Posts tagged: Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus Loves His Friends

By , April 5, 2014 4:48 am

April 6th, Fifth Sunday of Lent

Oh, today’s Gospel! This is one of my favorite texts in the entire bible whether you are talking about Old or New Testaments. Today’s Gospel excerpt is drawn from the 11th chapter of St. John’s Gospel and for me it is wonderfully meaningful. The whole thrust of this Gospel is John, communicating to the first generation of the life of the Church, his memory what Jesus revealed about himself.

Sometimes our Lord communicated with words and other times just extraordinary actions. Today I am making reference to what I consider a wonderful extraordinary aspect of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. That is the fact that he was a MAN.
Members of the Christian community always recognize that Jesus is God dealing with us through a human nature. We know that. We believe that. But can we get our arms around it? Can our limited brains really grasp the awesome reality that within this Jewish carpenter from Nazareth the Godhead dwelt?

Well, today’s text really helps us to go in that direction. You know the story so well. Jesus goes to visit his friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus but on arriving, he is told that Lazarus died several days before. The text says that he was “troubled in spirit, moved by the deepest emotions” and then listen to this, he began to WEEP!

Did we all catch that? Jesus of Nazareth is weeping. This Divine Presence is torn by emotions, saddened and filled with a sense of loss. Can we really grasp that? I think the principle underlying the scene is that Lazarus was a friend of Jesus. Jesus liked him. Jesus was crushed on learning of Lazarus’ death. I like to transfer that concept to the rest of us. Yes, we are followers of Jesus, yes, we believe in him, but do we really see him as our friend? What a gift.

If we live a good life and if we do the things I just mentioned, we are his friends. Would your acquaintances be impressed if you were at a meeting and they announced that the president of the United States has called for you and has asked you to return the call? Would it seem important to you if it were only the governor or the mayor? My friends, if we are living a good life, we are the friends of Jesus. There is nothing better than that.

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The Church is a Mystery

By , April 2, 2014 5:43 am

The Second Vatican Council is now a little more than fifty years behind us. What an awesome event it was, and how it challenged the Universal Church to endeavor to review its ministerial effectiveness and make needed adaptations so that its ministry to the human family could be more effective. For about half of those fifty years, there was real progress and then a reaction set in. While most of the work of the Council was still on the drawing boards, determined efforts to slow it down were strong and destructively effective.

Then comes Pope Francis! All over the world, there is renewed hope that we will begin to move forward forcefully, not only to revivify the work of the Council, but to move with faith and confidence into a yet unknown future.

I have often encouraged people to go back and restudy the more powerful documents that emanated from the Council between 1962 and 1965. While we are in this recovery period, I am going to make sure that I do the same thing myself. The first document that I have gone back to is the awesomely important one called the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) . It was promulgated in November of 1964. It is a rather lengthy document and, given my always limited space here on this blog, I will have to practice verbal discipline, which is always difficult for an Irishman, especially since we are still quite close to St. Patrick’s Day.

The first important position point is the fact that the Council Fathers reminded Catholics across the world that the Church, begun by Jesus of Nazareth, guided by the Holy Spirit and inviting the whole human family into it, is in fact an awesome MYSTERY while at the same time, the Church, in terms of its membership, is all too human and there is nothing mysterious about that.

The Church is a mystery in that it originates in God’s plan. It is set up by Jesus of Nazareth. He begins it himself by teaching tens of thousands of people for three years and calling them, and all of us as well, to walk in his footsteps. The Church is a mystery because its prime director is not this bishop or that pope or the local pastor, but nothing other than the Holy Spirit who sanctifies it by its presence and guidance. The church is mysterious in that its inner life is formed, not by organizations, structures, leaders or plans, but by the saving grace of Jesus of Nazareth.
In our day by day life, going to Mass on Sunday, seeing our grandchildren baptized, receiving the Eucharist or the other Sacraments, we need to be conscious that we are living and acting and being affected by this mysterious reality, the Church itself.

As we move forward towards Easter, let us try to concentrate more clearly on the awesomeness of this mystery.

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How Long Has It Been Since You Were Baptized?

By , July 23, 2013 4:22 am

Has it been 21 years? Fifty-eight years? Three months ago?

Whenever that awesome event occurred, each of us needs to try to think about it from time to time. Our faith tells us, and we need to remind ourselves, that at the time of our baptism each one of us entered into a new relationship with the Triune God and with all the other believers who share baptism with us.

