Saturday, June 28, 2014

06-29-2014 -- Saints Peter and Paul, Year A

June 29, 2014 - Saints Peter and Paul, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Today we celebrate this double commemoration of Saints Peter and Paul. They each played a significant role in the foundation of the ancient Church in Rome over 2000 years ago.

They are faithful rocks upon which our church is built. Both were called by the Lord to proclaim the Word of God, to bring the Gospel message to the ends of the earth.

Jesus called Peter to be the chief shepherd among shepherds, the first among the Apostles, the leader of the church.

Jesus called Peter to make a three-fold declaration of love to make up for his three-fold denial. “Peter, do you love me? Feed my sheep.”

This declaration brought with it the task of shepherding the flock entrusted to his care.

Jesus called Paul to conversion. This Jewish leader had persecuted the early Christians ruthlessly. But Jesus called him to love the very people he had persecuted.

Jesus called Paul to go to the ends of the ancient world to proclaim the Good News.

Both men loved Jesus so much that they gave their lives as martyrs in Rome. Paul was beheaded and Peter was crucified.

Now, here’s something that might surprise you. Peter and Paul were not alike. They were very different. They had different personalities and different preaching styles.

Peter was a fisherman from the Sea of Galilee and Paul was a Greek-educated intellectual.

In spite of their differences, Jesus brought them together to build the church. They had a unity that transcended all their differences.

They didn’t always agree but they always worked together to build up the church in Rome and the church throughout the ancient world.

They each brought to the community of faith their own unique gifts of style and mission.

We look to them as examples for us. We, too, are called to bring our own unique gifts and talents to the Lord. We, too, are called to work to build up the church.

Here are just a few ideas of simple things we can do:

  • Take an interest in other people, reach out in love to the sick, the needy, the lonely
  • Become a mentor by volunteering to help with our religious education program which is in the process of being revamped
  • Support a charity, giving to one who can do nothing in return
  • Take an interest in this church parish, offer to help in whatever way you can
  • Smile at people when you come to church, greet others making them feel welcome
  • Seek holiness through prayer, but don’t forget that prayer without good deeds is totally lifeless

So on this great feast commemorating Peter and Paul, let us rejoice that Jesus still calls people to serve and to care for God’s holy people.

And let us give thanks that some who are called still respond generously to that call by giving of themselves in service to God and our Church.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

06-22-2014 -- The Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Year A

June 22, 2014 - Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

In our not too distant past the focus of this feast of Corpus Christi was celebrated with Eucharistic processions, and Benediction and public displays of reverence.

In recent times there has been a decline in such practices.
And many people feel that this is the result of our secular lifestyles. Maybe that’s true.

But there may be another reason too. Today we focus more on the real presence of Jesus in the congregation, Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ.

Referring not only to the consecrated bread and wine,
but to the whole people of God, the Church, the community of faith. We are the Body of Christ.

The reason that Jesus gives his body in the Eucharist is so that we might become the Body of Christ in our world.

There was an Archbishop in Portland. He was a very good and holy Archbishop.

There was a particular Catholic High School in his Archdiocese that he was very fond of.

The students considered him to be their Archbishop. He would often celebrate mass for them and they loved him.

When the Archbishop became sick he needed many blood transfusions to save his life. His students came to his rescue.

Those who were old enough donated blood themselves, and the others rounded up parents, relatives and friends.

After receiving much of that blood, the Archbishop was well enough to say mass for his students.

He said to them, “Today you have given me a new understanding of the Eucharist. Though I have spoken about the Eucharist all my life but your act of kindness has been the most valuable lesson I have learned.

“Today I stand here with you because I have your blood running through my veins.

“And so now I understand in a new way what Jesus meant when he said, ‘This is my body given for you. This is my blood poured out for you.’”

His students had given their blood for his life. And they learned that as Jesus nourishes us with his body and blood in the Eucharist, we are called to nourish one another with our body and blood.

By assembling here we have placed ourselves at the service of Jesus that he might, by his very presence, bend our lives and our talents into the service of the Kingdom of God.

Because the loaf we share is one bread and the cup we share is one cup, we form one body, Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ.

We still have Eucharistic processions because they are a part of our rich Catholic heritage.

We are having one here in Saint Martinville this (Sunday) afternoon at 3 PM beginning at the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows at the Community of Jesus Crucified.

Those who cannot be part of the procession are invited to be here at the same time for a holy hour. See the bulletin for more information.

Even if you are not going to be part of that Eucharistic procession, there is going to be another Eucharistic procession today.

It will include all of us, as we make our way out into the world, carrying within us the real presence of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

06-15-2014 -- The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year A

June 15, 2014 - Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

We all have a deep-seated need for companionship.
I suspect it’s one of our greatest human needs.

To be a whole person we need to be in union with someone or something greater than ourselves. We need to be in relationship.

Without companionship our spirits would probably die from loneliness.

Think for a moment about the most satisfying times of your life.

I’m pretty sure that they are moments like these:

When you sat on your mother’s or grandmother’s lap.

When you felt like someone loved you unconditionally.

When you were held or hugged or embraced by someone special.

When you felt affirmed, when someone made you feel special.

When you sat in the silent presence of someone who you love.

We are in desperate need of companionship, of the loving touch of another. Our hearts are made for one another and for God.

That’s why rejection is such a deep hurt, because we need to be connected, to be accepted, to be loved, to be in relationship.

