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, 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.

The Rising Up Life. Homily 5-7

How do we live a Rising Up life?  By the buoyancy of the Easter Lord Jesus.  We engage Him daily into our lives.  We do it by prayer, spiritual reading, service to the Gospel, and by loving in a God- breathed way in activities and relationships.  That’s for starters.    It’s the success formula and story of many a saint, such as the single Canadian woman Blessed Marie Leonie Paradis, whose feast is May 3rd. She came from a poor but religious family. Her pursuit of holiness as a Catholic inspired her to become a learned woman of the Faith, going on to teach in places in Canada as in New Brunswick and Montreal, and in the USA in New York and Indiana.  She founded an Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family.  Many others took up an imitation of her zeal for God and love of people.IMAG0460_1

What Marie-Leonie found was of how to let the Risen Lord into her being, so that He might be her inspiration.  She learned to live in tandem with Him.

Indeed.  The Risen Lord seeks avenue to live in His people.  This is the new life.  The prophecy was that God would put in us a new heart and spirit– Yes, His very Self in us.    I in you and you in me, as John’s Gospel tells of Jesus of this rising up life.

How do we say YES to the LORD today to the new life?

We hear about a changed Peter in the Acts 2 reading today for the opening Sunday Scripture.  He now lived in Jesus and we hear how his convicted teachings were so moving that his hearers “were cut to the heart.” They took Peter’s exhortation rather seriously–about becoming saved from their corrupt generation–and it says 3000 people expressed their repentance in baptism in that afternoon described.

A changed new life in the Risen Lord Jesus has the holy power to touch others and make a real difference– whether in St. Peter, Blessed Marie Leonie or in you and I.

So how do we say YES today to being joined in the Easter Lord Jesus, and Rise Up more in the New Life?

IMAG1225_1

‘Twere True? ‘Tis True

Long Teaching      There is a Part One, Part Two, and a Part Two all in here

Part 1

I heard a phrase this week: “If ’twere true, then it’d be most obvious.”  That twere word is from an old-fashioned English usage as in meaning if it were true (’twere), then it would be ( it’d be or ‘tidbe) thus and such.  I haven’t heard those phrases used in a while… but some folksy speakers favor them still today.  Listening to S.C. nominee Gorsuch speak this week shows that the homespun terminology is still much in circulation.

But how I heard the ’twere phrase was not in a good light.   It was used by some Christian anti-Catholic person, one who unfortunately, was speaking publicly in dead-set opposition to a Living Jesus with us in the Blessed Sacrament.  They said that the Eucharist couldn’t be real because the amazement and convincing factor wasn’t there, in their view.  So, in the folksy, olde-fashioned sentence, they said “if ’twere true, then it’d be most obvious,” meaning that they were trying to debunk the Eucharist*, saying “it,*” was not really Christ Jesus, in their demanding that, if “it*” were true, some special effects would be seen and felt to support the claim of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, in our Catholic belief and practice.  

Cut to chase, the Eucharistic Jesus isn’t exciting enough for them to be real.  “It” seems too ordinary to them.  

What a short-sighted point of view this seems to be.   The “it” actually is a Person: Jesus.  There view does slight the Lord in some certain way.  

I am reminded of the account in Mark 6 when people also dismissed Jesus by saying that “they knew” how he was only (merely) a carpenter, just an ordinary relative from Nazareth, son of Joseph.  They “knew” it.  They made noise that Jesus could NOT be anything more (and surely not Messiah).   We know now how very wrong they were in belittling Jesus.  

Same thing with belittling Him as Sacrament and Bread of Life among us today. That’s a big mistake to make. It leaves out a major, personal experience of Christ from their lives.  Yet we Catholics will need to be the witness to His Real Presence, so that all Christians can be led to Him, the Bread of Life, for their full nourishment.

To those statements above of expecting a sign, or refusing to believe, I thought: ‘Like what special effects are they looking for to have prove to themselves the Eucharist is really Jesus?! A tingling sensation? A taste of true blood? A stupendous, instantaneous, miraculous healing to the communicant?’ What ‘special effects’ were they seeking of Christ or of the Church’s relationship to Jesus as Eucharistic Lord for our pilgrimage Home?   In their current faith practice, is it all a big feelings kind-of-experience they demand to have called their Christianity?  There is fault in that orientation, if so.

