Archive for the ‘Holy Family Weekday Homilies’ Category

Our Behavior Mirrors Our Generation’s Faith

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

Wednesday of 3rd Week in Lent

Dt 4: 1, 5-9; Mt 5: 17-19

Deacon Larry Brockman

First, we hear from Moses that the Israeli Nation should live according to the law, not just to save themselves, but also so that their example would stand out.  In that way, other nations would see the wisdom and intelligence of their God and his law.   

Then, we hear Jesus admonish the people that He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.  But Jesus whole ministry was aimed at instilling the law in our hearts.  It was not so much a matter of meeting the letter of the law, but a matter of understanding and living the law with our hearts.  And he goes further by saying that those who obey the law will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven, while those who teach others to abandon the law will be least in the Kingdom of Heaven. And so Jesus is also emphasizing the example that the people will give to others.   

You know, it struck me that these are definitely words of wisdom for our time.  All of a sudden, our entire world has been immersed in an incredible challenge- this Corona Virus pandemic.  It is so challenging that many have said that they have never seen anything like it before.  It is even being compared to World War II in terms of its eventual global impact; because this current pandemic has the potential to change life for all of us in ways we never expected just weeks ago.  We simply don’t understand the economic and human implications of what amounts to a national, let alone a world-wide lockdown for an extensive period of time.  We don’t know how many of us will become infected and how many of us will die.   

And yet, the reality is that the mortality rate is one in 40 or 50; so, the vast majority of people who get it will survive.  Only history will establish how well we respond to this pandemic and the challenges that it is presenting us.   

When you come right down to it, God is the solution to the problem.  We are being called to live according to the natural law of God; and what is more, we are being called to live according to the moral law that God has given us as we navigate our way through this challenge.  And so, we are being called to love our neighbor as ourselves; and we are being called to do unto others as we would have them do to us.  

Now these are not just merely words to ponder, but rather, they are a call to action.  We are being called upon to live the Christian faith now more than at any time in the past.  Let me be specific.   

Christianity calls for us to act in harmony with everyone’s interests, not just in own self-interest and to be calm and in control of ourselves, and not act out of panic.  That being the case, let me pose this question:  Just how much Clorox and toilet paper can a family use in 4 weeks?  Yet all of these items have been totally depleted everywhere in this country.  We’ve all been to the store; we’ve all seen the pictures.  People are panicking; but even more to the point, they are acting out of selfishness.  And this is only the first week or so of the National crisis.   

We stand on the threshold of what might be a long, long period of time when we are called to live orderly, disciplined lives according to the law while we are pretty much on our own; while we are in isolation.  And while we are all worried that the supply chain will be affected, we simply cannot panic.  Rather, we need to pray and to trust that God and our fellow man will be there for us.  The government simply can’t police all of us; and all of us are affected.  That takes self-control and discipline; and adherence to a moral code that we believe in.  It’s the kind of self-control Moses was asking the Israelis to practice; and the kind of adherence to the spirit of the law which was the essence of Jesus mission.   

Nobody knows how this pandemic will play out over the next couple of months.  But God loves all of us, and He will be there for us at this critical time if we call on His name and trust in Him.  Meanwhile, we need to be there for each other; and we need to listen to what our leaders are asking us to do.  In other words, we need to be obedient to the law.   

Generations from now, will our witness to our faith and the law that flows from it validate how we behaved in this crisis?  Will we establish a legacy we can all be proud of?  Will this generation be great in the kingdom of heaven?  Or will we walk away from God and make it every man for himself? 

We Cannot Hide Our Chritianity

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

2 Sam 7: 18-19, 24-29; Mark 4: 21-25

Deacon Larry Brockman

Today’s first reading tells us all about the chosen people, Israel, and the House of God.  In a sense, this is analogous to the Church of today.

