Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Heavenly Collision: Sunday Homily Notes: Feb 7, 2016

Today's Sunday Readings are soooo rich in imagery and in a particular way really gave a perfect opportunity to preach about what Catholic's believe about the Mass and how super saturated the Mass is with Scripture verses!! If you want to listen to the homily that I gave on this, then click on the title of the homily which is "Heavenly Collision" and enjoy!

In this homily I rattle through a number of Scripture verses which we say as Catholics during the Mass but we really didn't realize that we were actually quoting Scripture. So if you didn't get a chance to write them down, I figured I would just put them here for your convince... So here ya go... these are the verses I used:

"The Lord be with you" (2 Thessalonians:16)
"And with your spirit" (2 Timothy 4:22)

"Lift up your hearts" (Lamentations 3:41)
"We lift them up to the Lord" (Psalm 25:1)

"Let us give thanks to the Lord our God" (Psalm 106:1)
"It is right and just" (Proverb 21:3)

"Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Host
     Heaven and earth are full of your glory" (Isaiah 6:3)
"Hosanna in the highest
     Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord
 Hosanna in the highest." (Matthew 21:9; Psalm 118:26)

"Lord I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof,
     but only say the word and my soul shall be healed." (Matthew 8:8)

"A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup.
For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment (damnation) on himself." (1 Corinthians 11:28-29)

Once we receive Holy Communion it is extremely important that we don't leave before the Mass is over. Why? Because you have to be SENT by the power of the final blessing just as Isaiah was once the angel touched his mouth with the burning coals from the incense. Once his mouth was touch, he was then equipped with the power of God, who said to him, "Whom shall I SEND?" Isaiah replied, "Here I am. SEND ME!" (Isaiah 6:8). Once we receive the Body of Christ on our lips, then we wait for the blessing from the priest so that we too can go out into the world as prophets and bring the life and joy of the gospels to everyone we meet!!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Culture of Encounter

Recently Pope Francis spoke about the digital media world that we live in today and how it has changed communication as we have known it in the past. He encourages the Church to “boldly become citizens of the digital world… to be concerned for, and present in, the world of communication, in order to dialogue with people today and to help them encounter Christ.” (for a summary of what the Catholic Register says about this click here.) In his talk, he coins a phrase that grabbed my attention… 

                           “CULTURE OF ENCOUNTER!” 

This phrase got me thinking and I wanted to throw some thoughts out for y’all to chew on… Just a warning, if you get offended easily, exit now because you might not like some of the things that I’m gonna say…

Jesus knew at the depth of the human heart is a desire to encounter and to be encountered. I think this is seen in our first parents when Adam looks at everything that God created and just didn’t find true satisfaction. Nothing that God had created could allow Adam to be encountered by another. Think about it, when Adam saw the tree he didn’t cry out, “This one at last is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones…” No! He only spoke those words when he saw someone like himself, his helpmate, someone able to receive him and encounter him! Adam’s deepest desire to encounter another and to be encountered is the cry that has echoed through the heart of every human being regardless of their age… We all want to be seen, noticed, recognized, appreciated, affirmed, liked, loved, congratulated, and rewarded. We want to be an expert at something and fail at nothing… this is the human desires that our social media has picked up on… Today’s social media allows us to Tweet every minute of our day. We plaster ourselves all over YouTube and Facebook and to get infatuated with taking Selfies… And just incase you want to be even more connected to people you've never meet, just throw a little #signupandyouwillmeetallkindsofnewfriends.

To go a bit further, lets just look at the names of these popular means of modern communication:

YouTube: Many people want their 30 seconds of fame… well now you got it! Anyone can video themselves and plaster it out there for the whole world to see! You're famous now… and if people really ‘like’ you, you’ll even go viral (when I was growing up, to be viral was to be sick as a dog!) Your video doesn’t have to be tasteful, creative, or show any form of talent, actually, in most cases, the more distasteful and vulgar, the more ‘likes’ a person will get… They think, “Ahh someone finally likes me! I want to put a part of my life out there so that someone can encounter a piece of me… Please, just click the little hand with his thumb up and ‘like’ me! Will somebody please ‘like’ me so I can become Viral!”

Facebook: This has been a great way for people to stay in touch, but it also has a dark side to it… But let's just look at the name “Face – Book”… “I can publish a book and it’s all about MY FACE!! How many pictures of my face can I put up there for people to see how much fun I’m having, how beautiful I am, and what a great life I live!” Please don’t get me wrong, I think that Facebook has some good benefits, but as with anything, it's when we take it too far that things go wrong. I had a Facebook account for three days… and when I didn’t accept a “friend” they got offended… that was the end of my Facebooking life. I thought to myself, “I’m really not that important… nor that interesting. If you want to encounter me, then just call me or come to my house!” But some people are totally wrapped up in this world of Facebook and have somehow exchanged a world of real encounter for a counterfeit world of cyber-counter (I think I just made that word up??) Next time you are in public, notice how many people have real people right there in front of them, eating with them, walking with them… and they are on the phone updating their Facebook account! Amazing!!

