Saturday, March 27, 2010

There is no loyalty to Christ without loyalty to the Holy Eucharist, because the Eucharist is Christ.

Palm Sunday March 28th, 2010

Today we join the millions of Christian voices throughout the centuries who have been faithful to Christ; and along with them, we too desire to shout our loyalty to Christ and even more to show it by our deeds. We call this week Holy, but it could also be called "Loyalty Week."

Sadly, in our day many Christians are like the faithless tragic figures we just heard about the Passion narrative, they have not remained faithful to Christ. Yes, they may give Jesus lip service, but in the end, they preferred comfort, convenience, laziness and emotional highs, instead of steadfast faithfulness, and so loyalty to Christ. Many Christians today preferred a get rich, feel good gospel, instead a Gospel which demands a sharing in the very sufferings of Christ, and so a share in His loving act of redemption. In others words, too many so-called Christians prefer a Jesus without the cross, love without sacrifice, cheap grace, no suffering and no self-denial.

Sadly, many Catholics as well, from Catholic politicians to Catholic news journalist, claim the name Catholic but deny Christ by denying His true Mystical Body, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and her teachings. Yes, they receive ashes on their foreheads, they may even attend Holy Mass and receive communion, but they do so with no faith and thus commit the grave crime of sacrilege. They are not faithful to Christ because they are not faithful to the Vicar of Christ's, the Supreme Pontiff Benedict the XVI. We see this today in the recent vicious and untrue attacks against our beloved Holy Father. Just like with Christ, they don't care about the facts, they distort the facts to further their agendas. In the person of the Holy Father, Christ again is on trial.

Sadly, this lack of faithfulness is shown as well, by the many who will not take part in the beautiful ceremonies of Holy week, ceremonies that remind us of Christ faithfulness to us. Jesus faithfulness to us, took Him from heaven to earth, and then from the cradle to the cross and from the grave to the Resurrection. This week's ceremonies celebrate the great victory He won for us over sin and death by the same cross and the glorious true and historically real resurrection that followed. Too few Christians will take part in these ceremonies because they already do not show their faithfulness to Christ and to His Church by attending Holy Mass every week with full and actual participation; Holy Mass which makes truly present these saving events in our midst, and their power in our lives..."Father forgive them for they not what they do!"

This week reminds us clearly that we have a clear choice, and make no mistake about it, a clear choice of love, one that has eternal consequences. We can be loyal to Christ or disloyal to Him. There is a line that is being drawn in the sand which is becoming more and more pronounced in our day. Which side are we going to be on? True loyalty demands no middle of the road positions--in fact, you get run over in the middle of the road.

The hatred for Christ and His Catholic Church grows stronger. Will we be faithful to Christ? Will we truly love Him, or like the crowds on that first Palm Sunday, merely give Him lip service? For love is shown by deeds not by sweet words. For those who only give Him lip service, they will eventually cry out Crucify Him, Crucify His Church, Crucify His Pope, Crucify His priests, Crucify anyone one who follows Him; and for sure, crucify and mock, and even spit upon, anyone who would kneel or prostrate before a little white Host. They will turn against the followers and adorers of Christ just as those who turned against Christ on Good Friday.

When we look at the Crucifix and contemplate His Passion we see very clearly Jesus' great love for us; And we learn that our King will definitely be faithful to those who are faithful to Him, for He loves those who love Him. We who in faith, praise our King on this first day of the week--Sunday, and do so every first day of the week come hell or high water, we know that Jesus Christ will reward all of those who are faithful to Him, that is those who adore Him as the True and Living God. And so, we pledge our loyalty to Him no matter what the cost, even though many there are who prefer other things, the things of this world to Christ.

Today’s Holy Mass and every Holy Mass is a summary of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday we sing the praises of Jesus Christ; in every single Mass we praise our Lord. On the first Holy Thursday Jesus literally changed bread and wine into His Body and Blood and then gave to the Twelve His own divine power to do the same when He ordained them priests. In every single Holy Mass, through His priests, Jesus again changes bread and wine into His true flesh and blood, into His very self.

