XXVII Domingo ordinario

¿Has pensado cómo increíble es el sol? La pregunta puede parecer loco, pero piénsalo. Una estrella, que pesa uno quintillón de kilogramos, es decir un uno con treinta ceros, donde hidrógeno se convierte en helio, emite cantidades masivas de calor y luz y hace posible la vida en la Tierra. La tierra puede caber dentro el sol uno punto tres millones de veces. El sol es increíble, pero es tan común que normalmente no realizamos como increíble es. Este es el problema con cosas que son ambos increíbles y comunes; el hecho de que son comunes nos hace olvidar como increíbles son.

El matrimonio es increíble, pero también es común, y podemos olvidar como maravilloso es. En la Misa nupcial, el matrimonio se refiere como, “La única bendición no perdida por el pecado original ni arrastrada por el diluvio.” Este es maravilloso. De todas las bendiciones que Dios dio a nuestros primeros padres, todos fueron perdidos en la Caída excepto uno: el matrimonio. El matrimonio es tan especial, tan increíble, y tan importante al plan de Dios para la humanidad que Él permitió que permaneciera incluso cuando lo habíamos desobedecido.

¿Por qué el matrimonio es tanto importante al plan de Dios? Matrimonio es un parte de como Dios nos hizo. Oímos en génesis que Dios creó al hombre y la mujer con una complementariedad. Solo la mujer es una pareja adecuado para el hombre, y solo el hombre es una pareja adecuado para la mujer, porque ellos son iguales pero no son idénticos. Más bien, en sus diferencias se vuelven receptivos al otro, de modo que los dos pueden unirse y convertirse en una sola carne. Dios puso al matrimonio en la naturaleza humana. No es un producto de sociedad o leyes. La naturaleza del matrimonio está escrito en nuestro propio ser, y lo ha sido desde el principio.

El matrimonio es tan importante por lo que logra. En matrimonio, esposo y esposa se vuelven en co-creadores con Dios y participan en su misma acción de creación de una vida nueva. Es providencial que hoy es el Domingo de Respeto a la Vida, tenemos lecturas que hablan del matrimonio, porque el matrimonio es la fuente de vida nueva. En matrimonio, un hombre y una mujer se entregan uno a otro completamente por amor, y serán los dos una sola cosa. Y por esta unidad, por este don completo, la vida esta creado. Dios creó el universo por amor, y por el amor de esposo y esposa, Dios continua su acción de creación.

El matrimonio es realmente asombroso, pero podemos olvidar lo asombroso que es. Esta bendición primordial de Dios, esta fuente de nueva vida en el mundo, puede minimizarse y distorsionarse con demasiada facilidad. La distorsión del matrimonio no es un fenómeno nuevo. Oímos en el Evangelio cómo los fariseos prueban a Jesús en el divorcio. Nuestro Señor declara que, aunque Moisés había permitido el divorcio, lo hizo no porque Dios lo deseara sino por la dureza del corazón humano. Dios quiso que el amor del esposo y la esposa fuera la imagen viva de su amor por nosotros. Pero eso es difícil; de hecho, sin gracia es imposible. Es por eso que Cristo elevó el matrimonio a la dignidad de un sacramento, para que pudiera dar a las parejas la gracia necesaria para vivir como Dios las llama. El matrimonio debe ser total, fiel, permanente y fructífero, porque el amor de Dios es total, fiel, permanente y fructífero. El amor de Cristo es total. No retuvo nada, pero dio todo en amor por nosotros. Es fiel; Él nunca nos abandonará y se entregará a otro. Su amor es permanente; Él nunca dejará de amarnos. Y es fructífero; El amor de nuestro Señor por nosotros no solo permanece con nosotros sino que se desborda y trae vida al mundo. El amor de Dios es todas esas cosas, y por eso el amor de los esposos también está llamado a ser esas cosas. Pero, de nuevo, eso es difícil.

Es difícil que dos personas se amen de manera total, fiel, permanente y fructífera. Y así nos sentimos tentados a hacer que el matrimonio sea algo más fácil, para diluirlo. De muchas maneras, las personas convierten el matrimonio en algo menos que una imagen del amor total, fiel, permanente y fructífero de Dios.

