The best Easter ever!

And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow…. Gospel according to St. Matthew 28:1-10

The Magi who came seeking the Messiah were overjoyed at seeing the star of Jesus, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The Women who came to the tomb seeking Jesus the crucified were not expecting an angel with the appearance of lightning. After seeing the angel of the Lord, the women went away from the empty tomb fearful yet overjoyed. But then Jesus greeted them as they ran. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage like the Magi did. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of humility, surrender and love. Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.”

Here I was in Fallujah, Iraq on Christmas night 2004, I was exhausted, beat up and depleted. I had celebrated about 19 Masses in three days. It was rainy and cold with broken glass all around me. A 19 year old Marine on lookout was unable to receive communion and asked for me to bring Jesus to him. I almost said no, but here I was. He was fearful yet overjoyed at seeing me with the Eucharist. We didn’t know that the battle was over. My homily was the same for every Mass and Communion service. “If this is not the best Christmas ever, then something is wrong.” The Marine looked at me from the mud, death and broken glass as if I was crazy. Even though I truly believed that every day living and believing in Jesus makes it the best ever, my hope was frail and despair was building. My joy was on life-support.

This young Marine reverently opened his grimy hands to receive the Body of Christ. I thought of Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes in the crèche and on the cross. As I began to sing O Holy Night, which is really an Easter hymn of resurrection, the Marine sang louder and louder in an operatic voice. Could the whole world hear this Marine? With our eyes closed, tears streamed down my face and soul. I was no longer afraid. When I opened my eyes and saw the Marine radiant with face awash in tears, he gave me a smile and simply said, “Yep, Padre, this is truly the best Christmas ever!” We had approached Jesus, embraced his feet, and did him homage. We offered him gifts of innocents lost, broken minds, and love. Jesus simply said, “Do not be afraid! Tell my brothers and sisters the Good News! You will see me in the Eucharist!” And now today is the day that springs from the best Christmas ever. It must truly be the best Easter Ever…

Some people are still trapped in the rubble of life and some, like you, with the help of God, are raised from the rubble and rebuilt with strength, courage and patient hope. We have the choice, will we step out of the tomb new and renewed, resurrected in our lives, or will we be tempted to return to the tomb with our same old perspective, and, like shackles, take them again into our life’s experience?

This is the atmosphere of the tomb, but Jesus wants to instead, open the way of life, the way of joy and the way to lasting peace. The light has conquered darkness; hosanna to God in the highest!  ( Check out the short video clip which will inspire)

Best Easter Ever

I pray for each and everyone of us that we might be filled up, filled up with the joy of salvation, filled up with the joy of justice, filled up with the joy of the Sunday experience so that our lives speak something, so that our lives mean something, so that our lives have a purpose, so that our lives have an impact. Jesus is the light that comes into our world, his words echo through the Gospels, may we remain young as they also echo in our lives fully alive with strength, courage, wonder, awe and hope, as Good News.

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Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

Gospel of St. John 11: Now A man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. So the sisters sent word to him saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” ~ When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days…

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When Martha acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world… she would pay the price and no longer be welcome in the synagogue, but she would no longer be frozen in the fear of death.

Last week we heard that the Jews had already agreed that if anyone recognized Jesus as the Christ, they would be expelled from the synagogue. The man who regained his sight was thrown out when he acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, but his parents chose to remain in their fear rather than rejoice with their son. In many ways they were dead.

The religious leaders were corrupt and didn’t want to be exposed. They were divided about how to actually love God, neighbor and their way of life. They were poisoned by greed and power. They were divided about who was in the synagogue legally and who should be deported. Jesus was their enemy. They concluded that, “It is better for one man to die rather than a nation to perish.” They weren’t bad people, just afraid, lost and blind. Jesus says of them from the cross, “Forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Martha and Mary were healed of their fear of death by the love of Jesus and their love for Jesus. They knew that Jesus could heal people, but they didn’t realize yet that he could bring their brother back from death. He could also help them to understand that if they live and believe in Jesus they will never die.

