Archive for the ‘Epiphany’ Category

God Within 1-6-2019

Sunday, January 6th, 2019

True story:
The congregation was very proud of their beautiful church, which had stood proudly on the village common for generations.
But, one night just before Thanksgiving, a spark in the heating system ignited a fire that destroyed the New England clapboard structure. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the congregation was devastated.
As soon as the fire marshal gave the all-clear, the stunned pastor and parishioners combed the rubble to salvage the few things they could.
Then, interesting things began to happen.
A nearby church — a congregation that the displaced parish had little to do with before — offered them the use of their religious education building for services and meetings for as long as they needed it. Churches from nearby towns offered hymnals and other supplies; several churches took up a special collection for the congregation.
At the first service following the fire, the congregation, who were used to sitting in their “own” places at a comfortable distance from one another, found themselves sitting side-by-side on folding chairs. After the service, teams started to form to deal with insurance issues, organize temporary arrangements for religious education and parish programs, and to sketch out first plans to rebuild. The pastor tapped the expertise of everyone in the parish to help — and everyone readily signed on. Parishioners who knew one another only by name, who had, until then, exchanged pleasant but perfunctory hellos on Sunday, were now working together to rebuild not just their beautiful building but the community they had taken for granted.
And, in their grief and loss that first Sunday morning in their temporary quarters, they prayed and sang in a way few had ever experienced before.
In the new journey they had begun as a church, they had rediscovered the God within.

The Epiphany of the Lord is a story about seeking and finding the God within, the God in our midst. As the magi undertakes a long and arduous journey by the light of the mysterious star to find the newborn king (encountering, among other things, a murderous tyrant along the way), the suddenly churchless parish rediscovers, in their coming together to deal with the catastrophe, the Spirit of God in their midst. The Epiphany challenges us to slow down and check our own bearings on our life’s journey, to focus on the “star” we should follow to make our lives all that God has created them to be, to fix our lives on the constant, eternal values of peace, compassion, mercy, justice, forgiveness that are the unmistakable signs of God within our hearts and homes.

I am Joseph your brother 1-7-2018

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

Some years ago the Catholic community of Chicago lost one of its
greatest leaders and ministers in Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.
Cardinal Bernardin will always be remembered for his great gifts
as a reconciler. In some of the Church’s most controversial and divisive
moments, he was able, in his humble, sensitive and compassionate way,
to earn the trust of liberal and conservative alike, to bring all sides
together, to keep everyone focused on the common call to be disciples of
Christ. A leader among America’s bishops, he steered the bishops’
conference through debates ranging from the Vietnam War to birth
control. When he was wrongly accused of sexual assault by a former
seminarian who later took back his story, Cardinal Bernardin did not
react with anger at the pain and humiliation he endured, but reached out
to his young accuser, forgiving him and praying for and with him. To
everyone in Chicago—Catholic and non-Catholic, believer and
nonbeliever—he would introduce himself simply as “I am Joseph, your
brother” Within 48 hours of learning he was dying of liver cancer, Cardinal
Bernardin shared his ordeal with the people of his archdiocese. He spent
much of the last year of his life personally ministering to people with
cancer—his “parish” of cancer patients and their families numbered over
700 people.
“Yes, I’m sacred,” he said, “but I’m a man of faith. I can look at
death in two ways: as an enemy or a friend. I choose to view it as a
friend. I know that there will be tears, but I am at peace…I have come
to believe in a new way that the Lord would walk with me through this
journey of illness.”
In his life, ministry and final days, Cardinal Bernardin approached
life as a journey to God and with God; reconciliation, compassion and
justice—the very things of God—were the “stars” that guided him.
Cardinal Bernardin, like the magi in today’s Gospel, is a model for us in
our own search for God. On this special Feast of Epiphany I believe we
are all challenged to slow down and check our own bearings on our life’s
journey. Are we headed in the right direction? What stars are guiding
us? I pray that we all will be guided by the stars that guided Joseph

Epiphany (I am Joseph your brother) 1-8-2017

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

Some years ago the Catholic community of Chicago lost one of its greatest leaders and ministers in Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.
Cardinal Bernardin will always be remembered for his great gifts as a reconciler. In some of the Church’s most controversial and divisive moments, he was able, in his humble, sensitive and compassionate way, to earn the trust of liberal and conservative alike, to bring all sides together, to keep everyone focused on the common call to be disciples of Christ. A leader among America’s bishops, he steered the bishops’ conference through debates ranging from the Vietnam War to birth control. When he was wrongly accused of sexual assault by a former seminarian who later took back his story, Cardinal Bernardin did not react with anger at the pain and humiliation he endured, but reached out to his young accuser, forgiving him and praying for and with him. To everyone in Chicago—Catholic and non-Catholic, believer and nonbeliever—he would introduce himself simply as “I am Joseph, your brother”.
Within 48 hours of learning he was dying of liver cancer, Cardinal Bernardin shared his ordeal with the people of his archdiocese. He spent much of the last year of his life personally ministering to people with cancer—his “parish” of cancer patients and their families numbered over 700 people.
“Yes, I’m sacred,” he said, “but I’m a man of faith. I can look at death in two ways: as an enemy or a friend. I choose to view it as a friend. I know that there will be tears, but I am at peace…I have come to believe in a new way that the Lord would walk with me through this journey of illness.”
In his life, ministry and final days, Cardinal Bernardin approached life as a journey to God and with God; reconciliation, compassion and justice—the very things of God—were the “stars” that guided him. Cardinal Bernardin, like the magi in today’s Gospel, is a model for us in our own search for God. On this special Feast of Epiphany I believe we are all challenged to slow down and check our own bearings on our life’s journey. Are we headed in the right direction? What stars are guiding us? I pray that we all will be guided by the stars that guided Joseph Bernardin. The stars of peace, compassion, mercy, justice and forgiveness are the unmistakable signs of God within our hearts.
Rest in Peace Joseph our brother.