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Sunday, November 27, 2011

1st Week of Advent: Know ~ Hope

A prayer for this 1st week of Advent:

Heavenly Father as we seek Christ the King, your Son, our Savior, we ask you,
to help us to be ready
for His coming.
Forgive us our failings.
Our world is deeply wounded and struggling
and this is seen
in many wounded and struggling souls.
Holy Love,
help us to cherish all life,
to nurture our life choices
by sharing your compassion.
Help us comfort the wounded and anxious.
May our words bring hope,
our deeds, healing.
May we live and share faith,
in your mercy,
and, together,
Know Hope,
as we discover the beauty of Your Truth, Jesus.
Holy King, Holy Love, come!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Being Thankful

It is the day before Thanksgiving. Here in Northern California, as I look out the window of my candle shop I see the heavy grey clouds thickening from the west as a storm approaches. As the rain comes I realize how much for which I have to be thankful. The work of Dolorosa slowly grows. Family, loved ones are well, even as some are now gone and missed. Our Lord, in His love, brings the rain to both nourish and cleanse.
Yet as I observe the news I sense little thanksgiving in our world. The economic pressures are being daily confronted by most. The political atmosphere in the country is seemingly as acrimonious and divisive as it was prior to the Civil War. Instead of thanks we see the obsession to blame. Hate and the bitter intolerance for anyone not in agreement is pandemic. Humanity is battered by storms of destructive visions and words. How our human-caused storms differ from those God brings into creation. Yet, if we but stop and allow God to lift us out of our selves there is always ...hope. There is always cause for being thankful.
This holiday season what would happen if instead of...
passionate divisive intolerance we share,
a shared compassion for life in all creation and each other.
Instead of blaming and casting stones of destruction,
we take responsibility and build bridges of hope.
Instead of wallowing in the stye of entitlement attitudes,
we resurrect our noble gifts of service for God and others.
Instead of obsessing with Occupying and Getting
we seek simply healing and nourishing and giving.
Instead of stressing to judge and condemn,
we seek to love as He loved.
Instead of choking on the bitter gruel of resentments,
We feast on ...being Thankful.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Respect for Whole Life & Capital Punishment - Double Standard?

I am , without apology, an advocate for Respect Life, for Whole Life. This includes fighting for the unborn child, my opposition to euthanasia, assisted suicide and the tragic disregard of life for the infirm, mentally afflicted or disabled. It includes the rights of mothers (and fathers) to know the destructive affects of abortion on their own health, physical, mental, spiritual. But it also includes the people of Dafur, Somalia, and other areas where life and our environment is destroyed through the greed and the cruelty of humanity.

In this entry, however, i want to briefly focus in the double standard of being right to life, except in Capital punishment. I find it very troubling to see politicians extol their "pro-life" stand regarding abortion yet at the same time be aggressive in their pursuit of capital punishment. A powerful example is Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. He is commendable in his efforts for the unborn, yet it would appear that once born, life is no longer sacred. He has one of the largest records of inmates executed in the execution-happy state of Texas. That he has overseen over 230 executions would be troubling enough. However there is at least one, if not more of those executed who, by all indications, was innocent. One case, now before the U.S. Supreme Court, is for a man that is, by prosecution efforts and words now on death row because he is black. This ignores those executed (in Texas and elsewhere) with strong indications of mental illness or mental disability.

There are news clips of pro-life politicians speaking of their efforts FOR capital punishment and then being loudly cheered by their "pro-life" crowds, many of which are Christians. Is not this a double standard? There are noble rosary programs being said "For the Unborn", yet are those praying also cheering for capital punishment?

As we pray for the unborn we need to pray for their moms and dads, we need to pray for the courage to love them and help them support their child, with words, deeds and money. As we pray for the unborn, as we say our rosaries, we need to remember our Blessed Mother's Son was on Death Row and was executed unjustly.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Jesus our Good Shepherd

Mass Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Easter: 1st Reading: Ac. 2: 14, 36-41: Psalm: 23; 2nd Reading: I Pet. 2:20-25; Gospel: Jn. 10:1-10 [The Web version of my homily.]