Selfie Pics: This is terrible… It sounds something like this, “Since no one else wants to take a picture of me, I’ll take a picture of myself and send it to everyone of my ‘friends!!’ Look who I’m with… Look where I’m at… Look how much fun I’m having…” Really?? For some occasions, I can understand it. But to think that where we are at, what we are doing, and who we are with is really that important to the rest of the world is a bit egotistical, don’t ca think?? But there we see the heart cry out… “Someone see me… notice me… tell me that my face is important to you! Please ‘like’ me!” A friend of mine was telling me about a girl he knew. She started working at Twin Peaks (don’t get me started on this place) and she posted a picture of herself in her new “work uniform” (which to me looks more like the kind of uniform that a prostitute would wear and not the uniform of a dignified waitress…) Anyway… when she posted it, she got hundreds of “likes” and all kinds of affirming comments. A few days later, she posted a picture of herself, dressed up in a nice dress and guess how many “likes” she got?? Yep, less then twenty! So what kind of message does that send out to this 19 year old? It might sound like this, “People like me more when I dress immodestly. I get more attention dressed that way so that must be when I’m most beautiful!” Again, here is the cry of the human heart that longs to be encountered and seen as beautiful and desirable!

Pope Francis getting into a Selfie with some youth!
We could go on and on but I think we get the picture… I’m not bashing multimedia means of communication (obviously, because I use them,) and neither is Pope. He is encouraging us to truly enter into this age of communication, to be active evangelizers in and through the media… this means of communication is at the heart of the New Evangelization! We must enter into this world if we are going to win souls for Christ BUT we can’t let our desire for encounter stop at ourselves! Our Holy Father challenges us to be active builders of a Culture of Encounter because that is exactly what Jesus did… He took on our human flesh so as to truly encounter us!! He didn’t just sit back and observe us… he became one of us! He understands the deepest desire of the human heart, which is to be encountered, so much so that He invites us to “Abide in Me!” He doesn’t just say “read about Me” or “talk about Me” or “draw pictures of Me” but He truly wants us to Encounter Him! That’s how great His love is for us! Think about this, as a child I loved my dog a lot! But never once did I ever want to become a dog! I didn’t want to encounter my dog that much! But Jesus desires to encounter us that much… He became one of us and then placed His Spirit in us that cry’s out, “ABBA… FATHER!!” At the heart of the Culture of Encounter is the longing to Encounter the Living God, in and through one another, in and through His Church!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

“He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30). These simple words were spoken by “the greatest man who was ever born of a woman” (Matt 11:11)… Spoken by a man who is often forgotten in our saintly devotions. They were proclaimed by a man who was “the voice”, who stood in the waters of the Jordan River, face-to-face with the Man who was the Eternal Word made flesh! And it was with fear and trembling that he dared to baptize Him “in order to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). This man, this voice which cries out in the desert, is none other than John the Baptist!

One of the awesome things about John is that he knew exactly what his purpose was in life: to be the voice, preparing the way for the Lord. And although people asked him time and again, “Who are you?” he would not lead them astray and put the attention on himself… he knew that he was not the Messiah, he simply had to point out to the people the “one who is to come.” And this he did when he proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God!” In other words he was saying, “LOOK!! There He is! He is the one that all of you should follow… Not me! I’m just the voice… but He is the Word!! Follow Him!” What a great lesson for us: Do we know who we are? Do we know why God created us? What is our purpose in life? These are great questions that every man and woman must answer in life. And I would dare to say that if these questions are not answered, then we will wonder aimlessly throughout life and leave behind us a path of destruction.

There is a great quote by Sir Isaac Newton which I have tried to live by it in different ways. It goes like this: “If I seem to have the ability to see further than other men, it is only because I have stood on the shoulders of giants!” Let that quote soak in…… It's worth asking ourselves: Who are the giants in my life that have allowed me to stand on their shoulders? Who has put their life aside so that I could be everything I was created to be? Who saw something special in me, something that I may have not seen in myself, and stuck by my side in order to pull it out of me? Maybe it was our mom and dad? A brother or sister? A friend? A coach? A priest or nun? I know who those giants are in my life, but I don’t know who that person is for you, but I have to believe that everyone has a someone in their life who has allowed them to stand on their shoulders so that they could “see further then other men.”