Desafortunadamente, hay ocasiones en que, debido a los pecados de uno o ambos cónyuges, ese tipo de amor es imposible. Nuestro llamado como Iglesia es extender misericordia y dar la bienvenida a aquellos que se encuentran en esa situación desafiante. No negamos lo que creemos acerca de la verdadera naturaleza del matrimonio, pero debemos abrazar a aquellos cuyos matrimonios no han alcanzado ese alto llamado. En particular, expresamos especial preocupación y compasión por quienes tuvieron que dejar a su cónyuge por su propia salud y bienestar o por el de sus hijos. El abuso doméstico, ya sea físico, financiero, sexual o emocional, es una epidemia silenciosa en nuestra sociedad. Desafortunadamente, algunos piensan erróneamente que es su responsabilidad quedarse con un cónyuge abusivo debido a la permanencia del matrimonio. Si bien nunca debemos dejar de proclamar la naturaleza del matrimonio como una unión de por vida, nunca debemos dar la impresión de que se requiere que alguien se quede en una situación que ponga en peligro su salud o el de sus hijos. Especialmente para aquellos que tienen que separarse de su cónyuge por su propio bienestar, la Iglesia está llamada a ofrecer amor, bienvenida y esperanza. También abrazamos con cariño especial y comprensión a aquellos cuyo matrimonio terminó en divorcio por causas ajenas a la suya. Como con todas las cosas, la Iglesia no retrocede en proclamar la verdad, pero también somos una fuente de misericordia y bienvenida.

Dios quiere que el matrimonio sea algo asombroso. Fue creado como la imagen viva de su amor por nosotros. Pero podemos olvidar lo increíble que es. Para aquellos de ustedes que han sido llamados a la vocación del matrimonio, es decir, la mayoría de ustedes aquí, yo los aliento a que pasen un tiempo en oración agradeciendo a Dios por el asombroso regalo que Él le ha dado y pido su ayuda para vivir plenamente ese vocación. Que todos podamos entender y promover verdaderamente la santidad y la dignidad de este santo sacramento.

 

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Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Have you ever thought about how amazing the sun is? I know that may seem like the kind of question you expect from someone who is under the influence of some substance or another, but think about it. This star weighing 1 nonillion kilograms, that’s a 1 with 30 zeros after it, wherein hydrogen is converted into helium, giving off massive quantities of heat and light enables life on earth. The earth could fit inside the sun 1.3 million times. The sun is amazing, but it is so common that we don’t normally think about how amazing it is. That is the problem with things that are both amazing and common; the fact that they’re common can lead us to forget how amazing they are.

Marriage is an amazing thing, but it is also common, and so we can forget how amazing it is. In the nuptial Mass, marriage is referred to as “The one blessing not forfeited by original sin nor washed away by the flood.” That’s amazing. Of all the blessings that God gave to our first parents, all of them were lost in the Fall except marriage. Marriage is so special, so amazing, and so important to God’s plan for humanity that He allowed it to remain even when we had disobeyed Him.

What is it that makes marriage so important to God’s plan? Marriage is built into the very way that God created us. We hear from Genesis that God created man and woman with an innate complementarity. Only woman was a suitable partner for the man, and only man is a suitable partner for the woman, because they are equal but not the same. Rather, in their differences they are made receptive to the other, so that the two may join together and become one flesh. God built marriage into human nature. It isn’t a social construct or a societal convention, it is part of who we are as human beings. The nature of marriage is written on our very being, and has been since the beginning.

God wrote marriage so deeply into human nature because of what marriage can accomplish. In marriage, husband and wife become co-creators with God and participate in His very act of creating new life. It is providential that, as we celebrate Respect Life Sunday we have readings which speak of marriage, because marriage is the cradle of new life. In marriage, a man and woman give themselves completely to each other out of love, so that the two become one. And it is from this unity, from this complete gift, that life is created. God created the universe out of love, and out of the love of husband and wife, God continues His act of creation. And beyond the simple act of creating new life, it is in the family that this new life is nurtured, develops, and flourishes.

Marriage is truly amazing, but we can forget how amazing it is. This primordial blessing from God, this source of new life in the world, can be all too easily minimized and distorted. The distortion of marriage from what God intended it to be is not a new phenomenon. We hear in the Gospel how the Pharisees test Jesus on divorce. Our Lord declares that, although Moses had allowed divorce, he did so not because God desired it but because of the hardness of the human heart. God intended the love of husband and wife to be the living image of His love for us. But that is difficult; in fact, without grace it is impossible. That is why Christ elevated marriage to the dignity of a sacrament, so He could give to couples the grace necessary to live as God calls them. Marriage is to be total, faithful, permanent, and fruitful, because God’s love is total, faithful, permanent, and fruitful. Christ’s love is total; He held nothing back, but gave everything He had in love for us. It is faithful; He will never abandon us and give Himself instead to another. His love is permanent; He will never stop loving us. And it is fruitful; Our Lord’s love for us doesn’t simply remain with us but overflows and brings life to the world. The love of God is all those things, and so the love of husband and wife is also called to be those things. But, again, that is difficult.