And in the Gospel, Jesus talks directly to his disciples, who are to be his witnesses to the end of the earth.  Today’s Gospel follows immediately after the parable Jesus told a great crowd on the lake in yesterday’s reading.  It was the parable of the sower and the seed.  Clearly, that parable was addressed to the crowd.  Jesus told his disciples he spoke in parables so that those who sought the truth would see; but those who weren’t seeking the truth would be blind to the analogy.  Those who would turn from his message at the first distraction; or be deceived by the devil or be drawn to the things of the world were identified and rejected.

Jesus was seeking to find those who were hungry for his message and would produce fruit in the long run by living according to it.  But then he told his disciples that they were especially gifted with knowledge of the Kingdom. 

So, today’s Gospel is the sequel to the parable of the seed.  He is not talking to the people in general but to the disciples who are especially gifted.  But he uses the same language as yesterday to challenge his disciples to look beyond the surface meaning and see the hidden message in the parable.  Jesus says: “Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”   

Since Jesus is addressing his disciples, what does it all mean to us?  Well, we are the chosen people now; and we are also his disciples.  Jesus intent was to propagate the Christian message throughout the world.  All of us are blessed as the House of Israel was blessed by virtue of our membership in the people of God.  We achieve that membership when we are Baptized into the Church.  

And when we are Baptized, the Priest or Deacon Says: “I anoint you as priest, prophet and king.”  And so, we are sent out to be God’s witnesses to the end of the earth.  This means that although Jesus was addressing His disciples in real time; He is addressing all of us today.   

You see, our Church needs witnesses; witnesses who are not afraid to share their knowledge, to share the light of Christ that they have received.  And what is more, this is what God expects of us.   

In fact, the disciples are being told that just because they have been chosen to hear about the kingdom of God directly,  They are not to keep it to themselves;  They are to spread that light, let it shine everywhere.  It would be inappropriate for them to keep this “secret” knowledge to themselves; and it would be unacceptable for them to receive special “gifts” and not use them to spread that message.   

Then Jesus repeats his challenge to the disciples a second time.  He says: Take care what you hear”.  And tells them: “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you”.  And: “To the one that has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”   

When we come into this beautiful building to worship, we experience a communal bond of fellowship and common belief.  It reinforces our faith and makes it vibrant and strong, especially when we receive the Eucharist.  But, this morning’s message is that this is not enough.  It is not enough for us to just support each other and to be comfortable in our faith.  The secular world is out there, and the light we have cannot be hidden in this Church.  It needs to be spread all around.   

Just like the disciples, all of us have been gifted in special ways.  God wants us to use those gifts to be his witnesses.  We should not hide these talents and savor our knowledge in closed communities.  If we do, we may just lose what we have.  We are the people of God now and it is our job, all of us, to spread the light of Christ.  In today’s world, the folks all around us are in just as much need of enlightenment as those in the remote corners of the world. 

So, let your light shine. 

Finding the Light Burden

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent

Is 40: 25-31; Mt 11: 28-30

Deacon Larry Brockman

“Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.  For my yoke is easy and my burden light”.  That really struck me and strikes me every time I hear it because it doesn’t seem to be so, does it?   

All of us face burdens and trials in life and some of them seem really hard, not easy.  We lose our jobs; we get illnesses, some of them chronic; we lose a parent or spouse or child.  We are accosted by difficult people; we are burdened with debt, fear, or the unknown.  And even though we pray for help it still seems really hard sometimes, doesn’t it?  

 It’s especially hard when multiple problems have to be faced at the same time because we feel that we have to be in control at all times; and when we get hit from all sides, we don’t feel in control.  That makes the whole dilemma seem that much worse.   

Now the first reading today gives some special insight about God’s relationship with us.  God makes it abundantly clear that we cannot hide anything from him.  No matter how much we think that we are in control and can circumvent fate ourselves; the reality is that God knows; He always knows; and but for the grace of God, none of our actions to do anything would be effective.  So, we are never really ever in control; God is.  

