Archive for April, 2015

Peter’s Pretty Bold Talk

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Thursday of 2nd Week of Easter

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

Deacon Larry Brockman


Pretty Bold Talk, that’s what Peter’s speech to the Sanhedrin was.  You see, the Apostles had been herded in front of the authorities once before this, and told not to preach about Jesus.  And they magically escaped from them that first time.  So this was the second time the authorities summoned them.  Just think about it for a moment.  The authorities arrested, tried, convicted, and executed Jesus using the most painful and humiliating form of execution they had- the cross.  And in the time just after Jesus was buried the Apostles cowered together behind closed doors afraid that they would suffer the same fate as Jesus.  .

But, emboldened by the Resurrection, Jesus’ followers preached fearlessly in Jesus’ name, even after being arrested once, and despite the authorities command to stop.  They were bold and fearless, that’s how real the Resurrection was to them- a life changing experience; an experience that wiped out all fear of what those who run the world could or might do.

Now, in the Gospel, Jesus tells his Apostles early in his 3 year ministry that whoever listens to him, listens to God himself.  He tells them that most everyone will not listen; but everlasting life will be given to those who do listen.  Jesus showed his Apostles that everlasting life was real when he appeared to them in his Resurrected state. After that, nothing could hold them back. No more cowering in an upper room out of fear. The only thing that mattered was their faith in Jesus and following his commands.

This formula is the pattern that has been set for all of us. That’s what the celebration of Easter is all about, reminding us that the same promise made to the Apostles has been made to us.  We have heard about the Resurrection from the multiple Gospel accounts, eye witnesses who spread the word through countless generations to us.  And now, we are being called to be witnesses to the world, not just to the Resurrection, but to all that Jesus said and did during his ministry.

The other day, someone posted a cartoon on Facebook that made a fascinating point.  The cartoon showed Jesus sending his Apostles out two by two after the Resurrection.  And under it was the caption.  “And if they don’t like what you say, change your story”.  But Jesus was not running for office- Jesus was God’s messenger, and God’s word is absolute- not related to what it takes to be popular, and not related to the times.  Jesus words in our Gospel validate that the truth of God’s message takes precedence over everything else.

Did you know that the Government called some of our bishops in to a meeting when the HHS mandate was being considered  and basically told the bishops it was time to for the Church to get with it and come around to the 21st century.  They were pressuring our bishops to do just what the cynical cartoon I mentioned above said to do.  The bishops politely told the HHS no.

We are called to do the same in our lives, to be witnesses for Christ.  God’s word takes precedence, not what is politically correct; not what is expedient; and not what it takes to just get along.

There are lots of opportunities for us to be witnesses.  We may not be called on the carpet in front of the authorities as the Apostles were, but people challenge our Catholic teachings all the time- teachings on Abortion, on marriage, on the Eucharist,  on belief in God, and on the dignity of all human persons.  They challenge us in our jobs, in our social settings, and in our communities.  And we are called to be witnesses of the truth, just as Jesus was in our Gospel.  We are called to speak up, and not be silent on the inconvenient and unpopular truth of the word of God.

And have no fear, because God does not ration his spirit; He will inspire all of us to do and say the right thing if we vow to be his witnesses to the truth.

That’s pretty bold talk, isn’t it?

Holding on to Easter Joy

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

2nd Sunday of Easter

Divine Mercy Sunday

Acts 4: 32-35; 1 John 5: 1-6; John 20: 19-31

Deacon Larry Brockman

Can you still feel the Joy of Easter, or has last Sunday’s joy passed you by?

 Possibly the parking lot after Mass last week wiped out your joy; or returning to work, or school, or your chores sobered you up, because as soon as you stepped out of this Church with all the fantastic joyous music and the bold and glorious proclamations of the Resurrection accounts, promising life everlasting for those who believe and follow the Gospel, the real world was waiting out there for you, wasn’t it?  And that world is full of non-believers, cynics, and people who are dedicated to just one thing in life- number 1, themselves, and self-gratification. They make a very powerful case for how foolish it is to believe in anything else, not to mention all the details that life here throws at us.

 And so now, just a week later, the promise of life everlasting last week seems so remote and vague in the face of the end of semester test; the PTA conference with little Johnny’s teacher;and the progress report on your work project that was due Friday  that you didn’t get to. What sounds really good is a good stiff drink; a great steak with all the accompaniments; and in fact, anything that is real and tangible- something that the world has to offer, just like all the folks of the world told you.   

 In fact, it may have taken all you could muster to come here again this week. Because time, time is of the essence.  After all, we have only one life to live, right?   

 Well, let me offer another perspective.  As some of you know, I visit a local hospital twice a week to help the Chaplain.  I see so many people there who are experiencing a giant wake up call.  They were in the fast lane of life, and then wham, all of a sudden they find out they have cancer; or old age has caught up with them and they can no longer be independent; or they have had a heart attack or stroke that has left them alarmingly weak; or because of diseases like diabetes, they are going to lose a leg or limb.  All of a sudden life becomes tremendously precious to them.  All of a sudden, they wonder if there is something more than life as we know it, because all of a sudden they realize that their quality of life here is greatly diminished, and in fact, they are going to die, some of them soon.   

 Why did all of you come here last week?  Because you knew that Easter was that one great time of the year in the Church calendar when you would hear about the ultimate promise that we all long for- life everlasting in happiness and joy, especially after we die; and all of us are going to die for sure.   

