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Father Michael

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About Father Michael

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  • Birthday 11/13/1946

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  • Full Real Name:
    Father Michael Schamp
  • Reason for registering:
    Live and/or work in Chiriqui
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    In Chiriqui
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    USA

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  1. July 12th, 2020 15th Sunday, Ordinary Time A Message from Father † Michael Today’s Theme: “Sowing the Word of God” Scripture Note On the face of it, it might seem from Today’s Gospel that Jesus taught in parables in order to keep His hearers from understanding (Matthew 13:1-23.) But such a purpose is completely alien to the character of Jesus. He used parables as an effective teaching tool, and those who were open to Him received more. Those who closed their minds against Him received less. The fault lay not with Jesus but with the receiver! The early Church adapted the parables to the new situation in which they found themselves. (The shorter form—vs 1-9—is most likely the original form of the parable. The explanation—vs 10-23—reflects the missionary experience of the early Church. It accounts for the relative failure of the message of Jesus.) Shallow minds, harden hearts, worldly preoccupations and persecutions are most likely the obstacles that frustrated the growth of faith, even to our present day. Our First Reading suggests the rain always produces positive results—somewhere the earth eventually responds and becomes fruitful—so God persists with His Word until He gets a response (Isaiah 55:10-11.) Jesus Taught in Parables Aside from John’s Gospel, which contains none, the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke,) are replete with parables. This seems to have been Jesus’ favorite method of teaching. Among the rabbis of Jesus’ day, there was apparently an attitude almost of reverence towards the parable. So, when Jesus adopted this method, He was following an accepted tradition. To better understand the significance of “the parable,” consider this explanation: “Once there was a famous rabbi who loved to illustrate a truth by means of a story. One day his student asked him why he adopted this approach. He replied: “There was a time when Truth went around ‘naked and unadorned.’ People shied away from him and gave him no welcome. So Truth wandered through the land, rebuffed and unwanted. “One day, very disconsolate, he met Story, strolling along, happily dressed in a multi-colored robe. He asked Truth, ‘Why are you so sad?’ Truth replied, ‘I’m so old and ugly, everybody avoids me.’ ‘Nonsense!’ said Story. ‘That is not why people avoid you. Here, borrow my robe and see what happens.’ “So Truth donned Story’s multi-colored robe, only to find that everywhere he went, people welcomed him.” The Rabbi concluded, “The fact is, people are unable to face the naked Truth. They much prefer the Truth ‘in disguise.’ ” Sometimes the truth can be so painful that we are not able to face it “straight.” We have to “dress it up;” we have to “adorn it.” (...A story makes a bitter truth more palatable.) A story has another great advantage. Just as the light from a small candle can help a searcher find a gold coin or a priceless pearl, so too a short parable can contain a great truth and enable us to penetrate the heart of that truth. So, Jesus is saying to us, in the “Parable of the Sower,” that the Word of God is to the human heart what a seed is to the earth. Just as soil is barren without seed, so our lives are barren without the Word of God—a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life. The Church has always venerated the Sacred Scriptures as it venerated the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. In Holy Communion we are offered, from one table, the Word of God and the very Essence of Christ. Through His Word, God is continually calling us to a better and more fruitful life. Happy those who make the voice of God the most important one in their lives! God doesn’t speak to us like a “dictator” to his subjects. He speaks to us like a Father does to His children, with gentility, as a weak, defenseless seed falling into the soil. Therefore, we should be wary of anyone who pontificates to have heard from “God on high.” He communicates to us quietly, through the Holy Spirit, alive, and within each and every one of us. In so doing, His Word is more effective than the word of the most powerful dictator—it can change people’s hearts. But God doesn’t "speak to us" only through quiet meditation with the Holy Spirit, nor solely in the Words of Sacred Scripture. He also speaks to us through the events of our lives. We may better appreciate the significance of those events if we are studied in Scripture, as we may find ways to interpret what we experience. In any event, we will be judged by the efforts we make, not solely in our results. The Importance of The Word When we were young, our world consisted in listening to countless “words” of teaching from our parents and educators. So many have been dropped into the “soil of our minds and hearts” during the “springtime” of our lives! We heard words of greeting; of welcome; of encouragement; of affirmation; of advice; of guidance; of correction; of chastisement; of warning; of caution; of comfort; and of consolation. At the time, we may not have appreciated the significance of those words, but we needed to hear them. Only God knows how many of those words took root in our lives. But one thing is clear: our lives would be immeasurably poorer without the “sowing” of all those words. As adults we still need the “sowing of the Word.” One can only pity those people who have nothing but words of criticism and blame; or those who have to survive on a diet of silence. But happy are those who hear the words of encouragement, love and peace! Human words, no matter how necessary, will never fully nourish us. We need "God’s Words," to give us guidance in times of doubt; reassurance in times of difficulty; comfort in times of sorrow; correction in times of foolishness; challenge in times of laziness and sloth; warning in times of danger; and hope in times of despair. (For me many of the messages in Proverbs continually buoy my spirits when I face difficult times. So many are time-honored maxims, which remain applicable to situations in our modern world.) God’s Words are never negative. They are Words spoken in love—as food nourishes the body, so the Word of God nourishes the mind, the heart and the Spirit. God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit in the most hidden parts of our being. But many other voices are vying for our attention. In fact, every day, we are subjected to a veritable “blizzard” of words. We are bombarded by visual and aural stimuli from every quarter. Our modern mass media has specially crafted skills to infiltrate our minds, with “pop-up ads;” “scrolling messages” underneath our videos; “breaking ‘stories’ with particular ‘impact’ ” during newscasts; and even static billboards along the roadway. We are scarcely ever “out of reach” from the “tentacles” of information. One might wonder how it is ever possible to discern God’s Word amidst all this clamor. It only can occur if we can create a little bit of stillness and quietness within ourselves. This is the realm in which peaceful meditation works. I find the calming influence of the group “Liquid Mind” among my favorite background musical selections to aid me to find peaceful relaxation. (Some might call it “space music,” but it suits me to a “T.”) Rather than a formal session of what has been called “Transcendental Meditation,” short periods of solemnity can be most beneficial. It’s not enough to simply remember the Word; we have to “do it.” One of the ways to tell an imitation diamond from a natural gem is by means of how it refracts light. In the case of many simulants, light passes straight through them, enabling a person to read newsprint through it. In the case of a natural diamond, the light is reflected throughout the crystal, exiting back to our eyes, ablaze with refracted, prismatic color, or “fire.” With some people, the Word of God goes in and comes straight back out. They are mere “hearers” of the Word. But those who “keep the Word,” that is, those who act on it, are transformed…. Like a seed, germinating and sprouting from the ground, the Word of God, once dropped into the human heart, never dies. It’s never too late to act on the Word of God. May God Richly Bless You! “A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day.” --Emily Dickenson-- Come to the Table.docx Come to the Table.mp3 You may view a live stream of today's Readings, click here: https://youtu.be/EO51lsAkReQ
  2. July 5th, 2020 14th Sunday, Ordinary Time A Message from Father † Michael Today’s Theme: “Come to Me, All You Who Labor” Scripture Note Today’s First Reading (Zaechariah 9:9-10,) portrays the Messianic King as a humble and gentle champion of peace for all people, not as a warrior. As such, His mission was to put an end to war and establish peace. It was as such a Messiah that Jesus entered Jerusalem, before His passion. Today’s Gospel reveals the fulfillment of this prophecy, as Jesus lightens the burdens of the poor and brings peace to the humble (Matthew 11:25-30.) His life was based upon His unique relationship with the Father—one which He wants to share with His disciples. Meanwhile, we hear from Paul as he contrasts life “in the Spirit” with that lived “in the flesh” (Romans 8:9-13.) Jesus Reveals the Father It gives us joy to know an important person. However, “to know” simply means learning “the facts” about someone—in fact, a very shallow understanding of them. To “really know” another means to have a relationship based on trust and love, with the understanding that we also are known and loved in return. In his biography of George Washington, Richard Brookhiser writes: “George Washington is with us every day, on our dollar bills and our quarters. He looks down on us from Mount Rushmore. In the national capital that bears his name, he has the most prominent memorial. More schools, streets and cities bear his name than that of any other American, and historians rank him among the greats presidents America has had. “However, the omnipresence of Washington does not translate into familiarity. He is in our textooks and our wallets, but not in our hearts. The fault is partly Washington’s, since he tended to distance himself from the people.” Some people have an image of God as Someone “distant and remote,” not really concerned about us and our sufferings. Worse still, others perceive God as a judge or a spy, ready “to pounce and to punish.” (Of course, these human constructs were developed by mortal minds over millennia in an attempt to understand the essence of Something actually “unknowable” to us. We have come to understand “God” as a metaphysical Entity, beyond time and space; but only through “humanizing” Him can we begin to appreciate how He might relate to our lives.) However, Jesus “knows” the Father, and is, in turn, “known” by Him, something that filled Him with quintessential joy. Because he knows the Father, He is able to reveal Him to human beings, who, like children, are willing to be open and receptive. Jesus revealed God as a loving, compassionate, forgiving Father—THE ONE, TRUE God, Who is passionately interested in us; a God Whose concern is not to judge and condemn, but to heal and to save. Throughout history, many so-called “wise” people have rejected Jesus, but the simplest people have accepted Him. Prideful intellectuals have had little use for God, which can be a dangerous position. Simple people are often nearer to God than are “clever people.” Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever, and revealing them to mere children” (Matthew 11:25.) We should note that Jesus did not condemn intellectual power. It is not our cleverness that shuts out God; rather, it is our pride. And it is not stupidity that enables God to come to us—but our humility. The very reason Jesus came to earth is to enable us to relate to God—something of which our human minds alone are incapable. Because of His coming, we no longer see God as someone remote. We see Him as an omnipresent Entity, Who is very close to us; Who knows each of us; and is concerned about each of us; because we are His children. He is, especially, the God of the weak, the poor and the overburdened—conditions every one of us has experienced at some time in our lives. When faith is a matter of the intellect, alone, it becomes cold, and cerebral. But faith is not just a matter of mind—rather, it is more a matter of the heart. When faith is rooted in the heart, God is seen as close and loving, becoming a warm relationship with God. To know God in this way should be a cause of great joy to us. God is like a never-ending Spring within us, from Which we can drink and refresh ourselves. Strength in Weakness As referred to, above, today's Liturgy of the Word begins with an image of a king coming humbly to Zion, riding on a donkey—a messenger of peace—something mirrored for us in Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, unarmed and defenseless. But just because Jesus carried no weapons, He was not weak. Rather, His strength over the human heart was competently shown when He changed the hearts of so many people during his earthly ministry. In our own history, people like Hitler and Stalin could make people tremble, but they could not change their hearts. Jesus said, “Learn from Me, for I am weak and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29.) Humility and gentleness don’t seem to hold much sway in today’s troubled world. A person who portrays gentility, risks people “walking all over” them, as it tends to be equated with timidity, passivity and weakness. But gentility is NOT a form of weakness. In fact, nothing is as strong as gentleness, nor as gentle as real strength. One must be a strong and self-confident person to be gentle. One of the most admired