Saturday, August 25, 2018

8/26/18 -- 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Letter to Be Read at Mass, Aug. 25 and Aug. 26 by Order of the Most Reverend J. Douglas Doshotel, Bishop Diocese of Lafayette.

What has happened in our church is beyond belief, it is beyond comprehension. It is a failure of leadership at every level. For years and years popes and cardinals and bishops and priests have used a secret system to cover up child sex abuse by priests.

But this failure of leadership is nothing new. The prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament cries out woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my flock. 

Jesus says it would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble.

The media is now using the term predator priests. And yes those who used their positions of power and authority to sexually abuse children are predators, monsters really.

And that makes me embarrassed and ashamed because every priest is not a predator. Those of us who are good priests trying to do the right thing are just as devastated and dismayed and hurt as you are. 

Why do you think I don’t wear clerics. I stopped wearing them in public when the abuse cover up broke in Boston almost 20 years ago.

But the media would have you believe it’s only priests who are predators. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Statistics show that children are 100 times more likely to be sexually abused by someone in the public school system than by a Catholic priest. 

And for decades there have been more new cases reported annually in the protestant and non-Catholic churches than in the Catholic church in the United States.

Child abuse is not a Catholic problem. Child abuse is not an American problem. Child abuse is a global anthropological problem. 

Child trafficking. Child sexual abuse. Child labor camps. Child pornography. Child slavery. The statistics are staggering. To use and abuse those who are most vulnerable and impressionable is a horrific crime. To take away a child’s innocence is a terrible sin. 

In the gospel the people don’t want to hear about Jesus giving his flesh and blood as food and drink. Many are so disturbed that they simply walk away. 

To me that sounds very much like us today. People are leaving the church in droves. So we should ask ourselves will we also leave?

To whom should be go? To the Protestants? To the Evangelicals? The risk of abuse is still there, it’s everywhere. Wherever we go, we must be vigilant. But we cannot leave Jesus. Jesus is our only answer out of this mess.
I want to assure you that abuse and cover up is not happening here. All of our staff, all of our volunteers and myself, we are all background checked. We are all trained. And we are never alone with minor children. 

When our servers come into the sacristy before Mass the door is always open and unlocked and there are many adults coming and going. When our young children come for religion classes their parents must accompany them. 

And to those who are victims of sexaul abuse, I say to you we are so sorry for what has happened to you. It is a terrible tragedy. And you didn’t deserve it, but there is hope. There is healing. There is life. There are those of us out there who can help bring about that healing. 

But you have to seek us out and you have to be willing to do the work necessary to bring about that healing. We cannot live as victims wallowing on our own self pity. We must move forward.

People may ask us, will you also leave? Lord, we are embarrassed, ashamed, horrified, disgusted. Some of the reports leave us sick to our stomachs but Lord to whom shall we go?

Lord, you are our only way out of this mess. Lord, come quickly and help us.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

8/19/18 -- 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Recently someone said to me, “I wish I could do more for this community.” I reminded that person of what he is already doing and said that if everyone did their part the result would be amazing.

A couple approached me and said, “We’ve noticed that this isn’t getting done. We think it’s an eyesore and we want to volunteer to take care of it. Would that be okay?”

“Absolutely.”

When I take inventory of our volunteers here at Saint Martin de Tours, they number around 110 to 120. These volunteers give of themselves, some in small ways and some in big ways, all on a regular basis.

That’s about 10% of our regular church going congregation. 

Then, maybe another 50 or so folks volunteer somewhere out there in the community. That’s my best guess. Which means about 15% of us are giving back.

Where does that leave the other 85%? I know that there are people in this world who take and take and take and they do not give. But I would hope that wouldn’t be 85% of us.

This does seem to be the case with the people confronting Jesus in gospel. They take and take and take but they do not give.

Jesus gives. Jesus feeds them with 5 loave and 2 fish but they want more.

So Jesus gives them his flesh and blood to eat and drink. In other words, Jesus gives his very life, his very self. All that he has, he gives.

For what? We’re told right there in the gospel. For the life of the world. For the life of the world.

Saint Augustine tells us that we become what we receive Jesus. Here at the Eucharist we receive Jesus, his flesh and blood. For the life of the world.

If we receive Jesus’ flesh and blood for the life of the world, this means we are tasked with doing something that brings life to the world. We are tasked with giving back something that gives life to the world.

We cannot simply take and take and take. We must give. We are tasked with volunteering some time or some talent to make the world a better place. 

Because we receive Jesus in here, we are supposed to be Jesus out there. 

