Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Participation Trophy (2019-05-19, Easter Sunday 05)

May 19, 2019     [5th  Sunday Easter]       Acts 14:21-27    Psalm 145 
● Revelation 21:1-5a  ●     + John 13:31-33a, 34-35 ●

Title:     The Participation Trophy

 [_01_]       Does “participation” deserve a trophy or an award, an     honor?
            Is “participation” an honor?
Perhaps, you have been in conversations about sports or little league or travel-soccer and competitions or  on the opposite end of someone’s diatribe against  giving someone a trophy for participation.
Some people say No….
I’m quoting a psychologist now…. “For example, instead of dealing with defeat by telling our kids that “everyone’s a winner at heart,” we should praise them for how hard they hustled, what they did right and how they improved.
But it’s not just the “losers” we need to worry about; it’s the “winners” too. Phrases like “You’re a winner” or “You’re a natural” can actually be toxic to how kids deal with losing. As the work of child psychologist Carol Dweck shows us, praising kids for their innate talents (in this study’s case, their intelligence) actually makes it more difficult for them to cope when they’re actually confronted with losing.” (Psychology Today blog, Nov. 7, 2014)
So … going back to my question important is participation. Participation counts.
It may or may not need a trophy, but participation counts.
[_02_]   When I was about 13 years old, my sister and youngest sibling was born and came into our family.
          That day, my brothers and I went to our municipal/town pool – as per usual – and my mother went to the hospital and when she came home we were one more.
          The entry of my sister into the house was what I am calling a PARTICIPATION moment.
          It was not about having a PARTICIPATION trophy, but nevertheless, a PARTICIPATION question.
          Now I was 13 at the time, of course I had life all figured out.
But with a new human being, now I did not have life all figured out, how this was going to work.
          So, I watched what other people did around my sister. Was I caught up and overwhelmed also by their joy?
          Not really.
          But, nevertheless, I did learn to participate in their love, and this participation was an honor and the participation moments were moments of growth for me.
[_03_]    And, this is what I suggest what Jesus means by the commandment “love one another as I have loved you…”
          That is, will you – will I – participate?
          And, for those of us who have watched a child grow whether as a parent, grandparent, sibling, teacher, coach, family member, that this participation requires some knowledge…mayb the acquiring or learning of knowledge that we do not already have…and that are called participate in. Whether you are age 73 or 13 or 103.

 [_04_]  I think we recognize that “knowledge”  is something we area always acquiring that it comes from outside of ourselves. For this reason, we are never without a device that has wi-fi or the ability to search by GPS.
          I was absolutely stunned the other day when a young person – carrying a smart phone – asked me for directions to an address on Woodside Avenue near Valley Way.  I was honored to participate in this,  and hopeful that maybe more people – than I think --- do stop to ask for directions and that we can participate by our connection to others and our guidance and charity to each other.
          And, Jesus’ command to love another as I have loved you reminds that our lives are connected ..
            Father Ronald Knox in a sermon observes it is harmonious with both our faith and reason to pray for each other … both for children yet to be born, for mothers and fathers…and for those whose lives may die and pass from this life.
            We are called to care for each other and to responsible for each other for this life and the next.
            Our lives on earth are interwoven, intertwined- the child to be born. We were not meant to be solitary units here or in the world to come. This is what it means to “love another as I have loved you.”
            All other laws are based on this law, and also calls us to be “extreme” not only in our care for the child to be born but also for the mother and father and family who must raise the child. I credit our parishioner, Professor Charles Camosy of Fordham for that sentence and his writing on the “consistent life ethic”

