All posts by Jane

Homily- Sr Agnes Ann Schum – 09/19/21 – How to live last in a “me-first” world

Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time  

When I was still in the classroom many years ago, the children would often ask me as to why Jesus would tell his disciples not to tell anyone after He gave sight to the blind, made the deaf hear, or even brought someone back to life.  How else were people going to believe that He was the Son of God, the Messiah.  If Jesus were alive today, living in these crazy times, I think He would still be someone who was going about doing good deeds.   He would be someone who would offer to buy groceries for a single mother whose food stamps had run so she could feed her children or would fill someone’s car with gas so they could get to their first job in months, or buy school supplies for some needy kids so they would be prepared to start the new school year, but I firmly believe that Jesus wouldn’t want any press release, no headlines, no advertising, no twitter feed and no facebook postings.

Jesus was more about up-ending the conventional wisdom of what it means to be the greatest or to be first or number one.  As He travelled from town to town with his disciples, it was for the purpose of exposing them to different cultures, people of varying means, and to learn from Him that they were all (Jew or Gentile) to be served in the same way.  Not even money, position or prestige could influence Jesus to measure some people more worthy than others.  The lesson for His followers, who seemed more concerned as to who of them was the greatest, was about service and love vs. position, power and greed.

Jesus took them away from the crowds so He could continue teaching them about what is most important.  Once again, he tells them that He is going to Jerusalem where He will suffer and be crucified.  However, He always adds “but on the third day I will rise again”.  There is always a promise of HOPE after the suffering.  Most Christians like everything about Jesus, except the hard parts.  Like losing your own friends, being rejected and, of course, suffering and dying on a cross.  The message of hope and the promise of the Resurrection is lost on most of us.   Over the past year and many months, we have been living through and experiencing a horrific pandemic of global proportions.  We are sick and tired of living under the fear of this modern day plague.  It is easy for us at this stage to fall back on our egos which seeks immediate gratification and despises anything hard or uncomfortable.  We want a quick fix.  If only we could go back to the old days, or if only we could leap into the future where there is no Covid.  Let me say this:  the past, present and future matter, but our experience of God is tied to how fully we live in each moment and the only moment we have is the present.   Yes, even in a pandemic, even when there is so much upheaval, so much disparity, and evil in the world let us remember the words in the Letter of Saint James: “Where jealousy and selfish ambitions exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.  But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits without inconstancy or insincerity.  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.”

This Sunday’s gospel focuses on one of the less elegant moments for Jesus’ followers.  In recent weeks Peter has professed his belief that Jesus is the messiah.  Some of them have witnessed the transfiguration and all have seen him healing the deaf, giving speech to someone who hadn’t been able to speak, and, raising the dead to life.

We expect their experiences might hold the disciples in a permanent attitude of amazement.  But they couldn’t hold onto these moments.  We find them breathtakingly small-minded.  Jesus wanted to take them away from the crowds to continue teaching them what is most important. Once again, he tells them that he is going to Jerusalem to suffer and to be crucified.  However, he always adds but on the third day I will rise again.  There is always a promise of hope after the suffering.

As we listen to today’s readings, rather than wonder at the disciples’ thickheadedness, we might examine our own attitudes about power, service and love.  As they walked about from town to town, the disciples were talking about who is the greatest.  In Jesus’ time, as in ours, people who want to be first often brag about how much money and talent or how many influential friends, they have.  Often this climbing the ladder or perceived prestige is at the expense of others.  Jesus was about up-ending the conventional wisdom of what it means to be first.

He brought a little child into their midst.  In the ancient world children were invisible, non-people of little consequence.  They were not the cherished little cherubs pictured in traditional paintings.

Jesus took the child in his arms and challenged the disciples concerning their basic beliefs about first and last.  In Jesus company the invisible become visible, servants are first, and those with higher status fade into the background.  Who are the “least” in our lives today?

As the world experiences fires, floods, hurricanes, and a covid pandemic, who among us is first and who is last?  How many unrecognized heroes are there in each of these scenarios? There are the firefighters battling to save homes and lives, volunteers with boats and rafts going house to house to rescue those clinging to the roofs of their homes waiting to be rescued, the volunteers who provide food and water as well as a respite for these “frontline workers”. How many medical personnel have been working day and night to save the lives of those in their care, keeping safe those here in our infirmary?  Of all these tireless, unselfish persons whose names we may never know, who is “the greatest”?  Who are the people in our everyday lives who work behind the scenes to make our lives better?

