The Mission of Harvesters Wanted:

To spread the Good News of JESUS CHRIST in word and in action! As well as promoting the baptismal call of all the faithful to follow whatever vocation our God has called them to!

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. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. ~ Matthew 28:19-20

The place to find homilies and reflections given along the path of faith by Fr. Adam Carrico, a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

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

Monday, December 7, 2015

I am Pro-Life

Link to original image. Image has been modified.
I am pro-life – I refuse to give into fear.
I am pro-life – I support healthy families and relationships.
I am pro-life – I support a healthy understanding of sexuality.
I am pro-life – I support efforts to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation. 
I am pro-life – I support universal access to healthcare.
I am pro-life – I support abolishing the death penalty.
I am pro-life – I support universal access to quality education.
I am pro-life – I support efforts to protect the world entrusted to us.
I am pro-life – I support reasonable gun regulation.
I am pro-life – I support natural death with dignity.
I am pro-life – I support the resettlement of the world’s displaced.
I am pro-life – I support immigration reform.
I am pro-life – I support prison reform and de-privatization.
I am pro-life – I support ending the ‘drug-war’ and shifting to rehabilitation. 
I am pro-life – I support the need for a just and living-wage.
I am pro-life – I support universal access to safe food and water.
I am pro-life – I support advocacy for the mentally ill and suicidal.
I am pro-life – I support our veterans, our nation’s poor, and our world’s destitute.
I am pro-life – I support social security, the elderly, and the disabled.
I am pro-life – I support efforts made towards world peace.
I am pro-life – I support adoption services.
I am pro-life – I support safe places for pregnant women and girls.
I am pro-life – I support the natural human rights of the unborn.
I am pro-life – I refuse to see a pregnancy as a sin.
I am pro-life – I support natural conception and prenatal care.
I am pro-life – I support paid maternity leave.
I am pro-life – I support families struggling to conceive.
I am pro-life – I see people not boarders, race, sexual orientation, and gender.
I am pro-life – I refuse to fear my fellow brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

We Are Not Alone

The Solemnity of All Saints
Saint Gabriel Parish, October 31 / November 1, 2015

The Solemnity of All Saints is a day to recognize all those who are examples in our lives. Our 5th and 6th graders have just done something very amazing - an undefeated season, winning the toy bowl. We have examples of hard work and dedication among us here today, in our school, in our community. Saints - people working on sainthood - are among us.

I was talking recently with a young woman. She was feeling alone; struggling with things that were going on in her life. She was very concerned; despairing in a way. I’m not talking about anyone here. She is not a member of this parish, nor does she even live on this continent. The Church is universal after all. I was talking to her, and she told me that she wants to grow stronger in her Catholic faith; so I gave some suggestions and listened to her talk about her situation. Eventually, I got around to the question: do you have a particular Saint to whom you pray for their intercession? For that is what Saints are, they intercede for us in heaven. They walk beside us, supporting us. We don't pray to them; we pray with them.

I asked her: 
  • Are there any particular Saints in your culture that you are close to? And she says no I really don't get this whole Saint thing anyway, I'm not sure what all that is about. 
  • I said okay... do you have people that are close to you that have passed away? She said, yes, I do. 
  • Do you go to the graveside now and then to visit? Yes. 
  • To take flowers? I do. 
  • Do you have a picture of them in your house? Yes. 
  • In a place of honor where you can see them? Yes. 
  • Finally I ask - do you ever talk to your loved ones who are no longer with us? She says yes, as a matter of fact I do. 

I tell her that she is talking to her grandmother, or grandfather, her friend, whoever it might be that has passed on that she talks to them as you would talk to a saint. That's what saints are. They can seem like this awesome person, an example for others that is so far beyond us that we can try and relate. The Church being a family, all of us sons and daughters of God, we are one huge family. It matters little if our loved ones have died in the past year, in the past decade, in the past century or millennia; they are with us. They love us, they care for us, and they want to see us do well, to be happy, to be with God. This entire multitude of people who have lived, and learned, and loved; they intercede for us. With the community of Saint in mind, we are never truly alone. It is often difficult to feel this deep sense of constant connection. There maybe some even in this room right now who may feel alone in a crowd. I don't know if any of you has heard that saying ‘alone in a crowd,’ I have certainly experienced that feeling in my life. You may be sitting right next to someone and yet feel entirely alone. Husbands and wives, sharing the same bed, may feel completely alone. If that's the case with you, please know that you always have someone to talk to.

