Archive for August, 2012

Doing Great Things Through Faith

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Joshua 24: 1-2a, 15-17, 18b; Eph 5: 21-32; Jn 6: 60-69

By Deacon Larry Brockman


We can do great things together!  If we believe, do God’s will, and stick together, than we really can.  But first, we have to have faith.  And faith means believing in things that we cannot prove.  It means accepting the mysteries of our faith like the Incarnation, the Eucharist, and God’s natural law.


Today’s Gospel is all about believing and faith.  Jesus has been telling His followers that He will give them his flesh and blood, the bread of life; and that all who eat His flesh and drink His blood will have eternal life.  Today we hear that many of His followers found that too hard to believe.  So, they turned their backs on Jesus, and left. 


Contrast that with the Joshua story.  After a long period of time as the successor to Moses, Joshua had led the people into the promised land; had defeated their enemies; and established the Israeli people on the land.  Joshua knew that they needed the Lord to survive, even if they were about to be prosperous.  Joshua was challenging them to renew their belief in the Lord and to follow His commandments.  The people of Joshua’s time might have regarded Joshua’s success as their own.  After all, they had defeated the Philistines and Amorites and all the rest.  It might have just been considered a human success story.  But Joshua and the Israeli people knew otherwise.  All the tribes were gathered together and asked to make a commitment to the Lord at Shechem.  They did; they reaffirmed their commitment to believe in the Lord; his power as the one and only God; and to follow His Commandments.   Even though they had not seen the miracles of the Exodus for themselves, they experienced it in their hearts, because their parents had handed the story on, and the faith.  They had not personally seen the plagues; the parting of the Red Sea; the manna in the desert and it’s power to save them; but they believed; they had real Faith; because the Exodus experience was made close to them by their parents, close enough that trust in their God was written into their hearts.  It was the Faith of their fathers.   


Why did so many of the followers of Jesus leave and not believe?  Notice that Jesus called his close disciples together and asked them if they were going to leave as well.  But they said they did believe.  They accepted Jesus on His word.  You see, these close disciples knew Jesus very intimately, and that was the difference.  They experienced Jesus and his personal piety daily; they saw all his miracles, and they heard all of His teaching; and so even though His teaching was hard, they trusted in the person, Jesus, who had written His law into their hearts.


The Eucharist is, and always will be, a mystery.  We believe it because we believe in Jesus, just like the Apostles believed in the person of Jesus.  Likewise, we must accept other mysteries of our faith.  It will be easier to do if our experience of God’s love is written on our hearts, like it was on the people of Joshua’s time and on Jesus close disciples.  That is the key to believing- knowing the Lord Jesus in our hearts.  


In today’s world, we find it very hard to accept things on faith that we cannot prove.  Secular society tells us to question everything- and that includes church authority, church teachings, and church traditions.  But God wants us to believe in His authority, His Gospel, and the Natural law that He gave us.  And believing in it means believing in mysteries of faith. 


One of the primary mysteries of our faith, in my opinion, is the family.  God created us in His image and likeness- and He created the family in His image and likeness as well.  Paul tells us what that means.  Wives need to defer to their husbands; husbands need to love their wives; the two become one; and the result is children, the primary purpose of marriage.  Paul is not talking about blind submissiveness and the world’s kind of love.  Rather, he is referring to a partnership that joins two people together in Christian love, with the Father leading the family.  And that model of marriage is important so that the Children learn what a Christian family is all about..They need to take that into their hearts and pass it on to their children.    Nowadays, the sanctity of this central mystery of our faith, Christian marriage, is under attack.  Easy divorce; alternate family life styles; gay marriage; abortion, contraception and sterilization for convenience- all of these are contrary to one of the mysteries of our faith.  The traditional Christian marriage; and they are contrary to God’s natural law.  And yet they are all fast becoming accepted as accepted norms in our secular society.  Our challenge today is to know the Lord in our hearts, so that we can preserve the most important values in our Christian society- belief in God, the value of life, and our primary role in society; and to enter into Christian marriages and bring up our children with our values.  Together, we can do it.  And we have an opportunity to do it together.   


