Saturday, April 30, 2011

Today as we celebrate this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we ask the newest blessed of the Church, Blessed John Paul II to intercede for us. As you know Pope Benedict the XVI will beautified John Paul II (today) Tomorrow in Rome; It is no coincident that his beatification (was) will be celebrated (today) on the feast of Divine Mercy. This is Beatification is a great gift to the Church just as is the Feast of Divine Mercy. It was John Paul himself who was primarily responsible for bringing the revelation given to St. Faustina on the infinite mercy of our Lord to the whole world.

It is important to note that St. Faustina’s revelations which focused on the mystery of Divine mercy occurred just as two great evils in our age were taking shape, those of Nazism and Communism, which both denied any notion of objective truth-they were an attack on the truth especially about the truth of the dignity and sanctity of the Human Person. In a world, which seemed to be on the verge of being totally overtaken by these two evils, the one message that showed the world evil would not overcome the world was given to this obscure nun in Poland. And that message was and is this--that God is Mercy, and this mercy has a name, it is Jesus Christ, the merciful risen Savior—He is the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it, nor will it ever overcome it. And even more, this Divine Mercy named Jesus is with us in Person in the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is at the heart of the Message of Divine Mercy because It is Jesus and so is the font of God’s Mercy for us and the whole world. It is by faith, adoration, trust and love in the Eucharist that we shall call down God’s Mercy on us and on the whole world.

As these two evils were being overcome, that of Nazism and Communism, John Paul, who lived through both of them, saw very clearly that the source of these evils and every evil is Man trying to usurp the rights of the Creator God. Man rejects God as Creator and consequently rejects the very source determining what is good and evil. And so man tries to find happiness apart from God.

Since the fall of our first parents, Man has a tendency to put himself in the place of God, to be the creator of his own history and his own civilization. Alone, apart from God, man now decides what is good and what is bad. Man is now the one who would exist and operate, as if there were not a God. Another way of saying this is that man loves himself, more than he loves His creator—or as our Holy Father has put it, self-love to the point of contempt for God. It was this corrupt love of self that drove our first parents out of the garden, bringing sin and death into the world throughout human history.

The fruit of Divine mercy is this, that the Church has been given by the Holy Spirit the power to call evil by its name; in other words, to call sin for what it is, the cause of all unhappiness, pain and sorrow in the world. The Church however, calls sin for what it is, not to condemn the world, but so that we can over come evil by the power of Divine grace—grace which pours forth from the merciful heart of Christ. And we can only overcome the evil in our world if we open ourselves to the Mercy and love of God, to put our love for God over and above all else; and to love our neighbor as our self.

Our Holy Father points out that this is what divine mercy is all about. In Jesus Christ, through his suffering, death and resurrection (the Pascal mystery), God bends down over man to hold out a hand to him, to raise him up, and to help him continue his journey toward God with renewed strength. Man cannot get back onto his feet unaided; he needs the help of the Holy Spirit sent by God. However, if man refuses this help he commits the sin against the Holy Spirit, because man refuses the love and the mercy of God, since he believes himself to be God. He believes himself to be capable of self-sufficiency.

Our world needs the message of Divine mercy more than ever. Our world is proclaiming freedom, but too often it is freedom apart from truth, apart from God and His truth. Our world that says men must be “Free” to do what ever each one personally feels is right. However this is false freedom; because true freedom comes from not doing what we want, but from doing what we ought. True freedom gives us the ability to choose the good, the true and the Beautiful. It is the freedom of a child of God to do the right thing according to the truth that comes from God and has its source in God. And so it is the freedom to love, truly love and to be loved by Love.

As a result of this misuse of freedom, we now see replacing the evils of communism and Nazism a new type of extermination of the human person. So many died during these horrible regimes, but now we are seeing more and more the legal extermination of human beings conceived but unborn. And in these cases, the extermination is beginning legalized by democratically elected governments. This extermination is spilling over into other areas such as the destruction of the family as God has created it through the legal recognition of homosexual unions as an alternative type of family, with the right to equal rights and protection under the law, even to the point of adoption of children; even in some states forcing Catholic adoption agency to do so; Catholic agencies which have stopped adoptions whether than to go against their moral principles.

And too, we are now seeing the right to kill, euthanasia being more and more upheld in the courts. It has now become legal to refuse to give to another human person who is not dying, but who wishes to die or who someone wishes to have die, the very basic necessities of life--food and water. Not extraordinary care, mind you, but basic comfort care, on the same level as blankets and warmth. Back when the case of Terri Shiavo was in the headlines, someone told my mom that they would not want to live if they were like Terri Shiavo. My mother said, she would not want to be like Terri Shiavo either, but who are we to decide who lives and dies. Terri was not dying, she was only disabled--brain damaged but not brain dead. Other than her disability she was in good health, that is until food and water were taken away from her. Food and water are not life support, they are basic human needs; and unless one is at the point of death or cannot assimilate them, they must always be provided.

Additionally, we all must never forget the great value of suffering and its redemptive power of saving souls when it is united to the cross of Jesus. In fact, Blessed John Paul in His own great suffering at the end of his life taught as anew the value of suffering and the great dignity of the human person even amidst such sufferings. In his sufferings, John Paul has taught us anew that with the cross comes the grace of God through His mercy, not only to carry it, but to carry it with great joy, if we but trust in Him.