The religious leaders recognized that fear of death was big business and made gross amounts of profits. Having wealth and security is not a problem, unless we neglect the poor, the orphans, those fleeing war, the hungry and the oppressed. The United States is well-known as the world’s biggest spender on arms and weapons systems. Catholic bishops have regularly denounced as moral scandal a defense budget measured each year in the hundreds of billions. (America Magazine Jesuits, April 3, 2017)

Less noticed is the nation’s status as the world’s top merchant of arms and the government’s role as facilitator in that market.

In a historic address in Washington on Sept. 24, 2015, Pope Francis told congress:

Being at the service of dialogue and peace… means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world… Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and stop the arms trade. 

Congress applauded Pope Francis, but they spent more on exported weapons. We are divided in politics, but mostly in defense of our profiting from war.

The devil doesn’t want us to believe that he exists. The biggest fear of the Beast (the Devil) is that we believe in the Jesus who says, “I am the resurrection and life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

When we don’t fear death, when we don’t care if we are even rejected by our parents, we truly live in the freedom of God’s Kingdom today. Jesus is looking for followers who are brave enough to see him crucified without giving into despair. Jesus is counting on each of us to answer the question he asked Martha. Then, and only then, will we truly be free and be instruments of God’s peace and love. Do you believe this? If you do, you are Good News!

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5th Sunday in Lent

April 1, 2017 ~ Queen of Peace Catholic Community

Ezekiel 37:12-14 ~ O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them

Psalm 130 ~ With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

 

“I Thirst”

Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him or her a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Gospel of St. John 4

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Life can sometimes harden our hearts. We are always looking for something more. There are many billionaires in this world. But have you noticed how happy they are? NOT! You would think that they would be satisfied and enjoy their wealth and security. Something is missing. They still thirst, just like you and me. Some of us are gifted with retirement, money, national championships, family and/or fame, but there is still a thirst for more. What are you thirsting for today? In the first reading we hear, “In those days, in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses.” O yes, they got their water from the rock, but they did not know that they thirsted for the Rock of Jesus. If Jesus asked you for a drink today, and I believe he is asking, how would you respond?

“Jesus, you don’t even have a bucket or a place to lay your head. You have a cross and suffering. The hatred in the world is deep. The problems of this world are massive. People are filled with anxieties, hunger, thirst, division, depression and politics.” Our reactive response to a simple question from Jesus blinds us to the man before us who simply asks for a drink of water.

This woman of Samaria came to draw water and was beginning to feel that her bucket list had perpetual holes. She was addicted to unsatisfying relationships and the tediousness of life. She must have been unbelievably beautiful to be able to secure so many men! She kept looking for love outside of her own beautiful self. When she came to the seventh man, she did not think anything would be different. She was indifferent and in a way, she had lost hope, but she did have one last drop of hope in her bucket. That is all that Jesus needed.

Jesus was pouring his mercy and love into this woman even before her first failed marriage. Jesus, the Son of God, had been waiting at the well for a very long time. Jesus is waiting for each of you. Jesus simply reaches into our hearts and says “I thirst.”

If we want to get closer to God, we must be thirsty first. We need to transform our grumbling into desire, our hostility into hospitality, and our illusions into prayer. We need to open up our hearts. “We have peace with God through Jesus the Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.”

When we come to Mass, are we open to the thirst of Jesus? “Give me a drink.” How amazing that we have access to Jesus every day. The Mass never ends; we take it with us. Jesus in the Eucharist totally quenches our thirst for so much more. I was at the well with Jesus… and all was well. “And hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

 

Psalm 63:

My soul is thirsting for you O Lord, thirsting for you my God.

O God you are my God, and I will always praise you.

In the shadow of your wings I cling to you, and you hold me high.

Through the day you walk with me. All the night your love surrounds me.

To the glory of your name I lift up my hands, I sing your praise.

I will never be afraid, for I will not be abandoned.

Even though the road grows long and weary, your love will rescue me.

3rd Sunday in Lent

March 19, 2017 ~ Queen of Peace Catholic Community

Exodus: 17:3-7~ In those days, in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses

Psalm 95 ~ If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts

Romans 5:1-8 ~ And hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

QUEEN OF PEACE CATHOLIC COMMUNITY ~ CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK ~ Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them saying, “Blessed are…” nine times.

