Sunday, May 28, 2017

Glory to God (Easter, 2017-05-28)

[__ver-03_ ___words _]  
 Sunday May 28, 2017 /  7th Sunday Easter 
[ •Acts 1:12-14 • Psalm 27  • 1 Peter 4:13-16 • +John 17:1-11a • ]

Title: “Glory  to  God”

[__01__]    Glory or honor is something we enjoy. Glory or honor is something we may admire in another person.
          Admiring the glory in another person – due to his or her appearance, or position or popularity – we may also look up to him or her.
          Glory attracts our look, our attention, our cameras and phones, both photo and video.
[__02__]     In a state of GLORY o or HONOR or DIGNITY, I’d like to suggest that there is –  [►AUTHORITY]  [►ACCESS / ACCESSIBILITY]
…. And finally, there is some [►ANXIETY]

[__03__]       [►AUTHORITY] You and I know how important power or authority can be. We may be required to listen to a superior, boss, ARCHBISHOPS.
          And, even in our own home, there is rightful authority within the home and within a marriage.
          Each spouse, wife and husband has a certain authority and area of control.
          Yes, husband and wife work together. But, in working together and serving each other, each is called to recognize the authority of the other.
          We may not favor this word, it sounds politically charged and allows for the abuse of power.
          Yes, authority can be abused or misused. So, all of us are called to pray for humility.

[__03.01__]    On this Memorial Day, we pray for the brave women and men, thousands in wartime who accepted the authority of the United States and the authority of their commanders to fight for freedom for security.
          In many cases, they served in countries without legitimate authority or power and brought about order from chaos. They laid down their lives for our freedom. They died knowing that their lives mattered and that your life mattered, and that our country and security come at a price.

[__03.02__]     Also, in our spiritual lives, we are called to accept God’s authority.
          In this regard, sin or sinfulness or evil does not have the final word or power. 
          Repentance – and saying I am sorry – is also an affirmation of authority rather than a denial. After all, no one can really make me say I am sorry. This is a responsibility, an affirmation, an authority.
          Saying I am sorry to God or to neighbor is authoritative. Or, to paraphrase St. Paul, when we appear to be weak, it is then that we are strong; and, foolish, wise.  (1 Corinthians 1:25)

[__04__]    With [►AUTHORITY]  comes [►ACCESS / ACCESSIBILITY].
          And, isn’t it true that we expect those in [►AUTHORITY] to be [►ACCESSIBLE].
          They give press conferences, interviews, they sign autographs.They let us see them. Authority figures are supposed to be accessible.
          And, we do the same. Isn’t the greatest gift a mother and father can do for a child, to give them their human life, to allow them to be born, to develop. There is glory in both this [►AUTHORITY] and [►ACCESSIBILITY].
          And, Jesus is both [►AUTHORITATIVE] and [►ACCESSIBILE]. He is the king of kings, lord of lords, prince of peace. Authoritative.
          However, he’s also accessible. He is the word made flesh who pitched his tent among us and was born a child, and permitted himself to be nailed to the cross, to die for our sin.
          Glory is both authoritative and accessible.

[__05__]       All this glory can make a person  [►ANXIOUS].
          Now,  [►ANXIETY] is something we associate with extreme uneasiness of mind. I may worry so much that I cannot work. But the anxiety of Jesus and of you and me is also based in God’s glory and God’s presence.        Thomas Aquinas affirms that our watchfulness in prayer (1 Peter 3:8) is connected to wisdom.
          We turn to prayer not as the back door but as our main screen. So, praying that we will be enlightened, that we will be wise, is also a way for us to be glorified and to be anxious about the things of heaven, the things that matter.

[__06_]       We read in today’s Gospel that Jesus is praying for you and for me, praying for his apostles, his disciples and ardently hoping for our salvation.
            And, he wants to share his AUTHORITY with us so that we know that we are not conquered by sin.
            He wants to share his ACCESSIBLITY with us, so that we know we can also lay down our lives for the other …and that we – imitating him – can be zealous, enthusiastic, even ANXIOUS do the things which bring glory to God in the highest.[__fin__]

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ascension (2017-05-25)

Thursday May 25, 2017 /  Ascension Thursday
[ •Acts 1:1-11 • Psalm 47 • Ephesians 1:17-23 • + Matthew 28:16-20 • ]

Title: “Ascension Thursday”

