Monthly Archives: November, 2013

What Kind of King is This?

Father Bob’s homily last Sunday…

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Christ the King C

What kind of King is this?  This is the king who only wore the royal purple when they ridiculed him.  A king who was called one only to mock him.  A king who was only proclaimed one in a banner above the cross where his life was taken.  A king whose only crown was one of piercing thorn and whose only throne was a cross.

What kind of king is this?  He was never the king they expected anyway.  He was not the king to sweep the Romans out of power.  He was not the king to amass an army.  He was not the king to resort to violence in order to save.   He was the king that searched for a more permanent salvation; a king who campaigned for hearts, not for land and riches; a king who desired not liberty from Rome, but the true…

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Scripture Commentary for 1st Sunday of Advent, cycle A

Advent = 3 comings!  From St. Bernard (1090-1153):

We know that there are three comings of the Lord.  The third lies between the other two.  It is invisible, while the other two are visible.  In the first coming he was seen on earth, dwelling among men [and women]; he himself testifies that they saw him and hated him.  In the final coming “all flesh will see the salvation of our God,” and “they will look on him whom they pierced.”  The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved.  In his first coming our Lord came in the flesh and in our weakness; in this middle coming he comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty.  Because this coming lies between the other two, it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last.  In the first, Christ was our redemption; in the last, he will appear as our life; in this middle coming, he is our rest and consolation. 

1st Reading – Isaiah 2: 1-5

This section is from ‘First Isaiah’ – that part of Isaiah that was written by an 8th century prophet when Assyria was attacking Israel (chapters 1-39).  This was a world in crisis. 1st Isaiah uses this powerful poetry to give the people of his time a vision of God’s plan that goes beyond the immediate disasters.  (Celebration, Dec. 2001)

Isaiah has an agenda against injustice, oppression and idolatry.  He implored the people to turn from their wicked ways and return to Yahweh.  Isaiah proclaimed a God who was in control of the whole world, a God who blessed and disciplined those who were in covenant with God.  In spite of Isaiah’s warnings, Israel’s kings did not heed his advice.  They refused to believe the promise that Yahweh would protect and defend their nation.  As a result, Isaiah turned his hopes to a future king who would obey Yahweh.  From this moment, the words of Isaiah inspired hopes of a messiah, a new king in Israel’s future who would better serve God and bring about a full measure of the divine blessing on the land.  The bottom line:  peace is possible only in God (Word & Worship, Birmingham, p. 49-50).

2nd Reading – Romans 13: 11-14

From Reginald Fuller, “Scripture in Depth” http://liturgy.slu.edu :

A Christian life is a life of tension, yet a tension that is filled with peace – a darkness that is filled with Christ’s light. Christians stand in the dark with our faces lit by the coming dawn. The early Christians actually lived thinking that Jesus was coming at any minute; we have a longer view of this coming. Yet, we, too, must live with a certainty of his coming that is so strong that his light casts his goodness on all we do.

From Share the Word, Dec. 2001 p. 16:

This passage changed St. Augustine’s life from waste to knowing the wonder of God’s power and love. Augustine as a young man knew orgies and drunkenness and promiscuity quite well. One day he heard a sing-song voice say to him: “Take, read.” His eyes fell upon this passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans. Augustine let these words touch his heart and mind. These words helped to cut the cords of sin beginning a transformation that would eventually help him to become St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the Church’s greatest pastors and theologians.  He was able to cast off the ‘false self’ (flesh) that had led him to the ways of darkness and death, and  “to put on the Lord Jesus” being enlightened by this “armor of light.”

