Archive for March, 2016

Feeling Our Easter Joy

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Thursday of Easter Week

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

Dc. Larry Brockman

Is this just another day; one of the many in our lifetime.  Or are you feeling the Easter joy!

You should all be feeling tremendously joyful.  And you should be fired up to share and witness your joy and belief because “Jesus Christ is risen; he is risen indeed.”  And all of us will rise just like him to eternal life if we believe, repent, and follow after him.  Yes, all of us are called to be his witnesses.

There was a time in human history when Resurrection from the dead and eternal life was just a vague promise.  There was no proof because nobody had seen or experienced it.  There were many veiled references in the Jewish Scripture.  But they were not believed by everyone.  And in fact, the Jews were split at Jesus time into two camps.  The Pharisees and their followers believed in the Resurrection; and the Sadducees and their followers did not believe.

But that all changed on Easter Sunday in the year 0 AD because Jesus Christ rose from the dead and showed himself to hundreds of people during that first Easter season.  We hear of one of Jesus appearances in Luke’s Gospel today; and how Jesus explained that he fulfilled the scriptures that predicted his suffering, death, and resurrection.  And we have today’s account from Acts on how the Apostles shared their experience with the people.  They became the witnesses that Jesus asked them to become in the Gospel.

But not only that, so strong was their conviction and faith that they were able to perform many miracles in Jesus name.  They explained that these miracles were performed by the power of God, not by them; but because of their faith and the strength of their witnessing, they were able to perform such miracles.  They were exuberant, and they didn’t care what the authorities thought or did because they knew that everlasting life was real.

And so, there is great cause for rejoicing for us because no matter what our lives have been like; and no matter what they will be like in the future here in this life; we know that there is something better.  We have been told by eye witnesses, just as the people in the crowd in the account from Acts.  Yes, all the events in Acts and the Apostles were recorded for our benefit.  They were the records left by eye witnesses.  Heaven is real; the messiah is real; and we are blessed who do not see, but believe.

So, what are you and I doing about that?  Are we spreading our joy?  Or are we living life as we always lived it. The resurrection changed life for the disciples of Jesus.  And like the Tribune in the recent movie “Risen”; it changed the life for all who saw first-hand.

Those of us who have only heard but not seen- we are challenged.  But blessed are those who believe and have not seen.  That’s what Jesus said.  And we can make a difference by witnessing to the ends of the Earth.  Jesus is counting on us to spread his word and the Gospel by what we say and do.  Just like the miracles the Apostles worked through the power of God, God can do mighty works through those of us who believe.  We do those works by following Jesus call to live our Christian values no matter what the rest of the world believes and does.  The mighty works will follow.

Yes,  “Jesus Christ is risen; he is risen indeed,” Amen!

Suffering with the Lord

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Holy Thursday Morning Prayer

Heb 2 9b-10

Dc. Larry Brockman

Suffering!   All of us face our share of suffering.  Whether it is the suffering that comes with poverty, exile, persecution, or natural disaster; or personal suffering due to disease, old age, handicap, stressful relationships, loneliness, or rejection; or any of the other forms of mental or physical suffering, all of us will experience our fair share of it during our lifetimes.  But our suffering, no matter how intense, pales by comparison to the suffering that Jesus experienced during his Passion.

I am reminded of a photo I saw on Facebook that shows one of us seated on a bench in obvious mental and physical distress.  Our companion is Jesus, who has his arm around us.  Jesus is wearing a crown of thorns, is bleeding, and bears obvious physical welts.  Jesus is quoted as saying the following to his companion:  “Tell me about your problem”.  When I saw that, I got it.

And this is a good thing- that while we are all put to the test, our test cannot be compared to what Our Lord went through.  It’s what Paul means this morning when he addresses us about how fitting it is that Jesus be made perfect through suffering as he brings his many sons to glory.

Yes, Jesus is leading the way; and we are all about to follow that process during the Triduum services tonight, Friday, and Easter.  Let us all reflect on our lives, on the suffering past and future, that we will experience.  And let us give glory to God that each of us will receive the graces we need to follow Jesus through redemptive suffering.  If we bravely endure God’s will for us, including whatever hardship that entails, then we will experience the joy that comes with the Resurrection on Easter Sunday because we will also be brought to glory and everlasting life.  Amen.

