Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easter Sunday 2016

[__01__]   Jesus Christ is risen and his disciples rejoice.

And, they also investigate.

In this Gospel reading, we see the evidence which is sought for the resurrection of Jesus.

Where would such evidence be found?

It is logical that these disciples  - Mary Magdalene and others – would have returned to the last place where they had seen Jesus.

They go to the tomb, to the place of burial.

Is Jesus alive?  If so, what does this immortality mean?  What does this triumph over mortality mean?


Has Jesus broken all laws of nature, physics, anatomy and physiology by regaining – after death – a heartbeat, brain activity and the ability to speak and walk?

This would be one definition of IMMORTALITY.

We know, for example, that Jesus heals people and restores them to new life and strength. He heals the daughter of Jairus; he raises Lazarus from the dead.

This would be one way of looking at immortality. But even these individuals will go on to die in the normal way.

Jesus has a living physical and mental consciousness.  But,this is not the end of his IMMORTALITY.

[__02__]   Another definition of immortality or sign of life is this – who remembers him? Who remembers  Jesus?

Who will remember you and me after we die?

So, the disciples go to the tomb, asking – do you remember Jesus of Nazareth?  

Here is a sketch, he’s about this tall, beard, sandals, looks like somebody religious, you know. Have you seen him lately?

If Jesus is remembered ..then he would be immortal, right?

[__03__]  I reflect on these 2 definitions of immortality offered by Father Ronald Knox in a sermon called “The Corner-Stone”  about Easter. [1] .. That is, we define or measure immortality by –

►Physical or mental consciousness.  Heartbeat,  health … Or in the words of René Descartes, ¨I think therefore I am¨.
Immortality might also be demonstrated by historical achievement.

►HISTORY. Was a person remembered?[2]
Recently, a classmate of mine was inducted into our high school Hall of Fame.
Sometimes we think that people in a Hall of Fame, in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame (Cooperstown) are immortal because of this recognition.
These are partial, incomplete, definitions of immortality.
For the Christian life calls us not simply to gain a long life of health and strength and low blood sugar or to earn popularity and name recognition. It´s good to have all of the above. However, this is not Christian immortality.

Even the early disciples were a little confused about this.
At first, they were searching only for Jesus´ body. And, they wanted evidence of who had seen him.

[__04__]   What we observe in the Easter – Resurrection Gospel is both an appearance and a disappearance.

Yes, Jesus appears to them. He is visible, recognizable.  However, in the Ascension, even this particular body will be taken away. He will disappear.
But we believe that, in his immortal state – or resurrected  state - he remains with us.

We celebrate the Holy Eucharist, remembering that he has died for us and that he still lives and rises for us.

We recall that our Lord appears and disappears.

St. Paul writes that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a dwelling from God, not made with human hands, eternal in heaven, for we walk by FAITH and not by SIGHT.

          In the Holy Eucharist, we see evidence of the Risen Lord. Jesus has taken a form in which he disappears into the physical appearance of those who eat his body and drink his blood. He disappears into the Church.

As a analogy, Christ also disappeared into the tomb. What emerged from the tomb was also Jesus, in bodily form, but different from his earlier form.

[__05__]   We are called to imitate Christ´s immortality in this appearance and this disappearance.  

Our personal connection to him is based on our ability to appear – to be present to others – but also at times – to DISAPPEAR, to allow God – the Holy Spirit to be present.

[EXAMPLES – silence – prayer for others – return a blessing rather than an insult… forgiveness….]

That is, we DISAPPEAR so that God can work through us and in us.

You and I are also precious immortal gifts. We are not defined merely by our physical dimensions or history.

In Psalm 139, we read the testimony that God knew us and loved us even before we were born:

“O God you search me and you know me .. it was you who created my being, knit me together in my mother’s womb….”

          In other words, God knew us and loved us even before our birth …before we had full physical consciousness and identity or a name.

          We also believe that God loves us and calls us to him knowing we are sinners.
          This part of the appearance and disappearance (HOW SO ?? – EXPLAIN / CONNECT THIS…)

          And, in our lives, in our Christian calling, we try to live this out by appearing and disappearing.

          For example, we are present to our children. But, in a way, we also decrease so that another may increase.

