Monday, April 24, 2017

Las heridas que nos muestran su misericordia

Homilía: Domingo en la Octava de la Pascua – Ciclo A
2º Domingo de la Pascua – Domingo de la Divina Misericordia
          Una de las cosas que he venido realizar atrás de los años es que los muchachos son extraños. Tengo muchas razones para llegar a esta conclusión, pero una en particular me destaca hoy. Es un comportamiento peculiar de los muchachos en el que muestran y comparan fácilmente heridas abiertas y / o cicatrices entre sí. ¿Verdad? Lo hacen especialmente cuando la historia de cómo esas heridas / cicatrices se obtuvieron es algo de lo que estaban particularmente orgullosos. Mientras que la mayoría de nosotros miramos a una de sus heridas abiertas y nos sentimos disgustados, un muchacho diría "COOOL!!!!" mientras el niño con la herida contó cómo obtuvo esa herida mientras intentaba saltar entre los brazos de un árbol, como los monos que él vio en el zoológico. Su herida, lejos de ser una vergüenza por haber fallado en su intento de imitar a un mono, se muestra como si fuera una insignia de honor por haber intentado algo aventurero y haber sobrevivido. Sí, los muchachos son extraños.
          Hoy, en nuestra lectura del Evangelio, contamos que cuando Jesús apareció a los Apóstoles en la Pascua, les mostró las heridas en Sus manos y Su costado. Al escuchar de nuevo este pasaje, casi dos mil años después de que fue escrito, la extrañeza de esta situación ya no nos puede parecer extraña: más bien, nos hemos acostumbrado a la idea de que el cuerpo resucitado de Jesús retenía las heridas de su crucifixión. Tal vez incluso pensamos que esta demostración de sus heridas es como los muchachos que muestran sus heridas como insignias de honor. Para los discípulos, sin embargo, toda esta experiencia fue extraña, aterradora y chocante: no sólo para ver al Señor resucitado de los muertos, sino también resucitado con las heridas abiertas en su cuerpo. Me imagino que todo el que se encontró con Jesús después de la Resurrección debe haber notado que Su cuerpo glorificado conservó estas heridas de la Crucifixión; y el hecho de que las heridas mismas no eran como cicatrices, sino como carne desgarrada: carne que los dedos y las manos de Tomas podían sondar y examinar.
          Imagínense, por un momento, que estábamos escuchando esta noticia por primera vez. ¿No nos detenemos y nos preguntamos: "Por qué Jesús escogió retener las heridas de una muerte tan aterradora, una muerte que Su Resurrección había derrotado poderosamente? Las heridas o incluso las cicatrices son imperfecciones. ¿Por qué, entonces, las marcas de la Pasión de Jesús permanecen en Su carne perfecta y glorificada cuando, con la misma facilidad, Él podría haber elegido no tenerlas?"
          Como en todas las cosas, cuando buscamos la razón por las acciones de Dios, el mejor punto para comenzar es siempre con esta respuesta: "Él lo hizo por mí". Recuerda que Dios nunca necesita actuar para ayudarse a sí mismo porque Dios es perfecto en sí mismo. Dios también es amor; y así todas sus acciones son actos de amor que se da a sí mismo y que están dirigidos hacia nuestra salvación. Con esto en mente, podemos asumir que Jesús escogió guardar las heridas de la Crucifixión en Su cuerpo glorificado para nuestro beneficio. "Él lo hizo por mí". Esto, por supuesto, plantea la siguiente pregunta: "Si Jesús hizo esto por mí, ¿cómo me ayudó encontrar las heridas de Jesús Resucitado como lo hicieron Sus discípulos?"
