On Easter we look back on Our Lord's resurrection, as we look look forward to our own..

Easter Sunday, 4/1/18

The Gospels have recounted several stories of how the Risen Lord appeared to his followers. He appeared to Mary Magdalene, when she grasped his knees as she called him "Rabboni." He appeared ro the disciples fleeing to Emma-us. He appeared twice to the Apostles in the Upper Room. He appeared to Peter and John by the Lake of Galilee.

An odd thing is that, except by the Apostle John, he was not recognized at first. Why might that have been?

When he brought them to recognize him, they were overcome with Joy.

On Easter we look forward to our own resurrections.  Let me tell you a story about that.

I was just back in the States after spending twelve years in Korea, when a friend named Tom Mitchell told me that his son-in-law Jerry had been killed int Viet Nam, and was going to be buried from our cathedral.

I joined twenty priests in the sacristy. and we went around the outside in procession. As I followed the others into the magnificent cathedral, I was stunned by the solemnity of a young man who was standing in the sanctuary, playing and singing a hymn Jerry and he had written together.

"I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in me will never die."

On Holy Saturday the disciples were forced to quietly wait.

Holy Saturday, 3/30/18

With the Jewish way of seeing a day run from sundown to sundown, Holy Saturday ran from 7 P.M Friday to 7 P.M. Saturday, hours during which the Passion Narrative was not notably advanced. By that p.m. The body of Jesus was enclosed and sealed into the tomb of a rich donor known as Joseph of Arimethea.

The limited Sabbath Days' journey of about a thousand yards would not have allowed the disciples time to limit the tomb.

The wonen, while making short excursions to buy oils, remained in one of their homes, preparing spices for anointing the body of Jesus after sundown,

The anxious inactivity of that day tells us their are days

Seven Last words of Jesus.

Good Friday, 3/20/18

Let us meditate on the seven last words of Jesus. The Gospels record them as these:

1.Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke, 23:34

2. "Today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke, 23:34

3. "Behold your son. Behold your mother."

4. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

5. "I thirst. "

6. "It is finished."

7. "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.

Christians have always called this "Spy Wednesday."

Wednesday, 3/28/18

Mistakenly perhaps, Christians have always thought of it being two nights before the death of Jesus that Judas sealed his master's betrayal . We have always referred to today as "Spy Wednesday."

While Jesus, on his final day, is pictured as going silently to his slaughter, the Scriptures portray him beforehand as preparing himself for his death. Isaiah quotes Jesus as saying, "I have set my face as flint, knowing I shall not be put to shame."

Sixty years ago, when in was a young priest in Korea, I experienced a sad Spy Wednesday. Over there, with flocks of girls having no opportunities for schooling, we had them eagerly snapping up our catechisms leading to baptism. Our policy called on us to refuse Baptism to any girl whose parents would not promise to keep her from a bad marriage.

However, on a Spy Wednesday, a girl we baptized Louisa came up saying her father, in grave need for money, had just sold her to an older man who already had a wife.

I suppose it didn't make the misfortune any worse, but it seemed awful that Louusa was being sold on Spy Wednesday,

Fifteen Key Phrases from John, Chapter One.

Tuesday, 3/27/18

John was Our lord's "Beloved Disciple." You could use these phrases from Chapter One of his Gospel as Mysteries for fifteen decades of your rosary.

1. "In the beginning was the Word" The Greek for "Word" was Logos. or our "Mother Nature."
2. "The Word was with God, and was God." The Word is both immanent and transcendent.
3. "All things came to be through him." Dante wrote, "All things have an order that echoees God."
4. "The Life is the light of the world." The Life of God is the source of all human intelligence.
5. "To those who accept him he gives power to become children of God."Amen to that.
6. "And the Word became flesh." Paul wrote that to do that the Word had to "empty himself."
7. "And he set up his tent with us." The body of Jesus was the tent on our journey to Heaven.
8. "And we have seen his glory." This echoes Exodus 40 where God's glory filled the tent.
9. "From Moses came only the Law, while from Christ comes grace and truth"
10. John the Baptist called out, "Behold the Lamb of God." John and Andrew followed Jesus.
11. Jesus turned toAndrew and John, asking, "What are you looking for?"
12. They asked, "Rabbi, where are you staying?" Staying with Christ is central,to Christianity.
13,  "You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Peter." This is our religion's  cornerstone.
14. "Here is a true Israelite in whom there is no guile." We too must be free of self deception.
15. "There was a wedding feast in Cana (our heaven) and the mother of Jesus was there."

"Abba, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. But not as I will."

