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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Entering His Wounds

Contemporary rendition of Carraviggio's "Doubting Thomas" painted by: John Granville Gregory

The door is locked. Fear has them bound, hidden away in a room.

This Second Sunday of Easter, also recognized as Divine Mercy Sunday, we return to the followers of Christ. On Easter Sunday our joyful songs express our faith in our Risen Savior and Lord. Today we find the disciples where we too may be at times in our life, locked away in our fears.
Of what are you afraid? Yes we profess our faith in Christ, yet, sadly, we sometimes place more faith in our doubts and fears than in Him. We focus on failures, real or feared of others, or ourself. Fears and doubts of health, or economic well-being, relationships, careers, families, our Church, all may well bring us to be locked in darkened rooms of doubt and fear. Where is our faith? In our fears and doubts or in Him who conquered fear, doubt, sin and death?

It is easy to sing, to say we believe. We may well express our amen's and alleluia's yet when we leave the church and return to the rooms of our lives we may once again find our life locked in fear and doubt. Is there really any hope? How can we know true freedom from that which we fear, from the doubts that would cripple our souls and our lives. This Sunday of Divine Mercy, we find in God's word the true and practical way to that freedom as we heed Christ's Words and enter His Wounds we will enter into His Holy love by which all fear and doubts is conquered.

The voices of fear, the messages of doubts are loud and abundant. The cacophony of noise from this world composed by the dark prince of fear and despair is always available to fuel our fear and renew our doubts. Yet the Prince of Peace can enter the darkest of doubts, the rooms of fiercest fear and in His noble voice of holy love proclaim His Peace in our midst and in our hearts. We have the ability to seek to call upon Jesus to enter our hearts, our homes, our most difficult places and to guide us to His Peace. No dark voice of fear or doubt can overcome Him who proclaims His holy peace that conquered the powers and places of hell itself. From the cacophony of darkness we can enter hear the symphony of grace of which we all are called to join His holy angels in songs of hope, mercy and joy. As we seek, as we heed His Words of peace, mercy, healing and hope we will find Him guiding us closer to His Presence. We will experience Jesus the Truth that sets us free.

Out of the dark rooms of our fears and doubts the Risen Christ calls and leads us to..Himself. It is in His Presence we, along with the early disciples, can see His wounds, like Thomas himself we can touch and enter into the very wounds of Christ. While it is true we may not physically see Jesus as did the disciples in Scripture we can know His very real blessing He gave all who were not there, the blessing to see Him, and enter His wounds with eyes of faith. It is as His nail-scared hands touch our soul that we then can see Him, His wounds in others, in each other, in the needy, in the suffering of all creation as we await the return of our Savior and Lord. It is in our own brokenness we can enter His wounds as well. It is also in the simple places of prayer, during Mass, before the Blessed Sacrament, in the prayer closets of our life that God can call and bring us to enter into His presence, His wounds and find the hope, the freedom to believe and follow Him in the power of the Risen Christ.

From the locked room of fear we discover His voice proclaiming His peace, we draw close to Him, we see, we touch, we enter into His wounds, we enter into His Love by which all fear and doubt is conquered.

Cyber-version of my homily for the Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. Mass Readings: Reading I: Acts 2:42-47; Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 118:2-4,13-15,22-24; Reading II: I Pet. 1;3-9; Gospel: John 20:19-31

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Resurrection Heart

The Cyber-version of my homily for Easter Sunday
Readings for Easter Sunday Mass: I: Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Ps: 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23; II: Col. 3:1-4; Gospel: John 20:1-9

"They did not yet understand the Scriptures that He had to rise from the dead..."

The closing words of John's Gospel account of the resurrection told how the disciples who came that Easter morning did not yet get that Jesus was indeed risen from the dead. Would those words apply to us today? Over 2000 years we still not get it?
For we share the same peril that the Jews, Romans and even the disciples faced in those intense days in Jerusalem. But while facing the same perils we also have the same hope and promise of knowing Jesus is indeed risen from the dead.

Understanding and reason had failed.
The Jewish hierarchy could not let go their pride and fear that held them enslaved to their education, their status and their sense of control. They could only see Jesus as the poor son of a carpenter, born of very unclear circumstances. This self-centered vision crippled their ability to see Jesus, Son of God, Son of Man, their Messiah.
The Romans, slaves to their assumptions of power, pride and might could not find the strength of heart to reach out to the true King of Kings and Savior of the world.
The disciples, who had followed Jesus in growing faith and unsure understanding had found their hopes dashed, overcome by the cruelty this world would bring.