As difficult as it is to imagine, our world and the spiritual world are not separate but right next to one another. In some churches, there is a saying that you're never alone because you always have eyes watching you: statues, paintings, and a plethora of images of saints. We have many here, but there are some churches with every corner filled with some example of the saints. All the same this building is full even if it has no breathing creature in it, it is still full of the saints. For wherever God is, the Saints are right there. They are among us right now! If only we had eyes to see there is no way we could ever imagine ourselves to be alone!

Angel helping us out of Purgatory

Saint and future saints are among us at this very moment. I might regret doing this, raise your hands - who here wants to be a saint? Come on, sometimes it is like the 7th and 8th graders - they just look at you. If you didn’t raise your hand, why are you here? Not to be mean, but why are we here if it’s not to become a saint, to give thanks for the to be together for eternity with God. If that's not what we want, then why, why come to this place. Sometimes it can sound like being Saint is difficult. In our first reading, we hear of the 144,000. Some have used this line from Revelations to indicate that there's a small number who will go to heaven; almost like winning a golden ticket. Read just another line down and we hear about a great multitude that could not be counted standing before the throne and before the Lamb. A great multitude, beyond count, in heaven with God. It is not that difficult to get to heaven, to be a saint, in fact, God is the one who does most of the work! God draws us to himself and with the Saints we walk on that path together. It's hard to turn away from God, but it is made easier to turn away from God when we turn away from one another. By turning away from others, we begin to turn our backs slowly on God. That we are not alone is a fact that is both a comfort and a challenge.

We have an incredible list in our Gospel today: ways to be a saint. The meek, the peacemakers, the merciful, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. None of these are done alone. You cannot be meek unless you are not trying to pretend to be strong, you cannot be a peacemaker if you shut yourself in your room and forget about the world, you can not hunger and thirst for righteousness if others don't matter at all not. It’s not that difficult to just follow the Beatitude. It becomes more difficult when we start to turn our backs on one another.Many of us raised our hands, wanting to be saints, and hopefully the rest have decided that they too want to pick up the work of sainthood.I too hope to be a saint. That is not to say that I hope one day there is a Saint Adams parish’s, Saint Adam of Louisville Parish full of wonderful people, full of excitement and many good things. A possibility, but it will have nothing to do with me. That's all up to God, not to me. Even if my name remains unknown to everyone a thousand year from now, that's fine, there are plenty of other Saint to help those along the path.

Almost all of us have loved ones we have lost. Many of us, I imagine, have loved one who we talk too much like this young woman I spoke of earlier on. We pray with them, we pray for their intercession. We can get all caught up with where they are. Are they in heaven, are they in purgatory, should I pray for them? It can be so confusing. Just like the way I am with my brother. I pray he is in heaven, but I don't know for sure if he is necessarily there at this moment. I pray for him, and I pray that he pray for me because I guarantee you, if he’s not praying for me, me and that boy are going to have a talk. He better be praying for me wherever he is, and I don’t need to know where he is. God has him; that is all I need to know.

We help one another. Alive, deceased, we are all called together, to be one communion of saints! We are not alone: it's a comfort that's easily forgotten, and it's a challenge that we easily turn our backs on.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Perhaps You’ll Show up Late

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary
Saint Gabriel Parish, September 26-27, 2015

I convinced myself that I did not want to do it, that I could not do it. “It’s impossible,” I said to myself, how could I have been so stupid ever to think I could do such a thing! Such thoughts were common for me many as I agonized over the idea that God might just be calling me to be a priest. “I could never get up and speak in front of that many people” I would think to myself. Another hurdle was talking about money, the thought of doing a finance campaign terrified me. I’m not holy enough; I don’t want to give up my dog, what would my friends think, what would my family think? So many anxious thoughts held me back, kept me from answering God’s call. That call remained and in the depths of my heart and the back of my mind the message was there: follow me, follow me. Such self-doubt infects us all, I imagine. The world presents us with so many choices it makes it difficult to say yes to one thing, especially when it means saying no to another. Why make a choice, one might ask if there is a chance to wait for a more comfortable time? Anxiously worrying about all the decisions that need answers can clutter one’s mind so much that it seems nothing else can get through.