qualities in a human being is gentleness. One need only think of the loving hands of a mother or a surgeon to comprehend this maxim. In our deepest souls we all pine for gentleness; we can’t open up and grow without it. In the words of Henri Nouwen: “A gentle person treads lightly, listens carefully, looks tenderly and touches with reverence.” Gentle people know that healing and growth result from a nurturing manner, not from force. It has been shown that human lust for power is rooted in weakness, not strength. Only those who are spiritually weak measure their worth by the number of people they can dominate. Only weaklings “puff themselves up” and try to act strong; “tough people” many times hide their vulnerabilities behind a false bravado. There was no harshness in Jesus—He had a very gentle approach to people. He didn’t force Himself on anyone; or try to control them; or impose His will upon them. He respected their freedom. People with the greatest influence over others have no need to control those they influence…. Humility is seen as weakness in today’s world, wherein we are told to project ourselves as if we want “to go places.” (This should not be confused with, or perceived as a criticism for, presenting a positive, confident nature when we focus on attaining worthy goals, however.) But, humility, like gentility is another aspect of true strength. It is the foundation upon which to build the "temple of the Spirit." Humility does not involve self-deprecation. It is the grateful recognition of one’s goodness; acknowledgement of which recognizes humility as yet another gift from our Creator. Jesus promised peace of the soul to those who are sincerely gentle and humble . We have so much trouble in our homes and in our world today because we know so little about being gentle with one another. We want to dominate others, and to disparage contrary views. Humility has within it the ability to recognize other people’s worth, as well. But it is because we know so little about humility that we have so little peace within ourselves and with others. Proud and arrogant people spread confusion and unrest by projecting onto others their anger and frustrations. In contrast, humble people “disarm” fear and hostility in others and bring out the best in them. In contrast, people who are proud and insensitive make life burdensome everyone. The saints of old have urged us to “acquire inner peace, from which a multitude of people will find salvation near you.” Reflection The Lord said: “Come to me.” But I replied, “I’m not worthy. “Come to me,” He repeated. And I said, “I’m afraid.” “Come to me.” “…I’m too proud.” “Come to me.” ”…But I’ve no appointment.” “Come to me.” “…But I can’t afford the time, right now.” “Come to me.” With that, I fell silent. He continued: “Come…sit down…take a load off your feet. Sit here as in the shade of a tree. Refresh yourself as at a running stream. Here you will find rest. Here you will find peace, and your yoke will become easy, and your burden light.” ~~Anonymous~~ Let us pray: “God of love and mercy, grant us the ability to reach out to Your Holy Spirit for help in all our tasks…for guidance in all our doubts...for strength in all our weaknesses…for consolation in all our sorrows…and Your protection in all our dangers.” May God Richly Bless You! Humility and knowledge in poor clothes excel pride and ignorance in costly attire. William Penn You may view a live stream of today's Readings here: https://www.facebook.com/michael.schamp.9/videos/3412989932058823/?d=n Come, Ye Sinners.docx Come, Ye Sinners.mp3
  3. 28 June 2020 13th Sunday-Ordinary Time Message from Father † Michael Today’s Theme: “The Sermon: Hospitality” Scripture Note Today’s First Reading (2 Kings 4:8-16,) recounts the prophet Elisha’s welcoming reception while visiting the town of Shunem. In appreciation, he calls upon the power of God to enable his host to bear a child. Our Gospel offers Jesus’ instructions to the apostles on their priorities as His envoys to the world (Matthew 10:37-42.) Receiving someone’s envoy is to receive the person themselves. However, if need be, they were to be ready to sacrifice relationships with their relatives and friends, and even their lives in His service. In turn, they were urged to present profound dignity and offer the utmost sociability to everyone. Following in Jesus’ Footsteps Jesus’ sermon today offers a stern warning to His disciples that we have to “take up our cross” to follow in The Way. Our cross is not made of wood, but of our burdens—worries, problems, illnesses, conflicts with family, etc. Perhaps we may have no “big” cross to bear, but we have a multiplicity of little ones. It is said, though, that enough drops eventually fill a cup to overflowing. Our cross may not be visible to others; it may not be “outward,” but an “inward” oppression, such as grief or depression. Such crosses can be so heavy yet not able to be weighed on any scale. Our most painful cross is the one in which we have no choice, i.e., living with a “difficult person.” It is a great deal easier to choose a cross for oneself, than to accept one that comes in the “line of duty.” Over and above all these “crosses,” which come to everyone, are those that come to us because of our discipleship for Christ. The most common reasons for giving up the practice of the faith are not intellectual, but moral. People know that to follow Christ may subvert their plans, which are often mercenary and vainglorious, and would mean saying “no” to themselves in certain matters. To follow Christ means a type of “dying” to self. This process begins at Baptism, which can be compared to death. (Today’s Second Reading: †Paul preaches that we are united to the death and resurrection of Christ in our Baptism [Romans 6:3-11.]) When we were baptized, we let go of the old life of sin, and became new creatures, able to live in the freedom of the children of God. This is, of course, a lifelong process, upon which we can embark and persevere, with the grace of God. But the purpose of this death is resurrection. It is the death of the old, sin-ridden self, which results in the birth of a “new self,” modeled on Christ. The person who selfishly grasps at personal fulfillment will only see it slip through their fingers, while one who sacrifices themselves for Jesus (and others) will find true fulfillment. Christ did not choose the way of ease, or evasion. Rather, He chose the way of self-sacrifice and suffering. It wasn’t that He was “in love” with suffering, but that He chose The Way of love. Love inevitably results in suffering, but then, love is the only thing that makes suffering bearable and fruitful (1 Corinthians 13:1-13.) We are saved, not by Christ’s suffering, but by His love. And it was through suffering that He attained to glory. Therefore, it follows that if we suffer with Him on earth, we will be crowned with Him in heaven. The road of suffering is narrow and difficult. But we take great comfort knowing that Christ, the innocent and sinless One, has gone down this road before us, to the end. Since He traveled upon it, it is not the same. A bright light illuminates The Way for us, ending not a Calvary, but at Easter. Hospitality One of the nicest things in life is to meet an open, friendly, warm and hospitable person. Hospitality is a hallmark of a true follower of Christ, Who urges us to be open, and accepting to everyone, as He was. These days, unfortunately, are much different that in days gone by, when no one locked their doors. In fact, these days are times of locks, bolts, chains, peep holes, alarm systems, dogs…. Yet there is more need for hospitality and friendliness now than ever before! With all our modern conveniences, technology and scientific advancements, it seems there has never been a period of history with more loneliness, strangers, aliens and displaced people. Hospitality to a friend, is “no big deal.” In such an instance there is no great risk involved and little likelihood any of our friends would not return the favor. But hospitality to a stranger can be fraught with peril. We don’t “owe” anything to a stranger, and weighing the risks is of paramount concern. Nonetheless, we are called by Christ to welcome strangers, to accept them as they are—thereby enabling them to shed their "strangeness" and become members of our community. (People of good conscience have responded to those less fortunate in modern times by providing outreach programs that do not expose them to undue threat. Opening our Churches, meeting halls, city missions and event centers; the outreach efforts of civic organizations, as well as groups ministering to the needy, (Handicap Foundations, Boquete's Hogar Triskar, God's Eyes, etc.) also serve to allay dangers to any individual, and still offer hospitality and services to those in need.) Responding to Christ’s call to “reach out” offers enormous rewards. Even a trivial act of kindness, like offering a bottle of water does not go unrewarded. Earthly rewards include the growth of understanding, friendliness, cooperation, and positive relationships that develop among people in different stations of life—the very things for which our society is in desperate need. Our charitable actions can have a “ripple effect” in our world—a “spring time” to banish a “winter” of mistrust, hostility and fear. For followers of Christ, hospitality is not an “optional extra.” It is at the very heart of the Gospel. And the ultimate motivation is clear: To welcome a stranger is to welcome Christ Himself. It is not so much about “open doors” as “open hearts.” Yes, there are risks in having an open heart—a person may experience disappointment, even “hurt.” But every time we open our hearts we begin"to live”—whereas, when we close our hearts we begin to die…. A Cup of Cold Water Offering someone a drink of water normally is a small gesture, but depending on circumstances, it can be very important. Living in the desert, (as I now do, in Tucson,) It is quite clear that having water can mean the difference between life and death. (With temperatures in excess of 100-degrees, many days, and humidity levels below 20%, much of the year, dehydration is a constant threat.) This shows that a deed doesn’t have to be “big” to have major importance. The spirit in which a deed is done, the person to whom it is offered and the circumstances can magnify its significance. Many times, it’s not “how much” we do, but how much love we put into the act. Few of us are given opportunities to perform great deeds. But the chance to offer a “cup of water,” or other simple act of charity, may come our way several times in the course of a given day. Such deeds may not mean much, taken by themselves, but the quality of one’s actions can be measured in terms of the “warmth” in which they are offered, and the peace they bring to the recipient. Here is an anonymous poem I find particularly apropos: “The Circle Around My Life” Much of our lives is spent in keeping people out. We have private houses, private clubs, and so on. Of course, there are times when we need to be alone. Yet there is a sense, in which our size as human beings, can be measured by the circles we draw to take other people into our livs. A strong person isn’t afraid of people who are different: A wise person welcomes them. However, by shutting out other people we deny ourselves the riches of other people’s experiences-- In so doing, we starve our minds, and harden our hearts. In the beginning, God gave the earth its shape: He made it round...He included everybody. So should we…. May God Richly Bless You! Be Still and Know.docx Be Still and Know.mp3 Here is a live stream of Fr. Michael, with today's Readings: https://www.facebook.com/michael.schamp.9/videos/3391937750830708/?d=n
  4. June 21, 2020 12th Sunday-Ordinary Time A Message from Father † Michael Today’s Theme: “Witnessing in Spite of Fear” Scripture Note Today’s Readings give us examples of how envoys of the Lord have always faced their fears when giving testimony to the world. A corrupt society does not welcome reform. The powers that defend the status quo will always recoil against any attempt to undermine their positions of power: · In our First Reading, The knowledge that God was with him enabled Jeremiah to remain faithful to his difficult task as a prophet (Jeremiah 20:1-13;) · Then, in our Second Reading we hear how †Paul drew a contrast between Christ and Adam: sin came into the world through Adam, whereas abundant grace came through Christ (Romans 5:12-15.) With the power of this grace, the disciples of The Way are imbued with confidence and bravery as they face evil; · Our Gospel Reading gives us Christ’s own words, as He exhorts his disciples to be open and fearless witnesses, assuring them of God’s special care in all their trials. Do Not Be Afraid When Jesus sent the apostles out to proclaim His teaching openly and to witness to Him before the world, He knew He was asking them to put their lives in danger. They had good reason to be afraid, knowing they would have to face hardship and persecution. So, not once, but three times, He said to them: “Do not be afraid” (of human beings who can kill the body, but can do no more.) Jesus understood their fears and took them seriously, by addressing their fears and trying to allay them; trying to give them courage, so they could move beyond their fears—knowing that fear could make them so timid as to be unable to fulfill their mission. He urged them to have complete trust in the resources within themselves that are a gift from God. Jesus assured them that God knew every detail of their lives, and they should trust that they could overcome every crisis, if their faith was sufficient. There is such a thing as “holy fear of God.” In Biblical terms “Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10.) This stems from the fear of “displeasing” God; the fear of losng God; the fear of “eternal damnation.” These can be powerful, motivating forces. History has taught that ancient peoples attributed all manner of suffering to the action of “the gods.” Largely living by instinct instead of intellect, our species developed from creatures who were mere pawns in their existence in the natural world. Only millennia