Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday.  The penultimate event during these days (second to The Paschal Mystery).

He who Is.

I am who Am.

He returns to Jerusalem finally.  He is heralded in triumph as the anticipated KING.

What can we say.....the Readings are profound (read them again).  Paul's masterful work in Philippians is known as the "Kenosis", a Greek word meaning "emptying".

Though he was in the form of God he took being God as not something to be grasped, so He became a SLAVE (Ph 2:6).

A slave?

Yes a slave.  A slave for love.  A slave for us....

God so loved the world, that He gave the world His only Son, born of a Virgin, from a far off land, the carpenter's boy.  He gave us Himself, all of Himself, emptying out Himself, his blood (Eucharist) and His water (baptism) that all who believed in Him may have eternal life. 
(Jn 3:16)

I suggest we walk around with this verse during Holy week, our immediate preparation for the Triduum, the Passion and Death of our Lord (bow) Jesus Christ.

He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life....our lives.

Say yes to HIM.............

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bullets and Broadway: 5th Sunday of Lent (B)

Today's Readings and Gospel

What we did seemed innocent, oddly enough.  My young friends, a couple married 7 years and I were strolling back to the parish after a special treat on a Sunday.  A bite to eat in between Masses.

On the ground it stood before us.  A single bullet near the driveway of a fast food restaurant on the very block where our Parish campus resides.
I suppose we could think externally in our spiritual way and say that this is just an indication of a crucified world.  I suppose fear could enter into our hearts at the unique localness of this bullet in our personal world.  You know the old adage "not on my street" and such...

We could be correct to do so.

However, we would be wrong to localize this tragedy.  It is easy to imagine that late last night someone also had a bite to eat and threw the bullet out of the window of the car for whatever reason.

Ultimately our conscience informs us this is wrong.    In NY state it is never legal For a "civilian" to carry a firearm in a car.   this event seems to point to a larger, more "global" crisis.

Why would you need a gun to get a burger?
Because we are out socializing with "friends" (Whom we Love...than why endanger them?)

Are we protecting ourselves from our enemies?
Who? (we are supposed to love them too, says the Christ).

I do not pretend to have the answers except this...

Now let us speculate why.
Why would the Son of God have to die like this....
Why would the creator of the world give himself up to his "enemies" like this...
What would be the reason that would be a scandal to his own people, the Jews and foolish to the rest of the civilized world (the Greeks and Romans, the powers of the day) as Saint Paul informs us.

Jesus, the Son of God submits to his crucifixion for us.  You and me.  And the man or woman who dropped the bullet.  And the beautiful children who sat in the sanctuary today listening to me try to teach them about love and right and wrong inspired by the Holy Spirit.

We can suppose one bullet dropped and picked up (I have taken it safely away to be properly disposed of) is one bullet less that could hurt someone.

Deep down where truth resides we know that it is not just those who die at gunpoint, but especially those who feel the need to carry these things that are the instruments of destruction.

Jesus Christ taught us that He is the Way and the Truth and the Life. When will we learn?

...Miserere mei Domine

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

4th Sunday of Lent (B): I, the Lord your God, Want You Back!

Today, Readings and Gospel

 His name is Rollen Stewart.  If you grew up watching sports on TV in the late 70s and early 80s you surely would have seen him.  He was everywhere, obvious and unmistakable.  Whenever there was an important sporting event he was there in full camera view: the NBA finals, the World Series, the Olympic games and even one of my favorites, the Masters golf tournament.

Rollen was there usually with "John 3:16" stamped on the front of his tee shirt,  the universal message of the salvation offered by Christ to all, "God so loved the world that he sent his only Son for us who believe in Him so that we shall have everlasting life."

I remember knowing this biblical citation because of Rollen's overexposure and I remember looking it up.  I remember being amazed that he was at all of these great sporting events.  Rollen was everywhere and always in perfect camera view.  You could not miss him.  What a phenomena!

What is so important about this message that drove this man, this child of God to such great lengths to spread the message of salvation?  In fact Jn 3:16 is the summary of Christ's salvific purpose, of God's intention for his human children.

God has made the ultimate sacrifice in sacrificing his Son for the salvation of the world.  A great price but an incredible action of Love.  Nothing compares nor comes close to what God would do to get us back.  In fact we remember the story of just a few weeks ago about Abraham and Isaac.  God would not allow Abraham to sacrifice his son but in the fullness of time God allows it for His only Son as the supreme act of redemption.
Abraham attempts to sacrifice Isaac but God provides the sacrifice: a ram caught in the thicket.

What does that say about our God?  What does this teach us about His infinite mercy?  What does this teach us about His infinite love for we, His creatures and how much he wants us back?

The story did not turn out so well for Rollen Stewart, thus far.  In the 1990s he was convicted for kidnapping and was sentenced to three life terms in prison.  Jealous over the loss of his former wife and their divorce and in a drug induced and crazed furor, he succumbed to evil temptation and now has to repay society for his crimes.

It is not enough to profess the faith.  Believing in what Jn 3:16 says is the key.

Believing requires turning away from sin and listening to the Gospel.  Believing requires a certain "imitation  of Christ".  We as Catholics recognize that the journey will have its peaks and valleys.  We recognize the infinite mercy of God but also know that we must turn toward His light to be empowered by its effects: grace.

For some would rather choose darkness over light.  As the end of our Gospel passage today says:

And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.   

Come forward, Children of the Light, recognizing God's mercy and His call to repentance, to conversion. Amen!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Second Sunday of Lent, B: He who would not withhold his only Son

The Sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah
Sometimes the selection of readings for our Sunday worship at Mass does not give us the whole story.  In our excerpt from Genesis we hear of the father of the monotheistic faith, the Patriarch Abraham bringing his son to sacrifice to God.  What is missing from Gen 22: 3-8 is the willingness of Isaac to go along with this plan in perfect obedience to his father.  When asked by his son what will be sacrificed, Abraham says to Isaac that God will provide it.

You may know that human sacrifice abhors God.  Created in His image and likeness, this is an unthinkable sin.  It is made even the more abhorrent by the pagans of Abraham's day who made this a regular part of their sad religious rituals, some of which occurred in close proximity to Mount Moriah, perhaps even on the very spot that Abraham and Isaac came to.

What happens is that God spares Isaac and provides a ram for sacrifice.  The ram is caught in the thicket, a thorn bush which wraps  around the head capturing his horns.  This is a profound parallel to the Crown of Thorns.

God (YHWH) will not allow man (Abraham) to participate in human sacrifice.  But God allows his Son Jesus to be sacrificed for the redemption of mankind.  It is a profound action of an all merciful God providing himself to us as an expiation of sin, as the perfect remedy for the Fall of Adam and Eve.

Of course Jesus consents to this in the Garden of Gesthemane.  God who is Trinitarian is in perfect harmony.  In the Gospel, God teaches us that he will spare nothing to allow for our redemption. Paul highlights this in his letter to the Romans.  It is an amazing gesture, one that cannot be captured with words.