There are clear descriptions in the Bible (as proof) for the Real Presence, too, if they are searching.  I wondered:  How more clear in The Word can it be that John the Baptist or John the Apostle call Jesus the Lamb of God, or that Jesus calls Himself as “the Bread of Life” or the “Living Bread of Heaven,” as for us to “take and eat?!” of Him? ! (John 6, Luke 22)  Or, that He offered Himself purposefully on the exact Jewish Passover for sacrifice (John 13, Matt. 26), which was unnecessarily dramatic of Jesus if twere only a symbolic gesture He was making.  Yet, what if the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus, is Real Presence Blood to save us from death in sin?   Hebrews 9:11-28 has something to say about that, of this Church today in a living practice of Christ’ offering, as while we seek His Glory to come.  (Read it.)

Experientially, at each Mass, I get a sense of the blood on the doorpost of our hearts being applied onto us and into us, who want to be saved from death and our sins.  This, of course, is an update to the exodus story, as we live under the Exodus march now of Jesus.  As the author of Hebrews writes to the believers to experience in their present-time:  “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Heb. 9:14)

Oh my!   The anti-Catholic said “if ’twere true”– scoffing as he said it… but hallelujah, “TIS TRUE.   JESUS IS AMONG US IN HIS BODY AND BLOOD in the work of salvation, and He is building us up to serve Him for His kingdom!  The “I AM with you always” so promised Jesus at His Ascension (Mt. 28:16-20).  Jesus IS Sacrament and Paschal Mystery for us now, so that the great I AM has been and is now and will be ministering to us of His feast of salvation.

As for a convincing proof of Himself as Bread, back in Jesus’ public ministry in Israel, do your remember the big deal Jesus made of it about Himself.  In John 6, it says how even many disciples and the apostles did not get it, of what Jesus did after the Miracle of the Loaves.   Due to that, Our Lord said:  “You had your fill of the miracle loaves, but do you still not believe?”   The people had missed the sign (sacrament) unveiling of Jesus.  So, even with much of an amazing thing occur on the hill with the multitudes with all them getting fed from practically nothing at hand, they still didn’t believe.   Why not?  Because it was not to be any special effects or spectacle that would win hearts.  Jesus knew it was all about faith and its desire to catch on and believe.   In that John 6 dialogue text, Jesus asked His apostles, ‘as many have left, over this hard teaching, do you also want to leave?’  Peter spoke for the Twelve that they were staying; faith helped them see the Living God before them in Jesus–and in His signs.  ‘You offer Everlasting Life, Master!,’ says Peter, indicating that he and the band of apostles were remaining with The Lord.

So, it is true that some sincere disciples for Jesus today can get it wrong, at first, about Jesus as the Sign of God, the Sacrament for a living encounter in the Divine.   But we wish for them to “get it.” (Only by Grace did we, too.)

These denials of fundamentalists and charismatic Protestants and other non-Catholics about the truth of the Eucharistic Christ today are familiar.  Many do say something like the man did (If t’were true, tid’be most obvious); but they are exercising their prideful demands a bit too far.  Faith seeks understanding, and we hope they will arrive there to know Jesus as Sacrament.

There’s hope people will come to The Eucharist.  The Holy Spirit will be looking to draw them in to glorifying God by such an embrace of Jesus Real Presence.

In seeking such a demanding physical proof of God (sign, on their terms), maybe by faith they can really become surprised, because God IS offering a physical manifestation of His works in the 7 Sacraments.  It’s just not of the double-wow factor.   Jesus comes meek and humble among us.  That’s so vital a lesson to see in the Gospel story. Jesus says: “Come to Me… for I Am meek and gentle of heart… I will help your soul find its rest.”  That is the same Lord of the Gospels Who is Sacrament today.  We meet Him on those humble terms.  We kneel often in His Sign Presence to us, as in Mass or Reconciliation or in a Matrimonial union or Holy Orders consecration.   It’s a humble thing to experience God in Christ in Sacrament..

Part Two.   ‘TIS THE LAMB LEADING US!  IMAG0206

Our Lord And Savior Jesus presented Himself humbly before the Father.  See our Mediator kneeling in the Garden of Gethsename in our illustration on the page.

He kneels in a humble offering to God, doing so in the time directly which had followed the First Mass, the Last Supper.  Only in our own exercise of humility will we take note of God come to us in all humility.

Jesus Himself in His public ministry (as told in the gospels) was not touring around like a rock-star of today.  He did not have elaborate clothes, house musicians, magnetic appeal, and an oversized, look-at-Me personality.   As some Nazarenes commented of Him:  ‘You’re just a poor carpenter’s son, and a lone carpenter yourself now and widows son (with Joseph gone), and merely a relative of people we know, a man of no privilege (Mark 6).  How at all could you, Jesus, be God (?), the Messiah?’ they scoffed.