Today, we are invited to walk the road with Jesus and his thickheaded disciples, praying that we, too, can learn the invincible and irresistible attractive power of self-giving love.  Then, we, too, can look forward to the promise of the resurrection following the difficult times we might be facing at this time.

For us, though, the big question is how do live last in a “me-first” world?

Agnes Ann Schum       9/19

Funeral Homily for Br. Chrysostom – September 8, 2021

Funeral Homily for Br. Chrysostom

Readings: Lam 3:17-26; 1Jn 3:14-16; Jn 14:1-6

The reading we heard from Lamentations captures well the see-saw of the mind and heart, going back and forth between hope and despair, between complaining and gratitude. This rocking back and forth is as persistent and life-long as the heartbeat.

These words from Lamentations also capture what I perceived was going on inside Br. Chrysostom during his last weeks. Death really did catch him by surprise. He found it difficult to realize what was happening to him. Which is not to say that he was unprepared. His steady, disciplined approach to life allowed him to keep moving ahead and to ignore the signals his body had no doubt been sending him for many months. He literally kept going until he dropped. Overnight he became entirely dependent on others’ help. On one hand, he couldn’t quite grasp that what was happening was real; he said he hoped he would wake up and find it had been a nightmare. On the other hand, though, his behavior showed how ready he really was. It would be hard to find a simpler, quieter patient. As in the passage from Lamentations, his mind and heart eventually settled on the rock-bottom truth: “The Lord is good to those who trust in him, to the one that seeks him. It is good to hope in silence for the Lord’s deliverance.”

 

Br. Chrysostom’s final days were the manifestation of a life well-lived. In that sense, he leaves us with a valuable parting lesson. The Rule of Saint Benedict reminds monks “To keep death before one’s eyes daily” (RB 4.47). The point is not to keep it in front of you as a constant obstacle. Rather, it means keeping everything about death before your eyes, namely, that it is a passage, that the ultimate meaning of the present lies beyond death, that the Lord has prepared a dwelling place for each, and that only one path leads to it: “I am the way and the truth and the life.” In practice, this attitude looks like anything but morbid self-concern; it looks more like the unhurried but unstoppable forward momentum we see in the best of our seniors.

 

Those who knew Br. Chrysostom in his prime will see reflected in his final days some paradoxes of long standing. Few singers with his level of ability double as electricians. A stickler on enclosure, he was one of the first monks anywhere to use the Internet in its infancy. A culture warrior of sorts, he could be fierce in defending his principles, but when faced with others’ weaknesses and failures he was remarkably non-judgmental. The formula for his brand of compassion leaves out the drama, but it is nonetheless genuine and deep.

 

Whether our lives end abruptly or wind down slowly, Saint John gives us the ultimate criterion: “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers.”

Reflection – Fr. Michael Casagram – 9/1/21

+The words of the first reading this morning are especially appropriate as the Regional Meeting comes to a close. St Paul saying: We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ..for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the holy ones.” The faith and love our superiors have shown to those they serve is an encouragement for all of us.

Their grappling with the difficult issues in their communities is not unlike the cure of Simon’s mother-in-law about whom we just heard in our gospel. One of the abbesses told me of how helpful it has been to grapple with the difficult pastoral issues in their communities, even though there are no easy answers. Just knowing the most urgent issues to be faced is not easy to come by but of one thing we can be sure of, is that Christ is right in the middle of it all if our faith will allow him to be present and active. Healing can go on all day long, as often as we invoke his loving presence. Anyone of us can manifest this loving presence as often as we let ourselves become what we celebrate at this altar as St Augustine has invited us to do.

Col 1:1-8; Luke 4:38-44.

