The Most Holy Trinity – June 12, 2022

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

How often do we make the sign of the cross without even thinking about it? We can easily forget the purpose of why we begin all our prayers by invoking the Trinity.

Whether those prayers are to begin Mass or simply Grace before dinner or bed, we always begin with that central mystery to our faith. Even as we entered the Church today, many of us made the sign of the cross at the Holy Water font, reminding us of how we entered into God’s family by our baptisms.

We make the sign of the cross often to reaffirm our faith and because our belief in the Trinity reminds us who we are.

We begin with God the Father, the Father who created us in his own image and likeness of love. Since he is our Father, that makes us his children, and like all children, we have the ability to return love to our Father. But that ability also makes it possible for us to reject our Father. Mankind’s rejection of God results in disaster; it results in lives without love.

Our understanding of God as Father has become even more complicated in our modern culture because today we are facing a crisis of fatherhood which threatens mankind as a whole. Fatherhood is becoming increasingly perceived as only a biological accident rather than the identity of one who provides and shows love for his children.

We must be reminded today that fatherhood and motherhood go much deeper than the simple biological dimension. Fatherhood and motherhood are having the total wellbeing of the child always in mind.

To put it briefly, we as a people need to regain the true meaning of fatherhood by looking toward our loving and merciful heavenly Father.

But the Father is only the first person we invoke when we make the sign of the cross. We also invoke the second person of the Holy Trinity: the One who was crucified for us, Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. It is Jesus who is Lord and Savior.

It is Jesus who reveals to us the love of the Father. It is through Jesus that we gain access to peace and eternal happiness. For God became one of us. He took on flesh, He died for us, and He conquered death in order to restore eternal life for us.

But we do not stop with the Son either, for two would not make up a trinity. For the Father and the Son send forth the Holy Spirit upon us.

It is the Holy Spirit that is our very source of life. For the Holy Spirit dwells within us and makes us temples of the living God. It is the love between the Father and Son that overflows to such an extent that God wants to share with us his Divine life through the Holy Spirit.

So why do we make the sign of the cross and invoke the Holy Trinity?

To remind us of the Father who loves us unconditionally; and of the Son who made this love concrete by becoming one of us and who brings God’s forgiveness to us; and of the Holy Spirit, who is God dwelling within us, empowering us.

The sign of the cross is an affirmation of our faith. It is a declaration of who we are: a people who God loves, forgives, and empowers.

As we grow in the knowledge of God we begin to be transformed by His love. We want nothing more than to nurture His love and spread His love.

When we recognize that God forgives us, we realize that His love is infinitely greater than our sins. Many people in the world give up on life because they have given up on ourselves. We often find ourselves continuing to do things that lead us away from God.

Jesus Christ is our Savior; He even saves us from ourselves. He calls us to spread the Good News to others. He challenges us to let all know that they are loved. God gives us the power to lead others to Christ. Every one of us has a unique ability to reflect God’s love in the world. Every one of us is capable of instilling the seed of God’s love in others. He works through each of us, and we can lead others from a meaningless life to a life of eternal fulfillment. We have the power of God within us. We possess the Holy Spirit.

And so, we begin and end our prayers with a statement of who we are. We are a people who are loved by the Father, forgiven by the Son, and empowered the Holy Spirit. We find our meaning in this life in the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Ascension of the Lord – May 29, 2022

Yuri Gagarin was the first man to ever journey to outer space.  On April 12, 1961, Gagarin completed one orbit around Earth, which made him an instant hero of the Soviet Union.

Yuri Gagarin, upon his return to the communist Soviet Union, reported when he returned from outer space that “I went up to space, but I did not encounter God.”

Upon hearing today’s readings of Jesus’s Ascension into heaven, we might be tempted to think that Jesus lives among the stars, that heaven is just another far away universe in the sky.

But this is not true. The departing Jesus does not make his way to some distant star.

But this sometimes feels like what happened. We all look around and question, where is Jesus? Where is God? I know that question came across my mind as I heard about the horrific news that came from Texas this week. I know this question comes across my mind whenever I hear about how innocent lives are taken. And I know this question comes across my mind whenever tragedy strikes.

What happened? Did Jesus just leave us to our own demise and abandon us?

Although it may feel like that sometimes, let us look closer at today’s readings and see what they really say.