This denial of Jesus Christ as God in the flesh was a regular thing as Our Lord was in ministry, and that of some of the Jews rejecting Him when He came is clearly told in the New Testament.

Later, the rejection of Jesus as God in the flesh was the break of the first heretics of Christianity.   Interestingly, there is a tie-in to the same rejection of Jesus as Eucharist.  This has also been going on from early on in Christianity, though very much more in recent decades and centuries.   Many non-Catholic Christians insist on living apart from the Sacraments of the Church of the 2000-year-old Church begun by Jesus.  Why such resistance??

Refusal to acknowledge Jesus as Sacrifice and Sacrament in the Eucharist has been going around for centuries, even so in the time of Christ ministry itself (e.g. “How can He give us His flesh to eat?!” –John 6) ‘and many no longer followed Him (after His Bread of Life teaching).’

The connection of God coming as human and as flesh/sacrament are much related– The Word is Flesh; The Word is also Eucharist.  He is the same Word, expressed as flesh.   Think of the many times in bible stories when people would not acknowledge Jesus as God among them, because He was of the flesh.  They couldn’t imagine God as flesh, therefore, they would not believe.  The Lord in flesh was an automatic disqualifier for them.   Even the crucifixion of Jesus was about some Jewish leaders asking for the death sentence for a man claiming to be God among them as a man.   But, oh how wrong those Sanhedrin were!

Jesus said that He was giving His flesh for the life of the world, and that His Body offered was becoming Eucharist for the faithful:  God was extending His visit as flesh and His Presence to us via Sacrament.   The God Who became small as an embryo once was even becoming present as hosts and parts of bread transubstantiated.  Amazing this Lord of Heaven is!

It is important, then, to see how the objection of Jesus as God/man is tied together with the objection to Him as the Eucharistic Sacrifice today.  They are closely related.  As a person like this twere person goes so vehemently against Jesus as Bread of Life Sacrament, I suppose that they would have also missed Jesus as the Man of Galilee too.  Jesus just wasn’t spectacular or obvious enough for some people, I suppose. 

The recognition of the mystery of God among us is by faith, and that recognition is a Gift.  This is so true a point.   At some time in our lives we Christians all need to become like Thomas the apostle, who was missing from the assembly, and to come in and see what the others had said was true.   Thomas examines “the Body and Blood Jesus– even the nailmarks–and gets that it is all indeed true, so to exclaim “My Lord and My God.”  Believers outside of the Eucharist need to come in to those believers with the Eucharist and to recognize Jesus as the Eucharist, so to say “My Lord and My God” to the Blessed Sacrament.

Jesus said something very important to Thomas upon the doubting apostles’ coming back into the fold:  “Blessed are those who have not seen (nailmarks like you have here), yet who will still believe.”  

Because it is all by faith that we see.   No tingling or sensations, no fireworks, no overwhelming feelings– just Jesus recognition. 

The Jesus received in Mass from the faithful is related to same Man of Galilee, the man so often spurned, because of denials by so many that He was God in the flesh with them.  Read the Bible accounts. They are many detailing the above rejection.   When the Lord Jesus was in public ministry, numbers of people also demanded certain signs or amazing proofs from Him, in that same special effects mode, but Jesus did not serve them in that flashy way.  In fact, Mark’s Gospel shows Jesus doing many works among them in humble ways, almost as in secret.  Faith not flash was the way into intimacy with Christ.  The Gospels all communicate how Jesus was indeed already their Sign of Signs right in their midst.  He was Sacrament; He was sign– but not to the demand of people for a spectacular sign.  He came as one of us, not to wow but to gently meet us and heal us and save us. He once concluded, “This is a people making demands but no more sign shall be given them but for the sign of Jonah ( referring to His Rising from the dead).”. That would be His major sign, but it would only be manifest to people who were in faith with Him.

Jesus comes to us, maybe more humbly in surprise to us than we could ever expect.

Yet He is here.   Humankind, in our folly, make our demands on God, rather than roll out the red carpet and ask however might receive Him in. It is all due to our want to deny our sin and our need for help and transformation, and of our resistance to let it happen on GOD’ S terms, not our own.   It’s a problem of pride.   Believers who say they belong to Christ have such problems sometimes in pride, though given by word of promise to Christ the Lord.  Yet they fully don’t know Him yet.  They also are prone to errors.  Just read the epistles of the New Testament from James through Jude, and you hear the apostles trying to keep the Church one and true and moving to deeper conversion and convictions, rather they might lose their faith.  (John’s letters are particularly strong.)