From Richard Rohr, CD’s: Great Themes of Paul:

When Paul talks of ‘the flesh’ he means all that leads to death; he does not mean sexual activities so much as activities that are destructive of human life and relationships.  Paul sets before us the essential conflict. In this essential conflict, something does have to die – something has to live. Flesh (translated from sarx, not soma) does not just mean body or sex. It is not the body that has to die. It is falsehood – sinful self-interest – the little self – the trapped self: insecure, attention-seeking, needy, fragile, wounded, broken, always looking outside of one’s self. It often ‘causes’ us to do things that are not in our own best interest. We end up treating ourselves and others as objects instead of persons valued and loved by God. The false self – the flesh – which is ruled by sin, has an overwhelming desire to make itself special. Paul would want us to believe (this is the faith that saves us) that in Christ, as a fully alive human being, we are already special and loved by God – so then we can get ‘off the stage’ and live the reality that is God’s love!

The Gospel – Matthew 24: 37-44

From Mary Birmingham, Word and Worship, Year A p.53-54:

Today’s gospel reminds us that Advent calls for a response of faith. Whoever can wake up and be truly present to one’s life, sensing right now how Advent mysteriously lets the inexperience-able God be experienced. So we do not know the hour or day. So what? What difference does it make? What does make a difference is the way we live our lives in hopeful anticipation and quiet presence now. How are we nurturing our relationship with the living God in our midst? Prayer can be our help. This watchfulness and prayer will also help us pay more attention to the needs of others who are suffering or despairing. For we are people of hope and good news – let us reflect the Light bringing the love of God to those around us.

Called By Name II: Reflections on Vocation by Sr. Sue Zemgulis and Kristine Rooney

My name is Sister Susan Zemgulis and I am a Dominican Sister of Peace.

Some immediately think…”Ooo so when did you get the call?” Probably when I was baptized, just like you, to grow in strength and faith into the best me I could be in whatever way was right for me. And for me, my path with God took me toward life as a religious sister. 

There was no lightning bolt to say “This is what I want you to do.”  In fact, many a night I prayed for one “If I could just be sure that this is what you want me to do.  I’ll do it.”  But God doesn’t work that way.

I grew up right here at St. Helen’s parish while attending Hillside, Van Antwerp, and Niskayuna High.  I made my first retreat at the retreat house up the street when I was twelve when they had something called a Come and Grow day.  That’s when I first met our sisters.  And then I volunteered there with other teen girls. Sister Carmel would say to us, “Now you can all grow up to be good Dominicans!”  To which most responded “ewe, yuck, no!”,  and to which I said “Teacher, carpenter, Dominican,  Who knows!”  So looking back I had an openness to God’s direction for my life.

At St. Helen’s I was in the first group of girl servers when that was allowed, I was in the youth group led by Margaret and Denis Brennan and then by Paul Solomini.  I had friends who liked those things too. Peter Riley, Patty Claeys,Mary Grover.  Sr. Presentation at St. Helen’s School got me involved in playing the guitar at children’s masses here and ultimately leading a children’s choir.  Back at the retreat house I now had a weekend job in the dining room and joined the choir there once I was going to be confirmed.

I had lots of people who supported me in exploring my spirituality as I kept going a little deeper.  My parents and I never really talked about me being a sister.  They did however, support all my activities – Do you all still have senior skip day?  Being #4 in the family.  My parents were well aware of this event.  They said to me, if you go to school on Senior skip day, we will let you take another school day off and help with the refresher day at the retreat house.  Such a deal!  And it was something I actually wanted to do.  But we never actually spoke about it, we spoke around it.  As I did with the sisters I was interacting with. When I finally told my parents, they were thrilled and I asked why they had never said anything.  They said because it had to be my decision.  That worked for me, but I don’t think that works for everyone.  I was able to see sisters as women of service who were normal human beings who laughed and cried and lived life as they worked for God.  Not everyone gets to have that opportunity.

Many of you know Sister Betsy.  She and I worked together in Troy before we were sisters.  Again, we shared our faith and our prayer. When we discovered we both were playing with the idea of religious life, it allowed us to discern together the questions, hopes and fears before us.  And yes, we became sisters of different congregations – I’m Dominican, she’s a Sister of St. Joseph because those were the paths that were right for each of us.

So all of that is to say, I am now back where I started here in Niskayuna, I am the Administrator at the Dominican Retreat and Conference Center, and I get to see miracles everyday as we walk with people on their own journeys of faith with God.