          Primero, las heridas de Jesús son una prueba de su identidad. Cuando Nuestro Señor mostró sus manos y su lado a los Apóstoles en la Pascua, se regocijaron porque las heridas verificaron que el hombre delante de ellos era verdaderamente Jesús, el Crucificado, que había sido resucitado. Hay una leyenda que dice que el diablo una vez trató de engañar a San Martín de Tours a adorarle, apareciendo a él vestido con ropa fina y joyas, y afirmando ser nuestro Señor. San Martín, sin embargo, rápidamente descubrió el truco del diablo y dijo: "¿Dónde están las marcas de los clavos? ¿Dónde está la herida en tu costado? Cuando vea las marcas de la pasión entonces lo adoraré." Sin las heridas de la crucifixión, San Martín sabía que no era Jesús.
          Sin embargo, las heridas del Cristo Resucitado son más que un medio de identificación. Más bien, son parte integral de quien Él es. Jesús no puede ser separado de Sus heridas, ni siquiera en Su cuerpo glorificado, porque Sus heridas nos muestran continuamente que Él es Nuestro Salvador. El Señor Resucitado Jesús guardó las marcas de Su sacrificio, que nos liberó de nuestros pecados. Él llevó en su carne resucitada las marcas que demuestran que él también conoce nuestro sufrimiento físico y emocional íntimamente y que, a través de su victoria, nuestro sufrimiento puede transformarse en un medio de salvación para nosotros y para los demás. En otras palabras, Jesús lleva las heridas de su crucifixión en su cuerpo glorificado para mostrarnos que él no vino a eliminar nuestra herida, sino más bien a redimirla y glorificarla.
          Por último Jesús lleva las heridas de la crucifixión en Su cuerpo glorificado por toda la eternidad, para que podamos experimentar el poder y la profundidad de Su amor misericordioso por nosotros cuando lo encontramos en la carne, así como Santa María Magdalena, Santo Tomás, San Pedro, y San Pablo lo hizo cuando ellos mismos encontraron al Señor Resucitado: un poder y una profundidad que podemos experimentar cuando meditamos sobre estas heridas a través de las cuales nos salvó.
          Santa Faustina Kowalska, la mística polaca a la que Jesús apareció y dio la tarea de difundir la devoción a la Divina Misericordia, escribió esto en su diario: "Mientras rezaba ante el Santísimo Sacramento y saludaba las cinco heridas de Jesús, un torrente de gracia que brota en mi alma, dándome un anticipo del cielo y una confianza absoluta en la misericordia de Dios." Amigos, el cuerpo glorificado de Jesús lleva las heridas de la crucifixión para invitarnos continuamente a acercarnos a él para recibir su misericordia. Así, meditar en las Sagradas Heridas de Jesús es una manera de ponernos en contacto con Su amor misericordioso.
          Más aún, mis hermanos y hermanas, Nuestro Señor Resucitado nos aparecen en cada Misa—cuerpo, sangre, alma y divinidad—en la Sagrada Comunión: incluyendo Sus heridas glorificadas. Aunque Santo Tomás pudo tocar estas heridas con sus manos, nosotros podemos experimentarlas aún más íntimamente entrando en ellas cada vez que recibimos la Sagrada Comunión. Y así, mientras nos preparamos para recibir a Nuestro Señor aquí hoy, meditemos en este gran misterio de las heridas glorificadas de Cristo, para que nosotros también pudiéramos sentir "un torrente de gracia" corriendo hacia nosotros, y así recibir, como Santa Faustina, "un anticipo del cielo y una confianza absoluta en la misericordia de Dios". Llenos de esta confianza, nosotros mismos, heridas y todos, seremos fortalecidos para realizar nuestra visión de un condado de Cass católico, unido en la Eucaristía.
          Que María, Primera Discípula de la Divina Misericordia, sea nuestra guía y protección, como hoy nos redirigimos a esta tarea gozosa.
Dado en la parroquia Todos los Santos: Logansport, IN

