Monday, June 29, 2015

The "eyes of the kingdom"

          It's transition week!  On Wednesday, Fr. Mike officially transfers to St. Joseph's in Rochester, I become Administrator of All Saints, and Fr. Clayton joins us as Parochial Vicar (Associate Pastor).  Please pray for us this week.

          My prayer is that I will always see my ministry through the "eyes of the kingdom", working always to give those whom I serve not just what they ask me for, but what God wants for them: the complete restoration of their lives in His kingdom.

Verso l'alto!


Homily: 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B
          One of the more “epic” moments in television in the last twenty years occurred in 2004 on the Oprah Winfrey show.  In many ways, Oprah was at the height of her popularity at this time and she was using it to great advantage for others.  Now, I don’t recall of the background of that day’s show, but I remember that Oprah started by gifting eleven teachers, who were reputed to be extremely self-giving and, thus, were in financial trouble, with a new car.  This was an incredible gesture by itself, but Oprah wasn’t finished.  She then told the audience that she had one more car to give away and that one of them in the audience would receive it.  The staff then brought out identical gift boxes for each member of the audience and Oprah instructed them that in one of these boxes was a key to the twelfth car and whoever had that key in their box would take that car home.
          What happened next, of course, is what launched this moment into “epic” status: when Oprah commanded that the boxes be opened, the audience members found that each and every one of them had a key in it.  No, this wasn’t a trick.  Oprah intended to give each audience member a brand new car.  Because there was so much excitement—screaming and crying—mixed with confusion about whether or not this could be real, all you see is Oprah screaming over and over again: “You get a car, you get a car, you get a car… everybody gets a car!  Everybody gets a car!”  Now, perhaps none of us were in the audience that day, but you would have to have a pretty cold and hard heart not to feel a sense of joy for those audience members who received such an undeserved gift from someone that they didn’t even know.
          I can imagine, too, that every audience for every show after that day walked in wondering “Will today be another day like that one?  Will I walk out of here with something I never dreamed of getting?”  None really have since then, of course, which is what makes that moment in 2004 so epic.  Sometimes, however, I wonder if this isn’t how we approach Jesus, especially here at Mass.
          As we read the Scriptures, especially the Gospels, we learn of how Jesus often healed the sick and even brought back to life those who had died.  Most of us, I’m sure, were already following him before we came to understand his incredible power to heal: in other words, we were coming to Mass and trying to follow his teaching.  Perhaps one day we came to know that Jesus worked a healing in someone else’s life.  And perhaps, once we learned of this healing, we began to expect a healing for ourselves.  And so, perhaps, we began to come to Mass hoping that this time would be one of those times that Jesus would appear before us and, like Oprah that day, dole out healings to everyone: “You get a healing, you get a healing, you get a healing… everybody gets a healing!”
          Perhaps, however, we aren’t even expecting anything that dramatic.  Perhaps, we are more like the woman in the Gospel today, who had been afflicted for twelve years with a hemorrhage.  Since a bleeding like that made her “ritually unclean”, she was excluded and needed to refrain from coming in contact with others for fear of making them “unclean” also.  And so, it’s understandable that she would approach Jesus in the way that she did.  “I’m embarrassed enough to have this defilement,” I imagine her thinking, “so instead of approaching Jesus directly, I’ll simply sneak up behind him and touch his clothes: surely his power to heal will come to me.”  Surely enough, it did.
          Having been healed, the woman then tried to slip away; but Jesus wouldn’t allow it.  You see, Jesus didn’t come just to bring healings: that is, just to spread joy by doling out healings to anyone who approached him, without concern for who the person was.  Rather, he came to bring forth the kingdom of God, which was a restoration of God’s original plan for each of our lives.  Therefore, when the woman was healed—that is, when the power of healing had “gone out of him”—Jesus took notice and decided to make this moment a teaching moment.  He wanted people to see this woman—whom they all knew to be the one who had been afflicted by hemorrhages for twelve years—and to see that she was now healed by her faith in him and thus restored to her status in the community.  In other words, for Jesus it wasn’t enough that she was healed; rather, he desired that her life also be restored; and for that, he needed to address her personally.
