Archive for September, 2017

Showing our Faith to God

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Thursday of the 25thWeek in Ordinary Time
Haggai 1: 1-8; Luke 9: 7-9
Dc. Larry Brockman

“And he kept trying to see him”. Such are Luke’s words about the tyrant Herod. But Herod didn’t try very hard, and he just never got around to it until the day Jesus was dragged in front of him. Herod missed a wonderful opportunity to experience Jesus in the midst of his ministry; to experience his presence, his authority, his sharp and penetrating message;.and above all to experience Jesus Love and compassion for all mankind. Herod missed an opportunity to embrace the gift of faith- faith in something else besides what the world had to offer. Herod was steeped in the things of this world; He was just too busy thinking of himself. He just never got around to it.

There’s a similar message in the first reading. The Jews are released from captivity by the Persian Emperor Darius. After decades of exile from Judea, they return to Israel, and enjoy a period of peace and prosperity. They have eaten and drank; built houses with paneled walls; clothed themselves comfortably and found work. But everything has been centered on their own comfort; they have done nothing to thank the Lord who delivered them from their exile. The temple at Jerusalem remains in rubble.

I am reading a very interesting book about the way things were during Biblical Times in the Holy Land. The book emphasized the importance of Jerusalem and the temple to all Jews. The geography of the place and the way the temple was fortified, made it virtually impregnable. Both times that the temple was destroyed, the sieges were long and bloody. When the Jews returned from exile, the area was peaceful, and no one had fortified the old site. For a devoted Jew It would have been unthinkable to let decades and decades go by without working on the Temple. Such was the message of the prophet Haggai. The temple was the center for the practice of their faith- it housed the ark of the Covenant, containing God’s direct communications with his people. It was more precious to them by far than Rome and the Vatican is to us Catholics. It was a disgrace that God’s people had ignored his house.

And so, the message in both readings is abundantly clear. God does not like to be ignored; and he does not like lip service. God craves our attention, our devotion, and constant efforts on our part to show our faith and seek His will.

I am in the middle of a Bible Study on the Book of Hebrews. A very interesting analogy was given last week about our faith relationship with God. The statement was made that our faith doesn’t just come from a one- time embrace of what we believe at Baptism or Confirmation or in an aha conversion experience. Rather, our faith is like breathing itself. We must constantly renew our faith and show it each and every day; like we renew our life force by breathing constantly. That’s what God wants us to do- to believe in him; his will for us; and to trust in him In real time way as we live every day of our lives.

Unlike Herod, we need to make the time and effort to stay in tune with God. God wants our constant attention. Unlike the Jews returning from exile, we need to devote some of our energy each day to building a suitable temple for the Holy Spirit in our own precious bodies because we owe everything to God. We do that by praying, increasing our knowledge of God, his law and His will for us, so that we are strong temples of the Holy Spirit.

Marion Mazzoli Funeral

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Marion Mazzoli Funeral
Is 25: 6a, 7-9; Rom 8:14-23; Mt 11: 25-30
Deacon Larry Brockman

Jane and I were very fortunate to have had Marion Mazzoli in our lives. In the last decade, we socialized together often. We went on a cruise with the Mazzoli’s in 2016, sharing each evening together, the shore excursions, and many of the other meals. They brought their Grandchildren over to use our pool a number of times. We shared meals at our houses together and other activities. And so, we got to know Marion and Tom, their history, and their stories. We were close, sharing our values and our dreams and our lives together.

We watched helplessly as Marion’s disease crippled her and ebbed away the person we knew. Her suffering was always borne with dignity and composure. I brought her communion for the last couple of Months, and we enjoyed the discussions and exchanges as we always did. But it pained us to see her slow decline. In the last two weeks, it was clear that her days were numbered- a real wakeup call on the reality that all life ends in physical death. But even so, it is just inconceivable to think of Marion as gone.

You know, the sadness that all of us feel at the passing of a loved one, especially a person as committed to Christ as Marion was, is really over our loss, our pain, our needs. Simply put, all of us still need Marion. We want our Mom, our Grandma, our Aunt, our friend, our spiritual director, to be there for us just like she always had been there for us. We want the special wisdom, the love, the companionship, the support, that was Marion. And it is inconceivable that it is gone.

Marion was a true believer in the Lord. From an early age, she committed herself to the will of her father. She even offered to share in the sufferings of Christ. And her life reflected both of those commitments. Marion spent her working career caring for orphaned children and running a preschool. She was a devoted wife of 57 years and a mother to three children. She became a trained and qualified Spiritual Director. She helped found Women of Wisdom here at Holy Family. And she was always there for her family, whether the needs were for personal time, care, or financial support. Marion lived the life of a Christian to the fullest.

For 25 years Marion carried the burden of tongue cancer which was miraculously kept in remission for 20 of those years. But in the end, she succumbed to this dreadful and painful disease. Marion shared in the sufferings of Christ.

Our readings tell her story. Marion came to Christ Jesus with her burdens and labor, offering them up to him from an early age. And so, the Son revealed things to her in a special way. As Paul says in our New Testament:: “The sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” That was Marion’s hope; true Christian hope. And now, Marion has passed from this life to that Everlasting Life promised to all believers.

As our First reading says: Death is destroyed forever; all tears will be wiped away. And “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for whom we looked; lLet us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!” That is Marion’s destiny.

So while all of us may be sad because Marion has left our lives; Let us rejoice for her, a daughter of Christ, who has fought the good fight; lived her life for Christ; and loved each and every one of us with the Love of Christ because her reward in heaven will be great.

