Archive for the ‘Christ the King Parish’ Category

Lingering Before The Lord — Tuesday, 17th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

July 26, 2011

During the Exodus, the Lord’s presence would descend in a cloud upon the desert tabernacle called the tent of meeting. All the children of Israel would worship at the mouth of their own tents while Moses and his young assistant Joshua went in before the Lord. After speaking with the Lord, Moses had to leave to tend to the responsibilities involved in leading God’s people. Joshua, however, remained behind to pray, give thanks, and intercede for others.

God was pleased with Moses for the time he could spend with Him, blessing Him with a radiant light. He was also pleased with Joshua for lingering after. He would later select Joshua to lead the people after Moses’ passing because he was a man like David, “a man after God’s own heart.” Sometimes we can’t come to Mass early or linger after because of the demands of home and work and that’s ok. But if you can and do spend extra time with the Lord, know that this pleases Him greatly and helps you yield a greater harvest for Him.

The Desert Problem—Thursday, 16th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

July 21, 2011

This morning I would like to talk with you about something I call “the Desert Problem.” We see it with the children of Israel during the Exodus. They had seen the ten plagues that were afflicted on their Egyptian oppressors. They had seen the Red Sea split before them. They heard God speak so powerfully and intensely with Moses at the mountain that they trembled. They accepted God’s covenant. They saw, they heard, but then they forgot. The Israelites seem to always be sinning in the desert and we can feel annoyance at them. However, we should not judge them harshly, for their story is our own. We also struggle with the desert problem.

We come to dry and difficult places in our own lives, too. When we face difficulties we too often forget what we have seen and heard and give in to depression, despair, and sin. The solution to the desert problem is the refreshing water of memory. When you are in a desert you need water, but you don’t need to dig a new well every time you need refreshment; you can go back to an old and reliable well. Before you come to your next desert, think of times in the past when you knew God was close, perhaps an intense consolation experienced in prayer, or a providential miracle you’ve witnessed in life. And when you enter your next desert (or if you find yourself in one now) recall these memories to mind and be refreshed in faith. ‘Blessed are your eyes, because they have seen, and your ears, because they have heard,’ but to remain faithful to God in the desert you must remember the great things of God you have seen and heard.

Broadcasting Our Faith — Thursday, 15th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

July 14, 2011

At Easter time, my sister, Laura, and I used to watch documentaries about Christianity on TV. On the one hand, it was cool to see Jesus Christ talked about on channels like CNN and the History Channel. On the other hand, they couldn’t seem to present on the Christian faith without giving at least equal airtime to doubt. Laura and I enjoyed mocking their seemingly unrelenting skepticism:

“Jesus of Nazareth died nailed to a cross… or did He?”
“Every Easter, Christians around the world celebrate their belief that Jesus rose from the dead… or do they?”
“We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors… or will we?”

Last night, ABC’s Nightline had an episode about the Virgin Mary and various apparition sites.  As I expected, the show both pleased me and annoyed me. I was pleased they had almost seven minutes about the shrine of Our Lady of Champion, near Green Bay—the first Church-approved Marian apparition site in our country. This was great, because the better the shrine is known the more good it shall do. On the other hand, I was annoyed by the show in various ways; for starters, by the Nightline episode’s title: “Beyond Belief.”  I was also annoyed by some of the things they included people saying.

I know that being interviewed isn’t easy. Expressing yourself like you want to can be hard, and video editing can take your words out of context, but here are some things they had people saying.  The doctor of a boy who was found to be free of leukemia the day after they visited the Green Bay shrine, was asked whether it was a miracle. He said, “The medicine did its job.… No matter what, God can’t work in the care of this child unless he works through somebody.” The narrator then referred to this metaphysical assertion, regarding what God can and can’t do, as “science.”

Later, the opinions of two, so-called experts were given. The first had written a book entitled From Jesus to Christ. (The book title was itself a red flag because it implies that the real historical Jesus of Nazareth got mythologized into the Christ of faith by later Christians. The Jesus of history and the Christ of our faith are one in the same.) She said, “When I think of the historical Mary, I think, first of all, of a very tired mom. Jesus could have been her fourth or fifth child for all we know. There’s absolutely no data in the New Testament itself to even tell us that.” (Actually, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke describe Mary as a virgin and Jesus as her firstborn Son.) A second expert said, “I’m not really big on the virgin birth as being scientifically viable.” (I wonder if he considers Jesus’ Resurrection, or any other miracle, to be scientifically viable.)