23 de abril, 2017

The wounds that show us his mercy

Homily: Sunday in the Octave of Easter – Cycle A
(2nd Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday)
          One of the things that I’ve come to realize over the years is that boys are strange.  I have many reasons for drawing this conclusion, but one in particular stands out to me today.  It’s a behavior peculiar to boys in which they readily show and compare open wounds and / or scars to one another.  Am I right?  They do this especially when the story of how those wounds / scars were obtained is something of which they were particularly proud.  While most of us would look at one of their gaping wounds and feel disgusted, a boy would say “COOOL!!!!” while the boy with the wound recounted how he obtained that wound while attempting to leap between tree limbs, like the monkeys that he saw at the zoo on the school field trip.  His wound, far from being a thing of shame for having failed in his attempt to imitate a monkey, is displayed as if it is a badge of honor for having attempted something adventurous and having survived.  Yep, boys are strange.
          Today, in our Gospel reading, we recount that, when Jesus appeared to the Apostles on Easter, He showed them the wounds in His hands and His side.  Hearing this passage again, nearly two thousand years after it was written, the oddity of this situation may no longer strike us as odd: rather, we’ve become accustomed to the idea that Jesus’ risen body retained the wounds of his crucifixion.  Perhaps we even think of this showing of His wounds in terms of the young boys who show off their wounds like badges of honor.  For the disciples, however, this whole experience was odd, frightening, and shocking: not only to see the Lord risen from the dead, but risen with the gaping wounds still in his body.  I imagine that everyone who encountered Jesus after the Resurrection must have noticed that His glorified body retained these wounds of the Crucifixion; and the fact that the wounds, themselves, remained not as scars, but as torn flesh: flesh which Thomas’ fingers and hands could probe and examine.
          Imagine, for a moment, that we were hearing this news for the first time.  Wouldn’t we stop and ask ourselves, “Why is it that Jesus chose to retain the wounds of such a gruesome death, a death that His Resurrection had powerfully defeated?  Wounds, or even scars, are imperfections.  Why, then, do the marks of Jesus’ Passion remain in His perfect, glorified flesh when, just as easily, He could have chosen not to have them?”
          As in all things, when we look for the reasoning behind the actions of God, the best place to start is always with the answer: “He did this for me.”  Remember that God never needs to act to help Himself because God is perfect in Himself.  God is also love; and so all of His actions are acts of self-giving love which are directed towards our salvation.  With this in mind, therefore, we can assume that Jesus chose to keep the wounds of the Crucifixion in His glorified body for our benefit. “He did this for me.”  This, of course, begs the next question: “If Jesus did this for me, how am I helped by encountering the wounds of the Risen Jesus as His disciples did?”
          First, the wounds of Jesus are a proof of His identity.  When Our Lord showed his hands and side to the Apostles on Easter, they rejoiced because the wounds verified that the man in front of them was truly Jesus, the crucified One, who had been raised.  There’s a legend that says that the devil once tried to fool Saint Martin of Tours into worshiping him by appearing to him dressed in fine clothes and jewelry, and claiming to be Our Lord.  Martin, however, quickly spotted the devil’s trick and said: “Where are your nail marks?  Where is the wound in your side?  When I see the marks of the Passion then I will adore Him.”  Without the wounds of the crucifixion, Martin knew it was not Jesus.
          The wounds of the Risen Christ are more than just a means of identification, however. Rather, they are integral to who He is.  Jesus cannot be separated from His wounds, even in His glorified body, because His wounds continually show us that He is Our Savior.  The Risen Lord Jesus kept the marks of His sacrifice, which freed us from our sins.  He carried in His Resurrected flesh the marks that prove that He, too, knows our physical and emotional suffering intimately, and that, through His victory, our suffering may be transformed into a means of salvation for ourselves and others.  In other words, Jesus bears the wounds of His crucifixion in his glorified body to show us that he did not come to eliminate our woundedness, but rather to redeem it.  Finally, Jesus bears the wounds of the crucifixion in His glorified body for all eternity so that we may experience the power and depth of His merciful love for us when we meet Him in the flesh, just as Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint Thomas, Saint Peter, and Saint Paul did when they themselves encountered the Risen Lord: a power and depth that we can experience when we meditate on these wounds through which he saved us.
          Saint Faustina Kowalska, the Polish mystic to whom Jesus appeared and gave the task to spread devotion to Divine Mercy, wrote in her diary: “As I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament and greeting the five wounds of Jesus, at each salutation I felt a torrent of graces gushing into my soul, giving me a foretaste of heaven and absolute confidence in God's mercy.”  Friends, Jesus’ glorified body bears the wounds of the crucifixion so as to continually invite us to approach him so as to receive his mercy.  Thus, meditating on Jesus’ Sacred Wounds is a way to put us in contact with His merciful love.
          Still more, my brothers and sisters, Our Risen Lord appears to us at each Mass—body, blood, soul, and divinity— in Holy Communion: glorified wounds and all.  Although Saint Thomas could touch these wounds with his hands, we can experience them even more intimately by entering into them each time that we receive Holy Communion.  And so, as we prepare to receive Our Lord here today, let us meditate on this great mystery of the glorified wounds of Christ, so that we, too, might feel “a torrent of graces” rushing into us, and thus receive, like Saint Faustina, “a foretaste of heaven and absolute confidence in God’s mercy.”  Filled with this confidence we ourselves, wounds and all, will be strengthened to realize our vision of a Catholic Cass County, united in the Eucharist.
          May Mary, the First Disciple of Divine Mercy, be our guide and protection as today we rededicate ourselves to this joyful work.

Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – April 23rd, 2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017

We are witnesses

Peace and joy in the Risen Christ to all of you!  He is Risen!  Alleluia!