[__01__]  In confusion, there is also candor and honesty.
          When I was in the seminary, a classmate suggested me he wanted me to join him for a mission and service trip to El Salvador.  He was from El Salvador. It seemed interesting that I would visit his country.
          He said, Jim, we have to get you to come on the annual trip to El Salvador. Several years passed and 2 or 3 other classmates were approached. I was never asked and was feeling confused.
          Then, about six years after this initial suggestion of El Salvador, someone from the same  department asked me.  They said, we are planning a trip to Port-au-Prince, to Haiti. Would you like to go?
          And, with complete candor, honesty and relief that somehow I had been selected, I said, “I would love to go to El Salvador.”
          In a state of confusion – even doubt – there can be great honesty and candor. I was certainly candid about my feelings that finally I had moved from “rejection” to “acceptance.” 

[__02__]    In the Gospel, we read about the confusion of the disciples. We read of their doubt.
          And, is this not a common reaction or mood or mode of speech and action of the disciples after Jesus has been arrested, put to death, and has risen from the dead?
          They recognize him, sort of.
          Some are not sure who he is.
          Thomas the apostle refuses to accept the eyewitness testimony of his close friends.
          And, in Matthew’s Gospel today, we also read about the disciples who are encountering Jesus at the very end of the Gospel episodes.
          Matthew reports in the final end-of-day press briefing of his Gospel, “they worshiped, but they doubted”. (Matthew 28:___)
          So, we might say that the disciples are being completely honest, completely candid about their feelings, their emotions at this critical juncture.
          Some of them may think that they are at the, so to say, security checkpoint  and they do not have boarding passes. Jesus would be going on further.
          They would be left behind.
          So, they worshiped, but they doubted.

[__03__]      [__04__]    For this reason, conversion and faith – and the profession of faith after the sermon or in the sacrament of baptism – or anytime, is not a one-time fix in which our spiritual operating system is upgraded and all the viruses removed.
          Unfortunately, there is still room for the malware of sin.
          This could come from our doubts.
          However, I suggest that this uncertainty or unsteadiness is less overwhelming if we admit this doubt, if we bring this to the surface and even bring this doubt to our prayer.
          They worshiped but they doubted.

[__05__]      For example – in our person-to-person, one-on-one human relationships, what happens when we have doubts?
          Are we willing to admit these doubts?  Now, of course, we should be careful.
          It can be a very explosive and destructive thing for your or me to say to our spouse, or to our mother, or to our best friend … “You know, I doubt whether or not you really care about me.”
          That is, to make such a general statement is dangerous and may not really build up the relationship.
          Then again, in a gentler way, can we not admit that every relationship needs HONESTY, COMMITMENT, NURTURING and this is not simply the other person’s responsibility.
          In doubt, we can also examine our own actions and feelings about being rejected or ignored. This self-awareness does not make us weak. It means we still have self-esteem.
          The temptation – in our doubts – is to put everyone else on trial.
          However, such doubts are also a time to examine ourselves and to listen to the other person.

[__06_]      If you are a teacher to a young person, a mother, a father, you know how easy it is to put the young person or the student or the child “on trial” while we examine him or her.
          And, after we finish speaking, then all the doubts will be cleared up, right?
          Truly, do we not learn that our doubts are addressed not by speaking but by listening, so also in our relationship with our Savior.
          In love and prayer we try to listen to him, to wait for his word and for his Second Coming.
          They worshiped, but they doubted.
          That’s faith, that’s Good News.   [__fin__]

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Farewell. Commencement (Easter, 2014-05-21)

Sunday May 21, 2017 /  6th Sunday Easter 
[ •Acts 8:5-8, 14-17 • Psalm 66  • 1 Peter 3:15-18 • John 14:15-21 • ]

Title: “Commencement ”

[__01_-farewell speech_]   
          Who do you know?
          In this Gospel reading, Jesus is giving a farewell address or we might say a graduation or commencement speech as he anticipates a departure.
          And, on Commencement Day, or Graduation Day, we are called to consider that many of our next steps – after Graduation Day  and after the classroom – are not simply based on what we know but who we know.
          And, I suggest that we can apply this lesson of success to our own salvation and personal connection to  Christ.
          Yes, it is important what we know …but even more important that we recognize and develop and spend time in prayer and in our personal relationship with Christ.
          In him, we are known.
[__02 identity__]         
          One of the things we know about graduation speeches and commencement speeches – these days – is that we do not simply sit up straight and listen because of WHAT is being said, but also because of WHO is speaking. For such a reason, celebrities with wide appeal – but perhaps few  academic credentials will be the commencement speakers. Last week, Steve van Zandt – late of the HBO Series / The Sopranos and of E Street Band as Bruce Springsteen’s lead guitarist -- gave the Commencement speech at Rutgers in New Brunswick.