Then the show’s host, who seemed to me more ill-informed than malicious, went on to say, “After her death, early Christians hungry for information on the mother of their Messiah, began filling in Mary’s biography, with more stories like this; that she too was Immaculately Conceived, that her body was assumed to heaven like her Son’s, but the truth is that there’s no evidence to support any of these traditions.” First, he conflates the miracle of Jesus’ virgin birth with Mary’s Immaculate Conception. That’s a common error. Second, it’s just not true that there’s no evidence of Mary’s Assumption. For instance, the mere fact that Christians claim to have bones from all of the Holy Apostles, while no one at anytime anywhere has claimed to have hers, points to something. That’s not an incontrovertible proof for Mary’s Assumption, but it is some evidence for what all Christians were convinced about from the earliest times. The fact that people keep seeing her in compelling apparitions is some evidence too.

On the whole, I thought the show was a net plus; it did more good than harm, but it goes to show that we can’t rely upon the secular media to proclaim the Gospel for us. A person whose only source is secular television is not likely to come to faith. We need to step up as individuals and give witness to others about who God is and what He has done for us. As the psalmist says:

“Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought,
his signs, and the judgments he has uttered.”

Moses hesitated to speak to others about God. He said, “When I go to the children of Israel… what am I to tell them?” The Lord said, ‘Tell them, ‘I am who am.’ You shall tell them that I-Am-Who-Am sent you to them.’ Likewise, the one true God is asking you to witness to Him before others. Ask the Holy Spirit for the grace and you will soon receive the opportunity to witness to Jesus Christ and the good things He has done.

Born Under the Law — Tuesday, 15th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

July 12, 2011

The story of Moses prefigures the life and works of Jesus Christ. St. Paul tells the Galatian Christians, “[We,] when we were not of age, were enslaved to the elemental powers of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption.”

The elemental powers St. Paul speaks of are the devil and the demons who powerfully and harmfully influence the world. Pharaoh and his evil reign image Satan, the demons, and their works. The children of Israel strained under the law and it brought them death. But, when the fullness of time had come, God sent a child, born of a woman, born under that law. That child, who would image person and works of Jesus, was Moses.

As long as he remained a quiet, sleepy newborn, the mother of Moses could hide him, but after three months her son began to loudly and frequently cry. With a pain that pierced her to the heart, she laid her son in the waters of death, hoping against hope, that she would receive him back safe. And, like Mary the mother of Jesus, God miraculously brought her son came back to her alive and safe. For what purpose was Moses was born under the law?—to ransom those under the law, so that they might receive God’s adoption. The Hebrews were known as the children of Israel, but they were to become the people of God.

Moses was destined to lead them, but in his youth, he was still unready. (His actions towards the Egyptian taskmaster make this clear. The one who would lead the people into the Promised Land, the one who would prefigure the Christ, could not to have an undisciplined and violent character.) After decades in a hidden life of preparation, Moses confronted Pharaoh and brought out the Israelites, not by force of arms, but by God’s power.

Moses led them into a new covenant relationship with God, who declared to them, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” Through Moses, the Israelites were made God’s people. Through Jesus Christ, we are made God’s children. Let us recognize, that as much as Jesus is greater Moses, so the gift of the New Covenant is greater than the Old. As amazing as mighty deeds and graces of God were in the age of Moses, remember that these are all greater in the age of Jesus Christ.

Instructions For Missionaries — Thursday, 14th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

July 7, 2011

Today, Jesus teaches His Apostles how they are to behave as they proclaim the Gospel and do His works. Why does Jesus give them the instructions He does, and what do they mean for us?

Jesus said, “Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts, no sack for the journey.”  He wants us to depend on God, so that we can learn that God is dependable. But if we depend on God for nothing, then how can our trust grow? The things in your life that you worry about are the places in your life where He wants you to depend on Him more.

Jesus said, “take no second tunic, nor sandals, nor walking stick.” He did not want the Apostles making long trips. They wouldn’t need gear for long-distance hikes, such as a second tunic to sleep in outside overnight. They were to witness in one small village after the next, so that, working separately for the same goal together, everyone in every place would be reached with the Gospel. Like the Apostles, your mission territory is not far away.

