Monday, June 23, 2014

Siri, her, and the Real Presence


Does anyone have like a later model -- a newer model of the iPhone with Siri on it that I could borrow? So a newer iPhone with a Siri. Somebody in the back. Bob. Thank you.

So if you don't know about Siri yet, Siri is -- what an awesome picture that is.

Siri is like your personal assistant. She will help you and guide you through anything, right? So anytime you get lost, you can ask for Siri. If you're bored, you can ask Siri to look something up for you.

There is a movie that came out lately called "Her." And this movie stars Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson and Amy Adams. And Joaquin Phoenix is the main character. The whole gist of the movie is that the operating systems have gotten so advanced that they have personalities, and they have a personality that can learn your personality. And the whole theme of the movie is he falls in love with his operating system. So if you hear Scarlett Johansson's voice, you can understand why he falls in love with her. He may have a long day and he comes home from work and he talks to whatever it is in the movie, and she's always like, "How are you today?" And he's like in a bad mood and she's like, "I'm doing good. You know, let's perk you up."

So no matter what happens, she's in a good mood. And you can understand why he falls in love with her, because all he ever gets from her is this good, loving attention. She's always in a good mood, she's always ready to talk with him, and she's always enjoyable. So it's like a very advanced form of Siri. 


You will see Siri is not too advanced. And I will talk to her a little bit now, and we will see how she could respond and we will see if maybe I could fall in love with her.

Okay. So we will just start off with, like, basic questions. 


Siri, where is a good place to go to church around here?

I don't know where you are, but you can show me. Go to settings, tap privacy, tap location services and turn it on.

So Bob has got his security turned off on his phone. That's very good. Okay. So I can't tap into too much here.

Siri, are you my friend?

I would not wish any companion in the world but you.

Aww. Siri, I really like you.

Got it.

Siri, can we go on a date together?

It's Sunday, June 22nd, 2014.

Siri, sometimes you frustrate me.

Who? Me?

Siri, how do I look today?
I don't know, but I guess you look pretty good.

Siri, do you like me?

I'm not just your friend, I'm your BFF.

Siri, do you love me?

How can I tell?

Siri, are you in love with me?

We were talking about you, not me.

Siri, what do you look like?

Does my appearance matter to you?

Siri, I love you.

You are the wind beneath my wings.

So the truth is, like Siri, she can do it sometimes, right? She's got a nice voice and sometimes she gets me where I want to the go, but sometimes her answers fall pretty short. And I don't know about you, but I have a love/hate relationship with Siri. Sometimes she drives me nuts because she's just not very helpful and I get really irritated with her. But say she got really, really, really advanced, you know, the truth is this computer will never be a human companion, right? So technology can do some things for us, but they don't really cut it.

So even if you're far away from someone that you love, you can talk to them on the phone, you can skype them, you can interact with them, but it doesn't always, like, meet our needs.

Like an example I use, I had good friends from my last parish, and they were really good friends and they had a couple kids, and they moved to New Zealand. When they moved to New Zealand, we would skype. And it was awesome because Susie got pregnant at one point. So a couple months later she was showing me her belly on the picture, and I actually blessed her over the phone. As she was getting closer and closer, I asked if I could be in the delivery room, if she could skype with me, and she said no. But I would have done it. She didn't want to do it. So, but I found myself, after we talked and after we skyped, you know, it was really neat because I could see them, but after we skyped, I felt empty because they weren't here.

Did you ever have that feeling like when your kids, if they're out of state, you skype with them, you're excited to talk to them, but then you feel empty because you realize they are not there. You know, it's not real. And we have this need for people to be with us, to be able to touch them, to be able to see them, to be be able to hear them, to be able to interact with them, to have them be real people, you know. And I think that's why there is so much emptiness today when people go to technology for that. Maybe it's pornography, maybe it's like a long-distance relationship, you know. Like, when the person is there in the flesh, it's so much different. That's what we celebrate today.