[_05_]     A few years after my sister was born, we were together for her wedding and wedding rehearsal at a church in southern California, in San Diego.
          This was another little lesson about participation and knowledge and love.
          I was in this church for the very first time for the rehearsal and trying to be helpful, as the priest. But, you can’t get around the fact that I am not only the priest, but also, now, the brother, the son, the kid they’ve known for decades, et cetera.
          So, who am I tell everyone where to stand and to “guide” this rehearsal. I was both a participant and a  leader.. kind of like all weddings.
          And, so at the beginning of the rehearsal, I start to tell the other “participants”  the following:
-          The bride will stand here
-          The groom will stand here.
-          The maid of honor will go here and do this…et cetera….
My sister objected to my level of detail and organization and – daresay my “labeling.”
Labeling is bad, right?
So, my sister – “why can’t we use everyone’s name?”
i.e., I am your sister, Jeff is your brother-in-law-to-be, the maid of honor you have known for 30 years.
So, I started calling everyone by their names. We were family I did not need name tags.
“Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus loved and died for you, by name, not for people in general, but for you, for me.
He knows you and me by name.
We might recall that it is not KNOWLEDGE that enables us to participate and love another person.
Rather, love enables us to know and participate.
Love is the beginning of knowledge.  Love one another as I have loved you. Participation. It’s an honor.   [_06_]     [_fin_]

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Who You Know / Good Shepherd / Mother's Day (2019-05-12, Easter 04 Sunday)

May 12, 2019  [4th Sunday Easter, Mother’s Day]   

 Acts 13:14, 43-52    Psalm 100 
● Revelation 7:9 14b-17     
+ John 10:27-30 ●

Title:   “Good Shepherd / Who You Know.”

[_01_]   I’d like to reflect this Gospel of the Good Shepherd – and on each of our mothers – with this phrase –
            “it’s who you know.”
            My mother can still recall the person & schoolyard friend that I made on my first day of school. I was more focused on what I was supposed to know.
            My mother was more concerned about “who I knew” not what I knew…and I was still in kindergarten.
[_02_]  And, is not our faith – our confidence – in another person not simply based on what is being said (or not said) but also on who the person is, who is saying it?
            EXAMPLE: Several months ago, I did what I do – what perhaps we all do – several – several hundred times ? – a day – I looked at my phone to see what was coming next or what I needed to know…or what need to respond to …and at that moment I knew that I was meeting some people in a little while.
            I received this message: “we will be there in 19 minutes.”
            Given that the appointment was with a known person – someone I knew – I found the precision to be curious. That is, I did not really need to know exactly that number…I knew the person was coming …but I appreciated the reminder. Later, she told me that she meant to type “10”  (one-zero) …rather than one-nine …. but I realized in this example, that my trust was not based on what was being said..but who was saying it And, in this case, the person had an extra nine minutes to make it on time!
[_03_]   It’s who you know.
The Good Shepherd Gospel, John Chapter 10.
          And, we are reminded to know Jesus personally. Now, I will admit that sometimes we take this expression “it’s not what you know it’s who you know” to an unhealthy place or extreme.
          Consider the famous Broadway musical/play with the title “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.”
          One commentator (Psychology Today blog, Fredric Neuman, M.D. June 11, 2014) – reflected that the story of the play resonates because…  “It was a prescription for what an ambitious person without skills or talent or brains needs to do to succeed. It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time and saying the right things to the right people. It was amusing because it alluded to certain aspects of business that we all recognize. People sometimes fail their way up the corporate ladder.”
That’s an extreme case…
But …is that extreme not the “so-called”  bad shepherd? What does Jesus say about them…
We should not trust someone just because we are paying the other person or for some material reward… someone who works only for pay, only for the money… is not someone who is going to be very committed to the team, or to any long-term goal.
[_04_]    Jesus is aware that trust and love and lasting friendship is based on who you know, rather than what you know.
          2 spouses – husband and wife – may say each one knows everything about the other person. Actually, that’s impossible. I do not even know everything about myself
          It’s who you know, not what you know.
[_05_]   Consider – in our lives – we rely on good shepherding of our mothers and our fathers… and that even as we age, we turn to our parents not only because of what the know …and, sometimes, our parents know more than we think they do… but we turn to them because they know us personally.
[_06_]  And, who are we? In this month of May, we honor or Blessed Mother Mary and our own mothers whose trust was not based on what they knew, but on who they knew.
          Mary trusted in God even before she could see what Jesus could do, and trusted in him even in his fragility as a child, for who he was already and would become.
[_07_]    Trusting in who we know is the foundation of faith and love.
          An example.
          In 1977, Jimmy Carter became the president of the United States…and one person who was a favorite of the media during his presidency was his mother, Mrs. Lillian Carter, a.k.a. Miss Lillian.
          Miss Lillian even lived at the White House, 1600 Pennyslvania Avenue. It must have made Mother’s Day dinner get-together so much easier.
          I recall this lesson learned about not only “what we do”  but also “who we are.” (Source: Jimmy Carter, An Hour Before Daylight (memoir / book))
          Now, Jimmy Carter grew up in Georgia, the deep South, as we say, in the 1930’s, during the Great Depression. At this time, his family had a working farm so they were relatively well-off.
          Meanwhile, there many individuals and families wandering the countryside, searching for food, for work, for shelter.
          They were like sheep without a shepherd.
          Some of them came to the Carter home and farmhouse. And, his mother – Miss Lillian – fed them.
          One day, Miss Lillian was at a neighbor’s house and was talking about these visitors and the food they asked for.
          Her neighbor responded, “Well I am glad they do not come here, because I would not feed them.”
          This caused Miss Lillian to wonder why the Carter house received so many visitors so she asked some of them.
          They told her about the signal and sign of which the Carters had no knowledge. The visitors explained that the at roadside, where the mailbox was. In this area, the mailbox was not at your front door, but on a wooden post at the road. And, the visitors had intentionally scratched the post to indicate as a friendly home.
          It is our imperfections, even our faults and our desire to love God and neighbor that makes us who we are … who we are may be better known by others and by God than we know, And, is it not true that Jesus is recognized after the Resurrection not only his face but also by his wounds? We also have some rough edges and scratches…and falls.
          In order to be sure that the sign would remain, Miss Lillian told her family never to paint over the wooden post or to remove the scratches.   [_fin_]