Jesus said, “Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave.” Of course a person has to stay somewhere until they leave, but a person who has been welcomed into one house could receive a tempting invitation to stay in the same town with someone “better.” We too must beware the temptation to alienate Christ’s “little ones” in order to ingratiate ourselves to others.

Jesus said, “As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you.” Like the Apostles, we are sure to encounter people who would snub, ignore, insult, or be cold to us, but that should not rob us of our peace.

What Jesus said to the Apostles, He is saying to us as well. Let us do as He instructs us as we proclaim the Gospel and do His works.

Sending Another Advocate — 6th Sunday in Easter—Year A

May 29, 2011

At the Last Supper, Jesus told His apostles that He would soon be departing from them. His disciples found this news distressful. Jesus had been their spiritual leader and intimate friend. For the better of three years, they spent almost all day, every day, with Him; sharing breakfasts in the morning, walking down the roads and conversing with Him, watching Him preach and heal n villages, spending evenings with Him around the fire. Not only had he taught them about God, he had also made them more godly men. And so, understandably, word of their Good Shepherd’s departure saddened them.

But Jesus told them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God, have faith also in me.” In obedience to His Father, Jesus was going away, but He told the disciples that they would not be left orphans. God would send them another person to lead and sanctify them. Jesus told them God the Father would send them another Advocate, another Helper, another Guide, to be with them always. Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit, who would continue the same work which Jesus had begun in them. The Father had blessed them before by sending them Jesus. Now, at Jesus’ departure, the Lord wanted them to trust and remember this: that they would be blessed again.

Today, this Gospel is fulfilled in our hearing. Father Stoetzel has asked me to read you this letter from him:

Dear parishioners,

Bishop Callahan has asked me to take a new parish assignment beginning July 1st. I will be the next rector of St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral in La Crosse. Also, I am very happy to announce your new pastor here and St. John the Baptist in Marshfield. He is Fr. Samuel Martin who is presently the director of the Holy Cross House of Formation and teacher at Aquinas High School in La Crosse. Please welcome him graciously as he is being sent by the bishop to be your pastor.

I want to thank you very much for the privilege of being your pastor for the past 15 years. My gratitude goes to you for the prayers and many acts of kindness you have shown. Let us continue to pray for one another. Be assured that you will be in my fondest thoughts.

Fr. Stoetzel

The fact that our bishop has appointed Fr. Stoetzel to be the rector of the cathedral (the bishop’s own parish) says much about Father’s quality as a pastor. We will miss him in many ways. I don’t know Fr. Martin too well, but every encounter I have had with Him has been a positive one. I predict that we will all be very pleased with him when he comes in July and will be blessed by getting to know him better. In the meantime, let’s remember pray for Fr. Stoetzel, as he prepares for his new assignment in La Crosse. Let us also pray for our pastor-to-be, Fr. Sam Martin, as he prepares for us.

Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God, have faith also in me.” The Lord wants us to trust and remember this: that He has blessed us before and that He we will be blessed again.

A Man In Jesus’ Image — Divine Mercy Sunday—Year A

May 1, 2011

This Divine Mercy Sunday, our Catholic Church throughout the world celebrates and glorifies two men together in a special way. The first is our Savior, our Lord and our God, Jesus Christ; and the second is the great pope John Paul the Second, who is being beatified today in Rome. John Paul the Great, born Karol Wojtyla, is a man who lived in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.

Both chose the Blessed Virgin Mary to be their mother. One chose her after the loss of his earthly mother as a boy. The other chose her from all eternity. Growing up, both of their beloved homelands were occupied and oppressed by foreign empires. For one it was the Romans. For the other it was the Nazis and then the Soviet Union. As young men, they both worked as manual laborers, in lives hidden from the world. When people encountered their ministries for the first time, many said, “Who is this man, and where does he come from?”

Both men transformed this world, not by leading violent revolutions, not by amassing incredible fortunes, but by speaking the truth, and living the truth, and leading others in doing the same for God. They preached God’s message, and their words gave hope and courage to many, but their words were not accepted by all. Both men had enemies who sought to destroy them, but they forgave, face to face, those who sought their lives.

At the end of their lives, both men were afflicted with great physical sufferings, but neither laid down their crosses. Some onlookers mocked or dismissed them in their afflictions, but those with spiritual insight beheld them to be offering a sacrifice to the Father for the salvation of the world.