          This is also true of the young girl whom Jesus brought back to life.  Jairus, the synagogue official, came in faith to ask Jesus to heal his daughter, who was sick and at the point of death and Jesus agrees to come.  Even though the delay of addressing the woman healed from hemorrhaging meant that the child died before he arrived, Jesus remained unperturbed.  When he arrived and saw the mourning of those already in the house, he invited them to see this situation with the “eyes of the kingdom” when he said “the child is not dead but asleep.”  It was a reality that wasn’t visible to them, but that he would soon make visible to them: for in the “eyes of the kingdom” worldly death is no longer death, but rather a temporary sleep; and to prove this, Jesus resuscitates the twelve year old girl.
          As incredible as this was, Jesus once again proved that he didn’t come simply to dole out healings or to resuscitate people after they died.  He came with a concern of restoring people in the fullness of the kingdom of God.  Therefore, Jesus didn’t simply give the breath of life back to the little girl; rather he then saw that the girl was hungry and demanded that she be given something to eat.  In other words, his healings were never functional only; but rather they always came with a tenderness—a deep and abiding concern for the one who was healed: that he or she would not only experience healing, but also have his or her life restored completely.
          This, my brothers and sisters, is God’s plan for us.  We heard in the reading from the book of Wisdom that “God did not make death”; and in the Gospel reading Jesus proves to us that, even though God did not make death, he certainly isn’t powerless before it.  No, death was never part of God’s plan for us.  Death, rather, entered the world because of Satan’s envy, which led him to deceive our first parents into sinning against God.  God sent his Son, though, not just to demonstrate his power by doling out healings to anyone who asked for it, but rather to restore us to life—that is, to his original plan for us—by freeing us from eternal death.
          This restoration, however, isn’t automatic.  Like Jairus, the synagogue official, and like the woman afflicted with hemorrhages, we must first come to Jesus in faith to seek this healing if we ever hope to receive it.  This faith, however, must not only be in Jesus’ power to heal—though that is fundamental—but it must also be faith in his will: faith, that is, that Jesus’ will is wiser than my will so that, if his will is that I not be healed at this time, I might not despair and thus lose all faith, even in his power to heal.
          Ultimately, my brothers and sisters, the choice is ours.  When we choose to place our faith in Jesus—and in his power to save us—we choose God’s original plan for us: which the book of Wisdom tells us is a plan “to be imperishable; the image of God’s own nature…”  When we do otherwise—placing our faith in ourselves or in someone or something else—we place ourselves in the company of the devil, through whose envy death entered the world.  The book of Wisdom tells us that to keep company with him makes us susceptible to it: death, that is, in the “eyes of the kingdom”, which is eternal suffering and sorrow… eternal separation from God.
          You know, Oprah did a great thing that day back in 2004.  Her gift, however, was a momentary thing and could not restore the lives of the people in her audience that day.  Through Jesus God offers us so much more than a one-time gift can give us: he offers us the opportunity to have our lives restored to his original plan: a plan where death—and the sorrow and suffering that comes because of it—no longer has any place.  Ultimately, we must choose this plan over the many others that the world offers.  We choose it by saying “Amen” to Jesus when he appears on this altar; and when we live our lives with the “eyes of the kingdom”, looking beyond our life in this world to our life in the world to come.  My brothers and sisters, God desires to give us this life, because we matter to him.  Let us choose this life for ourselves today—and everyday—so that we, too, may go in peace, healed and ready to proclaim this Good News.

Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN  - June 27th & 28th, 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Él está allí en la tormenta

          Amigos, gracias por sus oraciones esta semana pasada! Toda la experiencia del Campo de Trabajo Corazón Católica fue bendecido de principio a fin. Nuestro Señor tocó los corazones de cientos de jóvenes (y sus adultos!) Esta semana y todos regresaron a salvo. Sólo puedo alabar a Dios por su bondad y por las oraciones y el apoyo de todos los que ayudaron a hacer que suceda. GRACIAS!