Homily – Fr. Anton – Sunday 8/29/21

The Gospel    Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals
with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.
—For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,
do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders.
And on coming from the marketplace
they do not eat without purifying themselves.
And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed,
the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. —
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,
“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”
He responded,
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
    This people honors me with their lips,
        but their hearts are far from me;
    in vain do they worship me,
        teaching as doctrines human precepts.
You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”
He summoned the crowd again and said to them,
“Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.
“From within people, from their hearts,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”
After the Gospel:
The Pharisees must have been a tough bunch.
98 references to Pharisees in the Bible, most of them confrontations with Jesus. 
What was the problem with the Pharisees anyway?
Where did Jesus think they went wrong? 
Jesus Himself answers that, as He tells us what He wants our religion to be, warns us  to avoid the traps they fell into.
The Pharisees emerged in the turbulent centuries before Christ,  when the Jewish way of life was struggling to survive,
threatened from outside by Greek culture with its widespread immorality, unclean food, idols of silver and gold,
threatened from within by a bought-and-sold priesthood.
A group of pious laymen began sounding the alarm that only if the Jewish people would turn back to God and obey the Torah down to the smallest details, then and only then would God bless them as a nation once again. Only separation from everything that was not Jewish would save the people and their faith.
Common folk called them “the separated ones,”  the Pharisees,
“the pious ones” who wanted to restore the old ways, and resist any modernization.
Their education and training made them the primary Bible teachers in each village.
They were the best Judaism had to offer at the time.
So far so good.
Eventually they began to see sin everywhere, and they became so obsessed with externals that they  missed the point,  ultimately, missed God Himself.
Most religions are based on ritual and ceremony, but they multiplied purifications, tithings, etc.   into obligations covering almost every aspect of daily life.
Their man-made ceremonies could be seen,
made them look acceptable, outwardly virtuous …
the more rituals they performed, the more virtuous they seemed.
Externals  ended up becoming  virtues.
“They purified themselves,” our gospel says.
For instance: next to the bed, a basin and a pitcher of water. 
Before getting out of bed, they washed their hands to cleanse them from any impurity of the night… first the right hand,  then the left hand, then both hands; finally it was OK to get out of bed. 
“You blind fools!” Jesus said.  “You cleanse the outside of the cup, but inside it is full of lust and greed!  First cleanse the inside that the outside also may be clean.”  Cf Matt 23:25 
He knew that inside the heart, that’s where unchastity and greed, envy and hatred, grow secretly in the dark.
Jesus often accused them of elevating their human traditions to the status of Law,
and  missing the most important parts of God’s Law – especially love of neighbor.
They were not known for being generous, merciful or just,
as taught by our Responsorial Psalm:
‘Those who do justice …
who slander not with their tongue,
do no harm to their fellow man,
take no reproach against their neighbor,
take no bribe against the innocent …
They will live in the presence of the Lord.’
“Woe to you, hypocrites!” Jesus said. “You tithe mint and dill and cummin, yet omit the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith;  these you should have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, you strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” Matt 23:23-24
They also had an impediment to practicing what St James called “pure and undefiled religion” because as St Luke bluntly says: “The Pharisees loved money.”
How could they provide for orphans and widows in their need?
Because orphans and widows cost money.
So the Pharisees ended up deluding themselves, becoming “holier than thou,”
surrounded by religiosity …
a long list of “shalt-nots”
a long list of observances  …  SOME righteousness – just not enough.
Jesus actually called them whitewashed tombs,
looking good on the outside, but inside  full of rottenness.
Somewhere in their history, the Pharisees became self-appointed policemen,
custodians guarding their man-made traditions,
impatient with those who did not conform.
In today’s gospel, they traveled from Jerusalem to spy on Jesus,  ready to act as judge and jury…
They thought they were God’s rule-keepers,   but Jesus showed otherwise:
their rule-keeping was hollow, it left the inner person unreformed.
What counts in religion is the heart changing, from evil to God.       
Remember the Pharisee who invited Jesus to a dinner…
where a woman came up to Jesus’ feet with an alabaster flask of ointment,
washed his feet with her tears,  wiped them with the hair of her head,
kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
The Pharisee was thinking, “This man should know she is a sinner,”
so Jesus volunteered, “Simon, her sins, which are many, are forgiven,  for she has loved much.”
For a Pharisee: Once a sinner, always a sinner.
For Jesus: a heart CAN change, from sin to love.
Sadly, all four evangelists critique the Pharisees.
Chapter 23 of Matthew’s gospel, called  The Seven Woes,  portrays an uncharacteristically angry Jesus, openly critical of their legalism.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You yourselves do not go in,  nor do you allow others to enter.”  Matthew 23:13
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, outwardly beautiful, but within, full of dead men’s bones.    You outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”   Cf Matt 23:27-28
Even more ominously, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told the crowd not to imitate them:
    “Truly I say, unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20
            Knowing ourselves, we can honestly pray:
        “Lord Jesus, help us remove the beam from our own eye,
            and turn over to Your care the splinters in the eyes of others.” Amen.

