Sunday, April 26, 2015

There can be only one...

          Jesus came to gather God's scattered children into one flock under him, the one (Good) Shepherd.  If there is any division among us, we must work to erase it so that there would be only one flock.


Homily: 4th Sunday of Easter – Cycle B
          The other day, I got to thinking about this woman I know named Laura.  I met Laura nearly five years ago when we both signed up for a summer internship for future pastors and pastoral counselors at one of the hospitals in Carmel.  This was a non-denominational program, so there were Catholics, Protestants, and even those who didn’t claim to belong to any particular faith tradition.  Laura fit into that latter category.  She grew up Catholic but had long since drifted away from practicing her faith in the Catholic Church.  I must confess that at first I judged her unjustly.  Because she was a woman, divorced, in her early forties, and had left the practice of the Catholic Church I judged her to be someone who left the Church for ideological reasons—I assumed that she wanted women to be priests—which was why she was now pursuing this pastoral career from outside of the Catholic Church.
          As I got to know Laura through working together in the hospital, I grew to respect her deeply.  She had been through a lot of painful situations in her life and I could see that she was trying to make sense of it all while remaining true to who she was and to being a disciple of Jesus.  Nonetheless, I still held on to my prejudice that she had an agenda against the Catholic Church (in spite of the fact that she hadn’t said one negative word against it).  One day, however, she said something that blew me away.  I don’t remember what the conversation was about, but we must have been saying something about the Church or about different faith traditions, because at one point Laura said “That’s why I love the Catholic Church, because it’s so egalitarian.  They take anybody!”  “Wait,” I thought, “you’ve abandoned the Catholic Church to do your own thing but you love it anyway?”  It was confounding to me, but it completely obliterated my prejudices of her and it made me think harder about how I look at people, especially people who don’t “fit” into my idea of a “good disciple”.
          Today, in our Gospel reading, we hear Jesus call himself the “Good Shepherd”.  In fact, in each year of the three year cycle of readings the Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Easter is taken from the “Good Shepherd” discourse in John’s Gospel.  Therefore, we’ve come to call the 4th Sunday of Easter “Good Shepherd Sunday”.  This year, we are blessed to hear the part of this discourse in which Jesus calls himself the “Good Shepherd” and then continues to describe how a good shepherd behaves.  The good shepherd “lays down his life for his sheep”, Jesus says, and he knows his sheep and his sheep know him.  We know that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, because we know that he laid down his life for us his sheep.  In every church we keep a reminder of that somewhere and so all we have to do is look to the crucifix to be reminded that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for us his sheep.  And he knows us and we know him.  Every Sunday (and for some of you even more frequently) we come to Mass and we hear the Word of God proclaimed and broken open for us.  This word reveals Jesus to us so that we can know him and know him deeply.  And, of course, since Jesus is the Son of God “through whom all things were made” he knows us and he loves us: not as some sheep that his Father hired him to shepherd, but as his own sheep for whom he would lay down his life.  And this is all very familiar to us.
          Then Jesus says something interesting.  He says “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.”  You know, if you take a look around you, you’ll notice that we’re a pretty homogenous group of people.  Certainly there is great diversity in our backgrounds, but if someone who didn’t know any of us stood outside and watched as everyone left after Mass, I’d bet that he or she would conclude that, for the most part, we were all pretty much the same.  And if we look around in our community, we can see that there is a large part of it that does not belong to this Church: people of different races and ethnicities, people of different socio-economic status, and people of different religious tradition.  And so when you heard the words of Jesus today—“I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold… These also I must lead”—I hope that some of these people came to your mind.  I want you to ask yourselves this question: “Are there any of these people who are not part of this Church whom I would not want to be part of this Church?”  In other words, is there anyone who isn’t here whom you would be “repulsed” to see come here?  My hope is that the answer for all of us is “no”, but I suspect that at least for a few of—perhaps more than we would like to admit—the answer is “yes”: that there are people in our community whom we think don’t “fit” and so we would rather that they find another place to worship.
          In the first reading, we heard Peter proclaim in his speech to the Sanhedrin that there is only one name by which we are to be saved (that is, the name of Jesus).  Notice he didn’t say by which “the chosen ones” would be saved, but rather by which we—meaning all—are to be saved.  Coupled with Jesus’ words that there would be “one flock [and] one shepherd”, we see that we have no claim to exclusivity in the Catholic Church.  In other words, no one has any right to claim “this is my church and I hope that only people like me attend here.”  In fact, none of us even have the right to claim that any church is “their church”.  In fact, there is only one person in the entire universe who can rightfully say “this is my church”, and that’s Jesus.  The rest of us can only claim to belong to it.
          And so, my brothers and sisters, we see that my friend Laura was right.  The Catholic Church, that is, the universal Church, is the Church for everyone, because it is Jesus’ Church.  In fact, it has to be for everyone; because if it devolves into being “my church” then it loses its very reason for existence: to be the one flock of the one shepherd, Jesus Christ.  If we struggle with the idea of having… oh let’s call them “less favorable people” here, then I invite you to remember one thing, which we heard in our second reading from the letter of Saint John: “Beloved, we are God’s children now.”  My brothers and sisters, there is no greater dignity than this: to be children of God.  Therefore, any distinction between us and those around us—either here in the pews or out in the community—are distinctions in this world only.  In God’s eyes, we are either his children or those who one day will be his children through baptism.  Our task is to erase every other division and work solely so that there would be one flock for our one shepherd, Jesus Christ.
          As we continue to revel in our Easter joy, let us show God how grateful we are to be called His children by renewing our efforts daily to build up His Church into the one flock whom Jesus the Good Shepherd laid down his life for; and for whom he will one day return to shepherd into the eternal joy of heaven.

Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – April 25th & 26th, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Un testimonio chocante

         Gracias a todos los que oraron por mí durante mi viaje a la Tierra Santa. Yo estaba muy bendecido y humilde al ser capaz de realizar esta peregrinación. Estoy todavía bastante jet lag, sin embargo, y por lo que espero que todos ustedes me perdonen si todavía no me describo mi experiencia. Mientras, sigue siendo la Pascua y por eso continuamos para celebrar!


Homilía: 3º Domingo de la Pascua – Ciclo B
          Mis hermanos y hermanas, al entrar más profundamente en este tiempo de Pascua, que hoy en día siguen siendo recordados que la resurrección es algo nuevo. Si miramos a nuestro alrededor, vemos que esta novedad se muestra ante nosotros como una nueva vida comienza a florecer en nuestros barrios, parques y patios traseros. A pesar del hecho de que esperamos esta renovación cada año, eso no cambia el hecho de que nos sigue sorprendiendo con su belleza. A pesar de que hablamos de esta renovación durante meses, anticipando cuando el frío del invierno dará a conocer la nueva vida de la primavera, cuando lo hace, sin embargo, casi siempre nos asombra. Y así, es la resurrección para nosotros. A través de los cuarenta días de la Cuaresma, nos preparamos para la alegría de la resurrección, hablamos de ella y nuestra necesidad de prepararnos para su celebración; sin embargo, cuando llega, casi siempre nos asombra por su belleza y su alegría. Nuestras escrituras de hoy hablan de esto, así que vamos a echar un vistazo más profundo a ellos.
          En la lectura del evangelio, volvemos de nuevo para el Domingo de Pascua. Los discípulos que se habían encontrado con Jesús en el camino a Emaús, un pequeño pueblo en las afueras de Jerusalén, habían vuelto a contar lo que habían experimentado. Hablaron del fuego que ardía dentro de ellos como Jesús interpretó las Escrituras para ellos y de cómo se abrieron sus ojos al darse cuenta de que era Jesús con ellos al partir el pan. Esta fue una experiencia increíblemente poderosa para ellos, pero sólo podía transmitirlo de segunda mano. No obstante, este hablando de Jesús y de su resurrección seguramente habría agitado alegría en los corazones de los apóstoles. La noticia de que Jesús había resucitado realmente habría sido la realización de sus esperanzas. Tal vez algunos eran incrédulos, pero Jesús lo había prometido y así su corazón habría anhelado creer. Aún así, deben haber pensado: "¿podría ser cierto?"
          Entonces Jesús se les aparece. A pesar de haber escuchado en cuenta el encuentro con él de los discípulos, están asombrados de su apariencia. Jesús les saluda con el simple saludo que todavía se utiliza hoy en día por los pueblos que habla hebrea: Shalom, que significa “la paz esté con ustedes”. Jesús debe haber saludado a sus discípulos con esta palabra miles de veces, pero su apariencia, vivo después de su muerte más cierto, era algo nuevo y por lo que esta palabra también les asombró. Hablando de Jesús, al parecer, incluso hablando de algo tan increíble como la resurrección, no podía preparar completamente a ellos por un encuentro con el mismo Jesús resucitado. Para decirlo de otra manera: la resurrección de entre los muertos es siempre chocante.
          Sin embargo, Jesús no permite que se retiraran. Tras del saludo, se pregunta “¿Por qué se espantan? Soy yo." "Miren mis manos y mis pies." El Jesús resucitado no es una deidad distante que no pueden acercarse. Más bien, él se acerca y les invita a tocarlo. Él les pide comida. Él los conoce a donde están y les invita a venir cerca de él. En la cara de un evento tan increíble, Jesús se niega a permitir que se retiraran de él. Su resurrección no es sólo acerca de la afirmación de su divinidad, pero se trata de invitar a sus seguidores a acercarse a ella.
          Mis hermanos y hermanas, esto es lo mismo para nosotros. Jesús en su resurrección nos viene para encontrarnos y nos invitan a acercarse a él, que le tocase. San Juan nos dice que ahora él es nuestro abogado ante el Padre y por lo que incluso en nuestra pecaminosidad—incluso en nuestra duda y en nuestros corazones turbulentas—que nunca debe dejar de acercarse a él, porque él ha resucitado por nosotros!
          Si Jesús se acerca a nosotros, sin embargo, también es para que nos pueda enviar a otro. Al narrar para los discípulos cómo se habían cumplido las Escrituras en él, les recordó que su resurrección es para todos los hombres, no sólo al pueblo de Dios, Israel. Él vino para que todos los hombres puedan encontrar el perdón y la redención. Este fue el propósito de Dios en la elección de los hijos de Israel: para ser la gente de la que todo el mundo (es decir, todos los hombres y mujeres) sería encontrar el perdón, la redención y la vida eterna. Así, Jesús da la comisión a sus discípulos, diciendo "Ustedes son testigos de esto." Quizás eso no suena inmediatamente como una comisión, pero si se tiene en cuenta la naturaleza de un testigo, usted sabrá que es; porque un testigo no es sólo alguien que ve lo que ha sucedido, pero un testigo es alguien que también da testimonio de ello.
          Mis hermanos y hermanas, somos testigos de un acontecimiento chocante: la resurrección de un hombre quien es Dios. Este hombre, quien es el divino Hijo de Dios, se acerca a nosotros para unirnos a él, quien es nuestro abogado ante el Padre eterno. Por lo tanto, tenemos el encargo como testigos—los especialmente elegido por Dios para testificar a este evento: que el pecado y la muerte que es el resultado del pecado, ha sido destruido para siempre a través de la muerte y resurrección de Jesucristo; y que la libertad del pecado y de la muerte está disponible para todos, hombres y mujeres de toda raza y nación en todo el mundo.
          Mis hermanos y hermanas, si hemos experimentado esto, entonces tenemos que salir a proclamar esta buena noticia. Si usted no tiene, entonces le invito a orar en estos momentos de silencio que seguirán y a pedir al Señor que le revele su ser resucitado a usted en la forma del pan y vino que vamos a recibir de este altar. Él está aquí y trae para usted, y para todos nosotros, bendiciones de la paz: Shalom. Lleguemos, pues, a su encuentro en este sacramento asombroso para ser fortalecidos por él para proclamar esta buena noticia en todo el mundo.
Dado en la parroquia de San José: Rochester, IN – 18º de abril, 2015

