Blog

CORPUS CHRISTI 2019

Have you noticed that some of the more heartfelt movements that occur with Jesus are in connection with a meal? There many are examples of where Jesus changed lives that ranged from the many to the one and started with eating together. Jesus did not refuse to eat with anyone who opened their lives to him. There were sinners, prostitutes, and those who cheated others. He even sat down with Pharisees who sought to have him killed for no one was excluded.
      In each of these stories that began with a meal, Jesus shares himself with those he loves, intervening in a very personal way. He is at a meal with a Pharisee when the sinful woman whom in her great sorrow bathes his feet with her tears and then wipes them with her hair. In his mercy, Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7: 48, 50).
      Then there was the time when Zacchaeus, the tax collector opens his home to Jesus. Zacchaeus, in an exclamation of repentance, promises to give half of his wealth the poor and to reimburse by four times anyone whom he may have defrauded. Jesus says to him, “Today salvation has come to this house. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost” (Luke 19:9,10).
      We also read of the day when the five thousand, drawn by his words of healing, continued to listen to him into the evening hours even though they would go hungry. The disciples are distressed when Jesus says, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16) for they had no means to gather provisions for so many.  Jesus then took up five loaves of bread and two fish, blessed them, and fed the five thousand. And when all had eaten, there remained 12 baskets of broken pieces.
      Jesus, in feeding the five thousand provided a miracle so that the people might come to recognize that he is the Son of God, and therefore, his words are God’s words. Jesus fed the crowd so that all might know that the Kingdom is a place none is sent away hungry. Everyone in the Kingdom will have their fill because of God’s endless bounty. Jesus feeds the five thousand so that they may come to see the depth of God’s love.
      On another occasion, after Jesus’ Resurrection, he instructed some of his Apostles to lower their net once again, and they hauled in a great catch of fish.  Jesus then ate with them on the shore. After they had eaten, Jesus then allowed Peter to re-establish his loyalty to Jesus even though denying him on that Thursday night. Jesus instructs him to “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17) after Peter expressed three times his love for Jesus before all else.
      Jesus comes from the Father, who gives all authority in heaven and on earth to Jesus.  Until one has that belief, no story told in the New Testament can be accepted as true. He forgave the sins of the woman at his feet, Zaccheus, and Peter. However, unless they in faith acknowledge that Jesus is the Father’s Son, these absolutions were empty words for only God can forgive sins. 
      Finally, the most intimate and most lasting of the various meals Jesus would have is at the Last Supper. Knowing that this was his last meal before his death, he gathered his Apostles. While he had fed many during his ministry, this was to be different for, in this meal, he offered his very Body and Blood. “This is my body, which is given for. Do this in remembrance of me. This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:19, 20). Jesus, the Son God, in this supper sanctifies us, fills us with life, and blesses us.
      The Last Supper then takes on a whole new dimension. The food is not to fill the empty stomach and the drink not to soothe a thirsty throat, but the feast for eternal life. Jesus has moved beyond providing for the physical sustenance to giving us spiritual nourishment.  Jesus, at the Last Supper, gave us a new and everlasting covenant with God that is based solely on love.
      In every sin that is forgiven, in every malady, whether physical or spiritual, that is healed, Jesus reestablishes our relationship with his Father. If we are people of faith, then we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and the offering of his Body and Blood is a guarantee of the Father’s endless love. He has allowed us to sit at the most desired feast possible. Where there is always enough, and everyone is seated in a place reserved the most beloved.  The only requirement of us is to respond with love.
      God, the Father, knew of no other way to express the deepness of his love for us, and so he gave up his Son.  As Jesus said, on the night before his Crucifixion, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for a friend” (John 15:13) and then he did that blessed act. Jesus, in giving us his body and blood shows that no facet of human life can so dear to us that we cannot offer it up to God.  Everything comes from the Father and will return to the Father.
       “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).  When we prayerfully reflect on how immense God’s love is, there is only one response that we can give. ‘Take all that I possess. I offer all up in sacrifice to you, Father, for I have all that I need, your love.’ 