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Revelation and Reversal (2019-05-05, Sunday 03 Easter)

May 5, 2019   [3rd Sunday Easter]  Acts 5:27-32 Psalm 30 ● Revelation 5:11-14 ● + John 21:1-19 ●

[_01_]   A special welcome this morning to our children, of First Holy Communion, those who made First Holy Communion last Sunday.

[_02_]  We are pleased to have our children´s choir with us at this Mass as we also sing today as we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary with a profession of flowers in a few minutes.

[_03_]  I´d like to refer in this Gospel to 2 moments of Jesus, our Lord.
          That is, Jesus
[►does a REVELATION to the disciples …]     Then, Jesus …
[►does a REVERSAL of the denials of Peter …]

1st. [►The REVELATION to the disciples …]
          “Revelations” are important.
          Awards and reputations seems to be made or to be lost based on a revelation – positive or negative.
          We are hyper-connected online to check up on people´s reputations and status.
The revelation attracts attention with, for example, the small envelope at, the Oscars/Academy Awards.  ¨And, the envelope please- ¨
          Your reputation is made or lost if you are the Best Director or Best Picture.
          In the Book of the Gospel of John, this Sunday, it is not Jesus’ name that is revealed or his name that is read.
          Rather, Jesus appears in person, just as last Sunday’s Gospel reported Jesus appearing to Thomas the Apostle in person to say…
          …”put your fingers here and see my hands and bring your hand and put into my side but do not be unbelieving but believe.” (John 20:27)
          So, there is a disclosure that Jesus is real…. that his death was real and, now, more importantly, his life is real.
          That is the [►The REVEAL to the disciples …]
[*** pause ***]
           And, Jesus comes also to speak with Peter.