Homily: Easter Sunday – Cycle A
          Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!  My brothers and sisters, He is Risen!  I hope that you are joining with me today in this joyful sense of relief that our Lenten fast has ended, that is, our preparation for the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection has been fulfilled, and that we can now feast on the splendor of this holy day.  It has been a long journey since Ash Wednesday to today; and especially in these last three days, recalling our Lord’s passion, we have witnessed many things.  In order to bolster our joy today, let’s take a quick look at what we’ve experienced.
          First, on Thursday night, we witnessed the Last Supper in which Jesus, knowing that he was about to die, instituted the Eucharist by giving to his twelve closest disciples his body to eat and blood to drink in the form of bread and wine.  At the same time, we witnessed how he instituted the priesthood that same night in order to ensure that this Eucharist would continue after he was gone.  And we witnessed how Jesus bent low to wash his disciples’ feet, giving them an example of how it is that they were to serve one another.  Finally, we witnessed how he went out to the garden to pray and was arrested after he was betrayed by Judas, one of his twelve closest disciples.
          Then, on Friday, we witnessed how Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate and was condemned unjustly.  Perhaps we even felt the sting of guilt as we joined in with the crowds who shouted “Crucify him!  Crucify him!” and who demanded for the release of Barabbas the murderer instead of Jesus.  We witnessed how he carried his own cross and was crucified on Calvary.  Perhaps the sorrow for our sins moved us to venerate the cross that day: the cross on which Jesus suffered for our sins, but through which he set us free.  At the end, we watched as his dead body was taken down from the cross and laid in a tomb before nightfall that night.
          On Saturday, we witnessed that strange, eerie silence that always comes with Holy Saturday.  “There is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness” an ancient Christian homilist wrote.  He continues, “The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.”  We witnessed the closed tomb of our Lord and (hopefully) witnessed the Sabbath rest.  We sat and waited, not knowing if what Jesus had said about the resurrection was true and, if so, how and when it would come about.  We witnessed night fall and felt the anxiety of not knowing what the future would hold and the sadness in our hearts for having lost, it seemed, all that we had hoped for.
          Now this morning we come here and we are witnesses to the incredible news that has come to us from the women who went to the tomb: “They have taken the Lord from the tomb!” and we are witnesses of what Peter would tell us after he ran to the tomb and found it empty.  “Could it be that our Lord has risen?”  Yes, Peter, he is risen and of this we are witnesses.
          In its most basic definition, a witness is someone who sees an event take place.  Typically, we associate a witness with legal proceedings; and because of this, we all generally recognize that being a witness carries with it responsibilities, specifically the responsibility to recount what it is we have seen or experienced.  Here in the United States, one can only be demanded to “give witness” in a court of law.  Otherwise, we have the “right to remain silent.”  For Christians, however, this right doesn’t necessarily exist.  Certainly, our freedom to remain silent can never be taken from us.  Nevertheless, as Christians we believe that an encounter with the risen Christ demands a kerygmatic response.  It is in fact a response commissioned by Christ when he told his disciples, “You are witnesses….”
          Now I know many of you are probably looking at me and saying, “I was with you, Father, right up until that “K”-word.  Right, kerygmatic.  First let me tell you that it is not important that you know how to say this word and it is even less important that you know how to spell it (if it wasn’t for spell-check, I would get it wrong every time).  Now let me tell you what it means.  It’s a Greek word that means a convincing proclamation of what one has seen and heard.  For Christians, kerygma is a proclamation that the crucified and risen Jesus is God’s final and definitive act of salvation.  This is exactly the witness that Peter gives in our first reading today.
          In it he has been summoned to the house of a Roman Centurion, named Cornelius, who was experiencing conversion.  Peter, upon hearing all that God had done to prepare this man to receive the gift of faith, gave this kerygmatic witness.  Upon hearing it, they Holy Spirit came down upon Cornelius and all in the household and many of them spoke in tongues.  Cornelius and his entire household was baptized that day, demonstrating the power that the kerygma, the convincing witness to the faith, holds.
          My brothers and sisters, we are witnesses.  We have encountered the risen Christ.  In fact, we encounter him every Sunday, here at this altar. Peter and the other disciples knew that once they had encountered the risen Christ, they could not remain in the Upper Room, but had to go forth from there to proclaim what they had seen and heard.  And so it is with us.  As much as we can no longer claim ignorance of our sins, having seen the suffering that they caused our Lord on the cross, no longer can we stand idle, either, now that we have encountered the risen Christ.
          Every Sunday, and in a particularly powerful way on Easter Sunday, we participate anew in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ; we encounter again the risen Lord in Word and Sacrament.  My brothers and sisters, we are witnesses.  Therefore, the dismissal at Mass is never the end of our Christian obligation for the week, but rather it is just the beginning.  The “go” in the “go in peace” is not simply permission to leave, but rather it is a sending forth; and it is understood that this “sending forth” involves some sort of mission.
          My brothers and sisters, the privilege of being a witness—and it is a privilege—brings with it the responsibility to proclaim what we have seen and heard in every place where we live.  Saint Pope John Paul II reminded us of this when he said these words at the beginning of his pontificate, “Do not be afraid to go out into the streets and the public places—like the first apostles!—to preach Christ and the good news of salvation in the squares of cities.”  Friends, if we are to be authentic witnesses then we must take seriously this “sending forth” that we receive today and every Sunday.
          Since we are learning Greek vocabulary today, why don’t we try one more?  Does anyone know what the Greek word for “witness” is?  It’s martyr.  Martyr is the noble title give to Christianity’s most fervent witnesses: those whose unfailing proclamation of the risen Christ led them to be killed for their faith.  Brothers and sisters, may our kerygma, our witness, to the risen Christ whom we encounter here at this Mass earn for each one of us so noble a title.

Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – April 16th, 2017

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Triunfo y luego triunfo: la lógica de Dios

Homilía: Domingo de Ramos de la Pasión del Señor – Ciclo A
          En la superficie, el Domingo de Ramos siempre parece contradecirse a sí mismo. Por un lado, comenzamos recordando la gran y triunfal procesión de Jesús en Jerusalén, como se lo aclamó como el Mesías: “¡Hosanna! ¡Viva el Hijo de David!”  Por otro lado, recordamos la ignominiosa derrota de Jesús en su Pasión, muerte, y entierro. Tal vez nos quedemos preguntándonos, ¿Cuál es, Domingo de Ramos? ¿Triunfo o derrota? "Triunfo y luego triunfo", dice el Domingo de Ramos. ¿Qué? ¿Cómo puede ser? Vamos a ver.
          Lea usando la lógica del hombre, la Narrativa de Pasión de Mateo parece presentar a Jesús como alguien completamente impotente para defenderse. Esto se debe a que, según la lógica del hombre, una persona demuestra su poder sobre otros por ejercer control sobre ellos. Puesto que a lo largo de la narración Jesús parece estar sujeto al control de otros, él parece ser impotente. Esto, al parecer, es lo que da a los líderes judíos más razón para completar su condena y ejecución. El Mesías—el Hijo de David—entendido según la lógica del hombre, sería un poderoso líder que expulsaría a los ocupantes romanos. Jesús, aunque realizó actos de gran poder, no mostró su poder cuando fue desafiado por las autoridades. Por lo tanto, les parecía débil e impotente; y, por lo tanto, sus afirmaciones de ser el Mesías eran blasfemas: ya que el verdadero Mesías no podía ser alguien impotente.
          Lea usando la lógica de Dios, sin embargo, la Narrativa de Pasión de Mateo presenta a Jesús como siendo supremamente poderoso. Esto se debe a que, según la lógica de Dios, una persona demuestra su poder sometiéndose completamente a la voluntad de Dios, incluso (y especialmente) cuando al someterse a la voluntad de Dios le hace sufrir en este mundo. La naturaleza extraña de esta lógica está en plena visualización a lo largo de la narrativa. Por ejemplo, cuando Jesús ordena a su discípulo que vuelva la espada a su lugar, alegando tener legiones de ángeles que podrían venir en su ayuda si él lo ordenó, sin embargo no lo mandó. ¿Y por qué? Porque sabía que era la voluntad de Dios que se sometiera a este arresto, juicio, convicción y muerte.
          Otro ejemplo: cuando Jesús estaba colgado en la cruz, los que lo habían condenado a muerte se burlaban de él y le desafiaban a usar su poder para bajar de la cruz para probar—según la lógica del hombre—que él era el verdadero Mesías, el Hijo de David, el Rey de Israel, pero no lo hizo. Más bien, soportó sus insultos y permaneció en la cruz porque sólo deseaba cumplir la voluntad de su Padre. Así, en contraste con la lógica del hombre, Jesús se mostró ser supremamente poderoso según la lógica de Dios.
          La Cuaresma, y el trabajo que hemos estado haciendo a lo largo de ella, ha sido acerca de reordenar nuestra lógica para conformarnos de nuevo con la lógica de Dios. Esto es porque la lógica del hombre resiste la lógica de Dios. A través de la oración, el ayuno y la limosna, resistimos la lógica del hombre y, por lo tanto, conformamos nuestras mentes y corazones a la lógica de Dios, sometiéndonos completamente a su voluntad una vez más. Esta semana—la semana más sagrada del año—es la culminación de nuestro trabajo. Cada una de las celebraciones de esta semana está destinada a llevarnos a la celebración del triunfo final del sufrimiento de Jesús: su resurrección de los muertos el domingo de Pascua.
          Y así, mirado con la lógica de Dios, esta liturgia misma ya no parece tan contradictoria. No, mis hermanos y hermanas, la entrada triunfal de Jesús en Jerusalén no es seguida por su ignominiosa derrota en la cruz. Más bien, según la lógica de Dios, su entrada triunfal es seguida por su triunfo aún mayor en la cruz. Así, lo que celebramos en el Domingo de Ramos de la Pasión del Señor es verdaderamente triunfo y luego triunfo.
          Y así, mis hermanos y hermanas, permitamos que el tono aparentemente contradictorio de la liturgia de hoy intensifique nuestros sentidos para entrar más plenamente en la experiencia de los misterios de nuestra salvación que celebramos esta semana: una experiencia que se renueva para nosotros incluso ahora, aquí en esta Santa Eucaristía.
Dado en la parroquia Todos los Santos: Logansport, IN