Who is in charge? Who is in charge of your life? Our western culture takes immense pride in the concept that it is all about us, that I (capital I of course) am entitled to the choices of life. That I am entitled and best qualified to chose the course of my life.
While God has blessed us each with our free will it is a myth of fools to pretend we are in charge. It has been said if you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans. Yes, while God does give us free will our Creator, the Shepherd of our souls also gives us the ability to know we are...Followers..we choose to follow. In today's Gospel Christ makes clear that we are sheep and that He is the Good Shepherd. He also makes clear the reality that there is evil, that Satan would seek to lead us astray, to rob, destroy that which is treasured and made by God. This brings us to ask, if we are honest, who is in charge? Who is guiding my life? As we look to Christ, as we look to the Good Shepherd we learn what it is to follow Him.

First we come to learn Jesus knows His sheep. He knows each human soul, created by Him. Christ, Lord, God, Savior, Shepherd Whether we are the purest of spotless white lambs or if perhaps we may be the odd sheep of the flock, the proverbial black sheep. He knows, He created, He loves us for who we are. He knows and calls us each by name. Well He knows the paths we may have wandered, the wounds or struggles we have encountered. Yet His love never ceases. He calls, searches..seeks to bring us each into the fullness of His love, the safety of His fold. As we heed Word, His voice, as we yield to the loving guidance of His staff He leads us home to Him.

As sheep of His flock, as His followers, the guidance of Christ's Spirit brings us ever closer into His Kingdom. Our Psalm today is a powerful prayer and confession of the faithful. While most often heard at a funeral we need to remember that if we think to wait until death before we start to follow Him, it may be too late, or at least we will have missed the fullness of life He created us to know. This Psalm of David, a man who knew what it was to follow God, is powerful in its honest confession. Christ will indeed lead us to the lush pastures, abundant waters of which we seek. But, because He is the good Shepherd He will also lead us through the valley of death, those dark nights of faith pressing close to He who leads us. Christ promises, that through His Holy Spirit He will lead us into His will, His path, His truth. This is not just some ethereal mystic hope. It is the promise to lead us with the wisdom of God, daily, taking up the Cross He shares to lead us, in our hearts, our families to do His will to love as He loved.

And it is as we yield to His voice calling our name, as we follow Him we come to learn the Shepherd provides for all we need as we follow His way. As we follow the Good Shepherd, as we follow the Risen Christ we soon learn He leads to the impossible. The God Shepherd leads us beyond our own limited resources and abilities to, to know He will never forsake us. It is when we sit at the table, abundantly set for us, even at times in the presence of our enemies, we learn how faithful God is. We learn that, thanks be to God we don't always get that to which we are truly entitled. We find instead God's mercy, healing and love. We learn, Jesus is in charge. He is risen. He is Lord. He is my Savior and Shepherd.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Entering His Wounds

Contemporary rendition of Carraviggio's "Doubting Thomas" painted by: John Granville Gregory

The door is locked. Fear has them bound, hidden away in a room.

This Second Sunday of Easter, also recognized as Divine Mercy Sunday, we return to the followers of Christ. On Easter Sunday our joyful songs express our faith in our Risen Savior and Lord. Today we find the disciples where we too may be at times in our life, locked away in our fears.
Of what are you afraid? Yes we profess our faith in Christ, yet, sadly, we sometimes place more faith in our doubts and fears than in Him. We focus on failures, real or feared of others, or ourself. Fears and doubts of health, or economic well-being, relationships, careers, families, our Church, all may well bring us to be locked in darkened rooms of doubt and fear. Where is our faith? In our fears and doubts or in Him who conquered fear, doubt, sin and death?

It is easy to sing, to say we believe. We may well express our amen's and alleluia's yet when we leave the church and return to the rooms of our lives we may once again find our life locked in fear and doubt. Is there really any hope? How can we know true freedom from that which we fear, from the doubts that would cripple our souls and our lives. This Sunday of Divine Mercy, we find in God's word the true and practical way to that freedom as we heed Christ's Words and enter His Wounds we will enter into His Holy love by which all fear and doubts is conquered.

