,” as they were called.  Joseph’s poor- in-spirit example touched on Jesus.  He had seen Joseph live out Israel’s call to be willing to live in sacrifice and other-centeredness.   Joseph was willing to sacrifice something, endure something, and bear something—in self-suffering—for the cost of someone else’s good.  (Even especially for Jesus Himself.) Jesus would be blessed by that example, then go on to show in Himself just how elevated (in His Grace) that redemptive suffering could go.  (It would save the world via Him.)   sorrow2

Why did Joseph live this way, of being “poor in spirit?”   To live to the glory of God!

When Jesus preached the Beatitudes, He also included the eighth one:  “Blessed are those persecuted, of those who suffer for the sake of My Name and the gospel of the Kingdom come, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”  Again, I think he was remembering Joseph’s example here—never minimize the contribution of a godly father (even foster-father). Joseph had been persecuted by many, such as Herod’s family, but he did not waver.  Jesus says that He came to offer the kingdom of heaven to such as these.

In his poor-in-spirit attitude and suffering for God’s good to come by him, Joseph was most willing to sacrifice himself for the care of Mary and her son, Jesus, the Christ Child.    Joseph was willing to go through confusing times, without God’s full explanation, when he had to give up his home in Nazareth, so to move on to Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and onto Africa for a number of years, for the sake of his family.    As Jesus matured and began ministry, He was also without a home-place (”the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” Mt. 8:20), but he could lean a bit on Joseph’s life.   He also knew how Joseph toiled with the world and his beloved Israel all under Roman rule.   Jesus would borrow from that strength of his foster-father to toil to set the world free, one caught  under sin and Satan’s hold, and Jesus would work to the very end on his human strength for our freedom.  Jesus saw how his strong foster dad had worked hard to provide for the Holy Family; thus would Jesus strives for the human family, to save us, and He’d do it for His Heavenly Father as a gift as one of us on the earth.  We are heading to the Cross and Resurrection this Lent, and for ourselves, like Sychar’s Samaritans, to be saved by The Savior.  Amen.

 

One more Ordinary Sunday homily on grace

Sermon on the Mount–The “Don’t Worry” Gospel.  Photo= Gary Zimak speaking here last Feb. about handling anxiety. ‘Remember? They were 3 great talks.

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I lead off with a reference to bulletin blurbs. This week we nearly printed the guidelines for giving up mean for Lent. Yes, we meant meat! But, hey, perhaps giving up being mean is really better!  It reminded me of another bulletin blunder that read: Don’t just let worry kill you, let the Church help.  Say what?!

No, the Church and Jesus ARE working AGAINST worry and stress, really.  It the Peace Rite at Mass we truly petition God for our wanting freedom from sin’s dominion (like fear) and to be safe from all distress, as we await the Blessed Hope and Coming of Jesus in Glory.

How to Let Grace Win out over Worrying

In this Year of Grace, we are especially pondering how to have God’s favor upon us lead us to more victorious and fruitful Catholic living.   One obstacle in our path is worry or anxiety—as Jesus pointed out in His message today.  The Savior in His sermon on the mount said:  “One cannot add a single moment to their life by worrying… do not worry.”

Recall those talks last year by our special guest speaker Gary Zimak—the author of the “Worriers Guide to the Bible.’   He came for three nights with different addresses to urge us to not let worry take away the joy of our Catholic faith.  He urged us to pray:  “Lord, help me again, for I have fallen again to worry, and I so reduce myself by it, let my faith and trust in You rise up instead.  Help me to trust You, again, right now, and turn this thing around.  I surrender once again—to You!”   Such prayers work!

I know that how, for some of you, Gary’s message was an ice-breaker for you to get finally free of the icy holds that you had been used to being shackled by.