9 de abril, 2017

Triumph and then triumph: the logic of God

Homily: Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion – Cycle A
          On the surface, Palm Sunday always seems to contradict itself.  On the one hand, we begin by recalling the grand and triumphal procession of Jesus into Jerusalem as he is hailed as the Messiah: “Hosanna to the Son of David!”  On the other hand, we recall the ignominious defeat of Jesus in his Passion, death, and burial.  Perhaps we’re left asking ourselves?  Which is it, Palm Sunday?  Triumph or defeat?  “Triumph and then triumph”, says Palm Sunday.  What?  How can that be?  Let’s take a look.
          Read using the logic of man, Matthew’s Passion Narrative seems to present Jesus as someone completely powerless to defend himself.  This is because, according to the logic of man, a person demonstrates his / her power over others by exerting control over them.  Since throughout the narrative Jesus seems to be subject to the control of others, he seems to be powerless.  This, it seems, is what gives the Jewish leaders all the more reason to complete their condemnation and execution.  The Messiah—the Son of David—as understood according to the logic of man, would be a powerful leader who would drive out the Roman occupiers.  Jesus, although he did perform acts of great power, did not show his power when challenged by the authorities.  Thus, he appeared to them to be weak and powerless; and, thus, his claims to be the Messiah were blasphemous: since the true Messiah couldn’t be someone powerless.
          Read using the logic of God, however, Matthew’s Passion Narrative presents Jesus as being supremely powerful.  This is because, according to the logic of God, a person demonstrates his / her power by submitting him / herself completely to the will of God, even (and especially) when submitting to God’s will causes him / her to suffer in this world.  The bizarre nature of this logic is on full display throughout the narrative.  For example, when Jesus commands his disciple to put down his sword, claiming to have legions of angels who could come to his aid if he commanded it, yet he didn’t command it.  And why?  Because he knew that it was the will of God that he should submit to this arrest, trial, conviction, and death.  Another example: when Jesus was hanging on the cross, those who had condemned him to death mocked him and challenged him to use his power to come down from the cross so as to prove—according to the logic of man—that he was the true Messiah, the Son of David, the King of Israel, but he didn’t.  Rather, he endured their insults and remained on the cross because he desired only to fulfill the will of his Father.  Thus, in contrast to the logic of man, Jesus showed himself to be supremely powerful according to the logic of God.
          Lent, and the work that we have been doing throughout it, has been about rearranging our logic to conform once again to God’s logic.  This is because the logic of man resists the logic of God.  Through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we resist the logic of man and, thus, conform our minds and hearts to the logic of God, submitting ourselves completely to his will once again.  This week—the holiest week of the year—is the culmination of our work.  Each of the celebrations of this week is meant to lead us into the celebration of the ultimate triumph of Jesus’ suffering: his resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday.
          And so, looked at with the logic of God, this liturgy itself no longer looks so contradictory.  No, my brothers and sisters, the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is not followed by his ignominious defeat on the cross.  Rather, according to God’s logic, his triumphal entry is followed by his still greater triumph on the cross.  Thus, what we celebrate on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion is truly triumph and then triumph.
            And so, my brothers and sisters, let us allow the seemingly contradictory tone of today’s liturgy to heighten our senses so as to enter more fully into the experience of the mysteries of our salvation that we celebrate this week: an experience which is renewed for us even now, here in this Holy Eucharist.

Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – April 9th, 2017

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Lenten Reality Check

Homily: 5th Sunday in Lent – Cycle A
          My brothers and sisters, today’s gospel reading provides us with a little “Lenten reality check”, of sorts.  Perhaps we’ve been doing well in our Lenten practices—and perhaps we feel that we have made great progress in restoring our relationship with God in preparation for celebrating Easter.  If so, that’s great!  God created us to be in relationship with him so that he might share his life of unity, peace, and joy with his creation and so your work to restore your relationship with him—especially if that has already taken the form of making a good confession sometime in the last four weeks—is surely in conformance with his will for your life.  The “reality check” that today’s Gospel reading provides us, however, is a reminder that friendship with God is no guarantee of protection from calamity, suffering, or pain.
          Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were close friends of Jesus.  The Gospel tells us that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus”.  Because of this close friendship, the three of them had come to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah and they put their faith in his ability to heal even mortal sicknesses.  And so, when Lazarus fell ill, Martha quickly sent word to Jesus, hoping that he’d come to save her brother from this illness.  Jesus didn’t come right away, however, and Lazarus died.  In fact, by the time Jesus had arrived, Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.
          Because of this, Martha and Mary both confront Jesus, saying: “If you had been here, my brother would not have died!”  They are hurt because Jesus did not appear to respond as quickly as they, because of their friendship, expected that he would.  Jesus, in spite of already knowing what he was going to do, nonetheless displays the fullness of his humanity when, confronted by the sorrow being experienced by these sisters whom he dearly loved, he himself weeps.  It’s a touching moment that we would do well to consider any time that we experience a loss in our own lives.  But let’s imagine for a moment that the story ended there: Jesus weeping while Lazarus remains dead in the grave.  If that were the case, he’d be a great teacher, prophet, consoler, and even, perhaps, friend, but he wouldn’t be God.
          Thus, when we hear Jesus tell Martha plainly, “I am the resurrection and the life”, we hear something different.  With these words, Jesus is telling her that it isn’t just his belief that Lazarus will rise, but rather it is his concrete knowledge of who he is and of what he is capable.  Friendship with God, she discovers, is not divine protection from pain, suffering, or even death, but rather a guarantee that, in that pain, suffering, and even death, God will be with us.  When Jesus weeps, we see the most touching, but telling evidence that he, indeed, is with us, in the fullness of our humanity.  When he calls Lazarus from the grave, however, we see the still greater evidence that not only is Jesus with us—the great teacher, prophet, consoler, and friend—but that Jesus is, indeed, God: and that, in Jesus, God himself is truly with us.
          Thus, in Jesus, the words of the prophet Ezekiel have been fulfilled.  When Jesus called Lazarus from the grave he brought new light to the rebirth foreshadowed in his promise to bring back his chosen people from exile.  Those people thought themselves dead because they had lost the land from which they took their identity.  Thus, when the Lord “brought them back to the land of Israel”, they truly felt reborn.  Little did they know, however, that one day God himself would take on human nature and walk among them and would, literally, open the graves of the dead and have the dead rise from them.  Notice that the ancient Israelites were not prevented from experiencing exile because of their friendship with him.  Rather, it was because of their friendship that they were eventually restored to their land and given “new life”.  So it is now that our friendship with God will be no guarantee that we will not experience sadness, difficulty, or pain, but rather a promise that God will lift us from that sadness, difficulty, or pain, if we remain faithful to our friendship with him.
          This is the promise that those who are preparing to receive the Easter Sacraments are hoping to receive.  They acknowledge that they have been dead in their sin and they acknowledge that it is only through friendship with God, obtained by making a definitive act of faith in Jesus, that they will be freed from this death to walk in newness of life.  This final scrutiny invites them to acknowledge this truth and to pray for the grace to persevere in their commitment to leave sin in the past.  Finally, it invites us to support them with our prayers.
          My brothers and sisters, the scrutiny is a reminder to each of us that sin, especially mortal sin, separates us from God and our friendship with him.  If we have not yet turned from our sin this Lent, then we must begin this necessary work today because God—even though he never gives up on us—will not save us from death—that is, eternal death—if we do not first seek to be reconciled to him.  It also reminds us, however, that friendship with him is no guarantee that we will be spared pain, suffering, or even death in this world.  It is, rather, a guarantee that we will never be abandoned to eternal death: a promise which the raising of Lazarus—and, more poignantly, Jesus’ own resurrection—demonstrates for us.
          And so, as we draw close to the Lord around this altar, let us ask for the strength of faith to trust in the victory over death won for us by Jesus—and, thus, to place all of our hope in him, like Martha and Mary did—so that we, too, along with our elect, will be ready to receive the grace of new life: the new and glorious life in Jesus that we receive under sacramental signs, here in this Holy Eucharist.

Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – April 1st & 2nd, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