HOLY TRINITY SUNDAY 2019

My summer assignment this year is to attend a spiritual formation program at Creighton University in Omaha called the Institute for Priestly Formation. It runs from the end of May through the end of July. Another 176 seminarians from across the United States, Haiti, and Canada, and I are here to deepen our relationship with the Lord.
Just recently, the week before Pentecost, all of us were on an eight-day silent retreat. The only time it was permissible to talk during those eight days was at a daily meeting with our spiritual director and participating during Mass. This silence meant no texts, no e-mail or other social media, no slow mail or newspapers for those who know what those things are. We refrained from all videos or music. We could not even use an app to look at the weather for the day.
In this silence, we were set apart from the outside world. There is no knowledge of why the flag was at half staff for part of the week. For those following their Major League Baseball team, there was no means of knowing who won or lost or the current standings. We didn’t know what outlandish comments the President made or the equally inane responses by the opposition. We could only look outside at the beginning of the day, to try to decide whether an umbrella would be needed.
Now we could have broken the silence at any time and gained access to any of that information we if we had desired. We had voluntarily made this vow of obedience to the Lord. One of the amazing realizations for this retreat we discovery was all that “stuff” that once seemed important had much less meaning. The politicians’ comments, team standings, and a multitude of other bits of information decreased in significance. Of what was the real value was our experience, in the silence, was encountering our relationship with the Lord.
In silence, we prayed to allow God to enter us so that his graces could act through us. Now you may say we must already have a good relationship since all of us are in seminary studying to be ordained as priests. However, to be the faithful servants of God for life, we need to open our hearts fully allowing God to overwhelm us with his love. This prayer means asking God to enter into us so that we can be one with him.
This Sunday is Holy Trinity Sunday, the Solemnity where we celebrate one of the great mysteries of Christianity, and the Three Persons, who are the oneness of God. St. Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock separateness of the Trinity, but the leaves did not describe the unity between the Three Persons. We continue to explain in simplified terms the relationship of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who is God only in different aspects but the same aspect. No matter in the infinite ways that we attempt to describe the Trinity, we fail because human words, representations, and imaginations are not enough to describe our Creator. None of the Three Persons act independently. Each action is done in the awareness and in accord with the Three. There is never a dissenting vote on this Board of Directors. In the mercy of God is his attention directed to each one of us separately, including those from the beginning of time to those at the end of time. And for each person, God focuses his care and love on each one fully and equally so that no one is ever forgotten or slighted. As we continue to think about this relationship between the Three persons of the Trinity as God and his intertwining with each of our lives, we begin to think of God as being more and more complicated because we see these connections like a computer system with massive bundles of wires carrying information back and forth.
In actuality, God is simple, simpler than we can imagine, and our senses are unwilling to absorb the uncomplicated nature of God. If we began to list the attributes of God, we would exhaust our descriptions and still not know God in his fullness. It is like trying to define love or justice or beauty. We may get to the edge of the meaning, but we cannot express the breadth of their meanings. We can describe what we think love is, but another would offer something different. How can one define justice so that it expresses righteousness in every circumstance? Beauty, too, is an intangible value that cannot be limited to one description. Maybe these words, love, justice, and beauty, are difficult to represent because they are what God is.
When we think of God as only pure love, justice, and beauty but united together we begin to understand the depth of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We grasp the meaning, but we cannot quite reach out and make the entire connection. This feeble understanding of the majesty of God, but not complete comprehension is the mystery of the Trinity.
The oneness of the Trinity, with its focus on love, demonstrates the love that we hope to share with God. Our greatest desire is to be so united with God so that nothing can separate us. There must be a seamless relationship between us. In that way, the devil cannot use his corrosive ways to weaken than indivisible bond. If God is one with us, and we are one with God, then we are confident that our actions are God actions.
How does one achieve unity with God? Take some time each day to be in the silence – like we were for those eight days, no interruptions– and ask God to become one with you. The most beautify thing to remember that he is already there waiting to continue his relationship with you.