In the last election 54% of all Catholics voted for the present administration.  For the last 4 years that administration has fought against religious liberty, the definition of marriage between a man and a woman, and the sanctity of life.  In this election, Catholics must preserve Christian values at all costs.  Or else we betray our faith.  The choice is yours. 

Love and Forgivness

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Thursday of the 20th Week in Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 36: 23-28: 31-34; Mt 22: 1-14

By Deacon Larry Brockman

Love and forgiveness!  Isn’t it amazing how much Love God has for us, and how far He is willing to go in forgiving us.  The Israeli people ignored the prophets over and over again; ignoring God’s commandments; worshiping false gods; and doing wrong in the sight of the Lord.  And the consequences of their actions were the defeat and exile of the Jewish people.  It was humiliating for them; but it was even more of an insult to their God, because the Lord was the one true God; all powerful and loving.  He had delivered His people from trials; but could not deliver them from themselves and their own evil.  They had to meet him part of the way- they had to at least try to follow His example.  And so, as Ezekiel says, the Israelis had profaned His name; they had turned their back on the legacy of salvation.  Even so, the Lord swept them from wherever they were exiled, and reestablished the Israeli Kingdom.  He gave them yet another chance, such was His love and forgiveness for His people.


Jesus parable is a story about love and forgiveness as well.  Jesus talks about a King who invites his people to a joyful and festive celebration- not strangers, but his own people.  But they ignored him; turned their backs on him; and went about their own business.   And that is not all.  The king sends a second set of messengers to the people.  As a loving king, he is willing to forgive them of their selfishness and invite them a second time.  But his messengers are treated all the worse.   

Now of those who did come to the party, there were some who half-heartedly responded to the king.  They came, but they came on their terms.  It was a special celebration to the king; but these few didn’t see it that way.  They didn’t even bother to dress to the occasion.  And so, there are limits to the love and forgiveness of God.  God’s love is unconditional; but it is not unlimited.  Ultimately, God’s offer to love and to forgive us is limited by our need to respond, to reciprocate, to recognize that God’s will is primary and our will must be secondary.


One of the worst pains that we suffer in this world is unrequited love; love that you have for someone else, but it is not returned.  Can you sense that kind of pain in the King in the parable?  I certainly can.  And while God is limitless and infinite; He cannot supply both parts of a two way relationship.  And so, by definition, His love and forgiveness have to be limited.


Today we would do well to reflect on these aspects of our relationship with God.  Are there areas where you and I are not meeting God at all?  Is there a wall between you and God that has been constructed by your own will in some area- some area where you don’t ask for forgiveness, don’t admit to your sinfulness, or don’t share your love; perhaps because of pride, preoccupation with our own agenda, or lust for things or power?  Are there areas where you don’t let God in, and don’t respond to His invitation.  If there are, remember Jesus’ parting words: “many are called, but few are chosen”. 

Resurrection of the Body

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012


Rev 11: 19a, 12:1-6a, 10ab; 1 Cor 15: 20-27; Lk 1: 39-56

By Deacon Larry Brockman


A paradox!  Life is a paradox, because all of us will experience physical death.  And yet, as our first reading predicts, at the second coming of Christ, humanity’s last enemy, death, will be destroyed, and destroyed forever.  That means that none of those who are saved will really die.  So, all of us are going to die; and yet all of us who are saved will not die but live forever- seemingly a paradox.   


I just attended my Cousin Jack’s funeral Monday.  He was the first of my generation in my family to die.  It brought home to me the reality of my own mortality; and that got me thinking about the real implications of the Assumption.  Our church teaches that when we die, we don’t really die; rather, we transition to a different kind of life.  It’s the resurrected state of life in the Kingdom of God that Paul talks about in Corinthians.  But that is not all, because somehow, we will all be reunited with our bodies after the Last Judgment.  Recall that we profess just that in the Apostles Creed.  When we say “I believe in the resurrection of the body”!   


