Gracias por su presencia con nosotros hoy en nuestra misa. Para venir a la iglesia hoy para dar gracias a Dios y para unir con nuestra comunidad de fe es una acción de caridad y unidad. Este día es una celebración muy importante en nuestra nación. Muchos personas viajan una distancia larga para cenar con sus familia y sus queridos. Damos gracias a Dios por las bendiciones que tenemos en nuestras familias, en nuestra comunidad, en nuestra nación. Damos gracias en la mitad de nuestros gozos y en la mitad de nuestra luchas y desafíos. El leproso samaritano dio gracias en la mitad de su realidad – de su enfermedad y su sanación. Pero los otros leprosos no se daban cuenta de la necesidad de dar gracias. La Eucaristía que celebramos cada misa es una acción de gracias – la palabra eucaristía viene de una palabra griega que significa “dar gracias.” Un sacerdote dominicano alemán del siglo XIII – Meister Eckhart – dijo eso – “Si yo solo tengo una oración en toda mi vida entera – la oración de dar gracias – eso es suficiente.” Damos gracias hoy en la misa como individuales, como familias, como una Iglesia. Damos gracias por nuestra bendiciones. Y oramos por la paz y las necesidades de nuestro mundo.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
As a pastor, I try to keep my ear open to what the concerns are of my congregation. For example, when the Supreme Court made on marriage, I went in the sacristy before mass started that next Sunday, and that was the theme of the conversation going on in there. A pastor would be remiss if he did not address things like this. And that is the comment I hear from some in the community, that there churches do not address the real issues that are going on in the world. We can talk about salvation and the eternal life that is to come, but what about the issues that impact our daily lives here on earth? These past few weeks, with the bombings in Paris fresh in our minds and with a foreign travel advisory warning being issued by the US State Dept, ISIS and terrorism and religious persecutions seems to be the topic of the day. I saw this quote on the American pilgrims website this morning from Ghandi - "There is no path to peace. Peace is the path." Amen I say to that. We cannot be complacent and we cannot remain inactive, but we cannot give up our values and we cannot give up working for peace and solidarity, even with those who try to do us harm. Jesus calls us to live out the Gospel in our lives. It that just a lofty ideal, or is that something we struggle with in our daily lives? We are all in this together. I made my reservations to go to Spain last night. I leave on my pilgrimage on January 17 after my three Sunday masses. I will be gone of three week. This is my fourth time going to the pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela. As I anticipate my departure in less than two months, I so look forward to spending time with God and the goodness of his creation on this ancient pilgrimage route. I will fly from Memphis to Dallas to London to Madrid, and then will start the morning of January 19th on the pilgrimage route in the Basque country in Spain after a train ride there. I will pray every step of the way. I will pray for a renewal of my own soul, something I desperately need after the long days of work I have as a priest. (We priests are required to go on an annual retreat as written in the Church's canon law, and there is a real reason for that requirement.) Let us pray for peace and a conversion of the souls who wish to do harm and violence in the world. Let us pray for peace.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Tomorrow, we will celebrate Thanksgiving as a nation, having great feasts with our families and friends and loved ones. It is a time when we give thanks for the blessings and the abundance that we have in our lives, in which we give thanks to God. Yet, there is also a harsh reality out there. A reality where there are fears of another terrorist attack, of a general foreign travel advisory issued to US citizens by our State Dept. A reality where we not sure where the world is going, where a lot of people have a lot of fear and uncertainty. I recently saw this quote from the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who himself was killed by the Nazi at the end of the Second World War. Bonhoeffer stated: “God does not love some ideal person, but rather human beings just as we are, not some ideal world, but rather the real world.” Jesus addresses a reality in the Gospel today when he says that all kinds of bad things will come upon his followers – they will be seized and persecuted, they will handed over to the prisons and the synagogues. We are called to be true to the Gospel in good times and in bad times, in our joys and in our sufferings. We are called to be a follower of Jesus no matter what. And because of our life of discipleship, we may become a target. As we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, let us thank those who suffered for their faith so that they could pass down that faith to us.
