Archive for June, 2014

We are All Saints Responding to the Call

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Sts. Peter and Paul

Acts 12: 1-11; 2 Tim 4: 6-8, 17-18; Mt. 16: 13-19

Deacon Larry Brockman

Two saints,  today we hear about two saints who are the founding Fathers of the Church,  zealous and fearless in their efforts to evangelize all men, and spread the faith.  They were two very different people.  But both heard the call and responded.   

Take Peter; he was just an ordinary kind of guy.  He was not learned in his faith at all.  He was a fisherman by trade, who responded to the call despite his weaknesses and several setbacks.  He was awed by Jesus, and seemed to just have a sense of His divinity.  And yet, he still denied Him three times.  He was afraid to go out and spread the Gospel, because he sensed that the authorities would do the same to him that they did to Jesus.  Yet as the story today shows, he was miraculously rescued from that fate, and he went on to become a zealous evangelizer.

And then there is Paul, a Roman Citizen from a well to do family, and  a Pharisee well versed in his faith as a Jew.  He persecuted the Christians with zeal, and was responsible for putting many to death.  But then, something happened to him.  He was struck down by an angel and had visions of Jesus himself.  He received a personal revelation of the Gospel, as we heard today and went on to become the Apostle to the Gentiles.   

Both of these men were sinners, but they repented.  Both of these men heard the call and went on to do God’s will for them.  They looked forward, not backward at their failings and mistakes.  Both of these men are examples for all of us about what it means to live the life that God intends for us.   

Now I know what some of you are thinking.  “Sure, but it was easy for them.  After all, Jesus was there personally for them, or he sent an angel to give them awake up call, or to work miracles for them.  But it is not that way for me-  no angels, no personal relationship with Jesus, no miracles, no clear message on what He wants me to do.”  But that is wrong on all counts when you think about it.   

Over twenty years ago, in my previous life as an engineer, two of us were sent to San Francisco on business.  We were given a rental care that had an experimental navigation system in it.  Now these things are common today, but it was really novel then.  We marveled at the polite, pleasant sounding female voice that gave us our directions.  And then it struck us.  What would the voice say if we went astray- took a wrong turn?  What about multiple wrong turns?  And so, we tried it- we deliberately took some wrong turns.  And the lady politely and cheerfully told us what to do each time to get us back on course.  We were disappointed in a sense- expecting a more realistic:  “Why can’t you listen to directions, you idiot”.  But there was never any hint of that.  The machine was relentless in its program to always guide you on the right course.  The system never looked back, always forward.   

Well, it is the same way with God.  God is talking to each one of us daily, hourly, even by the moment; continuously prompting us to take the right course.  His voice may seem weaker than other voices in our world.  But he is always there.  And sometimes, His voice is very loud- almost like the things that happened to Peter and Paul.  Life changing events like a death, an illness, graduation, marriage, divorce, someone asking for help, a chance encounter with another- all of these things can give pause. All of these things can heighten our awareness of God’s little voice in our life, either because we ask for His help, or the event has such an impact on our lives that time almost stands still and we hear God’s voice and prompt.  Always, God is there to prompt us for the future, how to get back on course. 

And then there is the matter of miracles.  Notice that the Church was praying for Peter, the account in Acts tells us that.  So prayer can work wonders, even miracles.  But when you really think about the lives of people who respond to the call, life is full of miracles for them.  I am thinking of people like Mother Theresa; but I am also thinking of people closer to home.  Some of my brother deacons are good examples. God has touched their lives and has worked wonders for them they didn’t think was possible.  I think about all the things our Respect Life Ministry and our Men’s Club and Knights of Columbus have done over the years.  Each of the people who contribute to these efforts is responding to God’s will, and great things happen because of that.  Not least among the miracles is the Perpetual Adoration Chapel- and how it has helped define and sustain this parish.   

In a few moments, all of us will be able to receive Holy Communion.  Last week we pondered the meaning of the Eucharist on the feast of Corpus Christi.  It should be clear that each of us can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Because each of us has direct access to Jesus each and every time we receive Communion.  Know that he will be there waiting for you, and ready to prompt you in the right direction if you listen. 