It is difficult for two people to love each other in a way that is total, faithful, permanent and fruitful. And so we are tempted to make marriage something easier, to water it down. Through so many ways, people make marriage into something other than an image of the total, faithful, permanent, and fruitful love of God.

We hear in the second reading that Christ’s love for us was made “perfect through suffering.” So, too, the love of husband and wife is perfected through suffering. Holy marriages involve suffering. It takes many forms. It is getting out of bed at 2am for a crying baby so that your spouse may sleep. It is not saying anything even though he left the toilet seat up again or she forgot to iron your favorite shirt. There is the big suffering too, being forgiving when your spouse does or says something that hurts you. In daily uniting themselves with Christ, and in seeking to renew the grace of the sacrament God has given them, husband and wife can find the strength to weather whatever storms come their way and live out the great calling that God has given to them.

Unfortunately, there are times wherein, due to the sins or weaknesses of one or both of the spouses, that sort of love is impossible. It is our job as a Church to extend mercy and welcome to those who find themselves in that challenging situation. While not denying what we believe about the true nature of marriage, we should seek to embrace those whose marriages have not attained that high calling. In particular, we extend particular concern and compassion for those who had to leave their spouse for the sake of their own health and wellbeing or for that of their children. Domestic abuse, whether physical, financial, sexual or emotional abuse, is a silent epidemic in our society. Unfortunately, some mistakenly think that it is their responsibility to stay with an abusive spouse because of the permanence of marriage. While we should never back down from proclaiming the nature of marriage as a life-long union, we should also never give the impression that someone is required to stay in a situation that endangers their health and wellbeing or that of their children. Especially to those who have to separate from their spouse for the sake of their own well-being, the Church is called to offer love, welcome, and hope. We also embrace with a special love and understanding those whose marriage ended in divorce through no fault of their own. As with all things, the Church does not back down from proclaiming the truth, but we also are a font of mercy and welcome.

Marriage is intended by God to be an amazing thing. It was created as the living image of His love for us. But we can forget how amazing it is. For those of you who have been called to the vocation of marriage, that is, most of you here, I encourage you to spend some time in prayer thanking God for the amazing gift He has given you and ask for His help to fully live that calling. May we all truly understand and promote the sanctity and dignity of this holy sacrament.

 

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I’m not a hellfire and brimstone kind of preacher. Usually. It isn’t my style to try to scare people into being better. Love is a better motivator than fear. But sometimes, the readings call for it. This is one of those Sundays.

Listen to Our Lord in today’s Gospel. He says that it would be better to be drowned than to cause someone to sin. He says it would be better to be blind and mutilated than to sin. Now, Christ is not actually encouraging us to mutilate our bodies; that in itself would be a sin. But He is trying to make a very important point: sin is a big deal. Likewise, in our second reading St. James does not mince words in condemning the sinfulness. Sin is serious. And that is something that people often seem to forget these days. It is so easy to excuse our sinful behaviors. We all do it. “It’s just a little sin. It doesn’t really hurt anyone. I’m still basically a good person.” We make all kinds of excuses for our sins. Society even does it for us these days, telling us that things aren’t really sins, or that everyone else is doing it so it’s not a big deal. But all of the excuses in the world can’t change the truth: sin is real, and it is a big deal. Sin is so much of a big deal that we can go to Hell.

Jesus makes it explicitly clear today in the Gospel that Hell is real. “Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” Now, it is best not to think of Hell as a literal pit of fire; that is a metaphorical description of a real reality of eternal suffering and separation from God.

Now, Hell isn’t a popular topic these days. People say that they don’t believe that an all-loving God would send people to Hell. And, to a degree, they’re right; God doesn’t send people to Hell. But He allows them to choose it. Heaven is perfect communion in the love of God. But love involves a choice. God can’t make us love Him. Love has to be free, or it isn’t love. I can program a computer to tell me that it loves me a thousand times a day, but that doesn’t make it love, because there is no freedom. Love must involve a free choice. But, like any choice, we can choose wrongly. By giving us the ability to love, God also gave us the ability to choose not to love. It can’t be any other way. Now, obviously, God wants us to choose to love Him. That is where our true happiness and goodness is found. If God had His way, we would all choose to love Him, and thus we would all go to heaven and be happy with Him forever. That is God’s choice. But God will not force us to love Him, because He respects our free will.

