Archive for May, 2015

Jesus is With Us Till The End

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

Trinity Sunday

Dt 4:32-34, 39-40: Rom 8: 14-17; Mt 28: 16-20

Deacon Larry Brockman


“Behold, I am with you always until the end of the age”. This is Jesus promise to each and every one of us.

You know, as Christians, we share in the unique belief in the Incarnation. This means that we believe that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ, and lived and dwelt amongst us as one of us.  He suffered, died, and was buried, only to rise again on Easter. After spending 40 days with his Apostles, He then ascended into heaven. But he left us two very important gifts: The first was the gift of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ. We will celebrate that gift next week on the feast of Corpus Christi; and the second gift of the Holy Spirit, which we celebrated last weekend on the feast of Pentecost.

Today we celebrate the mystery of the Trinity- the fact that there is just one God, but He is three separate persons- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  You know, most of us don’t think much about the Trinity.  It’s a mystery that “bends our brains”; it defies reasoning.    How can God be one, and yet still be three distinct persons?

And yet, the Incarnation and the Trinity go hand in hand in defining the uniqueness of Christianity as a Religion. And I’d like to bring up a few things about why that uniqueness is so important to each of us.

You see, most religions believe that God is far above us. They use the word “transcendent” to describe His distance from us. That simply means that God is far above us, has always existed and always will exist; He is infinitely good, knowledgeable, and He created all things.    And so each of us is humbled by the “bigness” of such a God. It would be hard to imagine how to relate to a God who knows everything, and is all good, because he is so far above us.    Where would one begin?

Some religions think God just set things in motion and has left things to run their natural course- and that he is uninvolved. These people are called Deists, and Unitarianism has Deist roots. Other people believe that it takes a special kind of person to communicate with God, a person who divorces himself from the world and all things of the world, because God is a spirit, he is not of this world. He is above the world in all ways.

But Christians have this special gift- the Incarnation, in which God sends Jesus into the world to live as one of us. Jesus is both fully human and fully divine, the second person of the Trinity. And so, the Trinity and the Incarnation are interrelated mysteries.  We are not capable of understanding either of these mysteries. But what they mean for us when we believe in them is very important.

You see, if God’s son Jesus lived amongst us as one of us; and was both human and divine, then God’s Son was not transcendent.  Rather, he was just like one of us.  God became what is called immanent to us by living right there alongside of other human beings in his time.    That means that real people could relate directly to God. They did so directly with Jesus.  And the 4 Gospels record how Jesus taught us to relate to God; to other people in the world, and to the world itself.

While the Incarnation and the Trinity are mysteries; God took away the mystery on how we can all relate to Him. He gave us himself incarnate as Jesus, who was the living example of how humanity can be close to God.  And just to make sure that all people of every age that followed Jesus shared in the immanence of Jesus’ earthly presence, He gave us the Eucharist, Holy Communion, his own Body and Blood  as a sacrament so that the living God, Jesus would be close to everyone after his time as well.

Now he also promised us the second great gift, the Holy Spirit; the breath of life; the comforter. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, and lives forever. So, if we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we will live forever just as the risen Christ lives forever. This, too, is unique to Christianity- the promise of life ever after with the Spirit of God dwelling in us, another sign of the immanence of God in our lives.

And so, let us all be grateful for the mysteries of the Incarnation and the Trinity. We choose to believe without really understanding- we call that Faith. And the fruits of that faith are the two great gifts Jesus left us- Holy Communion and the Holy Spirit.

So, Rejoice, because truly, as Jesus said in the Gospel: “Behold, I am with you always until the end of the age”

Recognizing the Mighty Works of God

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Thursday of the 8th Week of Ordinary Time

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

Deacon Larry Brockman


I have not been with you for the last three weeks.  Rather, my wife and I have been away on vacation.  We visited our son in Seattle and took an Alaskan Cruise.  When I read this morning’s first reading, I couldn’t help but recall both of these experiences from our trip,  because the works of God had been so manifest in both of them.

You see, my oldest son was told long ago that he couldn’t have children.   But when my son and his wife picked us up at the airport, it was clear that his wife was carrying a child.  It was their joyous surprise for Jane and I, and the answer to many, many prayers.  For what seemed so impossible was all of a sudden a reality. And this, truly, was something of the heart- a deep longing for fulfilment had been realized.  It was truly an answer to a prayer, and a manifestation of the wonderful works of God. What a joyous dinner we all had that night celebrating.