I simply want to say, “Thank you!  Thank you for being a faith community who has helped form who and what I have become. And keep doing it!  Keep encouraging those you see at mass and at parish events to follow their hearts in whatever way God is calling them.”

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Good morning!  I am Kris Rooney, Pastoral Associate for Adult Faith Enrichment and Evangelization.  I am HUMBLED to be here to speak of my vocation, especially after hearing Father Bob and Father Michael in the first “Called By Name”, Deacon Tom last week and now the wonderful words of Sister Sue.  What could I possibly say about what I do as a vocation for our parish when I haven’t taken any vows like they have?

All I can say is…thank you.  Thank you for being here.  You are the reason that I am here.  I love this parish.  I love what this parish has done for me, I love the people I have met, I love the people I have grown to love.

I was not raised Catholic.  I went through the RCIA program and became Catholic at (then) St. Helen’s with the help of Father Hayes and Stan and Marion Zemgulis.  My husband Chris and I became more involved when we had children.  I attended the Parent and Tot Group with them, and I got to know some some wonderful women, including Helen Moon.  The more I got to know the people of this parish, the further I was drawn in.  Before I knew it, I had a job here!  But it is so much more than a job…it is a big part of my life…a VOCATION.

There is something about church that does draw you in.  Or maybe it is more that it draws you OUT of yourself.  That is why I mention the Zemgulis’ and Helen…these are lay people that were drawn out of themselves to serve others.  They were CALLED out…that is what vocation is.  It is a stretching of yourself to be MORE than who you thought you could be…in order to be there for others and ultimately…closer to God.

I serve YOU by offering opportunities for adult faith enrichment and evangelization. I have been blessed by getting to know many of you and hopefully I will get to know even more.  I feel the presence of Christ in this parish.  I see how our parish reaches out into the world through Christ’s presence.  We make a difference here.  I feel like the more I get to know each of you, the closer I am in getting to know Christ.  For any of you that serve our parish in some way, I’m sure you find the same thing.  You get something out of it.  It gives meaning to your life.  And it gives meaning to our church.  We become Christ’s presence in the world.

So thank you.  Thank you for being here.  Thank you for giving our parish the wonderful presence that it has.  Thank you for showing me what the body of Christ looks like.  I see it in all of you.  And perhaps you may consider how you may be called OUT to serve in a deeper way too.  Thank you.

Scripture Commentary for Christ the King, cycle C

1st READING – 2 SAMUEL 5: 1-3

David was not perfect.  David was a sinner, yet he would be the one Israel would remember as leader of their splendid past.  Doesn’t that give us all hope?  God comes to us as we are and can create in us a light for the world, if we let God shine through us.

As a sense of messianic hope developed in Israel, it was logical that the messiah-to-be would be referred to as the Son of David.  This king is a ruler who is in solidarity with is people.   Thus, king as benevolent ruler and as shepherd are primary motifs in the first Old Testament theology of kingship (W&W, Birmingham, p. 540).

We are your “bone and flesh” – what is meant here?  Reflect on what it means for our messianic king to be bone and flesh WITH us…

2ND READING — COLOSSIANS 1: 12-20

This is from a Christian hymn probably used at baptisms.  What do some of these phrases mean to you . . .

Scholars suggest that this letter was written most likely in the 80’s A.D. in reaction to false teachers among the Christian groups.  Influenced by the Greek culture of their day, there were beliefs that regarded angels and other ‘spirits’ as rulers of the universe. They were associated with stars and new moons and pagan rituals. These people wanted Jesus to be seen as subordinate to these ‘deities,’ since by his incarnation they viewed him as being contaminated by human ‘flesh.’ This writer firmly tries to correct this view with imagery that is profound and beautiful.               (Celebration, Nov. 2001)

The word ‘transferred’ has a special purpose in this reading.  In the ancient world, when one empire won a victory over another, it was the custom to take the population of the defeated country and transfer it lock, stock and barrel to the conqueror’s land.  Thus the people of the northern kingdom were taken away to Assyria, and the people of the southern kingdom were taken away to Babylon.  So Paul says that God has transferred the Christian to his own kingdom.  From darkness to light…from slavery to freedom…from condemnation to forgiveness…from the power of Satan to the power of God  (Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, p. 111-112).

