About Harvester's Wanted:

A Catholic priest's reflections along the path of Faith.

When this life is complete, I pray they say I lived for the Greater Glory of God +AMDG+

PRAYER REQUESTS through link on right side-bar.

Monday, April 25, 2016

ARE YOU SAVED???

Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C
Saint Gabriel the Archangel Parish
April 24, 2016


Have you ever been asked the simple question: are you saved? It can be a strange question to hear as a Catholic. If you were anything like me when first asked that question, I was 16 or 17 at the time, you probably felt a bit awkward, and weren’t certain how to respond. The man who asked me this question wasn’t asking, he was more demanding an answer as he cornered me at my first job. I think the first time he asked - he repeatedly asked at that time and in the days to come - my response was ‘what do you mean?’ That interaction has stuck with me for years mainly because of the way that the simplicity of the question didn’t seem to rise to the complexity of the subject matter; plus the man who asked me was known to be consistently defaulting on his child support. How is he, I often wondered, so sure of his salvation while failing to support his children?


It wasn’t until years later, when I went to seminary, that my inability to answer this question was laid to rest. In conversation with professors and other students the answer was given: yes, of course, you are saved (but here comes the fuller - more Catholic response) yes I was saved, yes I am saved, and yes I will be saved. I was, I am, I will be saved. At the moment Jesus died on the cross, he died for all sins both past, current, and future and I was saved. When I receive the Eucharist, when I am Baptized, when I am Confirmed, when I am Anointed or receive Reconciliation, when I gather together with the body of Christ and worship our God - I am saved. In the second coming, when Christ returns to make all things new - I will be saved. As Catholics, simple answers rarely do justice to the complexity of the question, and we do not believe that a particular moment in our lives seals the fate of our soul, for either good or ill. 

The Lamb of God

The Book of Revelation, which we heard from in our second reading, uses a lot of the same concepts in its account of the coming of the Kingdom of God which already is present and not yet fully present. The imagery speaks to what has happened to the early Christians, everything between then and now, as well as what will happen. It is unwise, and honestly a bit conceited, to think that all that the Book of Revelation contains is meant to show our generation, or perhaps me personally, what will happen in our lifetime. Instead of being only future driven The Book of Revelation incorporates the entire experience of the community – a community that is expected to live and work, rest and grow old- together. The Book of Revelation is telling us that the Kingdom if God is being made real and the Lamb of God declares “Behold, I make all things new.” In this way, salvation is a process, a process of being made new in Christ; both for the individual and the community. 


Our Gospel tells us that just as Jesus loves us, so we also should love one another. Judas had just gotten up and walked out before Jesus said this. We are to love those who are like him just as we are to love those who are like us. Christ tells us to love one another, just as he loves us – until death, and from that others will know that we are his disciples – and the community will grow and the Kingdom of God will become more visible on Earth. We are told to love one another, not to love only when we are loved, not to love only when the person deserves our love, we are told to love. Perhaps we will lose our lives to love, or hurt by love, but we are told to love all the same. Sometimes love means holding tightly to another, and sometimes love means letting go and respecting one’s self and the other by parting ways. We must not lose sight of Christ’s love for us inorder to try and love another. 

So are you saved? Yes - you were saved, yes - you are being saved, and yes - you will be saved – all because you loved one another.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Celebrate THIS Eucharist

The Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C 
First Communion Liturgy ~ Saint Gabriel the Archangel Parish
April 17, 2016
We are here to celebrate with these young people who have gathered together after lots of preparation. You’ve talked long and hard in class about First Communion haven’t you? Learned about how the Eucharist is the true presence of Christ. That’s really important isn’t it? It is a wonderful event that has brought us here and it is good that we are here. [Asked one of the First Communion girls to read a prayer card]


This prayer is a traditional gift for priest when there are ordained. It is a helpful reminder that as many times as a priest celebrates Mass it must never become a routine; the priest cannot serve God worthily and well by becoming complacent in his prayer at Mass. It may often be basically the same, but it’s never just a routine. I think something similar can be, and perhaps should be said by all who come to Mass:


It is easy for anyone to become complacent even when faced time and again with the miracle of the Eucharist. I hope that keeping this in mind might change one’s perspective for many of us. I think it's not just the priests who have to make sure that they do not lose their zeal for the Mass; to not make it just a routine, just a bunch of words to be said. It's important for all of us to remember that we are all essentially like these wonderful children coming before the Lord's Table for the very first time. It is important that we gather together as a community and see these children together, to recognize them for having prepared to receive the Eucharist. I have often heard it said, and it may be the case with you as well, ‘oh to have the faith of a child, if I could just believe like they did, like they do, if I had that kind of faith life would be so much simpler!’ So I asked you: why not? Why not have faith like a child? In our Gospel for today we are called to be like sheep, we are called to listen to the voice of the Lord and to follow him. We do this not to be ignorant, or complacent, but to see through the eyes of a child. We hear at other places in the Gospel that to enter into heaven we must be like little children. We question it's true, and natural, we all will grow in our faith, grow in our desire to understand. Nevertheless, in the end, we return time and time again to receive our Lord from this altar, to receive our Lord as often and as best as possible.


The children all wear these wonderful white garments, particularly the girls are all dressed in white. In baptism we are told to:
See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of Heaven.
We help one another to do that, we help one another to maintain the purity of Innocence that was there at the moment of our baptism when all of our sins, even original sin itself, is washed away. The priests, deacons, and servers all wear white garments to celebrate Mass. In fact all of us could come wearing white every time we celebrate the Eucharist together; but on the first occasion these children especially have the honor of dressing up in their suits and white dresses to receive that which sustains us through our entire lives and helps us bring our dignity unstained to heaven.


I had the privilege and honor recently of assisting one of our elderly into the arms of God. When you're at that stage, when a person is almost ready to give up their hold on life, it can be difficult to receive the Eucharist. So there with that man in his final days I broke the Eucharistic host in half and showed the half to him and asked ‘would this be okay?’ He just kind of glared at me, so I broke it into quarter pieces. ‘Is this okay’ I asked again, but he maintained his look of uncertainty. Finally I broke a small bit off the corner and I placed it on the back of his lips so that it could simply dissolve. That little bit of Eucharist was exactly what he needed in those moments. That little bit contained the entirety of God’s love for him and us all. We call the rite of giving the Eucharist to the dying viaticum, which means food for the journey, it's not only the end of life journey but our journey through life that Christ sustains us for. We all, at our baptism receive our vocational calling from God. God may call us by name to the married life, to the priesthood, to the religious life, to the single life; all of us are called by God to follow him in our own way. This call is maintained through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Sacrament of Confirmation strengths our understanding of that call, but that calling is kept alive by the Sacrament of the Eucharist. We hear that call from God throughout our lives and we return to the Sacrament of the Eucharist time and time again; we can be more like these little children who will receive our Lord for the first time today.

Saint Gabriel, First Communion 2016

Children, if you are anything like me you'll go home and start taking a tally: I received the Eucharist twice, I received Eucharist three times... I've heard it often from people when they reflect on their First Communion and I did the same. I got a couple months in and then forgot where the paper was, but I came back to it later and put a bunch of marks on it figuring ‘that's about right.’ Christmas came and I realized that I had and would continue to receive the Eucharist countless times. The tally was important for a while but the living out the mystery of the Eucharist became more important the older I got.

We receive our Lord over and over again, and each time we receive this tiny bit of the Body of Christ it has the ability, and the promise, to change our entire lives. Celebrate this Eucharist like it is your first Eucharist, your last Eucharist, you're only Eucharist.