Yet Jesus IS a challenge to us.   Anyone who says He is peachy and easy and just a buddy Savior has much more to know of Him.   When Jesus came, He knew that He would experience rejection or refusal from people to Who His True Identity.  John’s Gospel leads off with the real challenge before us:  “The Word became flesh… and to as many as received Him, to them He gave right to be becoming as children of God.”

Even while getting rejected as the Son of God meekly ‘sneaking’ (past our prideful eyes) into our world and history, Jesus continued to affirm His identity as The I AM.  He was God in human existence with us, and the God of eternity.  He said basic things (as recorded further in John’s Gospel) such as “he(she) who believes in Me (as such) has eternal life.”. “I AM the Bread of Life… anyone who eats of Me, this bread, has life eternal, and anyone who does not, does not have eternal life.”   Jesus says this.   The gospel records it.

‘Tis True.

Ah, the Irish like this word, ‘Tis!      And with the Real Presence, we Catholics can say of its truth:  ‘Tis!!

It also says clearly in John than many people left Jesus, because of not accepting who He was or what He said, as in looking for a different Messiah.  In His teaching on the Eucharist, particularly, they left Him. (See John 6.) These were those ’twere true, then followers.  They stopped following the Real Jesus due to stipulations, one might say.  Could they have been saying;  “Jesus, you are too much of the ordinary and sublime to actually be the Divine One you claim to be.’

Oh how wrong they were then.  And now.

Part 3.   Our Catholic testimony.   People undeserving but who have been blessed to see.

What the non-Catholics (who kid us about wafer worship) just don’t know!  Jesus is Eucharist for His people on the journey home to Him.   This is so dear to us who are Catholics.  It also startles us about Jesus.  Our God Who becomes small, whether as baby and man, or as Eucharist host– He does risk being missed or unnoticed or even disrespected or rejected.

By grace, we in the Catholic Church (and other Real Presence believers) have recognized Him, like those who did when on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24).  Praise be Jesus for His revelation to His people, and for His Gift to the Church.  The hidden part of the Emmaus story is of persons who had walked along as if without Jesus, and even heard His words, still had not caught on Who He was until the breaking of the bread.  Then, they knew Him.

We Catholics claim and believe God is with us, and even in ordinary-style signs and sacraments.  The Lord is right here among us, yet He still can be missed, as by those who will not see.  He is Sacrament to continue a physical reality with His Church, yet people just will not abide with Him in this Way.   I think of many ex- Catholics who have voted so with their departure from Mass-going. They had been right near Jesus, even to receive Him in as gift, but have departed away from this intimacy with Jesus to prefer some other place or experience.  Sad.  

Some of the younger generations are going off preferring a more dynamic, entertaining style of Jesus.  Even some of the older folks, too.  Yet the Word says “He came meekly.”  Notice it in Him as the babe in Bethlehem (Mt. 2).  Or the man of Galilee walking up to John the Baptizer (Mt. 11).   Or the man preaching on the hillsides (blessed are the meek–Mt. 5).   Or the one describing Himself:  “I AM meek and humble of heart.  Come to me, and rest. (Mt. 11:29).”   This One Person also proclaims I AM Food in John 6, to “eat and drink of Me,” as does He say in the Last Supper Gospels.

‘Twere true?   It really is true that the Humble Jesus, as in Mystery among us as Eucharist, is missed, or even dis-missed by people today.  Yet He is Real-ly there. Those who seek, find– says Jesus.  May they find Him as Eucharist among us.

How I love the EWTN tv show that has all the testimonials of people of other religions or denominations who have come to recognize Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread.   The show is called “Journey Home.”   Other live call-in radio shows on EWTN’s network feature many more such testimonies.   Catholic Answers Live is full of Eucharistic Jesus confessors.  ‘Tis True, they say.

Of my hurts as a priest is to know of former Catholics or former practicing Catholics who are not with us in Sacred Liturgy now.  I dearly pray for them to Come Home.

‘Twere is probably a poor relative of ’twas, as in “once before, He was my Eucharist, but not now.” As in someone saying: “I don’t want Him to be.  I want something more amazing or appealing.”   Would they demand it to not be so, of this Eucharist not to be Him?