In the Gospel, St. Luke tells us that as Jesus departed from his disciples, they did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy!

Did you hear that? They returned to Jerusalem with GREAT JOY! St. Luke says Jesus’s disciples were filled with JOY at the Lord’s definitive departure.

Should we not have expected the opposite? Shouldn’t they have been left perplexed and sad, maybe even cheated? The world that Jesus came into was left seemingly unchanged. The Romans still ruled over the Jews, and sin still prevailed throughout the world. Their Savior departs and they are left with a commission to go out and preach his name to all nations.

How would they present themselves to the people in Jerusalem now? How would they present themselves to the people in the whole world? How would one go about converting people to a Savior who seemingly disappeared?

And yet it is written that they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, blessing God. How are we to understand this? How do the disciples not feel abandoned?

It is because they do not consider Jesus to have disappeared far away into an inaccessible heaven. They are obviously aware and convinced of a new presence of Jesus.

The disciples are actually certain that the Risen Lord is now present to them in a new and more powerful way. They are, as Cardinal Ratzinger writes, without doubt that Jesus in now permanently among them, in the way that only God can be close to us (Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week from the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection by Joseph Ratzinger).

The utter joy of the disciples after the Ascension corrects our image of this event. The Ascension does not mean departure into a remote region of the cosmos but, rather, the continuing closeness that the disciples experience so strongly that it becomes a source of lasting joy in our lives.

This is the beauty and genius of the Ascension: Jesus has not gone away but now and forever is ever-present with us and for us.

To have an encounter with Jesus, we do not have to go to outer space but, rather, we can encounter our Lord in a simple prayer with a movement of the heart. We encounter our Lord in a small white host. And we encounter our Lord in the hearts of our brothers and sisters.

Returning to that question, “where is God?,” he is here in Eucharist. He is here in his word. He is in the person sitting to you right and your left. He is present in the stranger. God is in our midst. He even is present in the tragedy of innocent life being taken.

God is even there, in the midst of the calamity, in the midst of the suffering. If anybody knows the consequence for human sin, it is Jesus, it is God.

The question that remains is how will we respond to the Ascension of Jesus? Do we sit around and question where he is? Or do we join his disciples with great joy in spreading the good news, letting people know that God is here, God is present, God truly is with us and for us till the end of time?

Sixth Sunday of Easter – May 22, 2022

We are facing a world that seems to be experiencing more and more unrest, and maybe this is nothing new. But yet in the midst of this unrest that surrounds us, we hear today that ever-remaining promise made by Jesus, which is much needed for us to hear.

Jesus’s promise is this: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”

We hear this promise today in the Gospel, but we also hear this promise at every Mass as it is part of the Eucharistic prayer, after the Our Father. Jesus promises us his peace.

What is this peace that Jesus promises us? And if he does promise us peace, why is there so much unrest?

To attempt to answer this question, I would like to share with you a painting that I came across a few years ago. The painting is called: Peace in the Midst of the Storm.

It is a painting of a rugged mountain with dark skies, lightning bolts shooting down, rain pouring down which is causing flash flooding as the water rushes down the mountain in chaos. At first glance all you notice is the storm and the unrest of Mother Nature.

But if you stop and look closer at the painting, behind the rush of the angry water and under a little cliff, there is a tiny bush growing from the rocks of the mountain. And in the bush, a mother bird had built her nest. Despite the chaos and storm surrounding this mother bird, she sits there protecting her young, with a look of perfect peace.

This painting captures the peace that Jesus promises us. For the peace that Jesus gives us does not mean we will be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or suffering. Rather the peace that Jesus gives to us allows us to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in our heart.

This painting, for me, helps explain what Jesus is getting at in our Gospel reading. Jesus is offering this gift of peace just hours before he would be betrayed and killed. Jesus offers this peace knowing that his disciples are going to scatter in fear. What is this gift of peace Jesus is offering them? I think it is the peace of that bird, taking shelter from torrential rain and from the storm of life. You see, the peace Jesus is offering us clearly does not come from the world. It comes from within, and it comes from him.