So, we have no excuse.   We can have a personal relationship with Jesus; He is talking to us all the time; and if we listen to him, he will work miracles through us.   

Today, as with Peter and the disciples in the Gospel.  Jesus is asking each one of us if we know who he is.  Jesus is calling each one of us as he did Peter.  What is your answer? 

How Does the Spirit Come?

Sunday, June 8th, 2014


Acts 2: 1-11; 1 Cor 12: 3b-7, 12-13; John 20: 19-23

Dc. Larry Brockman


What do you say when I say:  “The Lord be with you”?  “And with your Spirit!”  Yes, “And with your Spirit”.   

And today we hear of the coming of the Holy Spirit.  It is when our spirits are filled with the Holy Spirit that we are in harmony with God.  So just how does that happen?   

When we were born, God endowed each of us with our Spirit as well as our bodies.    Our spirits are what makes you “you” and me “me”.  Our spirits radiate our individuality, our gifts, and our personality.   God blessed each of us with a unique spirit.    But, that spirit is not in harmony with God, because we are born with free will.    Our spirits are independent and self-centered to start.  As we develop, we come to seek after meaning in life, and the search for that leads us to God and his Spirit.   

We learn today that there are two stages to becoming filled with the Holy Spirit.  The first stage is the subject of the Gospel.  First, the Apostles were visited by the risen Christ, who offered them peace, and said “As the Father has sent me so also I send you.”  Then Jesus : “Breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”  Jesus had just ordained them in the sacrament of Holy Orders.  These 11 men had been given special sacramental graces.  They had been commissioned to do God’s work; to go out to evangelize and Baptize all nations.  But, they were not yet active in their ministry.  That would come later.   

In the first reading, we hear about the birth of the Church.  The Apostles are all gathered together after the Ascension.  And the graces they received at their ordination are unlocked as the Holy Spirit descends on each one of them individually.    This is the second stage of the process.  After Pentecost, they throw open the doors of the upper room where they had shut themselves in out of fear; and go forth filled with zeal and with individual special gifts unafraid of the authorities.  They speak different languages; they move out in different directions; they have different talents- some as teachers, others preachers, still others as healers.  St. Paul talks about the different talents and gifts of the Spirit in Corinthians this morning.  But the point is that God moved through his Spirit to unlock the graces of ordination on his selected Apostles,   And the Church was born as all of the Apostles worked harmoniously to accomplish God’s plan to evangelize all people.   

Each of us goes through the same two stage process when to receive the Holy Spirit.  For example, take the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.  When we receive the Eucharist, Jesus is present in each one of us, bringing us the Holy Spirit and His graces.  But as an assembly, we are joined together as the mystical body of Christ.   Collectively we have an opportunity to pray together and work wonders if we really believe in that power.   

Recognizing the second stage of the descent of the Holy Spirit along with His enabling power can be a problem.  Usually, it comes with prayer and in a group.  Many of you have seen it when our youth returns from their Confirmation retreat; or when Emmaus retreatants return from the Emmaus weekend; or at an ordination of priests or deacons.   But it can come in other ways as well.   

All confirmed Catholics are called to spread their faith.  It is when a person hears that call to participate in some way,  and then becomes active in the group they are called to that the Spirit will come to us, and activate the graces of the sacraments we have received  As he did to the Apostles this morning.   We have to take that extra step, a step towards our calling.     

This happens in Bible Study groups, the men’s club, the ladies association, the ministry to the sick, St. Vincent de Paul, the Knights of Columbus, in our families, and in many other ways when a person hears the call, gets involved, and works together to accomplish God’s plan for us.   

So this morning, as you hear about the descent of the Holy Spirit, think about the ways you are being called to get involved, to speak up in defense of your faith, to help a family member.  Follow that little voice inside that whispers to you to do something.  Pray about it and trust the Lord to help you as you make that step.  And then feel the Holy Spirit work within you to make it happen.   

And so I say it again:  “The Lord be with you.”