As the destiny of the believer is to gather around the Throne in praise of the Lamb, in the Liturgy of Heaven, going to Mass is a getting ready and acquainted with the Lord as He is worshipped forever.   The Holy Mass is our connection even now to Heaven’s liturgy, as they go on simultaneously.   Scott Hahn’s book “The Lamb’s Supper” is a great read for someone to see the message of the Book of Revelation as of a communion of the Church triumphant in Heaven, united to believers of the Church Militant (fighting the good fight soulfully on earth’s pilgrimage) and the Church Suffering.   All are united into the Sacrifice of the Lamb, and we are made worthy only in the Lamb’s Offering.   Again, this is all about the meaning and mystery of Holy Mass.

As John’s Gospel proclaims, Jesus is God in the flesh… and then Jesus says “my flesh is real food, eat it in remembrance of Me… this is My Body…My Blood for you.”   In each Mass, we acknowledge this Truth.  ‘Tis True.   Blessed is the Lamb Who was slain, who reigns now.  This is the celebration of Heaven, of and in and by The Lamb Jesus.

And on earth we pray in every Mass:  “Lamb of God… have mercy on us… grant us peace.”

Mary, our model believer, embraces the Word made flesh among us. At the start to finish.IMAG0820_1IMAG0244

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Twere.  ‘Tis.   Two shall be one, Bride to BrideGroom.

Twain is another old English language word with a tw start.  It’s used in phrases like “never the twain shall meet” but also in wedded lines like “twain thee, one love now.”

Which shall it be of the Eucharistic Lord Jesus: Never the twain shall meet (me and Jesus as Bread of Life)–or– twain us, one Communion and bond, Lord?

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I think I will sign off on that.  (I’d tweet off, but this is a blog!  If it ’twere a tweet, then this message would have been over in the first sentence! )

Photo:  San Juan Cathedral in the week of Epiphany.  I con-celebrated some Masses here.   In Spanish.

Bible Study Homily Jan 14/15 Church On The Move

Christmas season hopefully was a blessing for you, and now you ought to take the Christmas momentum of faith and move forward in holiness…into Ordinary Time.

On that subject, let’s do a Bible reflection with today’s second reading, and hear how St. Paul began to address the Corinth church and of how they were doing after he moved on from pasturing them.  It was all about their momentum (or non-momentum) of faith of why he wrote back to that church community.

As today’s epistle starts, Paul with Sosthenes were writing in hopes that the Corinthians would be  experiencing more deeply the sanctification given them by Jesus Christ.  Paul writes the letter because he is hearing reports that this Greek church was not staying united and motivated by the Spirit, but rather falling back into carnal-led living with factions and divisions. He does not want them to lose out from all the blessings they started with.

The report leads Paul to start off by saying he is writing to them as their bishop and shepherd, as “an apostle of Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:1) so he is speaking seriously and pastorally to them.   In other words– the epistle is starting to say:  ‘Your apostle speaks to you.  Why aren’t you letting the Spirit move you forward?  I hear of factions now, and some of you slipping back into carnal-only living.’   So, the bishop, their teacher, wants to teach them some more about keeping in the Faith and moving forward in it as a “Church on the move.”   Hello, it’s your pastor speaking…

In 1 Cor. 1:verses 2 and 7  Paul gets to the heart of the epistle’s message:  ‘You have been sanctified and made holy in Christ Jesus.  You are not lacking in any spiritual gift at your disposal.  So, grow brothers and sisters, grow in faith!

That is his opening.  Such an epistle does apply to us, too.  Even looking back to our own Christmas time just past, the Lord says that Christmas called us into sanctification in Christ, and now how are we doing in mid-January?    Is the effect of a Holy Christmas now giving us a start of a holy, sanctified year?

Let me comment on Paul’s words:  He is saying in Corinthians, in its start, and throughout the letter, how this gift of God in Christ presented to us is not just a past thing– our sanctification in Christ (or of Christmas) is meant to call us into further growth of holiness for right now–for we are the Church on the move.

Paul says to his church community– you need to keep growing beyond your start and foundation level, as it was when I, apostle Paul, pastored there for 18 months.   What about your growth NOW?  The call of holiness is beckoning you.  Become all the child of God you are mean to be.  As it says in verse 2: “you are called to be holy” and “with all those everywhere who call upon…Jesus Christ.”    You individually are called to be holy.   We communally are called to be holy, with all those calling on Jesus Christ.

A Church on the move… that’s the title of a book your parish staff is reading and discussing now. Are we such a parish?

In 1 Cor. 1: verse 2b takes our study further in today’s Word.  Paul says that believers are people who “call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  There are two things there to point out–the Calling Out, AND the precious Name of the One called.