THE GOSPEL — LUKE 23: 35-45

What two reactions to Jesus are seen here?  Who is the only one to call Jesus by name?  What does this mean to you?  How is this a story of conversion?  What kind of Kingship do we see here?  Why does the Church give us this picture of Christ, the King?

Jesus chose to exercise his authority as service and forgiveness. He reigns not from a throne, but from the cross. The Jesus who is worshipped today as Lord of lords and King of kings does not Lord it over others, but, rather, he loves and leads all who will follow him to the kingdom of eternal life, peace, and glory.  (Celebration, Nov. 2001)

The word ‘Paradise’ is a Persian word meaning a walled garden.  When a Persian king wished to do one of his subjects a very special honor he made him a companion of the garden, and he was chosen to walk in the garden with the king.  It was more than immortality that Jesus promised the penitent thief.  He promised him the honored place of a companion of the garden in the courts of heaven.  Surely this story tells us above all things that it is never too late to turn to Christ (Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, p. 299-300).

Christ the King was designated a holy day 1925 after World War I by Pope Pius XI.  There was a strong desire to remind Christians that their allegiance was to their spiritual ruler in heaven as opposed to earthly kings and wealth  (Knipper, Hungry and You Fed Me, p. 287).  Don’t we always need to remember where our allegiance lies?

Squandered Service

More thoughts by parishioner Edwin Cano…

HEADWIND CANOE

Then he also said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property.” Luke 16:1

I was looking for a good feeling and timing to write a good blog since I have been tired for the past days. I am busy with work and home. I cannot focus on my personal prayer. I was thinking this is another slump. I decided to write one when I feel better and when the timing is right for me.

As I write this one, I realized that I do not own any of my service to God. Yes, we own our ministry for His glory thus to take accountability and responsibility to any work called for us. Yet, our service is not on paper owned by us. It is owned by God.

He is the proprietor. The land title has His name. The vehicle…

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Deacon Tom’s Homily: My Vocation

Before I begin I want to let you that I am not very comfortable with my homily today.  I say that not just because I do not like to talk about myself and because my call was very simple, but, and meaning no disrespect, because I am not happy with the program called by name because it appeared to me at first that the only vocation we have to be concerned about is priesthood.  And apparently I am not the only one who felt that way because we now have called by name II which addresses deaconate, religious life, and lay ecclesial ministry, but what about the rest?  In my humble opinion when our church begins to really consider the role that each of us was called to at our baptism and let each baptized person, male and female, answer that call the life of our church will continue to struggle.

Vatican II, 50 years ago, recognized the need to involve the laity in the life of the church, started to do so a little, but we still continue to hinder the laity, especially females.  Thank God, it appears that Pope Francis is trying to bring the teachings of Vatican II back to new life.  Lets pray that it happens and works.

My call happened many years ago, 65 to be exact, on the day of my baptism.  However it was years later before I heard the call.  My life as a child was one of following what I thought was a call to become a priest.  After graduation I followed my dream and soon learned that it was just a dream.  I understand it now, I didn’t then.  I moved on and still thought I heard that call and thought of going back to the seminary but knew it wasn’t the call.

It was then that I started to understand that this call thing was all about love.  I fell back in love with God, prayer, and sharing that love.  In the summer of 1972 God’s call to love and to serve, lead me to one of the greatest gifts that I could have ever imagined, this beautiful girl named Kathy.   Yes, I heard the call; we married in May of 1973 in the Lutheran Church in Watertown, NY.  As our love continued to grow stronger and stronger my love for God and neighbor did the same.  The second gift came with the birth of our first daughter, Kathy.  My role as a husband and father changed when we moved to Ogdensburg, back to my place of birth, and I began cooking at the Seminary.  It was there that my eyes were opened and I felt God urging me to again answer my baptismal call.