The voices of fear, the messages of doubts are loud and abundant. The cacophony of noise from this world composed by the dark prince of fear and despair is always available to fuel our fear and renew our doubts. Yet the Prince of Peace can enter the darkest of doubts, the rooms of fiercest fear and in His noble voice of holy love proclaim His Peace in our midst and in our hearts. We have the ability to seek to call upon Jesus to enter our hearts, our homes, our most difficult places and to guide us to His Peace. No dark voice of fear or doubt can overcome Him who proclaims His holy peace that conquered the powers and places of hell itself. From the cacophony of darkness we can enter hear the symphony of grace of which we all are called to join His holy angels in songs of hope, mercy and joy. As we seek, as we heed His Words of peace, mercy, healing and hope we will find Him guiding us closer to His Presence. We will experience Jesus the Truth that sets us free.

Out of the dark rooms of our fears and doubts the Risen Christ calls and leads us to..Himself. It is in His Presence we, along with the early disciples, can see His wounds, like Thomas himself we can touch and enter into the very wounds of Christ. While it is true we may not physically see Jesus as did the disciples in Scripture we can know His very real blessing He gave all who were not there, the blessing to see Him, and enter His wounds with eyes of faith. It is as His nail-scared hands touch our soul that we then can see Him, His wounds in others, in each other, in the needy, in the suffering of all creation as we await the return of our Savior and Lord. It is in our own brokenness we can enter His wounds as well. It is also in the simple places of prayer, during Mass, before the Blessed Sacrament, in the prayer closets of our life that God can call and bring us to enter into His presence, His wounds and find the hope, the freedom to believe and follow Him in the power of the Risen Christ.

From the locked room of fear we discover His voice proclaiming His peace, we draw close to Him, we see, we touch, we enter into His wounds, we enter into His Love by which all fear and doubt is conquered.

Cyber-version of my homily for the Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. Mass Readings: Reading I: Acts 2:42-47; Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 118:2-4,13-15,22-24; Reading II: I Pet. 1;3-9; Gospel: John 20:19-31

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Resurrection Heart

The Cyber-version of my homily for Easter Sunday
Readings for Easter Sunday Mass: I: Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Ps: 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23; II: Col. 3:1-4; Gospel: John 20:1-9

"They did not yet understand the Scriptures that He had to rise from the dead..."

The closing words of John's Gospel account of the resurrection told how the disciples who came that Easter morning did not yet get that Jesus was indeed risen from the dead. Would those words apply to us today? Over 2000 years we still not get it?
For we share the same peril that the Jews, Romans and even the disciples faced in those intense days in Jerusalem. But while facing the same perils we also have the same hope and promise of knowing Jesus is indeed risen from the dead.

Understanding and reason had failed.
The Jewish hierarchy could not let go their pride and fear that held them enslaved to their education, their status and their sense of control. They could only see Jesus as the poor son of a carpenter, born of very unclear circumstances. This self-centered vision crippled their ability to see Jesus, Son of God, Son of Man, their Messiah.
The Romans, slaves to their assumptions of power, pride and might could not find the strength of heart to reach out to the true King of Kings and Savior of the world.
The disciples, who had followed Jesus in growing faith and unsure understanding had found their hopes dashed, overcome by the cruelty this world would bring.

So, on that first Easter morning they came, Mary Magdalene, in mourning came to attend the body of Jesus more properly for burial. Thinking to come to the tomb sealed by her understanding, she came instead to enter into God's Resurrection Heart.

Following the words of her Lord she went to Peter and John telling them, not what she understood, but what she had experienced in God. Peter and John ran to the tomb. Peter with his heart torn by his threefold denial, gasping for breath as he sought his Lord. John, the Beloved could not run fast enough..dare he hope that his beloved Jesus could be alive? Coming to the tomb, John looks in, Peter catching up brushes aside and enters, John follows. As they enter the tomb where understanding and reason fail us..they entered into the God's resurrection heart.

Today, we come. Perhaps like Mary Magdalene we come seeking closure on seeming losses and failure. Maybe we are like Peter, struggling with the a soul burdened with known denial and fear of following in His steps. Or perhaps like John with hearts broken yet racing with a hope that refuses to die..not understanding but knowing the call of His love.

200o years later we are now the people of the Easter story. Do we hide in our fears, pride, sense of control and status? We hear of this Jesus, this resurrection but our understanding is bound, locked in the our self. Or are we going to follow in the steps of the courageous women and men who dared to come, with all their human frailties and dare enter into the heart of the resurrection, the very sacred heart of God's love.