          Durante la última semana antes de salir, cuando todo parecía que estaba a punto de derrumbarse, yo sabía que era sólo por la gracia de Dios que este viaje iba a pasar, así que me decidí a alabar a Dios exteriormente siempre que sea posible. Cada vez que vi a Humberto (mi "socio en el crimen" para la planificación de este viaje) yo diría: "Oye Humberto, ¿cuántas veces es Dios bueno?" y él respondía: "¡Todo el tiempo!" Y entonces yo digo: "Todo el tiempo ¿lo que es Dios?" y él respondía: "¡Bueno!" Esto nos ayudó a colocar este viaje completamente en manos de Dios y habló con nosotros en esta tormenta, proporcionando una solución que pensamos que no sería posible.

          Ahora que estamos de vuelta, vamos a seguir para alentar a nuestros jóvenes para Amplificar su fe en las acciones con el fin de hacer crecer el Reino de Dios aquí en el condado de Cass. Que cada uno de ustedes tienen el coraje de responder a Dios de esta manera con el fin de unirse a nosotros en esta buena obra.

¡Feliz Día del Padre a todos los papás (natural y espiritual)!


Homilía: 12º Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario – Ciclo B
          Como la mayoría de ustedes saben, la semana pasada estuve con un grupo de 27 jóvenes y sus acompañantes adultos en el Campo de Trabajo se llama “Corazón Católico” en Virginia. Aunque lo llamamos un "viaje misionero", en realidad aquel en lo que los jóvenes y adultos participan durante esta semana es un campamento católica para los que han sido iniciados en la fe. El propósito del campamento es proporcionar jóvenes católicos con una experiencia de discipulado que les llevará a la transición de tener una fe que se recibían simplemente (es decir, una fe que se limita a repetir lo que se enseña) a tener una fe que es propiedad (es decir, una fe que es reconocido y aceptado como la propia elección personal). Para ello, proporciona un entorno dinámico que mezcla la programación de alta energía con tiempos de oración y reflexión y, más excepcionalmente, la oportunidad de experimentar lo que significa vivir esa fe verdaderamente en las acciones, por servir a los necesitados a través de los proyectos de trabajo.
          El resultado esperado de esta experiencia de campamento es que los jóvenes van a traer esta energía recién descubierta para poseer y vivir su fe de nuevo en sus comunidades de origen y comenzar a actuar con el fin de ser una fuerza para construir el reino de Dios aquí en la tierra. De este modo, la programación campamento enfatiza lo que escuchamos de la carta de San Pablo a los Corintios, en la segunda lectura de hoy: que "el amor de Cristo nos apremia" para seguir adelante y trabajar para la edificación del reino de Dios, en parte, a través de aliviar el sufrimiento de los pobres. Puedo testificar personalmente que esto es lo que pasó con nuestros jóvenes (y los adultos, también) después de esta semana de campamento.
          Una de las otras cosas que el campamento reconoce es que habrá desafíos para vivir esta fe una vez que regresen a casa. Hay muchas tormentas que los jóvenes enfrentan hoy en día: la intimidación, la separación y el divorcio de los padres, las traiciones de los amigos, y las presiones de los medios sociales de ser notada y gustaba por sus pares. Para muchos jóvenes, esto les deja temerosos, tanto que Dios puede haberles abandonado en su necesidad o, peor aún, que Dios no es suficientemente potente para salvarlos de estas tormentas. En realidad, cada uno de nosotros debe enfrentar tiempos tormentosos en nuestras vidas y cada uno de nosotros tiene que luchar con los miedos que vienen con ellos. Agradecidamente, nuestras lecturas de las Escrituras hablan de esto hoy.