Viviendo como hijos de la luz

Homilía: 4º Domingo en la Cuaresma – Ciclo A
          En esta mañana de Cuaresma vemos ante nuestros ojos el misterio de la batalla entre la luz y la oscuridad. Cristo es "la Luz que ilumina a cada hombre" y esta historia sobre el hombre ciego desde el nacimiento trae a la mente nuestra propia condición de cristianos bautizados.
          Sin embargo, la primera pregunta que debemos hacernos es la siguiente: "¿Es este evangelio completamente sobre un milagro?" La respuesta es "No". Mira, de los 41 versículos que componen este pasaje, sólo unos pocos son sobre el milagro, en sí. ¿Y así, de qué trata este pasaje del evangelio? Lo que Juan realmente quiere describir, al parecer, es el proceso de la fe. Mira como, en el principio de la historia, todos son ciegos, incluso aquellos que piensan que pueden ver. Al final, sin embargo, sólo uno se cura y el resto permanece en su ceguera.
          El hombre ciego, después de haber sido visto y después de haber sido interrogado acerca de cómo podía ver ahora, se adentra plenamente en la luz cuando confiesa su fe: "¡Creo, Señor!" Por otro lado, los judíos permanecen en la oscuridad cuando ignoran esta cura milagrosa y, en cambio, condenan al Señor por haber realizado esta obra en el día de reposo, diciendo: "¡Sabemos que este hombre es un pecador!"
          Una cosa que esto demuestra para nosotros es lo difícil que es para aquellos que no desean ver. ¡Qué difícil es para aquellos que piensan que ya pueden ver, aquellos que no quieren otra luz que la suya, los que no saben dudar o cuestionar sus ideas preconcebidas! No pueden ver y, en el fondo, no quieren ver; y así no se permiten ver. ¿Cómo, pues, pueden ser iluminados por la Luz del mundo? La respuesta, tristemente, es que no pueden: al menos no mientras persistan en su ceguera.
          Hace algunos días estaba hablando con nuestro seminarista, Will, y estábamos hablando cómo empezar a catequizar a los no catalizados. Hablamos mucho sobre el contenido de lo que compartiríamos con ellos: empezando por "quién es Dios" y "quién soy" y "cuál es mi relación con Dios", pero luego retrocedí y le recordé que el primer paso de todo esto tiene que ser para ayudar a cada persona a darse cuenta de que, como el Papa Francisco ha dicho a menudo de sí mismo, él / ella es un "pecador que ha sido tratado con misericordia". Al hacer esto, ayudamos a la persona a reconocer que él / ella ha sido ciega y que él / ella necesita a Cristo, que es "la Luz que ilumina a cada hombre", para ver. Recuerda lo que Jesús dijo a los fariseos: "Si estuvieran ciegos, no tendrían pecado; pero como dicen que ven, siguen en su pecado [que significa, “su ceguera”]." Debemos reconocer primero nuestra ceguera y nuestra incapacidad para superarla por nuestra cuenta. Entonces Cristo nos alumbrará, poco a poco, hasta que alcancemos la plenitud del día en Su presencia divina.
          Este "poco a poco" es realmente el largo camino de la purificación. Después de reconocer nuestra ceguera y nuestra necesidad de Cristo, debemos entonces permitirle que ilumine la luz en todos los lugares oscuros dentro de nosotros y debemos elegir permitirle "despejar" la oscuridad a través de la efusión de su luz. Los elegidos, los que se preparan para ser bautizados en esta Pascua, están en este viaje. Ellos, como todos nosotros, han nacido ciegos; Pero a través de un encuentro con Cristo en la oración, en su Palabra y en el testimonio de esta comunidad, han abierto sus ojos a la verdad de su amor y ahora se encuentran ante nosotros para pedir nuestras oraciones mientras hacen sus últimos preparativos para su bautismo. Ellos piden nuestras oraciones para que puedan ser curados de toda ceguera espiritual y así llegar a ser como nosotros, "hijos de luz".
          Sin embargo, en nuestro propio yo todavía experimentamos esta batalla entre estas dos fuerzas: la Luz y la oscuridad. Mientras que la victoria final de la Luz sobre las tinieblas ya ha sido ganada por Cristo, la victoria en cada uno de nosotros todavía está siendo combatida. Sí, hemos sido ganados por Cristo en el bautismo, pero todavía podemos estar perdidos. Es por eso que san Pablo escribió a los efesios para recordarles que, puesto que se han convertido en luz, ahora deben ser luz en el mundo y, por lo tanto, deben evitar todo contacto con las "obras de tinieblas", para que no se pierdan a la oscuridad una vez más. Aquellos de nosotros que están luchando para vivir nuestro discipulado intencionalmente testificarán cuán conscientes estamos de esta batalla. Si usted no es consciente de ello, entonces tal vez usted podría preguntarse si o no se han vuelto ciegos una vez más.
          Mis hermanos y hermanas, Cristo es la Luz que vence todas las tinieblas, Él vence a la muerte, nos guía y nos dirige, nos comunica la verdad, y nos conduce a la salvación ya la alegría. Esto es lo que celebramos en la Pascua. Si deseamos experimentar la plenitud de la alegría que está disponible para nosotros en esta celebración, entonces debemos continuar nuestro trabajo para reconocer nuestra ceguera y permitir que Cristo la Luz destruya cualquier oscuridad—es decir, cualquier pecado—que esté dentro de nosotros. Por lo tanto, oigamos la admonición de San Pablo a los Efesios como si nos estuviera amonestando: "Vivan, por lo tanto, como hijos de la luz … busquen lo que es agradable al Señor y no tomen parte en las obras estériles de los que son tinieblas. Al contrario, repruébenlas abiertamente … porque todo lo que es iluminado por la luz se convierte en luz".
          Amigos míos, la gracia de vivir como hijos de luz está disponible aquí en esta Eucaristía. Que nos ayude a cumplir esta buena obra de la Cuaresma que Dios ha comenzado en nosotros.
Dado en la parroquia Todos los Santos: Logansport, IN

26 de marzo, 2017