Deacon Dan Gilbert

PENTECOST 2019

   The Holy Spirit takes care of God’s house, our body. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells within you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). When we open heart to the mercy of God, the Holy Spirit comes into us transforming us forever. It is the Holy Spirit, in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation that construct a tabernacle in our temple so that our bodies become a permanent holy and sacred place. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, it is the Holy Spirit, who repeatedly wipes away the black soot that we carry into our temple from a sinful world. It is the Holy Spirit who prepares our temple for the entry of the King at the reception of the Holy Eucharist. It is the Holy Spirit, in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, that combines two temples so that they may be one, remaining unbreakable from the bond of everlasting love. In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, it is the Holy Spirit that re-configures the temple of a man to become a shelter, giving solace for all who suffer the evils of the world. It is the Holy Spirit who shores up our temple walls, through the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, giving spiritual and physical strength to our bodies and souls during the disasters of illness, and imminent death.
      The Holy Spirit is like the dedicated older woman who cleans the church week after week. She enters without fanfare, giving glory to the Father by her work. She asks for no recognition for her service in God’s house. She remains in the background providing for shiny floors, gleaming pews, and a pristine sanctuary. With loving and inexhaustible energy, she washes and irons the linens used on the altar. She is dependable and unassuming in her responsibilities. She knows what is needed and acts without question. There is no inch of the interior of the church that has not felt her dedicated, reverential hands for this is God’s house. No one really notices her work; it just happens.
      It is the work of the Holy Spirit, who is like that cleaning lady, assuring that our temple dazzles and sparkles, and is well-tended. It is the Spirit who brings out the light of Christ to clean away the threats of discouragement and doubt that grow like mold in the corners of our lives. Like her, the Holy Spirit works the background providing for our needs without recompense directing all glory and praise to the Father and the Son.
      Although we have not seen the Holy Spirit, we continually experience and benefit from his work. The Holy Spirit continues to act on our behalf so that our temple can receive the Lord with the dignity he deserves as we call upon him to bless us and makes us his holy people. We need to our open doors to the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and awe, that the Holy Spirit offers us to assure that our temple remains the holy and sacred shrine for God‘s work.
      The Scripture readings, from this weekend, emphasized the importance of the Holy Spirit in fortifying the Apostles with his gifts to gather, sanctify, and minister to the Church and the world.  Jesus infused the Holy Spirit onto the Apostles with his breath on the day of his Resurrection saying, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” They received the breath of God at Pentecost that blew through closed doors imparting upon them tongues of fire upon each. While often portrayed as flames appearing above each of the Apostles, the “tongues of fire” also indicates the Holy Spirit ignited their very speech giving them the power to reach into the hearts of the people throughout the world. As the Apostles burst out of the doors of the room and raced into the streets of Jerusalem, it was the Spirit that enabled them to speak to the Jews from various counties and regions to hear the message of Jesus in their language. 
      Upon receiving the gifts from the Holy Spirit, the Apostles were transformed. They were no longer fishermen and tax collectors that were unsure, fearful of what they must do. The Apostles became the messengers of Jesus, confidently speaking of the ways of Jesus, carrying with pride the physical bruising and wounds inflicted from those who were threatened by the love that Jesus offers.
      The same Holy Spirit daily enriches us with those same gifts to perform holy work on behalf of those who need to hear and experience the love of Jesus.  We, too, are given the fortitude to endure any physical torment from those who may attempt to separate us from Jesus. We, too, provide understanding and counsel to those who are lost and need the Good Shepherd to lead them back to greener pastures. We, too, are the faithful people of God giving glory, praise, and thanksgiving for the wonders he creates in our lives. We, too, are provided with the wisdom to discern between good and evil and to courageously follow the path to salvation, knowing that Jesus is the source of all that is good.
      The Holy Spirit does all of this for us, and we rarely recognize the grace he provides. He is like that cleaning woman who gives and gives transforming our bodies to be worthy temples of the God of us all.  Let us rejoice for God has sent us the Holy Spirit to be with us for all times to sanctify our temple.
      “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all I have said. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:26-27).
         Deacon Dan Gilbert

Previous12345678910 ... 1617

UA119134900-1