[_04_]   This is the [►the  REVERSAL of the denials of Peter …]
          Peter was a “near-miss” we might say on the night before Jesus died. How did Peter nearly miss?
          Peter followed Jesus after Jesus was arrested, followed him into the Temple area,  and then as people started asking Peter  “do you know this ‘prime suspect’ Jesus?”   or  “didn’t I see you with him?” . And, Peter says – 3x three times – ‘No I don’t know him… who? That man …never seen him before… ’
          And, denies Jesus 3x.
          Peter had a “near-miss”, he was so close, but missed his connection to Jesus at the moment of his Passion.
          Nevertheless, Peter was not totally lost. There was hope for Peter.
          And, in a very deliberate way, Jesus now asks Peter three times:  “do you love me…?”
          The 3 x question “do you love me?” is [►the  REVERSAL of the denials of Peter …].
[_05_]   I’d like to give some examples of this REVERSAL and “near miss” and our need for God and each other.
          The first is a world-history example; the second a personal example.
1st The world-history example.
          In 1940, the people of Great Britain and the people of London had reason to fear and worry because Nazi Germany was on the march and the British government feared a German attack from the air, airplanes, bombs.
          So much fear that the evacuation of London was starting to be planned and considered to be an absolute foregone conclusion.  
          So, all sorts of hospitals and buildings were constructed so that after the bombing people could live there because surely people would leave London.
          Because, would the Londoners not be demoralized after the bombing?
          And, in fact, over 40,000 people died, many were injured, but the vast majority in a city of 8 million were unharmed and was an experience that emboldened the British people.
          A sign of British strength and stoicism in face of great distress.
          In a book about underdogs and how they will “battle giants” (David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell)
Malcolm Gladwell wrote that the favorite in this war was certainly Germany and the Nazis. They wanted to win the war and perhaps would have won if they had not “messed with” Britain.
          Because, Britain became even bolder and braver as a result of this experience.

[_06_]    And, Peter is invited this new boldness and bravery – a new strength born of adversity that will make a him a better disciple, a priest … in fact, a better follower. But, do we believe the same about adversity and forgiveness from sin?
          Because when we have adversity we are also called to repentance, to forgiveness, and sometimes to go in REVERSE…the REVERSAL OF OUR OWN DENIALS.
          Going in reverse helps us to go forward.
          This is my 2nd closing personal example …personal…
          Many years ago, I was crossing a busy street in the city, in New York.  As I approached the curb, I recall looking to see if there were any cars coming down the street. No cars… I’m good… And,there were no cars coming down the street. I was correct.
But, as I walked out from behind a parked van,  there was a bicycle messenger coming down the street at that very moment. And, those guys travel fast!.
          We collided. Fortunately, neither of us was hurt. To show you how long ago this was, I recall having to pick up my pager and put the batteries back into the pager in that stone-age time before cell phones.
          I was shaken up and scared ..but fortunately I was not hurt and the bicycle messenger was long gone.
          I remember that I was on my way to see some people I worked with at the time.
          I remember how important it was for me to tell them what had happened … even though I was embarrassed at what had happened and I was not completely in the right.
          And, I recall how important their questions – are you ok – were to me at the time.  And, sharing their own experience with bicycle messengers…
          It was important for me to know their care.
          An experience in which I had to go in REVERSE to recover.
          I had to go back on the sidewalk and dust myself off. Sometimes, we have to go in reverse in order to go forward.
          Or, to go in reverse as Peter did, to reverse the denials and to hear Jesus’ words revealed to us:  “Follow me”.  [_fin_

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Thomas the Apostle & "Twins" (2019-04-28, Easter, 2nd Sunday)

April 28, 2019   [ 2nd Sunday Easter]   
  Acts 5:12-16     Psalm 118  ●  Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19 ●   + John 20:19-31●

[_01_]  Welcome to Our Lady of Lourdes, friends and families of our 1st Holy Communion young people and you – our young people –for 1st Communion.
          The Gospel today reminds us of the close friendship and connection between Jesus and one particular apostle: Thomas. Jesus takes the time to make a special – 2nd – visit to the apostles just so Thomas & Jesus can see each other in person.
          Yet, Jesus is close to all of his disciples and to all of us, and to all of you.  He comes to us – in person – in Holy Communion.

