Saturday, October 25, 2014

Blessing


Our parish cat Blessing loves sitting on the copier. What a funny cat!

Visit with our students


Last week, we stopped to have breakfast with our students at Tupelo Christian Preparatory School.  We had a lot of fun visiting our students from our parish.

Rest stop on the Natchez Trace


Earlier this week, I made the 3 1/2 drive from Tupelo to Jackson, where I often go for diocesan meetings.  I usually take the Natchez Trace, a beautiful drive down a road that is truly a national treasure.  Here is a lake that was at a rest stop where I stopped for a while.  What a beautiful Mississippi afternoon.

10/23/2011 – Homilía – El XXX Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario – Éxodo 22, 20-26; Mateo 22, 34-40 –

      Las lecturas de hoy nos enseñan sobre el amor de Dios y sobre su ley.  El amor de Dios y su ley – son dos cosas muy importantes en nuestra camino de fe.  Es interesante.  En el mundo antiguo, siempre un ídolo era al centro del Templo.  Pero, con el puedo de Israel y los mandamiento y la ley que recibió, era la primera vez que la ley era al centro del Templo – con la ley en la arca de la alianza.   En la montaña de Sión, Moisés recibió la ley y los mandamientos de Dios.  Dios enseña a su pueblo sobre su conducta a su prójimo. – la viuda, el huérfano, los pobres, el extranjero – las persona en los márgenes de la sociedad del mundo antiguo.   Y para nosotros, en nuestro mundo moderno, a veces es difícil para conocer quienes son las personas en los márgenes de nuestra sociedad.
      Los leyes de Dios y la conducta de los seguidores de Cristo son al centro de nuestro Evangelio.  Los fariseos quieren hacer una prueba con Jesús.  Ellos mandan uno de ellos, un doctor de la ley, para preguntar a Jesús por el mandamiento más grande de la Ley de Moisés.  Los escribas tienen un punto de vista muy rígido de su religión y su espiritualidad.   Ellos contaban que hay 613 mandamientos de la ley - 365 prohibiciones y 248 preceptos.  El fariseo quiere conocer si todos los mandamientos tienen el mismo valor, o si hay algunos mandamientos que son más importantes y otros menos importantes, o si hay uno que es el más importante de todos las leyes.
     Según Jesús el más importante de los mandamientos es amar a Dios con todo el corazón, con toda el alma con todo el ser.  Y Jesús nos enseña que el segundo mandamiento es semejante: para amar al prójimo como a uno mismo. En realidad, esta enseñanza de Jesucristo no es algo nuevo;  el nos confirma lo que está expresado en el Antiguo Testamento.  La actualidad de esta enseñanza es profunda y inmensa: que en la realidad de nuestra fe cristiana, no podemos separarnos del amor a Dios, y del amor al nuestro prójimo.  Es una reflexión de la compasión y del amor de nuestro Señor.  En el consejo pastoral, leímos el libro con el titulo – Reconstruido. Es una historia de una parroquia en la ciudad de Baltimore en los Estados Unidos y su camino de fe como comunidad cristiana.   La parroquia en este libro tiene una frase de misión – Ama a Dios.  Ama a su prójimo.  Haz discípulos. Es una frase muy sencilla, y es el centro de nuestro Evangelio hoy.
       Si Dios es amor, si necesitamos tener el amor de Dios y el amor de nuestro prójimo en nuestra vida, necesitamos practicar las obras de caridad y misericordia en nuestra vida también.  Y si hacemos estas obras, podemos abrir las puertas de nuestra vida a Cristo.  Cuando servimos a nuestro prójimo, a los pobres, a los enfermos, a los abandonados, servimos a Jesús mismo.  Y para hacerlo como una comunidad cristiana, como una parroquia, es algo muy importante.  En verdad, la comunidad hispana que tenemos en Tupelo, en nuestra parroquia de Santiago, es una bendición para nuestra parroquia y nuestra diócesis.   Tenemos mucho éxito en la manera que vivimos nuestra fe, pero tenemos mucho trabajo para hacer.  Necesitamos la colaboración y la ayuda de todos ustedes para vivir nuestro papel como una comunidad de discípulos de Cristo.  
10/26/2014 – Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Matthew 22:34-40
      “Teacher, which commandment of the law is the greatest?”  Interesting question, isn’t it?  This question takes on greater significance when we learn that there are 613 commandments in the Torah, the first 5 books of the Hebrew Scriptures.   248 of them are positive commands, such as “You shall learn the Torah and teach it” from Deuteronomy 6:7.  365 were of them are prohibitions, such as “You shall not bow down to idols” in Exodus 20:5.  We might wonder how anyone could remember all 613.  Certainly, some were more important than others.  Some of the commandments could be very detailed and involve very specific situations, such as the stipulation that if one finds a bird’s nest with a mother bird sitting on her eggs or her young, one may take the young but must let the mother go.  (Deuteronomy 22:6-7). Before Jesus came along, many of the great teachers in Ancient Israel and the prophets tried to sum up the spirit of the law in the Torah in a way that was easy to remember.  Micah summed it up this way: The Lord requires you to do justice, to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God. 