I mention this because I imagine many of us gathered here wouldn’t describe our lives as particularly peaceful right now. Whether it is the worry you have of the latest news going on in the country or the world, or an unresolved conflict at work or at home, maybe a disagreement you are having with someone you love, or perhaps a medical condition you or a loved one is struggling with, or the grief you experience from a heartbreaking loss, or just the craziness of life — the list goes on — we come to church sometimes with a lot of things on our hearts and minds.

And yet, Jesus promises us his peace. However, Jesus does not offer us worldly peace, does he? Jesus says, “Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” So how does Jesus give us his peace? It comes from within; and it comes from him.

The peace that Jesus gives us is the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches us and reminds us who we are and what we are made for.

The peace of the Holy Spirit is a peace that helps us persevere in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. It is the peace that changes us into missionary disciples. It is the kind of peace that reminds us of that bird that can quietly rest in her nest while the storm rages all around.

What does this gift of peace look like in our lives? It is the kind of peace that helps us to desire serving others rather than serving ourselves, even when we are never thanked for it. It is the kind of peace that prefers patience and understanding over the prideful need to win every argument. It is the peace that can help us withstand any storm that this life can throw at us, no matter how messy life can be.

Peace is a gift from the Lord. As we prepare to receive the Prince of Peace in the Holy Eucharist, the invitation is to open our hearts to the gift of peace Jesus wants to give us, a peace that will help us weather any storm, a peace that will lead us to salvation through Christ our Lord.

At the conclusion of Mass, you will be commanded to “Go in peace,” which calls to mind the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”

Fifth Sunday of Easter – May 15 ,2022

There is an old proverb that says, “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.”

I do not know who came up with this proverb, but I am guessing they did not grow up with brothers and sisters — or they did grow up with brothers and sisters, and this is how they coped with their annoying little siblings. (Yes, I am the youngest of six kids, and I knew how to annoy my sisters and brother by imitating their little odd habits.)

We do find ourselves imitating the people we look up to. Kids are famous for this. They study and watch every move of their favorite athlete, and they try to replicate that person by copying their moves and emulating that person. Now, with the internet, kids even try and find out what that person likes to eat or what kind of music they listen to thinking they might find the magic formula to be just like their favorite star.

Likewise, when I meet one of our school kid’s parents for the first time, I can almost immediately tell who their child is because the child inherently imitates their parents’ characteristics and gestures.

Therefore, a good question we can ask ourselves is who do we imitate? Who is the person we look up to and try to emulate?

It is within that question that we find an important answer to the question “who do we want to be like?” Who is the person we look up to? Who do we want to imitate and why? What is it that we see in the other person that is worth imitating?

As I said the answer is within the question: Who is the person we look up to?

Well, look up! Look up above the altar. Who and what do you see?

Do you see the Son of Man glorified, and God glorified in him, as Jesus says in our gospel? Is the crucifix something you are willing to imitate?

For Jesus goes on to say, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”

How did Jesus show his ultimate love for us?

Well, look up! Look up above the altar. What do you see? Do you see someone worth imitating?

Jesus says, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Do we demonstrate this sort of sacrificial love to the world? A love that is greater than any hatred, power, or greed? A love that says no matter what you do, I still forgive you? A love that is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness? A love that is compassionate and eternal?

Do we imitate that love? Do people recognize us as a disciple of Jesus?

Do we demonstrate the love of God in our families? Do you treat your spouse with this sort of love in front of your children? What about your neighbors? Do they know that you are a follower of Jesus?

In essence, do people see Jesus in your actions, words, and gestures? Are you an imitator of Jesus?

If we want to call ourselves Catholics, or even Christians, then we have a responsibility to show the world who Christ really is. And the easiest, most frequent, and powerful way is by how we treat one another.

Christ says, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Look up, what do you see?

Go and imitate the love of Jesus to the world.

Third Sunday of Easter – May 1, 2022

Do you love Jesus? Let me ask again, do you love Jesus? We will come back to that question, but ponder that question in your heart.

Let us start with a more fundamental question: What would it mean if you did love Jesus? How would we know by your life that you loved Jesus?

We hear today that Jesus asks three times to Peter, “Do you love me?” We are told Peter becomes disturbed at this repeated questioning.

I am going to tell you something about me that a lot of people do not know. On occasion, I enjoy a good musical, and one of my favorite musicals is “Fiddler on the Roof.”