Jesus was a Teacher, not a trainer. A true teacher teaches in a way so that the student (or disciple) becomes an equal. Jesus, the Teacher, does not want to be our Master, but he does want to be our Friend and Beloved.

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Today we heard the introduction of the Sermon on the Mount. This is at the very beginning of his Mission. His Mission is to teach us all about the Kingdom of Heaven. He is attempting to give us the rules, just like we have rules of conduct in school, work and growing up in a family.

What kind of rules do we have growing up in a family? Yes… clean your room, say “please” and “thank you”, go to bed a certain time, eat your vegetables (not just M & M’s), take out the garbage, do your homework, go to church, say your prayers. When we are kids, if we rebel against these duties, there are consequences. As an adult, we have the freedom not to follow through with these rules, but the consequences might be more grave and could rob us of a peaceful and productive life.

A thousand years before Jesus, God gave us the Ten Commandments through Moses. They tell us to love and obey God, our parents and our neighbors. We are to rest and worship with God one day a week. We don’t kill, cheat, steal, lie or become envious and greedy. This Gospel passage today is like the first day of catholic school. Jesus is going to teach us much more than rules, which can be challenging by themselves. If we don’t learn these beatitudes, there are grave consequences like remaining slaves rather than children of God or never finding the Kingdom of Heaven.

When our minds are developing, they work more like a puppy that needs to be trained or disciplined (discipled). If I train my puppy to be mean, what does it grow up to be? Yes, a mean dog. Does it have a choice? No, of course not. Can the dog say to itself, “I don’t feel like being mean anymore.”? That is why rules for dogs are so important when they are young. That is why rules for children and teenagers are so important when we are young. But here is the difference. We don’t just learn rules growing up. We have to learn how to think and grow in faith. We need to master the gifts of the Holy Spirit like wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

When Jesus goes on to finish teaching the crowd, the Gospel writer tells us, “When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

Jesus is the best teacher we will ever find. Our catholic schools allow the Jesus in our teachers, parents and guardians to connect with the Jesus in every student. Once we learn the basic commandments, the goal of catholic schools is to become disciples and teachers. Let us all grow in wisdom, faith and love.

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1st Reading: Prophet Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13

Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth, who have observed his law; seek justice, seek humility;

Psalm 146

Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs!

2nd Reading: St. Paul to the Corinthians 1:26-31

God chose the foolish… the weak, the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing..

Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12

Blessed are…, for they…

Teaching, Preaching, Curing

3rd Week Ordinary Time, January 2017

Matthew 4:12-2 ~ When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee… Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”… He called them and they immediately left their boat…and followed him… Jesus went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

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Two brothers were discussing their future goals after Sunday school one day. The first said he wanted to be rich and famous. The second said he wanted to follow Jesus to the fullest. The second went on to reach his goal. His name was David Livingstone, the renowned medical missionary and explorer of Africa. The first went on to be rich, but his fame came from another. His tombstone reads, “Here lies the brother of Doctor David Livingstone.”

Jesus was on a mission to teach us about a God of mercy, love and compassion who happens to be his Father. Jesus, walking along, met Peter and Andrew, James and John after they had just finished their hard days work as professional fishermen. What happened to their nets and boats? What was so compelling about Jesus that they’d leave without concern for the details that had preoccupied their lives and gave them a sense of security?

Clearly there was something magnetic, even contagious about Jesus that caused people to forget the important and unimportant-the boats and the nets—and all the things that distract us everyday to follow him. There was something about Jesus that compelled people to connect with our God who they had heard of, often spoken of and who drew them toward goodness.

We might say it’s no problem connecting with Jesus, he was a healer of both external and internal wounds, he was exemplary, he put his life on the line for his friends. Our problem is more about connecting with God’s people. Maybe that’s because God’s people don’t represent Jesus very well in the world today. God’s people don’t practice what Jesus preached. We need to connect, though, because God’s fullness is not revealed in any one of us; but when we connect with one another we manifest God’s goodness.