Isaiah speaks of God’s intimate knowledge of each member of His army; He knows each of them by their name and He leads them.  So, no matter what, the Lord is there to lead the way.  We can resist; or we can cooperate, it’s up to us.     

Then, Isaiah says that even young men faint and grow weary.  So those of us who are strong and like to be in control- beware; you will eventually faint and grow weary.  Our energy is limited, and we just can’t get there by ourselves.   

But the Lord does not grow weary- ever.  Isaiah says that the Lord gives strength to the faint.  So, if we let God lead, let Him take control, we will be strengthened in what we do.   

Well, that’s basically what Jesus is talking about as well.  We are all called to turn over our burdens to the one who is in control- God.  This means that we trust in God.  It does not mean that we abandon our efforts.  Rather, we trust that God will lead us through whatever we are faced with.  We still need to act; but we act knowing that God is behind us all the way.    Now when we try to control everything, and things don’t go our way; well, that usually results in very bad feelings inside- anger, hate, jealousy, disappointment, and lots of other negative emotions.    But when we trust in God and let Him lead us; He may just grace us with unexpected outcomes.  Sometimes those outcomes are even better than we ever imagined.  Often we get a feeling of satisfaction from the Lord; an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction that God has heard us; that he loves us; and that we are in harmony with him.  Those feelings of harmony are in stark contrast to the feelings of resentment we get when we try to be in control.   

There are hard times that all of us will have to endure in life.  But if we trust in the Lord and turn it over to him, we will be sure to find rest for ourselves- the eternal rest that never ends. 

Ascending the Mountain of the lord

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

Is 25: 6-10a; Mt 15: 29-37

Deacon Larry Brockman

Two mountains; two feasts; and the mercy of God.  That’s what we heard about today in both readings today.   

The gospel story has both a literal and a symbolic meaning.  In a literal sense, we see that Jesus shows an incredible amount of mercy and compassion.  Not only does he heal all the blind, the sick, the deformed, the mute, and the lame brought to him; but he meets the bodily needs of the whole crowd whom he senses is famished after following him for days.  Jesus was always thinking of others, not himself.   

Just imagine how exhausted Jesus must have been.  After all, he was faced with a constant stream of desperate people for days; and yet the further away he travelled to get some peace; the more crowded it got; the more individuals he had to heal.  Finally, he ends up on the mountain with nowhere to go!.  Even after all that, His focus was on everybody else, not himself.     

Now human beings are limited in their capacity to show mercy and compassion.  And since Jesus was fully human, he was under those limitations   But this story gives us just a hint at the breadth and depth of the mercy and compassion of God.  Jesus, God made fully human, demonstrates mercy and compassion almost beyond human capacity in this story.  And yet God himself has no such limits.  That’s what the literal part of the gospel tells us.  It tells us to rejoice over the unlimited mercy and compassion of God.   

The gospel also has a symbolic meaning.  And that meaning is foretold in our first reading from Isaiah.  Isaiah has been called the Gospel of the Old Testament because it foretells so much about Jesus life and mission.   

Today’s first reading is an apocalyptic vision of “the mountain of God”, that is, the Holy City of Jerusalem in the Kingdom of God.  The feast with fine wines and rich foods is the heavenly reward of all those who enter its gates.  When the Lord Comes again, we are all hoping we will follow him into this final place of rest and satisfaction.  Death will be destroyed there, yielding everlasting life for its inhabitants.  There will be no tears, and all nations will live in harmony.  The reproach of the people will be removed; so, all sins will be forgiven.  And as Isaiah himself says “Behold our God to whom we looked to save us!”  So, we will all be in the presence of God.  This is the ultimate vision of the mercy and compassion of God; a vision of salvation and happiness for all those who are saved.  