The young men discerning priesthood would talk for hours asking me if their call was real.  Telling me how much help it was for them just to talk, just to have me care and listen.  A dear friend, Fr. Paul Kelly, a professor at the seminary, would stop in my office in the kitchen, close the door, open a cold beer which I always had on hand and say is spiritual direction still open?  It was Paul who said to me God’s call just might be to deaconate.  Kathy and I talked and prayed and agreed that I should at least inquire.  We did and formation began.  Then gift number 3, the birth of daughter number 2, Angela.  Formation and formal classes on weekends continued and on the day of our final class on the Sacrament of Baptism, gift number 4, our daughter Teresa was baptized.

So here we were, ten years married, three beautiful daughters, and the call to ordination just months away.  Again I questioned because I had to promise that if my wife was to die I would not remarry.  I panicked, had I been in this position before?  Yes, that was one of the reasons why I left the seminary.  I talked to my bishop and expressed my concerns and in his kind and simple way he said: “Thomas, God will speak to you then the same way he does right now.  Cross that bridge when and if you ever get to it.”  That was good enough for me and on October 1, 1983 my name was called, I stood and said: “Present” and my wife, Kathy stood and said: “And I give my consent” and the Sacrament of Holy Orders was conferred.  Following the prayer of consecration by the Bishop I was vested in stole and dalmatic by my wife and former pastor.

Vested as a newly ordained deacon, I went and knelt before the bishop and he placed the Book of the Gospels in my hands and said: “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are.  Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”  My sisters and brothers, thirty years later I stand before you as Christ’s unworthy herald, as your deacon, I ask that you always listen for God’s call and know that the best way to answer it is by living these words of Jesus that I try to practice in my life: “Love one another as I love you.”

Scripture Commentary for 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle C

1st Reading:   Malachi (3:19-20a)

Malachi means “my messenger”.  This book was written by an anonymous author about 460-450 BC after the exile.  Although the exile was over and the people had been allowed to return home, they were disheartened.  The temple had been rebuilt, but it did not guarantee communal, liturgical, or spiritual unity.  The people were in disarray.  The clergy were negligent, the ritual sloppy, and there was an indifference to the needs of the poor.  The rich became richer, and poor became poorer.  The prophets used the idea of the “Day of the Lord” to create fear and to motivate people to change. They claimed the day would be a day of judgment – a day of fire when the righteous would be saved, but evil would be destroyed.  Because Malachi came up against the leaders, he was a very unpopular prophet.  He was also insistent that the people forsake all foreign religious practices – he was even afraid of intermarriage because he thought it would taint Judaism.  (Mary Birmingham, Word and Worship Workbook, 533)

The “Sun of Justice” literally means the ‘sun which is justice’.  How does this image speak to you of God?  Here we see the Biblical authors applying the symbol of the ‘sun god’ that was used in Persia and Egypt to Yahweh for to them Yahweh certainly was the source of all light and life. The hot sun could blaze with fire to burn away evil and to heal the righteous.  Christians applied this idea later to Jesus calling him the “Son of Justice” – the One who comes as light into the world with the incarnate presence of God.   (Mary Birmingham, Word and Worship Wk, 533-534)

From John Foley, S.J., “Spirituality of the Readings” http://liturgy.slu.edu:

What does it mean to fear God? How is that healing?  We thought God was someone to love. But these scriptures are not talking about the fear that one gets at horror films. Fear of God is a reasonable, settled concern, as awe before the One who is so much more that we can imagine. What is needed and healthy is a reverential wonder toward the One who has created all things that are good. Only when we have such awe, such wonder, such fear, do we begin to relate to God who is the Most High. Only then do we begin to understand the good news that is meant when we say that “God is love.” We need to realize that God is not to ‘circle around us’ as if we were the center of life. Our lives are meant to revolve around God. Living in this truth is the beginning of wisdom and healing.