Thomas is also important because – in the historical language/writing of the Bible – his name or nickname means “twin”, i.e., “twin brother”. Thomas is, as some writers say, our twin brother, because his appearance, his reaction is what many of us might do in the same situation. Thomas is your twin, my twin. You didn't know you had a twin brother!
Jesus is also your brother – to you - each of you in our first Communion Class....
          Your personal friendship to Jesus is so important that his life is a gift for you on the Cross and in Communion.
I’d like to use Thomas being a twin as an… example/analogy.
Among us today are brothers who are very close in age and even 2 brothers who are twins. And yet all of us are called to this same closeness with Jesus.  We are all brothers and sisters today…and in Thomas we have a twin !
[_02_]  The other day, I met, for the first time – 2 brothers who are Boy Scouts and volunteers and they are were building a fence and garden on our property. Some of you may recall meeting them – Jason and Michael -  because they spoke after Sunday Mass a few weeks ago about their construction projects. They are hoping to become Eagle Scouts and they have to build something as part of their goal to become Eagle Scouts.  Their names are Jason and Michael.  They are also twin brothers. They are twins.
          In my conversation with them, I kept mixing them up and calling ‘Jason’ to Michael and ‘Michael’ to Jason. They were not even identical twins and I did this!
          They were nice about this and did not seem to mind.

[_03_]    If you meet someone who has a twin brother a twin sister, you might also do the same, to confuse them one with the other …because they are so close and similar in appearance.

[_04_]    We want you – through your Holy Communion – to be close to Jesus, so that you will always know that God loves you and guides you.
          I bring up the example of “twins” and “twin brothers” because Thomas the Apostle is mentioned in the Gospel this Sunday and Thomas’ name means ’twin’.
          And, one of the things – that Pope Benedict XVI wrote about Thomas  was that he tried very hard – throughout his life – to stay close to Jesus.
          And, who is closer than your twin ? Sometimes, we are even trying to get away from our brothers or sisters or be independent of them…. But twin brothers or twin sisters are different.
          They enjoy being together. The like being together. They even take some pleasure, I daresay, in one being confused with the other.

[*** Pause ***]
          Pope Benedict wrote that Thomas really sees his destiny and his success as tied to that of Jesus.
          And, isn’t this what twin brothers or twin sisters see in each other?
          Even though they fight or argue or disagree…whether they wear the same clothes or different clothes, they share so many things …and especially the same birthday.
          The life of one is the life of the other. The joy of one is the joy of the other. The pain of one is the pain of the other.
          Now, we learn this when we grow up…and certainly marriage and matrimony are examples of this.  When a woman becomes a mother, she comes to understand that her child’s joy is her joy, her child’s pain is her pain. The same for a father. But, these are things we learn in adulthood.
          Twins, I suggest, learn from a very early age..and give us a powerful example of what it means to know another person intimately.
[_05_]    When I was a kid playing baseball, , we used to play against a team on which the star players were twin brothers. Usually, one twin brother was the pitcher, and and the other twin brother was the 1st baseman.
          Now, in baseball – and other sports – what players try to do is to give signals or signs to each other about what is coming next. And, they don’t want the other team “translating” or interpreting what the signal is. So, players will use some code or sign.
          And, these twin brothers did that. One was the pitcher, one was the first baseman.  And, our coach warned us – he said, you better watch out, because these twin brothers have a way of communicating with words or sounds ..and no one else can understand. So, you better be careful if you are taking a lead off of 1st base or trying to steal second.
          The twins knew what other people didn’t know and they could talk to each other in a special way.

[_06_]   It’s good to have a twin because that person understands you in a way that no one else does.
          The twin has been with you your whole life, knows your pain, your joy, your sorrow, knows who you are.