Today’s gospel has all the same symbols-  the mountain symbolizes the Kingdom; the healing of all the infirmities symbolizes forgiveness of any and all of our brokenness; and the bread and fish symbolize nourishment for all by God himself.  Jesus is God made man and symbolizes our presence in the Kingdom with almighty God.   

We are in the early part of Advent.  We are all being called to joyful expectation of the Kingdom like the crowd in Jesus’ time,  We need to be desperate for healing; humble and contrite in our approach; and hungry for what really satisfies our hunger.  If we are, then we can joyfully anticipate the limitless mercy and compassion of Jesus when he comes; and the rich feast in the Holy City of Jerusalem will be ours! 

The Wisdom of God is the Spirit!

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

Thursday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time

Wis 7: 22b-8:1,Luke 17: 20-25

Deacon Larry Brockman

Some people say that the Holy Spirit is not in the Old Testament.  But today we hear more about the nature of the Holy Spirit than in any place else in the Bible.  We hear about an “intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, agile, and clear” spirit.  Isn’t that just magnificent!

And the author goes on and on with other attributes as well.    We would all do well to read and reread this first reading.  It would greatly assist all of us in understanding when we are influenced by the Holy Spirit as opposed to other spirits which are constantly attacking us, suggesting how we can feed our desires and self rather than get close to God.  Daily we are accosted by these evil spirits who urge us in various ways.  They tell us; “If it feels good, do it”; “What about something just for me”; and “Don’t be bothered by that” when our conscience haunts us.   

But the Wisdom that the Holy Spirit infuses in us helps us to be in harmony with God.  And harmony with God brings joy, an everlasting joy.   

Now this reading is paired with Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees on the Kingdom of God.  Jesus has been talking about the Kingdom of God as he journeyed through Galilee and Judea.  But the audience didn’t get it   Even after all the parables on the Kingdom of God, parables we have been hearing for the last several weeks, they just didn’t get it. The Pharisees didn’t get it either.  They all just didn’t get it.  I’m not sure we all get it.   

So, Jesus tries again.  He says “The Kingdom of God is not something you can see”; and “The Kingdom of God is amongst us”.  How can both of these be true? 

Indeed, we live in a world that is shared by the people of God and the people of this world.  The two factions don’t live in harmony but are in constant friction.   

For some, life is all about themselves; it’s all about getting whatever satisfaction they can out of this world while life lasts.  These people are inspired by the spirit of evil that rejects God’s spirit and urges folks to live for themselves.  They are rewarded by comfort, pleasure, money, power, things, whatever the world has to offer. Their goal is always to be happy and avoid suffering in this world.   

Others are honestly trying to listen to God.  They are looking for God’s will for them and they are prompted by true “Wisdom”, which come from the Spirit of God, the kind of Wisdom we hear about in the first reading.  These people are rewarded by a feeling of satisfaction infused by God when they are in harmony with God.  That satisfaction is something that lasts forever.    They suffer, work, sacrifice, and love unconditionally. They experience feelings of joy and satisfaction instead of comfort and the world’s happiness, like the feeling you get from nurturing your children, helping someone else in need, or taking care of an aged parent  despite the pain and discomfort one incurs in the process.   These are the “Holy Moments” that Matthew Kelly talked about in the book we all got last Easter.   

And so, the Kingdom of God is amongst us, and co-exists with the World as we know it.  It is not something that can be seen.  But it is something we can all experience.  

When that flash of lightning occurs when we pass from this world to the next the sheep will be separated from the goats,   And we will follow Jesus with the rest of his flock into the Kingdom of God, all those who are filled with the Spirit of God. 

What’s Your Name?

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Thursday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Times

Ex 3: 13-20; Mt 11:28-30

Deacon Larry Brockman

So, does your name tell who you really are?    It seems different today than it was in the past, doesn’t it?  Because today, our last name identifies our family; and our first name usually refers to a name that is popular, or maybe a name from a close relative- a Grandma or Grandpa or Aunt or Uncle.   