y en la parroquia de Todos los Santos: Logansport, IN – 19º de abril, 2015

A shocking testimony

          Thanks to all who prayed for me during my journey to the Holy Land.  I was very blessed and humbled to be able to make this pilgrimage.  I'm still rather jet-lagged, however, so I hope you all will forgive me if I don't yet describe my experience.  In the meantime, it's still Easter and we continue to celebrate!


Homily: 3rd Sunday of Easter – Cycle B
          My brothers and sisters, as we enter more deeply into this Easter season, we today continue to be reminded that the resurrection is something new. As we look around us, we see that this newness is displayed before us as new life begins to blossom in our neighborhoods, parks, and back yards.  In spite of the fact that we expect this renewal every year, it does not change the fact that it continues to surprise us with its beauty. Even as we talk about it for months, anticipating when the cold of winter will release the new life of spring, when it does, nonetheless, it almost always astounds us.  And so the resurrection is to us.  Through the forty days of Lent, we prepare ourselves for the joy of the resurrection—we talk about it and our need to prepare for its celebration; yet when it arrives, it almost always overwhelms us by its beauty and its joy.  Our scriptures today speak of this, so let's take a closer look at them.
          In the gospel reading, we return again to Easter Sunday.  The disciples who had encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus, a small town outside of Jerusalem, had returned to recount what they had experienced.  They spoke of the fire that burned within them as Jesus interpreted the scriptures to them and of how their eyes were opened to realize that it was Jesus with them in the breaking of the bread.  This was an incredibly powerful experience for them, but they could only transmit it second-hand.  Nonetheless, this talking about Jesus and about his resurrection surely would have stirred joy in the hearts of the apostles.  The news that Jesus had truly risen would have been the realization of their hopes. Perhaps some were incredulous, but Jesus had promised it and so their hearts would have longed to believe.  Even still, they must have thought, "could it really be true?"
          Then Jesus appears to them.  In spite of having heard the disciples’ account of the encounter with him, they are astounded at his appearance.  Jesus greets them with the simple greeting that is still used by Hebrew speaking peoples today: shalom, peace be with you.  Now Jesus must have greeted his disciples with this word thousands of times, but his appearance, alive after his most certain death, was something new and so this word, too, astounded them.  Talking about Jesus, it seems, even talking about something as incredible as the resurrection, could not fully prepare them for an encounter with the risen Jesus himself.  To say it another way: the resurrection from the dead is always shocking.
          Nonetheless, Jesus doesn't allow them to back away.  After his greeting, he asks "why are your hearts troubled?"  "Look," he says, "it is I."  "Come see my hands and my feet."  The resurrected Jesus is not some distant deity that they cannot approach.  Rather, he comes close and invites them to touch him.  He asks them for food.  He meets them where they are and he invites them to come near to him.  In the face of such an incredible event, Jesus refuses to allow them to back away from him.  His resurrection is not only about asserting his divinity, but it is about inviting his followers to approach it.  My brothers and sisters, this is the same for us.  Jesus in his resurrection comes to us to meet us and to invite us to approach him, to touch him.  Saint John tells us that he is now our advocate before the father and so even in our sinfulness—even in our doubt and in our troubled hearts—we should never fail to approach him, because, if he is risen, he is risen for us!
          If Jesus draws close to us, however, it is also so that he can send us forth.  In recounting for the disciples how the scriptures had been fulfilled in him, he reminded them that his resurrection is for all men, not just God's people, Israel.  He came so that all men might find forgiveness and redemption.  This was the purpose for which God chose the Israelite people: to be the people from which the whole world (that is, all men and women) would find forgiveness, redemption, and eternal life.  Thus Jesus gives a commission to his disciples, saying "You are witnesses of these things."  Perhaps that doesn't immediately sound like a commissioning, but if you consider the nature of a witness, you'll know that it is; for a witness is not just someone who sees what has happened, but a witness is someone who also testifies to it.
          My brothers and sisters, we are witnesses to a shocking event: the resurrection of a man who is God.  This man, who is the divine Son of God, draws near to us to unite us to him, who is our eternal advocate before the Father.  Thus, we are commissioned as witnesses—those specially chosen by God—to testify to this event: that sin, and death that is the result of sin, has been forever destroyed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and that freedom from sin and death is available to all, men and women of every race and nation throughout the world.
          My brothers and sisters, if we have experienced this, then we must go forth to proclaim this good news. If you haven't, then I invite you to pray in these silent moments that will follow and to ask the Lord to reveal his risen self to you in the form of the bread and wine that we will receive from this altar.  He is here and he brings to you—to all of us—blessings of peace: shalom. Let us come to meet him in this astounding sacrament so as to be strengthened by him to proclaim this good news to the world.

Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – April 19th, 2015

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


            In September of 2009 I was diagnosed with Stage 4, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.  In the spring of 2010, I completed the full cycles of chemotherapy and the cancer was officially declared to be in remission.  Many experts say that after five years without a recurrence one is considered to be “cured”.  In January of this year I was scanned once again and the cancer remains in remission.  Praised be God!  Anticipating this last fall, I decided that I would make a pilgrimage to offer thanks to God for his mercy.  On April 8th, I left for the Holy Land to make this pilgrimage.  How appropriate that I will be there on Divine Mercy Sunday, when we celebrate God’s saving mercy that has come to us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord.  There I will walk in the land where Our Savior walked and pray in the holy places, offering thanksgiving to God, especially through the Eucharist.  I will remember all of you there.  Please pray with me during this time as I invoke the maternal protection of Mary, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, for my journey.

O Mother of Perpetual Help,
I invoke your powerful name
which is the safeguard of the living
and the salvation of the dying.
O purest and sweetest Mary,
hear me when I call upon you
for help in all my physical
and spiritual needs.
I offer myself into your hands.
Hold me close to your heart
as you held your Son Jesus,
and ask the angels, Michael and Gabriel
to keep watch over me always
in times of trouble and temptation.

I look forward to being with you all again after my return on April 18th.  Pax.