There is a song in this musical in which the main character Tevye, an older Jewish man, is in the house with his wife and, after being married for several years, he asks her, do you love me? The wife Golde blows him off at first with a remark, “What kind of question is that?!”

But Tevye pursues all the more: “Do you love me?”

Again, she pushes the question aside, “Do I love you?,” and instead responds, “For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house; given you children, milked the cow; after twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?”

Tevye not satisfied, says again, “But do you love me?”

This song goes back and forth until Golde the wife finally answers the question that she does love her husband. And she says, “For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him, fought him, starved with him; twenty-five years my bed is his; if that’s not love, what is?”

This song is impactful because when asked do we love someone, we can be tempted to want to list everything off we do for that person as if that is supposed to answer the question.

But the question was not “What do you do for me?” The question is “Do you love me?”

For if we truly love the other, then we can’t help but live our life for the other.

This is what Jesus is asking Peter when he asks him, “Do you love me?” Are you willing to live your life for me and go out and proclaim my name to all people?

Peter response to our Lord on that shoreline was, “Yes, I love you Lord.”

How do we know Peter loved our Lord” What did that look like in his life? To answer that, we must go to our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

The high priest commanded Peter to stop preaching in Jesus’s name. But Peter and the other apostles, in an act of love, respond, “We cannot stop saying Jesus’s name because we love him.”

Some of you have probably experienced this: when a friend or a family member cannot stop talking about someone they are dating. They just keep repeating the name of the person and talking about that person they love.

Today in our own society we are told increasingly that we must stop speaking the name of Jesus in public sphere because it might offend people, just as it was uncommon to talk about Jesus in the days of apostles. But the question is, do you love Jesus?

Are we capable of bringing the word of God into the environment in which we live? Do we know how to speak of Christ, of what he represents for us, in our families, who form our daily lives?

Pope Francis says, “Faith is born from listening, but it is strengthened by proclamation.” The proclamation made by Peter and the apostles does not merely consist of words but fidelity to Jesus, who changes their whole lives. It is through their lives that they bear witness to the faith and to the proclamation of Christ.

This applies to everyone: We all have to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel. We should all ask ourselves: How do I bear witness to Christ through my faith? Do I have the courage of Peter and the other apostles to think, to choose, and to live for the love of Jesus?

The testimony of faith comes in very many forms; they are all important, even the humblest little witness, even the hidden witness of those who live their faith with simplicity in everyday family relationships and friendships.

How do you show Jesus you love him?

It is important to recall that one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life. Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, preaching with our lives, with our witness.

Do you love Jesus? If so, then tell the world with the way you live your life.

Second Sunday of Easter – April 24, 2022

Three weeks ago, the golf world celebrated a “tradition unlike any other” as the best golfers in the world gathered in Augusta, Georgia, to try and win the infamous green jacket that the winner of the Masters is awarded.

For those of you who are not golf fans, the Masters is one of the biggest golf tournaments of the year and considered a Major tournament.

This year Scottie Scheffler won, and if you would have watched him, you would have thought, ‘Wow, what a confident, cool, calm, collected and talented man. He must not have any fears or doubts,’ that is if you just merely watched him play golf.

But if you would have stayed tuned to the post-tournament interview, you would have gotten a glimpse of what it was like behind the locked doors of his hotel room that morning.

Scottie Scheffler, in his interview, shared his morning experience by saying, “I sat there on the edge of my bed crying like a baby because I didn’t feel ready. I was overwhelmed and full of fear of what was going to happen.” His wife asked him, “Who are you to say you’re not ready. For is not God in control?” Then they sat there and prayed for God’s peace to come upon them.

Scottie Scheffler, in his interview, said that prayer was answered because in that prayer he recalled the only reason he played golf in the first place: in order to glorify God by using the talents that God bestowed upon him. He went on to say that the peace came when he remembered his identity was not in a golf score but as person who is loved by Jesus.

That peace that he found in his prayer that morning with his wife behind the locked door of his hotel room is what helped him to go on and win the Masters and the green jacket.

I share this golfers’ interview with you because it parallels our Gospel passage.

It was behind the locked doors of the upper room that the disciples question what is happening. They are full of fear and doubt about the future of their lives.  

Fear and doubt are some of the biggest obstacles in our lives because it is the fear and doubt that steal from us the inner peace that comes from living in the presence of God.

