God is Waiting to be Found. 4-14-2024

April 10th, 2024

The disciples ran to Jerusalem with exciting news.
“We just saw Jesus,” they exclaimed.
The others crowded around to get the details. They all wanted to
know how he looked. And you would have thought that these two
people who had just seen Jesus would have remembered how he looked,
but they could not do it. What was wrong with them?
All they could say were things like:
“He looked like a father stretching out his hands to his prodigal son
and his older brother.”
“He looked like he did when he laid his hands on all the sick,
restoring them all to health.”
“He looked like he did when he took Jairus’s daughter by the hand
and brought her back to life.”
“He looked like the apostles when they distributed those five
loaves and two fishes to those five thousand hungry people.”
“He looked like the hemorrhaging woman who reached out her
hand and touched his cloak and was healed.”
“He looked like the woman who washed his feet with her perfume
and was blessed with his forgiveness and peace.”
“He looked like the widow with hands folded in prayer, seeking
justice from that corrupt judge.”
“He looked like he did on the night before he died when he took
bread and broke it saying, ‘This is my body to be given up for you. Do
this as a remembrance of me.’”
So this is how they described Jesus’ appearance. And every time
after that, whenever they saw hands reaching out to touch the lives of
others, they saw Jesus alive.
I close with this story: A little boy was playing hide-and-seek with
his friends. For some unknown reason they stopped playing while he
was hiding. He began to cry. His old grandfather came out of the house
to see what was troubling him and to comfort him. After learning what
had happened, the grandfather said, “Do not weep, my child, because the
boys did not come to find you. Perhaps you can learn a lesson from this disappointment. All of life is like a game between God and us. Only it
is God who is weeping, for we are not playing the game fairly. God is
waiting to be found, but many have gone in search of other things.”
In so many ways, the risen Christ is in our midst, present in the
love, charity and goodness of others, in the Sacrament of Eucharist, in
God’s Word – Broken and Shared, in the Community of Faith Filled
People and in moments of Grace and Prayer. Unfortunately, we often do
not realize it.
May our celebration open our hearts and spirits to recognize Christ
among us in every season of our life. “Lord, help us not to miss you.

The Second Half of Life 4-7-2024

April 5th, 2024

When you were a child, you probably took part in your parish’s
religious education program. For eight years, you learned the prayers
and rituals of our Church. In high school, you were confirmed. Soon,
you were off to college – and “church” may have been put aside as you
earned your degree and, after graduation, establishing your career. Then
you married and began a family. And your faith took on a renewed
importance as you wanted your children to have the same connection to
God you had.
That’s the “first half” of a typical spiritual life when you learn the
choreography of a religious institution. You developed a language for
articulating your faith; you established a spiritual identity in belonging
to a church. The choreography and language of faith you learned then
became a bridge to instill those same values in your children.
But then came a crisis in your life – and unexpected illness or
death throws you, you get divorced, you get fired.
After that crisis, you entered the “second half” of the spiritual life,
one in which you hear a “deeper voice” of God. It is a voice calling you
to compassion, forgiveness, risk, surrender.
You now hear God not just in the rituals and creeds of your
church; you hear God in the deepest part of your heart. Your faith is
now fully yours.
The apostle Thomas might be considered the patron saint of this
“second half” of our spiritual lives – when we struggle to make sense of
our lives that have been turned upside down by crisis or catastrophe. In
today’s Gospel, Thomas feels that the faith he learned from and
embraced in Jesus has been betrayed in Jesus’ crucifixion. But, in his
resurrection, Jesus offers Thomas a reason to hope, a baseline for belief,
a prism for looking at the world with gratitude for what has been and
what will be. Faith, in the “second half” of our lives, is the ability to
hope that we can transform and remake, recreate and re-focus our lives
in the love of God and life of the Risen Christ.

Easter People 3-31-2024

March 29th, 2024

I came across an article about a parish in Lafayette section of
Jersey City. They were involved in an unusual Good Friday procession.
The parish wanted to connect the sufferings of Christ to the sufferings of
their neighborhood. Several of the 14 stations in the outdoor procession
were at the homes in the neighborhood where muggings, fires, murders,
had taken place over the last year.
The station where Simon helps Jesus carry his cross took place
at the home of a teenage boy who risked his life to help a man
who been mugged and left for dead.
The 12th station marking the death of Jesus, was held in the
front of the house of Francis McMahon, an 84 year old woman
who was murdered in her own home 3 weeks before Good
I thought to myself what a creative and powerful way to link
together the suffering, pain and death of Jesus with the suffering, pain
and death of the world you and I live in today.
I also thought to myself about a follow up article, about real living
Flesh and Blood experiences of Easter Resurrection today! What would
I write about? What would you write about?
I would write about the very old women I visit occasionally
who is not able to do much except sit and rock: who was given
up for dead at least 3 times by the doctors and family: yet every
time I go there to bring her Communion, this woman’s faith in a
living God, her spirit and joy in the face of pain and loneliness
inspired me. I leave having received more than I gave her.
I would write about the 18 year old young man who died of
Aids recently. He developed Aids because of a blood
transfusion. He was dealt a very unfair and unjust hand in life.
He could have chosen to be bitter and angry and feel sorry for
himself, but instead he taught me and others some powerful
lessons about compassion, mercy, and forgiveness.
I would write about many of you, yes you! You who have had
to face tragedies, sickness, deaths, divorces, loss of jobs, family
problems, crisis of your children, becoming parents of your
parents; various addictions, the list goes on and on.
In the face of all these dark realities, I see and I hear you complain,
you struggle, you get frustrated, you get angry, normal things human
beings do. Yet I see you also continue to try to live your lives like there
is some good news of hope and joy. You remind me and others that
Jesus Christ is not a memory from the past generations. Jesus Christ is a
living presence and surely as he walked with those first disciples on the
trails of Palestine, He goes with us on the modern streets and freeways
of our life.
Easter People. That’s what I would entitle my article. To be Easter
People, the challenge, not just today, but every day. People whose lives,
not just their mouths (in church) radiate (not perfectly but as best we
can) the living presence, the hope, the joy, the peace of Jesus, risen and
alive right here right now. Let us recommit ourselves to being Easter
People. Renew Baptism Vow