For many saints the cross was the only book we would need. Here alone one learns the lessons of love, not in formulas, prayers, or sermons, but in a life given. The cross is the chair of truth. Here we see truly humankind at its worst, crucifying the innocent one. Here, too, we see humanity at its best, in a faithful life given for others. This mystical ladder to heaven can truly only be lived, not understood. And if it is understood, it can only be grasped by one who has loved and has struggled to love.
Our God is not an abstraction found in the pages of a book. Our God is found in this person, Jesus. God has become one with us, has experienced our pain, our wants and our disappointments. God's love is to be lived in all its frustrating difficulty by the followers of Jesus. We know that only in giving, completely, and selflessly as Jesus does, do we gain life itself. With St. Gaspar we say over and over, "Superabundo gaudio in omni tribulatione." I am overflowing with joy all the more because of our affliction. (2 Cor. 7:4)
We are not spectators here. It is time for us to enter into the Paschal mystery by allowing our lives, loves, joys, hopes, disappointments, suffering to be made over by Christ's death and resurection. The cause for hostility here was a good work. Jesus had shown his mastery over the power of death by raising Lazarus, and this good work was a source of fear and malice in the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin.
Caiphas, who did not know the depth of what he was saying, stated that it was better to have one man die for the nation than to have the whole nation destroyed. The irony is that Jesus death did not preserve their stronghold. Jerusalem was destroyed in the 60's - 70's The Evangelist knew the depth of what had happened, that Jesus death would gather into one all the dispersed children of God. At Passover time the High priest is to seek out a lamb to be the spotless sacrifice. This is what Caiphas unknowingly does as the true High priest is feared by the earthly high priest.
The way before us is clear. The following of Jesus is beset by opposition from the adversary. Even the good the Missionaries do is a source of resistance. The good the church is engaged in can be a source of misunderstanding and even animosity. So we are not spectators. We take up the cross and follow Jesus.
This is a Sunday marked by the word "Laetare." We rejoice in more than the mid-point of a forty day fast. The joy of this day is that Jesus has reconciled sinners and invited them to the Eucharistic Feast. The first reading celebrates the joy of coming to the promised land. The Second reading celebrates the joy of becoming a new creation in Christ. The Gospel tells the story of a large feast for a whole village marked for Joy. Fatted calves are not for small family affairs; there would be too much wasted. Reconciliation is a public celebration.
The younger son:
The older brother:
The saints call us to reflect on the journey home marked by repentance and contrition. This leads us directly to the Lord who showers us with the gifts of the heavenly feast to give us strength and life so that we might continue the journey. The banquet bestowed on the prodigal has all the marks of this joyful Eucharistic feast. He has prepared for us his choicest wines. This is the cup of the new and eternal covenant, poured out for all so that sins may be forgiven.
This is a father who delights in showing mercy. Twice he leaves his house to bestow extravagant love to his children. If he had stayed home, he would have had one dead child and one ungrateful servant. Instead he wanted two sons. So, he does the unexpected. He sees a sinful child still far off and he is filled with compassion. Not waiting for the child to come to him, he goes first, to protect him from the judgment of those who condemn sinners, and second to bestow gifts of mercy, freedom and honor. For the second son he leaves the celebration to make clear that the invitation is to sinners, to those who because of pride remain distant, and to those on the outside who do not feel welcome at the feast. It is Jesus who has left the house of heaven, and is outside with us, inviting us and all sinners to the life he came to give. And to make clear that there is nothing that will separate us from the love of God.
The saints want us to experience this immeasurable generosity of God, using words like "ineffable benefit," "august mystery," and "flaming outburst" to describe the inexpressible Love of God. They want us to experience the depths of this love that we might also learn to love without measure.
This is a father who delights in showing mercy. The parable of a Father and two sons is a tool Jesus used to assure us that there is no one who has an unforgivable sin and that God is simply waiting to shower unspeakable joy on the worst of sinners, sinners who return to him.
This is a parish that is rich in opportunities for the Sacrament of Penance. Come to that sacrament often if you are indeed working on your spiritual life.
It is Jesus who has left the house of heaven, and is outside with us, inviting us and all sinners to the life he came to give. And to make clear that there is nothing that will separate us from the love of God.
So, there is this young woman in a far off place. Not in the centers of power, certainly not in Rome. Insignificant, unknown; who knew her? She was not known by anybody outside her village, but this is where God visited. She recognized the words, “Do not be afraid” –this is what God had said to Abraham, to Joshua, to Daniel. She had heard the echo throughout the centuries: God was building a house. She did not realize it was going to be her. When we think of God building His own house, that God said to David, “I will build a house,” we are thinking of a huge temple even bigger than St. Peter’s; we are thinking of grandeur. But this is where God came –-- Mary.
Ahaz thought he knew better than God. We all have expectations.
God will take the smallest place. The smallest crumb, the place in the universe that no one expects.
Sermon, Third Sunday of Lent, 2019, Cathedral of St. Eugene, EF, Diocese of Santa Rosa
At that time, Jesus was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb; and when He had cast out the devil, the dumb man spoke. And the crowds marveled. But some of them said, By Beelzebub, the prince of devils, He casts out devils. And others, to test Him, demanded from Him a sign from heaven. But He, seeing their thoughts, said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and house will fall upon house. If, then, Satan also is divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because you say that I cast out devils by Beelzebub. Now, if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When the strong man, fully armed, guards his courtyard, his property is undisturbed. But if a stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he will take away all his weapons that he relied upon, and will divide his spoils. He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he roams through waterless places in search of rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house which I left.’ And when he has come to it, he finds the place swept. Then he goes and takes seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse that the first. Now it came to pass as He was saying these things, that a certain woman from the crowd lifted up her voice and said to Him, Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts that nursed You. But He said, Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.
New file uploaded to St. Gaspar page
St. Joseph was a just man. He was faithful to the laws and customs, the ways of Israel. And yet he was also faithful to dreams, hopes and a vision of what God desires. More than being the patron of the Church, he is the patron of the hidden doing of God's will. In the silence of his sleep, we hear and see nothing. In his dreams he sees everything.
Imagine what his anxious moments must have been like. He desired to do what was right and just, but he also desired to do what was fair for Mary. The saints would have us look at our own anxious moments and know that just as Joseph was in the hands of God, so are we. saints would encourage us to seek God's will with the same energy and devotion as Joseph. Excessive fear causes agitation too, as one can readily imagine. Why become anxious as long as we are in the hands of God? Is he not a most loving Father? Does he not take care of us? Does he not dispose all things for our own good? He used Moses to humiliate Pharaoh and, in general, God chose the weak…to shame the strong. (1 Cor 1:27) When we use the 24 hours of the day for God, in the heart of his will, we have done everything. This does not deny, however, the necessity of prayer and faith in God."
Joseph challenges us to love the will of God and to trust the will of God with the same tangible faith. This faith would get us up from our sleep to follow a dream of God's way without fear or anxiousness.
Omnia Christus Est Nobis
Christ is everything for us!
I am a Roman Catholic Priest from California. I spent 13 wonderful years years as a member of the Province of the Pacific in the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. The outline of my life can be traced here.