[__03__]      This “farewell” or “commencement” speech was given at the Last Supper on the night before Good Friday and his arrest, crucifixion and death, given three days for our Savior’s own graduation from the earth to resurrection.
          And, they are concerned – nervous and scared not only because of what he is saying but because of who he is. He is their teacher, rabbi, friend. His absence is a great disruption to their lives.
          They will struggle to understand the meaning of “destroy this Temple and in 3 days I will raise it up.”  (John 2:19)

          [__04__]    Similar to any group of people listening to a speech, a long lecture – or perhaps this sermon / homily – we catch certain ideas, and we may listen partially.
          Or, as Paul Simon wrote in The Sound of Silence, “a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”
          The disciples of Christ also only hear partially or see partially, reflecting as St. Paul wrote … “at present we see indistinctly as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully as I am fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12)
[__05__]      So, on a graduation day – and at many important milestone events in our lives – we see partially, not completely. Call it uncertainty; or we might say – in the Christian sense – mystery, mysterious.
          We may not be completely sure of ourselves.
          [__06_]      One of the great things about Commencement speeches is that, on graduation day, everyone is equal, everyone receives the same speech, the same message, whether summa cum laude (four-point-zero) or two-point-two.
          But, then again, the Commencement speech is a different type of exam – a different type of ACT or SAT.
          The commencement exercise or graduation is not a question of what do you know…but who do you know…and who are you?
          Who am I? And, who am I going to become? Because, in our relationship with Christ, we are all lifelong learners of his ways, of his commandments, this includes the lessons of …
          FORGIVENESS – are we not often persuaded or able to forgive someone not simply based on WHAT they did or WHAT their apology may be … but rather WHO he or she is to us. It’s who you know.
          HONESTY – are we not called to remember that honesty is not simply a statement of information but an acknowledgement and affirmation of a relationship. It’s who you know.
          COMPASSION / GENEROSITY – in the care we give to someone who is sick or ill or alone, we might recall that what matters is not what we do but that we are present. Thus, in this you and I are known, are recognized. Whom you know is important.

          Jesus is asking the same question of his disciples.
          As he ask them to keep his commandments, follow certain values, he also asks them to follow in his ways, to imitate him, to know him personally.
          It is who you know, and who we know as a community, as his graduating class each day.    [__fin__]

Sunday, May 14, 2017

You Know the Way (Easter, 2017-05-14, Mother's Day)

Sunday May 14, 2017 /  5th Sunday Easter  & Mother’s Day

Title: “You Know the Way (?) ”

[__01__]    This was a conversation at the Last Supper. Jesus was speaking to his disciples at the Last Supper. And, he is speaking about a departure. He speaking about leaving them.
            And, when they asked where is he would be going, Jesus said to them these famous last words.   You and I have also heard these famous last words right before we departed or right before someone walked or drive ahead of you.
            “You know the way.”
            “You know the way, right?”
            We are asked to follow someone but we are also told by someone else that we ALREADY know the way.
            Such is the message of our Savior to his disciples.
            “Where I am going you know the way.”

[__02__]      In a spiritual sense, Jesus is telling us that the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line.
          We know this from geometry and geography.
          However, from experience, we also know the challenge due to many turnpikes and tunnels. We cannot always reach our destination with a perfectly straight line.
          Nevertheless, the shortest distance is a straight line.
          And, Jesus is reminding us that he is our line, our direction and destination.
          Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
          You know the way, right?
We are always learning the way in our lives.
          And, it is not always easy to learn the way. There are times when we may falter or be knocked down, we may go in the wrong direction.
          We may feel uncertain of ourselves even on familiar territory, uncertain of ourselves even among people whom we know very well.
          Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
          He is our new ONE-DIRECTION, ONE-WAY to heaven.