“Repent, (metanoia, change course), the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” What John and now Jesus is saying is that repenting or changing course is essential to entering heaven. To follow Jesus is a drastic change of life goals or plans. Before the brothers could teach, preach and heal people, they had to first change course. They had to learn to fish in a different way. It was like learning to drive in one of those countries that drive on the other side of the street. It was like learning to write with the other hand. It was like learning to speak a new language or breaking an addiction or a toxic relationship. It could also be like trying to learn to speak after suffering a stroke. In reality it is all of these. It sounds impossible, but nothing is impossible with God.

Even Simon had to let go of his name and pick up a new name Peter. Once we repent, the hard work begins. So often, people go back to their old ways because the internal emotions are too uncomfortable.

Before we can go out and proclaim the good news or heal the sick, Jesus must first call us. Then we must listen to his teaching. Then and only then does Jesus send us out two by two. An isolated Christian is a dead Christian.

This Gospel passage is from the 4th chapter of St. Matthew’s account. The Gospel passages we hear in the following five weeks are critical if we wish to reach our goals in life. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 speak of the goodness and expectations of God. This is what he was teaching in the synagogues. This is what Jesus was proclaiming as Good News. This is where his authority to cure every disease and illness comes from.

I am going to go out on a limb and assign some homework this week. It only takes about 5 or 10 minutes to read, but it will probably take you a lifetime to learn. I am still learning! What would it be like to hear Jesus as he went to all the synagogues? Read and pray these chapters out loud a couple times this week if not daily. You will most likely recognize many of the teachings which all boil down to “love God and love neighbor” with no exceptions. However, to apply these teachings will be a true metanoia experience, but don’t be afraid, you are in good company. Mark Twain once said: “Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture which they cannot understand; but as for me, I have always noticed that the passages in Scripture which trouble me the most are those which I do understand.”

It may be important to invoke the Holy Spirit. “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. Enkindle in us the fire of your love… O God who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructs the hearts of your faithful, grant that by that same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in your consolation forever.”

Jesus is longing to go to the ends of the world, teaching the mercy of God, preaching the kingdom of heaven, and curing every disease and illness. All he needs is your body, soul and fire… and your change of direction.

Lord, when you came to the seashore
You weren’t looking for the rich nor the wise,
But only asking that I might follow
O Lord, with your eyes set upon me
Gently smiling, you have spoken my name
Close to you, I will find other shores
Lord, you knew what my boat carried
neither money nor weapons for fighting,
but nets for fishing my daily labor

(PESCADOR DES HOMBRES  by Cesareo Gabarain)

We could connect with others and follow Jesus toward God, toward pleasing God, by seeing the Sacred in others. The Holy Spirit unites us with the Divine and offers the only route to Good News in this world.

Jeff McGowan and I worked together on this homily.

Have a blessed and holy week. Pray and journal about Matthew 5, 6, and 7 and see how Jesus calls your from your boat. You might even walk a few steps on water!

Christmas Meditation

Holy is God’s name

My Soul bursts with love for the Living God

Morning pause, morning chill

Warmth in my heart, helping to warm the morning

Rejoice, Rejoice

Children and Lovers of God

Sun splashes the top branches and houses

Birds greet the morning, warming the sound.

 

“The Beloved has exalted me by a gift so great,

so unheard of,

that language is useless to describe it,

and the depths of love in my heart can scarcely grasp it.

I offer then all the powers of my soul in praise and thanksgiving.

As I joyfully surrender my whole life, my senses, my judgment…

for my spirit rejoices in the eternal Godhead (Beloved) of that JESUS, that SAVIOR, whom I have conceived in this world of time.”

(Mother Mary through Venerable Bede, priest)

Thank You God, my Father, my Mother, my Lover for the Gift of your wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, reverence, courage and wonder/awe…

Truly the best Christmas ever!

 

So for Christmas, God has prepared a gift for the World, You and Me.

God has wrapped us in swaddling clothes after Baptism in water and fire.

We are confirmed in the Holy Spirit and sent as Good News to the world.

The Spirit of the Beloved is upon us because Our Beloved God has anointed us to bring Good News to the Poor.   God is sending us from this Christ-Mass (Chrism Mass)

to proclaim liberty to captives (emotionally, economically, psychologically, physically), recovery of sight to the blind (especially inward and of the soul),

to let the oppressed go free,

and a Year (of mercy and love) acceptable to the Beloved God.

