Archive for May, 2013

How Can We Really See?

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Thursday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time

Sirach 42: 15-25; Mark 10: 46-52

Dc. Larry Brockman


Ah, if only we could see.

Sirach first says that he will “recall God’s works- what I have seen.”  And then proceeds to describe how God’s word, once spoken, just happens, and fulfills that word.  Then he gives a summary of the wonders of creation that followed, and the depths of the understanding and wisdom of God.  He also says that the Most High “sees from of old the things that are to come”.  Just imagine that, the ability to see the future.  And so, God sees and understands all things and has offered to share that understanding and wisdom with all of us through the Spirit- the Spirit which was his recent gift to all of us at Pentecost.  It is that Spirit which motivates us to understand and do God’s will.  In other words, it is the Spirit that enables us to see, to really see.

In the Gospel, Bartimaeus cries out in hope to Jesus.  And when Jesus calls him forward, he throws off his cloak- his one prized possession.  You see, that cloak was his protection against the wind and rain and the elements; his sleeping bag and a symbol of security.  But he throws off that cloak, and walks away from it.  It is almost as if he is turning his back on the past.  And he goes towards Jesus, not only blind, but in blind trust.  Such faith.  And Jesus gives him sight in reward for that faith.

The question is, what did he see when he was gifted with sight.  Did he just see the world as most of us gifted with sight from birth do?  Or did he see things in the light of the Spirit as Sirach describes?  We do know that Bartimaeus “followed him on the way”, so it would appear that Bartimaeus saw something more than just the beauty of creation.

How about you and I?  Are we blinded by the real message of God and the Gospel by the clutter of life and all the things of the world?  Or do we see through the lens of the Spirit we received at Pentecost- a Spirit of wisdom and understanding of the will of God for us.

Being Made in the Image and Likeness of God

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Trinity Sunday

Prov 8: 22-31; Rom 5: 1-5; Jn 16: 12-15

Dc. Larry Brockman


It is one of the main things we believe as Christians.  It is the topic of today’s readings.  It is the Holy Trinity.  And it is something we struggle with our whole life to grasp; but the reality is that it is beyond us, it truly is a mystery.  We are simply called to believe in the Trinity.  But that doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate the meaning that the Trinity has for us.  And that is what I would like to talk about for a few minutes today.

First, all three persons of the Trinity were there at the beginning and will live forever- the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  That‘s three persons, but one God, the Trinity.

God the Father is who we think of when we first think of God.  He is the Lord of the Old Testament.  He is the all-powerful author and creator of all things, visible and invisible.  Our psalm talks about the Father, about how awesome and large all that He created is.  And the psalm poses the question, “What are humans that you are mindful of them?”  Another way of saying that is that this person of the trinity seems so large, distant, remote, and powerful, that He is Transcendent, meaning unapproachable and beyond understanding; so much so that we humans can only fear how we could ever approach Him.

But wait a minute, because God the Father sent His Son, the second person of the Trinity, to us.  The Son is the Word of God, or the enabler.  As the Word of God is spoken, it happens.  And so the Word of God became flesh and lived among us.  And that did something for us that appears to be a paradox with the concept of a transcendent God, a remote God because that made God very close to us.  Yes, Jesus Christ had a body and lived amongst us.  He showed us the way, which is recorded in the Gospel.  Indeed, God become man, lived as we do.  We call that the immanence of God, because Jesus was as close to us as any other human could be.  And He is still immanent to us in the gift of the Eucharist, Holy Communion, which we will all share together in just a few minutes.

Lastly, the first reading talks about the Holy Spirit, the third person.  He is the breath of life, the inherent wisdom behind all things.  We are made in the image and likeness of God.  And so, we have the Spirit within us- it is the life force we all feel and experience, like when we breathe and have thoughts and understand things, even things beyond what we can touch and feel in this world.

Now, there a few things about the Trinity about which we should reflect.  Note that these are three social persons- they inter-relate with each other.  They are not isolated.  The Father begets the son, who acts as his agent and does His will.  The Son loves and communicates with the Father.  The Son gives up his life for all of humanity to atone for our sins and imperfections so that we may share in the Son’s inheritance- eternal life with the Father.  The Son promises that the Father will send the Spirit to dwell within us.  The Spirit lives within us, and acts as our counselor and advocate and inspiration.