of intellectual development has served to overcome these fears. Fear can create suspicion, distance, defensiveness and insecurity. We see this in our everyday lives when people are preyed upon by misinformation, emotions and blatant misleading opinion. A most recent example is pandemic of the Corona virus—just one in a series of natural crises that have plagued our species over the milennia. Yet, in spite of centuries of history, and manifest developments in knowledge of viral impact, world populations have been driven into a frenzy of fear, over an infectious agent, the likes of which have affected mankind many times in the past. (It should be recalled that mass hysteria was also seen as the greatest predator at the beginning of WWII, when, in his 1933 inaugural address, President Franklin Roosevelt coined the phrase, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” How apt this is in connection to our most recent pandemic. When the facts of the matter prove that less than 1% of the population are likely to experience death from it, public reaction to the virus was out of all proportion to the actual threat.) We know fear is normal, and natural…that we will be afraid; that courage will sometimes fail us. All those who have accomplished great things have known fear at one time or another. We think of people like Martin Luther King and Jesus, Himself, in the Garden of Gethsemane. Fear is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it has a protective function, warning us in the presence of danger. In such cases, fear is a “grace.” Nevertheless, fear can be a handicap, paralyzing a person, and turning them into a coward. There is a story of a magician who encountered a mouse with a crippling fear of cats. Taking pity on it, he turned the mouse into a cat. But then, it became afraid of dogs, so, the magician turned it into a panther. Then it became afraid of hunters. At this point, the magician gave up, and turned the panther back into a mouse, saying, “Nothing I do for you is going to be of any help, because you will always have the heart of a mouse!” The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah lived out his vocation during a time of great turmoil, one which saw the defeat of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. He lived with constant threats to his life, yet, in spite of everything, he remained faithful to his calling as prophet. His conviction that God was “on his side” enabled him to overcome his fears and remain faithful to his mission. (The Hebrew temple was constructed under Solomon, king of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah; included ritual sacrifice and ritual cleanings; and it is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant. Jewish historian Josephus wrote: "the temple was burnt four hundred and seventy years, six months, and ten days after it was built," ca 586 B.C.) While occasionally we will be fearful, we must not let our fears cripple us. To live a Christian life requires courage—but then, to live in any meaningful way does. Courage is needed more than heroism. Of all the virtues, courage is most important, for without it a person cannot practice any of the others. Our faith, which is the source of our courage, gives us freedom from fear. Unless we can overcome fear, we cannot live a dignified human life. Nevertheless, we know that fear and courage can, and do, coexist—they are not mutually exclusive. We demonstrate courage when we are fearful, but carry on in spite of it. To have the heart of a mouse will not suffice, if we are to be a disciple of Jesus. Firm belief in our Savior will give us a brave heart. Witnessing in Spite of Fear In the Gospel, Jesus calls for witnesses, that is, people who are not afraid to be seen as a follower of His—out “there” in the midst of the “skeptical and hostile.” Fortunately, there are always those in the Church, who are able to overcome their fear and witness to the Gospel in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. This occurs because of the fact that our enemies deal in fear. Fear is a powerful, controlling force among people. We see examples of this virtually everywhere we turn. Advertisers bombard us with products to prevent our succumbing to one or another misfortune or malady. We take precautions against the anomalies of weather, sometimes out of all proportion to impending threat. We curtail our intake of all manner of foodstuffs on the advice that some one or another “hidden chemical” lies within them that will do us harm—perhaps immediately, or in the long run. Sometimes, people guard against totally imaginary threats, manufactured by the media to sway our choices. The fear of witnessing to our faith in Jesus stems from a variety of sources. One is a natural fear of being the butt of ridicule. If we are in a group of people who hold a particular view, and we come out against it, there is a fair chance we will be perceived to be naïve, misinformed, “silly,” or even a threat to prevailing opinion. This is why people have an inbred fear of public speaking. Getting up in front of an audience to present ideas without knowing the probable reception that might be received presents an intrepid situation for most of us. Public opinion is of paramount importance to most people. The degree to which we are accepted provides necessary external validation for many people’s self-image. Then too, there are cultures wherein to be an apologist is to put one’s life in danger. Nonetheless, those societies also need witnesses, because faith, and Christian values are being eroded. It may be even more difficult to be witnesses when we are likely to face not so much hostility or opposition, but something even more disconcerting—a deadly indifference. To witness in this case requires a special kind of courage. It means overcoming our fear of public opinion and our ego. Prudence dictates that it is not advisable to expose ourselves to physical danger, merely to express our views. There are many ways to “get our point across” that don’t require such risks. Self-control is of paramount importance when one faces opposition. “Timing,” too, is critical to obtain the best audience for any idea. And we must realize the importance of allowing the seeds of truth to “germinate” before they can develop. One of my favorite poems says it this way: …As far as possible, without surrender, Be on good terms with all persons…. …And whatever your labors and aspirations, In the noisy confusion of life, Keep peace in your soul…. From “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann, 1927 May God Richly Bless You! Proclaim the Glory of the Lord.docx Proclaim the Glory of the Lord.mp3
  5. A Message from Father † Michael June 14, 2020 Feast of Corpus Christi Today’s Theme: “Sharing Life With Christ” The Bread of Life As human beings, we cannot live on bread alone. We suffer from many kinds of hunger. Turning to the Gospel, we find Jesus spoke of many kinds of “bread” offered to His people in order to satisfy their many hungers. * To the people who followed him into the desert, and who were starving, He offered ordinary bread, and so satisfied their physical hunger (Matthew 14:31.) * To the leper whose body was falling apart, He offered the only bread that mattered to him, that of physical healing (Mark 1:40-45.) * To the lonely woman at Jacob’s well, He offered the bread of human kindness, and so satisfied her hunger for acceptance (John 4:4-26.) * To sinners, He offered the bread of forgiveness to satisfy their hunger for salvation. * To rejects and outcasts, by mixing with them and sharing their bread, He offered the bread of companionship and bolstered their hunger for self-worth (Mark 2:13-17.) * To the widow of Nain, who was burying her son, and to Martha and Mary, who had just buried their brother Lazarus, He offered the bread of compassion, and showed them that even in death we are not beyond the reach of God’s help (Luke 7:7-17; John 11:38-44.) * With Zacchaeus, the rich tax collector, who had robbed the bread from the tables of the poor, He began by inviting Himself to his table. Then, having awakened with him a hunger to a better life, He persuaded him to share his ill-gotten gains with the poor. * To the thief, who died at His side, He offered the bread of reconciliation with God, thus bringing peace to his troubled soul (Luke 19:1-10.) But, surprisingly, there were some who refused His offer of bread. * There was the rich young man to whom He offered the bread of discipleship, but who refused it because he was not willing to part with his riches (Mathew 19:16-22.) * There were Scribes and Pharisees to whom He offered the bread of conversion, not once, but several times. They refused to eat even a crumb of it. * The people of Jerusalem refused the bread of peace, which He offered them with tears in His eyes. As a result, their city was destroyed. * Pontius Pilate had no appetite for the bread of truth, which Jesus offered him, because it meant putting his position at risk. * Jesus shared Himself with many others, in differing ways, and under many differing forms, before offering Himself to them as food and drink at the Last Supper. Jesus nourishes us in so many ways, and of course, especially in the Holy Eucharist. The presence of Christ becomes a problem only when we have lost our sense of His presence in all that is. Those who have a deep sense of God’s presence in the whole of creation will not have great difficulty in believing He is present in a very special way in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. God alone can satisfy all the longings and hungers of our hearts, because He, alone, can give us the “bread of eternal life.” This is the bread we receive every time we partake of Holy Communion during Holy Mass, without which we would not have the strength to follow Jesus. Not on Bread Alone Cardinal +Hume, of Westminster, tells about an incident, which happened during the terrible famine that occurred in Ethiopia, ca.1984-86. Visiting a settlement in the hills where the people were awaiting a food shipment, which was unlikely to arrive. Disembarking from his helicopter, +Hume was greeted by a small boy, about 10 yrs old, wearing nothing but a loincloth, who took his hand and rubbed it on his cheek. He remarked, “There was a child, lost and starving, probably an orphan, showing me at once his hunger for food and for love in one gesture. I have never forgotten that incident, and to this day I wonder if he survived. As I was about to board the helicopter to leave, he watched me reproachfully.” We heard in today’s First Reading (Deuteronomy 8:2-16,) “A human being doesn’t live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Jesus quoted these words when He faced temptation in the desert.) We need bread—our most basic necessity. But bread only nourishes our physical bodies. But our spiritual side also cries out for nourishment—even as that starving child exhibited to Cardinal +Hume. The Holy Mass was instituted to nourish us with God’s Word, to comfort, guide, instruct, inspire and challenge us. The Eucharistic banquet provides food for our minds, hearts and spirits. It is there we experience the abiding presence of Jesus Christ—not as a vague memory of a person Who lived long ago, but as a life-giving force—a presence that transforms us. By eating the food of the Holy Eucharist, we are nourished, and are able to nourish others. One Loaf, One Body A freshly baked loaf of bread is a marvelous thing—a kind of miracle, actually. It is a gift from God, but like His many gifts, it does not fall “ready-made” into our hands. x Many agents contribute to the making of a loaf of bread: the soil, the sun, the rain, the work and intelligence of people. It comes to us not from one, but from many hands: the hands of the farmer; the hands of the miller; the hands of the baker; and the hands of the grocer. Although people who bring forth the bread, it is God to Whom we give thanks. Without God, none of this would be possible. All this is beautifully expressed by the celebrant at every Holy Mass: “Blessed are You, Lord, God of all creation. Through Your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the Bread of life—the Body of Christ.” (Jewish people would recognize this prayer having origins in those heard during the Seder Meal, celebrated by them before Passover, which Catholics hear as the Offertory Prayer.) Many grains of wheat go into making a loaf of bread. Once scattered over the fields, and separated from one another, they were eventually brought together and ground into flour, from which bread is made. We heard +Paul use a loaf of bread as a symbol of our unity with Christ in today’s Second Reading (1 Corinthians 10:16-17.) Like the wheat, we once were separated from one another, but now we have been together to form the Body of Christ, in His Church. This is an even greater miracle than a loaf of bread! As one body, we become living witnesses of God’s desire to bring all people and nations together into one family. During the week, we are scattered all about our individual worlds, but in Church, we are united. There we lay down our differences, come “in from the cold” and experience the warmth of community. Love is the atmosphere we breath. We must try to rise above things that separate us, like shyness, coldness and indifference, and embrace the experience and expression of unity. The ultimate expression of our unity is the Holy Eucharist. We form a single body and share in one communal meal with one another. When we leave Church, we must resist the temptation to forget all the ties that bind us together when we go our separate ways. We must not ignore one another, and engage in activities and commentary that sometimes turns us against each other. Individual differences of opinion about the ways of the world—politics and all that portends—vehemently expressed on social media platforms—serve to stress and even sever our bonds as Christian believers. In the final analysis, many seemingly contrary views are found to contain seeds of within them. But it requires the virtue of charity to uncover them, sometimes. As people of God, it behooves us always to remember the adage: “In matters that are essential, we must promote unity and acceptance; In the non-essentials, we must project courtesy and tolerance; and in all things, we must have charity,” when we express ourselves. When we come to our final moments of life, those beliefs that have divided us from our fellows will become as so much smoke in the scheme of things. Remembering the divisive qualities they possess, and controlling them while we are living will make our lives easier and more enjoyable. May God Richly Bless You! “I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him, But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, And sanctified and preserved me in the true faith.” Martin Luther To view a live stream of today's Liturgy of the Word, click here: https://www.facebook.com/michael.schamp.9/videos/3352279048129912/?d=n In the Bread, Broken.docx In the Bread, Broken.mp3