But we don’t always choose to love Him. Every time we sin, we are choosing to love something else more than God. That is what make sin such a big deal, because every time we sin, we are saying, “I choose to love this lesser thing more than the all-good, all-perfect God who created me and loves me infinitely.” Every time we sin, we are choosing not to love God with our whole heart, our whole mind, and our whole strength. And, by our sins, we can make that choice of not loving God a permanent and eternal choice. We can choose to say definitively by our actions that we will not love God. And, if we do not love God, then we cannot enjoy Heaven, because Heaven is the perfect experience of the love of God. The simple fact of the matter is, the souls in Hell would not enjoy heaven even if they were there, because the joy of heaven is found in God, and the souls in Hell have chosen to reject God.

Does God still love the souls in Hell? Yes. He is all-loving. But He cannot make them love Him. And so they can choose to not love Him, even to choose it eternally. And that is why sin is a big deal. Maybe one little sin won’t be enough for us to go to Hell. But our actions form habits, and habits form character. Every time we do something good we are strengthening our love of God and our desire to do His will, and every time we sin we are weakening our love of God and weakening our desire to follow Him. This is why Our Lord takes sin so seriously in today’s Gospel, because Hell is a reality, and sin is the path we travel to get there.

Now, the good news is that it is not too late. We are all still alive, at least as far as I can tell, and that means that we can still choose to love God and to follow Him. We still have time to work in overcoming those sinful habits that we have formed. And, most importantly, we still have time to seek God’s forgiveness. Because He never stops loving us, God is always ready to forgive us, we just have to come to Him and ask for it. No matter what we’ve done, no matter what ways in the past we have chosen to not love God, we can choose to love Him here and now and seek His forgiveness, especially in the Sacrament of Confession. His love is infinite. His mercy is infinite. Hell is a reality, but it is not inevitable. Let us seek to truly love God fully in all we say and do and think, so that, as Moses prayed in today’s first reading, “the Lord might bestow His Spirit on” us all.

 

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the start of the Gospel, after the disciples profess that Jesus is the Christ, He orders them not to tell anyone. Why? Wouldn’t He want people to know that He is the Messiah? Shouldn’t he want the disciples to tell people?

We see the answer in what immediately follows. The Gospel tells us that Jesus “began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly […] and be killed, and rise after three days.” And Peter, who just before this was professing his faith in Christ, objects. But Jesus quickly shuts down Peter’s protests. “Get behind me, Satan,” He tells Peter. “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Ouch. That is a tough rebuke. Imagine hearing Christ call you “Satan.” You would know that you have really messed up, big time.

So what is Peter’s mistake? He wants Christ without the Cross. But the Cross is essential to Christ’s mission. That is why Jesus tells the disciples not to tell people that He is the Christ, because they don’t yet understand what that means. The Cross is so essential to Christ’s mission that, if someone tries to remove the Cross from Him, they are acting as Satan.

The Cross is essential to Jesus’ mission, because His mission is to be our Savior. Many people try to remove the Cross from Jesus. The turn Jesus into just a wise teacher who said some really good things. They turn Jesus into a revolutionary who sought to overturn the established social order of His day. They turn Him into a miracle worker who just went about helping people in need. While all of these things may be part of what Christ did, they are not central to His mission. At the foundation of who Jesus is and what He came to do is the Cross. Because He came to save us. If you remove the Cross from Jesus, He is no longer our Savior. Jesus without the Cross isn’t really Jesus. Jesus without the Cross may be a very attractive figure, but He isn’t Jesus.

But the Cross is not only essential to Christ, it is also essential to being a Christian. As Christ tells the disciples in the Gospel, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” “Must take up his cross,” He says. There are no options. If we want to be a Christian, we must take up our cross.

What does that mean to take up our cross? It means several things. First, it means that our faith must be more than words. Our faith has to be put into actions. As St. James says in our second reading, “faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” If our faith is just words, if it is just something we say here on a Sunday morning but don’t live in our daily lives, then it is dead. And taking up our cross means living our faith out even when it is difficult. If we only live our faith when it is easy, we haven’t taken up our cross. The cross means sacrifice. And sacrifice hurts. When is the last time you lived out your faith to the point that it hurt? For most of us, we shy away from that. We live out our faith when it is comfortable, we may even live out our faith when it is a little uncomfortable, but we often don’t go to the point where it hurts. We don’t go all the way to the cross.

Like St. Peter, we want to avoid the cross. Every time we skip Mass because it isn’t convenient to get here, we are avoiding the cross. Every time we stay silent rather the sharing the faith with someone because we are afraid of how they might react, we are avoiding the cross. Every time we give in to temptation rather than resist it, we are avoiding the cross. It is so easy to do. The cross is hard. It hurts. It requires dying to ourselves. I think that is sometimes the problem with our depictions of the Cross of Christ. I love the crucifix here at St. Charles Borromeo, but in some respect, it is too nice. It is too neat, too clean, too pretty. The Cross of Jesus was painful and bloody. And He tells us that if we are going to be His disciple, we must take up our cross as well, which means being a disciple is going to be painful and bloody. Being a disciple is going to require sacrifice. If we do not deny ourselves, if we do not take up our cross, we are not followers of Christ. It doesn’t matter how nice we are, how many good things we do, if we do not take up the Cross, we are not really Christians.