What does this mean for us?  Well, since we are made in the image and likeness of God, it means we too are begotten by the Father; we possess the Spirit or life force; and we are called upon to do the will of the Father.  And that will is that we love each other as the Father loved the Son and the Son loved us.  And we are called upon to be social creatures as well.  We are not gods unto ourselves, because that would not reflect the image and likeness of God.  God the Father is not selfish.  He is other directed, sharing somehow with equal status with the Son and the Spirit; and willing to share Himself with us.

And so we learn from the Trinity that if we are to live up to our creation in the image and likeness of God, then we will love each other as God loves us;  We will do the Father’s will by the inspiration of the Spirit;  And we will welcome and relate to each other as a community.  Can it possibly be that simple?

Taking Time to Restore the True Flavor of Life

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Thursday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time

Sirach 5: 1-8; Mark 9: 41-50

Dc. Larry Brockman


Today Jesus says that “Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor?”  What does all that mean?

You know, if we are honest about it, we will each see part of ourselves in the first reading, especially those who are in the prime of life.  We start out with good intentions- especially when we learn about our faith as children.  But when we become adults, wealth, power, strength, and enthusiasm for the things that the world has to offer us, these things lead us astray of communion with God because they guarantee us our pleasures and self-interests.  These are the things that take up most of our time and energy as we navigate through the mainstream of life.  We tell ourselves we will think about our ultimate calling, our ultimate destiny with God, later.  All too often, it becomes much later.  We end up looking back and find that decades have passed in our lives and God is still not in the center of our attention.  Like salt, we started out good with the right flavor, but somehow, as we navigated through life, we lost our flavor.

The problem is that, as Sirach warns, God bides his time, and so, few of us knows when our time will come.  The recent events in the news tell us that Sirach is right on.  We can be called to account for our actions at any time- like the people who were at the Boston Marathon finish line or in the Oklahoma Tornedo paths.  In just 5 minutes, everything changed in their lives; and for some of them, right in the middle of life, life was suddenly over.  There was no time or way to restore the flavor of good salt, so to speak.

So this calls to question, what are we doing with our lives?  Are we going through the motions, living life in the world as if life in this world will never end?  Because if we are doing that, we can become like salt that has become insipid.  Or are we focused on knowing God and following His commandments?

Now, Jesus gives us some compelling advice in the Gospel   First, he tells us to show concern for and care for others; and that even giving a drink of water to the thirsty will not go unseen by God.  But then he says woe to those who lead others astray by their actions especially the children and the innocent.

You know, sometimes we just don’t see how much influence we have on others.  And yet, we do have a great deal of influence.  Parents and Grandparents influence their children all the time, and may not even be aware of some of the influence they have.  Public figures have influence as well- teachers, bosses, lawyers, doctors, news media, celebrities, actors; you name it.  So, we all need to be careful of what we say and do which could lead others astray

Yet ultimately, we are responsible for our own actions.  And Jesus mentions some things in the Gospel to help us avoid sin.  We are advised to avoid the occasions to sin.  If it’s something we see, touch, or seek after that is an occasion to sin- then don’t allow yourself to be tempted.  Avoid it- that’s what the advice cutting off your foot or plucking out your eye means.

Finally, Jesus tells us to “keep salt in yourselves, and you will have peace with one another”.  Yes, indeed.  If we retain the flavor of the spirit within us; living always within God’s plan for us, we will have peace with one another in the Kingdom of God.

On Christian Unity

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Thursday of the 7th Week of Easter

Acts: 22:30, 23: 6-11; John 17: 20-26

Dc. Larry Brockman


Christian Unity, Jesus is praying that we will be one in spreading His word to all –people.  It is all over Jesus comments in this morning’s Gospel.  He says: “I have given them the glory that you gave me so that they may be one as we are one.”  And indeed, we are all part of the body of Christ, those of us gathered here this morning.

But there are so many so close to us that are not part of the Body of Christ-  those who have never heard of Christ; those who don’t believe in anything; those who believe, but are weak; and those who have fallen away.  They all need our help.  They are our brothers and sisters, our extended family, our co-workers, our community at large.  How do we evangelize them in this year of evangelization?

Well consider this:  What do they perceive when they think of Holy Family, because, perception is reality is to them.  Are we a loving, welcoming, community?