And this last point is the great proclamation of the message of Divine Mercy. It invites us to face with confidence, through the Divine benevolence of God, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come, and that we individually will face in the days and years to come. Evil has a limit, and for those who place their trust in God, it will not overcome them, just as it did not overcome the savior who defeated evil when HE rose triumphantly from the grave-Love won the victory.

The Paschal mystery, the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord made truly present for us at every Mass, continues to confirm that good is ultimately victorious, that life conquers death, that love triumphs over hate. The Limit imposed on evil which man is both the perpetrator and victim is ultimately Divine Mercy. Of course there is also justice, but this alone does not have the last word in the divine economy of the world. God can always draw good from evil, he wills that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth: God is love. Christ, crucified and risen, just as he appeared to Sister Faustina (point to picture), is the supreme revelation of this truth.

The message of Divine Mercy is then a call to a lively active faith, a faith that humbly submits in love to the revealed truth of God and then lives it out in loving deeds through the assistance of Grace; contrarily, a lack of lively loving faith only leads to despair and to a culture of death. God is mercy for all of those who turn their lives completely over to Him and live according to His truth, for He is truth itself—this is where true freedom lies, and where the way to life lies.

This faith and the power to live it comes first of all from the realization that the Divine Mercy of God in Jesus Christ is Son is still available to us on earth through His Catholic Church, in the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is Divine Mercy Himself; and so, the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of the authentic faithful loving Christian life.

The Eucharist is God Himself and so it just goes to reason that contact with the Eucharist in faith put us in touch with the Divine Power of God which is really the Divine Power of God’s Love. The Eucharist is the Risen Christ among us; the same Christ who defeated our greatest enemy by the power of Love. If we come before the Eucharist in faith, adoration, hope and love, not only at Holy Mass but also during Holy Hours of adoration or before Him in the tabernacle of our Churches then we can experience the Love of God, share in His victory of Love, and call down His Divine Mercy upon us and upon the whole World.

John Paul the second’s first words after he was elected Pope were the words of Mercy itself--Jesus, “do not be afraid.” Has You behold Jesus held up in front of you at this Holy Mass cried out to Him in your heart of hearts, Jesus I trust in Thee, Jesus I trust in Thee; Jesus I trust in Thee…Eternal Father, have Mercy on us and on the Whole world.

Jesus, help us not to be afraid for we place our trust in Thee. Help us not to just admire Blessed JPII but to follow his example of fidelity to the truth of the Gospel revealed in the teachings of Your Church. For there is no meaning in life apart from the Truth, because Jesus you are the Truth, as well as the Way and the Life. Have Mercy on us and on the whole world. Jesus I trust in Thee, Jesus I trust in Thee, Jesus I trust in Thee!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere! Christ is Risen! He is truly Risen Indeed!

Homily for Easter 2011

Tonight/today we celebrate the holiest of our feast days- the very core and center of our Christian faith- the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ--a fact of faith; a fact of history.

In the last weeks of Lent we saw all of the apparent contradictions of life in the accounts of the Samaritan woman, the man born blind and the raising of Lazarus. During this Holy Week we have tried to enter more deeply into the mystery of the passion of our Lord and of His great love for each one of us. We began last Sunday as we triumphantly processed with Christ on Palm Sunday; we commemorated the Last Supper and the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Sacred Priesthood on Holy Thursday; and finally, we entered into His passion and death on the cross on Good Friday.

The disciples during the first Passiontide were left scattered and confused; some where even despairing. Only a few disciples were faithfully at the foot of the cross, including Mary Magdalene. She had been saved from seven demons by Jesus and became a close intimate faithful disciple.

The Fathers of the Church saw Mary Magdalene as the woman who had loved Christ much by crying in repentance on the feet of Jesus and drying them with her hair. Mary Magdalene, who had been forgiven much by Christ, loved Christ deeply, for only those who have been forgiven much can love much. One can speculate that her Holy Saturday was spent weeping (which is really how all repentant sinners should spend it).

Because she loves Christ much, she is then the most eager to properly prepare the dead body of Jesus for permanent entombment. All must have seen lost to her as she walked. When she arrives at the tomb, she is expecting to ask the soldiers move the stone so she can do her very sad act of love—anointing the dead body of her savior. All of us who have been in the presence of the dead body of someone we love knows how she must have felt.

But when she arrives at the tomb, the stone is already moved and the body of her beloved Jesus is missing. Her love for Christ had drawn her to the tomb to do this last service and yet she (can’t) even do this last gesture of love and respect. All of her plans were dashed-could things get any worse?

But beyond all of the hopes and expectations of Mary Magdalene and the disciples, Jesus had risen. When He had told them that He would love them to the end, the end didn't mean to the death, but to resurrection; it meant that His love would conquer even death itself. All of the paradoxes, contradictions and confusion are defeated by this love. Christ’s love has defeated all hatred (and so all death); For Christ is the God who is Love truly among us.

The celebration of Easter is a reminder to us all that it is only through a firm, active and actual living faith in the resurrection that we can overcome the difficulties in our own life. The paradoxes, contradictions, confusions, and sufferings in our life, and even our own death, can only be overcome by love; but it must be authentic true love. And authentic true love has its only source in the love of Christ. Jesus is the God who is Love and has come to earth to conquered even death itself so that we might live.

Our faith in Christ must be active and alive. It's not enough for us to say, "I believe!" Our faith must be lived out by deeds of love, because faith without love is dead; without love we are dead, and so without Christ who is love we are dead. So let us today rejoice, open our hearts and receive this victorious love, the Love of Christ. Let today be the first day of a new intense life with Christ and in Christ.