On that first Good Friday, Jesus died a bloody death for us; so too in every Mass this same sacrifice is made present to us in an unbloody manner so that we can, along with Jesus on Calvary, offer ourselves to the Father in a holy oblation of love.

On that first Easter Jesus truly rose from the dead; in this and every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass this same resurrection is made actually present so that we can share in its divine power and in its divine fruits.

This Holy Week, beginning with this Holy Mass is the time to recommit ourselves to Christ and fidelity to Him. He is offering us the graces to keep this commitment and to begin to make each and every Mass not only meaningful but effective in our life. If we aren't faithful to the Holy Mass and to the fact that the Eucharist is truly Jesus, God among us in His Human Resurrected body, then we cannot, cannot be faithful to Him our daily lives. Our Loyalty to Christ is in fact shown by our faithfulness to the Holy Eucharist.

There is no loyalty to Christ without loyalty to the Holy Eucharist, because the Eucharist is Christ. And if we truly believe this, then we must live out this belief in our thoughts, words and actions toward the Holy Eucharist. We must come before the Holy Eucharist as if it is God Himself, because It is. We must come before Him in faith, in purity of soul cleansed by confession; and in humility, we must adore Him and fall on our knees and even our faces before His Divine Majesty truly present in the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

It is a prideful people who refuse to fall on their knees before God. If at the name of Jesus every knee must bend, what about before the very person of Jesus. Those who refuse to adore God in the Holy Eucharist are not loyal to Christ....Judas' betrayal was due to His refusal to believe and so adore Jesus in the Holy Eucharist!!! All the apostles, except St. John, abandoned Jesus during the Crucifixion because they would not watch one hour. "Will you not watch one hour with Him?!"

Let us Promise Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, that we will be faithful to Him not only during this week, but during our whole lives by being faithful to His Holy Mass and His Catholic Church and her teachings. Let us adore our God truly among us in the Holy Eucharist with His same human nature which suffered the blows, insults and blasphemies of Evil unbelieving men. In fact, I proposed that we begin 24 hour, seven day a week perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in this very Church. Do we have the faith and the loyalty to Christ to commit to doing so?

Let us shout with our life as well as with our words, the concluding and heaven-shaking words of St. Paul in today’s second reading: JESUS CHRIST IS LORD! Let us proclaim with our whole being that HE IS NOT ONLY LORD OVER ALL THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH, but that HE IS LORD OVER MY ENTIRE LIFE, NO EXCEPTIONS and He is truly, personally, really present in the Holy Eucharist. So come, come let us in loyalty adore Him, let us give ourselves to Him and to the Father through Him. Let us be willing to go to the cross and face hell itself rather than to be unfaithful to our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

May Mary, the first of all the faithful disciples of Christ obtain for us the grace to live this commitment of loyalty no matter what, even to the cross, even unto death. Amen.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

In the Eucharist the Father runs to us through the Son.

Fourth Sunday in Lent. Laetare Sunday. March 14th, 2010

Today’s Gospel is well known to all of us; in fact, for many of us, it is one of our favorite passages of the Bible. Certainly, it is one of the most well-loved of all of Jesus’ parables. It could be argued that it is the greatest short story ever told. It is truly a masterpiece. I think the reason for this is that it pricks at our heart, because in it we get an image of He who created our Heart, God our heavenly Father.

We must never forget, that one of the main reasons Jesus came to earth was to show us, the Father. Yes, Jesus came to save us, but He was sent by the Father. Jesus came to reveal the Father, to glorify the Father by doing the Father's Will. Jesus came to be the way for us back to the Father from Whom we came.

In our Gospel today, the Pharisees don't understand why Jesus is eating with sinners. To understand why Jesus eats with sinners is to know the Father. They do not know the Father; if they did, they would understand why Jesus is eating with sinners.

