Sunday, June 22, 2014

Corpus Christi (Cycle A)

  Last Sunday, been Fathers Day, I took some time to do a quick inventory of all the gifts I have received from God in my life. Don’t worry I’m not going to bore you with all the details of my list. The one thing I will say is that after I was done reflecting in all the blessings, material and spiritual, I have received…I have to admit I was feeling pretty good about myself… until later that day. That evening, as I sat down and stared reflecting on today’s readings and the feast of Corpus Christy, it became clear to me that I had forgotten the most important gift, the one gift which surpasses every other gift I have ever received from God; God himself… given to me in The Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Now, to be fair if I were to ask everyone here to spend some time repeating my little exercise, I’m willing to bet that the vast majority will do as I did and list all the blessings they have received in their lives without considering Jesus in the Eucharist as the one gift above any other gift.
     So the question for us today should be, Why? Why do we forget so easily about the Lord if, like St. Paul says, in Him we “We live, we move and we exist?” Some people might claim that this is caused by our lack of faith, but I think this is not the case, I think it is the other way around, I think that we are so used to be in His presence that we take this divine person for granted. To put it plainly Familiarity breeds indifference. And I’m not saying indifference as in the “I do not care about you Jesus” sense but in the sense of “it is so obvious to me that you are there and I’m here that for me, you are just, part of the background”.  I think this is where the problem resides, Jesus is there and I’m here when it should really be: Jesus and I:  WE ARE here together. More than together, because our Lord wanted to be so close to us he commanded us to “eat His flesh and drink His blood”  the only way we can have ethereal life. When we receive him in the Eucharist he becomes one with us, this is how close he wants to be to us…not side by side but one with us.
   Now I do not want anybody to feel as guilty as I felt during my reflection, but I ask you today to join me in asking ourselves: what can we do to place our Lord were he deserves to be in our lives, at the very top of any gifts received? Well, I think it will take just three little things to accomplish this.
  First, we could start by recognizing our smallness and our complete dependency on Him and the fact that without Him we have no life in us. Yes, we might think that we have a good life, a great job, a beautiful house, but without feeding our spirit with His Body and Blood none of these things amounts to anything, because spiritually we are dead or dying.
   Second, once we recognize this dependency on Him, we need to capture back our sense of respect and awe. Think about it: When we sit in this Sanctuary we sit in front of the creator of the universe, the Alfa and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the lamb of God who takes away our sins, the bread of life who came down from heaven, the second person of the Most blessed trinity… Need I say more to make my point? Sitting here in front of Him is a pretty big deal????  My brothers and sisters at this very moment angels are prostrated around this tabernacle singing “Holy, holy, holy”.  Let’s ask ourselves: what is my own disposition when I enter this holy space? What do I do, In what do I think when I’m in front of Him?
  And finally, the third thing we can do, is ask ourselves, how is my soul doing? How do I prepare myself to receive Him?  Imagine for a second if after mass someone hands you a note which says “This Sunday, Jesus will drop by your house just to say hi and spend some quiet time with you”. I think our week would be a pretty busy one, we would all fall on a cleaning frenzy, we might even take care of little things that have been left un attended for a while like a leaky faucet or a cricking step. I’m sure that we would want our home to be spotless, ready to welcome him. How are our souls when we receive him? Is there any blemish, any corner which needs some cleaning? Maybe some garbage that has been slowly accumulating and we need to get rid off?
  There you have it, my brothers and sisters three small steps to help us rekindle the appreciation, respect and love we all felt that day so many years ago when we received our first communion, and today as on that day the same Jesus is present waiting to feed us with his body and blood, and give us His eternal life, Are we ready to receive him? Blessed be Jesus in the most holy sacrament of the altar. Amen.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ascencion Sunday (Cycle A)

    This Sunday we are celebrating the feast of the Ascension, the day in which our Lord Jesus Christ departed from the physical presence of His disciples to return back to the Father All Mighty in body and spirit. Every year this feast day falls around the time in which a lot of families are involved with graduation ceremonies. I myself went to two graduations this past week, so I know that although they might not want to admit it many parents and children have it in their minds that in a very short 8-12 weeks these graduates whom we have been celebrating will be leaving their homes to start new lives as college students.
   I bring this up because as I was reflecting on the image of the Apostles worshiping the Lord while interiorly struggling with their own doubts, I kept remembering when my own child left for college. You see many people think that when the gospel reading says that the apostles worshiped but doubted it means that somehow they were not sure if the person in front of them was in fact the Lord. However, It occurred to me that perhaps the real reason for the apostles doubts was  because they did not know what they were going to do now that they were going to be left all by themselves.
   Separation from the ones we love either because of reasons we cannot control or because we have to let them follow their own path in life, could be a source of deep doubt and fear. A parent that is left with an “empty nest”, a child that is starting a new life away from the protection and comfort of all that is familiar, a spouse who suddenly finds him or herself alone once again will inevitably experience these feelings.
    Fear and doubt are part of been human. Jesus knew very well what His friends were feeling, and what everyone of us feels every time we experience separation; so the last words that the Lord ever spoke with His human voice, recorded in Saint Mathew’s Gospel, were words not only spoken for His friends, but for every person who ever found experiencing loss of a loved one: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me…I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Time and distance mean nothing to Him, even if we feel that separation and absence hammers a wedge between us and our loved ones, with Jesus we can overcome anything. We are never truly alone. With our Lord Jesus we have no reason for fear and doubt because with the power that has been given to Him, there is not distance or period of time we cannot overcome.
     To me these finals words of Jesus are a source of great consolation whenever I am assaulted by doubt and loneliness. However these are not the only words Jesus spoke to his disciples, and to us, he also said “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” The Lord Jesus wants us to do something better with our time than just feel sorry for ourselves. He wants us, those who stay home and those who depart to always, wherever we might be, at any time to be witnesses of His power to the nations. To quote Pope Francis “The Lord does not want sourpuss Christians” cowering in a corner, feeling sorry for themselves.
   The mystery we celebrate in the feast of the Ascension of our Lord has been called the greatest mystery of his life! How He by departing still remains with us, and now gives us power to be His witnesses. It is a mystery that speaks about having to let go so that we can encounter the resurrected Lord, and gain a whole world for Himself; disregarding any sense of fear or doubt.  It is a mystery about having to say goodbye, so that we can find Him, so that we can fulfill our destiny as Christians: In our homes, in our schools, even to ends of the world.
   I would like to finish today by congratulating all graduates, and by reminding them of the words Jesus spoke in the Gospel today. You will never be left alone, you are now sent on a mission to bring Jesus to those who don’t know him, never forget who sent you. God bless you all!

"Viva Cristo Rey!!"