The hope, the promise has not changed. We can know as did Mary, as did John and Peter the love of Christ calling us beyond our selves into His holy, healing love that will raise us up to believe and then to understand.....He is risen, Alleluia.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Sensing God ~ Knowing God

The cyber-version of my homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings for the 5th Sunday of Lent: Reading I: Ezek. 37:12-14; Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 130:1-2,33-4,5-6,7-8;
Reading II: Eph. Rom. 8:8-11; Gospel: John 11:1-45

What would you do, if in these last days of Lent, Jesus came to you and said..."we need to talk"? He would find a comfortable place for you both to sit. He would look you in the eye and say..."don't be afraid." He would then explain that He understood how hard it was to trust, to follow Him, but that He just wanted this Lent, this Holy week to really open your life to the promise and joy of His open your life to Him. Maybe you would feel compelled to start sharing the struggles, doubts, fears you had, how sin was a battle. He would lift your head ..look you in the eyes and say.."I forgive you, I give you my peace, just follow me".
Such an experience would, literally, beyond doubt, change our life for the rest of eternity.

Yet it is so often so hard to sense God's Presence in our lives. To KNOW that He is with us, to know what He really wants us to do. In today's Gospel, the experience of the raising of Lazarus from the dead is shared. In this vibrant message we are given an important lesson in sensing God in our life.

Lazarus had died. Jesus, close friend of Lazarus, and his sisters, Mary and Martha was days away. When Lazarus had fallen ill they had sent for Jesus, TRUSTING that He could do something. Jesus had delayed His response. Lazarus was dead. Mary, Martha, their friends were heart broken. Not only had Lazarus died...but they had trusted Jesus to come, to heal as He had so many others. Where was He? Where was God? Their feelings..their sense of God's Presence was seemingly destroyed.
But the Lord had a greater blessing to share.

Jesus arrives to find Martha confronting Him in her grief. Mary, the others, bound in mourning. They go to the tomb. Lazarus has been dead and in the tomb for four days. Jesus weeps. SEEING His tears, they then HEAR him say "remove the stone". Martha, ever practical, recoils, telling Christ, "he's been in the tomb four days..He will STINK! They HEAR, again the Words of Christ: "...Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" Their fearful sweaty hands remove the cold hard stone. "LAZARUS COME FORTH" They all HEAR Christ call. Lazarus comes forth. Again HEARING HIS WORDS..."Loose Him". They FEEL the cold clothes of the dead. Then they SEE..LAZARUS is alive!

Using all of the five physical senses Jesus lead Mary, Martha, His disciples, the mourners to see beyond their vision. To sense beyond what they could feel. So He would do today these many centuries later. He longs to sit with us, look into our soul and call us to... Himself.

In simple trust we place our hands in His nail-scarred hands, seek Him to touch our ears, ask that we may see as He sees, to smell the holy fragrance of holy love in the scent of a rose, to taste His goodness in His Body and Blood we come to the place of Mary and truly sense and know God's Presence. St. Paul shared this lesson in another way..we are called to grow beyond life in the flesh (what we just physically feel) to life in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. As our souls are filled with God's Spirit He then brings us to know His touch..those words of Christ..."don't be at peace".

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Journey of Lent ~ Called to God's Mountain

[The cyber-version of my homily for this 2nd Sunday of Lent]
Scripture Readings:
Gn.12:1-4; Ps. 33:4-5,18-19,20,22; II Tim. 1:8-10; Mt. 17:1-9

Sometimes when we travel we find it helpful or perhaps necessary to stop and figure out where we are and where we are intending to go. This may well cause us to change our direction and re-focus on our goal. It is in this journey of faith, in our lives as Christians, that we would do well to stop, take stock of where we are and where it is Christ seeks to brings us. This is the essence of the season of Lent. It is in today's Bible readings that we see and hear God doing this very thing with His people.

From where we are called: In our first reading we see God calling Abram from the land of his kinfolk to the land of God's promise. We hear God's promise to Abram that as he follows in faith God's promises will be his.
So it is with each of us. God calls us out from the land of our fallen humanity to come to the land of His promise, life in the Kingdom of God. As it was for Abram, so it is for each of us. This is a journey of faith, trusting in the guidance, providence and grace of our God. It is also a journey that as we follow we discover our true, full name, that person god has created, called us to be.