We are to call out for Him, asking for our continued growth.  We call out to God.  We are saying:  ‘Look, God!  I am open to You.   I am truly Your possession.  Please live in and through me.’

Perhaps the phrase “cry out” would say it better, for it puts some passion to the prayer.  “Help me, Lord.  I need You.  I cry out– help me not to just live alone, as in relying just on me.  You are in my life, so I am open to You, Lord, to live in me.  We’re partners!”

So, first we cry out. Then there is Who we cry out to.  We cry out not to an empty sky, nor to an unknown God.  We use the Name of Jesus.   He’s known. He is a Person.  It is He who lives in us, personally. We say His Name, and make it personal back to Him. Our relationship is about a  personal exchange with God.  And, He is not just your God, He is personally our God.  Our God.  The Corinthians were getting selfish again and forgetting that aspect.

So can we Bowieans or St. Edwardians forget how we are a saved community and fellow pilgrims, who are on the move, into sanctified life.

What is our common bond?  We belong to God now.  We long to be inhabited by God more deeply and meaningfully in our souls, for God to come as life to each of our being, and corporately so, and so for us all to be on a first-name basis with God and fellow believers here. That is what “church” is.

As we move on in our Bible reflection, we go to verse 3, which says next: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father.”

So the first two verses were of hearing of our calling to sanctification (the ongoing work past the foundational work of salvation) and then crying out the Name of the Lord together, which thirdly now provides steps of our being led on to  grow in grace and peace in Christ.  Look at verse 3 again and what it says.  Notice how sometimes those very words are in the greeting at Sunday Mass, as in “The Grace and Peace of our LORD be with you all.”

We have a 2017 theme of a Year of Grace in the Church.   What is grace?  How does it lead to peace?  A-ha! Guess what our church theme is for 2017?  It is understanding Grace and living in it under God.

There is sanctifying grace and actual grace.   There is Grace in the Sacraments with Our Lord.   There is a simple grace in any prayer we make.   There is living in grace, as in accepting Jesus.  There are virtues to live out for to be graceful.   Many virtues.  We can explore it all this Year of Grace 2017.

If we can understand and accept how God favors us, then we can give in, by humbling ourselves, to receive it (grace)–and so let the inner life of us have its fill of The Lord and His Light.  God so much wants us for His possession, as we say “yes” to Him.   He does not force things, but looks for us to accept things trustingly and lovingly from Him.  We progress in the Lord gracefully!

Knowing Jesus and living in relationship with Him together, by grace, leads to us knowing the Father.  As we come into deeper holiness, we delight in what is going on.  We are being transferred and transformed from this carnal and temporal world into the life of the kingdom, that is, in Christ Jesus, with He in us and we in Him.

Amazing.   Amazing is Grace.

To be in grace is to celebrate living in holiness and favor of God.  Just to offer a peak at where 1 Corinthians 1 was going onto today–Verse 8 of the chapter says that, by this plan, ‘He will keep you firm to the end,” to our fulfillment into Glory.  Verse 9 reminds us the key lesson of grace, in that “God is faithful, and by Him you were called to fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The Lordship part of that verse is important.  Jesus must reign in us.   The flag of God’s possession must wave freely and reverently over our hearts in the Church.

May I just add on another Bible verse that Paul wrote that backs up this sanctification thing and this renewal and grow thing to our Catholic faith?  In Titus 3, a text proclaimed on Christmas Dawn Mass, it says this:“….when the kindness and generous love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, Whom He richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might become justified by His grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life…”

The text brings up that word again of “grace” and it speaks of a persons progress in justification to live it fully, and then it says how grace helps us “become heirs” to eternal life.   That’s big.   And how does it happen?   It says that Jesus saved us “through a bath of rebirth” (that’s the sanctification that 1 Cor. 1 spoke of) AND then by a “renewal in the Spirit (which 1 Cor. 1 also refers to, as in our way to grow in holiness, or grace.

Grace will have much to remind us of how Christ’ Gift in us and of His working Holy Spirit will lead us as His “Church On The Move.”  In our context of the Christmas Mystery, our celebration of Jesus is that He is come and He has sanctified us.

Next is God’s plan to call us into holiness. It is called the bath of renewal, which means, Life In The Spirit.  The Gospel today has John the Baptist say, “He is the One Who will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.”

I hope you are ready for that kind of work in 2017 in your soul.

To be a people on the move, a Church On The Move in the Spirit.

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Photo One: Singers at one of our Samba Gabi Christmas Novena Masses.

img953712Photo Two: Singers at another one of our Christmas Novena Masses.