 Even though the world may have choked out that feeling of joy quickly for all of the reasons I mentioned and more, many of us are back this week, hoping the joy returns.  Well, we do have the same message for you- rejoice because Jesus Resurrection of the body from the dead and his promise that we will all experience a similar Resurrection from the dead,,is real; very real; and following Jesus guarantees us life everlasting.     

 Realistically, that promise is shrouded in the same doubt that Thomas experienced, isn’t it?  We find it hard to believe in the face of the real world we all experienced in this last week since Easter.  But in his genius, Jesus anticipated that doubt, and so, we have today’s Gospel story about Thomas.  So truly, “Blessed are those who have not seen and believe.” because the rest of us have nagging doubts.   

 We just spent the 40 days of Lent getting ready for the promise of the Resurrection.  That preparation was supposed to involve a self-examination of our lives, an examination that would reveal where we need to change, that is repent.   

 John says in our second reading, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God”.  So first, we have to believe; believe that Jesus is the Christ, our savior, and that the Resurrection is real.  We have to believe it in order to believe that our everlasting life, which follows that of Jesus, is real.  We have to believe it despite all of our trials and tribulations in this world, despite all of that the cynics and non-believers say and do, and despite the more attractive things of this world that give immediate, although temporary gratification.     

 Then John goes on to say that we need to love God:  And what does that mean?  Well, John says it this way:  “The love of God is this, that we keep his commandments”.  Obedience,  that is what God is big on.  And so we are called today to the same conversion process, believing and repenting, that was the hallmark of Lent.  When we really believe and do God’s will we will experience an underlying joy and peace of mind because God comforts those who are on the right track.   

 But there is something really special about today because today, the Sunday after Easter, has been designated Divine Mercy Sunday.  You see, Our Lord recognized that many of us would still have our doubts; would still be influenced by the world and it’s cynics and pundits, and would need more than the promise on Easter.  Today, we are blessed with something more, and something really special.  Because no matter how far we have strayed; no matter what we have done in the past, Jesus is telling us that mercy triumphs over judgment.  Jesus is promising us the gift of everlasting life and happiness for all who believe, as long as we promise to seek his forgiveness and repent- that is change our lives- from this moment forward.  Jesus is promising all of us mercy no matter what we have done.   

So, Brothers and Sisters, now is the time.  Accept the Divine Mercy offered by Jesus.  Believe in your hearts in the Resurrection.  Seek forgiveness for sins of the past.  Promise to bring your life into accord with God’s commandments from this moment on.  And then experience the underlying joy that comes with knowing that you are forgiven everything, and will live forever in the kingdom of God. 

Religious “Mugwumps” (U)

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Easter Thursday

Acts 3: 11-26; Luke 24: 35-48

Deacon Larry Brockman

So, how important is the Resurrection of Jesus to you?  Is the Resurrection just some religious doctrine that promises you everlasting life in the vague future?  Something that you put on the back burner while you live this life; or is the promise and reality of the Resurrection life changing to you, something that has affected your life style in a meaningful way from the first instance you heard of it?   

There’s a term used in American Politics called “Mugwump”.  It has its origins from an Algonquin Indian term for a great warrior.  But today, it means a person who can’t make up his mind on an issue;  One who has his mug on one side of the fence; and his wump on the other side of it.   

Some people come to Church each week, and celebrate with us.  Others come twice a year- Christmas and Easter.  But then they go back into the world, perfectly content, and even relishing, in the values of the worldly culture.  They are lured by the smug confidence and the commitment of the people of this world in one conviction-  the world is all there is, and one is a fool to not take advantage of it while they can.   

And so, these sometimes Catholics can’t seem to make up their minds.   Do they believe that Jesus gave eternal life to all who believe and follow him?  Or do they live this life for themselves to the fullest?    They are like Thomas, who heard all the prophets predict the death and Resurrection.  He heard Jesus himself predict it.  And yet even after it happened just as Jesus predicted and just as the prophets predicted, Thomas would not believe what the other Apostles told him because he didn’t see first-hand.  Rather, they need proof of the truth – like being able able to put their hands in the side of the risen Christ.  Life and the pleasures of this world seem so much more real to them on Monday then the promise of the Gospel did on Sunday.   

They are also like the Jews in today’s first reading.  Dazzled by the apparent miracle Peter and the Apostles worked.  How fickle that they should believe in Jesus when he entered Jerusalem; then doubt him and call for his execution a week later; then after the resurrection,  blow like the wind back again, attracted to the miracles worked by the Apostles in Jesus name.  But that is how it is with many people, isn’t it.  Their faith is weak.   

Jesus anticipated the Mugwumps of the world.  So he returned to his Apostles a second time when Thomas was there.  And he let Thomas put his hands in his side.  Then he ate a piece of fish- showing that he still had a human body like us but that he had transcended death into a Resurrected state.   

Jesus message I our Gospel today was very clear- the whole message summed up in the last two lines of this Gospel:  “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”  He ends with this:  “You are witnesses of all these things”.   

That’s where all of us come in.  We are to be the witnesses of all this.  We have heard the prediction of the prophets.  We have seen the fulfillment in the Gospel.  We have witnessed the Resurrection through the eyes of the Apostles.  And now, through the strength of our Faith, we need to radiate the certainty of our conviction that the Resurrection has changed our lives.    We need to do this whenever and wherever we relate to the great multitude of sometimes Catholics because we are not Mugwumps.  We are witnesses to all that Jesus said and did.