St. John tells us that Jesus has done many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in his Gospel. As St. John writes elsewhere, “There are many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.”

Among these signs are the lives of the saints throughout the centuries, saints like Pope John Paul the Great. His life was a sign worked by Jesus Christ in our midst so that we would come to believe more deeply that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief we may have life in his name.

Why did people love Pope John Paul II so much? Catholics of every country and of all ages loved and flocked to him. Even non-Catholics and non-Christians were drawn to him. What explains this phenomenon? I think the answer is simple. People saw in him a reflection of Jesus Christ’s love for them. John Paul the Second was an icon of Christ and his love.

Every time you saw Pope John Paul, he was smiling. He traveled the nations, and embraced everyone warmly. When you encountered him, you felt loved, even if you were one person in a crowd of thousands. This was the Holy Spirit at work. Although you did not see Jesus you loved him in Pope John Paul; even though you did not see Jesus you believed in him all the more because of him, and rejoiced with an indescribable and glorious joy.

This morning we celebrate a feast day which Pope John Paul II established, Divine Mercy Sunday. What is divine mercy like? What does Jesus’ unfathomable love, which enfolds every one of us here and every person God has made, look like? Through the life of Pope John the Great we saw a partial glimpse of the divine mercy and love of Jesus Christ.

They Ran For Him — Easter Morning

April 24, 2011

When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early Easter morning, she found the stone removed and the body of Jesus gone. She ran to Peter and John, because her love demanded that something must be done. “They have taken the Lord from the tomb,” she said, “and we don’t know where they put him!” So Peter and John went out and ran to the tomb. They both ran, but John ran faster and arrived at the tomb first; not because he loved Jesus more, but because he was younger than Peter.

Some adults run for exercise, but they are the odd exception. Generally, grown-ups just don’t run; except under special circumstances. For instance, my mother doesn’t jog, but she’ll sprint to answer a ringing phone. She loves her friends and doesn’t want to leave them hanging on the line. So, love can make a grown person run.

One time, when I was a boy, I saw my mother run outside in her nightgown and dive into our swimming pool. My mother saved the life of my younger sister, who was floating there facedown.

In all my life, I can only remember ever seeing my father run once. A few years later, during a family walk around a camping resort in my hometown, where we had never walked before, we came upon a tragic emergency. While Mom did CPR, Dad and I ran for the phone at the front office to call for an ambulance. I ran as hard as I could, but Dad was much faster than my ten-year-old legs. I remember seeing his back, his arms rapidly pumping, and thinking to myself, ‘I had no idea he could move that fast.’ And so, from my youth, I’ve known that for the love of another, or in matters of life and death, adults will run. If something is important to them, they’ll run for it.

Mary Magdalene, Peter and John ran to and from an empty tomb out of concern for a dead man’s corpse. So great was their love for Jesus, so great was their admiration for Him, that they ran for Him, even though they thought He had nothing more to offer them. But we are here this morning because Jesus wasn’t dead. He is risen and still active in peoples’ lives today. (To the latter, I am an eyewitness.) He has much to offer to us, our families, our children. But do we run to Him? Do we run to His Church, His sacraments, worship and teachings; or do we run from them? Whether we run is a question of love, and in a world subverted by sin and temptation in so many ways, it’s a matter of life and death. Jesus is risen. So let’s run to Him.

“He Is Not Here” — Easter Vigil

April 23, 2011

When the women came to the tomb they did not find Jesus, but a radiant messenger. He told them, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here.…” The tomb was empty, Jesus was not there.

Jesus was present at the beginning of creation, for through Him all things were made. Going forth from the Father’s mouth, He was at hand on earth throughout the ages, achieving His purposes.

He was mystically with Noah, who saved his family from death by building a ship, just as Jesus built the Church to save us.

He was mystically with Isaac, who, though bound and led to sacrifice, was not to be lost forever.

He was mystically with Moses, who freed God’s people from Pharaoh’s demonic slavery by leading them through miraculous waters.

He was mystically with all the prophets, in proclaiming a law to be written on hearts instead of stones, in promising the gift of a Holy Spirit from Heaven, in suffering at the hands of those who refused to hear wisdom.

He has been in His saints, from the least to the greatest, throughout the centuries to this very night. He is present here in all of us who are ‘living for God in Christ Jesus.’