Monday, November 23, 2015
Our Gospel tells us that 10 lepers were cleansed of their affliction after they pleaded and begged Jesus to heal them. Yet, only one of them returns to give thanks and to glorify God. In our crazy, hectic lives, it is often easy to take things for granted, to forget to give thanks and to hurry on our way. God calls us to be thankful wherever we are in our lives, even in difficult circumstances. The leper who returned to give thanks was even more of an outcast when compared to the other lepers, for he was a Samaritan, a group that was shunned by the Jews of Ancient Israel. Yet, in his heart, he truly was thankful to God. One of my favorite quotes from a saint is from Meister Eckhart, a Dominican priest from the 13th century: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” What a wonderful quote. And what a wonderful way approach our journey through life. Nevertheless, we live in an era when giving thanks and showing gratitude is perhaps a lost art.
Today, we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving to be thankful for our country, our families and our friends, and for the blessings we have in our lives, even thought there a lot of Americans who will not say a prayer today nor will they enter a house of worship today. We are all gathered here today at St James Catholic Church here in Tupelo, Mississippi to give thanks in a very Catholic way, for our commemoration of Christ’s last supper and the Eucharist. In fact, the word “Eucharist” comes for a Greek that means “to give thanks.” Every time we come to mass, we celebrate around the Lord’s table, giving thanks and praises to God, so all of those days should be a days of thanksgiving for us.
When the lepers ask Jesus to cleanse them, he tells them to go to show themselves to the priests. Jesus calls them to action. And when the one leper comes back to give thanks, Jesus sends him back out into the world as well. In our thanksgiving, we are called to action, not to remain complacent or inactive. As we get ready to enter the holy season of Advent and the Year of Mercy, perhaps God is calling us in a special way to go beyond ourselves and to reach out to someone in an action of mercy or charity or kindness.
Today, as we celebrate Thanksgiving is a national holiday, let us see it as much more than that. As we celebrate with food and fellowship with our families and friends, let us acknowledge that we are not thanking ourselves and not thanking any of the false gods or idols we have made in our lives. We give thanks to God today. We give many thanks to him.
Sunday, November 22, 2015
Estamos en el último domingo del año litúrgico en la Iglesia Católica, una fecha muy importante en nuestra vida de fe. El Papa Pio XI, en el 11 de diciembre de 1925, proclamó la solemnidad de Jesucristo, Rey del Universo, para cerrar el tiempo ordinario de nuestro año litúrgico en la Iglesia ante de empezar el tiempo de preparación en adviento. El Evangelio que escuchamos hoy es interesante sobre Cristo como el rey del universo – es un conversación entre Cristo y Poncio Pilato. Tal vez la proclamación mas significada viene al fin del Evangelio. Jesús declara: “Tú lo has dicho: soy rey. Yo nací y vine al mundo para decir lo que es la verdad. Y todos los que pertenecen a la verdad, me escuchan.” Entonces, si Cristo es nuestro rey, ¿Qué vamos a hacer para proclamar su reino en nuestra comunidad? ¿Como buscaremos la verdad de Cristo y de su reino en nuestra vida diaria?
Cuando escuchamos las palabras sobre los reinos y los reyes en nuestro Evangelio, tal vez pensamos en los reinos que los seres humanos construyen aquí en la tierra. Hay muchos reyes y reinas en la historia del mundo – mucho reinos también. En el siglo diez y seis, el Rey Felipe Segundo construyó un palacio en España con las riquezas de oro y plata de sus colonias en América Latina. Los planes de este palacio tienen su inspiración en el Templo de Salomón en Jerusalén. El concepto de los reinos y los países en la tierra es para construir un reino aquí de riquezas, abundancia, y prosperidad como un reflejo de la grandeza del reino eterno de Dios y de su poder. Irónicamente, los planes del Rey Felipe Segundo para construir este palacio tremendo arruinó su país y ahora es un museo que los turistas visitan. No es un sitio de poder y influencia.