But good intentions are not enough, we need to come in contact with the Power of Christ's Resurrection. And that Power is available to us in the Sacraments, especially the Most Blessed of All Sacraments-The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Holy Eucharist is the Power of Love for us to be freed from sin and so freed from death in order to live in Christ.

Here at the Holy Mass and only at the Holy Mass can we participate in this life giving, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. For the Holy Mass makes these events truly present before us, not just at Easter but at every Sunday Mass which is a miniature Easter. This is known as the Pascal Mystery...the life, passion and death and Resurrection of Jesus, actually become present to us in time and space, in reality, so that we in faith can be present at them and actively draw from them their transforming and life giving power, which is the power of God’s Love for us.

Our Catholic faith is not just about remembering the past events, no, the power of Christ love makes present to us these events for us in the now. Christ has come, yes, but He will come again, both at this Holy Mass and in glory at the end of the world. If we in faith and love open ourselves to the Mystery of His Divine Love present in the Holy Eucharist, then Christ will transform us into His image and likeness so that we can be saved by His love. Then becoming one with Christ, we can take His Love out into the world, so that it too may be transformed and saved in and through us. This is the cause of our Joy, of our Hope!

Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere! -Christ is Risen! He is truly risen from the dead; He is alive. They have not taken our Lord from the tomb, our Lord Himself has taken Himself from the tomb; and we who have the true faith know where He is; He is truly with us in His Resurrected body in the Holy Eucharist about to made truly present at this Mass and every Mass and He desires to give Himself and His love fully to us in Holy Communion--this is THE mystery of our Faith. The Eucharist is the God who is Love; only with faith in the Eucharist and in His love, only in Jesus can we be victorious. Alleluia!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Friday we call "Good."

On this day we call "good," we Christian take time to remember that God so loved the world that He sent His only Begotten Son so that we might have life and have it abundantly. Jesus is God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God. And so today we remember that it was no ordinary man who died on the cross; no, it was God who died on the cross.

We are told in today's gospel that there was an eclipse of the Sun for three hour along with an earthquake. However, these words don't begin to begin to describe what it must have been like to been present at the foot of the cross. God is Killed, men commit that greatest crime "Deicide-the killing of God." The earth is not only shaken, it is shaken to its very core...The whole universe is we know how bad our sin was our sin that put God on the cross...So momentous were these events of the crucifixion that the centurion and others were converted on the spot...surely this must be the Son of God...surely this must be God.

In our day this is a great indifference to the cross of Christ. This indifference is what most grieved our Lord as he hung on the cross. There was poem that was written after a man had witness the horrors of World War II and returned Home. He had seen the effects of man's sin in that war: He knew that War was a result of sin, of man's turning away from God...Now maybe after the horror of this war, man would in love, return back to the God who died on the cross for man...However, after he returned to His hometown of Birmingham England, He was appalled at the great lack of faith He encountered, appalled at the great indifference he encounter to the Cross of Christ and so indifference to Christ's love.. And so, he wrote the following poem:

When Jesus came to Golgatha they nailed Him to a tree.
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red where His wounds and deep.
For those were crude and cruel days and human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Birmingham they only let Him die,
They would not hurt a hair on Him
they only passed Him by.

For men had grown more tender, they would not cause Him pain,
they only walk on by and left Him in the rain.
The winter rain that soaked Him through and through.

And when all the crowds had left the street
with no soul there to see
then Jesus crouched against a wall
and sighed for Calvary.

G. Studered Kennedy

It was the indifference of men, to His dying for them that caused Jesus so much pain; in the end it wasn't just men's sin that Killed Jesus, it was their indifference to His Him. Just as there were those present at the foot of the cross who were indifferent to the supreme act of Love that Christ was showing for them, so too sadly still today.

I believe it is still the indifference of the hearts of man to His Love that most grieves our blessed Lord. He once told a mystic that He would go through his passion more than once for a single soul if He could move the heart of a single indifferent soul. How is man indifferent to the cross of Christ in our day? I believe it is shown most by the indifference to God's love that still keeps Him on earth in and through the Holy Mass.

At The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we become the people who are at the foot of the cross...At. Mass we witness in faith Christ again pouring out His blood, His life, His love anew for love of men...At Mass we too are able to behold He who we have pieced as He is lifted up anew for us in the Holy Eucharist to behold. Will we be indifferent to the love of a God which leads Him to give Himself to us as His food. Will we refuse to give this God our love in return by offering ourselves to Him who has offered Himself totally to us.

Love himself is present at Every Holy Mass on the Altar at the consecration; love Himself is present in every tabernacle of the world; Love himself gives us Himself as our heavenly food; The greatest crime in this world today stems from the indifference of the hearts of men; Love is truly present in the Holy Eucharist...yet sadly, Love is not loved.

Faith opens the momentous events of Christ's Pascal Mystery, His passion, death and resurrection. By faith we can enter into them and even experience them. However, Faith is not enough, faith must be infused with Love, or it is dead faith. We must love the one who died for us and then rose for us...

Our love must not be sweet words it must be backed up with deeds, deeds of Love. These deeds of love must begin by being present, not only in body, but in mind, heart and soul as well before His true Presences in the Holy Eucharist. He is present to Us in love, we must be present to Him in love, in order that His Love can transform us and through us transform our world..

