Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category

Feast of the Ascension 5-24-2020

Sunday, May 24th, 2020

Jesus spent a good part of the night wrapping the packages. Each
had a carefully tied bow and a name tag attached. When his last earthly
task was completed, he packaged his bags and went to sleep for what
little time was left of the night.
The next morning he gathered his disciples around him in one of
his favorite garden spots. He surprised them by telling them he as
leaving them for good. They were shocked! There was no time to say
all they wanted to express. Even more, there was no time to figure out
what they would do without him. He resolved the latter by handing out
the gift packages, each with the instruction, “Do not open until after my
ascension.”
When the last gift was handed over, Jesus bade farewell and
disappeared into the clouds. When he arrived in heaven, God gave him
a welcoming hug and led Jesus to his room.
“Looks like you left them kind of bewildered down there”, God
said, glancing down at the outstretched necks “They’re a bit scared, but I had to leave sometime. The longer I
stayed, the longer I delayed them getting into action.”
“Do they know the meaning of your leaving? What they’re
supposed to be doing?”
“Sure, I gave them each a gift that would give them the clue.”
“Tell me what you gave them”, God urged.
“A mirror on a chain to be hung around their necks”.
“That’s supposed to be a clue to getting over you?”
“Absolutely”, Jesus insisted.
“How do you figure that?” God asked.
“Each time they ask one another, who’s going to feed the hungry,
visit the sick or help the lonely, they won’t see me, but the reflection of
themselves! Then they can get right to work!

God the Cheerleader 5-17-2020

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

Most people like to get gifts. In today’s Gospel Jesus says that
he’ll ask the Father and the Father will give us a gift, something called a
paraclete. You are now the proud owner of a paraclete. However,
sometimes you get a gift from a friend and you’re not sure of what it is,
even after you open it, one might rightly wonder (what this paraclete is).
Breaking the word down into its parts helps. “Paraclete” is a
Greek word and the “clete” part of it means to call out or yell. The
“para” means vigorously. So “paraclete” means to call out vigorously.
Now in some Bibles the word paraclete is translated into advocate or
consoler. Those words are good, but somewhat churchy and really not
earthy, the way that paraclete is in the original language. I think the
closest English word we have for paraclete is “cheerleader.”
If you’ve ever played on a basketball or football team, you
know that there’s such a thing as home field or court advantage – when
you are on your home turf and when the stands are full of your fans
cheering and screaming for you, you’re much more likely to play you best game and give it your best shot.
Today’s Gospel presents a stunning and delicious picture of God –
God the cheerleader. Your biggest fan, according to scripture, is God.
God shouting for you; God standing up and cheering when you do
something well; God going into agony when you fall into the mud or get
beaten; God calling and pushing onward; God telling you – you can do it
– God the cheerleader.
There’s an important difference between God the cheerleader and
human cheerleaders. When you and I are cheering for people form the
stands, we might get so caught up in the excitement of the game we wish
we could go right down there on the field and do something concrete to
help. When I’m at a 49’er game and the 49’ers are behind I sometimes
get carried away and would love a chance to stand next to whatever
quarterback they have and help him throw the football. Well, you and I
can’t do that, but God can. God does not remain an impassive observer
in the stands while you and I make our way through the game of life.
God gets so carried away that in a fit of enthusiasm he leaves the stands
and becomes a member of the team. That’s the mystery of Jesus – Jesus our brother, Jesus a member of the human race, Jesus walking with us
toward eternal life.
And as if that weren’t enough, Jesus says that he’s going to ask the
Father and we’ll be given still another paraclete, still another cheerleader
–the Holy Spirit, a little energy, something inside us that urges us on.
Imagine it! Three cheerleaders totally full of love and concern for you,
cheering you onward—God the Creator, cheering you from the distance,
calling you forward; God the Son, cheering you as your brother; walking
next to you; and God the Holy Spirit, cheering you from inside, kicking
you in the rear when you need it, pulling you, pushing you, tugging you,
congratulating you, forgiving you, telling you to keep on going and you
can do it.
And if we believe in this cheerleading God, there’s only one thing
for us to do – and that is to become cheerleaders ourselves. The vision
of Jesus is for husbands to cheer wives and wives to cheer husbands; for
old people to cheer young people and young people to cheer old people;
for single people to cheer their friends and friends to cheer single people; for parishioners to sometimes cheer their Pastor, for all of us to cheer each other and forgive each other and lift each other up into new
life.
I close. Today the scripture invites you to consider the delicious
picture of God the cheerleader, God who is your best fan, God who is
the one urging you onward. There are already enough boo s in this
world – that’s the voice of the world telling you, you can’t be any better,
you’re just you. You’re stuck in that rut and that’s it. The world telling
you to lie down and die. But stronger than the voice of the world, strong
enough to bounce from one side of the galaxy to the other, is the strong
and silent word of God coming to you from the Father, Son and Holy
Spirit. The voice of the cheerleader that says “You’re Terrific. I know
you can do it. Get up – you’ll make it. HALLELUJHA!!”

Living Tabernacles 5-10-2020

Sunday, May 10th, 2020

As I read the second reading today, some words stay with me.
“You too” (that means all of us). You too – are living stones built as an
edifice of spirit.
These words reminded me that we are the church – not this
fantastic building that many of you and others worked so hard to create.
This building is a very special place for the church to gather. We are
very different people, with different backgrounds, talents, personalities,
life experiences, and cultures. We are the church. Words we have heard
before. Fairly simple words, but they need to be said over and over
again. They need to be believed and lived.
I have been in some beautiful churches and cathedrals and have
found many of them cold and lifeless. I have been in a parish church
that was an old barn (their church building had burned down). In that
barn there was life, spirit, energy, variety and warmth. There was real
church because of the people – the living stones. When we come to this building that houses us the church – most of
us get very reverent. We genuflect, bow to the Blessed Sacrament in the
Tabernacle as a sign of our respect. I believe this is a good thing to do.
It is part of who we are. But my question to all of us as church
tonight/today is this.
How reverent are we, how respectful are we to the living
tabernacles right next to us? This tabernacle is made of some type of
metal. It holds for us Catholics the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus. I
believe and respect that, but I also believe that every human being is a
living flesh and blood container of God – a human tabernacle.
That person in our family that we find very difficult right now (you
know that person) has God in them. That person that drives everyone
crazy at school or work has God in them.
That person, who is homeless, who is from another country and
taking some of our jobs, who is dying of AIDS, whose values are totally
opposite of mine, has God living in them How respectful? How reverent are we to these living tabernacles –
these containers of God – that we rub elbows with everyday. A little
respect, a little reverence, can do some pretty powerful things.
A businessman in a hurry plunked down a dollar into the cup of a
man selling flowers and rapidly went his way. Half a block down the
street, he turned around and made his way back to the poor flower seller.
“I’m sorry,” he said picking out his favorite flower. “In my haste I
failed to make my purchase. After all, you are a businessman just like
myself. Your flowers are fairly priced and of good quality. I trust you
won’t be upset with my forgetting to pick out my purchase.” With that
he smiled and quickly went on his way again.
A few weeks later, while at lunch, a neatly dressed, handsome man
approached the businessman’s table and introduced himself. “I’m sure
you don’t remember me, and I don’t even know your name, but your
face I will never forget. You are the man who inspired me to make
something of myself. I was a vagrant selling flowers on a street corner
until you gave me back my self-respect and a sense of dignity. Now I believe I am a businessman, too.” A little respect, a little reverence for the living tabernacles all
around us can do some pretty powerful things