It didn’t use to be that way.  Millers were millers, Smiths were Blacksmiths; and in my case, my family were the people that lived by the brook.

And in the ancient world things were different too.  The ancients valued their name because it told who they really were.  Moses wanted to know what this mysterious God’s name was because he knew that the name would transmit the essential information about who God really was.   

And God tells him very simply: “I am who am”.  So simple, and yet so packed with meaning.  God’s name implies that he is and always has been and always will be.  God describes himself as one who existed always- before anyone or anything else.  He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He doesn’t say he was the God of those patriarchs; rather, he is still their God.  And that says a lot too.   

I don’t know about you, but when I think about God as having created everything, the universe and any companion universes; and everything and everyone that has ever lived; and that he relates continually to everyone and everything at the same time; well, that puts me in an awesome fear of God.  He is so mighty and eternal; and our abilities are so limited in time, space, and capacity.  It is truly humbling to think of ourselves in the face of God, no matter how gifted we might be in the eyes of the world.  We are nothing compared to our God.   

Now God speaks to Moses about how he heard their cries for help and was answering them.  And the whole Exodus story is an awesome example of how this transcendent, almighty God acted in their behalf.  He saved the Israelis from the Egyptians with mighty works.  So, God intervened out of love for his people.  But still, the God of the Old Testament seemed remote and above us all.  His love was mysterious and veiled.   

Today’s Gospel is short and sweet.  Jesus, who is also God- the second person of the Blessed Trinity- says this to us: “Come to me all you who are burdened, and I will give you rest.” 

We have travelled through the Liturgical year.  Jesus came, lived, preached, suffered, died, was resurrected from the dead, and returned to the Father.  So, our God deigned to send his Son to be one of us- He became present to us in ways that we could all understand.  The Incarnation provides us with an alternate picture of God from the almighty, totally transcendent God of the Old Testament.  As Jesus says himself, “for I am meek and humble of heart.”  Yes, God is almighty and above everything and anything we can understand.  But He is also meek and humble of heart.  In the face of almighty God, that is what each of us is called to be as well- meek and humble of heart.   

You see, we have a brother, the Son of God who became like us in every way except for sin so that we could put aside the fear of the almighty.  Jesus gave us the example of his own life so we could see how we could become close to Him.  We do that by following the example of Jesus in the Gospel.   

And just what is that.?  Well Jesus became who God wanted him to be.  Jesus sought the will of God for Him and lived that life. That is what we are all called to do as well- to be the person God calls us to be.  We are called to be:  Mothers, fathers, priests, nuns, caregivers, providers, defenders of the faith, artisans, scholars, athletes and many other things. 

We are each gifted with missions and talents tailored just for us but to give glory to our creator.  That is who we are; and that will be our name forever. 

Dealing With False Prophets (U)

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

Wednesday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time

Gen 15:1-12, 17-18; Mt 7: 15-20

Deacon Larry Brockman

I wonder whether we have false prophets in our day?  Jesus says they would come to us in sheep’s clothing, but underneath they would be ravenous wolves.  Prophets. you know, tell us what things will be like in the future.  They are either prophets of doom; or prophets of boon.  Most people like the second kind of prophet, don’t they?   

I don’t know about you, but a whole bunch of things leap out at me about prophets of boon.  How about the advertising industry for starters?  We are constantly bombarded with claims on products by advertisers all telling us how much better our lives would be if only we bought their products.  They are claims that are hard to believe; probably because they are not true, or at best, they are half true.  And underneath, we know that there is just one motive- money, not our welfare.  This includes ads for toothpaste, soda drinks, beer, chips, all kinds of foods and entertainment, and a whole lot more.  They are replete with promises, implied promises.  They use good looking women or guys with the whitest teeth, or having the best time at the party, or any number of other visual traps that sell us.  Everything looks so good on the surface.   