Homily – Fr. Seamus – 8/22/21

A GREAT MYSTERY

In our Second Reading today, Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians claims to be presenting “a great mystery.” For many of us, his words are, indeed, “a great mystery,” but not in the same way that Paul seems to have had in mind. How could his words possibly be true?

Someone I knew lived his whole adult life as a violent alcoholic; he beat his children and his wife unmercifully. Did anyone feel like telling his wife that she needed to be “subordinate to him”?

We could simply reject Paul’s words here. But there is a cost to this move. What else in Scripture shall we reject while we are at it? Should we reject anything that challenges us?

So here’s another way to think about Paul’s words: If a wife is to be subordinate to her husband, what is a husband?

Well, a husband is someone who loves his wife as Christ loves the church; a husband gives himself for her; he lives in such a way as to enable his wife to be the very best she can be for the Lord.

If you make your wife worse than she would otherwise be, why do you think you are her “husband”?

If you are involved in an extramarital affair, so that she gradually becomes a jealous, suspicious, negative person, what have you done to her? If you are always gone: on the golf course, watching a game on  T.V. –  so that she becomes lonelier and lonelier, what have you made of her? If you leave her all the housework and child care while you pursue your “career,” are you living self-sacrificially to enable her to be the best she can be for the Lord?

If you make her worse, less fruitful, less beautiful in soul, less joyful than she would be without you, why should you think you are her husband? You may be married to her, but the truth for her, like the truth for the Samaritan woman Christ met at the well, (John 4:7-26), is that “the person she is now living with is not her husband.”

But then there is no command for her to be subordinate to you either. The command is for her to be subordinate to her “husband,” not to anyone who wants to claim the privilege of being her husband … without any of the corresponding duties.

This thought doesn’t solve all the “problems” some see in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians … but it helps, doesn’t it?            ____________________END                8/22/21 – Twenty-First Sun. “B”  + Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b; + Ephesians 5:21-32 or 52a, 25-32; + John 6:60-69

Homily for Feast of St. Bernard – Fr Michael Casey

Through a friend of mine in St Louis, I received a copy of the homily Fr Michael Casey gave on the Feast of St Bernard last Friday. I thought you would enjoy this and it could be shared with other LCG members, Michael

_____________________

WABI-SABI

A Homily for the Solemnity of Saint Bernard

2021

SOMETIMES, I have a sense that many of us would profit from a good dose of Wabi-sabi. This is not some exotic medicine, but a highly medicinal philosophical or aesthetic principle from Japan. It is usually translated as “the beauty of the imperfect” and it celebrates a contentment to remain within a human scale. Wabi-sabi prefers the approximativeness of what is hand-made to the mass-produced “perfection” of what is made by machine.

 

The remedial effects of finding gratification in imperfection are noticeable in three areas:

 

  1. Wabi-sabi cancels out any tendency to perfectionism – which is usually the result of paying attention to an internalised parental voice constantly urging us to try harder and to do better, implying that we are never good enough.
  2. Wabi-sabi undermines the arrogance or hubris that would have us believe that we are “not like the rest of men” and exaggerates our potential almost to the point of blasphemously forgetting that “only God is good”. And, of course, it saves us thereby from the disillusionment that sets in when our efforts at self-perfection fail.
  3. Wabi-sabi reduces our perverse tendency to demand absolute perfection of others. We are often unfair. We cannot acknowledge the good that others do without mentioning some demeaning detail.

 

Wabi-sabi is really a summons to the reality of the human condition in which light and darkness intermingle. In fact, the more brilliant the light, the deeper the shadow. It is this duality that generates the “tragic flaw” at the heart of every great tragedy – the noble soul brought low by a besetting sin. Human beings are imperfect. Trying to conceal imperfection progressively results in a twisted personality – a hollow façade, a false front, a mask with no one behind.