Monday, April 6, 2015

No te preocupes, ya estás muerto

Homilía: Domingo de Pascua de la Resurrección del Señor – Ciclo B
          ÉL HA RESUCITADO! ALELUYA!!! Se siente tan bien decir eso! Ya saben ustedes, es fácil quedar atrapado en todas las actividades que han pasado durante los últimos tres días—o incluso las últimas seis semanas, si pensamos de nuevo a todo lo que ha pasado desde el inicio de la Cuaresma. Es por eso que, en retrospectiva, yo estaba muy contento de ayer haber recibido una llamada para ir a ver a uno de nuestros parroquianos quien se llama Wirt. Wirt está muriendo. Él tiene 97 años y ha sido relativamente ágil para la mayor parte de esos años, pero ahora su cuerpo está fallando y no parece que va a ser muy largo antes de que muera. Él es un hombre paciente y lleno de fe, sin embargo. Se ha pasado estos últimos años sin su esposa, a quien había estado casado por más de sesenta años y quiere nada más que verla de nuevo; sin embargo, él le dirá a nadie que él está dispuesto a esperar hasta que el Señor lo llama a casa.
          Recibí la llamada no porque Wirt estaba a punto de la muerte, sino más bien porque él había sido muy molesto en el último día o dos. Como la muerte por fin se acerca para Wirt, se ha convertido en muy preocupado por ella. Él está empezando a hacer preguntas finales como, "¿Estoy listo?" y "¿Tengo suficiente fe?" Él está enfrentando la incertidumbre de la muerte—o mejor dicho, de lo que viene después de la muerte—y se ha empezado a asustarlo.
          Cuando me senté y escuché a él, yo no podía dejar de pensar en cómo providencial era que estábamos teniendo esta discusión en el Sábado Santo. Miran, el Sábado Santo original fue un día lleno de incertidumbre. Después de que el torbellino de acontecimientos que comenzaron el jueves por la noche y terminó con el entierro de Jesús en la tarde del viernes, sus discípulos y los que le siguieron pasaron todo el día el sábado frente a todo lo que había sucedido. El sábado fue el día de reposo, en la que no podían hacer el trabajo, así que me imagino que ellos pasaron el día pensando en lo que había sucedido y lo que iba a pasar. Me imagino que ellos se preguntan y otros: "¿Cómo puede ser esto?", "¿Qué significa esto?" y "¿Qué vamos a hacer ahora?" A pesar de que habían oído las palabras de Jesús sobre la resurrección a una nueva vida, todavía sentía una increíble cantidad de ansiedad ahora que se enfrentaban a la realidad de la muerte de Jesús.
          El hecho de que, por la noche del sábado, algunos de ellos habían renunciado a la idea de la resurrección, se desprende de la lectura del Evangelio de hoy. Dice que "Transcurrido el sábado, María Magdalena, María (la madre de Santiago) y Salomé, compraron perfumes para ir a embalsamar a Jesús." Miran, nadie embalsama el cuerpo de alguien a quien ellos piensan que va a volver a la vida. Sin embargo, aquí vemos a estas mujeres, que habían seguido a Jesús, trayendo los perfumes para embalsamar su cuerpo sin vida. La realidad de la resurrección, a la luz de todo lo que había sucedido el viernes, era incomprensible para ellos y por eso vinieron para hacer lo que harían para cualquier ser querido que había muerto: embalsamar su cuerpo con perfumes para su eterno descanso.
          Cuando llegan se encuentran con que la piedra que pone sobre la entrada del sepulcro había sido removida. "Sin duda no es su sepulcro" que deben haber pensado. Así que entraron el sepulcro y lo encontraron vacío. Bueno, no está vacío; porque había un hombre joven con una túnica blanca sentado allí quien confirmó que no sólo tienen la tumba correcta, pero que Jesús, a quien buscaban, ha resucitado de entre los muertos. “No se espanten", dijo este joven. ¿No se espanten? ¿Cómo no se espantar cuando entras en una tumba en sólo un día y medio atrás pusieron el cuerpo de un hombre que fue seguramente muerto, pero ahora te encuentras con que el cuerpo ha desaparecido y otro hombre que le dice que "ha resucitado"? Ellas se espantan; y regresan, siguiendo las instrucciones del joven, a decirle a Pedro y los discípulos lo que habían visto y lo que el joven les había dicho.
          En los días y semanas y meses siguientes, estas noticias—y encuentros de los discípulos con el Señor resucitado—los moverá a hablar con denuedo acerca de Jesús a quien quisiera escucharlo. Dieron testimonio acerca de la que fue crucificado, pero que ahora vive. Esto fue increíble, porque para la gente de esa época la crucifixión era una forma más segura de la muerte: no había de volver. Jesús, por lo tanto, realmente fue el que los profetas hablaron y así Pedro y los discípulos dieron testimonio de ello a través del poder del Espíritu Santo obrando dentro de ellos.
          Recibimos este testimonio y celebramos este evento increíble aquí hoy; y no sólo hoy, sino para los próximos 50 días. Más aún, celebramos el hecho de que, por el bautismo, también nosotros hemos muerto con Cristo y hemos resucitado con él. Así nosotros, que hemos sido bautizados, ya no tenemos ninguna razón para temer a la muerte. Esto, de hecho, es lo que Pablo dice en su carta a los Colosenses, cuando dice "porque han muerto y su vida está escondida con Cristo en Dios." Es por esto que podemos soportar la cruz como signo de nuestra victoria; porque lo que antes era un símbolo de la muerte se ha convertido en un signo de esperanza: que el poder de Dios a través de Cristo Jesús puede superar el peor sufrimiento que el mundo puede infligir.
          Este es el mensaje que he intentado transmitir a Wirt ayer: que, por el bautismo, ya ha muerto, y su vida está escondida con Cristo en Dios y que, por lo tanto, no tiene nada que temer. Mis hermanos y hermanas, este es el mensaje que me gustaría transmitir a ustedes hoy, también: que, por el bautismo, cada uno de ustedes ya ha muerto, y cada una de sus vidas está escondida con Cristo en Dios. Para celebrarlo, hoy vamos a renovar nuestras promesas bautismales, con el fin de renovar nuestra fe en la vida que tenemos en Cristo Jesús. Que esta vida—y la alegría de este día santo—nos inspira dar testimonio de esta buena noticia y así difundir esta luz y alegría en todo el mundo, porque CRISTO HA RESUCITADO! ALELUYA!!!