That is why in our Gospel we hear Jesus break through the locked doors that the Apostles are hiding behind and stand in their midst. Jesus does not yell at them and chastise them, but his first words to his apostles after his resurrection are “Peace be with you.” Peace be with you!

It is only when Jesus stood in their midst that peace came upon them and their fears and doubts dissipated.

That is why Thomas, who was not with the Apostles when our Lord came, continues to doubt. Thomas did not experience our Lord’s presence like the other Apostles, so his doubt remained.

I am never shocked or upset when people tell me they have doubts to whether God is real. Actually, I sympathize with them because there was a point in my life when I questioned, when I doubted, if God was real.

The reason we doubt and have this fear is because if we have not experienced God’s presence in our life, then what is to say he is real?

But that is the whole point of this Gospel passage, the whole point of Scottie Scheffler’s post-Masters interview, and the point of our lives as Christians. We are supposed to give witness to God’s presence in our life to those who have not experienced it.

That is why Jesus says to Thomas, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

St. John goes on to tell us that, “Jesus did many other signs in their presence that are not written down, but these are written that you and me come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief we may have life in his name.”

That life that St. John wants us to have is the peace that only comes from living in the presence of God.

On this second Sunday of Easter, the Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday, which is the ever-presence and outpouring of God’s love in our life.

Is there an area of our life that needs God’s peace where there is a feeling of fear and doubt? Invite God into that area.

At every Mass, right before we come up to receive Jesus who is present in the Eucharist, we offer each other the sign of peace. It is a sign that we are in His presence and it is the peace that we are called to share with others.

May we give witness to that peace, the peace that comes from knowing we are loved by Jesus. 

Easter – April 17, 2022

After praying throughout the whole week with the Sunday readings, it usually takes me just a few hours to write my homily. However, for today’s homily, it took much longer. Because for a few hours I thought to myself how can I make Easter meaningful.

I finally gave up and went and sat in front of the Blessed Sacrament asking for guidance. I heard as clear as day Jesus say, “You cannot make my resurrection meaningful for anyone. Rather each person must make it meaningful for themselves.”

That is the truth, for I am not going to stand up here and convince any of you that Jesus’s resurrection from the dead should change your life. That has to come from within you. That has to come from a personal encounter with our risen Lord.

That is why we hear in the Gospel that Peter and John ran to the tomb upon hearing that Jesus was no longer there. They had to go witness themselves that Jesus had truly risen from the dead, that Jesus Christ lives!

The question that we face then is this: How is Jesus’s rising from the dead 2,000-plus years ago meaningful to us today?

Why is it 2,000-plus years after Jesus rose from the grave that billions of people from around the world gather in churches like we are here today?

What is your reason? Maybe a more basic question: why are you here today?

To answer that question, we all must ask ourselves, do I truly believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

And if someone, let’s call him Jesus, did conquer death and promise us eternal life, a life of eternal happiness, of eternal joy, would that make a difference in your life? Would that bring meaning to your life?

All I can do is tell you that is has brought meaning to my life. It has brought meaning to billions upon billions of people’s lives throughout the last 2,000-plus years.

It is not an understatement to say that Jesus’s resurrection from the dead changed the world. The proper question is, rather, has Jesus’s resurrection from the dead changed your life personally?

Do not worry; I am not going to try and convince you.

But Jesus, the one who rose from the dead, the one who lives, He is going to be the one who will convince you.

But let me give you a hint: God is not going to convince you the way that you think He would. He is not going to make you feel all happy inside or solve all your problems every day. You are not all of sudden going to become lucky or never experience hardships or suffering. No, that we call a fairy tale. God is way too real for him to be considered a fairy tale.

But rather look how God tries to convince us. He sends His beloved Son to come and suffer in this world, to be beaten down and put to death. Why? To show us that evil, hate, and even death itself have no power over God who is love himself. That is what the resurrection stands for: Jesus breaks the chains of evil and corruption and conquers it by rising from the dead.

So, are you convinced that you are loved, that Jesus’s death and resurrection gives your life meaning?

The only way you will be able to answer “yes” is if you have encountered our Living God who desires to change us and to change our world – which is why we come here today!

Pope Francis, in his Easter homily last night, said: “Easter did not occur simply to console those who mourned the death of Jesus but to open hearts to the extraordinary message of God’s triumph over evil and death.”  