By the all foreshadowings that proceeded His coming, and by the fruitful witness of all His saints ever since, we can confirm the angel’s words, “he has been raised just as he said.”

Jesus is not there in the empty tomb. He is here,  tonight, with us.

“I Thirst” — Good Friday

April 22, 2011

Shortly before He died on the cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.” Why did He say, “I thirst”? He was certainly physically dehydrated. As Psalm 22 foretells, His throat was as dry as broken pottery and His tongue stuck to His palate, but there was more reason for His words than just this.

Last night, at the Last Supper, Jesus had postponed drinking the traditional fourth and final cup of Passover. He said “I thirst” so that they would bring Him wine, so that He could drink, and unite the Last Supper and His Passion as one event. However, there is even more reason for His words than this.

Beside the crucifixes, in all of the chapels, in all of her religious houses around the world, Blessed Mother Teresa had written the words, “I thirst.” She understood that what Jesus thirsts for on the cross is us. Mother Teresa wrote, “Jesus is God, therefore His love, His Thirst, is infinite. He the Creator of the universe, asked for the love of His creatures. He thirsts for our love…” 

As we come to Him on the cross today, let us satisfy His thirst with the refreshment we can give to Him.

“Do This…” — Holy Thursday

April 21, 2011

At the Last Supper, the night before he suffered for us, Jesus took some bread. He thanks to God for it and He broke it. And He declared it to be His body which would be given up for others. Then He offered it to those He loved. When the supper was ended, Jesus took a cup of wine. Again He gave thanks and praise to the Father. And He declared it to contain His blood, blood to be shed for all. Then He offered the cup to His disciples and said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

At the Last Supper, Jesus ordained His apostles the first priests of the New Covenant. They and their successors would do this in remembrance of Him, throughout the centuries, up to this very night, and until He comes again. When you and I celebrate the Mass we remember Him and what He did, and more than just recalling it, we re-encounter it as that same sacrifice is offered in front of us. But Jesus’ words, ‘to do this in memory of Him’ means more than just coming to Mass.

Jesus is calling and commanding us to do the thing that He is doing. We must give God thanks and praise for what He has given us. We must take our bodies and give them up. We must take our life’s blood and pour it out. And we can do this, for God and for each other, in as many ways as there is to love. The sacrifices of your daily life, at home, at work, and at prayer; the work of washing feet; may not seem significant to you now, but these sacrifices shall your glory in Heaven forever.

As Jesus washed His apostles’ feet He said, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” And when He had finished He said, “If I, … the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.  I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” At the Last Supper, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Tonight, He says the same to us as well.

Our Triduum Crowd — Palm Sunday—Year A

April 20, 2011

On Palm Sunday, the crowds welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as a hero.  On Good Friday, the crowds will clamor for His death. How do we explain this dramatic switch from love to hate? It might be that the mob had become infatuated with Jesus, thinking that He was going to be the earthly messiah of their dreams, the one who would force the hated Romans out of their land and reign as a new and greater King David. Perhaps the crowd realized that this wasn’t Jesus’ plan, and then angrily turned on Him like a lover spurned, hating Him for disappointing their high hopes.

Another possibility is that we are seeing two different crowds, made up almost entirely of different people. Perhaps the chief priests and the Pharisees had assembled a mob around them of those they knew they could easily manipulate. They had arrested Jesus late in the night and brought Him to Pilate early the next morning. Perhaps many of Jesus’ the Palm Sunday supporters had no idea what was happening until Jesus was already in the tomb. Perhaps the next day many of them said, “I wish I had known! I would have been there for Jesus!” Or perhaps they did hear about what was afoot, but had already disowned Jesus for disappointing their messianic dreams. Maybe some people said, “Jesus of Nazareth? I’m too busy to be bothered with Him anymore. I’ll keep my distance, and see how this thing plays out in the end.” Whatever the reason, the crowd that turned-up for Jesus’ trial was short on those who loved Him.

The liturgy of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil (what we call the Easter Triduum) is our greatest celebration in the Church. It’s bigger than Christmas and Jesus invites you to be there. Jesus invites you to attend his last meal and to keep watch with Him Thursday night, to accompany Him through His Passion and to reverence Him on the cross, and to keep vigil at His tomb Saturday night and to be the first witnesses to His resurrection. If you truly cannot make it, Jesus understands, but if you would come here to join this crowd accompanying Jesus throughout these holy days, it would please Him, very much.