Most of us are not taken in by these kinds of false prophets.  Probably because all of us have bought these false narratives a time or two, and so, we learned from our mistakes.  We can tell what the real fruits of their efforts are.   

But there are other, much more serious false prophets who use the same techniques to sell something as good.  They are not selling products; they are selling visions as a means of gaining power.  I’m talking about politicians; politicians whose hidden agenda differs from what they are selling.  They couch what they say by making it all sound so good.  Free college education for everyone; free health care for everyone; a big increase in the minimum wage; a tax cut for everyone; eliminating stifling government regulations on business and the environment; and safeguarding the second amendment.   

But you have to wonder if they are sheep in wolves clothing.  Are they promising these agendas to gain and maintain power?   Or do they really have our best interests at stake?  Because each one of the 6 things I mentioned comes at a cost, doesn’t it?  And basically, the costs are not addressed by their promises; rather, the emphasis is on all the “good” that is promised.  Some things appear to be good on the surface, but when you look at them closer or over time they end up being very bad.  Unfortunately, consequences like this and real costs are ignored.   

But just like the products pushed by the advertising industry, we can often tell when we’ve been hoodwinked.  Because most of the time, politicians just don’t deliver on their promises.  And if they do, the consequences, come back to bite us.  So, we sometimes know what the fruit of their labors is.  The challenge is to find someone who delivers on their promises and handles the consequences.  We are looking for the truth; not propaganda.  And in our society, that is getting really difficult to find.   

Then there are the prophets of gloom.  They are like barking dogs, warning us about Global warming or complete financial collapse due to the national debt or and of a number of international threats and dangers.  It is harder to sort out the truth from these doomsayers because the issues are so complex.  And besides, it is human nature to want to hide from gloom and doom.  Old Testament Israel constantly ignored true prophets like that   

But you know, there is an oasis in all of this.  There is a place all of us can go to test everything and determine whether the prophets of gloom and the prophets of boon are bearing good fruit or bad fruit.  And that oasis is our relationship with God.  Abram’s story this morning is an example.  If we have a relationship with God; and we ask him sincerely what the right thing is to do; he will guide us; he will answer our prayers; and we can put our trust in him.  He may not explain it all in such a way that we fully understand everything, especially all the consequences.  More than likely, he will just point us in the right direction.  We will get the right feeling, a sort of common sense.   

Do we have false prophets in today’s world?  You bet; they are all around us, especially as we get close to an election year. 

A Little Love Goes A Long Way

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Acts 17: 25, 22B- 18:1; Jn 16:12-15

Deacon Larry Brockman

It was just too much for them, these Greeks.  As Paul addresses the Athenians, he talks to them about a different kind of God and it was just too much for them to take at one time.    First of all, it was so different.  These were educated people according to the Greek traditions.  They knew all about their gods; and they knew about other cultures and their gods.  They were tolerant of these other beliefs as the altar to the unknown god testified.  In a sense, they knew too much about these other belief systems.  Today, they would be called pluralists; those who believe that there is a little bit of truth in all faiths.  Such folks believe that God speaks in his own special way to all cultures and peoples.  So, there is value in listening to all and integrating everyone’s revelation.  Pluralists think it is arrogant for someone to proclaim that their religion has the answer.    

Paul’s words turned everything around on them.   Paul talked about how there was only one God, a God who was beyond all understanding; a God who made everything and everyone.  Such a God would supersede all these other religions that these folks studied.  They just didn’t want to hear that.   

Secondly, they did not have the proper disposition because their hearts were closed.  They were not capable of inspiration; not open to it.  The vanity of their educated status and their long line of traditions, made the idea of resurrection of the body absurd to them.  And so, they politely rejected Paul.  They told him “We should like to hear about this some other time”.  And so Paul left.   

We also live in a culture that thinks it has all the answers.  Our culture believes that mankind can control their own destiny.  Many teach that all creation can be explained without God; and that our science and technology has advanced to the point where we can forge our own destiny.  We can clone animals and people, they say.  We have genetically engineered this and that.  And they also scoff at the idea of an afterlife, especially a resurrected body.   