Jesus wants to be real to us. He wants to be in the flesh. And so today we celebrate the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, that Jesus is today in the flesh. In just a few moments these gifts of bread and wine will be brought forward to the altar and they will be changed into the body and blood of Christ. And Jesus says, "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life within you. And whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, remains in me and I in him."

This is awesome. So in a few moments, as we eat the body of Christ, we remain in God and he remains in us. He knows that we have this hunger, this desire to be, to be fed, to touch God, to receive him, and so he gives himself to us in the body and blood of Christ.

Some people say to me, "Father, I don't need to go to mass on Sundays. I can experience, I can pray to God on my own. I pray with God at home and in nature." I don't know about you, but how many of you can, like, conger up God at home? How many of you can make the body and blood of Christ at home and receive him? You can't. We can't do it. And the truth is God wants you in the flesh. That's why we have mass together on Sundays, so that all of us can be here in the flesh with God, together -- you have a new message -- together. Unless Siri wants to talk again, I don't know.

But he wants you. He wants to be with you together, and he wants to feed with you his very body and his very blood. And when he does, we do experience that real presence that we long for and we won't have that emptiness that we experience with Siri. No matter how advanced Siri gets, no matter, you know, what the latest iPhone is, Siri will never meet our needs. Actually, the only one that can ever meet our needs is God, and he knows that he wants to experience us in the real presence. And so God does what Siri can never do. He's in the flesh. He's not just a sign, he's not just a symbol.

In a few moments we will receive, sacramentally, the body and blood of Christ. And when we do, we will remain in him, he will remain in us; and we will no longer have that emptiness, but we will be filled and experience life in abundance through the body and blood of Christ. And that's something that Siri will never be able to do.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Trinity Sunday: For God So Loved the World

For God So Loved the World

As we celebrate this wonderful Feast of Trinity, this absolute mystery that's at the core of our faith, this one God who is three persons -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- what I'd like to focus on is the Gospel. I want to focus simply on three words, and those three words are: Love, gave, and save. So, how God loved the world, he gave his only son, and he saved us through his only son.

So first of all, love. I just want to focus on the first word of the Gospel because it's so powerful, and I don't think it's something that I ever noticed before. We often hear this. This is the classic John 3:16 that you see at all the sporting events and that the people hold up the sign. John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son." Good, you might be familiar with that.

But I think the part that I never realized was this first phrase: For God so loved what? The world. God so loved the world. God loves the world. He loves it. His creation that he created, he absolutely loves. And if God loves the world, ought we not love the world as well? Ought we not come to discover and find God in our world? And so as I was reflecting on this, I was reminded by a book that I read years ago, and I pulled it back out. And it was a book by Pierre de Chardin. And the book is "The Devine Milieu." So it's all about how this world that we live in, this new milieu that we live in is constantly re-enforcing God's love. We're experiencing God's love because he so loved the world.
So he dedicates the book, and the phrase he says in latin is sic deus dilexit mundum. He says he dedicates it for those who loved the world. So he dedicates it to all the people who loved the world, and he dedicates it especially to people who have loved the world to the negligent of God. So scientists that believe that they have come to this wonderful scientific truth, so much they can't believe in God any longer, he dedicates this book to them because he believes, and we believe, that you can't separate truth from love. You can't separate this world and all the discoveries of this world from God, who created it.
So, first of all, love. God so loved the world.

We hear in the beginning from the book of Genesis, "Then God said, 'Let there be light.'" When the earth was a formless wasteland, he said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. The light was good, and everything he went on to create from them, it was good. He loved the world that he created. He delights in his creation. So I just want you to think about that first of all. What is your perspective on the world? Do you love this world that he has given to you? When you look at the world, do you see beauty and do you see goodness and do you see God working, or do you have a more pessimistic view of the world? Because God loved the world. He loved it so much that he gave his only son into the world. So I'm just going to read an excerpt from "The Divine Milieu." "To have access to the divine milieu is to have found the one thing needful: Him who burns by setting fire to everything that we love badly or not enough; him who calms by eclipsing with his blaze everything that we would love too much; him who consoles by gathering up everything that has been snatched away from our love or has never been given to it. To reach those priceless layers is to experience, with equal truth, that one has need of everything, and that one has need of nothing. Everything is needed because the world will never be large enough to provide for our taste for action with the means of grasping God. No matter how much we get in this world, no matter how much beauty we take in, it's never enough for us. We always want and we seek more. And yet nothing is needed; for as the only reality which can satisfy us lies beyond the transparencies in which it is mirrored, everything that fades away and dies between us will only serve to give reality back to us with greater purity."