[__03__]    Jesus gives us the way. In other words,  [►STABILITY (“way”)]. He gives us the truth, in other words,  [►SINCERITY (“truth”)]
He is giving us the life, he is teaching us [►SURVIVAL (“life”)].
[__04__]    [►STABILITY] is good. We favor this over INSTABILITY.
          And, the longer we stay in a particular place, the more stable we feel, the better we know the place.
          Several years ago, I went one weekend to a wedding in I returned to Lancaster (Pennsylvania) for the weekend and for the wedding of a friend of mine.  While I had gone to college in Lancaster, this was not the wedding of a classmate.  However, the wedding was on my college’s campus, in a building I had entered or passed by countless times.
          In this case, I was the only one with local knowledge of the roads and destinations. And, this was before GPS and satellites etc.
          So, I was the only one in the group with some indigenous experience. You know the way, right?   Sort of.
          By the end of the weekend, we had made so many wrong turns that it seemed my diploma from this institution was probably a fake.  Are you sure that you live and studied here for four years?
          I did not know enough about the turns and turnpikes of southeastern Pennsylvania. And, I recall feeling frustrated and embarrassed over this situation.
          My fear was misplaced.
          Yes, our Savior is also trying to calm the fears of the apostles who are not yet sure of the next turn or exit ramp.
          Where are you going?
          The important thing in Lancaster – or in Jerusalem – was not the next turn, but rather the destination. We arrived at the wedding, the reception and made all the celebrations.
          Yes, there were some wrong turns. But our stability – our way – was not ruined by the wrong turns.
          In a similar fashion, our Lord urges us to repent of our sins, seek confession/forgiveness not to remember all of the faults and misdirections but rather to remind ourselves of the direction in which we are going.
          He is the way. Yes, famous last words.
          He is the way, the truth and the life. And, the shortest between 2 points is a straight line, to him.

[__05__]    Jesus is also teaching us about truth or about [►SINCERITY].
          Our straight line is to Jesus, again.
          We are called to be truthful, to be honest.
          The shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line.
          Now sometimes, in my effort to be TRUTHFUL, to be HONEST …or even to be HARD WORKING … I have figured out where that straight line is. And, I am going to tell you where it is.
          But, is this my opinion, or this God’s sincerity and truth?
          Loving God and loving our neighbor is an invitation to listen to both.
          We can arrive at the truth and true love by listening to the other person.
          Have I taken into account the person who is on my straight line?
          This reminds us that that TRUTH, SINCERITY is not a calculation by one person but rather a common path revealed by God for the good of all.
          Jesus is the truth.

[__05__]     Jesus also tells that he is the life.   [►SURVIVAL (“life”)]
          Jesus is also our life.
          Today is Mother’s Day. And, our connection to our mothers is based survival. Our mothers gave us life, they helped us to survive.  Everything that a mother does is to help her child to survive, to live.
          Even if a mother must – and all mothers do this – must withdraw and let her son or daughter be independent and make decisions, this is also for his or her life, for survival.
          Yes,  a sword pierces the heart of the Blessed Mother as her son is experiences the Passion. But, this is also for her survival and our survival.
          This Sunday, we pray especially for every mother and grandmother who has suffered the passing away (death) of a child or grandchild.  Their faith and perseverance are inspirations to us. Their trust in God’s mercy and care for their children helps us  to recall Jesus as the way, the truth and the life.
[__05__]      Speaking about the way, the truth, and the life, Jesus is also communicating to his disciples that his life would have purpose. That his suffering would have a purpose.
          Yes, there would be a painful delay; there are painful delays.
          Several years ago, a friend of mine was going to visit his mother who was in latter stages of Alzheimer's, of dementia.  By this time, he was no longer recognizable to his mother. But, what he said – and what many people can and say under these circumstances – is “I am not visiting my mother because she knows who I am…I am visiting her because I know who she is.”
          God comes to visit us; Jesus comes to us not because we always recognize and request him. He comes to us, knowing that we sometimes deny him 3 or more times, taking the initiative to help us to be STABLE, to be SINCERE, to SURVIVE, to know him as the the way, the truth, and the life.
          This is the life, the way, and the discovery of truth that we are precious in God’s eyes and that in the Father’s there are many mansions; he (Jesus, our Savior)  is going to prepare a place for us and take us to himself.  (cf., John 14:1-3)  [__fin__]

Sunday, May 7, 2017

El Buen Pastor: Sonido, Abrigo, Sensibilidad (2017-05-07)

Domingo  7 mayo 2017 /  4o  domingo Easter 

Title: “El Buen Pastor”

