29 October 2012

I want to see.

Throughout the entirety of last week, I sat with a dear friend as I listened to his words and pondered the depth of his wisdom.  I listened as he spoke with great faith and moved in great confidence.  Throughout my time with him, I couldn't help but be amazed at the great courage he showed and the persistence with which he spoke out.  For those of you who don't know him, his name is Batrimeus, he is the son of Timeus and while he is blind, he showed me just how clearly he can see.  
Now, before you go off and tell everyone just how crazy I am (I'm not, I've been tested), take a moment to hear me out.  You see, for as long as I can remember, I have known Bartimeus, or at least since a wise Spiritual Director of mine told me to sit with him.  "Wait with him on that curb," my Spiritual Director said, "and see what happens, who comes around."  And sure enough, wouldn't you know it, after hours and hours of waiting, Jesus came around.  Not only did he come around though, he came and then the unexpected happened  or at least I believed it to be unexpected.  Bartimeus started yelling at the top of his lungs, crying out into every direction, hoping that his plea wouldn't fall on deaf ears, and then it happened, the crowd became eerily quiet after it had tried to silence Barti, (that's what I call him) and then some people started telling him to get up, Jesus was calling,  and lo and behold, Barti sprang up, threw his cloak aside and went to Jesus.  I was mesmerized to see how Bartimeus went straight to Jesus, "but how?" I asked myself, "he's blind!"  He did it though and everyone was amazed at what transpired, because just ask quickly as Bartimeus had sprang up, he had regained his sight.  The entire crowd was awestruck at this event, but there's something more that was amazing.  You see, as I trailed behind Bartimeus, I was able to hear Jesus as he spoke with great love with Barti.  Jesus asked him what he wanted and Barti spoke clearly, "I want to see."  And see he did, but what struck me the most is that Jesus didn't just give Bartimeus his vision back, he gave him something far more healing.  Jesus spoke of Bartimeus being saved, and that is what struck me the most.  
And so it is, in Jesus we are not only able to see with our eyes, but truly we are able to see with the heart that God has given us, the same heart onto which God smiled when he declared us humans to be "very good."  I can't begin to imagine just how Bartimeus had the fortitude or courage to do what he did, or how he even found his way to Jesus, but I have no doubt that in all the time he had sat in a world of darkness, he had been able to attune his heart to the voice of his shepherd, of our shepherd, and just like the sheep that Jesus speaks of, Bartimeus was able to respond and follow as soon as he heard that voice, but there's more, not only did Barti have a faith that knew the voice of God, he also had a disposition to put that faith into action, I believe that is what gave him the ability to spring up and go to Jesus.  Thinking about all this, it makes me wonder where I am, how is my faith made strong in the silence?  Am I able to attune my own heart to that of Jesus, or do I stray and listen to other voices?  And am I as willing to respond when God calls, or do I lolly gag on this or that little thing, do I trip over my own cloak?  Either way, my good friend Barti has reminded me that for all that I know and love God, there is still far more to do, I pray that each of us, in our own way, are able to grow in knowing and loving God, that we may each respond when necessary and above all, that our faith may help us see even when the way is unclear.  As always, know that you are loved. God bless you.  Fr. Rick

21 October 2012

Something Different... ¡Español!