Just as people try to remove the Cross from Christ, so we often try to remove the Cross from being a disciple. We try to make being a disciple something that doesn’t really cost anything. Sometimes, we even expect God to take the cross away from us. How many of our prayers are essentially, “God, remove this thing I don’t like from my life? Remove this thing that is painful? Remove this thing that requires sacrifice?” What we are really asking God to do is remove the cross from our lives. But He tells us explicitly that without the cross, we cannot be His disciple. We are asking God to remove from our lives the very condition for discipleship.

What is the cross that Jesus is asking you to bear? We all have a cross. It is an unavoidable part of being a disciple. What temptations do you continually struggle against? There is your cross. Where is God calling you to give of yourself but you don’t want to because it hurts? There is your cross. Where is God calling you to offer love and forgiveness to someone even though it is difficult? There is your cross. What pain do you carry deep inside you that you can’t get away from? There is your cross. Where is life difficult and burdensome? There is your cross. We all have our crosses. Some may seem heavier than others, some may seem easier to bear, but we all have them.

Here in this Mass, bring your cross from Christ. Place it on the altar. Offer your cross to God, not to have Him take it away, but to fill it with His grace. As we offer the bread and wine to the Father, offer him your cross, in union with the Cross of Christ. Let Christ fill your cross with His love and grace. Then, as you receive Him in the Eucharist, know that He is giving you all the grace and strength you need to carry your cross in Him. You don’t have to run from it, you don’t have to hide from it, you don’t have to try to make it go away. Let Him carry it with you, so that, having shared in the Cross of Christ, you may share in His Resurrection.

Unity Day/Dia de la Unidad

Es fácil para mirar el milagro en el Evangelio hoy y solo ver la curación física. Por cierto, la curación física es maravillosa. El hombre que había sido sordo y tartamudo es curado completamente. El Señor lo hace en cumplimiento de la profecía de Isaías que oímos en la primera lectura que “los oídos de los sordos se abrirán […] y la lengua del mudo cantará.” Ciertamente, la curación física que Cristo hizo es milagrosa.

It is easy to look at the miracle in today’s Gospel and see only the physical healing. Certainly the physical healing is amazing. The man who had been both deaf and unable to speak clearly is perfectly healed. The Lord does this in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah that we hear in the first reading that “the ears of the deaf be cleared; [and] the tongue of the mute will sing.” Certainly the physical healing that Christ performed is miraculous.

Pero piense sobre las implicaciones más profundas de esta curación. El hombre fui mudo e incapaz para hablar claro. Él no puede comunicar. Él es aislado. Por la curación del hombre de sus discapacidades físicas, Cristo está curando su aislamiento también. Este hombre ha sido cortado de la comunidad, y por la acción de Cristo, él puede una vez más estar en comunión con otras personas.

But think about the deeper implications of this healing. The man was deaf and unable to speak clearly. He is unable to communicate. He is isolated. By healing the man of his physical disabilities, Christ is also healing his isolation. This man has been cut off from the community, and by Christ’s action he is able once again to be in communion with other people.

Y esto es la curación verdadera que Nuestro Señor viene para dar, para traer Su amor y curar a nosotros de nuestro aislamiento. Porque Él quiere curarnos de nuestros pecados, quienes nos aislan. El pecado nos deja sordos, incapaz para oír y responder a las necesidades de nuestros hermanos y hermanas. El pecado nos deja sordos a la voz de Dios en nuestras vidas. Y nos deja mudos, incapaz para traer amor a los otros, incapaz para hablar a la alabanza y la misericordia de Dios. Y, en todos, como el hombre en el evangelio hoy, el pecado nos deja aislados. El pecado nos separa de los demás y de Dios; nos separa del amor. Vemos un ejemplo de esto en la segunda lectura. Santiago castiga a la gente por mostrar preferencia a los ricos sin tener en cuenta a los pobres. Su orgullo, es decir, su pecado, ha creado división y aislamiento en la comunidad. Cuando y donde haya pecado, crea aislamiento y división.