I have to tell you that the men’s club fish fries this year really impressed me.  My wife and I attended most of them and what struck me was how ecumenical they were.  Our parish succeeded in attracting lots of folks from the other churches in the area.  It seemed like we were seated next to Presbyterians one week; Lutherans the next, and so on.  I thought it was wonderful that so many diverse groups were attracted and felt welcome.  It gave us all the opportunity to mingle, and to show our brothers and sisters in other churches just how wonderful the people of Holy Family are; and welcoming, too.  And I think the Fall Festival provides a similar opportunity.  So yes, there are times when we are a very open and welcoming community.  We need to more of these kinds of events.  And we need to be united and truthful about our faith when we relate to our visitors

Secondly, our first reading addresses another element of what it means to evangelize.  Notice that Paul is brought before a hostile group and cleverly uses the absolute truth to escape.  He is direct, uncompromising, and very truthful when he says that he belongs to a group that believes in the Resurrection.  Paul doesn’t make excuses; he doesn’t deny his affiliation; he doesn’t try silence.  Rather, he speaks up boldly what he believes- and speaks the truth.

But you know, we have to be as clever as Paul was about the way we do it.  Perhaps an example would help.  Many people deny the real presence in the Eucharist or the reality of the Resurrection.  Well, in the last month alone our Parish has hosted the Eucharistic Miracles exhibit and a very fine detailed presentation on the Shroud of Turin.  The evidence in favor of the Real Presence is very strong in the Eucharistic Miracles exhibit; and likewise, the latest developments on the scientific analysis of the Shroud are extremely powerful arguments that literally imply that the shroud is a pictorial proof of the entire Gospel- the death and resurrection of Christ.  We can invite others to events like these.  Challenge them with the truth; and at the same time project our belief in the truth.

Christian Unity is a major problem today.  Jesus Christ is still calling his faithful to spread the Gospel and the truth.

Witnessing for Christ in Our Families

Sunday, May 12th, 2013


Acts 1: 1-11; Heb 9: 24-28, 10: 19-23; Luke 24: 46-53

Dc. Larry Brockman


Guess what?  You are called today to be witnesses of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.  Yes, you, not just the Apostles and the Church that followed after them, but you and I, too.  That was Jesus parting shot to his followers as he ascended to heaven some 2000 years ago today.  And in this day and age, I can think of no better way for us to give witness to Christianity than through our families.

First, let me make an observation.  Do you people out there realize how lucky most of you are?  Most of you live or lived in a family with a Mom and a Dad.  Did you know that 4 out of every 10 children born today are born to unwed mothers.  But in our community and parish, most of you are lucky enough to have both a Mom and a Dad.  And that makes a tremendous difference in how well children will do in today’s world.  For example, there are statistics that show that 4 of every 5 children that are either drop outs from school, run-aways from home, sent to jail, became pregnant as a teen, or commit suicide, came from single parent homes- 4 of every 5 in these categories.

Today, we are celebrating Mother’s Day.  So thank God for these wonderful women who gave you life, nurtured and cared for you, and are providing you a strong Christian Home.  Be especially thankful if you are living in a single parent home for the parent that you have who is protecting you from these awful trends.

And parents, especially the Mom’s today, you need to understand the tremendous influence you have over your children.  It is a very sobering thought isn’t it, that the absence of one of you in your children’s lives can make such a difference as the statistics I quoted above indicated.

But you see, it’s because you Mom’s and Dad’s truly are witnesses.  You are witnesses to a way of life.  And as witnesses, your children will copy that way of life.  From that early age where Moms especially are everything to their children, parents become sacred to their children.  They provide love, security, safety, food, and shelter.  And then, later on, they provide example, values and morals, and inspiration.  All of that is an awesome responsibility.

Now this morning, as we hear of Jesus Ascension, the scriptures raise a very important issue about being a Christian Witness because the scriptures point to the meaning of life.  You see, Jesus was resurrected in the body and ascended to heaven.  And, as Paul says to the Hebrews in the second reading, “Jesus removed the veil that separates us from the Father at death, that is, the flesh”.  And He stood before the Father on our behalf so that we could follow after Him when we die.  Indeed, as Paul says, Christ “…will bring salvation to all who eagerly await him”.  So, you and I are called to be witnesses, especially to our children, of all of that- the real meaning of life.  And that is that when we die we have membership forever in the Kingdom of God if we repent of our sins and follow the Gospel.