2nd Reading:  2 Thessalonians (3:7-12)

This letter reflects an example of a group whose apocalyptic fervor has ‘gone amuck.’ They refused to work, and they were beginning to be a burden on the rest of the Christian community.  We do need to be careful how we apply this text.  We are all capable of being ‘shirkers’ – and we thus need to take the warning seriously. But – as with all scripture – we should not use this passage to criticize the poor who might be faced with unemployment and homelessness beyond their own choice. It may be just as likely to find ‘shirkers’ among the affluent as among the poor. Christianity always demands that we uphold the law of love. (Mary Birmingham, Word and Worship Workbook, 534)

We need to remember Jesus’ words from last week’s gospel: “Our God is God of the living . . . whenever we encounter life, we also encounter God’s presence – and it is a presence of a God of love. Life is a portal, a threshold to God. Where are some ‘places’ in life that we could particularly look for God’s presence? St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas decided that God is most clearly seen in what is good, in what is true, and in what is beautiful. For most of us it is usual to think of God being present in goodness and truth – and anything that is loving and compassionate – but have you paid attention to the beauty that is also around us? It would be a great loss for us to be so busy, distracted, or just plain ‘down’ that we do not take the time to notice all the beauty that is there for us to see, and hear, and know. The next time you see a sunset, a bright colored leaf, or a child’s face let the loveliness touch your heart and mind. Then say to yourself, “God is near.” May gratitude and peace then fill your heart. (Living with Christ, Nov. 2010, pp. 15-16)

Gospel Reading:   Luke (21:5-19)

From John Kavanaugh, S.J., “The Word Engaged” http://liturgy.slu.edu :

But in some ways this gospel is also just about the way life is – such things do happen as Jesus warns us. Each day is the last. Each time is the end time. Each human faces the end of the world in the span of a life. Every sunset closes a day that will never come again. Each human death is a curtain on an unrepeatable drama. Without God, this would all mean hopeless tragedy.

Has there ever been an age without such turmoil and trial, persecution and stress? As Paul says, it is only faith that saves us; it is faith that gives us hope in the midst of this ‘groaning of creation’ both within and without our human lives – as we live and when we die.

Our belief in Paschal Mystery can help us.  From the Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser:

In order to come to fuller life and spirit we must constantly be letting go of present life . . .

Terminal death is a death that ends life and ends possibilities. Paschal death is a death that, while ending one kind of life, opens the person undergoing it to receive a deeper and richer form of life . . . Jesus did not get his old life back. He received a new life – a richer life, a life that is free of death entirely.  (146)

What can we learn from the cycle of the paschal mystery?

1. Name your deaths.

2. Claim your births.

3. Grieve what you have lost and adjust to the new reality.

4. Do not cling to the old; let it ascend and give you its blessing.

5. Accept the spirit of the life that you are in fact living. (148)

Let us pray:

Lord, let us bask in the healing rays of your sun of justice.  May the rays of your love burn away within us anything that is not part of your goodness and life.

May we radiate your presence in all that we do and say, making your compassion and justice a living reality in our everyday world.

Even when there is cold darkness, may we find your light and trust your fire.  Amen.

Always Yes, Always New

Father Bob’s homily last Sunday…

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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time C

 

In this famous story, Zacchaeus the tax collector is excited to see but that proves impossible as he is too short to catch a glimpse of him above the crowd that surrounds Jesus.  Jesus comes in like a rock star, some cheering, some jeering, some wanting to follow and some trying to disprove him.  Zacchaeus scrambles up a sycamore to see him and when Jesus approaches him, he calls him down and announces that he intends to stay with him.  Zacchaeus is delighted, but the authorities grumble.  Surely, Jesus should know that Zacchaeus is a sinner, a tax collector, a wealthy man who most surely got it by cheating.  But Zacchaeus is renewed by his encounter with Jesus and announces he is a changed man.  From now on he will give half his possessions to the poor and pay back four times…

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Scripture Commentary for 32nd Sunday Ordinary Time, cycle C