This fall I promised some renewal. Over the next month you we be hearing about an exciting event we are hosting here over the course of five Wednesday evenings for our renewal. 

But not just a spiritual renewal, there must also be a renewal of self giving, a renewal of volunteerism. For the life of the world.

Imagine what would happen if everyone did their part to make our church or our church grounds or our cemetery or our community or our world a better place. 

If you see something around here that’s not getting done, don’t ask me when I’m going to take care of it. I’m only one person. 

It would be better if you asked me if it would be okay for you to do it.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

8/12/18 -- 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

What happened to the great prophet Elijah? When we encounter him in the first reading today, he’s worn out. He’s discouraged He’s sitting under a scrawny broom tree praying for death.

How did the great and mighty Old Testament prophet who defeated 450 pagan prophets end up like this? Well, the gods of those pagan prophets were also the gods of the evil Queen Jezebel. 

And instead of being converted to the Lord God of the Prophet Elijah, Jezebel is furious with him and sends her army after him. 

Elijah escapes into the desert wilderness. It is there that he loses heart and wants to die.

He’s done what God has asked of him and still he finds himself in this dark place. But the angel of the Lord God urges Elijah to eat. Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you.

Elijah is reminded that he is on a journey and he needs his strength. The food the Lord God gives him nourishes him. Rejuvenated by this food from heaven, Elijah continues his journey to Horeb, the mountain of God.

Our lives can be very difficult. Problems plague us. Tragedies strike us down. Violence seems to be all around us. We are no strangers to sickness and sorrow and death.

Like Elijah, we sometimes find ourselves at the end. The will to live has been completely drained out of us. It is at this very moment, this low point, that we are in most need of bread from heaven to revive us and help us on life’s journey.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever.

Like Elijah, we need to let Jesus be our food for the journey. Like Elijah, we need to come to this holy shrine to receive Jesus who is our bread of life.

Saint Paul in his letter to the Ephesians reminds us that Jesus loved us and handed himself over to us as an offering, as the bread of life. And we should imitate him in our lives.

Saint Paul says that we should not hold grudges, instead we should be forgiving. We should not be cheap or stingy, instead we should be generous.

We should not lose our tempers, instead we should be compassionate. We should not call each other names, instead we should be kind and understanding

We should not raise our voices in anger or frustration, instead we should be respectful. We should not be spiteful, instead we should be loving and forgiving.

In this way, we become the children of God. In this way, we put aside our grumbling. 

We come here week after week to eat this living bread come down from heaven. 

Strengthened by the food that comes from heaven, we leave this place with the courage and the strength and the grace to continue on our journey. 


Saturday, August 4, 2018

8/5/18 -- 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

In Jesus’ time, a daily wage was just enough to feed a family for a day. When Jesus teaches the people to pray, the prayer includes the petition, “give us this day our daily bread.”

But when Jesus says do not work for food that perishes, the people would have been puzzled, maybe even confused. You see, that’s all the people of that time could do. They could hope for a day’s wages that would buy enough bread for that day.

The Israelites in the first reading don’t even have that. That’s why they grumbled against Moses. In the desert, food was scarce. But at least they had their freedom. Moses had led them out of Egyptian slavery. 

But are they grateful? No. Why not? Because they are hungry. They say to Moses it would have been better to die as slaves then to die of hunger in the desert.

Does the Lord God punish them for their grumblings? No. God sends them manna (bread) from heaven. And Moses tells them, “This is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.

After Jesus feeds the five thousand with the five loaves and two fish, he goes off alone. But the crowd pursues him. 


When they find Jesus, he asks, “What are you looking for?” 
He is asking if they are looking for another free meal. He tells them, “I am the Bread of Life.”

The Israelites failed to recognize that their freedom from slavery was a gift. And the bread from heaven was a gift.

The people in the Gospel failed to recognize the gift was not the five loaves and the two fish, nor was it the miraculous feeding. The gift is Jesus.

Sometimes I think we fail to recognize the gift Jesus is for us as well. Jesus desires to fill our loneliness. Jesus desires to quench our desires. Jesus desires to sooth our hurts and to heal our wounds.

I am the Bread of Life. Believe in me, not in the five loaves and the two fish.

It is a treasure to discover that Jesus wants to satisfy our hungers. Jesus wants to feed us. Jesus wants to fill us.

Jesus says that if we come to him, we will never hunger again. Jesus says that if we believe in him, we will never thirst again.

Jesus wants to be our bread from heaven. Jesus wants to be our food for the journey, so that we never hunger and thirst again.