Me alegre cuando me dijeron, vamos a la casa del Señor

Tantas veces he oído, y cantado este verso del canto bien conocido que resuena tan a menudo en nuestras parroquias o celebraciones.  Pero nunca había tomado un momento para reflexionar sobre que significa este canto tan simple, pero tan poderoso.  Al mirarlo, parece solo expresar la alegría del autor, vamos a la casa del Señor.  Pero que si vemos esta frase come Jesús nos invita, como niños?  El significado de este verso empieza a cambiar.  No solo nos llega la importancia de ir a la casa del Señor, sino que también comenzamos a pensar de lo que cuesta ir a esa casa, lo largo que puede ser el camino, y los obstáculos que tal vez tengamos que sobrepasar.  Tal vez, para un adulto, el viaje no sea tan difícil o trabajoso, pero para un niño, se dificulta mas.  Requiere un cambio total de visión, significa una jornada a un lugar diferente y aparte de mi casa, y provoca una vulnerabilidad que me llama a confiar totalmente en aquellos que me llevan. Y a la vez, nos llena de alegría porque vamos a la casa del Señor, a donde nos encontramos con aquel quien nos llama en su gran amor, allí, es la casa del Señor, allí llegamos a ver y conocemos a Dios que nos inspira una nueva visión de lo que es ser Hijo o Hija.  
Al llegar a la casa del Señor, llegamos a un lugar de alegría y paz, pero no siempre es fácil el camino.  En tomar la decisión de ir a la casa del Señor nos encomendamos a otros, y esperamos que en nuestra jornada no solo llegaremos, pero que aquellos en quienes hemos confiado no nos desviaran del camino.  Como niños, nuestra jornada de Cristianos significa una entrega al AENOR, y una dedicación al caminar hacia su casa, a través del camino muchas veces desconocido.  Pero caminamos reconociendo que al final, tendremos esa alegría y ese descanso, llegaremos a un lugar donde reina la paz.  La jornada, por mas fácil o mas difícil que haya sido, termina, y juntos, regocijamos.  Así que al ser invitados a la casa del Señor, nos alegramos, no solo por la invitación, sino por la hermosa realidad que al llegar, no somos los mismos. En verdad, nuestra transformación ocurre en el amor infinito de Dios que vamos conociendo al recorrer nuestro camino, y allí, en Dios es donde encontramos la vida, donde encontramos un amor que nos alegra no solo por haber entrado a la casa del Señor, sino por haber encontrado la vida que Dios nos tiene preparada.  Y allí, cantamos con los santos y los ángeles, “Que alegría cuando me dijeron, vamos a la casa del Señor.”

Buen Camino.

Padre Ricardo

14 October 2012

Sunday's Homily, or something of the sort

This past Thursday, October 11th, we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.  For those not familiar with this event, it is commonly known as Vatican II and is often primarily recognized for having introduced the mass in the vernacular or common language, and for having turned the altars around.  Mass in English and the priest facing the people was only one change that resulted from this momentous event in the Church’s life.  There were 16 documents produced, ranging from the liturgy to our relations with other churches.  
This past Thursday, in conjunction with the anniversary of Vatican II, the Church also began the year of faith which will accompany us until November 23 of next year.  
But all this may be perhaps nothing more than a happy memory or another church thing to do, or at least it may seem that way.  In actuality, the Year of Faith, is a time for us to enter into a sincere and honest reflection of not just the faith, this vague and distant idea that the priest have to worry about, but a moment in which we pause and reflect on who I am as a part of the Church, and if the Church’s mission is to evangelize, how I participate in that.  It is a moment to reconnect with our own faith or to help it grow. 
 So what do Year of Faith and Vatican II have to do with today’s readings?  Well, you see, we enter this year of faith as a people of faith, but we are also being called upon to enter as intentional people.  People willing to participate, not just in church events, but in authentic and honest self-reflection.  We are called to reflect on who I am and who God is in my life.  What does faith mean to me and how do I live out the faith every day?
And just in case we’re still not sure of how to “self-reflect,” we see in the Gospel today this young man who lived his faith in such a way that at least exteriorly, he could be held in high regard as a model Jew.  But when asked to go beyond the exterior, when enjoined upon by Jesus to enter a more profound and spiritual faith, when asked to be more vulnerable, he saddened and walked away.  Even after Jesus looks at him with love, he is unable to respond, he is unable to take the “leaf of faith,” unsure about really trusting God who calls.   
Going back to the second Vatican Council, we see the response of John XXIII to this same invitation, to enter into a place where he, and the Church, where we become open, vulnerable to the movements of the Spirit.  In declaring that a council would be convened, John XXIII, invited the Church to self-reflect, and in effect, to enter into a more profound relationship with Christ.  His response was a yes to the conversion that we are each constantly in need of, because of sin or other factors, we need to draw closer to Christ, to look at our riches and to be able to heed the call to follow HIM.  Instead of hearing his voice, and missing out on the love with which he calls.  There was great fear when John XXIII called the Council, but ultimately, that is our own journey, one in which we are open to the movements of the Holy Spirit, where we are compelled by that same Spirit to move and very often to move into the unknown, in faith.  And so we must ask ourselves, and perhaps it’s a good starting point for the Year of Faith, where am I like the young man?  Am I too rich to follow Jesus, or am I able to walk in faith into the unknown, believing and trusting that even there, in the mystery of tomorrow, God is already at work?  
This year of faith is a time to do just that, to look at ourselves, at our lives and at our relationship with Christ and to heed God’s call that in doing so, we may not only grow in faith, but also in God’s life-giving love that can call us beyond even fear and death.  Let us be people of life that unlike the young man, are able to listen and respond with an interior faith.  Let us be people that walk into the heart of God, where hope enkindles that Spirit that has guided many others, that same loving Spirit, with which Christ spoke.  May we, together, be people walking in Christ, along the narrow way, and not those who stand to the side as they watch the camel go through the eye of the needle.  May we see the Church, us, rest in Christ, for he calls with love.  And we respond in faith.  As always, know that you are loved.  Fr Rick