  6. A Message from Father † Michael June 14, 2020 Feast of Corpus Christi Today’s Theme: “Sharing Life With Christ” The Bread of Life As human beings, we cannot live on bread alone. We suffer from many kinds of hunger. Turning to the Gospel, we find Jesus spoke of many kinds of “bread” offered to His people in order to satisfy their many hungers. * To the people who followed him into the desert, and who were starving, He offered ordinary bread, and so satisfied their physical hunger (Matthew 14:31.) * To the leper whose body was falling apart, He offered the only bread that mattered to him, that of physical healing (Mark 1:40-45.) * To the lonely woman at Jacob’s well, He offered the bread of human kindness, and so satisfied her hunger for acceptance (John 4:4-26.) * To sinners, He offered the bread of forgiveness to satisfy their hunger for salvation. * To rejects and outcasts, by mixing with them and sharing their bread, He offered the bread of companionship and bolstered their hunger for self-worth (Mark 2:13-17.) * To the widow of Nain, who was burying her son, and to Martha and Mary, who had just buried their brother Lazarus, He offered the bread of compassion, and showed them that even in death we are not beyond the reach of God’s help (Luke 7:7-17; John 11:38-44.) * With Zacchaeus, the rich tax collector, who had robbed the bread from the tables of the poor, He began by inviting Himself to his table. Then, having awakened with him a hunger to a better life, He persuaded him to share his ill-gotten gains with the poor. * To the thief, who died at His side, He offered the bread of reconciliation with God, thus bringing peace to his troubled soul (Luke 19:1-10.) But, surprisingly, there were some who refused His offer of bread. * There was the rich young man to whom He offered the bread of discipleship, but who refused it because he was not willing to part with his riches (Mathew 19:16-22.) * There were Scribes and Pharisees to whom He offered the bread of conversion, not once, but several times. They refused to eat even a crumb of it. * The people of Jerusalem refused the bread of peace, which He offered them with tears in His eyes. As a result, their city was destroyed. * Pontius Pilate had no appetite for the bread of truth, which Jesus offered him, because it meant putting his position at risk. * Jesus shared Himself with many others, in differing ways, and under many differing forms, before offering Himself to them as food and drink at the Last Supper. Jesus nourishes us in so many ways, and of course, especially in the Holy Eucharist. The presence of Christ becomes a problem only when we have lost our sense of His presence in all that is. Those who have a deep sense of God’s presence in the whole of creation will not have great difficulty in believing He is present in a very special way in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. God alone can satisfy all the longings and hungers of our hearts, because He, alone, can give us the “bread of eternal life.” This is the bread we receive every time we partake of Holy Communion during Holy Mass, without which we would not have the strength to follow Jesus. Not on Bread Alone Cardinal +Hume, of Westminster, tells about an incident, which happened during the terrible famine that occurred in Ethiopia, ca.1984-86. Visiting a settlement in the hills where the people were awaiting a food shipment, which was unlikely to arrive. Disembarking from his helicopter, +Hume was greeted by a small boy, about 10 yrs old, wearing nothing but a loincloth, who took his hand and rubbed it on his cheek. He remarked, “There was a child, lost and starving, probably an orphan, showing me at once his hunger for food and for love in one gesture. I have never forgotten that incident, and to this day I wonder if he survived. As I was about to board the helicopter to leave, he watched me reproachfully.” We heard in today’s First Reading (Deuteronomy 8:2-16,) “A human being doesn’t live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Jesus quoted these words when He faced temptation in the desert.) We need bread—our most basic necessity. But bread only nourishes our physical bodies. But our spiritual side also cries out for nourishment—even as that starving child exhibited to Cardinal +Hume. The Holy Mass was instituted to nourish us with God’s Word, to comfort, guide, instruct, inspire and challenge us. The Eucharistic banquet provides food for our minds, hearts and spirits. It is there we experience the abiding presence of Jesus Christ—not as a vague memory of a person Who lived long ago, but as a life-giving force—a presence that transforms us. By eating the food of the Holy Eucharist, we are nourished, and are able to nourish others. One Loaf, One Body A freshly baked loaf of bread is a marvelous thing—a kind of miracle, actually. It is a gift from God, but like His many gifts, it does not fall “ready-made” into our hands. x Many agents contribute to the making of a loaf of bread: the soil, the sun, the rain, the work and intelligence of people. It comes to us not from one, but from many hands: the hands of the farmer; the hands of the miller; the hands of the baker; and the hands of the grocer. Although people who bring forth the bread, it is God to Whom we give thanks. Without God, none of this would be possible. All this is beautifully expressed by the celebrant at every Holy Mass: “Blessed are You, Lord, God of all creation. Through Your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the Bread of life—the Body of Christ.” (Jewish people would recognize this prayer having origins in those heard during the Seder Meal, celebrated by them before Passover, which Catholics hear as the Offertory Prayer.) Many grains of wheat go into making a loaf of bread. Once scattered over the fields, and separated from one another, they were eventually brought together and ground into flour, from which bread is made. We heard +Paul use a loaf of bread as a symbol of our unity with Christ in today’s Second Reading (1 Corinthians 10:16-17.) Like the wheat, we once were separated from one another, but now we have been together to form the Body of Christ, in His Church. This is an even greater miracle than a loaf of bread! As one body, we become living witnesses of God’s desire to bring all people and nations together into one family. During the week, we are scattered all about our individual worlds, but in Church, we are united. There we lay down our differences, come “in from the cold” and experience the warmth of community. Love is the atmosphere we breath. We must try to rise above things that separate us, like shyness, coldness and indifference, and embrace the experience and expression of unity. The ultimate expression of our unity is the Holy Eucharist. We form a single body and share in one communal meal with one another. When we leave Church, we must resist the temptation to forget all the ties that bind us together when we go our separate ways. We must not ignore one another, and engage in activities and commentary that sometimes turns us against each other. Individual differences of opinion about the ways of the world—politics and all that portends—vehemently expressed on social media platforms—serve to stress and even sever our bonds as Christian believers. In the final analysis, many seemingly contrary views are found to contain seeds of within them. But it requires the virtue of charity to uncover them, sometimes. As people of God, it behooves us always to remember the adage: “In matters that are essential, we must promote unity and acceptance; In the non-essentials, we must project courtesy and tolerance; and in all things, we must have charity,” when we express ourselves. When we come to our final moments of life, those beliefs that have divided us from our fellows will become as so much smoke in the scheme of things. Remembering the divisive qualities they possess, and controlling them while we are living will make our lives easier and more enjoyable. May God Richly Bless You! “I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him, But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, And sanctified and preserved me in the true faith.” Martin Luther To view a live stream of today's Liturgy of the Word, click here: https://www.facebook.com/michael.schamp.9/videos/3352279048129912/?d=n
  7. 2011 Lexus RX450h (hybrid) V-6, FWD, 42k miles, Raven Black w/Cashmere Leather interior—excellent throughout; 5-passenger SUV $18k OBO (Comp to US cars on mkt now) Fr➕Michael Schamp 6644-4555 Valle Escondido
  8. Book cases & pedestal table:$20 ea, Small Waste baskets: $3 ea Golf clubs & bag: $10 6 Garden tools: $5 25ft garden hose: $5, Father ➕Michael Schamp 6644-4555 Valle Escondido
  9. A Message from Father †Michael June 7, 2020 Feast of the Holy Trinity Today’s Theme: “The Ineffable Mystery Of God” The Holy Trinity In his great writing (15 volumes) concerning the Holy Trinity, †Augustine (Bishop of Hippo Regia, ca 340-430 A.D.) made strides to contemplate the substance of God. In so doing, he attempted to understand how he Father, Son and Holy Spirit are rightly believed to be of one essence. He postulated that the human mind is so dazzled in its transcendent light, that only through faith could the nourishment of the righteousness of God invigorate us. He acknowledges that some persons have found difficulty in this faith, hearing that the Father is God; and the Son is God; and the Holy Spirit is God; and yet this Trinity is not three Gods, but one God. Contemplating this teaching, we are confronted by such difficult concepts as these: • The Trinity works indivisibly in everything in which God works, and yet… • A certain voice of the Father spoke, which is not the voice of the Son; and… • None except the Son was born in flesh, suffered, rose again and ascended into heaven; and how… • The very same Trinity created that flesh in which the Son only was born of the Virgin; and how… • Only the Holy spirit assumed the form of a dove and tongues of fire; and finally, • The Trinity does not work indivisibly: The Father does some things; the Son other things; And the Holy Spirit yet others; or else, if they do some things together, some severally; And at once, the Trinity nonetheless is indivisible. Complete exposition of these matters, then, is quite beyond the scope of this brief writing. Suffice it to say, therefore, that we must yield to our Holy Faith for acceptance and trust that this mystery will remain ineffable to human minds. (Those wishing to delve into the depths of †Augustine’s exposition are referred to consult this link: On the Trinity – New Advent) A God of Love If the entire meaning of human existence could be summed in a single phrase, it would be the, from today's Gospel: “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that who so believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16-18.) God’s love is the one constant in a world of shifting philosophies politics and fashions. It is the anchor that keeps humanity from drifting hopelessly off course. It is the magnetic center that keeps the world from spinning completely out of control. For the first spark of light to the universe’s last breath, God’s love remains unchanging, undiminished. Our faith teaches that God created humanity out of love to be His special possession, a people who could take on the divine nature, and love His Son, as no other creature could. When we fell into sin, God continued to love us, promising us a way out of the pain and division we had brought upon ourselves. In love, He spent generations preparing a people who could receive His salvation and proclaim it to the world. Centuries of war, hatred, poverty and murder rolled by, and still God forgave and continued His intricate work of preparation. When the time finally came, God showed the depth of His love. Sending His beloved Son into the world, He gave Him up as a sacrifice of atonement. Now anyone who believes in Jesus and is baptized in His name can be set free from sin and filled with the promised Holy Spirit. Faced with such love, we have a choice: Either welcome to the light of God’s love, or remain in darkness. Coming into the light exposes our sins, but only so that we can be forgiven. Knowing God as a Father, Whose love never diminishes, gives us the courage to open our hearts and trust Him to pardon, not condemn us. Those who cannot believe that God is so loving, avoid the light, and remain trapped in the guilt and condemnation of their sin. The light of God’s love is available to everyone. It’s impossible for mere mortals to understand God. The mystery of God is so full of meaning that no matter how hard we try, we will never “get to the bottom” of it. However, we must not simply yield to laziness or superficiality in our quest for understanding. We can use our own reasoning to know about God’s “existence.” At the sight of something or other, any thoughtful individual will know in an instant that these things do not exist in and of themselves. Therefore, just as a house implies a builder; a piece of clothing, a weaver; a door, a carpenter; or a work of art, and not think of the artist who fashioned it. No reasonable person can look upon the created world and not see the Creator. Such a conclusion is to be blind to the meaning of the whole of creation—and of ourselves. Yet, sadly, many look and see