          In matrimony, the 2 individuals disappear so that one new person united in heart and mind may emerge.

          And, in our prayer time, when we pray before God, yes we are APPEARING  BEFORE  GOD .. but we are also letting God be present to us so that his will can be done in our lives.

…. So that when we are meditating on the resurrection, we are also asking Jesus to live in us, so that we can live this new life of immortality so that he can be part of our lives of charity and justice... forever.


[1] Ronald Knox. “The Cornerstone” Book VIII, Sermon 13, Pastoral & Occasional Sermons.
[2] ANOTHER EXAMPLE ~ circa 1990 talk w/ F&M friend in JAPAN à defined immortality as “writing a book” i.e., want to write a book, then I will be immortal = live forever.

Good Friday 2016

Good Friday 2016
2016 March 24
[ Isaiah 52:13-53:12 ● Psalm 31  ●  Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 ● John 18:1-19:42   ●  ]

[__01__]  “He shall win.”

In the final verse of our first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, we read that  “he shall WIN … he shall WIN pardon – or forgiveness – for their offenses. ”  (Isaiah 53:12)
          Jesus wins. Jesus wins pardon for our sins, our offenses.

[__02__]     However, this victory is not simply a full-court press, and certainly not a slam-dunk or lay-up.  This is a victory that started in secret, in Christ’s prayer, in his heart.

          Jesus prays for a victory.

          His prayer for victory – for success – teaches us, reminds us how we are also called to pray and open ourselves to God’s word and God’s will.

          “Father if you are willing, take this cup from me, but not my will but thine be done.” (Luke 22:42)

[__03__]      You and I also pray – do we not – for VICTORY, for SUCCESS, for PROSPERITY.  This is good. And, I think we can and do also pray for VICTORY in the lives of our family members, children, parents.

We pray, for example, that our children will have courage, fortitude, perseverance.

We pray that our family members – especially those who may be sick or suffering – may not be DEFEATED by their illness or crisis.
          We pray for our prosperity.
          We pray for victory. And, we can unite this prayer to Christ by praying that … THY WILL BE DONE .. ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, not my will but thine be done.

This victory does not come easily or without difficulty – Isaiah offered a prophecy called the Suffering Servant – or the canticles of the Suffering Servant – telling us that Jesus gave his life as an offering for our sins. By losing his life, he helps us to win new 

[__04__]    Jesus prays for victory over sinfulness, over fear, over death.
          Father Ronald Knox[1], a priest in mid-20th century England wrote that our Savior prayed for the triumph, the victory of TRUTH over FALSEHOOD, the triumph of HONESTY over DISHONESTY.
          It’s not an easy victory but part of our faith to pray for the triumph of the truth and the conversion of heart – for ourselves and others.[2]
          Isn’t it true that a victory is harder because Jesus allows his opponents, his adversaries already knew about him?  He had revealed himself to them.
Jesus did not hide his strategy from his accusers…but reminded the authorities who had arrested him, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue … and in secret I have said nothing. Ask those who heard me what I said.” (John ch. 18)

He would not resist arrest. The truth would not be hidden or defeated.

This is a lesson to us as well, to recall that in our crises – in our days of the heavy cross – that we are called always to seek the truth, to live the truth. This is our victory.

It is a victory to confess our sins, to admit our faults, to know God’s forgiveness  in the sacrament of penance …to know that we are SAVED.  His save is our victory.

[__05__]   Is it risky to reveal oneself, tell the truth? We could lose out.
Even Jesus had opportunities to hide, to escape.

In our Lord’s case, we read that when the authorities arrest him, they ask “are you Jesus the Nazorean?” Instead of simply nodding or asking for an attorney, Jesus responds “I AM.” This gets him into more trouble because the phrase “I AM” was the same identifying name which Modes had heard when the Lord spoke to him in the desert in the Exodus. Now Jesus is saying “I AM”. In other words, Yes, I am a divine person, the Son of God … though I have the right to remain silent.

Father Knox points out that in this and other cases, Jesus is showing some willingness to resist. He is not resisting arrest or escaping the trial. But, he is RESISTING the world’s definitions ..and he resists by speaking the truth.
Father Knox goes on to say that Jesus could have avoided this indictment with a few statements to his judge, Pontius Pilate.[3]  That is, could he not have this said to Pilate?