Marion Mazzoli Wake

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Marion Mazzoli Wake
Rom 8: 31b-35, 37-39, 6-10; Jn 6:37-40
Deacon Larry Brockman

Marion Mazzoli was a very special person in the lives of all of us. She had so many spiritual gifts, and shared them with all of us. She loved the Lord, and had an abiding and intimate relationship with Him from a very early age. She saw things; she sensed things; she knew things; things that most of us are unable to see and sense and know, because the Lord shared them with this very special person.

She became a Spiritual Director, trained in the Diocese of New York by none other than Fr. Apostole , Fr. Grochell, and other well-known persons. Marion helped so many through this very special talent and ministry- some of them here today.

But Marion didn’t just know Christ; she lived the life of Christ. She started in her mid-20’s by gathering homeless children off the streets for St. Agatha’s Orphanage in New York. And then, for 30 years, she operated a preschool, the Tall Pines Enrichment Center. She did all this while raising a family. Yet that was very difficult for her, because Marion had a problem having children. She suffered through many, many miscarriages, and so Tom and Marion adopted their first child. But Tom and Marion persevered, and were blessed with two natural children as well.

Tom and Marion took care of Marion’s parents Mary and Perry in their old age; even helping Perry realize his dream to operate a movie theatre. In recent years, Tom and Marion have taken care of their Grandchildren after school. They are kind and loving parents and grandparents; family has always been a top priority for them. Marion’s passing was just 2 days before her 57th anniversary.

For many years, Tom and Marion visited Florida for a few days after they took Cruises. They bought a time share in Florida in 1988, but then moved to a Town House near Fort Lauderdale in 1998 when they semi-retired in Florida. New York’s loss was Florida’s great gain! They moved to Orlando around the year 2000.

Marion was instrumental in the formation of the Women of Wisdom Organization at Holy Family, encouraging women to meet and talk about their faith. Marion and Tom also helped with Building Households of Faith for a while, our Parish’s former Marriage Preparation Program.

Marion was struck with tongue cancer some 20 years ago, apparently the consequence of too much X-ray radiation from dental work. This disease is usually fatal in just a year or two, but Marion’s case was one for the books because, thanks to family prayer and devotion, the disease went into remission for almost 20 years, something unheard of in the medical field. But it returned about 2 years ago, and spread to her jaw. Doctors tell me that it is one of the most painful cancers known. And yet, Marion bore that pain and suffering with incredible dignity and resolve. Marion truly shared in the sufferings of Christ.

As our first reading proclaimed, nothing can separate us who believe from the love of Christ. And as our Gospel tells us, Jesus will raise up everyone who sees the Son of Man and believes in him. Marion saw and believed.

All of us will miss her love and her spiritual insight. But all of us can rejoice in her new life in the Kingdom of God.

Hearing the Call

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Thursday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time
Col 1: 9-14; Luke 5: 1-11
Dc. Larry Brockman

Sometimes we have to be hit over the head to wake up to God’s message in our lives. I think that is what happened to Peter, James, and John in today’s Gospel.

These three- Peter, James, and John- were fisherman by trade. They knew that the best time to fish was at night- not during the day; they knew the best places to fish in the lake- and they weren’t necessarily in the deep water.

And so after working hard all night for naught, while repairing their nets, they listened to Jesus preach. This context is important; because Jesus was a near stranger to them at this point. Then Jesus asks them to take him a short distance into the lake so all in the crowd can hear him. In a recent book, Fr. James Martin describes the actual scene, which he visited first hand. He makes the point that it was a natural amphitheater, a place where the acoustics would have been good on the shore. Everybody would have been able to hear- the whole reason Jesus wanted Peter to take him out there.

And so, this simple fisherman aids the stranger Jesus. And then something truly extraordinary happens. Jesus asks Simon to go into the deep water for a catch. And Simon Peter followed Jesus’ direction. He was clearly skeptical about the whole idea. And yet, the results were truly astounding to Simon and his partners. So many fish that the nets were tearing.

Let us reflect for a moment about just what was going through Simon Peter’s mind as he listened to Jesus preach. Here’s a person gainfully employed in his trade- probably a family trade. He was there at the lake to engage in his trade- not for any other reason. He wasn’t looking for anything different in life. But along comes this preacher, Jesus. He may as well listen while he repairs his net, kind of like we listen to the radio while we work some menial task. Perhaps Jesus’ teaching impressed him; perhaps not. He might have felt a tinge of conscience- something that made him uneasy. But, he was committed to the nets and his job. Out of courtesy he helps Jesus by taking him offshore. Even though he was skeptical, he goes into the deep for a catch. I suspect it was in reaction to the clear tone of authority of the preacher that motivated Simon to help Jesus.

But it was the miracle of the fish that changed him forever- it was like being hit over the head. It was as if he realized that even though Jesus was addressing the whole crowd; it was he, Simon Peter, who Jesus was talking directly to. He, Simon Peter and his two partners were being asked to change their lives forever. In the other Gospels they were asked to become fishers of men. They left everything and followed Jesus.

In the first reading, Paul tells the Colossians that he does not cease praying for them and asking: “That you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing” to Him. The knowledge of God’s will. That’s what suddenly happened to Peter, James, and John. Whereas they listened to the sermon as passive bystanders; they came away committed to changing their lives in accordance with the will of God. They had been given knowledge of God’s will.

None of us are exempt from the same experience sometime in our lifetimes. All of us either are being, or have already been, called by the Lord to something. Sometimes we have to be hit over the head to realize it. A disaster, an illness, an impossible business situation, or any number of other things can happen to us. Rather than dwell on the negative, look for God’s will in such situations. We may have to change; maybe even a whole lot. But rest assured that if you respond to God by discerning His will You will be ready to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing” to Him.