 

Failure to appreciate the beauty of imperfection makes the uncritical reading of hagiography dangerous. It dehumanises the saints and turns them into something akin to angels, so unlike us that reading about them discourages us and makes us feel bad about ourselves.

 

It has been noted, especially by Boris Tomashevsky, the Russian formalist critic, that when a writer attracts legends, then readers will often respond more to the legends than to what has been written. The legends colour the interpretation of the text. You might think of Ernest Hemingway, for example. Or Thomas Merton: the most banal sentiment becomes deeply meaningful, because it is expressed by him.

 

In part this explains why many monks and nuns fail to gain inspiration and guidance from the writings of Saint Bernard. It is not only the intellectual difficulty of understanding someone who lived in a distant country hundreds of years ago and who wrote in Latin. It is because the legends present him as one who is unattractive to contemporary sensibilities, one for whom virtue came easily and whose path through life was adorned from the beginning with an incredible array of signs and wonders.

 

This is why it is important to detoxify the image of Saint Bernard that has been propagated by Geoffrey of Auxerre, who knew the saint only in the last decade of his life, and whose one ambition was to have Bernard canonised. Geoffrey was responsible for the hagiographical First Life – which had to be rewritten when it failed to produce the desired result – and also for the selection and editing of Bernard’s Letters. All with a view to emphasising his perfection.

 

Apart from his signature on a number of charters, Bernard made little impact on contemporary chronicles and it seems that there is no trace of any of his correspondence in the archives of the papal chancery. Filling in the gaps by recourse to hagiographical tropes is no basis for understanding his character. To understand Bernard, we need to read extensively in his writings – to separate the texts from the legends and to submit to be carried by the flow of his thought.

 

To read Bernard intelligently we need pass beyond the particularity of the author and to appreciate him as the voice of Western and monastic tradition. He was, as it were, the living expression of the monastic charism. He made tradition come alive, speaking it out in a twelfth-century Burgundian accent, but authentically communicating it to his contemporaries – who willingly listened to him, and repeatedly copied his manuscripts. To profit from him demands of the reader a certain monastic and human maturity; we need to be willing to make the effort to listen and to understand, to internalise the message and then to re-express the wisdom of the ages – perhaps with a twenty-first century Australian accent.

 

In Saint Bernard’s writings we have a great gift that can inspire us and give us direction in our living of the monastic vocation. He is worth listening to, not because he was perfect, but because in his own life he grappled with inconsistencies and limitations and found a way to accept these through his deep appreciation of the power of God’s grace. Truly a great  master in the school of the Lord’s service!

Homily – Fr. Michael Casagram – Feast of St. Bernard – August 20, 2021

+YOU ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH                                                    St Bernard, 2021

These words of the gospel are in every way appropriate for this Solemnity of St Bernard. If there was any Christian in the 12thcentury that seasoned the time, served as a light to the Church and the world, it is he. As a mover of human hearts there are few to compare with him. So influential was he that on entering Citeaux at the age of 22, thirty-one other young Burgundian noblemen, including some of his brothers and an uncle accompanied him. His extensive influence and writings have left us with a person that no one can easily comprehend or describe. To this day, no one has attempted a comprehensive biography. From an early age he allowed the love of Christ to take such hold of him that he might become the salt of the earth, a lamp giving light to all in the house!

He has blessed us with the “spirit of Wisdom” that came to him because he preferred her to scepter and throne. One may dip into any of his writings and quickly find priceless gems. In his Letters we find how he prized above all “a pure heart and unfeigned faith which leads us to love our neighbors’ good as well as our own… Charity alone,” St Bernard goes on to say, “can turn the heart from love of self and the world and direct it to God alone. Neither fear nor love of self can turn the soul to God; they may sometimes change or influence the actions of a person, but they will never change his or her heart.” The love that so deeply moved him, it alone can transform men or women into who we really want to be.