          En primer lugar en el libro de Job, nos enteramos de que Dios habla a Job "desde la tormenta". De inmediato, nos enteramos de que no es de fuera de la tormenta que nos encontramos con Dios, sino que nosotros le encontramos allí mismo, en medio de ella. En otras palabras, Dios está allí con nosotros en la tormenta y si lo buscamos dentro de ella, en lugar de desde el exterior, que nos hablará allí. También oímos cómo Dios recuerda a Job de su poder sobre la tormenta mientras se le recuerda que él hizo los mares y las nubes de tormenta y establecer para ellos los límites que no deben pasar. Job había temido tanto que Dios lo había abandonado en este tiempo tormentoso en su vida y que Dios, tal vez, no tenía el poder para superarlas. Dios, sin embargo, vino a él para asegurarle de su presencia y, con gran autoridad, le recordaba de su poder sobre todas las tormentas.
          Luego, en el Evangelio de Marcos, escuchamos la historia de cómo Jesús y sus discípulos estaban cruzando el Mar de Galilea después de un día completo de enseñanza cuando una feroz tormenta se levantó contra ellos; y nos enteramos de que los discípulos temían por sus vidas mientras Jesús dormía. Finalmente cedieron y clamaron a Jesús: "¿no te importa que nos hundamos?" Su temor no era que Jesús no tenía el poder para salvar a ellos, sino más bien que Jesús no estaba eligiendo para salvarlos al permanecer dormido. En otras palabras, su temor era que Jesús les había abandonado en su necesidad. Los dos pasajes de las Escrituras, entonces, nos invitan a reconocer en nuestras propias vidas cómo fallamos en reconocer la presencia de Dios en medio de las tormentas en nuestras vidas, así como la forma en que dejar de tener fe en su poder para superarlas.
          La llamada que recibimos hoy en día, por lo tanto, es la llamada que San Pablo dio a los Corintios en su carta de la que leemos hoy: es decir, la llamada a mirar todas las cosas de una manera nueva. Pablo audazmente proclama que, "al pensar que si uno murió por todos", también hay que reconocer que en Cristo "todos han muerto"; y puesto que Cristo vive ahora, también ahora nosotros vivimos en él. Por lo tanto, "el amor de Cristo nos apremia", dice Pablo, para ver todas las cosas de una manera nueva: porque la muerte mundana no es muerte nada más y por lo tanto no hay nada que temer: porque ¿qué temor más grande puede haber que el miedo a una muerte irreversible? Por lo tanto, esta nueva forma de ver conduce a una nueva manera de vivir; porque ahora tenemos que vivir sabiendo que Cristo está con nosotros en cada tormenta; y por lo tanto hay que tener coraje para reconocer que él no nos ha abandonado para morir, sino que él está con nosotros y que él tiene el poder de calmar cada tormenta. Armado con este conocimiento y el coraje, podemos ir hacia adelante con valentía para servir a aquellos que se sientan abandonados en sus propias tormentas para que sea la poderosa presencia de Cristo a ellos. Este es el mensaje que el Campamento de Trabajo Corazón Católica espera inculcar en el corazón de cada joven que participa en uno de sus campamentos, y es el mensaje que estamos recibiendo en esta misa de hoy. ///
          Mis hermanos y hermanas, este nivel de fe no florecen durante la noche. Más bien, el logro de este nivel de la fe es un proceso de crecimiento y florecimiento en el tiempo. Alimentada por los sacramentos y fortalecido por nuestras obras de amor, nuestra fe crece y el reino de Dios se amplifica aquí en la tierra. Que el amor de Cristo encontrado aquí, en este altar, impulsarnos a este crecimiento en la fe: la fe que realmente puede hacer presente el reino de Dios aquí.
Dado en la parroquia de San José: Rochester, IN – 20º de junio, 2015

y en la parroquia de Todos los Santos: Logansport, IN – 21º de junio, 2015

He's there in the storm

          Friends, thank you for your prayers this past week!  The entire Catholic Heart Work Camp experience was blessed from start to finish.  Our Lord touched the hearts of hundreds of youth (and their adults!) this week and everyone returned safe.  I can only praise God for his goodness and for the prayers and support of all of you who helped make it happen.  THANK YOU!