Sunday, 3/25/18

Paul, in writing about the death of Jesus to the Romans, said, "His death was a death to sin."
What he meant by that could be that it was not so much Our Lord's physical death that saved us. It was more his dying to the desire to go his own way in favor of sacrificing his life. For him, to save his life by rejecting God's plan would have seemed sinful.

His efforts at dying to sin were so taxing the he sweat blood in forcing himself to die for us.

Four key phrases from the beginning of the Gospel according to John.

Saturday, 3/24/18

I ask you to join me in meditating on four key phrases from the opening sentences of the Gospel according to John.

1. In the beginning was the word.
2. The Word was God.
3. All thing came to be through him.
4. The Life was the light of the world.

In the Incarnation God became man to teach us humility,

Friday, 3/23/18

The greatest mystery of our Faith is the Incarnation, the almost unbelievable occurrence of God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, switching to become one of his billions of subjects.  For us to say it just could not happen, would be for us to limit what God can bring about.

We ask why would God the almighty so lower himself. In Chapter Two of his Letter to the people of    Philippi Paul said God did it in an effort at showing us how important humility is to him. He wrote:

"Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus: who although he was in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be clung to. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness." 

In today's Gospel the Jews asked why should they believe that Jesus came from God, bearing God's endorsement?   

Jesus replied that he was performing acts that had to be seen as an endorsement of his messages from God.

Socrates convinced us of our responsibility to always seek the truth.

Thursday, 3/22/18

The Jews boasted on their being the children of Abraham and the Prophets. That certainly gave them cause for boasting, especially when you look around at the world back then: a world that worshipped animal spirits, a world that practiced human sacrifices.

Abraham lived at 2100 B.C. and it wasn't until  400 B.C. Greece gave birth to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. In their degenerate world they were unique in having come to acknowledge one creator who was all good and all wise.

While Plato left us his erudite Dialogues, and Aristotle gave us his theses on every branch of Philosophy and Art, all that Socrates passed on to us was the conviction that each of us has the responsibility of finding the truth.

A slave cannot live in the house.

Wednesday, 3/21/18

Jesus said anyone who sins becomes a slave of sin. He goes on to remind us that a slave cannot live in the lords house.

That would mean that if one is a slave to sinful habits, he only appears to live in the Lord's house.

The truth of that becomes clear when we look at the origin of our word, "Church."It comes from combining the Greek word for a "lord," which is "Kyre;" with the Greek word for a "house," which is is "oiky."  Through the word s"Kyre" and "oiky" being repeated over the centuries, the two hard "K"sounds were softened to two "Ch" sounds, and the word "church" emerged. We cannot really be at home in the church if we are slaves to sin

Jesus said we must believe tat he is "I Am."

Tuesday, 3/20/18

God told his real name to Moses, it was "Yahweh." That translates as "I Am."

"I Am" is an apropriate name for God in two ways.

First, God is "I Am" in that there is no psst of future with God. He am always the same .

Secondly, when you have called him "I Am" you can go on to fill in the blank. He am BEAUTY. He am GOODNESS. He am ORDER..  

Joseph was in a bind when he saw that Mary was with child.

Monday, 3/19/18

Luke's Gospel tells us that Mary and Joseph were "espoused,' which meant that they were married, but without having yet met the expense of a former marriage ceremony.

Luke tells us that Mary went to visit Elizabeth, and that on her return it was obvious that she was
with child. Now, while Joseph and Mary had privately decided on Mary remaining a virgin, all the people of Nazareth presumed that Joseph was the father of her child.

The Bible describes Joseph as a just man; so as a just man he could not have taken another man's child as his own; but as a just man he could not bring shame on Mary by publicly divorcing her.

What could he do? He was in a find.

Our beloved dead

The Gospel story the death of Lazarus might turn your thoughts to our own deaths, and to the deaths of our loved ones.

As for our own coming deaths, rather than seeing them as catastrophes, we should see them as part of our good God's plan for us.  So, rather than letting the thought of them fill us with dread, we should prepare ourselves for them. My biggest hero has been Pope John XXIII. When his end was coming in June of 1963, he said, "Don't worry, my bags are packed."

As for the deaths of our loved ones, we should treasure our memories of them, turning to them  frequently as before. We should keep them alive in our memories.

You might say I am deceiving myself in this, but I have just put my best memories of my siblings in a little book I am sending off to a printer. My father, in 1940 wrote a little poem about us all coming hime at supper time. Here is an exchange between one of my sisters and my mother:

"Any mail today, Mother? Did anyone call?
"For goodness sakes, look at the dirt in this hall."

St. Patrick's disciple, St. Finian.