If we are honest with ourselves, we too have to admit that we have a hard time understanding our Father God. Mistakenly, we often rely only on our own limited human understanding of fatherhood in order to make a judgment about how God the Father should act. John Paul II once said, that because our experiences with earthly fathers may have not always been positive we have to be careful we don't put these negative experience onto God. We have to experience the Father in prayer daily so that our ideas of Him are purified of misunderstanding and error. God transcends all human fatherhood.

The only way Jesus' critics in today's Gospel can understand his motives for eating with Sinners is by coming to know the Father. It is the same with us. In order to avoid the attitudes of the Pharisees, we too, have to come to know the Father.

To know the Father is to know Christ. Every single aspect of Jesus' life is a revelation of the Father. In Christ we see the face of the Father. Even more, by telling us the parable of the prodigal Son, Jesus reveals to us the heart of the Father. And so, if we really want to know the Father, this incredible parable reveals much about Him.

The parable begins by really confronting us with the awful truth about ourselves. Because of our fallen human nature, we demand from the Father what we have no right to. We separate ourselves from communion with the Father, intimate friendship with Him. We squander the Father's gifts to us in a life of dissipation. And in our wretched state of desperation we realize that we do not deserve to be called the Father's beloved son or daughter. This is the truth of our situation, the reality of our situation. We need to realize and admit our wretched state, just as the prodigal son did. It took a pig pen for him to realized the state of his soul and his great need for his father.

It has been said that humility is realizing and admitting the truth about ourselves. This is why pride is so bad; it is such a lie. It denies the truth about ourselves and the truth about God and our relationship with Him. Like the prodigal Son we are in so many ways, "still a long way off." The knowledge of our situation, the situation of our sins and our sinfulness can either condemn us, or it can fill us with confidence to return to the house of the father. As mixed up and twisted as the prodigal son is, some grace still manages to enter into his heart and set him on the path home.

I can remember once reading St. Therese the Little the Flower speak about the Father and how we should react to Him. We can be like one son who upon messing up, says to his father, "I am so terrible, so worthless. How can you ever forgive me, I am such a piece of trash." Or we can be like another Son who just doesn't care one way or the other, indifferent to the father and his relationship with Him. Or we can like a third, who upon messing up runs into his father's arms, hugs him and tells his father that He loves him and that he will, with the father's help never offend him again. St. Therese said the actions of this last son is how we should be in our relationship with God. She said that though I sinned a million times, I would run into the Fathers arms, hugging him, telling Him I loved Him, asking for His forgiveness, begging Him for help never to offend Him again. In this we turn the Father's heart to us

The response of the father to the sight of his sinful son is such a stark contrast to the harden, prideful hearts of the Scribes and Pharisees; in their pride they knew nothing of the Father's love and mercy. The overwhelming compassion and mercy of the Father is revealed to us in three actions of the father of the prodigal son; The father runs to his son; he falls on his son's neck in an embrace, and he kisses him.

Unlike St. Therese's image of the son running into his father's arm and hugging him, here it is the Father who does the running, the embracing and the kissing. The Father doesn't even wait for the son to come running, the father runs to him while he is still a long way off. This running of the father, signifies the unabated initiative of the father to be reconciled with his wayward children at all costs. The embrace signifies the Father's desire to have us back, not as dutiful slaves, but as partakers in His boundless love and nature. And the kiss communicates to us a sharing in the Father's own life and being, like the breath of God once breathed into the first man--Adam.

We will never understand God our heavenly Father and his great love for sinners, unless we put ourselves in the position of the prodigal son, and open ourselves to receiving the Father's unmerited mercy, forgiveness and love. To open ourselves up we need to begin by recognizing our great need for the Fathers love. We are still a long way off; but the Father runs to us as well, will we allow Him to embrace us, fall on our neck in an embrace and kiss us.