nothing. They listen and hear nothing. Jesus spoke about God as a merciful and forgiving Father. He spoke about Himself as the Son of the Father. And He sent the Holy Spirit to help us live as His disciples and children of God. Any child can grasp this mystery, in such a way as to be able to pray about it and live it. Our understanding of God as our Father, Who loves us deeply, comes to us through tradition. Throughout recorded history, many of mankind’s most sacred writings, in addition to our own Holy Scripture, have given us endless references to the nature of God. Today’s First Reading says God is a “God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:4-9.) Through study, we’ve learned of Jesus, Who, as our Brother, gave His life to atone for our sins—a perfect sacrifice to the Father. We read that“God islove, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him” (1 John 4:8, 16.) How extremely important it is to know that God loves us, unconditionally—not because we are good, but because He is good. Our very existence and everything we enjoy in our natural world is a sign of God’s love, so our only reasonable response can be one of trust in Him and love towards one another. Finally, the strength of the Holy Spirit, which came upon the disciples at Pentecost, remains within us even today. We have only to prayerfully meditate to access this power. Welcoming Us Into the Mystery None of us like to be “left out.” For instance, if a wedding is planned to which we expect to receive an invitation, and we don’t receive ours, it hurts—sometimes, a great deal. We feel we are not wanted… We would be wise to look at ourselves and see how generous we are when it comes to inviting other people into our lives. From time to time, people come to our door. Some, we dismiss immediately, barely exchanging a word with them. With others, we may have a brief chat with them at the door, without bringing them into the house. Still others, we invite inside, where we “talk business,” but when concluded, we show them out. Finally, we welcome a select few immediately, offering them our hospitality. One is immediately struck by the vacant place at the forefront of our minds in the painting, above, by the Russian monk, Rublev. Meaning to convey openness, hospitality and welcome towards the stranger/outsider, that vacant place is meant for each of us—the whole human family. It signifies God’s invitation to us to share the life of the Trinity. God doesn’t exclude us, nor talk to us “at the doorstep.” He invites us to “come in,” sit at His table; and share His life with us. Although many are intimidated by the great mystery of the Blessed Trinity, we should see the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as friends, to and with Whom we can relate and talk, in prayer. Because God’s Son, Jesus Christ, befriended us, we are no longer strangers and outsiders. We are God’s children—part of His family. We already have a place at the banquet of earthly life. But God wants us to have a place at the banquet of eternal life, too. Only there can we find the nourishment for which our hearts hunger. From all this, we realize that our Creator is a God of love. Our response can only be one of trust in Him and love towards one another. We should find encouragement in the words of today’s Second Reading: “Help one another; be united; live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11-13.) May God Richly Bless You! “I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him, But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, And sanctified and preserved me in the true faith.” Martin Luther To view a live stream of today's Holy Mass click here: Trinitarian Blessings.docx Trinitarian Blessings.mp3
  10. May 31, 2020 Feast of Pentecost A Message from Father †Michael Today’s Theme: “Holy Spirit—Gift of the Father” Scripture Note At Pentecost, we celebrate the giving of the Spirit to all mankind who hear the Word of God—and we are related to it, in the establishment of the “new” Israel, Christ’s Holy Church. The Holy Spirit, Whom the Lord Jesus sends from the Father, reminds us of everything we believe. In this way He animates us and gives us power. The Messianic prophets foretold the gift of the Spirit. Sending of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles was the beginning of the new era, in which the Church was founded; and Christ’s Holy Spirit was given to “renew the face of the earth.” The feast of Pentecost, while primarily connected with the celebration of the completion of harvest in Biblical times--by the offering of first fruits, etc.--seems also to have been associated in the minds of the later Jews with the giving of the law on the "fiftieth day" after their departure from Egypt. In the New Testament, Pentecost serves as a time during which the apostles prepared for their earthly mission unto the world-at-large. Beginning with today’s First Reading (Acts 2:1-11,) we recount the familiar scene in which the Holy Spirit, represented by wind and “tongues of fire,” settled on the heads of the apostles. (Using Biblical analogies, wind and tongues of fire [heat] are symbols of the presence and action of God. Wind gives the power to move, to uproot. Fire has the power to refine, to purify.) In so doing, the Spirit imparted the “gift of tongues” upon them, with which they were able to preach the “Good News” to people of all nations, purportedly utilizing the native language of each listener. In concert with this, †Paul describes the “Gifts of the Spirit,” for the good of the Church (1 Corinthians 12:3-13.) Taken together, these two Readings give us the purpose of Pentecost. Then, our Gospel relates how the Risen Jesus gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to His disciples to inaugurate their mission (John 20:19-23.) Empowerment Prior to the coming of the Holy Spirit, about 120 of Jesus’ disciples, including the apostles, ["together with some women, and Mary, the mother of Jesus and His brothers,” (Acts 2:14,)] were virtually “living in hiding” in the upper room. A great task had been entrusted to them, yet they had neither the strength nor the will to begin it. But, after the coming of the Holy Spirit, they were changed people. Leaving their hiding place, they courageously set out to preach the Gospel. In promising the Spirit, Jesus said to them, “You will receive power with the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be My witnesses not only in Jerusalem, but…to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8.) The key word here, is “power.” And that was precisely what they needed—for, they felt completely powerless before that event. Formerly crippled with fear and a sense of inadequacy, they were totally incapable of carrying out the task of preaching the Gospel and witnessing to Jesus. After all, they had seen what happened to Jesus. So, they needed courage—something to “empower” them. Empowerment means to “receive power or authority.” Secondly, to empower means to enable, or authorize someone. We hear a good deal about empowerment in our modern vernacular. Individuals and groups of people who initially feel powerless to change their situations suddenly become able to do so when they are empowered by some external cause or internal change of attitude. We have observed what good “motivators” can accomplish to inspire salespeople, and in the case of sports teams, who return to the field in the second half of a game and overcome a large point disadvantage. Agents or players who may have been lacking self-confidence find their inner strength and inspiration to play far beyond their normal abilities. The Holy Spirit, as God’s Advocate, gave His authority to the apostles. Their receipt of the Spirit gave them energy, momentum and enthusiasm, compounding their courage, love and passion for their mission. The Holy Spirit was sent to help them—not to do their work for them. Christ left it up to them to "get the Word out." The Miracle of Change We must not think the change came upon the disciples in an instant. Rather, it would have come as a growth process--gradually. We all know personal growth can be slow and painful. People find it difficult to abandon old ways of doing things, eschewing familiar habits and attitudes in favor of something new. But it’s been proven that human beings are able to embrace change when they are given hope—and a purposeful task to accomplish—and then pursue a goal with fervor and interest. Above all,we change when we feel loved. Then we “come out of our shells,” and discover hidden energies within us. Truly, the miracle of human change is the only real miracle! Oftentimes that Spirit of God within ourselves is needed to discover the incentive to take charge of our lives, and live them responsibly. Even having reached the depths of despair, the human mind can be led toward a productive path. We see this in people who are at the “end of the road” due to substance abuse. Utilizing Biblical sources*, Dr. Reinhold Neibuhr developed the “Serenity Prayer” (Published 1951:) "God, give me grace to accept with serenity The things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things, which should Be changed, And the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other." He continued: "Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen." (Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and others, utilize this prayer to encourage addicts to share their pain with others who have survived their experience. Then, with careful examination of the causes of their addiction, through practiced exposition, and caring “sponsors,” they find the answer to the underlying problems that fomented the problem. Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous to help guide afflicted people toward sobriety.) A New Language Language has become the main means of communication between human beings, and, to a varying extent, all creatures. Since it occurs in different forms, when we find ourselves in strange surroundings or cultures, we feel lost, unable to speak the language. (Finding it difficult to communicate, we often resort to “pantomime,” or pictorial representations. Then, finding someone with whom we can converse, great joy ensues!) For the most part, “words” express needs, laws, transactions, intentions, thoughts, emotions, longings, hopes and creeds. Yet words are sometimes elusive symbols, in that simple statements can convey different meanings, depending upon context. Language, in itself, cannot bring people together. As expressed by The Little Prince: “Words are a source of misunderstanding.” (www.britannica.com/topic/The-Little-Prince) Just because we all use the same language doesn’t mean we are all “one.” There still may not be a “meeting of minds and hearts.” But the opposite can also happen. People may speak different languages—be strangers to one another—yet a bond can be created among them allowing them to become not only friends, but also brothers and sisters. On the day of great joy, great sorrow or great danger for a community or a country, differences of language are swept aside. When we stand shoulder to shoulder, we find ourselves of one mind and one heart. (One remembers the unity of the people of NYC on 9/11.) Of course there are other ways of communicating without words. (So many important signs and symbols exist that psychologists tell us only 20% of communication happens with words. In †Luke’s account of Pentecost in Acts, today, we heard of two of these: wind and fire.) Still, no one discounts the importance of the spoken and written word. In addition to the gift of tongues, the apostles were able to communicate to everyone because theirs was a language of peace rather than war; of reconciliation rather than conflict; of friendship rather than hostility; of unity rather than division; and of love rather than hate. This “new language” gave rise to a new community—for those who believed in Jesus—one of faith and love. We are told they became of “one mind and heart.” Through the gift of the Spirit, people of many languages learned to profess one faith—to the praise and glory of God. That miracle of the first Pentecost is still happening today. May God Richly Bless You! *Proverbs 20:24; Titus 3:9; Matthew 16:3; Romans 6:12-14; Hebrews 2:17-18; Romans 8:12-13; Isaiah 55:8-9 “I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him, But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in the true faith.” Martin Luther To view a live presentation of today's Holy Mass, click here: Spirit of God.docx Spirit of God.mp3