          During the last week before leaving, when everything seemed like it was about to fall apart, I knew that it was only by God's grace that this trip would happen, so I decided to praise God outwardly whenever possible.  Each time I saw Humberto (my "partner in crime" for planning this trip) I would say: "Hey Humberto, how often is God good?" and he would reply: "All the time!" And then I would say: "All the time God is what?" and he would reply: "Good!"  This helped us to place this trip completely into God's hands and he spoke to us in this storm by providing a solution that we thought wouldn't be possible.

          Now that we are back, we will continue to encourage our youth to Amplify their faith in actions so as to grow God's kingdom right here in Cass County.  May each of you have the courage to respond to God in this way so as to join us in this good work.

Happy Father's Day to all Dads (natural and spiritual)!


Homily: 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B
          As most of you know, this past week I was with a group of 27 teens and their adult chaperones at Catholic Heart Work Camp in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Although we call it a “summer mission trip”, in reality what the teens and adults participate in during this week is a Catholic summer camp for those who have been initiated into the faith.  The purpose of the camp is to provide Catholic youth with an experience of discipleship that will lead them to transition from having a faith that is merely received (that is, a faith that simply repeats what is taught) to having a faith that is owned (that is, a faith that is personally acknowledged and accepted as one’s own choice).  It does this by providing a dynamic environment that mixes high-energy programming with prayerful times of reflection and, most uniquely, the opportunity to experience what it means to truly live out that faith in actions by serving those in need through work projects.
          The hoped-for result from this camp experience is that the teens will bring this new-found energy for owning and living their faith back into their home communities and begin to act in order to be a force for building up God’s kingdom here on earth.  Thus, the camp programming emphasizes what we heard from Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in today’s second reading: that “the love of Christ impels us” to go forward and to work for the building up of God’s kingdom in part through relieving the suffering of the poor.  I can personally testify that this is what happened with our teens (and the adults, as well) after this week of camp.
          One of the other things that the camp acknowledges is that there will be challenges to living out this faith once they return home.  There are many storms that teens face today: bullying, separation and divorce of parents, betrayals by friends, and the pressures that social media place on them to be noticed and liked by their peers.  For many teens, this leaves them fearful both that God may have abandoned them in their need or, worse yet, that God is not powerful enough to save them from these storms.  In reality, each of us must face stormy times in our lives and each of us has to wrestle with the fears that come with them.  Thankfully our Scripture readings speak to this today.
          First in the book of Job, we hear that God speaks to Job “out of the storm”.  Right away, we learn that it is not from outside of the storm that we encounter God, but rather that we encounter him right there in the midst of it.  In other words, God is there with us in the storm and if we seek him within it, instead of from without, he will speak to us there.  We also hear how God reminds Job of his power over the storm as he reminds him that he made the seas and the storm clouds and set for them the limits which they must not pass.  Job had feared both that God had abandoned him in this stormy time in his life and that God, perhaps, did not have the power to overcome them.  God, however, came to him to assure him of his presence and with great authority reminded him of his power over every storm.
          Then, in Mark’s Gospel, we hear the story of how Jesus and his disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee after a full day of teaching when a fierce storm rose up against them; and we hear that the disciples feared for their lives while Jesus slept.  Finally they gave in and cried out to Jesus: “do you not care that we are perishing?”  Their fear was not that Jesus didn’t have the power to save them, but rather that Jesus was choosing not to save them by remaining asleep.  In other words, their fear was that Jesus had abandoned them in their need.  Both of passages from Scripture, then, invite us to acknowledge in our own lives how we fail to recognize God’s presence in the midst of the storms in our lives as well as how we fail to have faith in his power to overcome them.
          The call that we receive today, therefore, is the call that Saint Paul gave to the Corinthians in his letter that we read from today: that is, the call to look at all things in a new way.  Paul boldly proclaims that, “once we have come to the conviction that one has died for all”, we must also acknowledge that in Christ “all have died”; and since Christ now lives so do we also now live in him.  Therefore, “the love of Christ impels us”, Paul says, to see all things in a new way: because worldly death is no longer death and thus there is nothing left to fear: because what greater fear could there be than the fear of an irreversible death?  Therefore, this new way of seeing leads to a new way of living: for now we must live knowing that Christ is with us in every storm; and thus we must take courage to acknowledge that he has not abandoned us to die, but rather that he is with us and that he has the power to calm every storm.  Armed with this knowledge and courage, we can go forward boldly to serve those feeling abandoned in their own storms so as to be Christ’s powerful presence to them.  This is the message that Catholic Heart Work Camp hopes to instill into the heart of every teen that participates in one of their camps, and it is the message that we are receiving in this Mass today.
          My brothers and sisters, this level of faith doesn’t bloom overnight.  Rather, achieving this level of faith is a process of growing and flourishing over time.  Nourished by the Sacraments and strengthened by our works of love, our faith grows and the kingdom of God is amplified here on earth.  Therefore, may the love of Christ encountered here at this altar impel us to this growth in faith: the faith that can make God’s kingdom truly present here.

Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – June 21st, 2015

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Un vínculo en la sangre

          Una vez más, el viaje misionero de los Jovenes de Todos los Santos está listo para salir! Tuvimos algunas complicaciones graves de esta semana, pero Dios es misericordioso y nos ha ayudado a hacer que todo tenga éxito. Estamos mirando adelante a una gran semana, saliendo el sábado. Por favor, rueguen por nosotros!

Beato Pier Giorgio Frassati, ruega por nosotros!


Homilía: El Cuerpo y Sangre de Cristo – Ciclo B
          Los muchachos suelen formar amistades profundas con otros muchachos. Dada la oportunidad, un muchacho será aferrarse a un primo u otro chico de barrio que es de su misma edad y se convierte en inseparable de él. Estos niños a menudo encontrar maneras de compartir aventuras juntos. Dada la libertad suficiente, van a buscar aventuras en lugares y situaciones que sus madres se horrorizaron al descubrir. La supervivencia de este tipo de experiencias emocionantes profundiza su vínculo y los chicos se convierten en aún más inseparables
          Si cualquiera de los muchachos tiene una gran imaginación, o si alguno de ellos descubrió un interés en los libros—sobre todo el tipo de libros de aventuras que los muchachos les gustan leer—hay una buena probabilidad de que uno de ellos se va a plantear con la idea de marcar su vínculo al hacer algún tipo de pacto. Si no está ya hermanos de sangre, uno de los rituales que podrían promulgar es el ritual de "hermano de sangre". En su forma más simple (y, sospecho, más común), los muchachos se dirigirán a un lugar secreto, uno de ellos con una aguja o alfiler. Una vez allí solemnemente declararán el uno al otro que "serán hermanos para toda la vida", después de lo cual cada uno de ellos pinchará un dedo con el alfiler de modo que un poco de sangre fluirá y presione sus dedos juntos, mezclando así su sangre y "sella" el vínculo entre ellos.
          Este tipo de ritual de sangre no es nada nuevo, por supuesto. A lo largo de la historia y en muchas culturas diferentes, los rituales que involucran la sangre han unido los hombres, las familias, e incluso naciones de la gente. En una leyenda nórdica, los hombres que querían entrar en alianza junto cortarían abierto un parche de hierba y luego cada uno cortaría a sí mismo y dejar goteo su sangre en la tierra. Entonces el parche estaría cerrado, sellando así el vínculo de sangre entre ellos.
          Sangre incluso se ha utilizado para sellar la unión entre Dios y su pueblo, como hemos escuchado descrito por nosotros en nuestra primera lectura de hoy. Nuestra lectura, del libro del Éxodo, describe cómo Moisés "refirió todo lo que el Señor le había dicho y los mandamientos que le había dado" al pueblo de Israel, que él recibió de Dios en la cima del Monte Sinaí. Estos fueron los "términos" del acuerdo entre Dios y su pueblo elegido. Como hemos escuchado, todos los israelitas estuvieron de acuerdo con estos términos. Esto fue más que un simple contrato, sin embargo, este fue una alianza; y una alianza creado un vínculo mucho más profundo que cualquier contrato: se creó un vínculo familiar que tuvo que ser sellado en algo más que un acuerdo simple de términos.