Dado en la parroquia de Todos los Santos: Logansport, IN – 5º de abril, 2015

Don't worry, you're already dead

Homily: Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord – Cycle B
          HE IS RISEN!  ALLELUIA!!!  Man, it feels so good to say that!  You know, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the activities that have gone on over the past three days—or even the past six weeks, if we think back to everything that’s happened since the beginning of Lent.  That’s why, in hindsight, I was really glad to have gotten a call yesterday to go see one of our parishioners named Wirt.  You see, Wirt is dying.  He’s 97 years old and has been relatively spry for most of those years, but now his body is failing and it doesn’t look like it will be too long before he dies.  He’s a patient and faith-filled man, however.  He’s spent these last years without his wife, to whom he had been married for over sixty years and he wants nothing else but to see her again; yet he’ll tell anyone that he’s content to wait until the Lord calls him home.
          I got the call not because Wirt was on the verge of death, but rather because he had been very upset over the past day or so.  You see, as death finally approaches for Wirt, he’s become very anxious about it.  He’s starting to ask ultimate questions like, “Am I ready?” and “Do I have enough faith?”  He’s confronting the uncertainty of death—or, rather, of what comes after death—and it has started to scare him.
          As I sat and listened to him, I couldn’t help but think about how providential it was that we were having this discussion on Holy Saturday.  You see, the original Holy Saturday was a day filled with uncertainty.  After the whirlwind of events that began on Thursday night and ended with Jesus’ burial on Friday evening, his disciples and those who followed him spent all day on Saturday dealing with all that had happened.  Saturday was the Sabbath day, in which they could do no work, thus I imagine that they spent the day wondering about what had happened and what would happen next.  I imagine them asking themselves and one another, “How could this be?”, “What does this mean?” and “What are we going to do now?”  Even though they had heard Jesus’ words about rising to new life, they still felt an incredible amount of anxiety now that they faced the reality of Jesus’ death.
          The fact that, by Saturday evening, some of them had given up on the idea of rising again is apparent from our Gospel reading today.  It says that “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome brought spices so that they might go and anoint him.”  Now, no one anoints the body of someone whom they think is going to come back to life.  Yet here we see these women, who had followed Jesus, bringing spices to anoint his lifeless body.  The reality of resurrection, in light of all that had happened on Friday, was incomprehensible to them and so they came to do what they would do for any loved one who had died: anoint his body with spices for his eternal rest.
          When they arrive they find that the stone laying over the entrance to the tomb had been rolled away.  “Surely we must have the wrong tomb” they must have thought.  So they went in and found it empty.  Well, not empty; because there was a young man in a white robe sitting there who confirmed that not only did they have the correct tomb, but that Jesus, for whom they were looking, had been raised from the dead.  “Do not be amazed” this young man said.  Do not be amazed?  How could you not be amazed when you walk into a tomb where a day and a half ago you just laid the body of a man who was surely dead, but now you find that body gone and another man telling you that “he has been raised”?  They are amazed; and they return, following the young man’s instructions, to tell Peter and the disciples what they had seen and what the young man had told them.
          In the days and weeks and months to follow, this news—and the disciples’ encounters with the Risen Lord—will move them to speak boldly about Jesus to anyone who would listen.  They gave testimony about the one who was crucified, but who now lives.  This was incredible, because for the people of that time crucifixion was a most sure form of death: there was no coming back.  Jesus, therefore, truly was the one the prophets spoke about and so Peter and the disciples gave witness to this through the power of the Holy Spirit working within them.
          We receive this witness and celebrate this incredible event here today; and not just today, but for the next 50 days.  Even more so, we celebrate the fact that, through Baptism, we too have died with Christ and have been raised with him.  Thus, we who have been baptized no longer have any reason to fear death.  This, in fact, is what Paul is saying in his letter to the Colossians when he says “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  This is why we can hold up the cross as the sign of our victory; because what was once a symbol of death has been transformed into a sign of hope: that the power of God through Christ Jesus can overcome the worst suffering that the world can inflict.
          This is the message that I tried to impart to Wirt yesterday: that, through baptism, he has already died, and his life is now hidden with Christ in God and that, thus, he has nothing to fear.  My brothers and sisters, this is the message that I would like to impart to you today, too: that, through baptism, each of you has already died, and each of your lives is now hidden with Christ in God.  To celebrate this today we will renew our baptismal promises, so as to renew our faith in the life we have in Christ Jesus.  May this life—and the joy of this Holy Day—inspire us to give witness to this good news and thus to spread this light and joy throughout the whole world, because HE IS RISEN!  ALLELUIA!!!

Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – April 5th, 2015

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Rosary Mysteries for Holy Saturday

Praying the Rosary on Holy Saturday
Pray as normal using the mysteries listed below.
In place of the Fatima prayer, use the “O my Jesus…” prayer provided below.
After the Salve Regina, pray the concluding prayer provided below.
Mysteries of the Holy Sabbath:
First Mystery: Jesus is taken down from the cross
“Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he was a member of the council, had not consented to their plan of action.  He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea and was awaiting the kingdom of God.  He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried.  It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin.”  Luke 23:50-54
Second Mystery: Jesus is laid in the tomb
“Having bought a linen cloth, he took him down, wrapped him in the linen cloth and laid him in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb.” Mark 15:46
Third Mystery: The women wait at the tomb
“But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb.”  Matthew 27:61
Fourth Mystery: The Disciples gather in the upper room
“When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts; but all his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events.” Luke 23:48-49
Fifth Mystery: Night falls on the Sabbath
“The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils. Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.” Luke 23:55-56
“O my Jesus…”
“O my Jesus, you have the words of eternal life.  In the silence of your divine rest, grant us faith in the words you have spoken so that we may keep vigil until the dawn of the new day.”
Concluding Prayer