The perfection of God the Father consists in giving himself wholly to us. As the father says to the older son, "Everything I have is yours." Yet that is precisely what the spoil brat son has forgotten in his blasphemous attempt to make the good father look like a bad father. Let us make sure we don't imitate this son; we cannot know the Father unless we are willing to see ourselves in the prodigal son. Like the father in the parable, the Father says to us, "Everything I have is yours." By giving us His Son, The Father has given us the fullness of His divine riches; everything He has and is; The Eucharist contains the fullness of the Father's divine riches, for the Eucharist contains the fullness of the Father's Son. The Eucharist is whole Jesus.

In the Eucharist the Father In the Eucharist the Father runs to us through His Son; and if we are open by leaving sin behind and turning to the Father, the Father through the Eucharist embraces us and kisses us. To know and understand this, is to know and understand the Father. Holy Mary, daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son and Spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us!

Friday, March 5, 2010

As human beings and children of God, our deepest need is for love to be loved, to love.

Third Sunday in Lent. March 6th, 2010

“Give me a drink.” This simple statement begins the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman in our Gospel today. This simple statement, “Give me a drink” reveals a lot about Jesus, and how he draws this woman into a new and profound relationship with God. The way in which Jesus deals with this woman can also teach us a lot about how Jesus deals with us; how He constantly try to draws us into a deeper friendship and deeper union with Him.

As we begin the story, it is important to note a couple of details: first it was midday- the start of the heat of the day. People just would not go to the well at the midday- it was too hot. They would go first thing in the morning or closer to sundown; it was cooler then. You’d only go at midday if you wanted to avoid others, that is, if you had a reason to hide.

And so, the fact that the Samaritan woman comes at this time reveals to us a lot about her. It reveals that she is definitely an outcast. First, she was a Samaritan, hated by the Jews; second, she was a woman; and third, she was living in sin and so committing public scandal. With this being the case, how does Jesus deal with the situation, with her?

Well first, Jesus takes a bold step here even speaking to a Samaritan woman, not to mention one who is trying to hide. A Jewish man would certainly not address a woman in public; and certainly would not address a Samaritan woman, not to mention a Samaritan woman living in public sin. No wonder why, the Samaritan woman is totally surprised by Jesus; but she was about to be surprised even more.

Jesus then says to her, “Give me a drink.” Unthinkable! If he accepts a drink from her a sinner, a Samaritan, a worse a woman, he will surely become unclean according to Jewish law. Yet, Jesus is poor; He has no bucket. He has no vessel to drink with, but He is really thirsty- it is noon and he has been walking in the heat of the day. Is his thirst just for water, or is it a thirst for something more?

Jesus asks her for water, yet he will say that he is the source of a new type of water—Living Water that will satisfy unlike anything she might have drunk before. Jesus uses this simple request of water to get at something much deeper- a deeper thirst that Him Himself has; He thirsts for her love, for Her heart, for her soul.

As human beings and children of God, our deepest need is for love to be loved, to love. Our souls thirst for love, even more than our bodies thirst for water. Jesus asks her for water, yet the Samaritan woman is the one who ends up asking him for "living water." She begins to see her need as she comes into contact with and experiences the divine person of Jesus, the very source of the living water, of new life - as she experiences the waters of His divine grace and life. And then this woman begins to taste, to drink in the gift of faith that is being offered to her by the one who thirsts not for water, but for her soul.

The story continues with another request from Jesus to the woman- “go and call your husband.” This seems to be quite a jump; yet, in the way Jesus was leading her,” it was the perfect next question. Once Jesus had made a personal contact with her, his divine presence opened up her desire for the love of God. However, Jesus saw the big obstacle in her life which was keeping her from happiness, keeping her from intimacy with God and His love—that obstacle was her sin and the consequences of her sin. This woman was living in adultery as a result of being married before five times.