Baptism is the great equalizer. Pope Francis was baptized and became a brother of Jesus of Nazareth. Your great-grandfather was baptized and lived his life walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. You and I were baptized and by that fact are joined to each other through our faith and through our shared brotherhood with Jesus of Nazareth.

Baptism presents us with a challenge of taking our redemption seriously, to be conscious of the fact that what happened on Calvary nearly 2,000 years ago is still taking affect, is still calling us to be conscious of who we are, what we are, where we are going and how to get there.

If we were baptized as infants, our sponsors answered for us but when we returned at Confirmation the questions were presented to us again and if we responded sincerely, we are still bound by the faith-filled obligation of walking in the footsteps of Jesus.

How are you doing?

How am I doing?

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Feast of St. Peter and Paul

By , June 29, 2013 4:28 am

June 29th
I have been putting this blog out for over three years and have had a consistent policy regarding the weekends. I attempt to make some meaningful remarks regarding one or another of Sunday’s scripture excerpts. That comes out on Saturday and then, following God’s direction in the Third Commandment, I do nothing on Sunday.
This week, however, I am going to let the scriptures take care of themselves. They are well able to do that and I would like to talk about today’s regular liturgical feast. Across the world today we celebrate the great names of St. Peter and St. Paul.
The Church has always kept these two men side by side because they are the key apostles in the first generation in the life of the Church. Peter was not just an apostle. He was the leader of the other apostles. While Paul was not one of the original twelve, he was certainly so filled with faith, zeal and effective missionary work that he declared himself an apostle and the Church has accepted that from the first century.
I think that we can take inspiration from these two wonderful men. They centered their lives on Jesus of Nazareth and the sacrifices in carrying out their missionary activities. Both experienced misunderstanding from others in the Church. Finally, both will die very close to each other in the year 66 in the first Roman persecution of this new community of Jesus’ followers, which at first was called “The Way.”
In addition to inspiration flowing from the example that they have given us, I think we can also find encouragement by the fact that as great as they were they both were very human. Peter was impetuous and at times inconsistent. Paul could be given to braggadociousness and anger. He fired two of his closest co-workers and had a face to face run in with St. Peter. I think that knowing about these very human blemishes is wonderful. We can draw inspiration and encouragement from Peter and Paul and all the saints without having to think that they were perfect. Their imperfections make their holiness even more important

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Wave Those Palms

By , March 23, 2013 4:44 am


March 24th, Palm Sunday
It is almost over. For five weeks the Church has been calling us to examine ourselves more honestly, to center our thoughts more clearly on the reality of Jesus of Nazareth and enter into a spirit of prayer that would carry us forcefully into Holy Week and the great Feast of the Resurrection.
Holy Week is here and the next seven days we will symbolically walk with our blessed Lord. First, he experiences a brief triumph as he enters on a donkey (a symbol of royalty) and cheered wildly in his honor as he enters the city gates of Jerusalem. The text of Matthew’s Gospel says that the crowd was huge, very excited, tearing branches off trees and even laying down their cloaks so that the animal could, a symbolic sense, walk on a carpet. Then it gets quiet.
Jesus and his disciples would again go outside the city to the suburban town of Bethany and he will abide with his close friends for three very quiet days of prayer and preparation.
Wednesday has Judas cutting a deal. He promises to give the enemies of Jesus the opportunity to arrest him at a time when it can be done quietly without instigating a riot.
Thursday reminds us of the institution of the Eucharist and the beginnings of the priesthood.
Friday we call “good” but it is awful and holiness explodes on Saturday as we anticipate the celebration of the actual resurrection.
The whole process will be over in just a few days. If we have slipped a little during the past weeks, this would be a good time to say I am going to give it my all, to concentrate on this sacred week for ourselves and for our families.

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The New Pope – In What Direction Will We Go?

By , March 11, 2013 4:44 am

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini died last August, one of my favorite Church leaders. He was one of the best scripture scholars in the world. He headed the famous Biblicum in Rome and when he died he was a marvelously successful archbishop in Milam. Two weeks before he died, he said, “The Church is 200 years out of date and in need of radical transformation. The Church is tired. Our culture has grown old, our churches are big and empty and the Church bureaucracy rises up. Our religious rites and the vestments we wear are pompous.”
None of that was new. Many of us have been saying it for many years but when Benedict was pope he did not see the need or have the strength to make the necessary changes. What will happen now? With Pope Benedict breaking new ground with his extraordinary resignation, this is a time to question many aspects of Church administration. Systems of governance in the Church has changed several times over the last 2,000 years and, believe me, it was not always monarchy. Look through the four Gospels and you will find very little in the life of Jesus of Nazareth that you would instinctively connect with monarchy – total power in the hands of one person.
My heartfelt prayer is that the cardinals will endeavor to come to grips with the extraordinarily serious problems in the Church with basic structural changes that are required, and that they will have the vision and the courage to do so.
God bless the new pope. A great deal of work awaits him.