It was and is the indifference of Men to His Love which caused Jesus the most pain on Calvary; it is this indifference today which so grieves His Sacred Heart. Today, let us, you and me change this...let us never be indifferent to God's love which keeps Him in the tabernacle day and night waiting for men to visit, waiting for men to return His great love...waiting for you and for me to return His love....

Jesus Christ, after having given us all he could give, that is to say, the merit of his toils, his sufferings, and bitter death; after having given us his adorable body and blood to be the food of our souls, willed also to give us the most precious thing he had left, which was his holy Mother. (St. John Vinney).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tonight we enter into the most sacred moments of the liturgical year: we enter into the Holy Triduum- the Holy three days. The central mystery of our faith is the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ; this mystery is known as the Pascal Mystery. These sacred moments begin with Holy Thursday and the Lord’s Last supper, the moment where Jesus before His passion, institutes the Holy Eucharist.

Jesus, in the Upper Room, ordains the apostles as priests and bishops in order to give them the Divine power to make truly present the Holy Eucharist. This Divine power shared only with the Twelve, and to their successors, all this priests and bishops throughout the ages. This Divine Power, Jesus own power, not only makes present Jesus, but also makes truly present in space and time, in our midst, the whole of the Pascal Mystery, that is Jesus actual suffering, death and resurrection.

Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist before His suffering and death. The Holy Eucharist is then the doorway for us to enter into the suffering, death of Jesus in order to share in the resurrection of Jesus. The Holy Eucharist invites us to enter, body and soul into the death and resurrection of Jesus—a mystery of transformation and a journey of transformation. In other words, these three days symbolically recall our own life, our whole life, for we too will endure a passion-suffering and death in our own bodies. Just as Christ enduring suffering and death and then entered into His glory, we too in our struggles and trials of our life in our daily dying, we too are mysteriously called to unite this all to Jesus in order to come to share in His glory, to be transformed into His likeness, which is of Love.

The Holy Eucharist is more than a Mystery of Transubstantiation; it is a mystery of transformation. This tiny piece of bread becomes Jesus; And so the Eucharist calls us from death into life, calls us to change to be transformed deep within ourselves. We need to enter into this sacred mystery with littleness, with humility, with poverty, with hunger and thirst. Jesus is present in the Eucharist but we for our part have to draw out the life giving water of His love, we have to thirst for Him, we have to drink from the Heart of Christ.

Tonight is a chance for us to with faith, gaze on the Eucharist, to contemplate the Eucharist. Contemplate means to become one with what we see. Tonight is chance to look upon Jesus in the Eucharist and be transformed by Him who we look at, the Crucified one present there. After Mass you have a chance to spend time in silence before Jesus asking Him to transform you into His other self. Jesus is Love; and so we are call to be transformed into Love for the World.

It is especially in silence that we can hear the call of God within us. The problem is for us moderns is that too often we run from silence, we are too afraid of silence. Our modern world runs from silence as it runs from pain, runs from suffering, runs from the cross. But, true Christianity is all about what to do with your cross, what to do with your suffering and pain. Our world today is full of suffering and pain. This is always been the case, however our world today is different in that now it is world full of people who don’t know what to do with their pain.

There is an axiom in the spiritual life, that what is not transformed is transmitted. And so pain and suffering that is not transformed by the cross of Christ, by His love becomes anger and hatred, which is pain and suffering transmitted onto others. That is why in our world today we have so many who are so bitter; because a heart and a pain that is not transformed into Love, through the mystery of the cross and resurrection of Jesus, becomes a heart that transmits, hate violence and anger. Either we allow Jesus to take our pain and suffering and transform them into love by offering them, uniting them to His pain suffering and death or we become bitter and angry; we become bitter and angry because we try to run from the cross, which of course always and eventually finds us.

The truth is, we can’t run from the cross, nor should we want to. The world is running from the cross because it doesn’t know that love of which there is no greater. A love in which a man is willing to lay down his life for his friends. The cross then is the way to love, true love. No cross, no sacrifice, no self-offering no love.

Over the next few days, we need to ask Jesus to allow us to follow Him in his journey to Calvary. We need to beg Him for the grace to follow Him on the path of Golgotha, which is really a path of liberation and transformation, in order to share in Jesus’ sufferings, becoming like Him in death in order to know Him and become like Him in the power of His resurrection.

Our sufferings, our death, united to His become a path to joy, peace and life, not only for us, but for the whole world through us. This is the path that each one of us is called to travel with Jesus, in order to learn its lessons, lessons that lead us to glory. No cross, no glory; no pain, no gain; no death, no resurrection. We have to go through the Pascal mystery with Jesus in order to share in His glory; we have to die to self in order to share in the glory of His resurrection in our lives and share it with others. That is why, by the way, it is not enough just to be at Mass, or to learn our catechism, or even to go to confession, we have to allow ourselves to enter into the Pascal mystery, to share in the sufferings and death of Christ in our lives so that we can be transformed by His love and transform our world in His love.

When we receive the Eucharist, we have to let it transform us and change us into Jesus, letting us live in us anew, to suffering and die in us anew and so resurrect in us anew. The priest prays to the Father before the consecration of the bread and wine that they may transformed into the body and blood of Jesus, but there is this secondary meaning in these words. We too are to offer ourselves that by receiving the Holy Eucharist we too may be transformed into the body and blood of our blessed Lord in order that we can take him out into the world.

