Archive for January, 2020

We Cannot Hide Our Chritianity

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

2 Sam 7: 18-19, 24-29; Mark 4: 21-25

Deacon Larry Brockman

Today’s first reading tells us all about the chosen people, Israel, and the House of God.  In a sense, this is analogous to the Church of today.

And in the Gospel, Jesus talks directly to his disciples, who are to be his witnesses to the end of the earth.  Today’s Gospel follows immediately after the parable Jesus told a great crowd on the lake in yesterday’s reading.  It was the parable of the sower and the seed.  Clearly, that parable was addressed to the crowd.  Jesus told his disciples he spoke in parables so that those who sought the truth would see; but those who weren’t seeking the truth would be blind to the analogy.  Those who would turn from his message at the first distraction; or be deceived by the devil or be drawn to the things of the world were identified and rejected.

Jesus was seeking to find those who were hungry for his message and would produce fruit in the long run by living according to it.  But then he told his disciples that they were especially gifted with knowledge of the Kingdom. 

So, today’s Gospel is the sequel to the parable of the seed.  He is not talking to the people in general but to the disciples who are especially gifted.  But he uses the same language as yesterday to challenge his disciples to look beyond the surface meaning and see the hidden message in the parable.  Jesus says: “Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”   

Since Jesus is addressing his disciples, what does it all mean to us?  Well, we are the chosen people now; and we are also his disciples.  Jesus intent was to propagate the Christian message throughout the world.  All of us are blessed as the House of Israel was blessed by virtue of our membership in the people of God.  We achieve that membership when we are Baptized into the Church.  

And when we are Baptized, the Priest or Deacon Says: “I anoint you as priest, prophet and king.”  And so, we are sent out to be God’s witnesses to the end of the earth.  This means that although Jesus was addressing His disciples in real time; He is addressing all of us today.   

You see, our Church needs witnesses; witnesses who are not afraid to share their knowledge, to share the light of Christ that they have received.  And what is more, this is what God expects of us.   

In fact, the disciples are being told that just because they have been chosen to hear about the kingdom of God directly,  They are not to keep it to themselves;  They are to spread that light, let it shine everywhere.  It would be inappropriate for them to keep this “secret” knowledge to themselves; and it would be unacceptable for them to receive special “gifts” and not use them to spread that message.   

Then Jesus repeats his challenge to the disciples a second time.  He says: Take care what you hear”.  And tells them: “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you”.  And: “To the one that has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”   

When we come into this beautiful building to worship, we experience a communal bond of fellowship and common belief.  It reinforces our faith and makes it vibrant and strong, especially when we receive the Eucharist.  But, this morning’s message is that this is not enough.  It is not enough for us to just support each other and to be comfortable in our faith.  The secular world is out there, and the light we have cannot be hidden in this Church.  It needs to be spread all around.   

Just like the disciples, all of us have been gifted in special ways.  God wants us to use those gifts to be his witnesses.  We should not hide these talents and savor our knowledge in closed communities.  If we do, we may just lose what we have.  We are the people of God now and it is our job, all of us, to spread the light of Christ.  In today’s world, the folks all around us are in just as much need of enlightenment as those in the remote corners of the world. 

So, let your light shine. 

Vivian Rowell Vigil

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

Rom 8: 14-23; John 14: 1-6

Deacon Larry Brockman

We have all lost a wonderful lady.   

I have known Ted and Vivian since 1984 when I moved to Orlando.  We interacted occasionally over the many years at Holy Family, and even at St. Jude.  I can remember Vivian vividly- those intense blue eyes, her warmth, and her intensity.  And even though I did not know her well, her faith shown like a bright star.  Her devotion to the Blessed Mother and the Blue Army ministry she started were well know across the Parish.

Jane and I watched the Rowell family grow as we watched our own family grow.  The Rowell children were a little older, but our families grew much the same way.  Both the Rowells and the Brockmans were gifted with 13 grandchildren.  I sense that your family is very close, and that Vivian’s life was filled with great joy over her children and grandchildren.   