          Por lo tanto, a la mañana siguiente, Moisés ordenó que los sacrificios del holocausto se ofrecieran a Dios y que la sangre de los animales que fueron sacrificados serían preservados y reservados. La mitad de la sangre que él derramó sobre el altar, que era un símbolo de ponerla en Dios. La otra mitad se roció sobre el pueblo, sellando así la alianza que Dios había hecho con ellos en un vínculo de sangre. Esta participación en la sangre del sacrificio santificó a los israelitas y, por tanto, les hizo santo: es decir, apartado para Dios; y la sangre de esta alianza sellado una alianza de la ley: las palabras y los mandamientos del Señor. La sangre de otra alianza, sin embargo, sería sellar otro tipo de alianza: la alianza de la redención a través de la cual el hombre se hace libre de pecado.
          La sangre de este diferente tipo de alianza viene del sacrificio que Jesús se ofreció a sí mismo en la cruz—el sacrificio en el que él es al mismo tiempo sacerdote (el que ofrece el sacrificio) y la víctima (el sacrificio que se ofrece)—y nuestra participación en la sangre de este sacrificio sucede aquí, en ésta Eucaristía. Sabemos esto porque en los Evangelios se graba para nosotros que Jesús instituyó este sacramento en el que el pan y el vino se convierten en su Cuerpo y Sangre diciendo "esto es mi cuerpo" y "ésta es mi sangre, sangre de la alianza", y que él había mandado que esto se haga en memoria de él, de modo que todos pudieran participar en esta alianza y así seamos partícipes en la herencia eterna que ha sido prometido.
          Por lo tanto, cada año, en el segundo domingo después de Pentecostés, conmemoramos este al celebrar esta fiesta del Cuerpo y Sangre de Cristo como una forma de recordarnos que nuestra participación en esta Eucaristía es más que un ritual religioso; más bien, que se trata de una renovación de nuestro vínculo de sangre con Cristo: un vínculo que no sólo nos une, sino que también exige algo de nosotros. En el ritual "hermano de sangre" de los muchachos, la mezcla de su sangre significaba que iban a dar la vida, uno por el otro. En la alianza que Dios formó con el pueblo de Israel, el rociamiento de la sangre del holocausto significó que los israelitas hacer de sí mismos un holocausto a Dios siguiendo todas sus palabras y mandatos. Y en la Eucaristía, nuestra participación en el Cuerpo y la Sangre de Cristo de este altar significa que estamos llamados a salir y hacer sacrificios de nosotros mismos para la santificación de los demás, así como nosotros somos santificados por ella.
          Mis hermanos y hermanas, Jesús nos invita a renovar nuestra "vínculo de sangre" con él hoy. Y así, hagámoslo con toda nuestra vida, comprometiéndonos con el servicio y la santificación de los demás, porque la promesa de la herencia eterna en Cristo Jesús nos espera.

Dado en la parroquia de Todos los Santos: Logansport, IN – 7º de junio, 2015

A bond in blood

          Once again, the All Saints Youth Work Camp mission trip is ready to leave!  We had some serious complications this week, but God is merciful and has helped to make everything work out.  We are looking forward to a great week, leaving on Saturday.  Please pray for us!

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us!
Verso l'alto!