When he was asked in 1115, only three years after his entry into monastic life by St Stephen Harding, then abbot of Citeaux, to find a site for a new foundation, with twelve other monks, Bernard founded Clairvaux which quickly became a the source of new foundations in France, England and Ireland. As his reputation grew he soon became an advisor to any number of Bishops and other leading ecclesiastics. Set on a lampstand, Bernard gave light to all in the Church and in the whole of the society of his day. One sees how God used Bernard in countless ways just as God has used our own Fr Louis or Thomas Merton, to touch innumerable lives through his writing in our own time.

But then, what do these scripture texts say to us gathered here this morning? Might St Bernard remind us all, whether monk or layperson, that we too are the salt of the earth, a city set on a mountain to give light to our world. We too, are called as he was, to let our light shine before others so that they may see our good deeds and glorify our heavenly Father. We too are wonderfully gifted with the same Scriptures that set his life afire. So how is it that we might allow them to inflame us as well? Monastic life is in a new phase of its history today, not unlike that of the founders of Citeaux who were called to a more authentic living of the Rule of St Benedict. While certainly our observance touches the lives of many who come here, might there be room for a more authentic witnesses of our life for our time, especially as we prepare for our 175th anniversary of founding? Our society is thirsting for the spiritual felt to be all the more helpful for our world today.

There is an urgency to live by the Spirit of Jesus, let his own life and love fill our hearts. We can almost hear Bernard telling us in those words St. Paul to the Philippians: Your “citizenship is in heaven and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ… My brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown…stand firm in the Lord..”  It is in knowing our wonderful dignity as persons made in God’s very own image and likeness that we become fully alive. For it is then that we are ready to follow Jesus in his very own humility, selflessness and compassion for others, becoming inflamed with Divine love. To do so is to discover our real nature, experience a happiness and joy beyond words and that no one can take from us.

To do so is to be one with the Eucharist we are about to celebrate at this altar. To do so, is to truly eat Christ’s Body and to drink his Blood, abide in him even as he abides in us. To savor this gift transforms everything we do for then it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us. We become with Him, the light and life of the world as Bernard was in his own time. May we fully realize the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us so as to share even now, in God’s own glory.

 

Wisdom 7:7-10, 15-16; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Matthew 5:13-16

 

Homily – Fr. James Connor – 8/15/21 – Feast of the Assumption of Mary

Feast of the Assumption of Mary 2021

         And God said: “Let there be light. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night.”

         “And a great portent appeared in the heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet”

Today we celebrate the fulfillment of both of these texts from Scripture. In the first, we see the original creation of earth, along with the Garden of Eden where the first humans were created and lived. And in the second we see the new creation which tales place following the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ – the Son of God and the son of Mary.

Adam and Eve failed the test which was given to them. Through the instigation of Satan. they thought that they could be like unto God by their own making. But because of this, they were cast out of Eden. They realized that they were naked. And they hid themselves.

But in His Love for His creation, God sought them out and called them by name: “Adam, where are you?” God cast them out of Eden and told them that they would live in pain and labor to obtain the necessities of life. But He also promised that He would send a Savior -His own beloved Son – born of a virgin – who would offer Himself to save all peoples.

And so today we celebrate the completion  of that promise. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, stands as the  great light to show us how to share in the new creation. In this new creation all will truly be like unto God – but not of their own making. It will be as a result of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came to show us how we can be like unto God – not by our own doing, but by following the example of Mary who proclaims in the Gospel today that “He has looked upon my nothingness”.

It was because Mary gloried only in her nothingness that she became the first recipient of being the true daughter of God as well as the Mother of God. And Jesus shows us through His own message and example that it is in facing and accepting our own nothingness that we will find our true greatness.

Paul tells us in the second reading today that the conclusion will come when Christ delivers the kingdom to the Father. Then we will all share in the new creation, singled by the woman clothed with the sun and with the moon under her feet. This kingdom is open to all who can likewise accept their own nothingness in order to allow God to be “all in all”.

Jesus told His disciples that “I go to prepare a place for you”. In His Ascension and now in the Assumption of His Mother, He prepares that new creation “ a new heaven and a new earth” – a new Garden of Eden, where the devil cannot enter, but where all realize both their own nothingness and their own greatness as children of God.