Now Jesus lived amongst His disciples for 40 days after Easter in His resurrected body.  So there is the first instance of a resurrected body.  Today, the feast of the Assumption we celebrate a second incidence of a human who remains in their resurrected body- the Blessed Mother.  And so, the implications of the Assumption are clear.  It is not just God the Son, Jesus, who somehow will retain His body in the resurrected state in the kingdom of God but as promised, Christ has conquered death for all of us who are saved, so all of us humans will be reunited with our bodies somehow as well.  Mary is proof of that, and Mary has been seen over the centuries in her resurrected body by many.  She was and is not divine, but fully human, just like you and I.  And so, life remains a paradox- our bodies die, yet somehow, we will not die but will ultimately live forever reunited with our bodies when Christ returns.   


Now there are a couple of important points to make about all of this.  First, how we can be reunited with our bodies, and just what will these bodies be like. Well, these are mysteries- like the incarnation and the resurrection of Jesus are mysteries of faith.  Yes, like many of the tenets of our Faith, we are called to believe in these mysteries of faith. 


Second, the experiences of Mary and Jesus in their resurrected bodies are validation of the reality of both the promise of our resurrection and life in the kingdom and the actual demonstration of that reality.  So, although we are called upon to accept as a mystery how all that happens; we have been gifted with the demonstration of that reality through the Gospel account of Jesus resurrection and the appearances of Mary throughout history.   


For most of us, when a loved one dies, it seems as if a permanent wall comes down that separates us from them.  We say that we believe that they continue to live, only life has changed for them, but for us, they seem so totally gone.  It’s part of the grieving process that we go through.  Sometimes that feeling of grief is so great that it can cause both doubt in the resurrection, and fear of death of ourselves in our minds.  We see that apparent permanent wall, and it just seems so daunting and real.  Well, that’s what makes the Assumption, and the centuries of validated appearances of Mary, so important for us to recognize, because Mary lifts for us that veil of separation.   


In the reading from Corinthians today, Paul says it all very well from a theological perspective.  Christ was raised; the first fruits.  And all of us will follow in the right order when Christ returns.  So, we really don’t need to fear death at all.  But, do we really believe that.  Most of us want validation, and Mary’s Assumption that we celebrate today, is part of our validation.   


So rejoice, because our Blessed mother has shown us the reality of our future destiny.  Life everlasting, reunited in our bodies, in the Kingdom of God.

The Ultimate Covenant- the Kingdom of God

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Thursday of the 18th Week in Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Mt 16: 13-23

By Deacon Larry Brockman


Lest we become too critical of Israel for breaking the covenant that the Lord made with them as we listen to the first reading, consider this:  Haven’t we broken our covenant with God as well?  Not just the covenant of Moses’ day, but rather, the New Covenant, the covenant promised in the New Testament? 


Jesus promised us Eternal life if we believed that He was the Savior.  That’s right, first we must really believe, and then we must follow after Jesus by using His example, the example left in the Gospel, the new way of living life, by first discerning and then doing the will of the Father, just like He, Jesus did.   


And yet, which of us is not guilty of failing to do all that?  In the Gospel, Jesus confirms in his talk with Peter and the disciples, straight up, that He is the Messiah.  And he also tells Him straight up, that by following the will of His Father, He, Jesus, will suffer at the hands of the Jewish leaders, and then die, be buried, and rise from the dead.  And what does his main man Peter do?  This man who is living right alongside the God made man, who tells Jesus that he believes He is the Messiah?  He doubts Him. He even rebukes Him for suggesting such a thing.     


How about us, are we any better than Peter?  How many times have we doubted, and not really believed?  Belief implies trust, forbearance, patience, and calmness whenever we are confronted with trials.  It means always knowing in our hearts, that is, believing with our hearts, that God is with us no matter what happens to us.  And there is something else that we need to believe as well.  Because if we believe that God is with us, and we bear up to whatever trials we are tested with, then we need to believe that the reward is great.  Jeremiah sums the reward up very well this way:  “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD.  I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  No longer will they have need to teach their friends and kinsmen how to know the LORD. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more”.   


Yes indeed, “after those days”, the days of our life on this earth, we shall all know Him, and our sins will be forgiven forever- such tremendous consolation, and such is our reward, to know God forever; to be in perfect harmony with Him; and to live happily with everyone else who is saved.  Amen!