So, on that first Easter morning they came, Mary Magdalene, in mourning came to attend the body of Jesus more properly for burial. Thinking to come to the tomb sealed by her understanding, she came instead to enter into God's Resurrection Heart.

Following the words of her Lord she went to Peter and John telling them, not what she understood, but what she had experienced in God. Peter and John ran to the tomb. Peter with his heart torn by his threefold denial, gasping for breath as he sought his Lord. John, the Beloved could not run fast enough..dare he hope that his beloved Jesus could be alive? Coming to the tomb, John looks in, Peter catching up brushes aside and enters, John follows. As they enter the tomb where understanding and reason fail us..they entered into the God's resurrection heart.

Today, we come. Perhaps like Mary Magdalene we come seeking closure on seeming losses and failure. Maybe we are like Peter, struggling with the a soul burdened with known denial and fear of following in His steps. Or perhaps like John with hearts broken yet racing with a hope that refuses to die..not understanding but knowing the call of His love.

200o years later we are now the people of the Easter story. Do we hide in our fears, pride, sense of control and status? We hear of this Jesus, this resurrection but our understanding is bound, locked in the our self. Or are we going to follow in the steps of the courageous women and men who dared to come, with all their human frailties and dare enter into the heart of the resurrection, the very sacred heart of God's love.

The hope, the promise has not changed. We can know as did Mary, as did John and Peter the love of Christ calling us beyond our selves into His holy, healing love that will raise us up to believe and then to understand.....He is risen, Alleluia.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Sensing God ~ Knowing God

The cyber-version of my homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings for the 5th Sunday of Lent: Reading I: Ezek. 37:12-14; Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 130:1-2,33-4,5-6,7-8;
Reading II: Eph. Rom. 8:8-11; Gospel: John 11:1-45

What would you do, if in these last days of Lent, Jesus came to you and said..."we need to talk"? He would find a comfortable place for you both to sit. He would look you in the eye and say..."don't be afraid." He would then explain that He understood how hard it was to trust, to follow Him, but that He just wanted this Lent, this Holy week to really open your life to the promise and joy of His open your life to Him. Maybe you would feel compelled to start sharing the struggles, doubts, fears you had, how sin was a battle. He would lift your head ..look you in the eyes and say.."I forgive you, I give you my peace, just follow me".
Such an experience would, literally, beyond doubt, change our life for the rest of eternity.

Yet it is so often so hard to sense God's Presence in our lives. To KNOW that He is with us, to know what He really wants us to do. In today's Gospel, the experience of the raising of Lazarus from the dead is shared. In this vibrant message we are given an important lesson in sensing God in our life.

Lazarus had died. Jesus, close friend of Lazarus, and his sisters, Mary and Martha was days away. When Lazarus had fallen ill they had sent for Jesus, TRUSTING that He could do something. Jesus had delayed His response. Lazarus was dead. Mary, Martha, their friends were heart broken. Not only had Lazarus died...but they had trusted Jesus to come, to heal as He had so many others. Where was He? Where was God? Their feelings..their sense of God's Presence was seemingly destroyed.
But the Lord had a greater blessing to share.

Jesus arrives to find Martha confronting Him in her grief. Mary, the others, bound in mourning. They go to the tomb. Lazarus has been dead and in the tomb for four days. Jesus weeps. SEEING His tears, they then HEAR him say "remove the stone". Martha, ever practical, recoils, telling Christ, "he's been in the tomb four days..He will STINK! They HEAR, again the Words of Christ: "...Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" Their fearful sweaty hands remove the cold hard stone. "LAZARUS COME FORTH" They all HEAR Christ call. Lazarus comes forth. Again HEARING HIS WORDS..."Loose Him". They FEEL the cold clothes of the dead. Then they SEE..LAZARUS is alive!

Using all of the five physical senses Jesus lead Mary, Martha, His disciples, the mourners to see beyond their vision. To sense beyond what they could feel. So He would do today these many centuries later. He longs to sit with us, look into our soul and call us to... Himself.

In simple trust we place our hands in His nail-scarred hands, seek Him to touch our ears, ask that we may see as He sees, to smell the holy fragrance of holy love in the scent of a rose, to taste His goodness in His Body and Blood we come to the place of Mary and truly sense and know God's Presence. St. Paul shared this lesson in another way..we are called to grow beyond life in the flesh (what we just physically feel) to life in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. As our souls are filled with God's Spirit He then brings us to know His touch..those words of Christ..."don't be at peace".