So sometimes we despair and we look at the world we look at nature because everything dies, right? Everything ultimately dies, and we ultimately die. But through Christ, throughout Incarnation, everything lives. And everything that we have experienced and touched and loved in this world, lifts us up more closely to the love of God. God so loved the world. And if we love this world that we are in, it's going to lift us up to the love of God. So I just ask you that question. Do you love the world around you? Do you love creation? Do you delight in this beautiful sunny day in June? Do you love God's nature that he has provided for us? Do you see the goodness in people? Do you love what God loves?
And then the question is, are there things in the world that you are too attached to? Because, ultimately, this world is only to be like a stepping block for us to God. Are the things that you are too attached to, things that you know you may be called to let go of so that you can receive more of Gods love more purely.

Ultimately, God loves the world, and he loves us in and through the world, and we come to love God through this world that he has placed us in. So the only way to get to love God is by loving him in this world. By loving him through the things of this world and the people of this world and this entire creation, this divine milieu is our way to love God.
So the second point is gave. God so loved the world that he gave his only son. So God gave his son to this world because he loved it so much; that he wanted to place his son into this world so that we might know him and love him. So I just want you to think about that. Do you allow God to give himself to you? And in just a few moments we're going to receive the Eucharist, and God is going to give himself to you body, soul, divinity in the Eucharist. Do you truly take him in? Do you allow God to give himself to you in love?
The second question is, do you give yourself to the world? Do you freely give yourself in service to each other and to the world for the building up of the kingdom of God?
So here is a quote from "The Divine Milieu." "God obviously has no need of the products of your busy activity, since he could give himself everything without you. The only thing that concerns him, the only thing he desires intensely, is for your faithful use of your freedom, and that you give yourself in and through him. Try to grasp this, he says. The things which are given to you on earth are give you purely as an exercise, a blank sheet on which you make your own mind and heart."

And he says, "May the time come when men, having been awakened to the sense of the close bond linking all the movements of this world in the single, all-embracing work of the Incarnation, shall be unable to give themselves to any one of their tasks without first illuminating it with the clear vision that their work – however elementary it may be – is received and put to good use by the Center of the universe who is Christ."
So it doesn't matter what you do. It doesn't matter how minute your work is, if you think your job is monotonous, it doesn't matter what you do; but if you are doing that work in and through Christ, if you are giving yourself to that job or to your family or to the world, if you are doing that through Christ, all of a sudden you become part of the transformation of the world. The world becomes a better place because of you, because of your giving, because of actually allowing yourself to be Christ given to the world today. So I just invite you to think about that. Are you giving yourself in Christ to the world?

Finally, the third point and final point is saved. Why did God love the world so much and give himself to the world for us? So that we might be saved. So that we might be saved through him. Because we all know the world is not a pretty place sometimes. The world has been, you know, hampered by sins, but ultimately we have been saved.
So Chardin says, "How could we be deserters or skeptical about the future of our tangible world?" So how can we be doubters about the goodness of the world? How can we be doubters about the salvation of ourselves and of everyone and everything in the world? Some people will ask me, you know, "Father, is it getting better? Do you think the world is getting better, or is it getting worse?" If you read this book, you will see it is getting better. God is continually bringing about his salvific plan.