Now, the interesting thing is that the Christian message conquered the western world despite the arguments, smugness, and arrogance of the establishment of its time.  They conquered the world because of the love that the Christians displayed.  They conquered the world by speaking and living the truth.   

The tiny group of 12 men that gathered around Jesus and listened to the words Jesus spoke to them this morning in the Gospel changed the world forever.  Most of the 12, all but one, suffered martyrdom in the process.  But they had the peace that Jesus offered them in the process.  They had that peace because of the tremendous force that Jesus promises them this morning.  They had the energy, words, inspiration, and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  And so even when they were being persecuted, they were at peace with their God.   

This Easter, Father John gave each of us a little book to read.  I don’t know how many of you have read it, but the author, Matthew Kelly, makes a very strong point.  He advises all of us that we can respond to the Holy Spirit with Holy Moments.  We may not live holy moments all the time but we can be inspired to live holy moments at any time.  Our holy moments involve the inspiration we have to do something simple, yet extraordinary in our lives: to love unconditionally and unexpectedly for just a short period of time by helping a neighbor; doing something extra and unexpected.  And if we all live holy moments more often, that will make a difference.  Even the most arrogant and smug in society can be touched by the love of a holy moment just like they were 2000 years ago.   

So a good, sound, theological argument may fall on deaf ears, just as it did with the Athenians in Paul’s time.  It may be just too much all at one time for those who are disposed otherwise.  But a little love goes a long way. 

An Amazing Transformation

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter

Acts 5: 27-33; Jn 3:31-36

Deacon Larry Brockman

What an amazing transformation!    The Apostles, who had been “huddled in the upper room for fear of the Jews”, were transformed by Jesus’ resurrection appearance and his gift of the Holy Spirit to them.  They would stand in the portico of the temple in full sight of the authorities who they had previously feared, and preach Christ crucified and resurrected.  That’s what we have been hearing day by day in this Easter season.   

This morning, our reading tells us that the court officers made them stand before the Sanhedrin, where they were reminded that they were given strict orders not to preach “in that name”.  And Peter boldly tells the Sanhedrin that: “We must obey God rather than men.”   

First, Jesus appears to the Apostles and tells them to be at peace; and he means internal peace, not peace in a secular or worldly sense.  Certainly Peter and the Apostles do not appear to be at peace in a worldly sense in this morning’s reading.  Here they are, hauled in front of the authorities they feared previously, and we are told that the authorities wanted to kill them.  That’s not the kind of peace the world gives.  But they were at peace in their hearts because they had found their calling; they had found their hearts; they were at peace with God.  They were responding to the call to go out and preach the Gospel to all nations.   

What do you suppose the message is for us?  Does this story just give us a glimpse of the authenticity of the Christian story?  Is that all we take away from it, and then go on with our daily lives?  Or is there a much more profound personal message?    

And then there is the Gospel today.  It is taken from the very beginning of St. John’s Gospel, Chapter 3.  Jesus is explaining his role.  He has come from heaven, from above, “to testify to what He has seen and heard” from God the Father.  He boldly claims that He has been sent from the Father and “speaks the words of God”.  And he tells everyone that “Whoever believes in the son has eternal life”.   

His next sentence is very interesting because he says “whoever disobeys the son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains in him.”  That means that our belief is proven by our obedience.  We are required to be obedient to God’s call to us.   

Jesus post-Resurrection message to the Apostles was meant to be a message to all of us, not just the Apostles.  We are called to believe and to go forth and testify to the truth.  That’s what the Easter season is all about.  We are not just called to hear the story.  We are called to believe the story, embrace the peace of God that protects us from fear of the secular world; and boldly spread the message of the Gospel to all nations.   