“Little” Christmas Homily (and Words to How Many Kings)

imag0762_1Gaspar (Caspar) comes with Frankincense for the newly arrived King, Whose Star he followed.  This is a photo of a little statue I have on my vehicle dashboard.  Since last Christmas, I have had a devotion to this Magi Saint.

Little Christmas really isn’t so little.  The Epiphany is among the five biggest feasts of the Western (Latin- Roman Catholic) Church, included with Easter, Pentecost, Holy Thursday, and Christmas.  For some Catholics, and Orthodox believers, Epiphany outdoes Christmas, as they observe the Gentile coming to the Savior as “our” receiving the Light of Christ (as the Gentiles).   It makes all good sense.   It is the way they do it in Puerto Rico, where I have just spent the few days leading up to Epiphany.   There they exchange the presents on Epiphany, and have the bigger liturgy of the season, and do publicly celebrate Christ’ Birth.   It was quaint to see Old San Juan city have three dressed-up Magi figures walking the streets and posing on city squares and parks in the hype leading to the Feast of the Magi.imag0904

Of course, I am partial to Gaspar, the king who brings the gift to The Priest-King, in incense.

How so?  Well, it is via Holy Orders that I bring much of my gift to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am happy to returned here to St. Edwards for Epiphany Mass with you, here at home, and we have lots of festivity planned for today, with the extra carols before Mass, and our extra music in this Mass, and with our parties after all the Masses.   So we are try to do up Little Christmas a bit big, too.

I also have a Mass on this feast down at the Basilica Shrine for Mary as I con-celebrate a Mass with Cardinal Wuerl (2:30 p.m. today) in honor of some special parish helpers throughout the Archdiocese, and the Mass will be a big, festive one too.

I would like now to share a Christmas song with you that speaks of the Birth of the King of Kings, with honor given Him by magi, and the song communicates the wonder at how our King arrived among us.  I will sing it to you now.  It was recorded by the Christian Contemporary group called “Downhere.”   The song is named:  “How Many Kings.” thk5lnzl74

Follow the star to a place unexpected
Would you believe, after all we’ve projected,
A child in a manger?
Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in his mother’s shawl
Just a child
Is this who we’ve waited for? ’cause

How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Bringing our gifts for the newborn Savior
All that we have, whether costly or meek
Because we believe.
Gold for his honor, and frankincense for his pleasure
And myrrh for the cross he will suffer
Do you believe?
Is this who we’ve waited for?

All for me
All for you  (Chorus– How Many Kings…)

I was excited the first time I heard that song.  I have the recording of How Many Kings off a special Christmas CD.   I do love it when someone comes up with a new song to honor Christ (especially easy ones for guitar and voice).

The Magi followed a secondary sign to get to the primary sign.  The secondary sign was the Star.  It was leading them to the primary sign of seeing The Child Jesus, their shared hope for a world to be led by a Savior King.

I will propose to you that we practicing believers in Jesus are for many people their secondary sign.  We are like the Star over Bethlehem.   If we are living in the Light of Lights, then we shine The Hope for the world, that One can lead them to their fulfillment and destiny, and highest love. To God Himself.

Our lives should point to Jesus.   He is the Primary Sign.   Sign also means Sacrament, so we today in this liturgy point to Christ among us as Living Sign in the Eucharist.   Our lives also bear the saving life of Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ.   This life we share, as our Communion or common-union.   We are drawn to Christ.   We shall encounter Him anew, celebrate the joy of salvation, and go forth from here as people of light.   Just as the shepherds went forth praising and glorifying God, and the Magi went forth in the same way, you and I have an invitation to experience the King of Kings (as He presents Himself to our lives) and to go forth in new life and a happy or content faith.

We have a community here to bear witness of what Christmas is truly about.  Let’s shine our light!

To you who have not experienced Light and inspiration this Christmas, then I invite you to extend the season and to seek Him to bring you light.   Go all the way to the Feast of the Presentation, if you so need to, as I have sometimes done in my life— seeking the renewal to the heart of the Mystery of Christmas.  The Presentation is the 40th day of Jesus’ life, when brought into the Temple at Jerusalem and ritualistically offered to God, especially as a first-born son who opened Mary’s womb.  February 2nd is the Feast of Presentation, by the way.

If you are still looking for Christmas, or wanting to savor it more, I can offer two reading suggestions– maybe for you to peruse “Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives” by Pope Benedict– or to read “The Day Christ Was Born” by Jim Bishop.  Both are good.