Saturday, 3/17/18

Ireland in St. Patrick's time had no parishes or dioceses. Our Church operated through it's monasteries, and I'd like to draw your attention to Finian, a monk who was trained in the monastery of Patrick at Armagh. Patrick's successor as abbot at Armagh sent young Finian over to a monastery in Wales to help them in their stand against the invaders.

The Welsh monastery was of importance to the Church and to civilization in that over the fifth and sixth centuries, with the Norsemen ravaging all the monasteries of Europe, the monks from all the mainland monasteries had been carrying all their scrolls of secular and sacred value to that Welsh monastery  to keep them in existence.

In ten years after his leaving Ireland for Wales, Finian trained a group of monks to copy those precious scroll, and then he brought his copies to Ireland, to a place called Clonard in the county of Meath.

Traveling around Ireland by myself in 1980, I stopped at a church in the town of Nenagh where I found each of the windows dedicated to an Irish saint I had never heard of. There was Jarlath, Finbar, Colman, Ciaran.I found a plaque the identified the saints as the "Twelve Apostles of Ireland." They had been monks whom Finian had set to work copying the books of the Bible along with the literary treasures of Greek and Latin literature.

So, in honoring St. Patrick we must also honor  the monks he trained to preserve the books of the Bible, and the Philosophical and Literary works of the ancient world: works that would have been lost in the Dark Ages.  

The Suffering Servant in Dutero Isaiah.

Friday, 3/16/18

The second half of the Bible book "Isaiah," from Chapter Forty to Chapter Sixty-sixth is known as Dutero Isaiah. Imbedded within it are a number of hymns to the Suffering Servant. They can refer to pious Israelites, however Jesus himself identified with them. Let me quote from three of them.

Chapter 42 "Here is my servant whom I uphold. He shall bring forth justice to the nations , not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street."

Chapter 49 "You are my servant, he said to me. t hough I thought I had toiled in vain, yet my reward is with the Lord."

Chapter 53 "He was spurned, and avoided by men; a man of suffering, accustomed to  infirmity. One of those from whom men hide their faces."

George Herbert wrote a fine poem about Moses arguing with God.

Thursday, 3/15/18

In the First Reading Moses begged God not to destroy the Israelites for their being unfaithful to him. In  the poem "Decay" written in 1630 by the English priest George Herbert there is a reference to this. You might appreciate hearing this beautiful poem.

Sweet were the days when thou didst lodge with Lot,
Struggle with Jacob. sit with Gideon,
Advise with Abraham, when thy power could not
Encounter Moses strong complaints and moan;
Thy word were then, Let me alone.

One might have sought and found thee presently
At some fair oak, or bush, or cave, or well.
Is my Lord this way: No they would reply.
He is to Sinai gone, as we heard tell.
List, ye may hear great Aaron's bell.

But now thou dost thy self immure and close
In some one corner of a feeble heart
Where yet both Sinne nd Satan, thy old foes,
Do pinch and strainten thee  and use much art
To gain thy thirds and little part

I see the world grows old, when as the heat
Of thy great love once spread, as in an urn
Doth closet up it self, and still retreat,
Cold Sinne still forcing it, till it return,
And calling, Justice, all things burn.

God promises us a heavenly Jerusalem.

Wednesday, 3/14/18

I am sure you are aware of this, but let me recount the odd thing about our Bible's Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Chapters One through 39 cover the years from 743 B.C. to 705 B.C.  Then, Chapters 40 through Chapters through Chapter 66 cover the years 533 B.C. to 520 B.C.

In the final chapter of the first thirty-nine chapters Babylon, a new power in the Middle East, sent a friendly ambassador to Jerusalem. The next chapter, Chapter 40, picks up the history one hundred and seventy years later. That friendly power of Babylon had become viscous. enslaving Jerusalem for seventy years, only to be conquered by Persia.

The Persian emperor, Cyrus II, has declared the right of the descendant of Jerusalem's former citizens to go, build up a new Jerusalem. We can take this reading as God's promising us a heavenly Jerusalem .  


Jesus sends us out to spread the life of Grace.

Tuesday, 3/13/18

The Gospel gives us the third of St. John's "signs" that assure us that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that we have life by believing int him.

For Ezekiel's vision of the fresh water pouring from the east side of the temple we can see the life of grace that we bring out with us from Mass, supplying life to all those with whom we make prayerful contacts through our days.

Jesus sends us forth to spread the life of Grace.

Tuesday, 3/13/18

The Gospel story is about Jesus curing the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda. It is the third of the "signs" which assure us that Jesus is the Son of God, and that we have life through him. It is a story that reminds us that our lives will be healthy to the extent that we center them on Jesus.