___ “you know what you are right …I really am not a king.  There is no kingdom here, no evidence of wealth, a palace, an army, a militia, no land. The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

In a sense, Jesus – the suspect is both surrendering and resisting. He will not allow others to define him.
          Had Jesus denied his identity as a King, Pilate would have set him free .

          But, as we know, Jesus spoke the truth. He died willingly for us. He wanted a victory, not for himself over Pontius Pilate but a victory for you and me over sinfulness

[__06__]   Don’t we also pray for victory, for success, for prosperity?   

[__07__]  We pray for victory, a victory through a personal relationship with Christ.

We pray that we may join our sufferings to Christ … which today we do symbolically by coming forward to kiss, embrace, and venerate the cross.

The cross is our victory – not simply the sign of the cross after a scored goal…
But the sign of the cross that reminds that when we rely on God’s grace and Christ’s sacrifice, we are celebrating a victory, the one which he has begun for us.    [__fin__]

[1] Ronald Knox. Pastoral & Occasional Sermons. Bk. VIII., “The Agony of Our Lord,” pp. 431-437
[2] Ronald Knox. “The Agony of Our Lord,” p. 437.
[3][3] Ronald Knox. “The Agony of Our Lord.” p. 432.
[4] Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light, pp. 147-148.

Jesus ! Remember Me? (2016-03-20, Palm Sunday)

Palm Sunday, Year C – 2016  /   2016 March 20   /   Luke’s Gospel

[__01__]  Remember me. Jesus, remember me.

Through this prayer and petition on the cross, our Savior is asked to remember one crucified with him.
How will we be remembered?

 [__02__]   When I was in college, I had the opportunity to meet and stay with my grandmother’s sister whom I had never met before.  I stayed with her and her husband several times at their home. Over the course of a year, I brought friends and family to meet them.

 They were very good to me, given that I was away from home. My aunt Frances and uncle Joe took care of me.

Then, as time went by…I did not see them for quite a while.

About 10 years went by…. A decade…. And I went to their house for a visit. The house was very familiar to me. They were familiar to me.
My aunt was certainly glad to see me again, welcomed me… 
However, in her own very blunt and Irish way said to me about my appearance, my growth, my change that in these 10 years that I had changed in appearance.
She said this as only one who loves you can say it…. “If I passed you in the street, I wouldn’t know you.”

 [__03__]    Remember me?
Jesus, remember me?

 [__***P A U S E***__]  

[__04__]    It is sometimes difficult to retain and keep in our memory the many names and faces we encounter.
Will we be remembered?
          Sometimes, for example, if we were to see someone from our neighborhood or school but to see them in a completely different context or environment, we might not recognize them.
          Jesus, remember me?

          Sometimes, even, if we have been away from church or have not prayed in quite some time, we might wonder – does God remember me?
          We believe that we are always known and loved by as we read in the prophet Isaiah that  God cannot forget us just as a mother cannot forget – or fail to remember – the name of her own child.   (cf. Isaiah 49:15)

[__05__]   In the Passion of the Gospel of Luke, we encounter the thief on the cross, the man punished, sentenced to die who desires that Jesus would remember him.

What does he want to be remembered for? What do you and I want to be remembered for?

[__06__]   You and I could be remembered – by others – for either good things or bad things we have done.

We have, at times, done the right thing or the wrong thing.  We have at times given away our own money or time generously to others…withdrawn it from our own account.

On the other hand, we have at times taken only what others give and deposited this at the ATM … and perhaps been unwilling to share it.  Perhaps, we are waiting until we have earned enough interest.

Jesus, remember me?
 [__08__]   The thief on the cross could certainly be remembered for his sinfulness, his dishonesty.

St.  John Chrysostom writes that this episode shows us the difference between God’s court of appeal, God’s justice and our sense of justice.
That is, we remember people – and we may even remember ourselves based on wrongs or injustices.
Hey, Jesus, remember me?
We fear the punishment that could result.

[__09__]   The Passion teaches us not to fear our history or our past but simply to confess our sins, because our confession does not lead to punishment but to forgiveness, to salvation.