[__01__]   Hablando en voz alta, un pastor - en un campo verde - un pastizal verde - hace su voz oída y conocida al rebaño, a las ovejas.
Jesús nos recuerda que las ovejas no siguen a un extraño. No siguen la voz de nadie. Es decir, las ovejas del rebaño discernir, conocer, reconocer a su pastor - su buen pastor - por el SONIDO, por el REFUGIO, y por la SENSIBILIDAD.
SONIDO, ABRIGO/REFUGIO, SENSIBILIDAD. Estas 3 cosas nos ayudarán a encontrar lo que queremos ... o lo que necesitamos ... o lo que pensemos que queremos.
[__02__]    [__02__] Jesús es el buen pastor por estos 3 atributos, estas 3 cualidades.
Primero, SOUND.
Si vamos a seguir a una persona o encontrar a una persona, SOUND es muy importante.
He notado, por ejemplo, que hay una manera segura de averiguar si una persona está cerca o presente. A veces, vamos a buscar a una persona, preguntándonos ... hey, ¿se fueron ya? ¿sigues aquí?
Buscamos pistas, señales, signos.
¿Hay teléfono, teléfono celular, iPhone ... todavía aquí? Esta es una pista de SONIDO .... Sabemos que la gente tiende a no ir muy lejos sin sus teléfonos. Si su teléfono todavía está aquí, entonces usted todavía está aquí.

[__03__]    [__03__] El sonido nos conduce. A veces, el sonido nos lleva por los caminos correctos ... a pastos verdes.
A veces, el sonido nos desvía.
Por ejemplo, a veces, nos sentimos atraídos a una persona porque él o ella habla mucho ... o porque él o ella ya es muy popular, tiene muchos amigos.
No es malo hablar, o tener amigos.
Sin embargo, Jesús - como nuestro pastor quiere que lo sigamos no basado en la sonoridad ... sino también basado en la profundidad de su mensaje.
Y, ¿no es cierto que hemos hecho buenas amistades con la gente no simplemente porque la otra persona era fuerte o popular?

[__04__]    [__04__] Jesús es también el buen pastor, porque provee refugio, protección, guardia ... nos conduce a pastos verdes.
Y, ¿no estamos atraídos - lógicamente - a los que pueden protegernos, oa las cosas que nos protegen.
Queremos que el dispositivo o equipo con la mejor seguridad.
También esperamos de nuestros amigos, la confidencialidad, que pueden mantener un secreto ...
Esto es refugio.
Pero, "refugio" no significa necesariamente que estamos cómodos.
Un amigo también será amoroso suficiente para decirnos cuándo estamos equivocados.
Una madre o un padre también tendrá la amabilidad de corregir y enseñar a un niño.
Un cónyuge será lo suficientemente afectuoso como para decirle a la otra persona lo que la familia realmente necesita.
Y, esto es ABRIGO, este es el pasto verde.
[__05__]     [__05__] Y, Jesús es el buen pastor porque es SENSIBLE.
San Pablo nos recuerda, sin embargo, que la SENSIBILIDAD o la LÓGICA de Dios no es lo mismo que la LÓGICA o RAZÓN de otras personas.

[__06__]    [__06__] ¿Cómo es el Señor nuestro Dios SENSIBLE ...?
En la carta de Santiago, leemos esta instrucción, "que cada uno se apresure a oír, lento a hablar, lento a la ira ..." (Santiago 1:19)
Para que tú y yo utilicemos nuestras mentes ... nuestros cerebros ... y nuestros corazones ... estamos llamados a escuchar primero. Esto a veces es difícil.
Tal vez experimentamos dificultades o injusticias, entonces estamos tentados a hablar. Tal vez, nuestros maestros, madres o padres nos han dicho que "actuar ... no reaccionar". En otras palabras, podemos ser llamados a actuar pero no tenemos que responder a todo lo que una persona hace o dice.
"Escuchar" antes de hablar es una acción, una acción fiel y amorosa. Nos ayuda a hablar.
Jesús es el Buen Pastor no sólo porque nos habla, sino también porque está escuchando a Dios Padre y al Espíritu Santo.
Como padres, maestros y para todos aquellos que cuidan de nuestros hijos, también estamos llamados a conversar con Dios para que podamos hablar ... .que podamos escuchar su SONIDO, experimentar su refugio y saber que Dios es SENSIBLE ... amando ...

El Señor es mi pastor, nada me falta. [__fin__