Jesus is constantly calling us into this going down with Him in order to rise with Him, becoming stronger and better people, holier people. He is calling us to carry our cross with Him and not be afraid or to resist. He is with us, one of us he has been weak like us, and He has suffered and died like one of us. And so, with Him and through Him, everything that happens to us can be used, all can be renewed and all can be saved.

Everything in our lives, especially our sufferings and struggles can be used to make us grow in love if we trust Jesus enough and stay close to Him. If we ask Him at and before the Holy Eucharist to transform all in our lives by the power of His own death and resurrection, nothing is wasted. Far from being negative this is optimistic, the cross is not a negative, it is positive, it is a way to joy and life; it is in fact, the tree of life.

St. John tells us, that when Jesus knew that his hour at come to depart out of this world to the Father having love his own that were in the world, He loved them to the end. So this is the night when Jesus reveals His love for us by giving us an Ultimate gift, the ultimate Gift…Jesus doesn’t just give us something, a thing, He gives us Himself. He is God and He gives us His body and His blood. Jesus becomes our living bread to satisfy our hunger for God. Tonight’s Gospel, tonight’s celebration helps us to fathom the depths of Jesus love. Jesus loved them, us to the end; end here doesn’t just mean to the end of his life, but it means to the uttermost of His capacity and His capacity is infinite because he is God, His everlasting infinite love.

We have to be like St. John resting on the bosom of Jesus in order to understand the intensity and the beauty and the awesomeness of this Sacrament of the Eucharist where God gives Himself totally to each one of us. Tonight we have that opportunity to rest on the bosom of Jesus by contemplating Him in the Eucharist. If we really contemplate Him truly present there all the unimportant and insignificant things just disappear. It is not enough to know Jesus is present in the Eucharist, we have to be present to Jesus there.

Being present to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist helps us to realize that as God He is present to us everywhere, no matter what the circumstance may be, even in our deepest sufferings. Let us, while contemplating Him in the Eucharist, ask Him, through the intercession of His Mother, to help us enter into the Pascal mystery, not only over the next few days, but throughout our own life in order that we may enter into the glory and the joy of the Eternal Easter, beginning this Sunday. (This homily is greatly indebted to Fr. Thomas Joachim, fj)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

How dare we ever be indifferent to His great love for us.

Palm Sunday April 17th, 2011

Over the past weeks of Lent, our readings have been building up to the events which we have just heard—the great climax of our Lord’s passion and death. Each of the Gospels, from our Lord’s encounter with the Samaritan woman, His healing of the man born blind, to the miracle of Lazarus rising from the dead, all have spoken to us of our Lord’s Divine compassion and ability to go beyond what we might expect. God’s ways are not our ways.

Today is no different. The events of the passion speak loud and clear of how Jesus overcomes the struggles, the opposition, the betrayals, and all the paradoxes of life which so often seem to be outright contradictions. The only Man who was truly innocence becomes a convicted criminal sentence to death. Through His immense sufferings He overcomes all sufferings, through His own brutal and underserved death He overcomes death; in His lying down of His life for us, we have life. Through His sufferings, through His passion and death Jesus truly, profoundly, enters into the very midst of human misery in order to save us from the ultimate human misery, which is seperation from God. By His stripes we have been healed; In His great love for us, we discover what Love really means and is.

And so, today we begin the most solemn week of the Church’s liturgical year. The reading of the passion that we heard today sets the tone for the entire Holy Week. We begin with Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. People are rejoicing and excited about what this Messiah will accomplish.

But while we celebrate Jesus triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, this day also has a more somber note to it. The people rejoicing in the Gospel today misunderstand Jesus mission, they think he is going to help them in their political struggle to be free from their slavery to the Romans, they are only thinking in political and economic terms. They fail to see that Jesus really came to die for their sins in order to free them from their most intense slavery so that they could enter into a true freedom, a life of divine intimacy and union with God.

So we rejoice this day also, but we do so in a quiet and solemn way because today in our liturgy and in our personal prayer and in the liturgy of the Church, we begin that walk with Jesus on that terrible journey towards his passion and death. During this week, we follow Jesus from the gates of Jerusalem, to the Upper Room, to the Garden of Gethsemane, to the steps of the Praetorium, to the hill of Calvary and then to the tomb in the garden where he gloriously rose from the dead.

The mystery of these events is endless and we can spend a lifetime contemplating each aspect, each event, and each word of Jesus. With each blow of the hammer, with each scourging of the whip, and with the shedding of each drop of blood, God’s ultimate manifestation of love is shown to us. Jesus, with the strength that only Divine Love Himself could endure, gives his very life for you and I. Yes today we celebrate the beginning of Jesus triumph over sin and death, but not without recalling the price he paid for our salvation so that we could see the depth of his love.

This week we will realize more deeply that it was God who died on that cross for us. And that it was our sins that put Him there; it was our sins that put Him to death. Yet, in His love for us He willing allowed Himself to be crucified; However, Divine Love is stronger than death; and so, the God who is Love defeated sin and so defeated the grave in order that you and I might have the hope of sharing in the Victory and Joy of His Resurrection. How dare we ever be indifferent to His great love for us.

In light of Christ love for us, we discover that our religion is not just a religion of the past…No it is a religion of the present and of the future…for we adore a God that has come, comes now and will come again…and so we are people of hope because our God is coming soon; in fact, He comes now through the Holy Eucharist. Palm Sunday is not a thing of the past. Just as the Lord entered the Holy City Jerusalem that day on a donkey, so too He comes again and again in the humble appearance of bread and wine at this and very Holy Mass.