Tenemos muchos ejemplos de los reinos aquí en la tierra – reinos como la cima de poder y predominio. Le preguntó Pilato a Jesús: “¿Eres tú el Rey de los judíos?” Pilato, como el gobernador romano de Israel, nos perece que tiene poder sin limites. Y Pilato preguntaba a Jesús, un hombre sin muchas riquezas y sin mucho poder terrestre, si él es rey. En su respuesta a Pilato, Jesús explicó que vino al mundo para predicar la verdad. Cristo mostró que el poder verdadero y la autoridad verdadera no vienen de puestos o títulos, pero de la fuerza interior de una persona. Cristo tiene su poder en la verdad de Dios, en la verdad que no tiene limites.
Somos bautizados, somos católicos, vamos a la misa – pero todo de eso no significa que Cristo es nuestro Rey en nuestra vida diaria. La verdad en el Reino de Dios y en el reino de Cristo como nuestro Rey representan la proclamación de la vida y las enseñanzas de Cristo en el pasado, la proclamación del presente del testigo de nuestra Iglesia y la manera que los católicos viven fielmente su fe, y la proclamación en el futuro en la plenitud del Reino de Dios. Cuando trabajaba como párroco de la parroquia de Santa María en Yazoo City, una viejita trabajaba con los niños chiquitos en la guardaría durante las clases de la doctrina. Esta señora leía un libro con un muchacho. En una pagina de este libro, había una corona chiquita. La viejita preguntó al muchacho: “Que significa esta corona.” El muchacho respondió: “Esta corona es la corona de Cristo – el rey de los reyes.” En su inocencia y en su honestad, un niño puede reconocer la identidad de Cristo como el rey del universo.
Queremos decir que somos miembros del Reino de Cristo. Entonces, necesitamos caminar con Cristo cada día. En este mes de diciembre, hay muchas celebraciones en nuestra iglesia. Vamos a empezar el año de misericordia, declarado por el Papa Francisco. Vamos a celebrar el mes de preparación del adviento y el nacimiento de nuestro Salvador en navidad. Tenemos la celebración de nuestra Señora de Guadalupe y la Inmaculada Concepción. Pero, si ustedes no contribuyen o participan en estas celebraciones y en la vida de nuestra Iglesia, como podemos decir que Cristo es el Rey de nuestra vida. Tuvimos una oportunidad para tener el misionero laico Christian Huerta con nosotros para nuestra misión parroquial la semana pasada. Pero, la verdad es que muchos adultos y muchos jóvenes no asistieron a esta misión. Muchas personas de New Albany y Columbus y Oxford y Booneville asistieron, pero muchos de nuestros miembros no estaban. ¿Y por qué? Yo no entiendo. El tenía un mensaje muy importante, pero muchos de nuestros miembros no estaban allí para aprovechar de esta experiencia. Muy triste. En verdad, es muy triste. Entonces, como podemos tener Cristo como el Rey en nuestra vida? La respuesta habita en nuestros corazones.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Back in 1925, Pope Pius XI looked out at the reality of the world around him and he didn’t like what he saw. There were signs all around him that people were turning away from God and turning away from the Church. Europe was devastated from the violence and tragedy of WWI. Russia had become a Marxist state after the Russian revolution. Governments in Mexico and in many European countries were making things difficult for people to practice their faith. Secularism, modernism, fascism, and nationalism were creating conditions that would later lead to WWII. In December 1925, 90 years ago, Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical Quas Primas, establishing the feast of Christ the King on the last Sunday of the liturgical year. The Pope explained that a majority of men in his day had thrust Christ and God’s law out of their lives, that Jesus and the values of his life and ministry no longer held supremacy in either in private affairs or in politics. Pope Pius XI established the feast of Christ the King in order to communicate to the world that it needed to look, in his words, for “the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ.” In the same year that he issued this encyclical, the Pope declared a special jubilee year to pray for peace throughout the world. Fast forward to our own reality in 2015. As we celebrate the feast of Christ the King today, we are also getting ready to celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy as declared by Pope Francis, recognizing the mercy that God has for us and trying to incorporate that mercy in the way we live out our own daily lives.