  11. A Message from Father †Michael Today’s Theme: “Heaven and Earth” Scripture Note The feasts of the Resurrection, the Ascension and the giving of the Spirit all part of the same event (notably in the Gospel of †John, where he records them happening on one day.) In one action that goes beyond earthly time, Jesus emerges from the tomb, returns to the father, and gives the Spirit. From the viewpoint of the first apostles however, who continued to live on “within time” (and in the accounts of the Syoptics*,) those events are described as having happened in a line rfashion: Finding the tomb empty on Easter Sunday, the apostles saw the Risen Lord later that same day, and subsequently; they witnessed the Ascension; and received the gift of the Spirit, at Pentecost. When His appearances terminated, they began to realize Jesus was now permanently with God. *Note: Synoptics: the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke—all being very “similar” in makeup. Paraphrasing our Second Reading (Ephesians 1:17-23,)the theological meaning of today’s feast is: “God has glorified Jesus, raising Him above all earthly powers, making Him Head of the Church and Lord of all creation.” Our First Reading (Acts 1:1-11,) and our Gospel (Matthew 28:16-20,) outlines the mission Jesus gave to the apostles (to be His witnesses;) and His promise (to send the Holy Spirit to aid them.) The Meaning of The Ascension Luke’s eyewitness account in Acts gives us what appears to have occurred as Jesus ascended into heaven. However, we must not take this “literally.” Cosmic understanding of the day placed the earth in the “center” of human existence—with heaven above, and the netherworld below. (Concepts such as “outer space” and even “the universe,” had little meaning, even for learned people of the time.) The Ascension remains a mystery beyond any human understanding of physics. Nevertheless, it represents something—very real—that happened to Jesus. C. S. Lewis put it this way: “Our Lord, a being still, in some mode—was thought not in our mode…corporeal—withdrew at His own will from the Nature represented by our three dimensions and five senses; not necessarily into the non-sensuous and “un-dimensioned,” but possibly, into, or through a world, or worlds of super-sense and super-space. And He might [have chosen] to do it gradually. Who on earth knows what the spectators might [have] seen? If they say they saw a movement along the vertical plane—[first] an indistinct mass, then nothing—who is to pronounce this improbable?” (1942 sermon—St. Jude on the Hill Church, London) It was, by any account, quite different from when Jesus ate and drank in the company of the apostles and others, during the years of His public ministry. During their travels with Him, they experienced His love and caring every day. In many ways, He was “just the same” as any of them—a human being, with all that entailed. One wonders then, if His Ascension left them devoid of all this intimacy and familiarity…. Today’s Gospel ends with Jesus’ promise to remain with His disciples until the end of time. The Ascension may have been His liberation from all restrictions of time and space, but it wasn’t a removal from the earth. After his Ascension, Jesus could no longer be present with them, physically ,but He hadn’t left them, entirely. He had simply taken on a new role; assumed a new position. Our faith teaches that after many years of humble labor, ending in a dangerous struggle, He achieved the honor of being assumedinto an existence beyond mortality; and was “crowned with glory” by His heavenly Father, becoming Lord of all creation. For people of faith, Jesus is closer to us now, than ever; in an even better position to help. He continues to maintain a constant presence in our lives. During His earthly ministry, He could only be in one place at a time (i.e. If not in Jerusalem, He was in Capernaum, and vice versa.) But now united with His heavenly Father, He is present wherever God is present—everywhere. The first Christians knew this very well. They believed Christ was still with them, even if wasn’t physically. (The special meaning of the Holy Eucharist, then, is clearly understood, in this vein. Since Christ is within the sacrament we receive into our bodies at Communion, then we receive Him physically into our bodies.) Our faith teaches He still shares our lives, and our eventual death means becoming united with Him forever, in glory, to which He has attained. Meanwhile, He was relying on them (and now, on you and me,) to make sure the Gospel would be preached and lived. Witnesses for Christ Jesus preached the Gospel only to Israel. At His Ascension, He commissioned the apostles to preach to all nations. To accomplish this daunting task, Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit, as our Advocate, Who would be with us, always, “to the end of time.” Other than that, Jesus gave us no other assurance, confident we would be able to face whatever difficulty awaited God’s closeness shields us against a sense of abandonment and despair. In spite of the grave failings of His followers, throughout the centuries, including many terrible persecutions, the Gospel has come down to us, replete with Jesus promise of constancy. Jesus now depends on us to be His witnesses before the world. It’s both a daunting task and a great privilege. When we witness to truth, justice, peace and love, we are witnessing to Jesus: We witness to truth by living…truthfully; to justice by living…justly; to love and peace, by living lovingly and peacefully toward others. In short, the most effective witness to Christ is a life lived in emulation of His. That is what true Christians purport to do. Going to Glory Jesus did not go to glory only thinking of Himself. In His absence, He left us the Holy Spirit as our Guide. In fact, He told the apostles that if He didn’t go, the Spirit wouldn’t come! The apostles understood this, as attested to by †Luke’s account of their return from the Ascension to Jerusalem “in joy” (Luke 24:51.) Whatever pain they felt at Jesus’ leaving was mingled with their happiness. From our own experience, we know people give us things, and do things for us in their absence, which they can’t do in their presence. (Think of your parents, teachers and other influential people with whom you have had a close association in your formative years. Once we have left their tutelage, we are “on our own,” to “sink or swim.”) In their absence we see their true worth. We get a fuller picture of their characters and a better appreciation of their achievements—what they have done and meant for us. There is a sense of their having enriched us by their going; their going makes space for us—room and freedom to accomplish our goals without their direct influence. They show their confidence in us by trusting we will make the best use of the skills and wisdom they have imparted. We know they are still interested in us, and love us, as oftentimes we continue to enjoy their support—from afar. Of course, leaving dear ones brings pain because of the absence created, through our own emptiness and sense of abandonment. But this pain has to be faced in order for us to “come into our own,” and succeed. This is what Jesus’ did for the apostles when He left them. Their mission of preaching the Gospel and of healing was enhanced by Jesus’ promise to give them strength through the Holy Spirit. That remains our solace—our refuge—today. That “Spirit within us” is the source of all our potency—our “direct contact” with the metaphysical/spiritual dimension. The sense of Christ’s presence in our world doesn’t change the world for us. Rather, it gives us courage and vigor to face it, armed with God’s closeness as we wend our way through life’s challenges. May God Richly Bless You! “In his life Christ is an example showing us how to live in His death He is a sacrifice satisfying our sins in his resurrection a conqueror In His ascension a King in His intercession a High Priest.” ~Martin Luther~ To watch a video of today's Holy Mass, Click here: https://youtu.be/gOgtUw_0gb4 Lift Him Up.docx Lift Him Up!.mp3
  12. May 17th, 2020 Sixth Sunday in Easter A Message from Father †Michael Today’s Theme: “Diversity in Unity” "I will send another advocate: The Holy Spirit" Scripture Note Jesus’ disciples knew their mission was to preach the Gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:19.) When†Philip took the “Good News” to Samaria, the apostles in Jerusalem heard about this, and were rather surprised. Jews and Samaritans did not socialize (John 4:9!) We notice similar surprise when the first Roman citizen joined the Church (Acts 10:45.) Indeed, by going beyond the boundaries of traditional Judaism, †Philip took a daring and creative step! From that moment until today, the Church has had the task to accept diversityin its bosom and guard unity in the Spirit. The apostles went to Samaria to impose hands on the converted Samaritans as a seal of approval. “And they received the Holy Spirit,”(Acts 8:5-8.14-17.) Similarly, we should accept this same situation in the Church of our time and culture. †Paul wrote: “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:4.) Our modern Church includes a mélange of people—some called “charismatics;” floating parishes (who meet in varying locales;) along with those who are conservative and also liberal in their thinking—comprised of believers of all ages. Some are quite emotionally involved while others (more “cerebral” members,) are also members of one congregation. Irrespective of the composition, we must “bear with one another,” taking heart that the same Spirit breathes upon everyone under the guidance of consecrated bishops. Always remember Jesus words: “Wherever two or three gather in My Name, there I am with them” (Matthew 18:20.) We are one people, even though we take different paths to reach our heavenly reward for all eternity. Love and Obedience In today’s Gospel passage (John 14:15-21,) we heard part of Jesus’ farewell discourse, during the Last supper. Many things He said were naturally directed toward “essentials” for the future, how He wanted His disciples to live after He was gone. One thing of import that He said was: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” He wasn’t talking about a specific “set of directives,” but, rather, about following His “way of life”—the essentials of Christian discipleship. Clearly, however, we must not keep His commandments so that He will love us, but because He loves us. During that same Last Supper, He said: “Love one another as I have loved you.” It was He Who first loved the apostles, and did so, unconditionally. The greatest need each of us has is for real, unconditional love. It is difficult for those with little or no faith to believe this is the way that God loves us. Oftentimes we believe He loves us only if we are “good.” But our very existence is a sign that God loves us unconditionally. That is the Good News, for which our response is to try to return that love. Jesus knew the Father loves Him, and He responded by loving the Father. (As St. Augustine asserted when he comprised the dogma of the Holy Trinity: That very love of the Father, and the Father for the Son, is embodied in the person of the Holy Spirit.) Jesus’ love for the Father (and, in turn, for every one of us,) eventually cost Him his life! (Only through His perfect sacrifice could atonement for sins be obtained.) Through our obedience we are to show our love for Jesus, which means listening to His Word and putting it into practice. To love is to obey, and to obey is to love. Those who proclaim their love for Jesus in words but deny Him by their deeds or their way of life are not living as true disciples. We are known to others by our acts, not only what we say with our words. Living as disciples is not an easy mission—it never was. But for that reason, Jesus has given us the assistance of the Holy Spirit—that “God within us,” which is our immortal soul—for comfort in times of sorrow, enlightenment in times of darkness and bravery and strength in times of weakness. The word Jesus used for the Holy Spirit is “Advocate”—a legal term we use for one who supports a defendant in a trial. We can expected to suffer as Jesus’ disciples, but as we heard in Today’s Second Reading: “It is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:15-18) We gather strength, knowing our cause is right, from the example of Christ, Who, though innocent, suffered and died for our sins. “In essentials, Unity; in non-essentials, Liberty, in all things, Charity” This phrase, which has been attributed to early theologians such as †Augustine and others, has found great favor among many Christian writers. It serves us well as a motto for The Old Catholic Church, and might be recommended for every Christian denomination today. Unity United by faith in Christ we are thereby united to one another in the Church, the body of Christ, as a “communion of saints.” It is a union created by Christ for all who have been baptized by one Spirit into His body, the Church. But the manifestation of our unity is not always apparent. Christians sometimes display ugly divisions between one another, With deep longing our Lord prayed for our unity, knowing that our own blessing rests on it, along with the credibility of the church’s witness for Christ. Liberty Tensions arising from diversity of belief and practice among Christians (apparent even in the pages of the New Testament,) remain with us today. There was apparently a thriving “vegetarian” faction within the Church at Rome (Romans 14:2-5,) as well asa difference among them about whether certain days were to be honored. †Paul tells us, “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” Such people to be welcomed, says †Paul, and not for the purpose of quarreling with him over his views. Love for such a person, weak in faith though he is, must continue. In that love, we must extend liberty to each person to hold fast to his own conscience on what Christ has commanded, whether they are “vegetarians,” or if they continue to honor the Jewish feast days. After two thousand years of Church history, Christians are still divided on doctrinal issues, even the very signs of our unity in Christ—Baptism—and the Lord’s Supper (the the corporeal presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.) These also must admitted to the Lord’s table. In order to be one in Christ and demonstrate the communion of saints, it would seem that either we must ignore our doctrinal differences and treat them as inconsequential, or we must remain permanently divided and in opposition to one another until Christ returns. Is there not a more excellent way? Charity Love for Christ must include a love for His truth, and so we can never treat as inconsequential anything that Christ has commanded. Only those who abide in Jesus’ word are truly His disciples, and they are to be taught to obey all that He has commanded. The route that we might call “doctrinal minimalism” is not open to us. We cannot simply reduce the number of doctrines to be taught and believed to some we can all accept as important and ignore the rest. Neither can we sequester ourselves in very small groups with maximal agreement on doctrine and morals, and then separate from others and refuse to acknowledge as Christians those who do not embrace all our distinctions. The multiplication of small groups who pride themselves on purity but who denounce and despise those who fall short does nothing to express the truth of “the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church” for which Christ died. The love we must have for all of Christ’s disciples has no expression in this path. Our unity is found in the Spirit of Christ baptizing us into His body, the Church. Our expression of that unity must therefore be a unity of the truth “as the truth