Why do we need to shine for Christmas?  Because people need to be led to the Lord by you and I, and they will notice the Light of Christ upon us, if it glows outward or inwardly.  We are the secondary sign, like the Star, which led the Magi.   Who knows whom will be led to Christ by your light (?) or mine, but it is your vocation to shine Jesus.   If they can see the reality of Christ shining upon and in us, then they will be led to Jesus Himself, the primary sign, Who will want to encounter them personally and bring them into His marvelous Light and Presence, too.   Do we not long to have that happen to some people around us in our life?

I see one of you in church today.  It was one of your neighbors who saw a light in you, and they came to Christmas Mass one year.  Now that man is a Sunday Massgoer, active in Church service, and he personally tithes money to provide a full scholarship to Catholic school for another parish member’s single child ( of a single-parent home).  Best of all, that returned Catholic is living like they are hopeful for Heaven.  Did your shining light matter to that soul? You bet it did.

Notice in today’s gospel that Herod had no clue of what or who the Magi were seeking.  Even though he sat in the chair as king of Israel in Jerusalem, though as a puppet king and sider and server of Rome, he had to consult other people of what the Scriptures and prophetic writings foretold of a coming Messiah.    It hadn’t been on his radar, nor had he known anything what the prophet Micah had preached. It just hadn’t been of any concern to him.  What a contrast the indifferent Herod was to the heart searching Magi, huh?!

Herod only wanted to know where the Magi’s star child was so as to wipe out the threat to his own reign as a king in Jerusalem.   Sad.   But the Magi perceived this, and they never came back from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to inform Herod that they had found the Hope of Hopes.  They went home by another way, and the Holy Family left Bethlehem, too, and disappeared from danger.

We in today’s time know the story, and we celebrate the Birth of Jesus, the Eternal Son Who came to earth to share life among us as man, too.   He is Savior and King of Kings.  We worship Him in a special way today, of how God manifested Himself in this Jesus of Nazareth, child of Bethlehem 2017 years ago.

Next week, friends, I will preach on the topic:  “What does a None celebrate during Christmas?”  A None is a person who says that their religion or belief in God is “none.”

The end of the road for a None is like the one in this photo.  Let us help people never to reach such a spot.   Share your faith and love of the Lord.

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Wedding Thoughts (Saturday homily)

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Here are some nice sayings from a wedded person to another, speaking of complimentarity….

Wedding Thoughts

You are the mac to my cheese
You are the horizon to my sky
You are the bacon to my eggs
You are the laces to my sneakers
You are the jelly to my peanut butter
You are the smile to my face
You are the gravy to my mashed potatoes
You are the bubble to my bath
You are the ink to my pen
You are the lead to my pencil
You are the ketchup to my french fries
You are the water to my ocean
You are the icing to my cake
You are the colors to my rainbow
You are the syrup to my pancakes
You just make life so in agreement with mine, and make it so much better!

Here now are some sayings on married love and newlywed love and advice…

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, and always with the same person.
– Mignon McLaughlin

Love is a surprise that God gives, like the gallons and gallons of wine for the Cana couple, for days and days of celebration, and where they had lack, and knew not of it, God knew, and gave, and the need was supplied gracefully, by Jesus, as His wedding gift, as given through Mary’s participation.
–John 2 meditation

Love is so big… this gift that God offers, so let it be a moving sea between the shores of your souls, as you love one another by it.
– Based on Gibran, The Prophet

I have found the one whom my soul loves.
– Song of Solomon 3:4

Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible—it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.
– Barbara de Angelis

As it was in the beginning, God created them, male and female… and a man shall leave his parents, and a woman leave her home, and the two shall cleave to each other and become as one, anew! Be fruitful and multiply.
–Genesis 2

The moment I heard my first love story I began seeking you, not realizing how the search was to be reached. I needed to learn a lesson, so to find you, that, lovers don’t just meet somewhere along the way. They’re in one another’s souls from the beginning.
– Rumi

There is no remedy to love but to love more.
– Henry David Thoreau

Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own.
– H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Love is patient and kind… not envious nor boastful… and it need not insist… for love believes, love bears, love conquers all, and while it’s important to have faith and hope, the greatest of virtues is love. Love never fails, it is ever and always.
–1 Cor. 13

Two souls with but a single thought, Two hearts that beat as one.
– John Keats

Love isn’t blind; it just only sees what matters.
– William Curry

Our love in sum? What mattered most? We were together. I forget the rest.
– Walt Whitman

When I first saw you I fell in love and smiled because you knew.
– William Shakespeare

Mike and Amanda, may God bless you in marriage, as His newest love story in the world.
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