There is a great story about the Napoleon, the emperor of France that is very relevant to our celebration of Christ the King today. Napoleon had won great military victories in Egypt and in Italy and had his sights on conquering the rest of the world. In his quest for power, he was declared emperor. To show his prominence and legitimacy, and to root his authority in the French monarchy and in the Catholic Church, at Napoleon’s request he was to be consecrated emperor by the Pope himself. He was to be the first Frenchman to hold the title of emperor since the great Emperor Charlemagne, who had been crowned emperor in Rome by Pope Leo III on Christmas day in the year 800. Pope Pius traveled from Rome to Paris for the ceremony at the great cathedral of Notre Dame. Yet, on the snowy morning of December 2, 1804, at the moment the Pope was to crown Napoleon as emperor, Napoleon turned away from the Pope on high altar, faced the congregation, and put the crown on himself. Napoleon then put a crown on the Empress Josephine. In his arrogance and pride, Napoleon wanted to show that he was above the Church and above God. Is that the way we behave in our own lives? Do our pride and haughtiness keep us from truly acknowledging that Jesus is our king?
In our Gospel today, when Pilate questions Jesus, Jesus explains that his kingdom is not of this world. Think about how every time we pray the Lord’s prayer, we ask that “thy kingdom come.” We try to live by the values of the Gospel and the values of Christ’s kingdom so as to infuse our world with those values. However, so often, it seems that the values of Christ’s kingdom are so different from the values of the world around us. The world can be a frightening place, can’t it? Just as Pope Pius looked out the world in 1925 and saw things that alarmed him, we all feel the same way today, don’t we? Perhaps what frightens us most in the modern world is to see ISIS, Boko Haram, and other terrorist organizations killing people at sporting events and concerts and busy market places. Perhaps we question how safe we are in the world today, and if the US will be the next target of an attack such as those that just occurred in Paris. We hear about people being persecuted around the world because of their religion, not only Christians and Jews, but also more moderate and mainline Muslims attacked by Muslim extremists. And we see our religious liberties being eroded and under attack in our own country and throughout the world, some wonder how many Christian martyrs we may have one day soon here in the United States. There are no easy answers to the reality we face today, just as there were no easy answers to what the world faced back in 1925 when Pope Pius XI declared the feast of Christ the King. Our Church leaders and our faith offer us some wise advice. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia calls us to place our confidence in the Word of God, to open ourselves to the transformative power of Christ’s grace, and to truly believe that we can realistically live out the values that the Church teaches. God calls us to mercy and courage and wisdom, not anger or fear or frustration. When I was pastor of St Mary Catholic Church in Yazoo City, one of the wise elders of the Catholic community there, Mary Rutledge, told me about working with the little kindergarteners in the nursery. She was reading one of the children a book, and on one of the pages, there was a picture of a little crown in the corner. Mrs. Rutledge pointed to the crown, and asked the little boy, “John David, I wonder what that little crown is for.” John David responded, “That crown is for Jesus, the king of kings.” Even a little child, in his innocence and honesty, can recognize Jesus as our king.
One of the members of our Hispanic community said to me the other day, “Father Lincoln, shouldn’t the feast of Christ the King be as important to us as Easter or Christmas, for if Christ is not truly our king, what significance does all the rest have in our lives?” In order for us to truly say that we belong to Christ's kingship, to Christ’s kingdom, we are called to walk with Christ in our daily lives, to walk in the truth that he embodies and proclaims. Through our actions and our spirit, we will show the world that Christ is our King.