29 Jul

Jesus and the Father Are One

Dear Parishioners,

Poor Philip.  He must have felt like Jesus was picking on him.  Why couldn't Jesus have looked to someone, anyone else for this dilemma?  Why was Philip singled out? 

"When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, 'Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?' He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do" (Jn 6:5-6).

22 Jul

The Routine of Love

Do you have daily routines that ground you in something you consider important?  A ritual of sorts that makes you recall your motivating factor or your original desire for something or someone?  I, for instance, try each morning as soon as I wake up to make a sign of the cross and then nod in the direction of the only picture I have in my bedroom: that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  It reminds me of why I am a priest: because I love Jesus Christ more than anything in the world. 

22 Jul

Please Pray for Priests, the Good Shepherds

Dear Parishioners,

Jeremiah was a prophet in Ancient Israel when Babylon destroyed Israel.  He was a shepherd trying to help his confused flock.  Unfortunately, there were fake shepherds competing with him: bad influences who led the people astray.  "Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture" (Jer 23:1).

When Jesus Christ came around 600 years later, there were no shepherds, good or bad.  "When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things" (Mk 6:34).

Are there shepherds 2000 years later?  Yes.  They are the Catholic priests. 

15 Jul

Little Li

Little Li grew up in communist China in the 1950s. Taught by nuns in her local parochial school, the ten-year-old once asked the nuns why Jesus didn't instead say, "Give us this day our daily rice?" One day communist soldiers came into the village and, after ransacking the school, ordered everyone into the church.  The commandant blasphemed Christ and had his soldiers fire at the tabernacle.  He then proceeded to take the ciborium out of the broken door and fling all the consecrated hosts over the church.  After locking Father Luke, the pastor, inside a coal bin in the church, he threatened that anyone who went into the church would be shot. 

15 Jul

The Twelve Apostles

Dear Parishioners,

 

The Twelve must have felt a mix of fear and exhilaration.  Here they are, relatively new to Jesus and his mission, sent out to preach repentance, drive out demons, and anoint those who were sick (cf. Mark 6: 7-13). This is quite a tall order.  It would be difficult for someone who knew the faith inside and out and had a great experience of ministry from which to draw.  Yet the apostles barely know Christ and are still very uninformed about his message.  We can be certain the apostles were nervous, to say the least.  Would they be able to answer questions?  Would they know what they were doing?  Would they make mistakes?

 

08 Jul

The Balanced Community

Some people crave privacy, others the company of others.  Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor who spent three years in Nazi concentration camps, yearned for solitude.  Crowded in barracks and observed constantly by guards, prisoners were never alone.  Frankl wrote:  "It is well known that an enforced community life, in which attention is paid to everything one does at all times, may result in an irresistible urge to get away, at least for a short while. The prisoner craved to be alone with himself and his thoughts." (Man's Search for Meaning, 61). 

08 Jul

Doing Good Can Be A Fight

Dear Parishioners,

Things weren't always easy for Jesus.  We know this.  We are familiar with all of our Lord's struggles in the Gospel, culminating in his crucifixion. The Pharisees argued with him, the crowds tried to stone him and throw him off a cliff, his apostles didn't understand him and left and betrayed him, his family thought he was out of his mind, and his hometown rejected him.  This last one is from our Gospel this Sunday (cf. Mk 6:1-6).  "Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house'."

Doing good can be a fight.  We live in a fallen world.  The world resists goodness.

01 Jul

Why God, why?

Dear Parishioners,

“God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living” (Wis 1:13). Read that line again from our first reading. God did not make death. Death and suffering and evil are not from God.

This is such a crucial understanding. There is death and suffering and evil in the world. We can be tempted to blame God for this and reject him. Why did God give my loved one cancer? Why did God cause these hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, forest fires, etc? Why doesn't God do something about these school shootings?

The problem of reconciling evil with God's existence has been around forever. We are not new in trying to grapple with it. In fact, it's so common to muse on the problem that the issue has a name. It's called theodicy. Theodicy is trying to figure out how evil in the world fits in with God.

01 Jul

The Best and the Brightest

The Best and the Brightest is the title of David Halberstam's 1972 book chronicling the Kennedy administration. I keep it on my shelf and look at it whenever my ego inflates and I feel smart.  The title is satirical. Characters like McGeorge Bundy, Dean Rusk, and Robert McNamara, who composed JFK's cabinet and staff, were part of the intellectual elite.  They were Ivy-League graduates, PhDs, Rhodes Scholars, and successful CEOs. 

24 Jun

Happy Birthday, Saint John the Baptist!

Dear Parishioners,

We don't typically celebrate a saint's birthday in the church. We usually celebrate the day of his or her death. Most feast days are when we think the particular saint died or was martyred. Birthday celebrations are reserved for Jesus (Christmas) and Mary (September 8th).

And for Saint John the Baptist.

Yes, today, June 24th, the Church celebrates the “Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist.” Even though it falls on a Sunday this year, we still celebrate it. As if it were Christmas, the Baptist's Birthday trumps the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, which would have been this weekend.

We do indeed celebrate John's death (August 29th), but so important is John the Baptist that we also celebrate his birth. He is one of the few saints who receive multiple feast days: Joseph, Peter, Paul, and Mary.

John the Baptist's birth is six months after the birth of his cousin, Jesus Christ. Christ's birthday is around the winter solstice, when days begin to grow longer. The Baptist's birthday is around the summer solstice, when days begin to grow shorter. “He must increase, I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).