Our best moments are when this union occurs. Our worst moments are when this union is absent.

Why? Why is this so? The answer is simply and profoundly found in today’s feast of the Holy Trinity.

But the Trinity is such a mystery; so, we look to Jesus to help us understand it.

When Jesus explains God, he uses the language of love.
There is a bond of love that binds God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

They are bound together with tenderness and compassion and perfect love.

Jesus explains that God is not motivated by condemnation. God has no desire to punish the wicked. God is motivated out of love.

God gave his only Son to us because he loves the world he created. God did not send his Son in to the world to condemn the word, but to give life, to save us.

And we are made in the image and likeness of God, which means we share this bond of love, this holy communion.

The companionship of Father and Son and Spirit is a wonderful and awesome thing that is part of us.

How many times do we see God in holy communion with his people?

God walks with Adam and Eve in the garden.

God visits Abraham at his tent and announces that his wife Sarah, who is barren, will give birth.

God journeys with the Israelites through the desert for 40 years in a cloud of fire.

In the first reading today, God visits Moses on Mt Sinai and Moses invites the Almighty to walk with him at the start of the long pilgrimage to the promised land.

Why would God want the companionship of imperfect human beings? I don’t know.

But what I do know is that our God chooses to be in relationship with us. Maybe it’s because God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.

Our feast of the Holy Trinity celebrates this communion of relationships.

God is love. And God so loved the world that he have his only Son that the world might be saved.

Because we were created in the image and likeness of God, we are most like God when we are in love, when we give and receive love.

Every striving of our souls is for love. Every outreach for companionship, every urge for a hug or an embrace, every act of self-giving is a testimony to the Holy Trinity at work in our world.

All around us we experience the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit begging us to love and to be loved.

We all have a deep-seated need for companionship.

It is a need that comes from the fact that we are called to become more like the Holy Trinity.

Remember those times when you felt most loved? When you were most content, most affirmed, most loved?

It is at those very times that we have our deepest and most profound experience of God in our lives…

a Holy Trinity of Father and Son and Spirit who love us with an all-powerful, steadfast love that never ends, that never fails, a love that endures forever.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

06-08-2014 -- Pentecost Sunday, Year A

June 08, 2014 - Pentecost Sunday, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

When our Gospel begins, we find the disciples behind locked doors in the upper room because they are afraid.

Fear makes us do this. Hide and lock ourselves away. Where have we seen this before?

Adam and Eve in the garden, after they eat the fruit they’ve been told not to touch, are now afraid. So, they hide themselves. But God goes through the garden to find them.

And Jesus passes through those locked door to stand in their midst, bringing them peace.

This peace is meant to calm their fears and free them from hiding so that they can go out into the world and do the work he called them to.

Last week, we learned that we can’t just stand around waiting, but that we are called to be a Church that helps those in need, a Church that loves the unlovable, a Church called to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world.

Jesus understands that this is daunting. Jesus knows that it can be scary and that the fear of doing the things we’ve been called to do can sometimes paralyze us into doing nothing at all.

And so, just as Jesus did for the disciples in the locked room, he comes and stands in our midst and says, “Peace be with you.”

And Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on each one of us so that we can be empowered, so that we can be people of courage rather than fear.

The Holy Spirit of God empowers us to be disciples who are not afraid to love those others might choose to avoid:
  • the immigrant laborer
  • the unwed mother
  • the drug-addicted young adult
  • the spouse struggling with depression
  • the gay teenager
  • the disabled veteran
  • the frazzled store clerk
  • the person who tests the patience of everyone else

Every one of us has, by virtue of our baptism and confirmation, been given the gift of the same Holy Spirit that Jesus breathed on his disciples.

Every one of us has access to the same peace and courage that the Spirit offers.

But sometimes we forget and the Church knows that.

So, each year, we are given this Feast of Pentecost so that we can remember the incredible gifts that God has poured out upon us.

Today is the day when we celebrate that we no longer have to be afraid.

We celebrate that even though we were once in darkness, hidden away behind locked doors, we have a God who breaks through those unlocked doors.

We have a God who brings us out of darkness into the light with abundant peace so that we do not ever have to be afraid again.

What does that peace and freedom and courage look like among Jesus’ disciples today?
We show forth the gifts of the Holy Spirit when we no longer act out of fear.

When we don’t let fear keep us from growing into the saints we are called to be.

When we aren’t afraid to love in abundance because the Spirit shows us that an abundance of love can only produce more love.

When we do not allow fear of the unknown to keep us from change, committing ourselves to doing the things necessary to be more present to those who are most important to us.

When we do not let fear keep us stuck in our addictions, allowing the Spirit to help us get rid of those things that threaten our relationship with Christ, addictions to alcohol or drugs, sex or pornography, our own anger, or social media.

When we do not allow fear to keep us from committing ourselves to take on tasks and responsibilities within the life of our church parish.

When we do not allow fear to keep us hidden such that we no longer seek God in the sacraments of reconciliation or the Eucharist.

On this Pentecost, we have the opportunity to ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with courage and strength to overcome our fears.

We ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with insight and wisdom so that we can make the best decisions about how to live our lives.

Jesus said, “Peace be with you.”
And he breathed on them and said, “receive the Holy Spirit.”

They received the Holy Spirit and stepped out from behind those locked doors.