My prayer as I wrote this homily was that each and every one of us would experience our risen Lord, the only one who can convince us and make this Easter season a meaningful and life-changing event.

May the Joy of Easter pierce your heart, and may it bring you and your family closer to our Loving Savior. Amen

Palm Sunday – April 10, 2022

There is no better way to begin Holy Week then by listening and meditating on the Passion of Jesus Christ, where we recall God’s ultimate act of love for us. As Jesus reminds us, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Many of us have heard the Passion narrative many times, but yet every time we hear it, we are filled with a different emotion. This timeless event of Jesus’s Passion takes on different meaning depending on what is going on in our life.

We hear of the host of characters who each play a role in Jesus’s Passion. Which person do we see ourselves as today? Do you relate to one of the disciples who knows Jesus and spent time with Jesus but because of fear and confusion flee at the first sign of conflict? Maybe we are like Peter and hang around from a distance but deny knowing him, for we do not want to be mocked.

Do we relate more to Pilate or the chief priest, questioning who Jesus is and holding him on trial? Or just a member of the crowd who just wants to fit in, so out of compliancy we give our consent to Jesus’s death?

Maybe we see ourselves as Simon, the Cyrenian who was forced to help Jesus carry the cross. Or Veronica who, out of pity and sadness, wiped the bloody face of the suffering servant.

The point is we must take time to meditate on this timeless mystery, for it is the very event we remember at every Mass, the event we recall every time we look to the crucifix, the event that won our salvation. May we never forget our true role in Jesus’s Passion: the one whom Jesus died for, the one who Jesus forgives, the one whom Jesus loves.

That is the person Jesus wants you to remember. That is the character Jesus want you to recall this Holy Week. May this Holy Week be one where we all grow closer to that great love of God, and may it ever take on a richer and newer meaning in our lives.

Fifth Sunday of Lent – April 3, 2022

This Gospel we just heard is one of the most powerful messages in all of scripture because it talks directly about suffering and death. When it comes to suffering and death, many people question their belief in God.

Even the great St. Theresa of Avila, who had a deep prayer life, told God in prayer, “If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few.”

We all can probably relate to St. Theresa of Avila’s sentiments because when we hear or witness of someone we love who is suffering and dying, we can question if God is truly on our side.

We don’t have to think about it very long, and we can probably think of a handful of people we know who are suffering, whether it be cancer, illness, financial hardship, or even death in the family. And that infamous question comes into our head: “Why does God allow this to happen?

We can think on a natural level, “God must not love these people because he allows them to be sick and he allows them to suffer and He allows them to die.”

But that is not what the Gospel we heard today said. For Jesus gets word that his friend Lazarus is sick, suffering, and dying. We mere humans would rush to Lazarus’s side and try to bring him comfort and peace. It is natural to want to be with your loved ones at the moment of death.

But we hear that when Jesus gets word of his friend’s illness, he stays two days longer where he is. This makes no sense! Jesus allows his friend Lazarus to suffer and die! WHY?

St. John reports that Jesus waited two days upon hearing of his friend’s illness, because he loved Lazarus. We are tempted to say with St. Theresa, if this how God shows his love, no wonder God has so few friends…

But that is only half of the story. We cannot put the book down now and walk away; we must keep reading.

Jesus, after waiting two days, finally goes to his friend Lazarus’s assistance, but it seems all too late. For Lazarus has now been dead for four days.

We are then given the shortest sentence in scripture.

“Jesus wept.” Just two words, “Jesus wept.” In his humanity and in his love, Jesus cried for the loss of his friend. St. Augustine writing on this verse says beautifully, “Why did Christ weep except to teach us to weep.”

You see Christ does not diminish the anguish of suffering and death, but he enters into it and experiences it in his own humanity. Jesus lost his friend whom he loved, and he experienced the great sadness and mourning of death. Jesus recognizes that suffering and death is a sort of evil, a depravation of the good.

But that still doesn’t get us to the important message that this Gospel passage presents us.

Here is that important message that gets to that all-encompassing question of “why does God allow suffering and death?”

St. Peter Chrysologus, a church father, says this: “For Christ, it was more important to conquer death than to cure disease. He showed his love for his friend not by healing him but by calling him back from the grave. Instead of a remedy for his illness, Christ offered him the glory of rising from the dead.”