The First Reading present us with Ezekiel's vision of fresh water flowing from the temple down to the Dead Sea and beyond. For us the the temple is the church where we attend Mass, the water flowing from the temple us would be the life of Grace that we distribute to those with whom we make prayerful contacts through our days.

John's Gospel records seven miraculous signs of Jesus.

Monday, 3/12/18

In today's Gospel, when Jesus cured the servant of the royal official, St. John remarked that this was the second of the signs performed by Jesus. While the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke tell the stories of hundred of miracles performed by Jesus, John in his Gospel recorded only seven such miracles, but instead of calling them miracles, he calls them sign,

At the end of his Chapter Twenty John spoke of the importance of the "signs" Jesus performed.

"Now Jesus did many other signs in th presence of is disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name."  

Those signs might be: Changing water to wine; Curing the royal; official's' servant; Curing the  paralytic at the pool of Bethesda; Feeding 5000 with two loves; Walking on the water; Bringing Lazarus back to life; and the Resurrection.

All things come to be through the Word.

Sunday, 3/11/18

We have a Gospel story about Nicodemus, a man who came to Jesus to say that he saw Jesu as somewhere more than  good man. He said, "No one could speak the way you do, if he were not from God."

So, Nicodemus saw Jesus as more than ordinary, but he would not go much further.

If you or I should say we see Jesus as someone coming from God, but if we go no futher, them we would not nor be Christians.

I like comparing Jesus to our Sun.

What does our Sun give us? Well, it gives us light, but does it not give us more?

Well, yes, it makes our crops to grow.

But, if you want to sum up all that the Sun does for our world, you must say that in his world of ours there is not an ounce of energy that has not come from the sun. Our coal and oil are ancient sun rays that have been packaged away in decaying vegetation.

All the cars in our traffic jams are running on packaged ancient sun light. The same is true of their honking horns.

So, we must do more that tell Jesus we love him.We must agree with John's Gospel that tells us, "All things came to be through him, and without him nothing comes to be."

We must strive to know the Lord.

Saturday, 3/10/18

In the First Reading Hosea tells us, "Let is strive to know the Lord."

But. how do you go about that? When I was seventeen I went into a year-long novitiate in which all of our classwork had to do with praying. The books we studied told us to not to do all the talking when we pray. We were told we should sit back, and wait for the Lord to speak to us.

I found a place in the woods for practicing praying. When I prayed, then waited for the Lord to speak back, I didn't hear anything. So, I made up  how the Lord was telling me to keep my thoughts clean, and telling me to pray for the other guys.

I got two things out of waiting for the Lord's answers. One thing was headaches, the other was the resolution to keep my prayer-life honest. I guess that just being honest is knowing the Lord.  

Friday, 3/9/18

The scholars tell us that when the scribe asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment, he was asking Jesus to take one side in a current debate between the scribes' While some of them thought the greatest commandment had to do with keeping holy the Sabbath, others thought it was one dealing with only eating Kosher meals.

When Jesus sidestepped that debate by saying the greatest commandment was "Hear oh Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord alone." Jesus added, "The second is like that, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

The scribe was in admiration of the simple truth of Our Lord's answer. In repeating Our Lord's answer he changed it a bit, blending the commandment to love God and too love the neighbor into one commandment.

Jesus was pleased that the scribe linked loving God and loving our neighbor, because the way we  love God is by loving our neighbor

"He who does not gather with me scatters.

Thursday, 2/8/18

In 1950, one of our priests in Korea, Father Phil Crosby, heard that the Red army was coming into his town from the north. He thought he might do good by staying; so he stayed behind, watching other prisoners of war dying. After three years of malnutrition he was near blind. But, on a prisoner exchange, Phil was sent back to us, and he became a helpful neighbor for me.

One day, another priest and I, on our way to visit with Phil, saw some homeless people starving by the roadside. When we got to Phil's rectory we mentioned those people, and Phil immediately asked, "How should we go about helping them?"

To be good people, it isn't enough that we avoid doing wrong, we must do the right things. As Jesus said, "He who does not gather with me scatters."

We are mourning Joe Elius, who died here last week after donating thousands of ours to the desk at St. Vincent's. Once when Joe asked me if i had any needy friends I mentioned out-of-work people who were trying to get high school graduation certificates, but who lacked the thirty dollars for an application. Joe gave me a thousand dollars that have helped forty people along.

All life is only a participation in the life of God.

Tueday, 3/6/18

When Jesus said "I Am." he was letting us fill in the blanks. He am everything.