Today’s gospel has Jesus addressing our need to trust in the Father Almighty’s plan.   There is a Master Plan and we can trust in it.   Jesus did so Himself, as He lived and made choices in our very position as a human person.  Jesus said:  Consider how nature relies on God: you too are a natural wonder of God, now act so!   You can take the lessons of the lilies of the field, dear disciple.  They don’t toil in living under God.  Why, then, do you?

When we feel that things are out of our control, that is when we tend to worry, but how do you stop worrying?  For starters, remember that God, not you, is in control.  Also, of about worrying, most of the awful things we imagine that will happen often never do. We can be thankful for that.  We should better understand that worrying never helps a situation get better. Worrying sends a message to ourselves and those around us that we are helpless and have nowhere to turn or no One to deliver us. However, as a Christian, we believe that God has everything in His control. If He really does, and we really believe that, then we have nothing to worry about. We only need to trust that God will take care of everything according to His plan.

Here are five more short tips from the Bible to help us to be free from our anxieties.

First, we can confess to God that we are falling into fear again, and ask Him to strengthen us.  The Bible says in Philippians 4:6,7 to “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Yes, we can be so cautious that it is not hesitancy or prudence in the lead, but timidity and fear and being overly concerned for something—as if we have to have it all under our control.  Why not remind yourself that God is in control, and ask God to help out, thanking Him that He is there.  Stop worrying by taking your requests to Him. You have a “go-to God.” Peace comes from being in Christ Jesus, rather than just self-reliance.  Yes, we do what we can, then we leave the rest up to God from there.

Secondly, that same verse reminds us to be thankful.  “O God, thanks, that You’ve Got This: Amen.”

Thirdly, if one goes on to the very next verse in Philippians 4, verse 8, the Word of God gives us more advice:   Quote:  Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Just after Paul’s comments about worry he says that we should think on good, godly things. When we focus on positive and wholesome events, memories, plans, etc., then it is hard to be worried about everything else.   Christians should be positive-minded people for we know God and His plan wins out in the end.  Yes, you might have a problem going on, like needing a new job—but what about the work of God (or job of God) in you?  Are you becoming more like Christ, as in being more a true self, honest person, with a good pure intention or loving heart in what you do?  Are you giving witness or good report of a life of faith, and do you have some virtue shining through, and can you praise God for something in your life?!  If so, then be of that mind, not of worry.

Fourthly, we have a Counselor to call upon.   We are blessed in the Holy Spirit, Who goes by the title Comforter and Counselor.   He is a Gift from Jesus to us to live the life of being His disciple.  It says in John 14:26, 27 “But the Comforter, Who is the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind for peace….so let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  Would we just let that Word be planted deep within us as real and reliable!

In John 14 Jesus is explaining to the disciples where He is going and that He will return. In the meantime the Holy Spirit of God will come and indwell the believers. This was something new to the people of Jesus’ day. They did not have the Holy Spirit living within them like we do as believers today.  Jesus could have been worried about His whole salvation plan working, but He turned it over, for the Spirit’s help of comfort.”   “Come, Sweet Comforter, and help me.  Live according to Your Name.   I need it.”

The Father comforts too.  The Word says in 1 Peter 5:6, 7 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for He cares for you.”  O God, I may be suffering and low right now, but You are the exalter.  Lift me up in Your own Self.  Unite me to You via your Son and Spirit.

Fifthly, we should realize that there is an inner strength to us, if we have received Christ into us. Even the Psalmist, having some of the spirit of God, declares in:  Psalm 27:1-3 “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?   So does Isaiah say in:  Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not; for I am with you: be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you, and yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Life was a lot less scary (and worrisome) when we were kids and we had parents who were bigger and stronger than us. When we had problems we could go to them and they would say that they would take care of it. We have a God that wants to do that for us today. Will you take your concerns to Him and rely on His strength?  He is waiting to take that burden from you.

And what if you just can’t see how all you are looking at adds up to Heavenly Aid?   Go to Romans 8:28 of God’s Promise, as He says to us: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”.  Amen to that.