We can do that within the context of our daily lives from where we are planted by God.  Each of us was given life in the here and now- in this age, some 2000 years after the events of the Gospel.  But our mission is the same as that of the first Christians.  We are called to be fearless witnesses of everything we have heard about our Christian Faith.   

We don’t have to drop everything and dedicate every waking hour to preaching Christ.  Rather, we just have to preach Christ by our daily lives in the way we treat others we come in contact with; in the way we raise our families; in the example we show our children and coworkers; in the way we stand up to the evils of the secular world.   

Yes, it is Jesus hope that each year in the Easter season each of us will experience an amazing transition just like the Apostles did. 

Living in Harmony With God’s Call (U)

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

St. Joseph the Worker (May 1, 2019)

Col 3: 14-15, 17, 23-24; Mt 13:54-58

Deacon Larry Brockman

No matter who you are, God has a plan especially for you.   God has gifted each you with the talents and personality that you have.  It is up to you to allow God’s spirit working within you to sense God’s plan for you and to use the gifts you have wisely.   

Of course, your parents and the environment you live in have a lot to do with it as well.  But God had a role to play in that too, didn’t he?  It was God’s will that you live right now- in this time and place.   

Jesus was like you and me in every way in his humanity.  It was God’s will that Jesus be born in the time and place that he was.  And it was God’s will that Jesus grow up in a humble environment as the son of a carpenter.  And yet, God also graced Jesus with special talents- the ability to know God the Father intimately; to discover who He was, the Son of God; and to embark on his 3 year Mission to preach about the Kingdom of God.   

And through the Spirit, Jesus was able to discern that things had to change; people had to change because the message that God had passed on to His people through Moses and the prophets had morphed.  Instead of loving God and neighbor with one’s whole heart, mind, and soul; the essence of being a Jew in Jesus’ time was adherence to the Mosaic law.  Jesus preached repentance, which is a change in lifestyle to correct for deficiencies; and Jesus preached following in his own way of life to be in harmony with God, even if it resulted in suffering and pain.  In Jesus’ case, it resulted in his death on the cross.  

St. Paul does a great job summarizing what Jesus was trying to teach the people in this morning’s first reading.  First and foremost, we must put on love.  And, we must seek out and act on the peace that God gives us.   

Sunday we learned Jesus’ greeting to the Apostles was “Peace be with you” in each of the post-Resurrection appearances.  And that “peace” is the internal peace that comes with being in a right relationship with God.  When your life is in harmony with God’s will, you are at peace internally no matter what is going on around you in the world.  Such peace requires us to be strong; to be resolute; and to accept the realities of conflict in the world.  It seems so ironic; but someone who is suffering from terrible persecution can have the internal peace of God although they are hardly at peace in the eyes of the secular world.   

And we are to act from the heart.  That means that whatever we do, we are motivated by the Spirit working deep within us such that we feel that it is the right thing to do.  Our motivation is not just to comply with the law; but rather to fulfill the deepest sentiments of our hearts. 

For example, we should go to Mass on Sundays not because we have to; but because we want to be with God and we seek the nourishment that are in both the Word of God and the Bread of Life.  

And lastly, we are to be slaves of Christ.  Yes, all of us are called to a servant role, to do God’s will.  For most of us, that means we are called to be servants to those who are in our families.  Serving the needs of our children and our spouses are our top priorities.   

When Jesus stood up in that local synagogue and taught the people, He was at peace with his Father, he was doing the will of His Father, and he was using the talents that God had given him, talents that were above and beyond those that he had learned in his trade as a carpenter.  Jesus spoke with authority, and his message was well structured and well thought out.  But most importantly, Jesus was fulfilling the will of His Father to preach repentance and about the coming Kingdom of God.  And Jesus was at peace when his own people rejected him.   

This morning, we are all called to reflect on how we are living our lives.  Are we in harmony with the will of God?  Are we using the personality and talents we have been given to be servants of God?  And are we at peace with all of that?