Monday, October 14, 2013

28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle C)

This morning I was visiting with some of the CCD classes, talking about the role of deacons in the parish. I explained to them that one of the things I do is taking communion to the sick at the Howard County General Hospital.

I bring this up today because I will like to share something that happened to me a few weeks ago in one of these visits. That day I entered a room in which a group of nurses were attending to an older gentleman. I greeted him and waited quietly until they left to ask if he would like to receive the Eucharist. As it is my custom, after praying and giving him communion I spent some time in his room just talking. I asked him why he was in the hospital, how long had he been there, if he had any family or friends around and how was he feeling. The answer he gave to this last question left me speechless. With tears in his eyes he simply said: “How am I? I am well, now that I have Jesus in me”.

I got to tell you my brothers and sisters in the two years I have been visiting the sick in this hospital I have never experienced such a display of faith and trust in the Lord. It was not what he said but how he said it that left me without anything to say; this man who a few minutes ago had a medical team hovering all over him because his high blood pressure, this man who was in serious risk of a stroke or a heart attack, revealed onto me the very image of hope, peace, and trust.  That day I was reminded of a very important lesson: When we encounter Jesus, there is a big difference between been healed from our infirmities and been made well by this encounter. It all depends in our interior disposition and in how we see the Lord. 
Today’s Gospel shows this distinction, after the ten lepers followed Jesus command and took off to present themselves to the priests, after their bodies had been healed, after what they had prayed for so long was finally granted , only one returned glorying God to thank the Lord. At this Jesus wanders out loud: “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?”…

 Ten were healed, ten were made whole, and to ten sick men everything leprosy had taken away, their families, their friends, and their lives in the community were given back again. Only one returned to thank Jesus. For only one of them the healing experienced was the cause of a transformation of the soul, and It is because of this transformation that Jesus exclaims "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you."
It was not the healing power of Jesus who saved this man, but what he did with this gift of health. How this gift made him realize that more important than getting his life back was the returning to the Lord to thank him.  This encounter with Jesus transformed him so that he was not just healed, he was made well.

Like I said I visit many people in the hospital and I have seen the power and consolation the Eucharist brings to the sick. But what I saw a few weeks back, the encounter of a sick man with Jesus in the Eucharist, made me realize that more important than any miraculous healing we might think we need for us or for our loved one, been made well by God should be the goal of every Christian, a goal which can only be accomplished through an encounter with the resurrected Lord.

The beauty of it all is that one does not need to be sick, or in a hospital for this encounter, Jesus is always calling on us to recognize him in those who surround us. And the best way to have this encounter is in the reception of the Eucharist. In this sacrament Jesus is present body, blood soul and divinity. By feeding us with his body and blood he unites with us, he becomes part of who we are; part of how we think and how we act. He opens the door for a deep encounter with us in every mass. When we truly recognize him in the sacrament of the altar we, like the leper in the gospel, would proclaim the Glory of God, and only then we would be able to say with certainty, “How can we be not well, when we have Jesus in us".

Friday, October 11, 2013

Katy Perry and the Use of Sacred Images by Secular Icons

    I'm no fan of Katy Perry. I don't care about her music.  I couldn't recognize her even if she were to walk right up to me and say "hi!". I however have an eagle eye (my kids call it an obsession) for all things Catholic in the secular media, specially when these things are our Sacred Images...Specially when these Sacred Images are the images of Our Blessed Mother. This is why when this article flashed  for a couple of seconds in my Yahoo news-feed it caught my attention.  I can not describe my reaction when I saw Katy Perry (yes, the same Katy Perry who has recorded songs like "I kissed a Girl" and "U R so Gay") displaying an image of the Blessed Mother on her shirt.

    I often wander if the Church should trademark all things Catholic, you know like the rosary (used by rapers and gang members as jewelery), the sign of the cross (most often seen in horror movies and shows like "Ghost Hunters" when things start getting "really scary") or even the word "Catholic" (nowadays used by many "less than Catholic" universities and hospitals). At the least this would protect our beloved sacred objects from been profaned and desecrated; at the most it would create some badly needed royalties income to pay for more pro-life and pro-family media content. One can only dream...  

Anyway, here are some pictures of Ms. Perry appearance at Jimmy Fallon's Late night show, reducing the image of the Theotokos to a mere name brand product.

 This one made me wander...

 What will Ms. Perry say when The Good Lord asks her "Soooo...What did you do with that image of mom I sent you???"

"Viva Cristo Rey!!"