In a lesser way, the same is true of our sun. Every emission of energy in our world is a re-use of the power coming from the sun. A thousand cars jostling each other in a traffic jam are all powered by energy from the sun captured a million years ago by decaying matter on it way to  becoming coal or gas. (If they honk their horns it is the same.)

In Chapter One of John's Gospel we say, "In him was life, and the life is the light of the world." When someone in the old comic strips had an idea, the cartoonist would illustrate that by having a. light bulb turn on over the msn's head. In a similar way, when St. John wrote. "In him was life, and the life was the light of the world" he was saying that every thought any of us has is a re-use of the mental energy of him who is all the thinking there is..

Our Eucharistic devotion should consist in Joining Jesus inn the Eucharist.

Monday, 3/5/18

Let me say something about our best way of taking part in the Mass.

First, although our Church makes much of the Mass being a repetition of Christ's death on the cross, we should give more importance to the Last Supper. It was at the Last Supper that Jesus said, "Do this In memory of me;" And the Sunday rituals practiced by the disciples in the First Century followed the ritual of the Last Supper, and they refered to it as the people's sacrifice.

At the Last Supper Jesus followed the customary blessing for a Passover meal. Its first part had Jesus asking the disciples to join him in recalling God's favors. In its second part he asked them to be conscious of God's presence.  In it's third, and most important part, Jesus made a complete offering of himself to God. That part of the blessing was called the Eucharist.or the pleasing gift of himself to God.

Luke in Chapter Twenty-two of his Gospel, and Paul, in Chapter Eleven of is First Letter to the Corinthians tell us that Jesus gave us his body to eat to make them part of his self offering. Both say that he gave us his body Eucharistesas.

Our proper way of taking part in the Mass must be by our sacrificing ourselves to God as part of the sacifice of Jesu.

The Samaritan Woman was no goody-goody

Sunday, 3/4/28

I might be wrong in this, but it seems to me the St. John was presenting the Samaritan as a woman with a sinful past.

For women, going out to the well was normally a group activity. Why does this one come alone?

Men could get away with opening a conversation with a strange woman, but this woman asks,  "How can you Jew ask me, a Samaritan woman for  drink?'

Keeping this illegal conversation going, she jokingly observes, "You don't even have a bucket."

Then, she draws attention to herself by speaking about the wearisomeness of, "Keep common out here to draw water."

When Jesus, getting down to business told the woman to bring out her husband, the woman played her final card, saying, "I don't have a husband."

Then Jesus let her, and let us,know what kind of woman she was, said, "I know, you have had five husbands."

Knowing that, why did Jesus bother about such a person?

He was backing up the Bible where it says, "Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make you white as snow."

Prodigal sons are in our own families

Saturday, 3/3/18

On this day when we look back on the Prodigal Son, I ask you to forgive me for seeing my older brother as a prodigal son. Frank was born in 1915, and that made him eighteen in 1928, the year the Deprssion got underway. 

Frank went to work, filling orders from a warehouse for eighteen dollars a week. It wasn't enough to let him take a girl to a movie.I feel especially sorry for Frank on Sunday afternoons. My mother, after getting ten of us fed liked turning to the classical music station. As much as she liked that music, it made Frank sick to his young soul.

When the war came along, and Frank was stationed with men who were heavy drinkers. He went along with that, so that after the war the heavy drinking had taken over his life.

In 1955 Frank swore that if I paid his bus fare to California he would stop drinking. I didn't believe him, but my Dad did. He put Frank on a bus for L.A., and through the last seventeen years of Frank's life, he never took another drink. When I got word that his Alcoholic Anonymous group was having a good-bye ceremony for him, I flew out there.

For over an hour, one man or woman after another took the platform to tell us his story of how Frank had saved his or her life.

Often side issues interfere with our living by the Bible lessons.

Friday, 3/2/18

Rightfully, our homilies should be about the messages the Bible passages have for us. However, at times there are side issues that conflict with our understanding of what the Bible is teaching us.

For instance, It was not until 580 B.C. that the Bible stories were actually written out. Up to that time, the story teller for each of thee twelve tribes had slightly different accounts of what happened in the ancient past. That is the case today. Our account first tells us that Reuben tried to save Joseph, then it tells us think was Judah. We can't tell who it was.

There are also side issues that interfere with our understanding of the story of the crop from, the vineyard. From the time of Moses Israelites were forbidden to plant two different crops in the same land. (It was vegetative adultery.)
However, an exception was allowed with vineyards. Since a newly planted vine could not produce a vintage for its first five years, during those years the workmen could plant vegetables between the vines. That could give rise to disputes between the owners and workmen as to whom the vegetables belonged.

Most Bible passaged have side stories.