3 Mountains / 3 Montañas — 2nd Sunday in Lent—Year A

March 20, 2011
In the life of Jesus, he climbs three significant mountains; The mountain of the sermon on the mount, the mountain of Transfiguration (in today’s reading) and the mountain of the crucifixion. In the Christian life, we must also visit these three mountains. 
The three mountains are united. The wisdom of the sermon on the mount, on the first mountain, brings the pleasures and pains of the other mountains. The life of the Gospel brings the joys of the light and the suffering of the cross. Wisdom, glory and sacrifice; the three are a trio here on this earth. Our glories without sacrifice pass quickly. Our sacrifices without wisdom we regret quickly. And our wisdom will be without glory forever if we do not follow Christ in sacrifice. Which mountain should visit more this season of Lent?
Do you lack wisdom? Do you not know well that Jesus and his Church teaches? Go to the first mountain to learn, like the disciples at the Sermon on the Mount, with the Bible, or the Catechism or many popular resources available in audio or visual forms.
Do you need consolation? Do you not feel well that Jesus is your beloved friend? Go to the second mountain, to feel like Jesus and his disciples at the Transfiguration, through time in a quiet place with God.
Do you need perfection in your love? Do you not carry the cross well? Go to the last mountain to practice it, like Jesus at the crucifixion, through good works for others.
Jesus climbed the mountains of wisdom, glory and sacrifice. To be with him, we must climb these also.

En la vida de Jesús, él sube tres montañas notables. La montaña del sermón del monte, la montaña de la transfiguración (en la lectura de hoy) y la montaña de la crucifixión. En la vida cristiana, debemos visitar estas tres montañas también.

Las tres montañas están unidas. La sabiduría del sermón del monte, de la primera montaña, trae los placeres y dolores de las otras montañas. La vida del Evangelio trae las alegrías de la luz y los sufrimientos de la cruz.  Sabiduría, gloria y sacrificio; los tres son un trío unido en esta tierra.

Nuestras glorias sin sacrificio pasan rápidamente. Nuestros sacrificios sin sabiduría lamentamos rápidamente. Y nuestra sabiduría será sin gloria para siempre si no nos siga a Cristo en sacrificio. ¿Qué montaña deben visitar más esta temporada de Cuaresma?

¿Faltas de sabiduría? ¿No sabes bien lo que Jesús y su Iglesia enseñan? Vaya a la primera montaña para aprender como los discípulos al sermón del monte, con la Biblia, o el catecismo o muchos recursos populares disponibles en formularios visuales o de audio.

¿Necesitas consuelo? ¿No te sientes bien que Jesús es tu amigo amado? Vaya a la segunda montaña para sentirlo como Jesús y sus discípulos a la transfiguración, con tiempo con Dios en un lugar tranquilo.

¿Necesitas perfección en tu amor? ¿No llevas bien la cruz? Vaya a la última montaña para practicarlo como Jesús a la crucifixión, con buenas obras para otros.

Jesús subió las montañas de sabiduría, de gloria y de sacrificio. Para estar con él, debemos subir estas también.

3 Myths / 3 Mitos — 9th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year A

March 6, 2011

Many today assume three modern myths: One, that we get into Heaven based on whether our good works out-weigh our sins. Two, that as long as we claim Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior we are assured Heaven. And three, that one Christian church is just as good as another. Let us consider these common myths one by one, and come to understand the truth about Christianity.

If you ask people whether they think they’ll go to Heaven, many say something like this, “I’m a pretty good person. I mean I’ve never robbed any banks or killed anybody. I’ve done good things, so yeah, I think I’ll go to Heaven.” In their minds, such people seem to envision the Last Judgment as a giant scale, with their good deeds on one side and their sins on the other.

The truth is, we cannot earn our own salvation. God is all good and deserving of all our love. When we do good we are just giving Him what He deserves. But when we sin, we disfigure ourselves and our relationship with God in ways that only He can repair. “…All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” But thanks be to God, we “are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus…. What occasion is there then for boasting?” asks St. Paul. “It is ruled out.” We do not save ourselves. We are saved only through Jesus Christ.