So how could we be repelled by this? How little you know. You suspect us of not sharing your concerns and your hopes and your excitement as you penetrate the mystery and conquer the forces of nature, feelings of this kind you say can only be shared by men struggling side by side for existence; whereas, you Christians profess you are saved already. Well, as Christians, we do profess that we are saved. We are saved in our baptism, but we also participate in salvation. So as we go about and interact with this world, as we take the light in this world, as we work within and through Christ, we actually take part in the salvation, not only of our own souls, but in the salvation of the entire world. So I just want you to think about that for a second. Are you skeptical about salvation? Do you find yourself saying this world is doomed, this world is already doomed? Because it's not. Salvation has already been given to us and it's being unfolded for us.
Are you sure about your own salvation? Do you doubt or question your own salvation? Because you don't have to. You've been baptized. If you've been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and you believe in Jesus, you're saved and you're participating in the salvation. You don't ever have to doubt that. You don't ever have to fear that.

And finally, there's always the question about others. Well, what about the people that aren't Catholic? What about the people that don't believe in Christ? What about people that don't know him? Jesus has the ability to reach each and every soul. He has created all of creation, and all of creation is being saved and encompassed in this divine milieu. He is bringing all of into fulfillment and into salvation. So we have no need for deaths, we have no need for fear, we have no need to ever question the salvation that is happening.
So I ask you: 

 Do you love the world as God loves it? 

                 I hope that you do. 

 I ask you: Do you give yourself to the world as God gives himself to you? 
                 I hope that you do. 

 And finally, do you ultimately trust and believe and have faith in salvation and the reality that we have been saved and the world is being saved? 
                 I hope you. 

 Because God so loved the world, that he gave his only son so that we may come to believe and have light and be saved in him.

The Divine Milieu

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pentecost: You Have the Power to Forgive

Well, I've always loved the feast of Pentecost. The whole notion of the Holy Spirit coming, the spirit who symbolized in fire and error, and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are given to us, it's a tremendously phenomenal feast day and one that brings so much excitement to me. But I think I never realized, and it was from the praying of the first reading of Gospel, the power that we have with the Holy Spirit. And the power that I'm talking about is the power to forgive.

You and I are given the power to forgive. See, by our human nature alone it's really difficult, almost impossible for to us forgive sometimes. So think about that in your life, maybe the worst thing that ever happened to you, the most horrible thing that anybody's ever done to you. In a human nature it is very difficult, if not not impossible, to forgive. But with the gift of the Holy Spirit, in the reality, we are Christ and we are given all the power of Christ and Christ is in us. We do have the ability to forgive sins, to forgive someone that may have hurt us. And I want you to think about that for a moment. Is there anyone in your life that has hurt you that you haven't forgiven? I want you to try to call to mind that person or those people. Are you holding any unforgiveness in your heart? Because right now I'm going to tell you that you have the power and the ability to forgive that person.

We heard at the very end of the Gospel, Jesus says, "Receive the Holy Spirit whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." Now, he's ultimately giving the commission to his Apostles, to his priest to forgive and to absolve sins, but the truth is, in baptism and in Pentecost, you all receive the Holy Spirit and you are given the power to forgive sins; not to the absolve sins, but to forgive. You can actually in your heart, in your life, forgive the people that have hurt you.

So I'm going to read you a couple of things. This is one of my favorite cards that I have, and it's titled "Are you called to forgive?" This is what true forgivenessis. So there's a number of points about what true forgiveness is. This is what it means to truly forgive.

First of all, true forgiveness is a decision. You make a decision to forgive someone. You have the power to do that.

True forgiveness is unconditional. That means when we forgive someone, we forgive them unconditionally. There's no strings attached, and there's no conditions we place on that forgiveness. True forgiveness is unconditional. You have the power to do that.

The third, true forgiveness is showing mercy even when the act was deliberate. So think about that. Even if somebody hurt you deliberately, true forgiveness means showing mercy, even if you know or believe the act was deliberate. You can forgive someone that has hurt you deliberately.

True forgiveness is taking the other where he or she is. So think about that. True forgiveness is just trying to look at the other person and accept them as they are, where they are on their journey of life. It's taking them as they are.