Called to God's Mountain: In the Gospel we see the disciples, led by Jesus to the Mount of Transfiguration. It, again, is a journey of faith that wearies their human strength. Yet in following they are brought to see, to know Christ as they never have before. Their realization of the saints, the power and dimension of God's Kingdom are forever changed. But this power-filled revelation brings them to collapse in fear and awe before the majestic power and beauty of God. So it is as we allow God to lead us, we are brought to the fearful realization of our failings...and God's majesty...This is the journey of Lent, the journey of the faithful as we seek to follow the Shepherd of our souls. And it was from this mountain that Jesus would lead His disciples to another mountain where they would even more powerfully see and know the majesty of His love.

It would be at the Mount of Calvary, where our Lenten journey will end that we too will be called to enter into His love at the Cross and the joy of His resurrection on Easter morning. It is as we each follow our Lord this season of Lent, and every day of our lives, that with His disciples we can know His touching us as He calls to us "Rise and do not be afraid".

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Seek His Kingdom

Cyber-version of my homily for the 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Seek His Kingdom

Seek His Kingdom,
clear the clutter
and the clamor
with all this world
makes us stagger.

Seek His hands,
pierced by love,
to help remove ,
this world’s sludge.

Earthly riches,
this and that,
things we seek,
that from Him, distract.

Walk with Him.
Let Him show,
in field and flower,
His treasure troves.

Let God be.
And before us bring,
His Kingdom’s riches,
of which angels sing.

Seek His Kingdom,
clear the clutter,
and the clamor,
with all this world
makes us stagger.

Seek His voice,
His words of truth,
that in our lives,
His freedom soothes.

May that freedom,
of His Kingdom,
in His Spirit,
lead us all.

To those riches,
that never fail.
To that trust,
that will prevail.

Heed His voice,
follow His call,
in courage bold,
to His Love belong.

Seek His Kingdom,
clear the clutter,
and the clamor
with all this world,
makes us stagger.

In simple trust, His hand to take,
In His courage bold to make,
In His Love forward to go,
may we then,
His Kingdom grow.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Integrity of Faith, Love, of Heart

Homily (cyber-version) for the 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time;

Valentines Day is right around the corner. Setting the hyper-commercialism of the holiday aside we are reminded that this is the Feast Day of St. Valentine. He was a priest and martyr in the early church. He is the Patron St. of holy love. While imprisoned he was well known for his care and love of the imprisoned but also of his guards of which several he converted to follow the Christ. In his life he chose to follow with courage the high calling of our Lord to faith, love and integrity of heart.
Our readings today contain some of the most difficult and challenging in God 's Word to hear and follow. In many ways it would seem God calls us to the impossible. Yet, if we prayerfully heed the fullness of our readings we are brought to a realization that God calls us each, like St. Valentine to live a life following our Lord in the integrity of our faith, love and heart.

In the First Reading we are reminded that created in love by God who is Love, that we are given the freedom of follow God's Commands of Love or the ways of the enemy of our soul. We are called to choose who we are going to follow...and grow in integrity of faith, love and heart.

"Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord" echoes the refrain from our Psalm. This brings us to the second reading where St. Paul, in writing to the faithful in Corinth reminded them that "eye has not seen nor ear heard..what God has prepared for them that love Him".. It is with the Spirit of God that our FAITH is empowered to make the choices of life that will cause us to follow God's Word, His Commands to life and love for Him. God calls us to have a heart of faith that enables us to discern, with His help, the way of obedience and discovery of His will in our lives. It is the call to ever growing INTEGRITY, genuineness OF FAITH, that enable us to follow our Lord in the integrity His love.

In the Gospel reading Christ challenges us to that INTEGRITY OF LOVE. Called away from murderous, life destroying deeds Jesus raises the standard even higher to calls us away from life destroying anger and words, however subtle they may seem.

Calling lonely humanity from adultery He calls us to an even deeper integrity and quality of our very vision of life , of love for each other. Called away from seeing others as possessions to lust for, He calls us to the higher calling of relationships wherein we no longer lust for ..but have true love for each other in the deepest integrity of our heart.