is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:21.) Our unity with Jesus does not wait until perfection is achieved. Salvation comes to us by faith in Christ, so there must be a defining core of truth, sufficient to unite us to Christ even if not yet complete in every detail. Defining this core precisely might prove to be as difficult as living out the whole truth faithfully, but it will surely include that God, the Creator of heaven and earth against Whom we have all sinned, was “in Christ, reconciling to Himself all who believe in Him, not counting their sins against them, but forgiving them through the redemption that is found in the sinless life,” calling for obedience to Christ as Lord under the authority of His Word in the Holy Scriptures. Where Christ is truly preached, there is the Gospel; and where the Gospel is truly believed, there is the church. The Church that is in Jesus is diverse, and diversity among Christians is due to our lack of conformity to Christ. He has chosen to sanctify us “gradually” in this world. As we progress in sanctification, variations in both doctrine and practice will exist. There will always be a need for those who are united in Christ to live in love with one another while dealing with differences, although sometimes these differences result in the formation of different churches and denominations. In order to maintain a good conscience toward God, such divisions need not be a defeat of unity among us, so long as we do not permit them to destroy our love and welcome for one another. (Some divisions are of practical necessity anyway, for not all Christians in the world can meet together at the same time in the same place.) Many distinct gatherings of Christians spread throughout the world can actually serve the purposes of God, by sprinkling us among the lost to “shine the light of Christ,” encouraging us to be faithful to what we believe. But if we allow our divisions to become breaches of love and occasions for pride and rivalry, then we will have failed in our calling, and our witness for Christ will be marred. The saying, “In essentials, Unity; in non-essentials, Liberty, in all things, Charity,” strikes the right balance, and calls for unity on the essential things (the core of truth in our union with Christ.) In non-essentials (not “unimportant,” but those things that if lacking do not prevent our union with Christ,) it calls for liberty so that all might follow their consciences under the Word and Spirit. In all things, however, there must be love (“charity,” from the Latin caritas, or “love,”) which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” May God Richly Bless You! “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.” (Mahatma Gandhi) To watch a video of today's Mass, Click here: https://youtu.be/s0QzKMVBWE4 Cast Your Cares on the Lord.docx Cast Your Cares on the Lord.mp3
  13. May 10th, 2020 Fifth Sunday of Easter A Message from Father †Michael Today’s Theme: “Kairos—A Time of Favor” and “Going Home” “In Father’s house, there are many dwelling places.” Scripture Note In order to be open to learning, a person must be “disposed,” or receptive to being taught. A “closed mind” is an impenetrable barrier for educators to “open.” When we listen to the words of Scripture we hear lessons taught for our “good” as human beings. Some evangelical teachers have made the word, “Bible,” into an acronym: “Basic-Instructions-Before-Leaving-Earth,” and as such, it has real import for our discussion, today. Those of us who have been given life directions of a Biblical nature can find many tried and true aphorisms, anecdotes and parables that are applicable to our everyday lives. And, if we are correspondingly receptive to their message, we will find our lives are enriched thereby. This is what is meant by the Greek word, “Kairos." We are a “favored nation” who believe in the teachings of the Bible, and use their precepts to guide us through life. Through “disclosure moments,” (or, as is common in today’s parlance, “teachable moments,”) we can partake of the wisdom, handed down to us, virtually intact, through many generations. Jesus attests to the value of belief in the Bible: “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1: 14-15.) We know we have “favor” from the words: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,” (from our Second Reading—1 Peter 2:4-9.) With such encouragement, Christians are imbued with faith that their lives are made better through their beliefs. The Importance of Home Today’s Readings also include messages about “home.” For human beings, and many other creatures on earth, it’s impossible to exaggerate the importance of home. It’s been said that even prisoners, given a choice between a “luxury suite” in prison, with all the amenities they could imagine, and going home, invariably would choose “home”—no matter how meager or dysfunctional it may have been. When we find ourselves the victim of failure, returning “home” is many times the first impulse we feel. Home is where we remember feeling safe; it’s a place of warmth and communion, most often with people who loved us. When people go on a trip, no matter how lovely the experience, they find the “trip home” is the highlight of their time away. All of us know how fervently we wanted to leave home as youths—to find our way in the world. But in comparison to our home, we often found our available options less accommodating, in spite of efforts to “make a new home” for ourselves. It’s then we might yearn for the opportunity to return—if only tacitly. In my own experience, I found this true after the death of my mother in 1975, when, I returned to my Dad’s house in Kingman, AZ. I hadn’t lived there as a child, but that was my “permanent home of record” for the Air Force, and coming back, I felt every bit as much “home,” as I had so many years prior, in the family home in Crete, NE. Kingman was a place from which I “started over,” again, and helped Dad do the same, without Mom. Everyone knows that a home is not just “a house.” Rather, it is a place where we have close ties to people who accept us for what we are. (Some people find as adults when they return many years later to the old neighborhoods of their youth, old friends and relatives still remember them unchanged from the last time they saw them. This can bring up points of difficulty. We see this played out in real life at occasions such as High School Reunions. Returning to mine after 50 years, in 2014, I was confronted with a group of “senior citizens,” whom I had in mind as youthful 18-year-olds at our last meeting!) But consider the plight of those with no home to which they can return.... We find them everywhere, these days, it seems, and the reasons are varied and heartbreaking. “Lost people” inhabit almost every community in our modern world. Many are deeply depressed at having formerly been of value in a particular field of endeavor, now finding they are unnecessary, their occupations subsumed into modern automation. Perhaps some are victims of depression, isolated from a world they don’t recognize. Veterans returning from service to their country appear to make up a significant part of the population of the homeless today. They don’t recognize a world that is not directly impacted from their wartime experiences abroad. Their military specialties are not a “fit” for peacetime life. Mental health professionals report that other “lost souls” without a home have simply been “dumped” into society without preparation. The burgeoning foster care systems of many states produce young adults who, having reached the age of majority, were formerly children without permanent homes. They have “aged-out” of the system at 18 years of age, having never been adopted, and lack life skills to succeed. One could recount many stories along these lines with very little investigation. But, like the little girl who was throwing starfish back into the sea said, “I know I can’t save them all, but maybe I can save a few.” It is incumbent on all of us to look into these situations and see where we might be of assistance, from a Christian-charity perspective. We need to offer these people a “time of favor,” as Christ did to the needy people of His time. We need to be the “hands of Christ” in the modern world, as He instructed the apostles to become. In the final analysis, in spite of buildings we erect and roots we plant on earth, we know ours is not a “lasting” home. All we have, as †Paul says, “…is a kind of tent—one, which we “fold up” at death. Therefore, it’s not only on earth that we need a home—we also need one to which we can go when death brings down the curtain, on the day we die. Without such a home, our lives would be journeys to nowhere. At the Last Supper, Jesus began to talk to the apostles about the fact He was leaving. Hearing this, they were plunged into sorrow, but He consoled them with the words we heard in today’s Gospel: “There are many rooms in My Father’s House. I am going to prepare a place for you. I shall return to take you with Me; so that where I am, you may be too”(John 14:1-12.)How lovely these words are for us—portraying an everlasting dwelling place...from which we obtain our concept of “Heaven.” (Heaven = Home) For a child, home is not so much a place, as a “relationship” of love and trust. Children may move around a lot and still notfeel “homeless,” as long as they have their parents and family. It is the same for those who have a close relationship with God. We spend our lives searching for God, groping our way towards Him. To die is to find Him; to meet Him; to “see” Him. To go to God is to go “Home.” Returning to God The homing instinct we have just discussed is observed in many species of birds. It seems to be a “built in” thing. But some birds, like pigeons, must be trained—kept in good health, so they are capable of sustained flight through obstacles such as fog, show, rain and adverse winds. Humans have a homing instinct as well—given to us by God, but it is a very subtle and fragile thing for people. God would never take away our freedom to choose our own paths. For you and me it takes the form of an inner restlessness and discontent. This longing, far from being a curse, is really a blessing. Consider when we are given directions to someone’s house, where we have never been. Often they are so difficult to follow, and full of familiar (to them)landmarks, we become quite confused. Sometimes though, a gracious host will come to meet us, guiding us to their house, allowing us to follow them. Similarly, the way to God has baffled and confused many people—some becoming hopelessly lost along the way. This becomes obvious today in †Philip’s seeking concrete information from Jesus, when he asks, “Show us the Father.” Our Lord’s response, far from complicated, was, simply, “I am the way.” Put another way, He was saying, “Follow Me, and I’ll show you the way!” In the Church we find our spiritual home built on the “foundation stone”—the rock—of Jesus Christ. It is in the Church where our brothers and sisters guide and accompany us on our journey to our heavenly home. By the way, if we are concerned if God will recognize us when return home to Him at the end of life’s journey, we only have to think of how we would easily recognize any of our own children who have followed their homing instinct and returned to their families. May God Richly Bless You! Heaven is not a figment of imagination. It is not a feeling or an emotion. It is not the "Beautiful Isle of Somewhere." It is a prepared place for a prepared people. David Jeremiah To view a video of the Mass for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, 2020, click here: https://youtu.be/0xzJpkhMK7Y New Song, A.docx New Song, A.mp3
  14. May 3, 2020 Fourth Sunday of Easter A Message from Father †Michael Today’s Theme: “The Good Shepherd” Scripture Note In †Peter’s address to slaves, he urged them to bear their unjust sufferings with patience, as Christ, the Good Shepherd, bore His for love of us (Today’s Second Reading: 1 Peter 2:20-25.) Slavery was a fact of life during New Testament times. Writers of the time did not lead a campaign against slavery for they would have been aware that such a stance could only be judged “subversive,” imperiling the fledgling foothold Christianity was gaining. †Peter’s words have a wider application, however. He singled out slaves only because their burden of suffering was greater. The Shepherd, the Gate, and the Lamb of God †John draws upon imperial imagery to describe Jesus’ role as the Messiah. However, rather than appearing as a military warrior, amassing power through violence, Jesus absorbed the violence of the Empire. His claim to be the Good Shepherd mirrors one of the key expectations for a “noble” death, that is was done willingly and for the benefit of others. As †John explains just after today’s passage (John 10:10-11.) In addition to presenting Jesus as a noble shepherd giving His own life for the benefit of the sheep, and a ruler Who serves as the gateway to abundance, he also presents Jesus as the Lamb of God. All three of these images stand in stark contrast to Rome, and expose the Empire’s reliance on violence. In his Gospel, the timing of Jesus’ death coincides with the Paschal sacrifice at the temple, a symbolic remembrance of God’s freeing the Israelite people from slavery in Egypt. Herein we see the characterization of Jesus coinciding with overthrowing oppressive powers, even in death. The characterization of Jesus as shepherd, gate, and lamb proclaims the Good News: God is on the side of the oppressed and will ultimately bring abundant life. Just like the mixed metaphor of shepherd, gate, and lamb, the characterization of Jesus draws upon imagery from the Empire. In some ways, it reinscribes it, claiming that Jesus is even more powerful that the ruler of the Roman Empire, without falling into the imperial pattern of wielding power to overthrow or control. As Jesus delivers the Good Shepherd discourse, He tells listeners that He is using a figure of speech. Nonetheless, we are told the apostles “did not understand what he was saying to them” (John 10:1-6.) Perhaps they didn’t understand because the metaphor was “messy.” Or perhaps they were too