08 October 2012

Respect Life, Become Gospel People

Yesterday, Sunday, October 7th, was Respect Life Sunday, and across the country, if not the world, bishops, priests, deacons and countless others spoke on this matter.  In Midland, there was a Life Chain that formed between Illinois and Ohio Streets along a busy stretch of Andrews Highway. Other cities had similar displays in support of life.  Hearing about Respect Life Sunday, however, can sometimes produce or arouse one or several misconceptions connected to such a name.  Respect Life is not just about anti-abortion, it is about the dignity of every human being from conception to natural death.  It is a recognition that beyond creed or belief, every one of us is a Beloved child of God. It is a plea to come face to face with our brother, or our sister and recognize each other not as Muslim or Jew, Catholic or Protestant, but indeed, as Brother and Sister.  Respect Life  is about being able to recognize who we are in God's eyes and to stand arm in arm as we work for the defense of those whose voices will not, or cannot be heard.  All too often, sensitive issues in our society are either politicized or glossed over with a delicacy that refuses to recognize the urgency of the situation we face.  Today, we are invited to think about this urgency as we regard life and living conditions for many or the lack thereof.  You see, more and more, life, and in fact, each of us, is losing the God-given dignity and importance that is granted us beyond even political borders.  More and more, there is a loss of our image as beloved children of God which in turn has serious consequences, including a breakdown of the family, a loss of childhood at a quicker pace, and all too often, an anger about what "I can do with my own body!"  And as choices take on more severe realities, the dignity of the human self is being diminished, slowly chipping away with every new "option" that is brought to market.  Increasingly,  instead of possessing an understanding of who we are in God's eyes, we fall victim to the latest trends and fashions, to the latest thing that "makes my life easier," without thinking how it may affect others.  We are seduced by the latest medical procedures and have no trouble in justifying our "choices."  Life is much more, MUST be much more than just one or the other issue, and I would dare say, that issue isn't even the correct term to be used.  Rather, life is about a gift that each of us is freely given, the gift of Creator God whose infinite and overflowing love calls us into being.  A gift of ever-redeeming love offered to us through Christ's own sacrifice, it is a gift that the Spirit grants us each day as we face new and ever increasing challenges in our lives, a gift that sanctifies us and strengthens us to keep walking with heads held high and our hearts firmly rooted in God.  And so, as we commemorate Respect Life, we are not called to "fight" against one thing or another, but to become Gospel People.  People who know and love God and who live in love, not just for those we care for, but for all.  It is about being able to root out those evils, that can so easily help us rationalize our own destruction, by living the Gospel message that will always bring us into life. It is about living no longer for ourselves, but for and in Christ, because ultimately,  it will be there, in the love of God, that we will not only find our home, but indeed, where life will be respected and granted.  As always, know that you are loved.  Fr. Rick