But you know, it is very hard for us to understand that when we are young.  When we are young and life is ahead of us, we are preoccupied with living out our talents, with doing something meaningful in the world; with finding a loving partner and soul mate; and with raising children of our own.  But ultimately, every one of us will die to this world and so, we simply must understand that living life to the fullest requires the right perspective- one in which we live out our Christian faith.  Children depend on their parents for that perspective.

Yes, the good people in the Prep Program and the school have your children several hours a week.  They try to focus the children on God and the meaning of life.  But you Moms and Dads have your children 24-7.  What you do and say about your faith speaks louder than anything the Prep and the School people can say.  The question for you parents today is what kind of witnesses are you to your children?

I think that communications is the key to being a Christian witness.  And in today’s world, communications is tough with all the distractions- like TV, cell phones, Facebook, iPOD music, sports and the commitments that all of the children have.  So every family needs some prime time dedicated to communications.  You need to know what’s going on inside your children’s heads; and they need to know that your life is driven by your Christian values.  And then, you need to talk about it with each other- share it with each other.

Let me suggest three things that can really help.  First, try eating together as a family, preferably every evening but at least several times a week.  And that means eating and sharing with each other- no TV, no ear-buds, no exceptions.  Find out how your days went from each other and talk about things- be a witness to each other.  Second, pray together as a family.

And it’s more than just grace at meals- but other forms of prayer- like saying the rosary as a family or the Divine Mercy chaplet.  And lastly, worship as a family each week just like you are doing today.  Let the world know that you all believe- together.

All of us want the best for our children and our families.  As Jesus parted this world, he promised us the Spirit.  And in a few days, we will celebrate the coming of the Spirit.  The Spirit gives us the strength, vitality, energy, and fortitude to make a difference in our lives.  Whether you are a Mom, Dad, Uncle, Aunt, or Grandparent, make the time available, no matter what, and use that strength to be a witness for Christ to your family!

Understanding Eternity

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Acts 18: 1-8; John 16: 16-21

Dc. Larry Brockman


So, just what is “A little while” to Jesus?  His disciples thought that Jesus would return in their lifetime.  Even Peter and Paul thought that was the case, as their early letters indicated.  It is 2000 years later, and the “little while” has not yet come to be.  We are all still waiting for the second coming of Jesus.  But one thing is for sure.  The little while that Jesus refers to is a lot shorter than eternity.

Ah, yes- eternity- just how long is that.  60 seconds of a baby screaming seems like an eternity, doesn’t it?   And sometimes it seems like it takes an eternity for water to boil; on the other hand, when you are young, it seems like an eternity before you are old enough to drive.  For the person who lives 100 years- well 100 years seems like an eternity as you live it.  And finally, according to Wikipedia, the age of the universe is 13.798 ± 0.037 billion years, to be precise.  That is a long, long, time- longer than we can ever imagine.  And so, whenever someone talks to us about life beyond life in this world, we become so fixated on the reality of our known world, and how long it has existed that we find it hard to focus on what is beyond this world.

That’s what happened in the first reading.  The Jews waited several thousand years for the Messiah.  He came; and they didn’t recognize him.  They were focused on this world, and how to live in it not on eternity, and life in eternity.

But as long in time as some of these worldly things seem or are, they are like the bat of an eye compared to eternity.  And that is Jesus point.  You see, you and I are going to have to live through the baby’s cry, the water boiling, being able to drive, and for some, even a 100 year life span.  And when we do, they all will seem insignificant in time once we are beyond them, as they truly are insignificant in time.  But in reality, we are going to live beyond the life of the universe, because we are all going to live an eternity- which is forever.  It is our choice how we choose to live out the eternity, which will, of course, dwarf all these time comparisons.  No matter how long it seems to take to live out our lives living them with faith that Jesus promise of salvation and everlasting life are real, and no matter how hard it seems to follow the Gospel, along with the weeping that Jesus predicts, it all lasts for just a little while compared to eternity.

As things happen to us, they may seem like they take an eternity- like the baby crying.  But they don’t.  We will get beyond them with faith and hope and love.  So, let us focus on what we need to do to experience the joy of eternity, rather than the trials we experience in “the little while” of our lives.