And then there were the multiple works of God that manifest themselves on that cruise. The weather was absolutely perfect the entire cruise. And in fact, it was in the 70’s, clear and cloudless, with bright sunshine at all three Alaskan ports we visited. The scenery was just magnificent, we were even blessed with an unfettered view of a Bald Eagle in the wild.  Words cannot express the beauty of the world we visited in those 7 days. Yes indeed, as Sirach says, “As the rising sun is clear to all, so the glory of the Lord fills all his works.”

My wife and I returned to reality earlier this week. And that’s when the words of the Gospel Reading struck me. Clearly, I had been blessed with vision of the wonderful works of God while I was on vacation- both works of the heart, and the physical beauty in the world around us. Like the beggar whose eyes were opened by the Lord, the cruise and my son’s announcement opened our eyes.        But when we are living our day to day lives, we can easily be blind, blind to the goodness that God works in our daily lives, and blind to the beauty of the world around us.

Indeed, each of us is blessed by talents, gifts, relationships, and environments which carry the same goodness and glory of the creator with them  that these gifts God gave us on our vacation do. We have only to open our eyes, and see them.

Christians Are the New Chosen People

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Thursday of the 5th Week of Easter

Acts 15: 7-21; John 15: 9-11

Deacon Larry Brockman


Listen once more to these words from Acts:  “And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit just as he did us.”

You know, all of us here bear a special gift- our Catholic Faith.  That gift guarantees us the fullest revelation of God’s message of His plan for mankind.  So we are truly a chosen people.  In that respect, we are no different from the Jews of Jesus time. They were the chosen people then by virtue of the writings and traditions of Moses and the prophets.  Indeed, the Jews enjoyed the fullest revelation of God’s plan for man up until the time of Jesus.

But things changed, didn’t they.  Because Jesus came and delivered a different message- the Good News of the Gospel.  Some of the Jews listened to that new message and the Christian Church was born.  But the Jews brought with them all the baggage of thousands of years of tradition and scripture and the law.  Now I want to be sure to emphasize that the Mosaic Law in all its detail was a good thing.  It was, after all, God’s word in as pure a form as mankind could express it at the time.  So, the Jewish converts wanted everyone who believed in Jesus to carry that baggage as well because they had their sights on complying with the letter of the law revealed by God over time, just as they had always done.

Our readings today set the record straight.  We would do well to listen to the essence of the message, because we find ourselves privileged as the chosen people bound by many Church laws and precepts.  And the Church rightly teaches that a true believer embraces all that the Church teaches.  But there is a little matter of priority and emphasis, isn’t there?  In all the words of scripture and the Catechism, where is the core of the teaching?  What is the most important thing in God’s eyes?

Jesus was quite critical of the Pharisees and Scribes precisely over this point.  In truth, the same dilemma applies to all Religious peoples.  For example:  Moslems obey the Ramadan fast law, and zealously guard against anyone who would draw an image of the prophet Mohammed because that’s what their aggregate teaching says.  Orthodox Jews believe in ritual washing of food; and dietary separation of dairy and meat for the same reason.  Hindus believe that cows are sacred.  I could go on and on.  And I don’t want anyone to misunderstand me, I’m not meaning to be critical.  I’m just trying to point out some details.  There are many things each of these Religions teaches.  But what is the most important thing in these and all religions?

For Christians, I think we heard it summarized in our two readings today.  First, God looks into the heart.  Yes, it is what is in our heart that matters.  Do our hearts believe in God, I mean really believe in God?  Do we believe in the story of Jesus as our savior?  And do we accept that God’s will is the blueprint for our lives so we can follow in his destiny?  Do we trust in Him no matter what happens?

Second, what kind of a God do we believe in?  Is he a distant, judging, critical God?  Or is he a God of love?  Jesus tells us pretty clearly in the Gospel.  He tells us that we should “Remain in my Love”.  So it is the loving God that we need to believe in.  And if we believe that God treats us with Love, then we have to believe that He treats everyone else with the same love, too.

And so, when a person believes in God in the heart; and embraces the love of God in his heart; then God will give them “His Holy Spirit” as it says in Acts.  This doesn’t just happen for Catholics, but for all who believe in God in their hearts, and act out of love.

The Apostles were evangelizing the world, and had to make adjustments to embrace those they converted.  We are called to evangelize, and to make adjustments as well.  Love of our neighbor is the most important evangelization we can do, especially those who are filled with the same Spirit of God, whether they are Catholic or not.