Fulfilling Our Part of the Covenant (U)

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

St. Patrick’s Day

Thursday of the 6th Week of Lent

Gen 17: 3-9; John 8: 51-59

Dc. Larry Brockman

An Everlasting Covenant!  God has made two everlasting covenants with his people.  The first reading talks about the first of these; and the Gospel refers to the second one.

When we hear about that first covenant,  It seems to make promises in earthly terms-  the descendants of Abraham are to reap the rewards of the Covenant God is making with Abraham.  Israel will be God’s people and He will be there God for as long as Abraham’s descendants keep God’s commandments.  And God includes “the promised land” as part of that covenant for as long as they keep it- the promised- land, Canaan.  And so, the Israelites understood that covenant in worldly terms.  Yes, they would retain God’s favor; and they would live in the promised land as a people forever if they kept God’s commandments.  But they didn’t see the symbolic meaning of the covenant.  They didn’t get the afterlife and forever and ever part. They didn’t see life after worldly life as a priority.

Now, in Jesus’ time the Jews were being held captive by the Romans.  There were movements amongst them aimed at rebellion and breaking free.  They were looking for a Messiah- a worldly Messiah- who would restore the covenant God made to Abraham.  In addition, although the religious leaders were split into two camps (those who believed in the Resurrection of the dead- the Pharisees; and those who did not- the Sadducees), all of them were focused on that restoration of the worldly Kingdom.

It is within that context that Jesus ministry entered in first century Israel.  Here comes a person who had demonstrated incredible powers in his miracles, and who spoke with authority.  The leaders had heard about all of this from the people, and so, they listened to Jesus.  But they were looking for a political leader- one who would save their nation.  Was this their guy or not?

But instead of talking about his plan to restore Israel, Jesus talks about the interior life of the individual.  And so, he says: “Whoever keeps my word will never see death.”  You can just imagine their consternation.  And it shows in the dialogue in today’s gospel.

Jesus focus was on saving each and every one of them for everlasting life.  There are two deaths- one that effects our bodies in this world; and one that effects our bodies in eternity.  We certainly will suffer the first death; but we can be spared the second death- if; if we listen to Jesus, the incarnate the word of God.  And so Jesus was not talking about restoring a worldly Israel; rather he was talking about restoring each individual’s standing with God.

This year we find ourselves in the middle of a particularly messy political environment.  We are a people polarized; a people divided; a people faced with difficult choices;- choices that may be the lesser of two evils rather than choices that we can embrace.  The question is; what are our real priorities in the middle of all of that.  Are we looking for a worldly Messiah?  Or are we listening to Jesus, who is trying to tell us what we need to do to avoid real death?

We are also in the middle of Lent- and today’s message is a Lenten message.  The New Covenant that God offers us is everlasting life; life without that second death if- if we listen to the incarnate word of God.

We need to spend some time reflecting on how we are doing.  We need to put aside what’s going on in the world.  Our church and Jesus are trying to call our attention to that because as important as our nation is; our own salvation is more important.

If all of us live according to the word of God, doing the will of the Father as Jesus did; everything else will fall into place; and we will never die.

How Our Works Testify on Our Behalf

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Thursday of the 5th Week of Lent

Exc 32: 7-14; John 5: 31-47

Dc. Larry Brockman

“If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true”.  Those are pretty strong words for the Son of God.  And if they apply to him then how much more so do they apply to others.

And yet, the world is full of people who testify on their own behalf in order to get ahead.  That seems to be the rule for politicians, especially in this election cycle. Why do you suppose that Jesus said what he did?  What is it about testifying in our own behalf that is so flawed?

Well, it’s like this.  Our talents, wealth, health, and accomplishments, are all gifts from God.  To the extent that we exist and can do anything, it is all dependent on God.  We cannot take a breath, utter a word, conceive of a thought, or perform any deed, good or bad without the cooperation and consent of God.  God is the giver of all life and wills that we possess life and our other gifts.

But here is the catch.  He also gives us free will.   And that leads to a choice about how we manifest the grace and animation that result from God willing our lives.  It’s all up to us how and whether we use the gifts we have been given wisely.

Notice that the works that Jesus did testified on His behalf.  That’s exactly what he said, isn’t it.  Jesus doesn’t have to testify on his behalf because his actions speak louder than words.  And if those actions are in harmony with God’s plan, as Jesus actions were, they lead to God’s ultimate goal- everlasting life with him in His Kingdom.

So also, the works that we do testify on our behalf.  They are out there for all to see.  Indeed, our works testify on our behalf better than anything we can say about them.  They testify to the truth about who we really are.  We can have and exhibit tremendous “faith”; but if doesn’t manifest itself by what our works testify then it comes to nothing.