Christ calling Peter

The two men in our first reading, Eldad, and Medad, they were not at the gathering with Moses. They were on the list; God choose them, but they were not there. They simply did not show up. We do not know the reason they were not there but not being ready in time does not mean God’s will lost out. God had decided that they would be prophets even if they resisted. It’s a pretty big job to be a prophet of God, and they may have quickly thought themselves unworthy, yet God called them as they were. Eldad and Medad started to prophesy even though they were not present when they were supposed to be. The followers of Moses must have thought “who are these guys” and they tried to stop them, but Moses commanded that they be left alone. God gets God’s way even if we are late in making the decision.

The story is similar with the man at the beginning of the today’s Gospel. The one who was driving out demons without following along with the disciples. I wonder if anyone would just start driving out demons in the name of Jesus without first encountering the man? I think it entirely possible that this man had heard Jesus’ command to leave everything behind and follow him. Either that or he had heard of this command from someone who had encountered Jesus. Perhaps that man went away, upset for a while, thinking of all the things he would have to say no to answer Jesus’ call to follow him. And yet the call remained: follow me, follow me. After answering this call, he dove right in and began to call out demons in the name of Jesus was, and the disciples of Jesus confronted him for doing so. The disciples who were with Jesus would not have known of the man’s delayed conversion, but Jesus would have known that man’s heart. I imagine that Jesus told many men and women to give up everything to follow him. It is his challenge to all of us. Here again is an example of those who are a little late to the game receiving the same call as those who answered more quickly.

Now if you ask me driving out demons and prophesying are pretty high up on the scale of ways to follow Christ. Not too many people are called to do such ministries. Compare this with the next section of the Gospel where Jesus describes the goodness of giving a drink of water to another. That is much easier to do. I think we all can offer another person a simple drink of water. Try and not be so easily convinced. While giving a drink of water is simple it is full of meaning. For one, water was not as common to Jesus and the people of his time, as it is with us. They were not able to go over to the nearest faucet and simple pour out a drink of water. There is also the fact that Christ called himself the living water, that which once drank keeps one from ever thirsting again. Both of these combined and it moves what might seem like an ordinary act further up the scale in ways to follow Christ. In the end, it appears, whatever call we receive from Jesus none of them are simple or altogether comfortable.

When Jesus calls upon you to make a choice you might not answer the first several hundred times you hear the call, and that is ok, Jesus will continue to call you. The Gospel goes on to talks about plucking out eyes and cutting off hands and feet; it is so easy to hear church talk about feeling guilty for the imperfect parts of our lives. Perhaps we're being asked, not to punish ourselves, but to cut away our buts. No not the body part - the stumbling blocks that keep us from answering God’s call. So often money is the biggest but of all. Money is not the most important thing, but it often holds people back from giving their entire selves, and our whole being is what Christ wants from us - not just a part - our entire being! It is time once more for the Catholic Services Appeal: the posters are up, the temperature gauge is out, the video is on Facebook and the website, and here I am talking to you about money. I stand before you today unashamed to ask you to help support something that I believe to be genuinely worthwhile. Past appeals paid my way through seminary, and priestly studies helped me gain the confidence to answer God’s call. The CSA also maintains the diocese in doing so much good work. I’m sure you’ve heard a bit about the Holy Father’s visit. He’s asking us to do a lot to assist those around us. He is asking us to participate in the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth - to drive out the demons of prejudice, violence, injustice, and attacks on human life. We can not drive these demons out alone. We must stand together, a unified Church, each fully engaged in the work that Christ has set before us.

