Sunday, May 19, 2019
This is my commandment – Love one another as I have loved you.
Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Jesus in the Passion of the Christ, understood the meaning of that love.
Mel Gibson asked him to take the part – when he was 33 years old. He had the initials JC.
While playing this role:
- Was hit by lightning
- When the Whipping went wrong he had 14-inch gash on back
- It was so cold on cross suffered hypothermia – would later need heart surgery.
- While carrying cross his arm was pulled wrong way = dislocated shoulder – captured on film.
One scene – carrying cross – over 100 pounds – he falls to ground. Nearby the mother of Jesus is watching. She is so saddened by what she is sees, she is afraid to get closer. But then she has a vision of a young boy who is playing and falls. She runs to comfort her son Jesus. And now she understands what she must do, she runs to Jesus. She can’t save him from what he must go through, but she can be there! She can keep loving him!
Elie Weisel said that while they were in Auschwitz, the Nazi’s told them to forget family and friends – think only of yourself – this is the only way to survive.
The opposite happened. Those who lived only for themselves were more likely to die, while those who lived for a parent, a sibling, a friend or an ideal had the best chance of survival. Not selfishness but love. Love brings out the best in us.
Love is not for the faint hearted. It is not a feeling or an emotion. It is about a commitment. It is “willing the good of the other.”
You see, this is life, the carrying of crosses. Life is not easy. Life can be very hard. We are fragile. We have all sorts of challenges. We are limited in what we can do.
We can be filled with bitterness. We can be filled with anger and hate. We can lash out at people. We can hurt ourselves and others.
We can say – bring it on!
We can pick up that cross, those crosses, and follow Him. We can help others carry their crosses. We gathered last night at the Knights to have a benefit dinner for the Scampoli’s. Richie died too young, and that can fill us with anger. Or, we can do something, We can love – the hall was jammed, and over $20,000 was raised.
When Mary knelt before Jesus on the ground, he lifted his head and said – See, I make all things new!
Where there is hatred – now love
Where there is injury – now pardon
Where there is doubt – now faith
Where there is despair – now hope
Where there is darkness – now light
Where there is sadness – now joy.
I give you a new commandment – love one another as I have loved you!
Sunday, May 5, 2019
Two churches come to my mind today –
1st is on the shore of the Sea of Galilee – has a Rock inside called Mensa Christi – Table of Christ – where Jesus served that 1st Breakfast – simple, humble church
2nd – in Rome – great Basilica - built over the Tomb of Peter
Amazing – had come so far from Galilee! How did he get there?
Peter: Given name was Simon – called Petra – Rock, but also Scandalon – Stumbling Stone
- Leave me Lord, I am a sinful man – From now on catching people.
- Jesus walking across the water – Peter says if you wish, I could do it too – come! – walks but begins to sink – took his eyes off Jesus
- Who do people say that I am? – Whom do YOU say I am – You are the Christ!
But now things have changed – Crucifixion, then an empty Tomb - they were told to go to Galilee – there they would see him.
There were 7 apostles there that day - Peter says: I am going fishing
Strange - back to old ways – of course they caught nothing - without Christ!
Dawn had come – they hear a voice: Children - still spiritual children - have you caught anything to eat? You haven’t caught anything, have you?
Cast your net on the right side - do it his way - net full to the breaking point
153 fish - symbol of every species – St. Augustine: all nations
John - it is the Lord!
Peter - has no clothes on – strangely puts on clothes to jump in water
Adam - put on clothes after he sinned
Charcoal fire - last time - Peter denied him 3 times.
Come have breakfast - loaves & fish - Eucharist
Some unfinished business:
Simon son of John do you love me? Agape – self giving
Unwilling to say - I love you – look what he did! You know that I love you - Philia – friendship Feed lambs!
Once again – do you love me – agape?
You know that I love you – philia Tend sheep!
Do you love me – philia – to his level, accept what he can give.
You know everything – you know well that I love you – philia Feed sheep!
This has taken him from Galilee to Rome!
All has to do with Mercy – Peter committed a grave sin and denied Jesus. Three times denied now three times forgiven!
Despite his failures, Peter was the first to visit empty tomb – first to preach Resurrection – first Pope – and on the Vatican hill he was crucified upside down – not worthy
Like Peter, we are all sinners – we are imperfect – we commit same sins over and over again – we do not always trust – we struggle with faith
And yet - If Jesus could do all that with him – he can do it for us! And so, He says to each of us – FOLLOW ME!
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Last summer, I led a group of pilgrims to Greece and Turkey. We wanted to visit places associated with both St. Paul & St. John.
Ephesus in Turkey – where he preached, where he had a house to take care of Mary – Woman, behold your Son. Son behold your Mother – we offered Mass there - and where he is buried.
Island of Patmos – back in the time of John it was a Roman Penal colony where prisoners were sent. He was sent because he was teaching about Jesus. We drove up the hill overlooking the harbor and went into the “Cave of the Apocalypse” - the very place where John wrote – the Book of the Apocalypse – sounds like the end of the world – but means “unveiling” Revelation.
John heard a voice and saw 7 gold lampstands – Holy of Holies in Jerusalem – place of encounter with God.
Then he saw - One like a son of Man – an ankle length robe – gold sash – and John fell down. He knew who it was!!! John said - He touched me – Jesus said - Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever! Another Resurrection appearance!
If John looked closer – he would have seen the holes – the wounds. He will mention them later – “the Lamb standing as though it had been slain.” Thomas was looking for them. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
He saw and said – “My Lord and My God!”
The Bible is clear – the same body, but now bearing the wounds. Both St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine agree – the wounds have never been removed. Why would he continue to bear the wounds?
First – to show it was really him! This is how much He loves us!
Second, to remind us – this is the cost of following him. We all bear the wounds, don’t we? We are all wounded in some way – some wounds self-inflicted – some inflicted by others – the wounds of love – of caring – of service – of sickness – of pain – we all have them. And – having His own wounds - he understands!
It would have been an easy reaction – you all abandoned me – yet he was filled with mercy for Thomas and all of them. He walks in and says – Shalom – peace! – Divine Mercy!
Divine Mercy – ABC
Ask – Jesus, remember me – Father, forgive them. Forgiveness is always there, especially in the Sacrament of Confession
Be Merciful – If you are a follower – let’s see your hands – your feet – your heart!
Completely Trust – Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever! And remember, I will be with you always, even unto the end of the world!