      We all know how Jesus sums up God’s laws.   He sums it up very succinctly: To love God with you heart and your mind and your soul, and to your love your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus does not disregard the other commandments, but says that on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
       It is important for us as Catholics to study God’s laws and commandments.  The Pharisees, scribes, and many others in Ancient Israel memorized all 613 commandments and could rattle them off one by one. However, applying those commandments in a loving, compassionate way in our lives and in the lives of others – that is something altogether different and something much more difficult to do.  We can look out how Pope Francis approaches being the leader of our Church.  As Pope, he is there to be our spiritual leader and teacher, to lead and guide the faithful as we journey in faith.  But, Pope Francis wants us to never forget what is at the heart of Christ’s Gospel message – love of God and love of our brothers and sisters. Pope Francis recently convened a Synod in Rome to look at issues that are affecting the family throughout the world.  The Synod has made a  lot of news in the last couple of weeks, especially in the difficult issues it has been wrestling with.  In his homily in the mass that closed this year’s session of the Synod, Pope Francis told the people that the word synod meant “journeying together,” something that is important not to forget.   The pope thanked the bishops, pastors, and lay people who came to Rome from every part of the world, who brought the voices of their particular Churches there to help the families in the world walk the path of the Gospel with our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus himself.  When I was speaking to Bishop Kopacz at the Presbyteral Council in Jackson last week, he made some remarks about the Synod.  Bishop Kopacz heard the Pope saying that we have the reality of our Church’s tradition and the reality of the pastoral application of that tradition and of the laws of the Church; the Pope warned of us being too extreme and rigid on either side.  There has to be a balance. And we have to be compassionate and welcoming as a Church as well.  We have the same difficulty when we have a decision to make and try to apply God’s laws to that decision.  Sometimes if we make a rigid, narrow-minded decision, the spirit of the love of God and love of neighbor can be completely lost.
      In the pastoral council of our parish this past week, we finished reading the book Rebuilt, a book about a Catholic parish in Baltimore that tried to reawaken and renew its mission and ministry.   In the appendix of the book, we noted the very simple Mission statement that this parish adopted: Love God – Love others – Make disciples.  Six simple words.  Three simple directives.  Six simple words that reflect the heart of today’s Gospel message. Six simple words that reflect what it means to be Catholic, what it means to be a disciple of Christ: Love God – Love others – Make disciples.  
      Father Burke Masters said some very profound things at the mission we had in September.  I know a lot of us were very edified and inspired by the message he brought us from Pope Francis’ Joy of the Gospel.  I remember him saying that we priests have a lot we try to do here in the parish.  And he called all the parishioners to join in the mission of the parish, to help the priests by reminding us and prodding us and making suggestions to us – to help in the ministry of the parish.  We are going to have parish council elections in a couple of weeks.  That will be a good way for us to continue to choose good parish leaders. It is good to think about how we can get involved in different ministries and services in our parish, to join the Ladies Club or the Knights of Columbus, to be active and to contribute to the life of our parish. That will help foster within us a love of God and love of neighbor, a sense of belonging and a sense of community.
      Pope Francis, in one of his addresses to the papal audience on St Peter’s Square in Rome, noted this challenge contained in today’s Gospel: The love we are to have as disciples of Christ is not sterile sentimentality or something vague.  Rather, it is an acknowledgment of God as the one Lord of life, but, at the same time, it is the acceptance of the other as my true brother or sister.   It is a love that overcomes division, rivalry, misunderstanding, and selfishness. Being a disciple of Christ is never easy.   Bringing this call to love God and love others is not easy either.  But that is what we are called to do.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