True forgiveness is taking the risk to get hurt again. If you forgive someone, you might be hurt again by them. But true forgiveness gives you the power and the ability to forgive, not only this hurt, but any hurt that comes along the way. Jesus says we are called to forgive our brothers and sisters, seven, times seven times.

True forgiveness is choosing to love. Choosing to love that other person is choosing to love ourselves and choosing to love God.

True forgiveness is accepting an apology. It's actually accepting somebody's apology and forgiving them. As I said before, unconditional.

True forgiveness, if we do it this way, it becomes a way of life. It's something that we are able do over and over and over again. And there may be something that is so painful to us that it keeps coming back up, and each time we choose to forgive. If we live these ways and if we do forgive like this, it will become a way of life. You do have the power to forgive.

Now, I want to give you the flip-side to forgiveness. This is what happens with us when we don't forgive.

So when people don't forgive -- and let me know if you can relate to any of this -- when people don't forgive, they are led by lives of anger and pain. When we don't forgive, we are directed by negative memories. We think constantly about the negative things about people, about life, rather than about all the good.

When we don't forgive, we do not act freely; we're bound by this unforgiveness. When people don't forgive, they keep a controlling grasp on situations and reality, and they do that to try to not get hurt again. When people don't forgive, they are pressured by lives of tension and stress. When we don't forgive, we place an undue amount of burden and stress on our lives. When people don't forgive, they probably shorten their lives. When people don't forgive, their relationships with others are strained. When people don't forgive their relationship with God is strained. When people don't forgive, they live with feelings of little self-worth. And when we don't forgive, we feel unrelieved guilt.

So the reality is we needed to forgive, because if we don't forgive, we are going to struggle all of our lives with all of these heavy burdens that we are not called to carry. Jesus said, "Come to you all who are burdened and take my yoke upon you and take me and learn from me. I am meek and humble of heart." Jesus was ultimately the one who forgave sins. He was the one who was crucified, suffered, died and was buried so that he could take on your sins. So the pains that happened in your life didn't really happen to you, they happened to Christ in you. He is in you.

And that's what we celebrate on this Pentecost Sunday; that any hurt that has happened in your life, anytime that someone has done something horrible to you, they have done it to Christ because he is in you. That same Christ that is in you that took upon this sin also can forgive sin. And you have the power to forgive anyone that has ever hurt you. So just want you to think about, the notion of what true forgiveness is and the reality and the unbelievable miracle that you have been given this power of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost to forgive any sin, any hurt, anything wrong that anyone has ever done to you in your entire life.

Ascension - We are all Witnesses

LeBron Cleveland Reax Basketball


As we celebrate this Feast of the Ascension, I want to reflect on the readings because they are just so powerful and amazing and insightful. I guess, for some reason, it never struck me about this first part of Acts. In the first book, Luke is telling us that in the whole Gospel of Luke, the whole Gospel is all about Jesus here on earth, all the miracles he performed, all the healings that he performed, everything from his birth, death, all the way to the resurrection. And that ends the Gospel of Luke and the life of Jesus here on Earth. And then we begin with the Gospel of Acts.

So the very first line of the Gospel of Acts is, “In the first book, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up, after giving instruction by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles whom he had chosen. So for these last 40 days of Easter, we have been celebrating the resurrection. And just after Jesus’ resurrection for 40 days, he appeared to his disciples and he formed them and he shaped them and taught them and he prepared them and he revealed himself to them, and he prepared them for this moment when he would ascend and leave them.