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Do Not Be Afraid ~ 19th Sunday

Jesus said to his disciples: Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.                          St. Luke 12:32-40

IMG_1736Jesus says it over and over, “Do not be afraid.”

Let us ask the question: “What am I afraid of?”

Jesus shares with us that if we open the door immediately when the Master knocks, he will have us recline at table and then wash our feet, and then proceed to wait on us. What could we possibly be afraid of?

God was knocking on Penny’s door. She volunteered to go to Kalighat, a home for the dying run by Mother Teresa’s sisters, for the first time. I suppose she was intrigued by the love of the Missionaries of Charity. It was terribly traumatic for Penny—being a beauty therapist, she was used to everything being all nice and spick-and-span, smelling nice, so it was quite a shock. I am sure many of you can relate to this when you volunteered for mission work in a place like Haiti or Catholic Heart work camp. Or maybe the first time your first child had diarrhea. When I began volunteering as a retreat director for Ministries of Disabilities, the drooling, physical suffering, and people who violated my boundaries raised my anxieties. I had whopping headaches and emotional paralysis.

When one of the sisters asked Penny to wash this woman she just thought, ‘There’s no way. I just couldn’t.’ So the sister said, ‘All right, come with me,’ and she picked up this little bundle of bones, because that’s what this lady was, and took her into the bathroom. Even now it makes her cry—there wasn’t a lot of light in the room and she was absolutely catatonic. Then all of a sudden the whole room just lit up! One minute she was saying ‘I just can’t’ and the next she realized, ‘Of course, I could.’IMG_2740

Throughout our lives, especially those here at Queen of Peace, we have worked among the poorest of poor, people with severe mental and physical disabilities, social injustice, Marines, sailors, soldiers and families torn apart by IED’s and shrapnel to the soul. Whenever we tell God there is something we just can’t do, like shave a man who does not have use of his arms, comfort the grieving, embrace a person with AIDS, tell a person we love them just before they will die, or work with schizophrenics or drug addicts… God seems to knock on the door of our terrified hearts. Then all of a sudden, light floods our darkness. We no longer label people as a diagnosis; we see the whole person light up. One minute we are saying, “I just can’t” and the next we realize, “Of course, we can!”

God doesn’t ask us to do things he isn’t already doing.

God is hoping that we do small things with great love.

God is hoping to find us ready when he knocks.

And then Our Father will welcome us home, wash our feet and invite us to dine with him and Our Family.

When God asks us to step out of our comfort zone and we do it,

we are always better for the experience.

Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.

Now that is Good News we can treasure.

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Mission Statement of Queen of Peace

As Christians we receive God’s gifts gratefully,

cultivate them responsibly,

share them lovingly in justice with others,

and return them with increase to the Lord.DSCF0893

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Hostility to Hospitality

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ Hostility to Hospitality

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Luke 10:38-42

DSCF9030Hostility needs to transform into Hospitality. How often do we bring in a third party to solve our conflicts rather than working out our troubles with love, hospitality and understanding?

Martha had a valid complaint and concern for her sister Mary. Women of that time just didn’t do that kind of behavior. It is similar to how Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow women to drive a car even today. And yet some bold women have done just that. And they paid a terrible price. Remember the excuses men gave for women not being able to vote. Many paid a terrible price.

Mary was responding with her heart first. If she hears Jesus with her heart, she will later respond with her hands.

In our very turbulent and wounded world, the emotional response only heightens the anxiety. Martha was really anxious. Has anyone here been anxious about terror, violence, economics, relationships, teenagers or politics? Martha really wanted to sit and listen to Jesus, but she was programmed otherwise. It wasn’t Mary’s problem; it was Martha’s problem. Martha invited Jesus to her house (unusual for a woman) with joy. She believed she was going to be a great sacristan, Eucharistic Minister, altar server or lector or usher. But Jesus wanted to engage Martha’s mind and heart in the same way he connected with Mary, her sister. The Scriptures emphasize how Jesus loved these sisters very much.