Many Christians like to ask, “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior?” Do not hesitate to answer “Yes,” for every time you receive Him worthily in the Eucharist you are accepting Him as your Savior and Lord. Evangelical Christians also like to ask, “Are you saved?” They say this because they think whoever professes faith in Christ is assured of their salvation. However, according to Jesus, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Think of it this way: the demons recognize that Christ is Christ, but that does not save them. They are not saved because they do not love Him, and love is about more than just words. As Jesus told His Apostles, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. … This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” (Jn 14:15, 15:12)

Consider the New Testament words of St. James, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14) As St. Paul observes, “If I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.” Our salvation in Christ requires faith and love in action.

We know that more than a few Catholics have wandered away from the Church. Some have been drawn away, after being told the Catholic Church does not know the Bible. Others have simply left, thinking that one Christian church is just as good as another. Do not be misled by myths.

In truth, Jesus Christ has built only one house, one Church. And, being a wise man, he built the house on a rock, St. Peter, our first Pope. However, men have built other houses. These Christian denominations have many good characteristics from the one Church of Christ: like Scripture, prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, baptism, marriage, and Christian morals. However, in time, the rains fall, the floods come, and the winds blow and buffet their houses and they collapse ruined. Those houses separate from the truth and separate from within into new houses. Therefore, never abandon the beliefs and the sacraments of the Catholic Church. There is one true house of Jesus Christ. Do not be misled by myths.

Muchos hoy aceptan tres mitos modernos: Uno, que entramos en el cielo si nuestras buenas obras son más que de nuestros pecados. Dos, si nos declararía Jesucristo como nuestro Señor personal y Salvador estamos seguros de entrar en el cielo. Y tres, que una iglesia Cristiana es tan buena como la otra. Consideremos estos mitos populares uno por uno y comprender la verdad acerca del cristianismo.

Si se pregunta a las personas si piensan que van a ir al cielo, muchos dicen algo como esto, “Soy una persona buena bastante. Yo nunca he robado al banco ni matado a nadie. He hecho cosas buenas, entonces sí, creo que voy a ir al cielo.” Estas personas imaginan el juicio final para ser una escala gigante, con sus buenas acciones en un lado y sus pecados en el otro.

La verdad es que no podemos ganar nuestra propia salvación personal. Dios es el sumo bien y digno de ser amado sobre todas las cosas. Cuando hacemos bueno sólo damos lo que se merece Dios. Pero cuando pecamos, nos hacemos daño a nosotros mismos sino a nuestra relación con Dios in maneras que solo Dios puede reparar. “Como todos pecaron, todos están privados de la presencia salvadora de Dios; pero todos son justificados gratuitamente por su gracia, en virtud de la redención llevada a cabo por medio de Cristo Jesús… por medio de la fe.” “¿Dónde, pues, quede el orgullo del hombre ante Dios,” pregunta de San Paulo. “Queda eliminado!” Nosotros no ganamos nuestra salvación por nosotros mismos. Somos salvados sólo a través de Jesucristo.

A veces otros cristianos nos preguntan, “Has aceptado a Jesucristo como tu Señor personal y Salvador?” No duden en responder “Sí”, porque cada vez que le reciban dignamente en la Eucaristía  lo aceptan como su Salvador y Señor.  Nuestros amigos cristianos evangélicos también quieren preguntar, “¿Eres salvado?” Dicen porque piensan que la person que profesa la fe en Cristo se asegura su salvación. Sin embargo, según Jesús, “No todo el que me diga ‘Señor, Señor!’, entrará en el Reino de los cielos, sino el que cumpla la voluntad de mi Padre, que está en los cielos.”

Consideren esto: los demonios reconocen que Cristo es Cristo, pero no los salva. No se salva porque ellos no lo aman, y amor es más que decir palabras. Como Jesús les dijo a sus apóstoles, “Si ustedes me aman, obedecerán mis mandamientos. … Mi mandamiento es este: Que se amen unos a otros como yo los he amado a ustedes.”

Consideren las palabras del Nuevo Testamento de San Santiago, “Hermanos míos, ¿de qué le sirve a uno decir que tiene fe, si sus hechos no lo demuestran? ¿Podrá acaso salvarlo esa fe? Supongamos que a un hermano o a una hermana les falta la ropa y la comida necesarias para el día; si uno de ustedes les dice: ‘Que les vaya bien; abríguense y coman todo lo que quieran’, pero no les da lo que su cuerpo necesita, ¿de qué les sirve? Así pasa con la fe: por sí sola, es decir, si no se demuestra con hechos, es una cosa muerta.” Como San Pablo observa, “Si tengo la fe necesaria para mover montañas, pero no tengo amor, no soy nada.” Nuestra salvación en Cristo requiere fe y amor en acción.