          Sometimes, it is difficult to remember someone’s name or face or to connect the two after many months or years.
          Remember me?
Forgiveness, we might say is a remembrance, a journey toward total recall of our goodness, of memory of a person who might be forgotten.
[__11__]   We read in our Catholic church teaching, the catechism, that during his public life, Jesus not only forgave sinners but also made  public the effect of forgiveness.  He reintegrated forgiven sinners into the  community of the People of God.  (CCC Catechism 1443)

Because…isn’t it true that when we sin or hurt someone – or ourselves – we are in danger of rejection.
Perhaps, we will be rejected. But Jesus brings and remembers the sinner at his table, regardless of how much time has passed.
We may not always be recognized by others, but God looks into our heart, he welcomes us into his kingdom not because we have endured pain or proven ourselves to him.
Rather, he proves that we are worth saving – worth redeeming – worth keeping – worth remembering – by dying for us.

He dies for us so that we may turn to him for forgiveness for salvation, for a verdict and freedom which no human judge can give.

Yes, Jesus, remember me.


Still Standing (Lent, 5th Sunday, 2016-03-13)

5th Sunday of Lent Year C
2016 March 13
[ Isaiah 43:16-21 Psalm 126 ●    Philippians 3:8-14  John 8:1-11  ]

[__01__]     Standing. Standing on one’s own two feet.
It is a traditional posture and act of respect to stand up in the presence of another person.

For example, we see this when the bride walks up the aisle at her wedding, before the ceremony and exchange of vows.

We observe this again when the bride and groom walk down the aisle after their vows.

In New York or Washington, D.C., when the president or a Secretary of State or a Pope enters the room, enters the United Nations or United States Congress, all will rise.

And, when Pope Francis drove through New York and Central Park, people stood, climbed trees or went to upper floors and balconies to gain the best possible view. They rose up.

Standing is a sign of respect for the other person.

In this regard, we stand for the Gospel at Sunday Mass, recognizing that in the Gospel, we hear the word and encounter the presence and wisdom of our Savior.

[__02__]  Jesus stood, he straightened up, on his own two feet to address the woman in this Gospel, the woman brought before him accused and caught by others.

On the one hand, we could say that our Lord stood in order to show authority.
The crowd of local vigilantes scattered when he spoke and stood up to them.

On the other hand, we could also say that he stood on his two feet out of respect, out of love, out of compassion and mercy for the woman.
Very few would have stood in her presence.

[__03__]   While others were sitting and, perhaps, calculating or measuring her guilt and penalty, Jesus was standing.

And, equally important, our Savior was help this woman stand also, to rise, pick up her mat and walk.

[__***P A U S E***__]  

[__04__]   When we become aware of our sins – or accused of our sins – we may also find it hard to stand up and walk.

Jesus shares this fragility brokenness – this spiritual disability -  with us. That is, Jesus shares this with us because he takes the full weight of our sins upon himself, upon the cross.
St. Paul wrote, in 2nd Corinthians, chapter 5,  reminds that by our baptism, by our faith, by our sacramental encounter with Christ in penance and reconciliation we are made a “new creation” and “new person” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Paul reminds that Jesus is the one through whom we are reconciled to God. 
The Pharisees and scribes were expecting Jesus to demand punishment for the woman.   But, if this were the case, then all of them should be punished too.
Let he is without sin….”  (we know the rest)

Jesus shares our fragility brokenness – this spiritual disability  . Jesus shares this with us because he takes the full weight of our sins upon himself, upon the cross.

We read in the letter to the Hebrews:

“Jesus is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

Jesus died for this woman’s sinfulness, and for your sinfulness and for my sinfulness.

Jesus was pushed to the ground, fell 3 times on the way to Calvary so that we could stand.

[__05__]  The American Trappist monk and writer, Thomas Merton, observed that suffering is the consequence of sinfulness.

We all, at times, suffer due to our sinfulness…or because of the sinfulness of others.

Jesus suffered due to sinfulness, because he accepted our guilt to save us.

We even worship Christ, pray to him because of this suffering.

We worship him on the cross.
On the other hand, we do not worship him or simply admire his endurance but we worship him because he rose up suffering and evil.

Merton wrote that we are also called to overcome evil, sinfulness with goodness. Suffering then – in Merton’s description – becomes “good” by accident or by coincidence because this suffering enables us to encounter more abundantly the mercy of God.