Again in the Gospel Jesus speaks of the integrity of our choices..our promises. In speaking of oaths and vows He call His people to an even simpler, yet higher standard in that we are to affirm our choices of FAITH, Our LOVES from the integrity of our heart. The Psalmist prays.."give me discernment...that I may keep your law with all my heart". Jesus warns us not to make promises based upon things beyond our ability to control or change. He calls us to the highest INTEGRITY of our distinct HEART where from we follow His path for us with all the heart He created, with all the soul He created us each to be.

May God who created each of us, for who we are, and calls us each to follow Him help us know and do so with the fullest of integrity of Faith, of Love and Heart.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Choose Life, The Natural Choice

38 years ago the United States Supreme Court ruled in the landmark decision of Roe vs. Wade that it was the Constitutional right for a woman to abort her unborn child. Volumes have been written and spoken both in support and opposition of this ruling.
It is a topic that politically correct (or perhaps politically polite people) seek to refrain from discussing.

But it is a subject, however painful and unpleasant, that needs be addressed. God does not violate our free will. God allows us choice. But God also speaks very clearly that as a people we called to know right versus wrong, good versus evil, life versus death. It is also a sacred responsibility we share to be stewards of, protectors of, LIFE. This especially pertains to those unable to speak for or protect themselves.

This stewardship of LIFE applies to the unborn, the aged or infirm, and to all creation, trees, birds, whales....people, especially...people. In the often the more politically correct topic of the environment we find the concept of being "green" that has much to teach us. The concept of living a lifestyle that respects nature, eating real foods, making choices that both honor and respect all LIFE is profoundly valid. It is a concept that honors creation, but more importantly our Creator the Giver of Life.

The Scriptures teach us that God's truth is found in all creation (Romans 1). For those who are considering or who are proponents of abortion it would be good to look to...nature, as they consider their choices. Nature teaches us LIFE is the NATURAL CHOICE. Humans are the only species of life that so vehemently teaches and practices the destruction of their unborn, the destruction of their species. It is an interesting commentary on evolution that we humans, alleged to be the most evolved, are the species that practices the most widespread destruction of itself. This is seen in war, violence, destruction of our environment, the destruction of our unborn.

There will be those who would rush to point out species that eat their young, or weaker members of their own. Yes, all creation cries out in sad witness to the wounds the fall of humanity as wrought (Romans 8). Species may, in times of environmental or interior stress practice this self-destruction. But is it their NATURAL, their normal practice?

We cry out when a baby whale is found dying on a beach at the possible "unnatural" damage our environment has suffered to cause such loss.

When will we cry out for the approximately 4000 thousand abortions a day in the United States? When will we find the courage to face the facts of what is being done and then to find the courage to Choose Life, the Natural Choice.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Our Life ~ Immersed in God

Cyber-Version of homily for Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

The new year is underway. We are resolving issues of the past. We are planning, perhaps resolving, perhaps worrying about the year ahead. And we gather here today to worship God who is eternal. We seek to listen to Scripture, God's everlasting Truth. We prepare to received Christ in Holy Communion. And we are reminded we are called, created by Him, to have our lives immersed in God.

Isaiah the prophet, in our first reading recognizes the purpose of our Creator, from before our birth, to glorify Christ. We are to share and reveal Him in our daily lives and for eternity, in simplicity of our faith and love well lived.

St. Paul in his first letter to the early church in Corinth echoes the message of the early prophet. To a struggling church, seeking to live their faith in the midst of world set against them and wrestling with their own weak humanity Paul affirms that they too are called by God to be set apart, immersed in Christ's holy love, eternally.

Our Gospel reading reminds us of our Lord's baptism in the Jordan and brings to focus that from the waters of baptism we are to grow on in the baptism of the Holy Spirit given by Christ Himself. Celebrated in the Sacrament of Confirmation the Church is called to live, immersed in God. This realization of being immersed in God comes from the very word "baptize'. Literally expressed we see the longing of Christ to immerse, to drench us in His Father's redeeming love. Perhaps to better understand and hence to enter into this holy immersion we can look at our life, immersed in God. Christ seeks to immerse our life in Him, past present and future, that is, for all eternity.