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The Sant’Egidio Community…Bringing Peace!

By , January 17, 2013 7:05 am

For many years I have been hearing about the Sant’Egidio Community in Rome. I am embarrassed to say that I don’t know whether or not it is actually a parish or simply a gathering of faith-filled people with a common commitment to prayer, evangelization and solidarity. This community has been so successful in making the peaceful work of Jesus of Nazareth that they have gradually spread across the world. They work together on projects of reconciliation between peoples and organizations. They generate a tremendous amount of service and assistance to people in need, especially the poorest of the poor, and the other day I just found out that they brought peace to an African nation 20 years ago. I am referring to Mozambique situated on the east coast of Africa.
For many years Mozambique had been torn by civil war, famine and suffering. The Community of Sant’Egidio knew that neither the nation nor the Church would ever prosper until peace broke in. They approached the two divisive groups and began a program of dialogue and discussion. Sant’Egidio facilitated the first meeting between the two opposing sides and the first move to attempt to find the common ground operating under the principal of Pope John XXIII, “Leave aside what divides and start working on what unites.” The two sides then turned to Sant’Egidio requesting that it, as a well-respected neutral partner, handle the second round of negotiations. Those negotiations would go on for many months but finally a peace agreement was reached in Rome in 1992. That peace agreement has held beautifully now for twenty years and other African nations, also torn by internal conflicts within the country, are beginning to look at what is called “the Sant’Egidio Method” to end fighting, find common ground and begin to talk. It is crucial, however, that this third level conversation always be chaired and guided by an entity that everyone involved trusts. Sometimes that is hard to do in Africa.
The nation of Burundi found itself in a situation similar to that which Mozambique faced in the early 1990’s. They decided to take the Sant’Egidio Method and real progress has been made there. A signed agreement leave important problems unsettled but it is very real progress. The same is true in other African nations such as Niger and Guinea. Here the small group of dedicated, faith-filled laypeople reach outside their own church structures to bring peace to other parts of the world. It is a marvelous example of what Christians with faith, vision and the ability to negotiate can bring into the lives of nations fraught by war. May God bless Sant’Egidio.
I was happy to learn that the Community of Sant’Egidio has now been set up in the United States. It was first established in New York City in 1998 and since then has developed programs in Washington, South Bend, Boston, the Twin Cities and Manchester. I will be endeavoring to get more information on this subject immediately after the first of the year.

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Feast of the Holy Family

By , December 29, 2012 5:04 am

Feast of the Holy Family
From time to time, I mention that I am really fascinated by the Church year. By that I mean the liturgical year, and how the church has chosen to order all 52 weeks in a 3 year cycle that beautifully summarizes the whole story of salvation, and most especially the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
I believe that’s always the case, but you couldn’t get better than today’s feast day, the formal title of which is the Feast of the Holy Family.
It’s a week after Christmas, and most of us have great family celebrations, but who is not exhausted? Today’s gospel excerpt simply could not be better, nor for me, more delightful. Remember the Church has to move fast with the liturgical year. One week ago we were celebrating His birth. Today He is twelve! And since Jesus is entering His teenage years, it’s only right that He should upset his parents! It’s the end of a big Jewish feast day, and Mary and Joseph had gone to celebrate the passover in Jerusalem. In the chaos of returning home with a large party of the faithful, Mary and Joseph took for granted that Jesus was alright and in the crowd. Suddenly they realized that He was not there. They raced back to Jerusalem, and actually spend three days looking for Him. Where was He? Jesus was in the temple astonishing the teachers and clerical beurocrats. the text says “they were amazed at his intelligence and his answers”.
Mary says something that other mothers have said in the course of history- “why have you done this to us? You see your father and mother have been searching for you in sorrow.” Then, from the mouth of this twelve year old comes an awesome response. “Did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” It would be a long time before they really understood that statement, but Mary never forgot it.
Families must struggle to stay close, even under pressure. Families must learn to be patient with each other, even in the face of stress. Families must trust each other in order to be happy.
The Holy family got it right!

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