But here we are now 36 years later.  Time has taken its toll on our families.  I know that Vivian suffered greatly since her stroke in 2016.   But indeed, Paul’s words from Romans are so very relevant- “For the sufferings of the present are as nothing compared to the glory to be revealed for us.”  And that glory and the Kingdom of God are the constant hope of all of us while we live.  And that included Vivian.     

As you know Ted, I lost my life partner in 2018, so I know about how it feels to lose a spouse.  All of a sudden there’s a giant hole in your life.  But the fact is that Vivian, like my Jane, has finished the race, and through her strong Faith and constant commitment to God, she was ready for her transition into the Kingdom and her reward.  We can all be happy for her as we grieve over our loss.   

As the Gospel says, there are many dwelling places in God’s house.  Certainly, He has prepared a place for Vivian.  Recently Pope Francis said something very interesting about marriage.  He said it was “forever”.  It is one of those things he says that has been attacked.  But you know what, when you have been married for 63 years, and have been so committed to each other, it is hard to imagine that death in this world is anything other than a temporary separation.  

 So rejoice for Vivian.  Because her hope has been realized.  And some day, all of her loved ones will be reunited with her. 

Following Jesus Christ

Sunday, January 26th, 2020

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 8:23 – 9:3; 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17; Mt 4: 12-23

Deacon Larry Brockman

Do you hear Jesus calling you?  And are you willing to drop everything and just follow after Him like the two sets of Apostles in the Gospel?  And just what does it mean to hear the call and follow after Him?  

 In the reading from Paul to the Corinthians, Paul is preaching against divisions among the people of God.  These are people who have heard the call and have converted to Christianity in the budding Church of the first century.  However, these people are choosing between one person’s message and another’s- in fact, three different people are mentioned, presumably with three different emphases.  But this doesn’t mean their messages are mutually exclusive.   Nevertheless, this has caused discord among the people- divisions; because people just naturally want to keep it simple.  They want to believe that they have got it right and others have got it wrong.   

Certainly, our times are like that.  We are a generation with serious divisions amongst us.  And there are so many different divisions amongst Christians.  There are literally hundreds of denominations and many non-denominational Christian Churches; and each of them will tell you that they are the ones who have the message right.   

Even within the Catholic Church there are divisions- for example, there are those who agree with this pope and those who disagree with him.   

But one thing is very clear from both Jesus and Paul’s message today:  It is really all about following Jesus Christ.  Now, it matters what Jesus said; but it matters more what He did.  Because when you follow someone, then you are really following after what they do.  No matter how eloquent someone is in their message; if they don’t practice what they preach; well, you’ve got to be wary of their message.   

You know, as I look back over the history of the Church,  I am struck by people who have had a tremendous impact on the Church:  Consider St. Francis of Assisi; Saint Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. Ignatius of Loyola; and modern Sts. Padre Pio, Mother Teresa, and John Paul II for example.  All of these people practiced what they preached.  And all of them left a twofold legacy.  First, they all had something to say; but secondly, the primary way they validated what they said was the way they lived their lives.  And the way all of them lived their lives was by mirroring the love of God in what they did. Other people could see that they were special people- real saints; and so many of them developed followers.  So, today we have Franciscans, Jesuits, Sisters of Mercy, and other groups that try to emulate the special charisms f these people had.  But these are not divisions; rather they are people who are mirroring the love of God in certain specific ways.   

The fact is, each one of us is unique, and so we are each called in a different way to follow Jesus Christ.  We can choose to drop everything and follow after the special charisms of one of these special people.  Those who choose this path become priests or nuns or join a religious order.  Yes these people have heard the call and responded to it.  They are particularly blessed for committing their lives in this way.  

 But there is another way.  We can look at the way these special saints embraced the Gospel as a way of life, and do something similar in our lives- the ones that God has given us.  We are doctors, teachers, housewives, factory workers, and yes, even fisherman, and whatever else.  And we are all called to live our lives in accordance with the way of life Jesus showed those first disciples who followed him- by doing the will of God and loving others as self.   

We do it in the kindnesses we show other people; how we take care of our sick and elderly;   How we show our children what is right and wrong; how we reject the secular values that are contrary to Jesus’ teaching;  How we respect the dignity of all human life. 

The world badly needs Christians who publicly do as Jesus did.

And that is what it means to hear Jesus and follow after Him..