embedded in the systems of the Empire to even see the other way to which Jesus was pointing—a way where violence is not used to control. One reason we read this text alongside the imagery of Empire, is to get a new vantage point, so as not to miss the important message: That is, we should take care not to be comforted by this passage too quickly. While it certainly speaks to those parts of our lives where we might be disadvantaged or ostracized, we must open our imaginations to the more uncomfortable implications of this text. It is easy to critique the Roman Empire of the ancient world, but there are far too many similarities to our current sociopolitical systems to ignore the message as it applies to us. Living Life to the Full In the last line of today’s Gospel, Jesus said: “I came so that they might have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10) One wonders if He is talking about only the hereafter or also about this life? I believe these words are to be applied to our life on earth as much as to our hope for eternal life. Historically, Christians have tended to be identified with restrictions on their freedoms by those outside the faith who are not so constrained. Many of us were brought up on a theology of “detachment” from the world, (raised Catholic in 1950s Nebraska, I was taught to maintain a discrete distance from the “non-Catholics” in the community.) Discouraged from social interaction and, above all, from engaging in any form of non-Catholic worship services, we were under “pain of sin!” Looking back, this proscription could have been levied as an attempt, by the magisterium of the Church of the time, to prevent “thieves and robbers,” outside Catholicism from absconding with the “sheep”—the faithful. For many Christians, life in the present is viewed as a “time of trial.” This kind of spirituality discourages enjoyment of life, and leads to “half-heartedness.” It is as if we are always keeping something back—always living cautiously, fearfully and “miserly.” To my young, developing mind, however, Jesus’ words taught that a person ought to be able to enjoy life to the fullest while also being devout and religious! Needless to say, I regularly ran afoul of many prevailing parochial proscriptions. (For a time, while attending Lincoln’s Pius X High School, I even had a “non-Catholic girlfriend,” whom I wasn’t allowed to bring to any school functions, making me additionally frustrated.) Life is a fragile gift, wherein every moment is utterly unique and quite fleeting. People should concentrate their attention upon what they are experiencing in the present. It is this “fleetingness” that gives life its poignancy, making it all the more precious. Ancient Aztecs had a saying: “For we do not enjoy this world everlastingly, only briefly; our life is like the warming of oneself in the sun.” The Lord, our Good Shepherd, wants us “to have life.” Therefore, we must not be timid and frightful. Rather, we must live life concurrently with whatever presents itself, because everything is a gift from our Creator. Life is generous to those who seize it with both hands. The Latin Poet Horace once said: "Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero,” which can be translated as “Sieze the day, trusting as little as possible in the next one.” (Quintus Horatius Flaccus- 65-8BC) Mere existence is not enough for us. “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive” (Joseph Campbell: “The Power of Myth” 1988) We are meant to live. It is a well-known fact that those who have lived fully and intensely do not feel cheated at death. “Fear not that your life will end; rather fear that it may never have begun” (Thoreau.) Jesus began His ministry with these words: “Believe in the Good News!” And what is “the Good News? He said it best: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10) He is our Good Shepherd, and, as such, is our Guardian in times when we cannot understand our complex existence. The bumper sticker, “WWJD” serves us well, reminding us of His example to always be available, to give us guidance. When we are about to “stray from the fold,” we should hear His gentle, yet strong voice in our minds, calling us back. It may be we are unwilling, at times, to accept His correction, but we always are aware that, as imperfect beings, we need it. Further, even though we don’t always respond to it, His faithfulness is ever present when we ultimately dispose ourselves to accept Him, and respond. In this we find the best example of what a true “friend we have in Jesus,” in the words of the old song. Who else would stand by us even when we ignore them on countless occasions? Certainly few of our human acquaintances! Earthly friendship is fickle, and when pushed to the brink it often fails in critical moments. It has “limits.” The Good Shepherd, on the other hand, is always ready to lead us home, without judgment. In essence, then, that is the focus of our discussion here. We can never come to the end of Christ’s mercy and love. We can never get into so much trouble that He will not be ready to welcome us back with open arms. May God Richly Bless You! “When the enemy comes, the “hired hands” run away. Not so with Christ. He died for His sheep so that they shall have eternal life, and no one can take them from Him. That is why Jesus is the Good Shepherd.” (Jack Wellman, 2019) Brother James' Air.docx Brother James' Air.mp3 To see a video of this morning's Celebration of the Holy Mass, click here: https://youtu.be/e1lMbo5XdYE
  15. April 26th, 2020 Third Sunday of Lent A Message from Father †Michael Today’s Theme: “Word and Sacrament” Scripture Note Today’s Gospel relates the disciples responding both to God’s Word: “Were not our hearts burning within us while He...opened the Scriptures to us?” and to one of God’s holiest symbols, a sacrament:“He was made known to them in the breaking of bread.” (Luke 24;13-35) The Emmaus story is a sophisticated Eucharistic catechesis (directly similar to our Holy Mass:) a “Liturgy of the Word,”followed by a “Liturgy of the Eucharist.” (The expression, “Breaking of bread,”is a technical term for the Holy Eucharist.) †Luke deliberately uses Eucharistic language: “Jesus took bread; blessed it, broke it and gave it to them.” By the time Luke wrote his Gospel, nearly a half-century had passed since our Lord’s death and resurrection. So his readers might look back with envy at the people who were fortunate enough to have seen the risen Lord with their own eyes. But in this story, Luke makes the point that even those who were in that enviable position did not truly knowJesus until the Scriptures were expounded and the bread was broken. The Christians of Luke’s time had the same means of recognizing the Lord—the Scriptures and the breaking of the bread in the Holy Eucharist—as we do. Since apostolic times, the Scriptures and the Holy Eucharist have been the essential componentsof the celebration of the Mass. In the matter of encountering Jesus with faith, a past generation is no more privileged than we are now. Our lives can be seen as a series of stories coalescing over time to form one story. Sharing the Story It is said that all sorrows can be borne if we tell a story about them. Jesus’ death plunged His disciples into gloom. Their dreams about Him as their Messiah were reduced to so much rubble. They looked at their predicament from every possible angle:, yet they still couldn’t make sense of it. A humiliated, crucified Messiah was impossible—unthinkable. Jesus helped the two disciples share their story so that it mingled with His. He drew it out of them, and then illuminated it with His. The story also shows us what ministry is all about: walking with people, being present to them, to pray, and to listen—essential “good works” all of us are called to perform in our lives, every day. Jesus showed great sensitivity in joining them as a stranger. He simply “accompanied” them—an activity that is, by its very nature, very gentle. (People often find it easier to talk to a stranger.) Gradually, He built up a “communion” with them, along with mutual trust and a desire for the truth. (People also often don’t want to listen to the truth, or face reality in times of great sorrow. They have to wait for the “right moment” to help them accept things.) Christ enquired into their conversation and grief: “What are you discussing as you walk along?” Though Christ had now entered into His state of exaltation, yet He continued to be tender with His disciples, and concerned for their comfort. He spoke as one troubled to see their melancholy: “Wherefore look ye so sadly to-day?” (Genesis 40:7.) Christ has hereby taught us to be conversational. Falling into discourse with two gravely serious persons, to whom He was a stranger, they readily embraced Him, nonetheless. It does not become Christians to be morose and shy, but to take pleasure in sharing good company. We are hereby taught to be compassionate. When we see our friends in sorrow and sadness, we should, like Christ here, recognize their grief, giving them the best counsel and comfort we can: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” With a simple, direct manner, He prompted them to “open up,” and share their sad tale. He showed them how the prophets foretold the Messiah would suffer and die, and thus enter into glory—how no one can attain to glory without sacrifice and suffering. He revealed the death of Jesus, far from being the end of a dream, was precisely the way in which it had been realized. The encounter also reinforces our Lord’s words: “Wherever two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20.) In this way, we observe that whenever we are well employed, Christ will come to us for our encouragement and support. “When they that fear the Lord speak one to another, the Lord hears and is with them in truth” (Ecclesiastes 4:12.) In their walking and reasoning together, our two disciples, today, were searching for Christ; comparing notes concerning about Him in order to gain more knowledge. So, Christ came to them: “You shall find [the Lord] when you seek Him, when you search after Him with your whole heart and your whole soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29.) It becomes Christians to first “talk” of Christ and “keep good company,” which, together with good conversation is an excellent antidote against prevailing melancholy. When Christ’s disciples were sad they did not each one get by himself, but continued as he sent them out (“two by two,”—for two are better than one, especially in times of sorrow.) The act of venting grief may ease the mind of those who are aggrieved; and, by talking it over, we may talk ourselves (or our friends may talk us) into a better frame of mind. Joint mourners thereby become mutual comforters. It wasn’t until the encounter was concluded that the disciples understood what had happened to them on their journey. But, isn’t this just how it is in “real life?” We live our lives “forward,” but only understand them “backwards!” Often, we don’t know at the time the significance of what is happening to us. Human beings lack global perspective and full understanding. Normally, we have a sufficient amount of both to cope with our lives moment-to-moment, hour-to-hour and day-to-day. Only afterwards—sometimes LONG afterwards—are we able to reflect and have our “eyes opened.” Eventually we may even be grateful for our sad experiences, and are better off for them, having “soldiered” through. Like the two disciples in today’s story, we finally understand the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection—glory attained through suffering. Similarly, we may be enabled to “turn our lives around,” and return to “our community” with renewed faith and vigor. Our lives can be seen as a series of stories, which coalesce into one story. The sad fact of life is that all our stories end in death. We like stories that with happy endings! The resurrection of Christ opens all our stories to the prospect, not just of a good ending, but of a glorious one! The first and last words in each of our stories belongs to God! Burning Hearts The Emmaus story is essentially a story about the heart. We relate to it, because we also tend to spend much energy relating the stories of our loved ones who have died—at least immediately after their death. While they live with us, we enjoy their vitality, their wisdom, their love, and our lives are correspondingly enriched by their presence. After they are gone, our lives seem haunted by their absence. It is then we encounter the “grieving process”—a seven-stage affair, with which we are all too familiar: shock; denial; anger; bargaining; depression; testing and acceptance (a la Kubler Ross and David Kessler: “On grief and Grieving” 1969) We can see the disciples going through this process (in an abbreviated fashion)in our Gospel story, today. But we realize, eventually, that it could have not occurred without their having faith. Truly, Jesus illuminated their minds—no question about that. But He did something better: He set their hearts on fire. “Were not our hearts burning within us as He explained the Scriptures to us?” they asked. Faith is very much concerned with the mind in so far as it has to with truth, dogmas, doctrines, creeds and catechisms. But it is even more concerned with the heart. It consists in a relationship of love, with the God Who first loved us. Without this, faith is like a fireplace without a fire. “We will never believe with a vigorous and unquestioning faith unless God touches our hearts. Is to the heart that the call of God comes.”(Blaise Pascal) The main conviction that made Cleopas’ and the other disciple’s heart “burn” was that Jesus loved them. The story shows us the goodness of God, who makes our deepest dreams come true in the most surprising ways. The Risen Christ is with us on our life’s journey, so close that our stories merge with His—even though we may not recognize that He is with us. May God Richly Bless You! And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and He vanished out of their sight. (Luke 24:31) I Can See-On the Emmaus Road.docx I Can See (On the Emmaus Road).mp3
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