Now Jesus moves on to talk about praise.  First, he criticizes those who accept human praise, but do not seek the praise of God.  These are identified as people who praise the testimony of those who testify on their own behalf!  You see, if people pat each other on the back about how great they are, without recognizing God as the real author of their accomplishments and without seeking His approval, then they are bound to be led astray by their own pride and the devil.

Look at what happened in our first reading.  Moses goes up on the mountain to consult the Lord on what is next after the Israelis are delivered from the Egyptians.  But Moses is the bridge between God and the people.  Without Moses, the people are left to their own devices.  And so while he is away, the Israelis drift away from recognizing who it was that was the driving force behind their deliverance.  They are like the mob of sports fans who meet the triumphant team after the championship.  It’s as if they feel that they, not the team, won the championship.  So, the Israelis constructed their own god to represent their collective power.  It was a product of their own pride, of their own making.  But it was a false power and a false god.  They had conveniently forgotten the truth.

Indeed, if you testify on your own behalf, you are bound to get it wrong.  So, during this special time of Lenten reflection, consider your own life.  How do your works testify on your behalf?  Because that is who you really are.

Casting Out Our Demons

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Thursday of the 4th Week of Lent

Jer 7: 23-28; Luke 11: 14-23

Dc. Larry Brockman


“They have stiffened their necks”. Such is the Lord God’s sentiment about the people of Israel. Over and over again, God had sent prophets to echo the message he gave Moses: “Listen to my voice, then I will be your God and you shall be my people”. But alas, the people of Israel had drifted away from the Word and the precepts Moses had brought them. They had stiffened their necks; and gone their own way.

How about our society? Have we “stiffened our necks” over the Word of God or God’s precepts? When the Beatitudes are read from the Gospel, do we cringe at the idea of being meek, humble, forgiving, and merciful? Do we become skeptical over the real presence in the Eucharist; or cynical about Church teachings on marriage and family and respect life? All of these are scripturally based, and supported by traditional Church teaching. Yet, hasn’t society “stiffened their necks” over them and turned their face the other way?  Doesn’t society squirm over the harder teachings? When people say: “leave me alone, don’t bother me with details; and not right now,” they are essentially saying “Never mind the inconvenient truth”, and they turn away.

And then there are those who don’t listen at all. The church has “too many rules”; “it is out of touch with the times”; or “I just can’t accept that teaching”. And so society proceeds rudderless, or even worse, on a secular course through life, turning their backs on the Lord.   Society stiffens their necks over the Word of God. They look the other way, look for another way; or just put it out of their minds; and proceed according to their own or societies values.

It’s like a disease, you know? Essentially, people become possessed by the “status quo” And in fact, all of us are guilty to some degree of that. We become comfortable with our way of life; and either don’t want to hear about changing it; or become enslaved to it to one degree or another.

That happens whenever we become addicted to something that detracts from our relationship with God, whether it is TV, Facebook, Pornagraphy, Sports, Food, Gossip, Drink, Drugs, or a whole list of other things. It’s as if we have a demon within us that bogs us down; dulls us; diverts us; and or pleasures us.

Well, God is relentless in His pursuit of us. He wants us to accept Him and His will for us all the time. He wants to free us from our addictions, from our demons.

In the Gospel, Jesus does free a man from His demons. And what happens? Society attacks him; accuses him of being from the devil? The same thing happens to us when we listen to the Church. We are attacked by society. The government has recently said it: “The Church needs to get with the times; this teaching is too impractical; and it is too old-fashioned.” And society bombards us with specious arguments like “the right to choose”; population control; and acceptance by the pop culture of the time. People think it’s OK because other people who are popular are doing it.

But Jesus made two very clear arguments about those who attacked him when he freed the demon: First, we must remain strong collectively in the face of the devil and his demons. Yes, the Guard, the Church, must remain strong in the face of adversity, because all will be lost, including the armor that protects us, if our adversary gets the upper hand.

And second, “Whoever is not with me is against me”. And that is a really sobering thought. Despite all the rationalizing, dismissing, and turning the other way that society tries to use on us; if we turn the other way, we are going against God.

So today, as we continue our Lenten Voyage of reflection and repentance, let us confront our demons and expel them. Do not stiffen your necks to the Lord’s appeal; rather listen, listen, listen; and respond, respond, respond.