1st Reading —   2 Maccabees 7: 1-2, 9-14

This book tells of the gruesome atrocities endured by the Jews under the Greek leader, Antiochus Epiphanes about 150 BC.  He is noted for the “abomination of desolation” in which he had pigs sacrificed in the Temple’s Holy of Holies to the Greek god, Zeus. The purpose of this book is to edify its readers in their Jewish faith, recalling for them the beautiful examples given by those who defended the cause of God. It places great hope in the rewards that await those who suffer for their faith.  The death of martyrs can bring salvation to others. It is believed that it is out of such suffering that a firm belief in resurrection began to grow in the Jewish faith. (Celebration, Nov.2001)

The name Maccabees means “designated by God,” an apt title for one who would so courageously lead the people in their fight for independence  (W&W, Birmingham, p. 526).  What do you think of someone showing no fear in the face of adversity because of their belief in resurrection?

2nd Reading — 2 Thessalonians 2: 16 – 3: 5

There is something deeply moving in the though of this giant among men asking for the prayers of the Thessalonians who so well recognized their own weakness (like Pope Francis?).  It is very difficult to dislike a man who asks you to pray for him!  In the last verse of this passage we see what we might call the inward and outward characteristics of the Christian.  The inward characteristic is the awareness of the love of God, the deep awareness that we cannot drift beyond his care, the sense that the everlasting arms are underneath us.  The outward characteristic is the endurance which Christ can give.  We live in a time that more and more people have the feeling that they cannot cope with life.  With the love of God in his heart and the strength of Christ in his life a man can face anything (Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series, p. 216).  How does the Lord direct your heart?

Gospel Reading —  Luke 20: 27-38

Jesus is finally in Jerusalem:

in Luke 19: 29+, he entered the city on a donkey.

In verses 41+, he weeps over Jerusalem

because they will not recognize the “things that make for peace.”

He enters the Temple and ‘cleanses’ it,

calling it a House of Prayer not a den of thieves.

Needless to say, the chief priests and leaders of the people were plotting to ‘trap’ him . . .  After much controversy, we then have this reading.

THE SADDUCEES, mostly priests, were the wealthy aristocracy of the day.  They were the privileged presiders of temple ritual and sacrifices.  They did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (a much debated subject at Jesus’ time).  The Pharisees, mostly laymen, on the other hand, did believe in resurrection. The Sadducees, as an elite class, also enjoyed a very cooperative and profitable relationship with Rome.

Jesus was part of a culture that was prone to conflict because of its emphasis on honor.  To gain and augment personal honor, one must challenge another in hope that the challenged person will look weak. Jesus may not have started the argument, but he is not against putting the opponents on the defensive and letting them look ‘stupid’ in comparison with his own clear thinking. One can see how such confrontation eventually could lead to their wanting to get rid of him. Yet, Jesus speaks what he knows to be true, not letting fear rule him.(The Cultural World of Jesus, John Pilch, 161-163).

To translate marriage in the present life into resurrection terms is impossible.  The transformation of the resurrected body from matter to spirit is so total that earthly considerations no longer have meaning. It is hard for us to grasp because we aren’t there yet.  We like to know, but it is unknowable.  All we do know is it is vastly superior to the present life, and it is vastly different.  The central joy of heaven is life in and with God with no fear of loss.  We must pray, in the spirit of St. Paul, to be strengthened and with the firm conviction that the God who is faithful will bring us home  (Faley, Footprints on the Mountain, p. 724).

Be A Tree

Written by parishioner Edwin Cano

HEADWIND CANOE

So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. Luke 19:4

1995. World Youth Day in Manila. We were camped near Roxas Boulevard when sirens came aloud signaling that Pope John Paul II is about to pass. We ran and took our chances into the thick population trying to catch a glimpse of the man. Nina, a petite sister with a big heart in Christ, was obviously vertically challenged and was having difficulty with the people pushing and pulling off the road. So, Nina climbed a human tree who allowed her to sit on his shoulders for her to take a wide peek at the Pope. As the Catholic church head passed by, Nina enjoyed the good scene. Maybe he waved at her but surely she waved at him.

Jesus did not only wave at him, Jesus asked…

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