“Let us pray. O GOD, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

Friday, April 3, 2015

The terrifying cross / La cruz aterrador

Homily: Friday of the Passion of the Lord
Homilía: Viernes de la Pasión del Señor
          Terrorism is something with which, sadly, we are all very familiar and terrorists are those who seek to intimidate people into conformance with their group’s ideology.  For example, the playground bully uses taunts and physical violence to force the other kids to recognize him as “king of the playground”.  The other kids don’t like him, but they are so afraid of him that they conform so as to avoid his verbal and physical assaults.  On a larger scale, the videos published by ISIS are true “acts of terror” meant to instill fear into the hearts of whomever views or even hears about them so that no one will resist them for fear of suffering the same fate.
          In the ancient Roman Empire, the cross was meant to terrify people.  As a form of execution, it wasn’t meant solely to punish the criminal.  Rather, it was also a public display of cruelty meant to instill fear into the heart of every other person: a form of intimidation meant to eliminate any resistance to the Roman authorities.  Thus, the charge against the crucified person was posted above their head as a way of saying “Don’t even think about doing this, because this is how you’ll end up.”  So effective was this method of intimidation that people of that time wouldn’t speak about the cross in polite conversation: it was disturbing even to think about it because, for them, the cross was equated with a horrific death: a death that was humiliating, agonizingly painful, and, ultimately, dehumanizing.
          Today, however, it seems like we have sanitized the cross.  We have made it nothing more than an expression of our personal style or a pious thing to talk about.  In other words, we’ve lost the “fear factor” that originally came with it.  As part of the Easter Triduum, Good Friday invites us once again to recognize that truly it is a fearful thing to hold up the cross as the symbol of our victory; because in doing so we proclaim not only that we are a follower of Jesus, but that we, too, would be gladly crucified with him and for him, because of our faith that one day he will raise us up again.
          My brothers and sisters, events happening around the world and even those happening here in Indiana over the past two weeks demonstrate that this type of witness is not far from being demanded of us.  Therefore, as we come forward to venerate the cross, let us keep this in mind: that Christ suffered for our sins—yours and mine—and so we must constantly plead for his mercy, and that the cross, symbol of our victory in Christ, should be fearfully embraced; for one day what it demanded of Christ may be demanded of us, too.  Nonetheless we have hope: because in Christ the cross no longer means certain and irrevocable death, but it means life: the eternal life that dawns on Easter Sunday.

          El terrorismo es algo con lo que, por desgracia, todos somos muy familiares y los terroristas son los que tratan de intimidar a la gente en la conformidad con la ideología de su grupo. Por ejemplo, el matón del patio utiliza insultos y violencia física para obligar a los otros niños a reconocerlo como "el rey del patio". A los otros niños él no les gusta, pero ellos tienen tanto miedo de él que se ajusten a fin de evitar sus ataques verbales y físicos. En una escala mayor, los videos publicados por ISIS son "actos de terrorismo" verdaderos destinadas a infundir miedo en los corazones de quien vistas o incluso oye acerca de ellos para que nadie se resistirá a ellos por miedo a sufrir el mismo destino.
          En el antiguo Imperio Romano, la cruz estaba destinada a aterrorizar a la gente. Como una forma de ejecución, que no estaba destinado exclusivamente para castigar al criminal. Más bien, fue también una demostración pública de la crueldad destinada a infundir miedo en el corazón de cada persona: una forma de intimidación destinada a eliminar cualquier resistencia a las autoridades romanas. Por lo tanto, la acusación contra la persona crucificada fue publicada por encima de su cabeza, como una manera de decir "Ni siquiera pensar en hacer esto, porque esta es cómo va a terminar." Tan eficaz fue este método de intimidación que la gente de esa época no hablaría acerca de la cruz en una conversación cortés: era inquietante incluso para pensar en ello, ya que, para ellos, la cruz fue equiparado con una muerte horrible: una muerte que fue humillante, angustiosamente doloroso, y, en última instancia, deshumanizante.
          Hoy, sin embargo, parece que hemos saneado la cruz. Lo hemos hecho nada más que una expresión de nuestro estilo personal o una cosa piadosa que hablar. En otras palabras, hemos perdido el "factor de miedo" que originalmente venía con ella. Como parte del Triduo Pascual, Viernes Santo nos invita una vez más a reconocer que verdaderamente es una cosa terrible para sostener la cruz como el símbolo de nuestra victoria; porque al hacerlo proclamamos no sólo que somos un seguidor de Jesús, sino que también nosotros, con mucho gusto ser crucificados con él y por él, a causa de nuestra fe que un día nos resucitará de nuevo.
          Mis hermanos y hermanas, los acontecimientos que suceden en todo el mundo e incluso los que pasa aquí en Indiana durante las últimas dos semanas demostrar que este tipo de testigo no está lejos de ser exigido de nosotros. Por lo tanto, a medida que nos acercamos a la cruz para venerarla, quedamos esto en mente: que Cristo sufrió por nuestros pecados—el tuyo y el mío—y por eso debemos rogar constantemente por su misericordia, y que la cruz, símbolo de nuestra victoria en Cristo, debe ser terriblemente abrazado; por un día lo que exigía de Cristo puede ser exigido de nosotros, también. No obstante tenemos esperanza: porque en Cristo la cruz ya no significa cierto e irrevocable muerte, sino que significa la vida: la vida eterna que amanece el domingo de Pascua.
Dado en la parroquia Todos los Santos: Logansport, IN – 3º de abril, 2015

Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – April 3rd, 2015

Jesus' true gift of devotion / El don verdadero de la devocion de Jesus

Homily/Homilía: Holy Thursday/El Jueves Santo
          A gift, by its nature, has two defining characteristics: 1) it is something that has been freely given and 2) it is undeserved by the one who receives it.  Just think about a birthday gift for a moment.  One who gives a gift for a birthday always does so freely, motivated by love for the person whose birthday is being celebrated.  In other words, no one is ever coerced into giving a birthday gift, because if they are then it really isn’t a gift.  And the person receiving the gift did nothing to earn this gift, right?  I mean, they didn’t choose to be born on whatever particular day it happens to be and, besides, there is nothing particularly deserving of gifts for being born on any given day.  Thus, a present given to celebrate someone’s birthday is truly a gift, because it is “unearned” by the one who receives it.
          When we look at this story that we just recounted from the Gospel of John, we see in Jesus’ action more than just a model of how to treat one another; rather, we see also a gift.  Jesus, the teacher and leader of this band of disciples, does not owe these men anything.  If anything, these men ought to be the one’s washing Jesus’ feet.  Nonetheless, Jesus freely chooses to wash their feet, demonstrating just how devoted he is to them by offering them this undeserved gift of loving service, calling it a “model to follow”.  Peter, perhaps speaking on behalf of the other disciples, fails to understand Jesus’ action as a gift and at first he refuses it, but then asks for more than what was being given.  In other words, he only wanted Jesus’ gift if he could have it “his way”.  Only after the events of Good Friday will he come to understand the gift that they had been given.
          Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said that “to be a Christian is primarily a gift…”  Over these next three days we will meditate deeply on this gift that Christ has given to us: a gift freely given and of which we are wholly undeserving.  Perhaps tonight we find ourselves like Peter, unwilling to accept Jesus’ gift as it has been given or perhaps even asking for more than was offered (in other words, trying to have it “our way”).  If so, then let us pray that we may be like Peter also at Easter Sunday: humbled but joyful before the Risen Christ whose gift—the sacrifice of his Body and Blood, his living Body and Blood—is still being given to us.

          Un regalo, por su naturaleza, tiene dos características definitorias: 1) es algo que se ha dado libremente y 2) se inmerecido por el que lo recibe. Basta con pensar para un momento en un regalo de cumpleaños. Aquel que da un regalo para un cumpleaños siempre lo hace libremente, motivados por el amor a la persona cuyo cumpleaños se celebra. En otras palabras, nadie es obligado a dar un regalo de cumpleaños, ya que, si lo son, entonces no es un regalo verdadero. Y la persona que recibe el regalo no hizo nada para merecer este regalo, ¿verdad? Quiero decir, él o ella no eligió nacer en cualquier día en particular pasa a ser y, además, no hay nada particularmente merecedora de regalos por haber nacido en un día determinado. Por lo tanto, un regalo dado a celebrar el cumpleaños de alguien es verdaderamente un regalo, porque es "inmerecido" por el que la recibe.
          Cuando nos fijamos en esta historia que acabo de contar desde el Evangelio de Juan, vemos en la acción de Jesús más que un modelo de cómo tratar a los demás; más bien, vemos también un regalo. Jesús, el maestro y líder de este grupo de discípulos, no les debe nada a estos hombres. En todo caso, estos hombres deben ser los que lavan los pies de Jesús. Sin embargo, Jesús escoge libremente para lavarles los pies, lo que demuestra cuán leal es él a ellos, ofreciéndoles este regalo inmerecido de servicio amoroso, llamándolo un "modelo a seguir". Pedro, quizás hablando en nombre de los otros discípulos, no comprende la acción de Jesús como un regalo y al principio se niega, pero luego pide más de lo que se estaba dado. En otras palabras, él sólo quería el regalo de Jesús si podía tenerlo "a su manera". Solo después de los acontecimientos del Viernes Santo volverá a entender el regalo que él les había dado.
          Papa emérito Benedicto XVI ha dicho que "ser cristiano es ante todo un don..." Durante estos tres próximos días vamos a meditar profundamente sobre este don que Cristo nos ha dado: un regalo dado libremente y de la que son totalmente indignos. Tal vez esta noche nos encontramos como Pedro, poco dispuestos a aceptar el regalo de Jesús, ya que se le ha dado, o tal vez incluso pidiendo más de lo ofrecido (en otras palabras, tratando de tenerlo "a nuestra manera"). Si es así, oremos para que podamos ser como Pedro también en Domingo de Pascua: humilde pero alegre ante el Cristo Resucitado cuyo don—el sacrificio de su Cuerpo y su Sangre, su Cuerpo y su Sangre vivo—todavía está siendo dado a nosotros.
Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – April 2nd, 2015

Dado en la parroquia Todos los Santos: Logansport, IN – 2º de abril, 2015