It is to this new creation that we are called. But we enter it not by our own merit, but solely by the merit of Jesus Christ, following in the example of Mary, the Mother of God and our own Mother. This new creation has been prepared by Jesus Christ. In this “new heaven and new earth” we will rejoice forever in the great bounty of our heavenly Father. But in His Love for us, He desires that we share in that even now through this Mystery of Faith that we celebrate. Here we share in that new creation given us through the bounty of our heavenly Father. In this Eucharist we share in the dying and rising of Jesus Christ but we also proclaim “Lord, I am not worthy”. Our littleness and poverty become our hope of glory.

 

Homily – Fr Alan Gilmore – 8/3/21

+ NINETEENTH SUNDAY (B)      +
8/3/21 Dear Brothers and Sisters, we’ve all heard the old saying – ‘There is no substitute  for the human voice’.  Suppose we say – there is no substitute for the Word of God ! Right?  There is no substitute, :but the Word of God is at once  the  Son of God,  the Bread of God , the Living Bread, and as we sang in our Vesper hymn the other day, the Eternal Bread.
The First  Century might well be called the Century of ’the Great Divide’. There are some who say that Rabbinical Judaism is not biblical. The personal faith of members of the still-Chosen people is not in question. What is in question is the inability of official Judaism to recognize that the Promises and prophecies of the Old Testament have been fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah; that Jesus came,  not to destroy Judaism but to enlighten it;  not to convert Judaism but to fulfill it.. In that Century the Jewish people had a choice: either to believe in or deny a Trinitarian God  and the Holy Eucharist. Most unfortunately, chose not to..
A good example of what Christianity can do and has done – is what St Patrick
did in Ireland – was to enlighten – not destroy the native culture. If the “10 Lost
Tribes of the Israelites” had actually ended up in Ireland, the peoples’ response to the Gospel there would have been like that encountered by the Lord in his time.
(I was assured by the Jewish Encylopaedia that the ‘Tribes’ never got there!))
Today’s Gospel   account takes  place right after Jesus’ ‘Multiplication of the Loaves’ and  ‘Walking on the Water’ .  Some  years ago, I had the great privilege of sitting in the ruins of an old 4th Century synagogue in Capernaum, , under which are the foundations of an earlier synagogue  – where Jesus had said to those  present – “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood  you will have no life in you!” That indeed was, and is, a hard saying!  Sitting there in that old synagogue, I remember thinking that it is a lot easier for me to understand these words of  Jesus than those who first heard them.  Many present there were unable to accept  his words and did not accept them due to their belief in a One-person  God  and the Mosaic  prohibitions on the eating of some flesh and drinking of all  blood. But Jesus meant what he said! He  repeated what he said. He did not mean ‘maybe’! “Unless you eat…” In Aramaic there are two words for “eat”, one for humans and one for the way animals eat. A better translation, I understand ,would be: ”Unless you feed on my flesh…”
Those in the synagogue that day all knew  about the Manna in the desert, the so-called ‘bread from heaven’. But Jesus did not come to give  bread. He came to be our bread, to give his flesh and blood – to our flesh and blood – to have real communion with us and our participation in him as God and man. God wants to be as close to us as possible in our life of flesh and blood . The Trinity would not have it otherwise.          How can Jesus give us his flesh to eat?  As he told his questioners: “My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood,  abides in me and I in him. As the living Father has sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me, he also shall live because of me.  This is the bread that has come down from heaven…He who eats this bread shall live forever.”
Every day in the Eucharist – the Bread of God, the Living Bread, the Eternal
Bread is given to us for communion with and participation in the Holy Trinity Thanks be to God!  AMEN !    1 Kgs 19:4-8, Eph 4:30- 5:2, John 6:41-51   Fr Alan

Reflection – Fr. Michael Casagram – July 30, 2021

+Jesus coming to his native place, to the town where he grew up, finds them taking offense at him.  It is no big surprise, in a way, for we know all too well, how familiarity breeds contempt. Those closest to us make us see things we don’t always want to see. As we know in community it is often in those with whom we live day in and day out that we have the hardest time seeing Christ. But isn’t this the very opportunity to grow in authentic Christian faith and love? We may even hear the voice of a prophet calling us to live the whole of the gospel and not just the parts we like!

(Lev. 23:1, 4-8, 15-16, 27, 34b-37;  Mat. 13: 54-58)