Sunday, May 28, 2006
Feast of the Ascension of Christ
Here is a cyber-version of my homily.
Alfie, was a dog we had for several of the earlier years of our family. He was a black cocker/over the back fence mix. When my wife and I picked him up as a wee pup we met his mom. She was the cocker, very sweet, intelligent and loved to play ball. Alfie was a very good, sweet, loving dog. He was great with kids, adults and other creatures, accepting each for who they were. But...Alfie was not smart. If you threw a ball he would look at you with his simple dog smile, wag his tail..and that’s about it. He never would have run a canine agility course, be a service dog or take part in a dog show. He was, simply, Alfie. My wife and I used to think of the song..”what’s it all about Alfie?” when observing his expressions of puzzlement about the complex stuff of dog life.
I suspect that the disciples had Alfie-like expressions on their faces as they witnessed our Lord ascend to the heavens. As the angels came and asked them what they were looking for they probably were wondering....”what is this all about?”. They had witnessed Jesus develop the Gospel in three years of miraculous ministry. They had travailed through His Passion. The horror, sorrow and disappointment of His death almost destroyed their faith, their lives. Then the resurrection, joy, fear, experiences that defied any comprehension and now....Jesus was gone. Defying gravity, sin, death and fear He literally ascended the clouds and returned to Heaven. He had instructed them clearly: wait for the promised Holy Spirit. I will empower and be with you always to guide and confirm my Gospel through your words and actions....but he was gone. What was happening?
Our Lord’s ascension is about the places, provision, and purpose of God. This event occurring between the resurrection and Pentecost culminates the incarnation, the epiphanial journey of Christ. It leads the Church and the believer to carry on that journey and work of Christ the King.
Places of God: The ascension completes the journey of Christ that begun with His incarnation, His birth and years in the fullness of humanity. Jesus, God, come in the flesh has conquered sin and death and now returns to the Father, to His heavenly throne. Journeying from the womb of Mary, through years of humanity to the depths of Sheol He now is home returning in joy to the embrace of the Father and the infinite joy of the Holy Spirit. But that is not all. St. Paul in writing to the Ephesians and Colossians declares that we are seated with Him in Heavenly places..that your hearts may be enlightened...that you may know His call..the riches of His glory. Our Lord’s ascension expands the spiritual geography, the places of our hearts to prepare and enable us for the Kingdom of Christ.
Provision of God: Jesus, in returning to the Father, opened the gates of Heaven to a fullness of the provision of God. The love, the glory, the beauty of His holiness, being so infinite simply needed to expand to all creation. In ascending Christ enables the the coming of the Holy Spirit to fill the hearts of each believer and hence fill the Church. In that same provision and promise of the Holy Spirit He enables to fullness of His Eucharistic Presence to be shared and known in an ever growing tide of grace and mercy. From the single table in the upper room the provision of God is expanded with the ascension so that today, in every church at every holy altar of Christ another leaf is added to the table that was once in that upper room.
Purpose of God: With God’s places expanding, and His provisions shared we are brought to realize that in the ascension we are called to know and share the very purpose of God. As He bring us to the places and riches of Heaven we are called to share that very wealth. To know and experience the healing of His mercy, the joy in His redemptive embrace is but the beginning. We each, and together , are then called to share His ascended Presence with every creature allowing the truth the He is with us to be expressed in our actions and words.
So what’s it all about? Why did Christ come and then return to Heaven? Alfie was a simple dog. He shared our place, enjoyed our provisions, and faithfully loved in his own unique, uncomplicated way. Perhaps he was smarter than we realized.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
St. Paschal Baylon
17 May 2006
Today is the feast day of St. Paschal Baylon. This humble Franciscan would shun any adulation and therefore would not be concerned about the fact he is not well known in current times. Yet in prayerfully heeding his life and spirit I sense he would yearn to share with many today that which he shared while serving our Lord in Spain in the late 1500’s.
St. Paschal Baylon was born on the Feast of Pentecost, 24 May 1540, in Torre-Hermosa Spain. He grew up a rather poor shepherd boy and as a young man entered the Franciscan order. Although only a lay brother and poorly educated he did nurture a deep love and knowledge of Scripture. This combined with a deep love for Christ in the Blessed Sacrament resulted in a man of rather simple yet very practical and powerful faith. Although never rising in social status above the task of friary doorkeeper many sought his prayers, counsel and friendship. He died in 1592 and was canonized in 1690. This Patron Saint of eucharistic confraternities and congresses is a saintly friend to spend time with especially in times of Eucharistic adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
What would St. Paschal share with us today? I believe his message would be the same now as it was in his time in Spain. To know, love and serve Christ, faithfully, courageously is what matters most. If we are struggling with the affairs of this world we would do well to come to Christ in prayer, especially before the Blessed Sacrament, and prayerfully read and listen to His Word, the Scriptures, and then simply trust and serve Him our crucified and risen Lord.
St. Paschal, pray for us!
Saturday, May 06, 2006
The following is a cyber version of my homily for this weekend.
This 4th Sunday of the Easter season the Scriptures present us with a resurrection-powered challenge. In the first reading from Acts, from St. Peter’s sermon we hear that in Jesus Christ..”There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven..by which we are saved” Further readings from God’s Word proclaim that we are called to be and become God’s children, through the leading of Jesus, the good shepherd. These truths are enhanced in our parish this weekend by two other facts. This weekend has been set aside by our Pope to be a World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We also are blessed to celebrate at our 10:30 Mass First Communion for our young ones. All these things present to us this vital resurrection challenge: Are we bridges or barriers for Christ our Shepherd?
Living our Holy Communion:
As we receive our Lord, present in the Holy Eucharist we are each called to enter into His holy wounds. In coming to Him in our brokenness, our woundedness, we can enter into and know His wholeness and holiness. As we allow His sacred Body to heal, as we allow His Holy Blood to nourish us in His redeeming love we then can know His Body being made whole. We can be and become His children, reaching out to others, wounded, hungering and in need of...Him. In the Presence of His love the walls of fear can be conquered, bridges of truth and mercy can be built.
Following our Vocation:
This Sunday we pray for vocations, especially to the priesthood and religious life. The callings of God are clear and plentiful. We need to pray for men and women , for ourselves to heed their vocation, to follow Christ our Shepherd. Now more than ever we need those who will faithfully heed the call to follow and proclaim Christ's Presence and Truth in their lives and words. The importance is not in the specific role. The importance is in our being faithful in our relationship with Him allowing Him to reach out to those He brings into our lives building bridges of His redeeming love.
Sharing the Shepherd
In living our communion with Christ, in following our vocations, we are called to follow and share our Shpeherd. This brings us to recognize and experience that there will be those who don't tread the same path we trod. There may well be those whose beliefs we may not agree with or understand, whose lives and actions may not adhere to our convictions. Does it matter? Is the answer in blind tolerance? or angry fear? The answer is in Christ. As we remember there are sheep of other folds we can then learn to share our Shepherd. We can know that while Christ is the only way to the Father, there are many paths to Christ. Paths that need bridges not walls built for the Savior.
Are we bridges or barriers for Christ? The answer will be found as we each seek, together, to live, in faith-filled love our communion with Christ and each other. It will be known as we seek to heed and follow in loving courage, the Shepherd of our lives in His vocation for our life.