Between you and God

Money - one of the basic ‘buts’ that gets in the way of following Christ. Such a thing lends itself to consistently avoiding God’s invitation to say yes totally, fearlessly, to Christ’s call to discipleship! Money keeps us from uniting, from living more fully as the Body of Christ. It’s time to get out of our own way. The Gospel invites us to cut away those fears that stop us. I believe in the work of the parish, I believe in the work of our diocese, and I believe in the mission of the Church. Ask yourselves, what is stopping me from committing myself entirely to a life of discipleship with our Lord Jesus Christ? Find where that no is, that but is, cut it out, and replace it with a yes so that you can continue to answer Christ's call to follow.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Who can accept it?

Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary
Saint Gabriel Parish, August 22-23, 2015

Merry Christmas! No, I’ve not completely lost my mind. Merry Christmas! There are many things that can be considered difficult teachings in our Catholic faith. One of those teachings is about the Eucharist - the idea that God would or could be present in what seems like a little piece of bread or a small sip of wine. That is very difficult to believe. Another difficult teaching centers on Christmas. In thinking about, and praying over, the idea of difficult teachings, Christmas kept coming to mind. Fr. Dickman - the associate pastor at my parish when I was a child had a saying that was difficult for all of us: parents and children alike, to believe. He was fond of saying, particularly at school Masses, “Christmas is every day of the year.” Every day! I found this difficult to believe, and probably many of the other children as well because there weren't presents every day, so how could it be Christmas every day? The parents too probably found it hard to believe their Children were being told that Christmas was every day! The real difficulty about Christmas is in fact that it is not just a once a year thing. The reality of Christmas is that God came into the world, freely took on humanity and suffered death for our salvation. That is far from easy to believe and yet as Christians we know it is true. An infinite all powerful God became a human being just like you and me, and he choose to do it. From the very beginnings of Christianity, it was full of hard sayings.

Over the past five weeks, we have listened to what is often called the Bread of Life discourse, the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. This chapter offers some of the most profound teaching surrounding our belief in the true presence of Christ: body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist. We have heard a lot about the Eucharist, had its importance proclaimed for us, and now that we have come to the end of this Bread of Life discourse Jesus has an ultimatum for us. We are challenged to believe what Jesus has said about himself, being the food of eternal life, or leave like the rest of the disciples who found that teaching too hard to believe. It is hard to believe that the entirety of God-made-man exists in a small piece of consecrated bread, or in a little sip of consecrated wine. If we believe in who Jesus is, however, how much more difficult is it to believe in the Eucharist? Not that much harder to believe, God has already shown his desire to take on a lesser form for the sole purpose of our salvation. There are three moments in the Liturgy that I want to point out to highlight the importance of the Incarnation in relationship to the Eucharist.

(1) When we say the Creed, following the homily, we get to the part “by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man” we will bow in recognition of the Incarnation. The Eucharist is not even mentioned in the Creed, our basic statement of faith and the Eucharist - the source and summit of our faith - is not even mentioned. The Early Church Fathers certainly believed in the Eucharist. Perhaps the Eucharist was not included was the connection between who Jesus is, and what he said about himself, that assures our belief in the Eucharist.

The Annunciation to Mary - the moment of the Incarnation

(2) Secondly, you may have noticed that at the altar, after the procession with the gifts, the deacon pours a little water into the chalice. What you may not know is that there is a prayer that is to be prayed quietly at that point. That prayer is “by the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” We are asking to share in the Divinity of God, to become more like Christ, to become more like God, the one who saves us from our sins. That is something that is most likely quite difficult to accept, the idea of becoming more like God!

The mingling of the water and wine

(3) The final moment of the Mass is communion itself, especially what happens when we say Amen. What is hard to believe is not only the reality of the Eucharist that we agree to, there is also what is going on in the gaze between the minister and the one receiving communion. If done intentionally the words Body of Christ, or Blood of Christ are said looking at both the Eucharist and the one who is to receive. The person handing out Communion is agreeing to see the person in front of them as the Body and Blood of Christ. That person then answers amen while looking at the Eucharist and the one giving them communion. By saying amen the person receiving Holy Communion agrees to be seen as the Body of Christ and agrees to see the other person as the Body of Christ as well. Talk about a difficult saying to accept! We are being taught, by the Mass itself, that we are called to grow in seeing Christ in ourselves and each other! Very hard to do at times!