And that is the true healing that Our Lord comes to give, to bring His love and heal us of our isolation. Because He wants to cure us of sin, which isolates us. Sin leaves us deaf, unable to hear and respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters. Sin leaves us deaf to the voice of God in our lives. And it leaves us mute, unable to bring love to others, unable to speak the praise and the mercy of God. And, in all of this, like the man in today’s Gospel, sin leaves us isolated. Sin cuts us off from others and from God; it cuts us off from love. We see an example of this in the second reading. St. James is chastising people for showing preferential treatment to the rich while ignoring the poor. Their pride, that is, their sin, has created division and isolation in the community. Whenever and wherever there is sin, it creates isolation and division.

El pecado puede crea división en nuestra comunidad también. El pecado convierte las diferencias en divisiones, para dividir las personas en “nosotros” y “ellos” y edificar muros entre nosotros. En lugar de ver otras personas como nuestros hermanos y hermanas, los vemos con sospecha o incluso abierta hostilidad. Los pecados de prejuicio, de racismo, y de indiferencia crean divisiones y nos dejan aislados. Como unimos para esta Día de la Unidad, pedimos a Cristo para curar las maneras en que somos sordos, incapaz para oír nuestros hermanos y hermanas. Le pedimos para curar las maneras en que somos mudos, incapaz o reacio para hablar con el amor de Dios. Le pedimos a Jesús para curar nuestro aislamiento y para reunirnos uno a los otros. Como una parroquia, pedimos a Jesús para eliminar cualquier división en nuestra familia parroquial.

Sin can create division in our own community as well. Sin causes us to turn differences into divisions, to divide people into “us” and “them” and put up barriers between us. Rather than seeing other people as our brothers and sisters, we start to view them with suspicion or even outright hostility. The sins of prejudice, of racism, and of indifference create divisions and leave us isolated. As we gather for this Unity Day, we ask Christ to heal in us the way that we are deaf, unable to hear our brothers and sisters. We ask Him to heal the ways that we are mute, unable or unwilling to speak with the love of God. We ask Jesus to heal our isolation and unite us with each other. As a parish, we ask Jesus to remove any division in our parish family.

Pues, algo es extraño en la curación en el Evangelio. Después de Jesús “lo apartó a un lado de la gente, le metió los dedos en los oídos y le tocó la lengua con saliva.” Es extraño. ¿Por qué Jesús hizo todo esto? ¿Por qué no solo dice ‘Ábrete’ y terminar con eso? ¿ Por qué hacer la curación tan extraña? No sabemos, pero nos da una idea de cómo funciona Cristo. La curación que Cristo trae no es siempre limpio y fácil. A veces es desaliñada. Hoy, tenemos una oportunidad para ser un parte de traer la curación de Cristo por superando de la división. No requiere mucho, solo pase un tiempo hablando con uno de sus compañeros feligreses que aún no conoce, especialmente los feligreses de una cultura diferente. Pero esto puede ser torpe. ¿Qué digo? ¿Qué hago si no hablo inglés? Está bien. A veces, la curación de Cristo puede ser desaliñada, al igual del Evangelio hoy. Tratar para hablar con otra persona sin una lengua compartida puede ser desaliñada. Pero en el desorden, la curación de Cristo está trabajando. En la torpeza, la incomodidad, Cristo está trabajando. No tengas miedo de dejar que Cristo te traiga fuera de tu zona de confort. No seas guiado por miedo. Sea un instrumento de la curación de Cristo por ser una fuente de la unidad. Tómese el tiempo para hablar con un compañero feligrés que es diferente de usted. Se sorprenderá de cómo Cristo puede trabajar a través de algo tan simple.

Now, there is something a little odd about the healing in the Gospel. After Jesus took the man apart by himself, He “put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue.” That’s a little weird. Why did Jesus do all of that? Why not just say “Be opened” and be done with it? Why make the healing so messy? We don’t know, but it does give us some insight into how Christ works. The healing Christ brings is not always clean and easy. Sometimes it is messy. Today, we have an opportunity to try to be part of bringing Christ’s healing by overcoming division. It doesn’t take much, just spend some time talking to one of your fellow parishioners who you don’t know yet, especially parishioners of a different culture. But that can be awkward. What do I say? What if I don’t speak Spanish? That’s okay. Sometimes, Christ’s healing is messy, like in the Gospel today. Trying to talk to someone without a shared language can be messy. But in that messiness, Christ’s healing is at work. In the awkwardness, the uncomfortableness, Christ is working. Don’t be afraid to let Christ bring you outside your comfort zone. Don’t be guided by fear. Be an instrument of the messy healing of Christ by being a source of unity. Take time to talk with a fellow parishioner who is different from you. You’ll be amazed how Christ can work through something so simple.