That is the heart of the message!

Jesus demonstrates his power over sin and death in the rising of Lazarus to show that death does not have the final word but that Christ has power to raise the dead to new life. That is the meaning of today’s Gospel: to point us to the resurrection of Christ that we will celebrate on Easter.

God did not send his son to make our world here perfect. God did not send his son to eliminate human suffering. God did not send his son to keep us from experiencing death. No, Jesus rather enters into our humanity and experiences the suffering and death like ours.

God instead sent his son so that we may have eternal life, so that the tomb is not a barrier but the passageway to life. God did all this for the same reason he waited two days to go see Lazarus: because he loves us and wants to share with us his ultimate glory in the resurrection.

If this is how God treats his friends, may we be so lucky to call God our friend.

Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 27, 2022

When I was working in the golf industry, I got to see many great players, some of the best in the world – even Tiger Woods himself. But there was one particular golfer that amazed me even more than the best player in the world. This particular guy could hit his drives about 260 to 270 yards right down the middle of the fairway every time. He could shoot right around par golf more times than I could count. But what was amazing is that he did all this with one arm.

Yes, Jeff was born with one arm, yet he could hit drives past most people he played with, and it was amazing to watch people react when he swung the golf club for the first time.

People were amazed because when they met Jeff they would rush to judgment. They would almost feel sorry for him and try to help him until they saw him smack the golf ball right past their drive.

Oftentimes when we meet people for the first time, we pre-judge people and we come to conclusions about them: the limitations in their life, where they came from, their occupation, the way they look.

I tell you about Jeff because it ties into the theme of today’s readings:  God doesn’t see people the way we see people. God looks at us totally differently. God looks at the world totally differently.

In our first reading we hear that Samuel has been sent on a mission by God to anoint the chosen King of Israel. Samuel looked at the eldest son of Jesse, and he thought for sure this must be the next King, but the Lord stopped Samuel and said, “Do not judge from his appearance or his lofty stature; not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but he Lord looks into the heart.”

God does not judge or see us like we see each other.

This same theme runs throughout our Gospel. There is a blind man from birth, and the disciples ask Jesus if he is blind because of his sin or the sin of his parents. In those days, and still somewhat prevalent in our days, we think that if we sin, God is going to punish us or bring us bad luck or misfortune.

But notice how Jesus responds: “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be visible through him.”

God does not see as we see. This man who was born blind is going to give witness to God’s work. This man who was born blind with what we say is a disability is going to make visible the greatness of God.

How often do we struggle with our limitations in our own life, our own disabilities, our own insecurities? It’s true we don’t see others as God sees them, but the truth is we don’t see ourselves as God sees us.

Sometimes we can be like the disciples and want to place blame on why we struggle with this or that, why we have our insecurities. We try to blame others for our weaknesses.

But listen to what Jesus says again: “There is no blame here; it is not your fault or anybody’s fault, but the works of God can be made manifest through your limitations, through your weaknesses.”

We might ask, how is this possible?

Because our limitations and our weaknesses can bring about goods. They can make us more compassionate, they can make us more forgiving, they can make us more merciful, they can make us more charitable.

Yes, God can use our weakness, our insecurities for some purpose, for some greater good. It is often in our weakness that the strength of God is displayed.

We have to bring our weaknesses to God. As St. Paul says today, we have to bring ourselves, even our weakness, to the light, to the light of Jesus Christ. By bringing our weaknesses to Jesus, we allow Jesus to use our weakness and make us strong.

If you doubt me, then maybe you will listen to St. John Paul II who said, “It is precisely in the midst of human weakness that the grace of God is displayed.”

And if you doubt St. John Paul II, then look to the cross. What appears to human eyes as total weakness and utter defeat, God transforms into ultimate victory.

Today’s readings and prayers on what we call Laetare Sunday, meaning rejoice, invites us to rejoice because Easter, the day of Christ’s victory over sin and death, is approaching.

So today, as we rejoice, let us try to see the world, let us try to see each other, let us try to see ourselves with the eyes of faith, the eyes of God, the eyes of a loving Father who looks upon his creation, who looks upon his children with utter amazement.

God looks at each of us in amazement and that is why he sent his only-begotten son to be our savior.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started