The great Amen

People want to be comfortable. Accepting the idea that God desires to dwell inside of you so much that he calls you to a higher way of living is not comfortable at all. On top of that there are all the other difficult teachings of the Church. Teachings that many people struggle with at one point in life or another. One example of these teachings is found in our second reading today. In that reading, Saint Paul talks about wives submitting to their husbands. The point that Saint Paul is trying to make is that we, the Body of Christ, are called to submit to the Church - the Bride of Christ. Saint Paul uses cultural norms to make this point, but either way it is a hard teaching to accept. There are plenty of Church teachings that are hard to accept; we can not struggle with them and remain comfortable at the same time. What makes receiving the Church’s message difficult doesn’t end with the teaching alone. Unfortunately at times the teachers themselves present a challenge. The teachers are human, I am very human, and we make mistakes. It is so easy to look at the ones teaching the Good News and see them as a bunch of hypocrites and people not worth trusting. Not only are the teachings hard, but listening to the teachers is sometimes even more difficult.

With all of this difficulty there maybe, at times, a reason you might think about leaving the Catholic Church. It may be because of a particular teaching, or even because of something that a leader of the Church did, or didn’t, do. Peter’s witness in the Gospel helps to remind us that we have nowhere else to go. We can connect with those words when Jesus challenged them to stay or leave “Master to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!” Lean into these words, this realization of where home is. Return to the central feature of our faith - that call to conversion found in the Eucharist. You may want to look at the Bread of Life discourse, John 6, at times when you feel confused, angry, isolated, disconnected from the Church. Read the words of everlasting life found in that chapter. Pray those words either by yourself or with your family. Allow them the chance to encourage you back home. When in doubt, you can return to the words of everlasting life, and say to yourself, Merry Christmas!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Twelve Years God!? Really?

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary & Introduction to the Parish 

Saint Gabriel Parish, June 27 - 28, 2015

#98B: Parts of Wisdom 1-2, Psalm 30, and 2 Corinthians 8, 
along with Mark 5:21-43 

I can almost hear it, the thoughts out there looking at me wondering who is this guy? And what is he going to want with me? I know that these children, here to be baptized, have that look, but there may be others. Jesus, when he turned around to find who had touched him, may have very well looked at the woman with hemorrhages in a similar manner. In our Gospel for today the woman encounters Jesus, finds healing, and lays everything at his feet - her entire story, all her pain, joy, and human experience. 

Early Depiction of Jesus and the Woman with Hemorrhages
Catacombs of Rome

I take my cue from the woman, who having realized what had happened to her fell at the feet of Jesus and told him everything. No your not going to want to hear my whole story here and now but I’ll let you in on some of the high points:
  • I was born and raised in Saint Aloysius, Pewee Valley.
  • Attended the parish grade school there.
  • From there I went to Saint X and on to UofL where I got a degree in history.
  • Within 2 years I had more formally discerned the path of priesthood and began at Saint Meinrad Seminary where I just graduated from last month. 
Now you might wonder a bit about why I am not yet ordained a priest? Especially sense I've just recently graduated from seminary. Well it has been an interesting if not difficult couple of years.
  • My little brother, Kurtis, a few days after Christmas 2012 took his life.
  • I too have struggled with a history of depression and mental illness.
  • I had developed a habit of self medicating with alcohol before my brothers death.
  • That destructive habit increased after my brother’s death.
  • Even with all of that I thought I was ready for and was ordained a deacon in April of 2013.
  • November of 2013 I made a mistake, drank way too much, drove, put myself and others at terrible risk, was in an accident which thank God involved no other vehicle but mine. 
  • I was hospitalized and placed under a psychiatric evaluation and spent a couple of days at Our Lady of Peace
  • After that I went to a treatment center for several months where I worked on my alcohol abuse and emotional difficulties. 
  • I have payed my debt to society for my mistake and I am working on seeing it as a blessing even though I deeply regret that I put myself and others in danger. I have not taken a drink since.
  • I returned to seminary but decide that ordination in May was just too soon.
  • So here I am, I remain in preparation for the priesthood and I sincerely hope that comes in December. 