So often we dwell in the past. We may lament lost youth or opportunity. We may fret and carry heavy burdens of guilt and sorrow of things done or not done. We may carry poisonous resentments while remembering and accusing others of wrongs, real or imagined. All the while, by this crippling posture of past walks we fail to live It is in the refrain from our psalm we can share the solution. "Here I am (present tense, today) Lord, I come to do your will, immerse my past in Your Holy Spirit, immerse my past, in Your mercy and forgiveness".

We also worry about the future. Health, finances, relationships, world peace, the environment all or real, cause us to lose sleep at night. All these unknowns, when dwelt upon, can rob of us of the peace and joy Christ longs for us to know, now. Striving to see beyond today we can lose sight of Christ with us in the present. This does not mean God would not have us plan or prepare for the future. It means we are to simply immerse our will, our plans, our hopes in the wisdom of His love. As we do so the Holy Spirit then can lead and prepare us for that which God alone knows will lie ahead. Today, then, we pray, "Here I am Lord. I come to do Your will." We then trust God to immerse our will in His where He will nurture and guide our hopes and faith to the fullness of His love for all eternity.

This brings us to the present. God, eternal, calls us to be His eternally. To be immersed in the mercy and hope of Christ forever we must live with Him in the present. Today, Christ calls and speaks to all who seek Him. Today we are sought by the Crucified to live in hIs Real Presence, nourished by His sacred Body and Blood. For all the Confirmed Christ seeks to remind and renew our immersion in His Holy Spirit. For those preparing for that holy immersion Christ will be drawing you closer to fill you with His Spirit and power. Today Christ longs to here us say to Him: " Her I am Lord, I come to do your will."

May Christ immerse our past in mercy and forgiveness, our future in His hope and courage and today in His Spirit of Holy love. And for all eternity may we be immersed in God.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Baptism of our Lord

Cyber-version my homily for the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord 2011

The Feast of the Baptism of our Lord brings to the close of the Season of Christmas. As a part of the broader Epiphany manifestation of God's Presence and Love it bridges the birth and early life of Jesus into the time of His public ministry. Christ's baptism is reported in all four Gospels. Mark and Luke share brief accounts of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist. John provide's perhaps the most detailed of insights. This year our Gospel account comes from Matthew's witness and addresses one of the oldest challenges about our Lord's baptism.

Why was Jesus baptized in the first place? If as God's only begotten Son without any stain of sin (Original or committed) why did Jesus even have to be baptized? John the Baptist himself struggled with this as he tries to prevent our Lord from this humbling step. As he tells Jesus: “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” John recognizes the sinless, holy Love of God Present in Jesus. We, as Catholics affirm in our Christian faith the reality of original sin and of the need of our shared fallen humanity to receive the grace and mercy of God through this Sacrament. But...Why, Jesus?

Baptism is indeed the first sacred act, the first Sacrament, given by God to bring to us the saving graces of our Savior. This receiving the solution of sin is indeed the heart of of this holy step. But it is also the first step by which we share with God (and the world) our faith and our love for Him. As St. Peter would write in his first letter it is an answer of a good conscience toward God. It is a sacred, precious step of faith into the holy, grace-filled embrace of God the Father. It is what should be the first Yes! to God's will in our life. Baptism is a public entrance into the Kingdom, the family of God.

As followers of Christ, whether we enter the holy waters of baptism through the faith of our parents (as did the household of Cornelius, and many others in the early Church) or through our own volition as a matter of personal conscience we are taking a holy step of love and faith. It is the first step by which the faithful enter into their holy Communion with the Body of Christ.

We cannot see how or where this step may lead, but with Christ we seek to say: "Yes. Thy will be done"
Sharing these holy waters with Jesus we seek to enter into and receive share the Cross of His Love, and even in our struggles to share His sufferings that we, through and with Him may know the joy of His resurrection.
Our faith then can lead us to know the healing embrace from the wounds of our fallen nature, the heartbreak of our sins, into His merciful eternal embrace.

Why was Jesus baptized? To show us the way, to take our hands and lead us to His Father's mercy and love. Today as we listen to Him, as we receive prepare to receive His Sacred Body & Blood, may we say Yes Lord, I trust you, I'll follow you."