In faith, we can greet the Lord in the Holy Eucharist as the one who is coming now, the one who enters into our midst. We can greet Him as the one who continues to come, the one who continues to leads us toward His coming. We are to meet Him at this and every Holy Mass where He comes to take us with Him in His ascent to the cross and Resurrection, to the definitive Jerusalem that is already growing in the midst of this world in the communion that unites us with His body. (cf. Jesus of Nazereth-Pope Benedict).

“Let his grace draw near, and let this present world pass away. Hosanna to the God of David. Whoever is holy, let him approach; whoever is not, let him repent. Maranatha (come O Lord come). Amen” (Didache).

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Let us then open our hearts in faith to Jesus’ power to save us and through us to bring souls who are dead back to life.

Fifth Sunday in Lent. April 10th, 2011

In this last Sunday before we begin Holy Week, as next Sunday we will celebrate Palm Sunday, we continue with accounts of Jesus performing signs before He enters Jerusalem, and so enters into the hour of His passion. Today, we hear of the last public miracle of Jesus and it’s very dramatic to say the least: Jesus raises a man from the dead…could you even begin to image what that must have been like, to witness such an event?

Like last Sunday’s account of the healing of the man born blind, this account includes many paradoxes. And these paradoxes lead us to the greatest paradox of all times, the paradox of the Cross-of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we will celebrate in the Liturgy of Holy Week.

As in the story of the man born blind we heard last week, Jesus again seems to have ignored a poor man’s plight by passing him by. Again, Jesus has His gaze on the heart of a man and sees a man open to faith. Last week the blind man regains his sight and becomes a disciple of Jesus by “seeing through the gift of faith who Jesus really is, while those who are able to see, are really blind because they don’t “see,” that is, don’t have faith; they refuse to accept the truth about Jesus, and so they reject God’s grace being offered to them in order that they would repent and change their lives for the better.

As He did with the blind man, this week Jesus again uses an opportunity to paradoxically manifest Himself and His divinity by a miracle in order to show forth the goodness and the mercy of God. Jesus receives word that His dear friend Lazarus is ill-“Lord, he whom you love is ill.” Paradoxically, Jesus doesn’t stop everything and rush to his friend’s side: No, Jesus waits two days before He even leaves. In fact, by the time Jesus finally does arrive, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days…puew, very stinky… Yet, even so, Jesus proclaims, “This illness is not unto death, it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.”

How will this be? How will the Father glorify the Son through the Sons failure to arrive in time? How can God be glorified in such evil as sickness and death; how can God be glorified in a stinking corpse? Well again the answer is found in paradox, the paradox of the raising of Lazarus. How could Jesus raise a man who was in the tomb for four days and was already quite decomposed? To such a question Jesus gives a response that we don’t expect: “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Perhaps, we could have expected Jesus to ask for forgiveness for not coming right way, something like, “Please forgive for arriving too late, I was delayed. You have my deepest sympathy for your lost. Or, I wish I could have done something.” These responses are certainly something we might say—they would be most appropriate for us; BUT FOR JESUS? I think not. I mean after all, Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” It was His friend after all.

However, by saying, “I am the resurrection and the Life”, Jesus says something beyond the immediate understanding of Martha and Mary. How could Jesus be the resurrection and the life…How can someone be Resurrection or be Life Itself? In order to help them understand and to help their weak faith, and ours, Jesus calls out, “Lazarus, come out!” And even a dead man obeys Jesus, when most of the living will not.

As great as this miracle may have been, we have to understand that the resurrection of Lazarus is only a prefiguration of the true resurrection. It is more of resuscitation, for Lazarus would still die in the end—death in Lazarus case was not definitively beaten. Jesus himself however, would be the “first born from the dead.” And here is the paradox of all paradoxes-the Passion and death of the Christ. Jesus would have to pass through mankind’s greatest enemy- suffering and death in order to gain victory over it—By being defeated He would be victorious…And so, Jesus would be the very first man to truly rise from the dead and defeat death for good.

And so, it is through His Passion and death that Jesus is glorified. One might think that the Glory of God would be revealed most fully in Jesus’ miracles or His teachings or His large number of disciples and even bigger crowds that would desire to see Him. Next week on Palm Sunday, we will read about His glorious triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. However, this is not the Glory of the Father to the Son. God’s glory would be and is actually revealed most fully in the suffering of the Son and in His obedience to the Father unto death,

Jesus dies the most ignominious death possible, a death reserved for only the most vile and corrupt of men; Jesus is crucified and his close friends, the disciples, betray him and leave him in his hour of greatest need. Certainly not events that we might think would lead to glory; in fact, in the eyes of the world these events seem to be the ultimate failure.

Paradoxically, Jesus death really was the greatest failure the world really has ever seen, but because of His resurrection, it now has become the greatest victory the world has ever seen and will ever see. Never before had any man beaten death, and by this one man’s death, death has been beaten. By his stripes we have been heal, by His death we have saved…Jesus has shown us in His great sufferings the true meaning of the love…to sacrifice oneself for the sake of one’s friends. Jesus could have saved us with just an act of His will, but instead he chose to save us by the cross to show us how much he really love us.

And so Christ is the Victor-Love is stronger than death. Jesus not only has the power to raise a decomposed corpse, but He has the power to raise himself; and so, He has the power to raise those who believe in Him and love Him by faithfully following Him through His teachings and living for Him alone-Our faith is not in vain!