In a similar way, we might also say that the suffering we see in another person – the call to compassion – also invites to overcome evil with good.

[__06__]   You and I may resemble at times the woman of the Gospel.   That is, our sin or sinfulness becomes obvious or known to ourselves or others.

Of course, we could say that this was an extreme case in which the accusers were overzealous and judgmental.

It is natural for us to feel condemnation, resentment, retribution after sin – our fault – is discovered. We may even feel that we ourselves deserve this.

Do we not need to be reminded that Jesus died for our sins so that we can be reconciled to him, to God, and to another?

Can you and I not, at times, be overzealous or judgmental of ourselves and others?

[__07.01__]   Do we sit when we could stand? Do we sit in judgment when we could stand out of respect?

For example, do we maintain and sustain friendships with those who challenge us, those who love and nurture us.

Jesus does not merely accept or tolerate the sinner and sinners whom he encounters. He forgives them, he forgives us. 

Forgiveness is both more beautiful and more difficult than tolerance.

We need friendship and love with those through whom we can grow, seek conversion, change.

That is, so that we can stand.

[__07.02__]  Do we sit when we could stand? Do we sit in judgment when we could stand out of respect?

When we recognize faults, fault lines, earthquakes of pride in our own ground and terrain, what do we do?

 Sometimes, these faults or fault lines are minor.

 On the other hand, these faults and fault lines can form a pattern, a geology in our earth.

 They become the rocky ground on which the seed does not grow deep roots.

 They become the rocks and weight of sins which can drag us down.

 They are the stones and rocks upon which we can fall.

 The woman caught by her accusers, you and I are similar –

 We all need the help of Christ to stand, to be forgiven, to walk away from our sins and to walk toward God’s love and mercy.  [__08__]    [_end_

Fire in the Desert (Lent, 3rd Sunday, 2016-02-28)

3rd Sunday of Lent Year C   /   2016 February 28

[ Exodus  3:1-8a, 13-15  Psalm 103 ●    1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12Luke 13:1-9 ]

[__01__]  In our reading today from the Book of the Exodus, chapter 3, Moses is in the desert / wilderness alone. And, he has been there for some time. He is probably accustomed to building his own fires and is accustomed to his own independent  ways. Now, he sees a fire that he did not build.

Moses sees a fire in a bush which is not consumed by flames.

At first, this is Moses the experienced wilderness wanderer and resident-shepherd of the flock who wants to see what is up with the burning bush.
He is curious.

[__02__]  In our 40 days of Lent, we are invited to a sense of curiosity and exploration also. Not only are repentance and humility are part of our journey but also imagination and creativity about where God is.
In order to survive the desert, Moses has been using all of his imaginative and creative powers.
What is happening at this fire scene?

[__03__]  This is the fire from which Moses wants to escape. The Lord wants him to go to Pharoah to rescue the Hebrew people from slavery.
But, Moses protests that this he is not the right applicant for this job:
He tells the Lord in the “interview”
·        Pharaoh won’t believe me (therefore … escape the fire)
·        Pharaoh’s army is too strong (therefore … escape the fire)
·        and, by the way, I’m not so eloquent, I cannot speak publicly and well. (therefore … escape the fire)
Don’t send me. I want to escape the fire. Moses the prophet has a difficult time believing in the mission to free his people from slavery. At least, at first, he does.
Moses would probably question the message of the Psalm:
“Your word is a lamp for my steps and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105)
It is a gradual process for Moses to get on board.

[__04__]  Fires require investigation.

However, in the case of this fire, Moses is the subject of the investigation. You and I are the subjects of the investigation during Lent.
We are called into the desert these 40 days for investigation and examination too.
Not with a fear of what the examination will uncover or what we might be charged with but rather with what we might discover in ourselves.

[__06__]  One of our spiritual practices is to sit before the Lord.
This is also the one-on-encounter that Moses has.
We can be in the Lord’s presence when we   sit before God’s presence in our Tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament. Doing this, we imitate Moses before the Burning Bush and also Jesus who prays in Gethsemani.
 This is our personal encounter with Christ.

 Praying and speaking with him, we also listen for God to speak and for God to us to light a fire within us.