It happened that he gathered them all together on the mountain. When he gathered his disciples together around him, he, once more, went on to explain himself further that he was not to be here like a ruler of the world. He was here to bring heaven and earth together. He was here to be the ultimate final consummation. As he is saying this, his disciples are looking at him, and all of a sudden he is wrapped in a cloud and he is taken up to heaven. Then two angels appear, and then said to men, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking up at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from heaven will come down from heaven in the very same way he was taken up.”
And then we hear in the Gospel, the disciples, when the ascension is happening, Jesus comes before them, and they saw him, but they doubted. There was still a little bit of doubt in the disciples. So Jesus, even with their doubt, he says to them, before he ascends, the last thing he says to them is, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me, and I am giving it to you. So go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And the moment before he ascends into heaven, he says, “Behold! I am with you always, even until the end of the ages.” So he gives this great commission, but also this promise that he will be with us always.

So what does the ascension mean to us? Well, the whole idea when we celebrate the Sacraments. . .so every day we come to mass, and these are a couple subtle things you might not notice or realize, but the priest always comes in the back with the servers, and before the priest enters the sanctuary, he genuflects before the tabernacle because he is entering into this holy ground, and then he ascends, he climbs the steps up to the altar. And the altar is supposed to be like the highest point of the church. So the altar is all the way up at the top. It is symbolic of the mountain. So that when the priest comes to the altar of God and stands before the people, there is a moment when the gifts of bread and wine are brought forward and heaven and earth meet, they come together.

So as the gifts of bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood, heaven and earth come together and they meet. So for a moment the priest ascends, he comes to the altar of God, he takes the gifts of bread and wine, transforms them into the body and blood of Christ, and shortly after that he descends. So you will notice the priest and all the Eucharistic ministers come down, and it is a very powerful moment because all of a sudden now God is coming to you. And then as each and every one of you comes forward to receive the body and blood of Christ, you receive him in you. Heaven and earth are joined right in your body, right in your soul, heaven and earth together. And so there is both the ascension and the descension. We experience both of them at mass. We also experience that with Pentecost when Jesus sends his holy spirit onto the earth.

So what happens when we do this, experience this ascension and descension and the receiving of Jesus into us? Well, we hear in the second reading, “Brothers and Sisters, may the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him.” What happens when you come here Sunday after Sunday after Sunday? You grow in knowledge of him. You grow in wisdom of him. You grow in experience of him. Jesus actually, this whole time that you are here, this whole time that we experience the ascension of heaven and earth coming together, Jesus is forming you. He is shaping you to be his disciples. You are called now to be his disciples.
See, so as the Gospel of Luke ended and as Jesus’ time here on earth ended, and he was crucified, died and rose from the dead and when he finally ascended, he would no longer be here in this world in the physical sense. But he is in the physical sense in you because we celebrate. The mere reality that when Jesus. . .he didn’t leave us behind. When Jesus ascended, he took each and every one of us with us. He is the head, as we heard in the opening prayer, the body. We all experience this ascension into heaven.

The last symbol I’m going to talk about that we use in the Eucharist sometimes is incense. So today I am just going to use it for the offertory. The whole notion of incense is the altar and the gifts of the bread and wine are going to be wrapped in this cloud of smoke. And it is symbolic of the ascension. Right here, today, we experience what it is like to be in Jesus’ presence. Heaven and earth combine. The clouds of heaven are joined right here on earth, and even the people will be incensed and you will enter into that cloud. You enter into this wonderful life of the resurrection.

At the very end of all of these great and wonderful mysteries, Jesus says to his disciples, “Be my witnesses. Go out to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Behold! I will be with you always.” So I just want to ask you this question: When you come here to mass and when you go out, do you consider yourself a disciple? Do you consider yourself on of the disciples of Jesus? Some people, I think, just come to mass because they feel like they have to or they need to do it to get to heaven, or whatever. But we come to mass to be formed as disciples. He is forming you to be his disciples, so that when you go out into the world you will evangelize and you will be his witnesses.

So do you consider yourself a disciple? The truth is, you are. That’s why you are here. He’s called you here to form you and to shape you and to go out into the world and to be his witness. So I just invite you to do that this week, to consider some way that you can witness to the wonderful mysteries that you experience here. Maybe you are nervous about that, maybe you’re anxious about that. But Jesus gives us the final message before his ascension: “Behold! I am with you always, even until the end of the age.”