For those who, like Lazarus, die in friendship with Christ, they too will rise, thus sharing in Christ’s own victory over death. Yes, all friends of Christ will still have to pass through suffering and physical death. But by doing so with Christ by being faithful to Him by carrying their cross to the last, they too will defeat death for forever.

However the reverse is true as well, those who through sin live without friendship with Christ and His Church though still living are really the truly dead, their corpse may not stink, but their souls sure do (phuew); and if they die un-repented they will be dead forever, for forever they will be separated from Jesus who is the LIFE.

In these final weeks of Lent, we may be discouraged in our efforts to become holier. We may even feel “dead” on the inside. We may have prayed for Jesus to come and help us, as did Martha and Mary-“Lord, you know I love you, come and answer my prayers!” And yet, it may seem that we didn’t get an answer, that Jesus is “delayed.” Maybe we even thinking that perhaps I am not so loved as I think I am.”

Yet faith tells us that in this most common of our paradoxes in life, no matter what darkness we are in, no matter how much it seems that God has abandoned us—He has not; no, Jesus is present to us with all of His divine power and love ready to manifest, through our suffering and through us, the goodness and the Divine Mercy of God.

Faith tells us that through the Cross of Christ, if we share in His suffering and death, then in our weakness we are made strong. Belief in Jesus will not necessarily take our problems and sufferings away, and it will surely not save us from physical death; but faith in Him will, if we place our trust in His Divine Mercy, and love Him above else by faithfully following Him, it will save us from eternal death and give us a share in Christ’s own victory, bringing us eternal peace and joy.

But it doesn’t stop there; if we unite our struggles and our suffering and death to the power of Jesus’ cross, then through the power of His Resurrection, our lives and even our death will be used to bring souls who are dead to sin back to life in Christ. Then in the paradox of the cross we like Christ and in union with Him will manifest to the world the goodness and Divine Mercy of the God who is Love; God will be glorified through our lives and we ourselves will share in the glory that the Father has bestowed on the Son.

We celebrate liturgically the passion and death of our Lord during Holy Week; but we must never forget and always believe that it is re-presented, that is made truly present to us at each and every Holy Mass. And so the resurrection and its power to save us is made truly present as well, but we can only access this Divine power and love through faith. Let us then open our hearts in faith to Jesus’ power to save us and through us to bring souls who are dead back to life.

Our Lord is not silent, but comes here and now at this Mass, in this sacred place, in order to tell us that He alone is our hope; He does so through the Holy Eucharist, which is really Him! So as we come to the end of this Lenten season, may we trust that the paradoxes in our lives would be united to Jesus crucified in order that through the power of His death and Resurrection, available to us at Every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, our greatest paradoxes, our greatest crosses and defeats, would be turned into our greatest victories, leading to the Glory of God and the Sanctification and salvation of souls, both our own and others as well.

At the cross stood the mournful mother weeping…It is by sharing in the sorrow of the Mother, that we can enter into the sufferings of the Son, in order to experience the Joy of the Resurrection.

By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
by Thy Mother my defense,
by Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
safe in paradise with Thee. Amen.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

"O' Lord that I may see!"

Homily for John 9: 1-41 Fourth Sunday of Lent- Laudate Sunday. April 2nd, 2011

Today, although we are in the very middle of the Lenten Season, we pause for a Sunday of anticipation- today we anticipate and look forward to the joy of the Resurrection. Like many things in life, today is a paradox- here we are in the midst of a penitential season, a season when we mediate on the suffering and death of our Savior; and yet, we are called to be filled with joy. And so we celebrate early- using the Rose vestments, rose the color of joy, instead of the violet—the color of penitential sorrow.

Why this respite of joy in the midst of sorrow? Aren’t sorrow and joy incompatible? There are two reasons for this joy: first, Holy Mother Church knows that penance is difficult and desires for us to see the end- the joy of the Risen Lord. The efforts we have so far put into Lent are not done in vain, even if sometimes we fail. Even if our efforts don’t seem to be bearing much fruit, the Church wants us to know that our efforts, if they are sincere, can still lead us into a deeper relationship with our Lord, as we saw last week with the story of the Samaritan woman.

And the second reason is that the Church wants us to have this same joy in this valley of tears of this world; this joy is not incompatible with suffering. It is a joy that comes from always keeping our eyes on the future goal, heaven—an eternity of love in union with our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and with all the angel and saints. Joy in this life comes from living our lives with our eternity always in mind.

When we struggle during this season of Lent (and during the “Lent” of our lives in general) to reform our lives, we often encounter lots of paradoxes, such as, “ things seem to get worse before they get better;” or, “the further we grow in faith, the darker things can seem to become and the harder it becomes, as the more obstacles seem to appear in our path of holiness.” We saw these paradoxes in the life of many of the saints such as St. Therese the little flower and Blessed Mother Therese of Calcutta. They both spent the last years of their lives devoid of warm fuzzy spiritual feelings and consolations and full of contradictions and oppositions from both friend and foe; yet they were intimate friends with our Lord; one could say even one with Him; and so despite it all they were filled with joy, out of this world joy!

This life of paradox is certainly true of the man born blind whom we heard about in our Gospel today. The poor blind man had to spend his days begging for alms-a tough, hard life, spent in darkness and mostly discomfort, hunger--suffering. He is sitting and begging one day, with his hand stretched out into the darkness, hoping for just a few coins in order to buy some food, when Jesus passes by.