Cristo quiere sanar las cosas que nos mantienen separados de nuestros hermanos y hermanas, pero tenemos que dejar que Él nos sane, incluso cuando esa curación es desordenada. Oremos que esta celebración del Día de la Unidad puede ser una fuente de esa curación en nuestra familia parroquial, para que podemos ser más unidos como el Cuerpo de Cristo.

Christ wants to heal the things that keep us separated from our brothers and sisters, but we have to let Him heal us, even when that healing is messy. We pray that this Unity Day celebration can be a source of that healing in our parish family, so that we can be more united as the Body of Christ.

 

XXII Domingo ordinario

La cárcel del condado de San Carlos es a menos de media milla de aquí. Por esa razón, cuando un preso solicita para hablar con un sacerdote, el asistente social me llama a mí. Es una experiencia muy interesante. En los últimos meses, he conocido un preso que quiere ser católico. En verdad, nunca he conocido a alguien tan entusiasmado por ser católico. El ultimo vez que nos reunimos, él me dijo, “Padre, quiero ser el mejor católico que tú hayas visto. ¿Qué necesito hacer?” Yo le dije a él, “Bueno, en realidad es realmente fácil. Orar; leer la Biblia; amar a Dios; amar a tu prójimo.” Él dijo, “¿Pero a qué hora debo orar el rosario?” Él escucha a la radio católica y se transmite al rosario a la misma hora cada día. Él supuso que hay una hora específica en que los católicos debían rezar el rosario. Yo traté para darle los fundos de la fe; él estaba preocupado por las minucias.

No lo estoy criticando; él quiere hacer lo correcto. Las personas que son muy entusiastas a menudo se preocupan demasiado por las cosas pequeñas. Y no es necesariamente malo preocuparse por las cosas pequeñas. Pero tenemos que asegurarnos de mantener todas cosas en la perspectiva correcta. En nuestra fe, hay algunas cosas que son más importantes que otras cosas. Y debemos asegurarnos de darle a las cosas la importancia adecuada. Eso es lo que Cristo está criticando a los fariseos en el Evangelio de hoy. Ellos estaban muy preocupados por las cosas pequeñas. Fueron precisos sobre seguir las leyes sobre el lavado de manos y platos. Pero descuidaron los mandamientos más importantes

Creo que a veces, como católicos, podemos tener el mismo problema. Podemos estar muy preocupados con las cosas pequeñas, pero descuidamos las cosas más importantes. Conozco a algunos católicos que son extremadamente precisos para observar el ayuno de una hora antes de comunión, pero no son tan cuidadosos como para evitar los chismes, por ejemplo. No digo que no debemos preocuparnos por el ayuno antes de comunión, pero el mandamiento de amar a tu prójimo como a ti mismo es más importante que la disciplina de no comer durante una hora antes de recibir la comunión. Podemos ser muy conscientes sobre vestirse bien para la misa dominical, pero ¿estamos más preocupado por nuestra ropa que nuestras almas? La otra semana, estaba celebrando la misa de la escuela aquí en la solemnidad de la Asunción de María. Les pregunté a los niños qué significaba la Asunción, muchos niños levantaron sus manos. Sabían que la Asunción era cuando María fue llevada al cielo. Pero cuando les pregunté a los estudiantes qué teníamos que hacer para llegar al cielo, ni un solo niño levantó la mano. Estoy muy feliz de que nuestros hijos sepan que María fue asumida en el cielo. Pero todos podemos estar de acuerdo en que es más importante que ellos sepan cómo llegar al cielo ellos mismos.

Esto no significa que debamos descuidar los mandamientos más pequeños. En la primera lectura, Moisés exhorta a la gente a guardar todos los mandamientos que el Señor les ha dado. Deberíamos observar todos los mandamientos. No podemos escoger y elegir qué mandamientos guardamos o qué partes de la fe seguimos. Pero también debemos evitar caer en la trampa de los fariseos de ser muy cuidadosos con los pequeños mandamientos, pero descuidando a los más grandes. Todos conocemos los mandamientos importantes; probablemente los aprendimos cuando éramos niños. Pero conocerlos y hacerlos no es lo mismo. Como dice Santiago en la segunda lectura, “Pongan en práctica esa palabra y no se limiten a escucharla, engañándose a ustedes mismos.”