10/28/2014 – Santos Judas y Simón, apóstoles – Lucas 6:12-19

        La comunidad de los santos es una fuerza muy grande en nuestra vida de fe.  Hoy, con toda la Iglesia Católica, celebramos la fiesta de dos santos: los apóstoles Judas y Simón.  Como todos los miembros de la comunidad de los santos, ellos son nuestros intercesores ante de Dios.  Pero también, ellos son los grandes modelos para nosotros en nuestro propio camino de fe.  Ellos son guías y amigos para nosotros.  Estamos aquí, con miembros de nuestra comunidad hispana, porque ustedes tienen una devoción a San Judas.  En nuestra vida de fe, San Judas es el patrono de situaciones desesperadas, de casos imposibles y causas perdidas.  Y hay días cuando estamos desesperados en muchos sentidos.  Entonces, San Judas es un santo para todos nosotros.  En muchos países en el mundo – en Alemania y en Italia, en México y en los Estados Unidos, tienen numerosos devotos que consiguen por su intercesión admirable ayuda de Dios, especialmente en cuanto a conseguir empleo, casa u otros beneficios.
       Celebramos la fiesta de los Santos Judas y Simón y San Judas Tadeo en el mismo día porque según una antigua tradición los dos iban siempre juntos  todas partes a predicar la Palabra de Dios al mundo.  Como explica el Evangelio de hoy, estos dos santos fueron llamados por Cristo para formar parte del grupo de los doce apóstoles.  Judas y Simón recibieron el Espíritu Santo en forma de lenguas del fuego en el día de Pentecostés y miraron los milagros de Jesús en Galilea.  Fueron presentes en su visita a los apóstoles después de la resurrección de Cristo y hablaron con El.  Judas y Simón – ellos son testigos de la fe.   Según la antigua tradición, ellos son mártires por la fe. San Simón murió con las heridas de una sierra y a San Judas Tadeo, cortándole la cabeza de un hachazo.  Su devoción a San Judas y la comunidad de los santos es un testimonio al mundo.  San Judas y San Simón – rueguen por nosotros. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

10/24/2014 – Friday of 29th week of Ordinary Time – Ephesians 4:1-6

        In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes how he is a prisoner of the Lord.   Paul indeed was imprisoned in Rome at the time that he wrote this letter.  Even though he was behind bars, he was able to exhort the Ephesians to be patient, gentle, and humble.   I used to tell the prisoners that I used to visit and minister to in the state penitentiaries that there were far worst prisons that can confine them in their lives than the bars that they were behind.  We can be imprisoned by the addictions we have, and those addictions can take many different forms, can’t they?   In fact, many of the prisoners I visited admitted to me that they still were addicted to the drugs that they got their hands on even behind those bars.  We can be imprisoned by false expectations and sense of values, imprisoned by clinging the to values of the world and our worldly appetites that never seem to be satisfied.  Paul calls us to the one Body, the one Spirit, the one faith.
        An ancient Persian poet once said: “Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?”  We can imprison ourselves in so many ways.  But the Lord opens the door for us.  And we open the door in the way we remain faithful on our journey.

         Last week, at our deanery meeting, Danna Johnson from St Christopher’s parish in Pontotoc prayed the prayer of St Ignatius of Loyola with us.  I think it is very appropriate to the themes of our readings today: Take Lord receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will.  You have given al to me.  To you, Lord, I return it.  Everything is yours.  Do with it what you will.  Give me only your love and your grace.  That is enough for me.  Your love and your grace – this is enough for me.