[_07_]   On this, your 1st Holy Communion Day, dear young people, I want you to remember that Jesus is also your brother, your friend, your companion and that he shares your joy, your sorrows.
          And, that Jesus has been with you from the beginning of your life and he will be with you until the end of your life and he even meets us when we die.
          So, it’s good to have a twin brother or twin sister, but it’s even more important to have Jesus as our brother, as our Savior, teacher..
[_08_]   And, in our prayer, quiet time, Jesus can speak to us and relate to us in a way no one else can.
          Who are those who help us in our difficulties, in our struggles? Those who know us the best. It does not mean that they tell us what we want to hear, but what we need to hear.
          One of the great things about having a twin or having a best friend or having a spouse or a child is that we trust that we are KNOWN and LOVED simply for who we are.  “To know you is to love you.” That is the old saying.
          A true friend or companion is someone who loves us and knows us not for what we do or produce but that we are.
          You – boys and girls – were loved and known by your parents even before you were born.
          God loves you because you are. And, if you need forgiveness, God welcomes you not because you have the perfect apology or statement of contrition but simply because you are and because you say that you are sorry.
          God loves us as we are.

[_09_]   Jesus comes to help us when we are confused and to love us even if someone else does not love us or rejects us, simply because we are.
          Jesus comes to us in Communion simply because we are.
          And, while we are not all the same – we are not all identical twins or mirror-images of each other – we are equal and need in of God’s love and forgiveness. And, we are never alone in our communion with Jesus our Savior.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Comeback / Rebuilding (2019-04-21, Easter)

April 21, 2019   [ Easter Sunday 2019]   

Easter Vigil Readings:  ● Genesis 1:1-2:2 ● Genesis 22:1-18 ●
●  Exodus 14:15-5:1 ● EPISTLE: Romans 6:3-11  ● + Luke 24:1-12●

Title:        Rebuilding

[_01_]    ►” Saturday, August 11, 2018” ►  That Saturday, we had very severe thunderstorms, tropical rain. You may recall Caldwell had 5 inches of rain that afternoon. A Little Falls car dealership lost many vehicles which were carried away by the flood water.
            Here in our Lourdes neighborhood, the water rose quickly on the very aptly named Mississippi Avenue – to your right
            And, only the doors of the church basement and well-built structure kept the water back. We even got water on the basement floor.  And, several of you sprang into action to check doors, un-clog drains, address the water …and … to calm me down. Thank you!
 [_02_]    At the time, it was hard to imagine how we would clean up, respond, and bounce back and we needed the church basement (Connor Hall) for an important family social event.  We needed a comeback…
            Coincidentally, it was for Liam Cunningham, our Eagle Scout who had who rebuilt 275 feet of fence on our property, to honor him for this infrastructure “comeback”  … but would our infrastructure come back in time ?
            We did get it cleaned up in time.           I personally believe that so much fresh water had flowed into our “Temple” (cf. Book of Ezekiel, ch. ___) that the church basement appeared in better shape after the flood than before.
            There was so much water.
[_02_]   Easter & the Easter Vigil are times to remember the celebration of water and the baptismal water in our lives.
And, also to renew our baptismal promises.
          What does baptism, or ‘to baptize’ mean?  St. Paul wrote about this to in ‘Romans’:
          “Brothers and sisters, are you unaware that all of us who were baptized baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.  We were indeed buried with him through death so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life” (cf. Romans 6:3 --__)
          So, baptism is about death and new life.  About a comeback. 
About the renewal of our promises, continually.  Father Ronald Knox writes – in this very simple example – that we do not re-baptize – or baptize more than once – just because it is about the forgiveness of sins.
For example…let’s say your mom tells you to wash your don’t say … oh, I washed them last week or or I used hand sanitizer in the car.  Rather, you wash them, repeatedly. Your mother knows!
          So, baptism happens only once but we renew our baptismal vows or promises.
[*** Pause ***]
[_03_]   And, renewal is good. Comeback stories are good. We love comeback come-from-behind victories.
The University of Virginia men’s basketball team lost in 1st round of their playoffs/tournament last year despite being heavily favored to win the whole tournament.
It was the most embarrassing lost in the history of the tournament. Then, this year, they “came back” and won the whole tournament in 2019 to be national champions.
Serena Williams, she is a perpetual comeback story, trouncing teenagers and players 15 or more years younger on the tennis court.
And, who could forget Tiger Woods of last Sunday, golf, the Masters?
Everyone loves a comeback story.
In our baptismal promises, we are making a comeback, spiritually …
          But, we are not always doing so publicly for all to see…
          For example…
► 1-on-1 in confession, we renew and come back to love God and love our neighbor according to the Commandments.
► in turning away from selfishness and self-centeredness, we reject Satan and all his works and all his empty promises. That’s a baptismal promise. A comeback.
► speaking and listening to God in quiet prayer – rather than all the competing voices around us, we renew our belief in the Holy Spirit. A comeback.
► walking into church, blessing ourselves with holy water, that’;s a comeback. we say…Lord, I am trying to live my life in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, according to your will, though it is sometimes difficult.

