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Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
Last weekend we celebrated one of my favorite liturgies of all the year: 122 girls and boys in our parish became one with all of us for the first time in the perfect way that we can only know united in the Body of Christ. Congratulations! The Gospel was about when the disciples were fishing on the Sea of Galilee, though they could not tell who Jesus was by his appearance, they knew with certainty it was Jesus on the shore because of his action. Jesus communicated his presence and worked his wonder by his action.
Suddenly the miracle happened, there was an abundance of fish where there had been none, the net did not tear and the disciples were able to bring all of them to shore. “It is the Lord!” proclaimed Saint John.
These children for the first time entered into the Holy of Holies, that place where the Most High dwells in our humanity. They are not members of that Body of Christ begun in baptism, now literally the case by the reception of Jesus’ Body. It still looks like bread, but we know otherwise, because of Jesus’ saving actions. We are called to be Christ: people will not know us by our appearance; they will know Christ by our actions.
Walk the talk: there are too many people who wish to appear differently than they truly are. Once found out, the damage is done and people are confused. May our witness be true to the One Whom we receive everytime we come to the Table and open our hands and our hearts to truly welcome the presence of Jesus, to live in us.
It was a miracle unfolding before our eyes last weekend, as the work of Incarnation continues. The Incarnation, of course, is the moment (of the Annunciation) when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son of God entered our human-ness. Our humanity. He became one of us. His life as God and Man are inseparably present to us in the Eucharist (“Holy Communion”) as, by the power of the same Spirit earthly food becomes heavenly Food, God’s life in Jesus literally flows through us. We are awakened, a new creation. The Incarnation of Jesus is continued forever in his people who open themselves to this first Communion, and every Communion to follow. He is our life. Congratulations, boys and girls.
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I have received several letters of concern from members of the parish who express their apology, even embarrassment, that they can’t give a lot to our parish capital campaign. Please, if you are worried about this, don’t worry. These things are for those people who can at this time: from each, according to their ability to give. I have witnessed personally and heard stories of many of you whose comparatively small gift is courageous and powerful and inspiring. Thank you. Pray for the success of our parish campaign and the life of our parish community.
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Again this weekend we will be selling beautiful annuals in 6” pots for your garden. We had a lot of fun selling in the rain last weekend, perhaps this weekend it will be better. All of our beautiful flowers are 100% natural and, in many cases, medicinal. They were selected for their habits (which is also how you should pick your friends): their ability to spread, their tolerance of dry situations and their ability to bloom all the way to frost. They make great Mothers’ Day gifts (in case you are still looking for something to give Mom).
I want to thank Nathan Carver, owner of Carver Custom Landscaping who beautifully maintains our parish grounds, for a great day going to Isle of Wight week before last to pick up these 1200+ annuals and 75 hanging pots. (Alas, the hanging pots sold out last weekend.) It was a hot day, and I don’t know when I have been so tired at the end of a day. It took us four and a half hours to load his trailer, and I was grateful that our youth were at the parish when we returned, or we would still be unloading it. Nathan is a generous friend and hard worker and we owe the success of our Work Camp fund-raiser to him. Please, if you see plants still looking for a home after Masses this weekend, adopt some. $7 each, three for $20.
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Finally, take a moment and check out the ads at the back of the bulletin. These folks help underwrite the cost of this bulletin with their advertising. Get acquainted with our advertisers, and the next time you might be looking for one of their services, remember their contact information is on the final pages of this bulletin. Thanks.
God bless you.
Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
What is your relationship with the Word of God? And then the next question: What is your relationship with the Word-made-Flesh? First, the Word. Are you one who reads the Bible out of curiosity, interest? To be more knowledgeable of the body of Sacred Scripture, maybe to be able to cite a few texts? Maybe you can take away a few insights that will help inform your life, making every day more understandable. To maintain such an impersonal interaction with God’s living Word is to only take as much as we want out of it, not to receive fully the Spirit that breathes behind the Word with the power to transform us.
Likewise, with Jesus. Do we allow ourselves to come close enough to him to just see what is going on, what he might be saying or doing (many simply wanted to see him perform signs), file all this away for future use if it should become necessary? Do we really identify ourselves in him? Or only with him? Do we enter into his experience as members in him?
Our relationship to the Passion narratives which we have listened to this week set a tone to our approach to the Mysteries of Christ, these saving Mysteries of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection as they unfolded on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Where do you fall in the story?
We asked that everyone not read the lines of the crowd for a very specific purpose. So you would not be focusing only on “your” lines and when they were coming next, these lines of condemnation and hate. Focusing only on these lines, as onlookers, might cause us to miss the message of the love of Jesus which lies behind all the other lines. And “whose” lines are they anyway?
Especially today, it seems, the last thing we need is another angry crowd. Look around us, how many angry crowds, everywhere, shouting and demanding. We are called to be more.
Reading this Gospel like a script was an experiment in the 70s that, oddly, contradicted the message of Vatican II. At a time when unity was of utmost importance, we segregated our congregations by this new mode of addressing these passion narratives as if we were characters in a play. You became the mob, the shouting mob. The priest alone became Jesus. ...Why?
Today it seems like this divide is becoming wider, a clericalism (an emphasis on the centrality of the priest as Christ) is more common today (as before) that can seek to deny the common priesthood of all baptized lay people to assume the role of Jesus in the world. …All of us are called not only to speak the lines, but live the role of Jesus…to be him.
Lay people—same as clergy—are called to be more than bystanders. Your spiritual life is more than being the angry mob. Somebody said to me last year, “Well, I like to shout ‘Crucify him!’ because then this Gospel reminds me how my sins crucified Jesus.”
I have thought about this all year. Our sins did not crucify Jesus, as if we could have such power over him. We are dead in our sins, there is nothing we can do. We are powerless, we are nailed down, unable to move, even unable to speak. So utterly helpless. It is Jesus who lovingly, intentionally climbs up onto that Cross (as the Church Fathers said) to give us life again—and life eternal! He followed the will of his Father and chose to do this. It is a story about love, not hate. Just one tear of the Son of God in the Garden of Gethsemane would have been enough suffering to ratify the new, eternal covenant given to us on Holy Thursday—but Jesus wanted to show us how radically deep is this love of God for you, so he emptied himself, entirely.
I gave you spiritual homework last week: while rereading those passion narratives, to read out loud all the parts of Jesus. Now I have Easter homework for you. We have now experienced the sacred Mysteries first hand—now consider his resurrection. If we have truly lived in him through these Mysteries, risen life will follow just as truly.
That vocabulary of Jesus now flows equally from your own heart, a vocabulary of kindness and mercy, forgiveness and peace, self-emptying love. Be transformed in this new life you have already received! We are called to be so much more than even the faithful friend who stands at the foot of the cross and stays until the end. In Christ, there is no death, no end, no division.
We are called beyond the end, to be Christ himself.
God bless you.