Has this ever happened to you? Your generosity and hospitality turned to hostility? I know I have been caught. “Ron, Ron, you are anxious and upset about many things.” It is very hard not to get anxious these days. Psychologically, we know that if anxieties rise like in tragedies, conflict, atrocities or deadlines… thinking decreases dramatically and decisions are made with our emotions and reactivity.

I dunno. I wonder if Martha invited her sister Mary into her quiet space after Jesus left. “What did he say?” “How did you take it in?” “Did he like my matzo balls and leftover lamb?” If they had any conflict or hostility toward each other, it probably transformed into hospitality.

Jesus personally invites each of us to this Eucharistic celebration today. Some of us became the feet, hands, voice and heart of Jesus. His hospitality is outstanding, but his Word is divine! We welcome people through the penitential cleansing and baptism. We serve the Word as lectors. We are busy with live entertainment and musicians. We are stewards of our time, talent, treasures, AC, electricity and nutritious donuts. We experience the most incredible bread and wine transformed into Jesus’ Body, Blood and Soul. All are welcome. This is a 7 Star restaurant!

After the banquet we go home, but not alone.

The Mass truly never ends. We take it with us.

Martha did eventually listen to Jesus when death and tragedy struck her home. Martha begged Jesus to come and heal her brother who was quite ill. Jesus couldn’t make it to her home until her brother was four days in the tomb. This time it was Martha who first threw herself at the feet of Jesus. “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask of God will be granted.” Jesus replied, “Martha, your brother will rise.” She replied, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus then caught her attention again. He broke through her anxieties. “Martha, Beloved Martha, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, even if he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha’s tears dried up and I imagine she looked Jesus in the eyes. “Yes Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” John 11:17-27

Amazingly, Martha leaves Jesus there and calls her sister secretly saying, “The Teacher is here and asking for you.” These sisters truly love each other with no grudges. In all of the Scriptures, Martha is the only woman called twice by name. She joins, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, and Saul now Paul. And let us not forget the 7th call from the Son on his Cross. My God, My God…

Love

Insignificant…Not!

Martha received Jesus in her home. She then took Jesus with her. Or did Jesus take her with him?   When we leave today from this Eucharistic Banquet, we will welcome Jesus into the home of our hearts. Then we will hopefully discover that we are the ones invited to our own home where Jesus is reclining. We listen first like Mary and then we serve like Martha and Jesus. Remember that during the Last Supper, Jesus got up and washed his disciples’ feet. Let us do the same.

First love with your heart, then love with your hands.

This is what it means to love God, self and neighbor equally with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength and with all your mind.

And if we are going to live for all eternity, what stops us from living eternity today? All we need to do is welcome him into our homes. Don’t be anxious nor afraid.   Jesus wants us to know that he will be with us always as reflected in this song:

You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid. I go before you always.
Come follow me, and I will give you rest.

If you pass through raging waters in the sea, you shall not drown.
If you walk amid the burning flames, you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the pow’r of hell and death is at your side, know that
I am with you through it all.

Song by John Michael Talbot
Bravo-Surgical

Let us pray for the people throughout the world subjected to terror.

People in places like Africa have been suffering for years. They too are neighbors.

Let us respond to terrorism with love and non-violence. Reactivity only leads to reactivity.

Remember what He said to you…

Easter- 2016 ~ Luke 24:1-12 ~ At daybreak on the first day of the week, the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them (Moses & Elijah of Transfiguration?). They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.” And they remembered his words. Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others.

The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James (Peter, John and James in Transfiguration); the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.

DSCF4128 I am amazed and humbled that with two phenomenal preachers here at Queen of Peace, I was asked to preach today like a third string quarterback. O well, pray for me!

We remember.

We celebrate.

We believe.

Jesus, we remember how you washed our feet. In his homily on Holy Thursday, Father Jeff helped us understand that it is you, Jesus, who consecrates and breaks the bread, feed our souls, baptizes and anoint us. You heal us so often even when we complain that we can’t find you.

Even though Jesus walked with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, they didn’t recognize him because they were too caught up in their own terror, fear and anxieties.