Another question to reflect on: Have I been a giant for someone else? Have I been able to allow someone to stand on my shoulders? Who have I put my needs aside for so that they could reach their potential? Maybe you've done this for your children? For your spouse? For your parents? Maybe for your friends? Boyfriend or girlfriend? Countless examples could be given here…. I’ve come to understand that this action of self-sacrifice is actually what makes God present and tangible to that person, and to the world. This action unveils for others the very face of God, the God whom we cannot see, but yet is made visible to us because “God is Love” (1 John 4:8). So anytime we truly love another person in the way that 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 defines love, we truly make manifest the presence and face of God. When we love others in this manner, it is then that we make the words of John the Baptist our own words, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” 

If you ask me, I believe that the world desperately needs another John!! May we receive a double portion of his bold, self-sacrificial love that he had for Jesus, the Word made flesh, the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sins of the world!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Born This Way

Hey everyone... I pray that y'all have been blessed! I know that I said that my next blog was going to be on the ways that Jesus carried His Cross, but I have to post this video first... I was at my parent's house last week and we watched the X Factor. Well Thursday night, one of the contestants by the name of Rion Paige sang a song called "Born This Way" and she brought the house down!! Her life and this song, all speak one powerful message: GOD DIDN'T MAKE A MISTAKE WHEN HE MADE US! Rion reminded me of a quote from St. Francis when he said, "Preach the Gospel constantly, and if necessary use words." This young girl, although her arms are somewhat disabled and she is blind in her right eye, she preaches a bold message about the culture of life and her life totally contradicts the culture which values human life according to perfection and productivity for society! She stands as a witness to how God lovingly wills everyone into existence, regardless of whether or not the world thinks we look "perfect" or will ever be a productive member of society. Our Pope reminds us that when people suffer physically, live in poverty, or have an affliction of any kind, it causes us to love!! Anyway, I pray that y'all enjoy the song and I'll get back to blogging soon!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

You gotta carry IT!

What is one thing that every Christian has? We don’t really like it… But we can’t live or have eternal life without it?? You guessed it…


The Cross is actually the one ‘thing’ that makes us different from all other forms of religions or spiritualties. It’s the one way of life that assures us of our salvation, as Jesus himself says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23). Look at other religions such as Buddhists, Hindu, Jewish, or New Age and while they had great spiritual masters according to their own right, nowhere will we find such statements be spoken of by them. For instance, a Zen Master is not going to tell his students to “embrace his cross…” and you won’t read it in a Fortune Cookie… But yet Jesus steps into the scene as a great teacher of religious truths and actually speaks with authority (Mark 1:21-28). This statement about picking up the cross should strike us as a very, very strange saying… at least if we were Romans or Jews living at the time of Jesus. Why? Because the cross was a form of legal execution and punishment for crimes that a person had committed. In the minds of Jews and Romans, the thought of a “Cross” would have instantly invoked torture, pain, humiliation, and death! But yet Jesus doesn’t sugar coat His message… “pick up your cross”, he says. Look at it this way… If I would say the word “electric chair” what would be the first thing you think of? Well, I doubt anyone would say that they think of a massage chair… No. Quite the opposite… We would think of the death penalty, torture, pain, and a sentencing of someone to death for a crime which they have been found legally guilty for! Bear with me here… What if Jesus would come to us today and say something like this, “If anyone wants to be my disciple, let him deny himself and take up his electric chair daily and follow me!” That would sound completely absurd and we would deem him a crazy lunatic or a mad man and I doubt we would follow Him! 
Take it a step further… would we ever wear a piece of jewelry that was a golden electric chair?? No… that would be pretty morbid… but yet as Christians we wear a cross… an instrument of Roman torture! Why?? Because Jesus died on it and made the Cross an instrument of our redemption! For the Christian, we understand that the cross isn’t always a large piece of wood that we get nailed to, but often times it is more interior, more of how we accept physical sufferings, unexpected hard times, persecutions, and simply the day-to-day challenges we meet. Notice that Jesus speaks of the Cross as something that we pick up daily! This means that our Cross doesn’t have to be anything huge. It is simply an interior disposition, which says that everything that I go through today, I will do it through Him, with Him, and in Him! If a kid is working your last nerve… If you’re studying for a test or writing a paper… If you’re having difficulties in a relationship or with your marriage…  If you’re suffering interiorly with stress or anxiety… If you lost your job or a loved one… If you’re suffering physically… whatever it may be, everywhere we turn, we meet the cross! And that should not be something that depresses us… at least if you are a Christian, it shouldn’t depress you! Why? Again, because when we embrace our Cross and unite it to the Cross of Jesus, then the very things that should crush us, discourage us, make us depressed and anxious, and even physically take our lives, will be transformed into the very thing that redeems us, our situation, our attitude, and our way of life!

Growing up in a Catholic family, I often heard the phrase, “Well, that’s just the cross that I have to carry.” But it always left me wondering… HOW DO I CARRY MY CROSS? Is it some sort of passive way of living? A kind of weakness that emasculates a man? Do I just get crushed by it? OR… do I somehow participate in carrying my cross?? Notice Jesus said carry your cross… not get crushed by your cross! So where do we learn how to “Carry our Cross”?  Jesus gives us the answer when He says, “Follow Me.”  We have learn the lessons that Jesus teaches us in the School of Prayer as He teaches us in the two most affective forms of teaching: words and actions. We have to begin this lesson by reflecting on how He carried His Cross and who He met along the way. While every part of Jesus’ journey to Calvary is worthy of our meditation, over the next few Blogs I will share with you my reflections on what I would consider to be the 5 most basic practical lessons that Jesus teaches us about how to carry our cross as He carries His Cross to Calvary… Stay tuned!!