Sabemos que más que unos católicos pocos han vagado de la Iglesia Católica. Algunos son atraídos, oyen falsamente que la Iglesia Católica no conoce la Biblia. Otros simplemente dejaron, piensan falsamente que una iglesia cristiana es tan buena como la otra. No se engañen por mitos.

En verdad, Jesucristo ha construido sólo una casa, una iglesia. Y, siendo un hombre sabio, construyó la casa sobre una roca, San Pedro, nuestro primer Papa. Pero, hombres han construido otras casas. Estas denominaciones cristianas tienen muchas características buenas de la única casa de Cristo: como escritura, oración, el credo de los apóstoles, bautismo, matrimonio, las morales cristianas. Pero, en tiempo, viene la lluvia, bajan las crecientes, se desatan los vientos, contra esas casas y las arras an.  Esas casas sparan de las verdad y sparan desde los interiors en las casas nuevas. Por lo tanto, nunca abandonen las creencias y los sacramentos de la Iglesia Católica. Es la única casa de Jesucristo. No se engañen por mitos.

Sodium Chloride Reaction — 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year A

February 8, 2011

Let me tell you two stories about chemicals that produced quite a reaction in me. In summers when I was a kid, I liked to go to the Osseo city pool. They had there a brown door with red letters warning something to the effect of: “Danger, Deadly Chlorine Gas, Staff Only!” I needed no further persuading. Years later, my high school science teacher put a bucket in the snow, and in the bucket he put some water, and in the water he put in a chunk of pure sodium, using tongs. The water steamed and bubbled and exploded a couple of time. It was awesome, but also rather threatening.

What do you get if you put these two dangerous elements together? You get sodium chloride. I warn you that this compound is now found in our environment and in our homes. The oceans are full of it. It’s on our city streets. It’s even in the food we eat and feed to our children. Sodium chloride sounds rather threatening, but you know this benign compound by another name: Salt.

Like salt, Christianity is pervasive, it’s everywhere. Like salt, people can fear and oppose Christianity, thinking it’s harmful for people and bad for our world. But in truth, Christianity, like salt, is necessary for life. Christians, to the extent that they are truly Christians, are the salt of the earth.

The world’s irrational fear and opposition to our faith is nothing new. Listen to this anonymous letter written to a man named Diognetus that dates from the second century. Listen for how Christians resemble the salt of the world, ubiquitous, helpful and good, and feared and opposed:

“Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. … With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign. And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.  They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh.

They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

Why does the world oppose devout Christianity, now as then? One reason is that the Christian dedicates himself exclusively to Jesus Christ, in a way that worldly people think is disproportionate and dangerous. They imagine the believing Christian behaves like sodium in water, hot with intolerance and hatred, violent in their reactions. In fact, a Christian’s total commitment to Jesus Christ is what leads Him to have mercy for all and extend love toward all. Who is more responsible for ‘sharing bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless, and clothing the naked’ in history of the world than Christians in general and the Catholic Church in particular?

Another reason why the world hates Christianity is that worldly people think it lethal to the joys of life. Like inhaling chlorine gas, they fear that Christianity stands to afixiate their happiness. This too is nothing new. In Roman times Christians were charged with “hatred of humanity” for it was thought, “whoever loves man will love what man loves.” As the writer to Diognetus observed in the second century, “The world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because [Chritians] are opposed to its enjoyments.” It is still so today. It is as Jesus said: He calls us the light of the world, and elsewhere notes, “Everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.” We tell the world that some things that it loves are false roads to happiness, and it hates us for it.

So what are we to do? First, realize that the modern world’s hostility to Christianity is nothing new. Don’t wait for the world’s hostility to pass, it won’t. And don’t think your faith is a shameful thing, it’s not. Instead, do as Jesus teaches, “your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” If you are a Christian, people who know you should see something different in you and ask, “What’s your secret.” And when they do you should say, “It’s because of my relationship to Jesus Christ and His Church.” Pray for this grace. Pray that you may be a witness to Christ in both your words and deeds. Then, as the psalmist said, you will be “a light in darkness” and you will help to save many souls in the world.