Why do I lay all of this at your feet? Is it to make you feel sorry for me, is it to get you to like me more? That’s not my intention. In a small way I realize that people, yes even people in the Church, talk; I want to make sure you hear these things from me before you hear them from someone else. Reflecting back on the woman with the hemorrhages; I don’t think that her intention was to get Jesus to like her either. The woman with the hemorrhages had seen great pain, but also knew hope when she saw it. This man standing before you today has also known pain, and like any other person I am capable of bleeding when cut, I am capable of deep lows, and through the grace of God I’m capable of amazing heights. The woman with hemorrhages could have been extremely angry and shameful of all the years she had spent in that condition. She could have yelled out at Jesus “twelve years, Lord, twelve years I have bleed! Why do I deserve that?!” She may have shouted this accusation to the sky in the years or days prior to this encounter, and God would have understood her pain. This day, however, she falls to her knees and is healed.

It is a type of spiritual discipline that the woman with hemorrhages shows us today. A discipline that takes everything that we as individuals have - both good and not so good, and lays it at the feet of Jesus. It is also the recognition that just as we have things that we can let go of, so it is with those around us everyday. Kindness, compassion, and sincerity are necessary to accept that we all have our bloody wounds to lay at the Savior’s feet. Who here hasn’t experienced great pain and immense joy? All worthy material for that space between our knees and his feet!

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) Study of Feet of Apostle

This spiritual discipline is a way to encounter a world that is extremely divided, pained, and confused. The Supreme Court decisions last week did not create this tension, nevertheless it has certainly heighten it and will continue to heighten it in the days to come. It is a blessing from God, in times of disagreement, to respond with love and understanding. There is a realization that we are all sinner in need of God’s mercy. Our first reading reminded us that God did not make death and that he does not rejoice in the destruction of the living. To respond out of anger or complete dismissal of either ‘side’ as stupid or sinful is a symptom of holding on to what we don’t want to let go of. We either hold on to the things that lead to death and away from God or we let them fall at the Saviors’ feet. Listening to another, conversing with someone you don’t agree with, these are method which we meet at the Savior’s feet. The world needs more self-honesty, kindness, compassion, and sincerity. In our interactions this week we can encounter one another as the woman with hemorrhages encountered Christ - with an appreciation of life, not of death.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Enthusiastic Easter

Easter Sunday of the Lord's Resurrection, April 5, 2015
Saint Michael Catholic Church

Mass Readings: #42ABC

The infield of Churchill Down's is known for a lot of things. There's a lot of running around that happens there, and not just by the horses circling the track. One event that I have participated in a couple of times is an Easter Egg hunt that is put on by volunteers on Good Friday. I imagine that is a very different scenario than many of you had in mind. That's ok. The timing of this event always seemed off, but their intentions were good. They invite neighborhood children and especially any children of the migrant works that travel, and literally often live, with the horses. These children would come, enthusiastically running around filling their baskets with plastic eggs, and then turn those baskets in for Easter baskets full of candy and toys. It took some work scattering the eggs even though there was no place to really hide them. Instead, we took the several large storage crates full of plastic eggs and scattered them on the grass. This made it much more of a frantic gathering of eggs than really hunting for them. One thing can be said for sure about all the running around. It was done enthusiastically, and the volunteers were pretty enthusiastic because there was little work picking up the eggs that had taken some time to scatter. Is this similar to your Easter celebration? Running around, hunting eggs or chasing the Easter bunny from family gathering to family gathering? Will you do all this running around enthusiastically, with a joyous Easter heart? 

Scattering Easter Eggs at the Infield with my brother

A lot of that same great, enthusiastic running can be seen in our Gospel. Mary Magdalen runs from the tomb to get the disciples, Peter and the Beloved Disciple run to see what she is talking about, the Beloved Disciple wins the race but waits for Peter to arrive. There is a lot of running around and there should be, after all it's not every day that a dead man's tomb is found empty. I'd be running around enthusiastically, that's for sure! I would run for the man I had given my life to, a time spent following and learning from, a man who performed great works and sent me out to do the same. This man I thought was the Messiah had died, and now you're telling me he might be alive! Legs don't fail me now! 

