August 28th, 2022 – Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
I always appreciated my grandmother’s description of what a good priest should be like. There was one occasion, for instance, that I could tell she was passionate about the description she was making. She said to me, “Carlos, mijo (short for “my son” in Spanish), a good priest is one that treats the poor and the rich alike and is friendly to them both.” In other words, in the eyes of my grandmother, a good priest knows to be one with his people and makes no distinctions in the way he treats the people he serves.
The world, on the other hand, divides and creates labels. I am “the boss,” you are not. You are “a freshman,” I am “a senior.” He is a “newbie,” she is the “experienced one.” I am “first,” you are “second,” he is “last.” The Lord turns all these forms of distinction amongst us upside down and challenges them all. He asks his disciples to take the lowest place at banquets and to welcome the poor as they would himself (cf. Luke 14: 7-14 and Matthew 25:40).
While we try to cover our littleness with titles and status, God covers his actual greatness and majesty in weakness, simplicity and poverty by becoming man and, later, by becoming bread.
And then he says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves” (Matthew 11:29).
Friends, let us find that rest for ourselves!
August 21st, 2022 – Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
“I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.”
(Traditional hymn, Singh, Nokseng)
As we enter these late summer days, the Sunday Gospels from St. Luke all tell the story of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem where he will face the agony of the Cross. He wants to make sure his travel companions know what following him entails, and is looking for a decision.
The wonder of the question is that followers of Jesus never totally know the direction of the journey because we sign on not to a program or a contract or a product, but to the PERSON of Jesus. He leads us, as he led his original followers to the Cross, by which all our personal crosses are seen in light of his Cross. No matter what our struggles, Jesus walks with us and promises that whatever the journey, the destination is the same – Resurrection through suffering and life on high in Glory.
So bring your crosses. Decide that trying to carry them alone or denying them leads to nothing.
Trusting Jesus leads to everything – Happiness and eternal life and peace!
Sincerely, with love,
August 13th, 2022 – The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
“The Love of Christ impels us.”
2 Corinthians 5:14
The greatest adventure, the greatest challenge for every Christian is to know and to experience themselves to be infinitely loved by God.
Perhaps it is the case that we are able to know the love of God more easily than we can experience it, and yet the adventure is not completed until we have plunged ourselves into the bottomless pool of God’s mercy and swim freely across the ocean of his love for each of us.
In the past couple of days, I have been learning that narratives have the power to influence our lives for the better.
Some narratives are destructive, true. Sometimes we fall prisoners to narratives that others create about us and, no matter how much we prove these narratives wrong, they sink deep into people’s minds and hearts. Destructive narratives are often easy to be believed and sometimes quite convenient, especially when someone wants or needs to make us look in a certain way in the eyes of others.
We also can create destructive narratives for ourselves, “I am not loved,” “I am alone,” “no one protects me,” “I am an evil person.” These narratives are contrary to what is truest about each of us, namely that we are infinitely loved by God, and we must be “really good” to captivate the attention and heart of the Almighty!
In only seven weeks since I became the Associate Pastor at the Family of Four, I have had the great joy of witnessing several weddings (and I am hoping to be able to witness many, many more!). There is one idea that I have been repeating at every wedding that is becoming a new narrative in my life, the kind of narrative that changes your life for the better. I tell people at wedding celebrations, “When we look at ‘Joe’ looking at ‘Mary’ today, the day of their wedding, with that tenderness, with that care, with that love, we are invited to think, ‘and God loves me that way too, and even more!’”
I have repeated this idea for my wedding homilies so often that now I am starting to believe it all the more! And it is beautiful to know and to experience oneself to be so loved by our loving and merciful God.
“The love of Christ impels us.”
I pray you have a wonderful weekend, and that many times this week you may catch God looking at you as he always does … with love.
August 7th, 2022 – Ninteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“All that is gold does not glitter;
Not all who wander are lost.
The old that is strong does not wither.
Deep roots are not reached by frost.”
The gift of having the kidney stone this past week has helped me grow spiritually and pastorally. To those who face pain every day, know your old pastor totally understands and loves you and is with you! No ache is too small, no pain is too big that we are not called to carry things together. That’s what Christians do—whatever your pain, it matters to us and to Christ.
But the experience also reminded me what the above quote and the figure of Abraham in our readings this weekend revealed to me. To those of us getting older, we must still dream! We must plan for whatever the future brings! We must not wither or even worse, become grouchy. We are all needed in the body of Christ, whether running the marathon or cheering on those who do.
I thought of our younger parishioners when I read the Gospel about watching where we put our treasures, for that is where our hearts will be. Youth is a time for setting roots, for planting deep in a world that lives in the electronic whirl of the instant. You can wander, you can even be lost, but Christians know that when you have roots in something more, in Someone more, you will always make it. Fun is expected and the energy young people bring does amazing things, but in the mix, winter will come, and with Christ we do not fear. Many before have sustained so much and by their example, they remind us we need not only amazing light but comforting warmth!
So old or young or someone in between, people who seem to have it worked out and those still in process, people whose pain makes them feel alone or those who whose success isolates them, whoever you are—you are family and we love you.
Sincerely, in Christ (the Master of the kidney and everything so painfully human!),