[*** PAUSE ***]

[_06_]     ►” Monday, April 15, 2019” ► 
This was the day after Tiger won the Masters. Monday.
Will there be a comeback achievement? Another? Paris?
A few days ago, it was certainly more than a thunderstorm and several inches of rain that affected the church of Our Lady, Notre Dame, Notre Dame Cathedral, ile de la cite, on an island in the River Seine, Paris. Monday.
          What were you and I watching, feeling to this heat, smoke, not to mention high volume and pressure of water?
          One journalist (E.J. Dickson Rolling Stone) wrote that the fact that the building did not collapse – a concern in the hours immediately following the blaze - serves as a powerful testimony to the skill of the medieval builders who – 850 years ago, circa 1200 – who had neither cameras nor computers nor calculators nor communication devices, except handwriting and the spoken word. They did not even have clocks, digital or analog.
          “It’s worth remembering why [the Paris church community] went to the trouble of building [Notre Dame] this way.  They built it so it would endure, last. The vaulted ceilings and & flying buttresses was not only for aesthetic [visually artistic] reasons – but it was also for fire proofing. And, they were surely worried about fire in 1200, 1300, all they had were buckets of water as their extinguishers.”
          They built to survive a fire.
          Jesus dies for us so that will survive a fire also.
          Survive the fire of persecution… and many difficulties, so that we will survive the fire of feeling unloved, rejected …
          Not only the fires of hell and Purgatory..but that we will survive the fires of today, to know that we are loved and worth dying for.
          And – like the builders in 1200 of the church, the firefighters on Monday had only 1 chance. You only get 1 chance to fight a fire.
          And, those firefighters were being celebrated today in another cathedral in Paris.
[_07_]      The artwork of Notre Dame can be reproduced..human life cannot.
          For this reason, hundreds of firefighters rushed into Notre Dame.
          They rushed in to get people out… and just like the firefighters on 9/11 rushed in to get people out. And,they saved tens of thousands of people in New York in 2001.
          Jesus laid down his life for our sins not only so that we might not fear death but that we might touch a little bit of death and yet rise to new life.
          And, to live a mature complete Christian life, we are called to forgive others. This can be a burden, a cross.
          We are called to die to ourselves. For to forgive another person, we imitate Christ and while none is the savior of the world, we participate in his saving mission and we give life by forgiveness.
          To do this, we may have to die to our own agendas die to ourselves.
          Jesus shows us that you
are worth dying for, I am worth dying for.
          Jesus shows us we are worth dying for, to give us new life, given to us originally in baptism.
          This is the life we re-claim when we confess our sins, the life we re-claim when we forgive another’s faults.
In this comeback, we don’t build a new structure but we build from the inside out, similar to Notre Dame Cathedral will be rebuilt from the inside out.
Jesus is the way and truth to our new life. His resurrection reminds us that he is the stone rejected by the builders and has become the cornerstone. This the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.