Through grace, Jesus gently brings her to acknowledge truthfully her sin, yet it was not a condemning way, but very gently in order to heal her soul and quench its thirst for holiness. No doubt, she knew what sin was and she certainly knew the consequences of the sin, for she had been deeply wounded by the failed marriages. And her current situation surely couldn’t be called love, by living together with a man who was not her husband, she was basically being used-true love only comes from a life-long commitment of love within the sacred bond of marriage. And so, she was full of guilt and was so ashamed, that she did not want to even show herself in public. She came to the well at midday because she had really lost all self-respect, all hope and she had lost her trust in love.

Jesus however loved her, and by experiencing His love the woman realized that she was the one who was really thirsty. She was thirsting for Jesus. So she went to confession, we don’t know all of what she confessed to Jesus, but she told the people- “He told me everything I have done.” Jesus told her the truth, and the truth set her free. He forgave her of her sins and healed the shame she felt, he flooded her soul with the waters of his grace, which cleansed her of her guilt. The joy of repentance and forgiveness was so strong, that she went and told everyone in her village about Jesus, her new love, true love. With her burden lifted and her hope renewed, they believed her and so she evangelized them to the forgiveness of Christ and to His love for which they too were thirsting.

Jesus brought to this woman the great gift of faith. He heals her by forgiving her sins and placing His love in her heart. And then He renews her hope by showing her what or better yet, Whom to place her hope in. Today we realize that we are in the same position as the woman at the well. We are burdened by the struggles, trials of life; this life is so full of struggles and we are tired. In lent we see ever more clearly the degree of our defects and our sins in this life and we don’t seem to be making any real progress; we may even want to imitate the woman at the well and just hide. We like the woman are discouraged and have begun to lose hope, because we have so often and in so many ways placed our hope in the wrong things, instead of in Jesus alone. In Jesus alone is our hope; trust in God is everything.

Today at this Holy Mass Jesus comes to us as well and he tells us that He thirsts. And then he points us, as He pointed the woman at the well, to the source of living water and how we can come in contact with it. And how we come in contact with the Living Waters of God’s love, is adoration of God. Adoration of God is where faith and hope opens itself to love. Jesus is God on earth and His is the only source of living water. We only lose hope and become discouraged when we don’t look at Jesus, when we don’t adore Jesus and place our trust in Him.

Another name for a failure to adore and trust in Jesus is sin. Sin is when we adore ourselves—we trust in our selves, by putting our will before the will of God; we put our truth and our reality before THE TRUTH and before the way things really are, before the reality that God has created. Yes we get our own way, but create our own hell in the process, we begin to die of thirst and don’t even realize it.

But if we are to truly adore Jesus in Spirit and in truth, we must trustingly give ourselves completely to Him and experience Him through faith. To do so, we begin by first opening our hearts to His grace by confessing our sins as did the woman; when we experience His forgiveness and mercy, Jesus for His part pours into our hearts the grace of his love and the grace of a deeper conversion to Him.

We must drink deeply from the only well that can quench our thirst and that well is the heart of Christ. Drinking from any other well will leave us dying of thirst. And the Heart of Christ is the Holy Eucharist; however we can only experience Christ in the Holy Eucharist if we have faith that He is really and truly there, if we believe that the Holy Eucharist is Christ and so is God. And if we believe it then our actions must correspond with what we believe. And so we must not only receive Jesus once and while but often-weekly, even daily, with a pure heart cleansed by frequent confession; but we must not only receive Him, we must also most especially adore Him both within Mass and outside of the Mass at Holy Hours. Only when we adore God in Spirit and in truth by believing the Eucharist is really Jesus, our lives cleansed by His forgiveness in confession, and entrusting ourselves totally to Him by offering ourselves and all our love to Him at Holy Mass, only then will we begin to experience and quench our thirst for God’s infinite love, for God Himself—Jesus our Lord. Oh Blood and Water which gusted forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of love and mercy for me, I trust in Thee. Mother most merciful, pray for us.