Homily: The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Cycle B
          Young boys will often form deep friendships with one another.  Given the chance, a boy will latch onto a cousin or another boy from the neighborhood who is about his same age and become inseparable from him.  These boys will often find ways to share adventures together.  Given enough freedom, they will seek out adventures in places and situations that their mothers would be horrified to discover.  The survival of these kinds of exciting experiences deepens their bond and the boys become even more inseparable.
          If either of the boys has a healthy imagination, or if either of them discovered an interest in books—particularly the types of adventure books that young boys like to read—there’s a good chance that one of them will come up with the idea of ritualizing their bond by making some sort of pact.  If not already brothers by blood, one of the rituals they might enact is the “blood brother” ritual.  In its simplest (and, I suspect, most common) form, the boys will head out to a secret place, one of them with a needle or straight pin.  Once there they will solemnly declare to each other that they “will be brothers for life”, after which they will each prick a finger with the needle so that a little blood will flow and then press their fingers together, thus mixing their blood and “sealing” the bond between them.
          This type of blood ritual is nothing new, of course.  Throughout history and across many different cultures, rituals involving blood have bonded men, families, and even nations of people together.  In one Norse legend, the men who wanted to enter into alliance together would cut open a patch of grass and then each man would cut himself and let blood drip into the earth.  Then the patch would be closed, thus sealing the bond of blood between them.
          Blood has even been used to seal the bond between God and his people, as we heard described for us in our first reading today.  Our reading, from the book of Exodus, describes how Moses “related all the words and ordinances of the Lord” to the Israelite people, which he received from God on top of Mount Sinai.  These were the “terms” of the agreement between God and his chosen people.  As we heard, the Israelites all agreed to these terms.  This was more than a simple contract, however, this was a covenant; and a covenant created a bond much deeper than any contract: it created a familial bond that had to be sealed in something more than a simple agreement to terms.
          Thus, the next morning, Moses ordered that holocaust sacrifices would be offered to God and that the blood from the beasts that were sacrificed would be preserved and set aside.  Half of the blood he splashed on the altar, which was symbolic of placing it on God.  The other half was sprinkled over the people, thus sealing the covenant that God had made with them in a bond of blood.  This participation in the blood of the sacrifice sanctified the Israelites and, thus, made them holy: that is, set apart for God; and the blood of this covenant sealed a covenant of law: the words and ordinances of the Lord.  The blood of another covenant, however, would seal a different kind of covenant: a covenant of redemption through which man would be made free from sin.
          The blood of this different kind of covenant comes from the sacrifice that Jesus offered of himself on the cross—the sacrifice in which he is both priest (the one who offers the sacrifice) and victim (the sacrifice that is offered)—and our participation in the blood of this sacrifice happens here, in this Holy Eucharist.  We know this because in the Gospels it is recorded for us that Jesus instituted this sacrament in which bread and wine become his Body and Blood by saying “this is my body” and “this is my blood of the covenant”, and that he commanded that this be done in remembrance of him, so that we all could participate in this covenant and thus be made sharers in the eternal inheritance that has been promised to us.
          Therefore, every year on the second Sunday after Pentecost, we commemorate this by celebrating this feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ as a way of reminding us that our participation in this Eucharist is more than a religious ritual; rather, that it is a renewal of our blood bond with Christ: a bond that not only unites us, but also demands something of us.  In the “blood brother” ritual of young boys, the mixing of their blood meant that they would give their lives for each other.  In the covenant that God formed with the Israelite people, the sprinkling of the blood from the holocaust meant that the Israelites would make of themselves a holocaust to God by following all of his words and ordinances.  And in the Eucharist, our participation in of the Body and Blood of Christ from this altar means that we are called to go out and make sacrifices of ourselves for the sanctification of others, even as we are sanctified by it.
          My brothers and sisters, Jesus is inviting us to renew our “blood pact” with him today.  And so, let us do so with our whole lives, committing ourselves to the service and sanctification of others: for the promise of an eternal inheritance in Christ Jesus awaits us.

Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – June 7th, 2015