Lo que Cristo quiere es nuestros corazones. A veces, cuando estamos tanto preocupados por las mandamientos pequeños, es porque podemos guardar las mandamientos pequeños sin dando nuestros corazones enteros a Dios. Observancia externa de religión es fácil; conversión interna es difícil. Eso fue cierto hace dos mil años para los fariseos, y es verdad hoy en día. Es fácil para vivir una vida dividida, cumpliendo los preceptos externos de nuestra fe pero no creciendo en la santidad. Como discípulos, nunca debemos ser contentos con simplemente piedad externa. Religión verdadera obviamente tiene manifestaciones externas. Si realmente seguimos a Cristo, se mostrará en todo lo que decimos y hacemos. Pero empieza con el corazón. Empieza con conversión interna y cumpliendo los mandamientos más importantes. Lo más importante es que tratamos para amar a Dios sobre todo y nuestros prójimos como nosotros mismos. A partir de ahí, los otros mandamientos y observancias caerán en su lugar.

Las lecturas de hoy nos desafían a todos a examinar nuestras prioridades en la fe. ¿Realmente estoy prestando la mayor atención a las cosas que son más importantes? ¿O me veo atrapado en las pequeñas cosas pero descuido las más importantes? Pidamos al Espíritu Santo los dones de sabiduría y entendimiento, para que podamos seguir a Cristo con todo nuestro corazón y no solo en acciones externas.

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

The St. Charles County Jail is less than half a mile from here. This means that whenever one of the inmates in the jail requests to speak to a priest, the caseworker calls me. This is a really interesting experience. Over the past few months I have been meeting with one of the inmates who wants to become Catholic. I’ll be honest, I have never met someone so excited about becoming Catholic. Last time I met with him, he told me, “Father, I want to be the best Catholic you have ever seen. What do I have to do to be the best Catholic ever?” I told him, “Well, in some sense it is really easy. Pray; read the Bible; love God; and love your neighbor.” He said, “Okay, but what time of day am I supposed to pray the rosary?” It turns out he had been listening to a lot of Catholic radio and they broadcast the rosary at the same time each day, so he assumed that there was a specific time of day when Catholics are supposed to pray the rosary. I was trying to give him the essentials of the faith; he was preoccupied with minutia.

I’m not trying to criticize him; people who are very zealous often get overly concerned with the small things. And it isn’t necessarily bad to be concerned about the small things. But we have to make sure that we keep things in the proper perspective. In our faith, there are some things that are more important than other things. And we should make sure that we give things the appropriate importance. That is what Christ is criticizing the Pharisees for in the Gospel today. They were very concerned about the small things. They were fastidious about following the laws regarding washing their hands and plates. But they neglected the more important commandments.

I think sometimes, as Catholics, we can fall into the same problem. We can be very preoccupied with the small things but neglect the more important things. I know some Catholics who are extremely precise about observing the one hour communion fast, but aren’t nearly as careful about avoiding gossip. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t worry about the communion fast, but the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than the discipline of not eating for an hour before receiving communion. We can be very cognizant about making sure that we wear our Sunday best to Church, but are me more concerned about our clothes than our souls? The other week, I was celebrating the school Mass here on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. I asked the children what the Assumption meant, and a bunch of hands shot up. They knew that the Assumption was when Mary was taken up into heaven. But when I asked them what we have to do to get to heaven, not a single kid raised their hand. I’m very proud that our kids know that Mary was assumed into heaven. But we could all agree that it is probably more important that they know how to get to heaven themselves.

This doesn’t mean that we should neglect the smaller commandments. In the first reading, Moses exhorts the people to keep all of the commandments which the Lord has given them. We should seek to observe all the commandments. We don’t get to pick and choose what commandments we keep or what parts of the faith we follow. But we also have to avoid falling into the trap of the Pharisees of being very careful about the small commandments but neglecting the larger ones. We all know the important commandments; we probably learned them when we were children. But knowing them and doing them are not the same thing. As St. James says in the second reading, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.”

In the end, what Christ wants is our hearts. Sometimes, when we overly fixate on the small commandments but not the big ones, it is because we can keep the small commandments without really giving God our whole heart. External observance of religion is easy, internal conversion is hard. That was true 2,000 years ago for the Pharisees, and it is true today. It is easy to live a divided life, keeping all of the external precepts of our faith but not actually growing in holiness. As disciples, we should never be satisfied with merely external piety. Now, true religion has exterior manifestations obviously. If we truly follow Christ, it will show in everything that we say and do. But it starts in the heart. It starts with interior conversion and seeking to keep the most important commandments. The most important thing is that we seek to love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves. From there, the other commandments and observances will fall into place.

Today’s readings are a challenge to all of us to examine our priorities in the faith. Am I truly giving the most attention to the things that are most important? Or do I get caught up in the little things but neglect the most important ones? Let us ask the Holy Spirit for the gifts of wisdom and understanding, so that we can follow Christ with our whole hearts and not just in external actions.