The word enthusiastic doesn't appear in this Gospel passage, but I have nonetheless used it several times already. Do you know that you can't really do anything enthusiastically without doing it with and for God? If something is true, beautiful and for our good and the good of others it can, and really should, be done enthusiastically. Are you lost on how I came to this conclusion? You might use the word all the time and never once think about God. Well, I might just ruin the word for you. The key is the 'thus' in enthusiasm. It comes from the Greek for God, Theos, think of Theology - the study of God. The 'en' is the same as our in. So enthus, or Entheos, literally means in God, but can also means caught up in Divine power. 

Peter and 'the Beloved Disciple'

Any of the followers of Jesus: Mary Magdalen, Peter, John, the Beloved Disciple; did any of them just kind of wandering around eventually making their way back and forth from the tomb. No, they ran! They were filled with Divine energy and they ran; like Forrest Gump, they ran. Those Disciples were soon completely filled with the Holy Spirit and in the words of Forrest - they just felt like running. The disciples ran and ran spreading Christianity across the Roman Empire at an astounding rate. They did this because they were filled with the love of God, they did this because they lived and breathed in God. 

You and I have an opportunity today to practice true enthusiasm, not a fake kind of 'I'm so happy to be here.' But a real God-centered enthusiasm. The kind of enthusiasm that says yes I'm a Christian, yes I'm a Catholic, yes I'm a happy Catholic. Today you might give an enthusiastic yes to Christ, after all he gave an enthusiastic yes on the cross for you. This Easter, enthusiastically work on growing in your faith, do that and you'll find the Divine energy there waiting for you to do so. I also add, for those who hasn't been to Mass in a while, we have missed you. Seriously, it hasn't been the same without you here. With great enthusiasm I encourage you to join us again real soon. With that enthusiasm we can, like the early disciples, spread the faith across a world desperate for Good News.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

That Escalated Quickly

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

That really escalated quickly. We went from the entrance to Jerusalem to the crucifixion in seemingly no time at all. We see it almost every week. A new celebrity scandal or political misstep. It doesn't really matter who they are, just that they are famous in some way. It might be a race car driver, an actress, a sports star, a singer, a politician, a billionaire, or a celebrity famous for being a celebrity; they seem to be going along just fine and then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, they take a drastic fall. That's really a big part of it, isn't it? Why society watches, why we watch? We wait for something big to happen, we might even predict that something big will happen.

Christ's Entrance into Jerusalem 

In a similar way Jesus had a lot of people watching him. We are frequently told that great crowds gathered to listen or see him perform a miracle. Jesus had a flock of spectators, and in those crowds there always seemed to be some group wanting to see him fall. The drama will escalate this week. We will go from his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, to the last supper and the institution of the priesthood and the Eucharist on Thursday. We will witness Christ's agony from the garden to the cross on Friday, and at the Vigil we will watch as new members enter the Church and Christ is risen from the dead. All of this celebration will continue on through Easter Sunday.

We have a choice: we might decide to watch all that is going on in the Church this week, we might decide to ignore it all together, or we might desire to enter into the experience, making ourselves available in terms of time, and space in our hearts. No matter what you decide to do Christ has already decided on what he will do. Christ will regard us. He will do more than look at us, watch us. He will look into us and he will not turn away with shame, or anger, or regret. Instead Jesus will look at us, and see us for what we truly are! His beloved for whom he was willing to die!
All those people who looked at him, Jesus regarded them. The people who gathered to witness him early on, he truly saw them. The people who came and cheered for him, he regarded them with love, and with that same love he looked upon the very people who cheered for his death. Imagine looking at a crowd of cheering people, knowing that in a few short days they would be shouting for you to be crucified? How would you look at those faces? Would you be able to look at them at all?

Tintoretto, Crucifixion1565

I believe the reason for life is simple, it is a quest to be known. To be known so fully, so completely by another, that it is both pleasure and pain. To have another look into our eyes and 'get it.' I think that is what motivates the vast majority of what we do. Sisters and brothers the eyes of another person will eventually fail you. At some point even your eyes won't recognize the person staring in the mirror; and the person you thought understood you will disappoint you in an unspeakable way. The eyes of Jesus never fail. The eyes of Jesus always look upon you with complete love and understanding. This Holy Week will escalate very quickly, where will your eyes fall?