Their hopes were not as big as God’s hopes and dreams for them. But Jesus was patient and asked the two to remember all the way to their dinner table. They celebrated and believed when he said the blessing and broke the bread. Another miracle of Easter is that the men finally believed the women.

Though we don’t always recognize Jesus present in our sufferings and distractions, we do believe he is with us at this moment and for all eternity. In fact, Jesus can’t imagine heaven without every one of us today! We have trouble accepting such a magnificent love. Too often, we seek the living one among the dead.

The living one is seeking us today.

Jesus, we celebrate the breaking of your body and the water and blood that flowed from your side. When we are terrorized by hatred, unfaithfulness and betrayal, you show us how to love. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” and “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Your sacrificial love is our only hope to end all wars, hatred and fear. Yes, it was a truly Good Friday.

Jesus, we celebrate how you eat and drink with us every time we come to Eucharist. “Lord, I am not worthy for you to enter into my body, but only say the Word, and my soul will be healed.

Here a million wounded souls, are yearning just to touch you and be healed.Gather all your people, and hold them to your heart.

We remember how You loved us to the end.

And still we celebrate, for you are with us here;

and we believe that we will see you when you come in glory, Lord.

We remember. We Celebrate. We believe.   (Song by Marty Haugen, 1980)

The key to Easter is that God loves us and wants to spend time with all of us. (Lots of time and for all of eternity).

It isn’t so much that we are seeking God, but God is seeking us.

It is through the birthing pains of our faith, the way of the Cross, that we understand this. When we encounter the empty tombs, keep searching. We must seek more diligently than the kids who will be seeking those Easter eggs in a few minutes, which might seem like hours to them. It is not an easy task, but with love of God and one another in our hearts… Jesus walks with us this Easter Morning today… even before we find him or recognize Him. He is alive with us… TODAY!

We remember his words.

We celebrate his love and mercy.

We believe how much God loves all of us… no exceptions.

He is Risen! Halleluiah!

WOW!

Let us raise our voices with Father Kaz.

Discover the Risen Christ, the Beloved, as we sing our Easter Joy with Hallelujahs…

The Woman gets Alone Time with Jesus

5th Sunday of Lent – March, 2016

Isaiah 43:16-21 ~ “In the desert I make a way,… for I put water in the desert and rivers in the wasteland for my chosen people to drink, the people whom I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise.”

Psalm 126 ~ The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy

Philippians 3:8-14 ~ Brothers and sisters: I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and Beloved. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…

John 8:1-11 ~ Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.

And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

 

Finally

If anyone threw a stone in their arrogance, Jesus would protect her.

There is a growing time bomb beneath the soul of human kind.

The last century has been an accumulation of nuclear and hydrogen bombs and weapons. Polarization just like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ time is taking place. Jesus was the scapegoat then, now it is the nasty opinions and anger. Automatic weapons and a plethora of guns keep stockpiling.

This is just like the Israelite community after “escaping” Egypt with Moses and Aaron.

No water.

No food.

A desert.

Grumble…Grumble…Grumble

God is bringing us Home forever.

We complain about the transport!!

We in the United States are

Blessed for no other reason:

IN GOD WE TRUST

Not everyone has to agree with us.

We can still love those with differing opinions…pray for them.

We have unheard of freedoms,

Speech

Religion

Rights

Food (freedom from hunger)

Wealth and safe water

Even crumbling infrastructure that still works

Ability to travel anywhere in the world safely

Citizenship and

Immigrants from every country in the world

The rest of the world is jealous… Can we blame them?

We can wake up in the morning and choose to walk with Jesus,

The creator of the world…

Of what could we be afraid?

Though you are homeless

Though you’re alone

I will bring you home

Home to your own place

In a beautiful land

I will bring you home

 

I will be your home

I will be your home

In this feared and fallen world,

I will be you home.

 

Whatever’s the matter

Whatever’s been done,

I will be your home…

                  (Song composed by Michael Card)

 

For all that happened to the poor woman dragged in front of Jesus,

She gets alone time with Jesus…

Are we jealous of her?

Such intimacy

Such love

Such mercy

She is my nomination for the Supreme Court justice…

Very, very liberal in Mercy!

O to Good News!!!

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Put out into the deep and trust Jesus!