At first it would seem that Jesus ignored him since there is no mention of Jesus even noticing the man. This would be natural, as a “good” Jew believed that anyone suffering from physical illness was doing so because of their personal sin and so deserved their fate…so why bother. And so, the disciples must have assumed that Jesus passed this blind man by because he was nothing but a poor sinner, who certainly had no faith and was suffering justly from his sins.

And so the disciples decided to take the opportunity to ask Jesus one of those nagging questions that we all have in the back of our minds- who is at fault? Was it he or his parents who sinned and caused this man to be blind? We heard this type of question with regard to the people of Japan? Did they “do” something to deserve this? It is really a question about evil.

The truth is, is that Jesus in fact did not ignore the man. As a divine person Jesus already peered into this man’s heart and saw that this poor blind man had a heart open to faith. Jesus also knew the question that was on the minds of his disciples; and so purposely, he appeared to pass this poor man by so that He could use this occasion and the evil of this man’s blindness to show the power, the goodness and the mercy of God. Paradoxically, Jesus was going to use evil, which is an absence of good, like blindness is an absent of sight, to manifest and point to ultimate goodness.

And so, Jesus makes a mud that he puts on the blind man’s eyes and tells him to go and wash in the pool. Mud in your eyes- one might think it would only damage further the eyes. Wouldn’t a natural reaction be, “Get that stuff out of my eyes- it hurts!”? Yet, the poor beggar obeys Jesus in faith and washes in the pool. Yet, a paradox- he washes and is healed; blind he now can see; mud instead of dirtying, cleanses, clears instead of smudging; and the invisible faith hidden in the man’s heart and mind is brought out and made visible to all who care to see.

Yet, in the goodness of healed vision and restored faith, immediately this man has his new faith put to the test by obstacles. The man who once was blind now sees and everyone is questioning him about what happen. People really didn’t know what to think, so they turned to their leaders, the Pharisees, who were supposed to have the faith and who were suppose to “see” things clearly.

Yet, in another paradox, the Pharisees, men of ‘faith’ don’t have any-they who can see with their human eyes, have the worst kind of blindness because they are unable to see with the eyes of faith, unable to see the truth about who this Jesus really is. The poor beggar, who is not well trained in the Law, has to endure the integration of this group of lawyers, who are well trained and smoothed tongued. To make things worse, they call his parents to testify about the matter. Paradoxically, the ones who should stand behind him the most, almost disown him. One might think that they would be happy to see their son healed and able to see. And after living their whole lives thinking that it was their sin, which perhaps was the cause of their son’s blindness; one would think they wouldn’t have cared what anyone now thought.

And so the poor man who was once an outcast because of His blindness is now paradoxically again all alone, seemingly with no one around to help… Yet, now that He had his faith he discovered he was not alone at all. Now He has hope for God is with Him. And with God, the poor man is able to confound even the Pharisees. They for their part get angry and throw him out. On the surface this seems like a terrible blow- a very dark moment in his life, yet it again paradoxically was the greatest moment of His life, for he now was able to testify and to suffer for the Name of this man Jesus, the who not only healed him of His blindness but gave to Him the eyes of true faith and so hope in the midst of the darkness of the world.

It is at this moment when Jesus reveals Himself to the man, who immediately makes an act of faith and worships Jesus. Suddenly, all the paradoxes are explained. Those who were able to see were really blind and the one who was blind really saw or said in more plain terms, the ones who were supposed to have faith did not and the one who was supposed to be without faith, has faith. And this blind man with his new faith has it put to the test but only so that his faith may be strengthened even more and His love of God increased.

For us, it may be the same. The more we try to grow in faith, the more it seems to get worse. The better we try to become, especially in the little things, the worst we seem to become. And when we begin to make our faith and our relationship with Jesus and draw closer to Him, the more obstacles we face and the more we can be attacked, and our families and even our dearest friends can behave like the parents of the blind man and want to disown us.

Yet, if we desire to follow Jesus and are obedient to His requests, we can know in faith that if we experience these paradoxes and contradictions from the world we are in the right place. It may be dark and difficult for us, however, we must know that our faith is being tested, but tested in order to grow and be purified as gold is purified by the trial of fire. And here is where the paradoxes of our faith and even our life become the most profound. To save our live we must lose it; He who humbles himself will be exalted and he who exalts Himself will be humbled; He who has much grace, more will be given to him, the one who has little, even what he has will be taken away from him; the more we give the more receive; the way to happiness, joy and eternal life is the way of the cross, bitterness, suffering and self defeat; and finally, it is dying that we are born to eternal life.

Let us ask our Lord today, as we celebrate with joy the half waypoint of this Lenten season, that we might have our faith strengthened and deepened in order to truly see. But first, we must recognize that we are the blind man and so turn to the Lord that we may healed of our blindness and see. If we are to see then, if we are not to remain in our blindness, we must have frequent intimate contact with the One, the only one, who can heal us. And this One is Jesus truly present in the Holy Eucharist.
The more our blind eyes behold His glory hidden behind the veil of the Whiteness of the Host, the more clearly we can see. Like the eye is blind without the light of the sun, so the eyes of faith are blind without the eyes of the Son; And the true Son is the Holy Eucharist, the Light of the World!

The Center of the prayer “The Hail Mary” is the Eucharist, and so let us pray, Our Lady, cause of our Joy, pray for us, help us keep our eyes on Jesus, truly, really, physically present in the Holy Eucharist; He is our true Hope and our true Joy; He is literally our Heaven and so our happiness both in this life and in the life to come! Amen.