Now Known as Chardonnay W(h)ines!
“The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while other cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” The words of Matthew’s gospel seem to ring a little empty this morning. There are no crowds here, no excitement and enthusiasm, no waving of palm branches to be blessed. It all seems so surreal. How is it that a virus has robbed Christians from celebrating the most holy and sacred time of the year? And quite likely it will be the same on Easter Sunday. These several weeks of no public Masses, no Holy Week liturgies, no Easter due to the COVID-19 virus has made me reflect on how lucky we are to weekly celebrate as a community the mysteries of our faith. It makes me reflect upon the Catholics throughout the world who only have a priest come once a month or even just once a year to celebrate Mass with them. How do they sustain and nurture their faith without weekly celebrating the Eucharist? It is so central to who we are as Catholics! They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder! I can only imagine their hunger. And now we get a taste of what some Catholics throughout the world experience throughout their lives. In the several weeks that you have not been able to receive communion, I pray that the absence indeed has made your heart grow fonder! And when we are able to celebrate public Masses again, I hope that you who come every week, and those who have been away for awhile will fill our church with loud Hosannas!!
Please be sure to check our website and app for resources to celebrate Holy Week at home. Let us not loose our sense of community…..join us for our livestreamed liturgies. In the meantime, know that Fr. Mark and I keep you in our thoughts and prayers. We miss you!! Have a blessed Holy Week!
On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, we meet dead Lazarus brought back to life. In doing so, perhaps we meet ourselves!! If you haven’t caught my drift yet, I started my last two bulletin articles with the same line after the person we met in that week’s gospel…. “In doing so perhaps we meet ourselves!!” The gospel story two weeks ago of the woman at the well, the gospel last week of the man born blind, and the gospel of today, Lazarus all form the basis of the scrutiny prayers used each week with the elect who are to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. These prayers call not only the elect to see themselves in the character of the particular gospel and what Jesus does for those characters the prayers call us to see ourselves as well. So today, we all called to recognize what is dead in us, and ask Jesus to raise us from our sins so that we might live a new life NOW! Has love grown cold? Have hurts made us bitter and resentful? Have we isolated ourselves, unwilling to forgive? Certainly, Lazarus had human faults and failings. It is important to note in this gospel that Jesus resuscitated Lazarus back to the life in the time he was living. Lazarus got his same body back, he was the age he was when he died, he was the same person, given the chance to live again with the new life and ability to change that which was dead in him. Resurrection on the other hand comes at the end of time, and resurrection is something much more than resuscitation! At the resurrection, we are transformed in to the likeness of the Risen Lord – a completely new body! So, while we are still here on earth, we have the chance to live a happy life in this body if only we let Jesus heal what is dead in us!
The Coronavirus pandemic has certainly challenged one of the things we hold dearest…our independence. Many having to self-isolate, stores and restaurants closed, and worst of all, cancellation of public Holy Week and Easter liturgies. This pandemic has also made us more conscious of our mortality. This conversation between Martha and Jesus in today’s Gospel is a reminder to us not to fear. Lazarus had died. Martha said to Jesus “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha replied Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” May we live with the faith of Martha through this Coronavirus pandemic.
On this Fourth Sunday of Lent, we meet the man born blind. In doing so, perhaps we meet ourselves!! As with all the miraculous healings of Jesus, there is more to the story than the physical healing. The miracle is played down. The drama of the story focuses not on the miracle itself, but on the response of the healed man’s neighbors, the Pharisees, and his parents. The purpose of this gospel account is a recognition story. Throughout the interrogation of the man born blind, he progressively recognizes Jesus to be: “the man called Jesus,” then, “He is a prophet,” and finally, belief that Jesus is “the son of man.” While most of us can see physically, all of us are spiritually blind at times. And the point of the story…..even with the miraculous healing, the Pharisees were blinded by their pre- occupation that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, a violation of the law. The parents of the man were blinded by their fear of being expelled from the synagogue and thus gave only bare-bones testimony.
Visual sight is a powerful metaphor for our attitudes toward the world around us and the people who come into our lives every day. Although medical technology today has improved the sight of many, our spiritual blindness hasn’t always changed. In today’s first reading, the story of the anointing of David as Israel’s first king, Samuel is ready to anoint one of the handsome and powerful sons of Jesse. He never suspects that God’s anointed would be the youngest, the least, the shepherd boy from the hills. God tells him he’s judging according to human, not divine, standards. Too often we prefer good looks, ce- lebrity, and power over humility, virtue, and care for the common good when we’re choosing our leaders. Our media-driven world has made us far too reliant on the superficial and the sensational.
So, what blinds us from recognizing Jesus in the circumstances, people and trials in our life? Lent is a time for some laser surgery on our sins to correct our vision. When you figure out what it is that blinds you, bring it to confession, and let God through the power of forgiveness, correct your vision so you can see him clearly throughout your life.
A couple of corrections to my previous articles: In listing the names of the members of our new Pastoral Council, I omitted Ric Rodriguez. In congratulating Fr. Mark on the birth of his new nephew, I said the child was the first of his twin sister Lisa and her husband. Actually, Lisa is Fr. Mark’s mother. His twin sister in Jen. Sorry All!
Have a Blessed Lent!
On this Third Sunday of Lent, we meet the woman at the well. In doing so, perhaps we meet ourselves!! We all thirst for something in our life, something we need, something we desire. Perhaps we want someone to love, someone with whom we can share our life and build a family. Perhaps we want to play professional sports. Maybe we want to be a doctor or an entrepreneur. Perhaps we want to be respected in the eyes of others. Each one of us longs for something: that our spouse would love us differently, that our friends would treat us with more respect, that we could make a lot of money. Our hearts are thirsty. It is the way that we are. It is a part of the human condition. At first glance, this thirst in our heart can seem like a kind of selfishness, simply catering to our own desires. But today’s Gospel presents such thirst in a very different perspective. It tells us that God has placed the thirst in our hearts for a purpose. St. Augustine, one of the great theologians of the Church, said, “Oh God, you have created us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they rest in you.” A great spiritual writer of our time, whose books I read and highly recommend, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser has described this thirst as “a holy longing” because if we follow it, it will ultimately lead us to God.
The Samaritan woman in today’s gospel comes to the well because she wants water. She wants water, which she can drink and with which she can clean and cook. But when she comes to the well for that water, she meets Jesus. There she listens to him as he talks about a living water that will lead to salvation. The woman does not come to the well to find Christ’s water, she comes to find the water that is in the well. But her thirst for that water leads her to consider and ultimately to accept the water that Jesus offers. A natural water leads her to an eternal water. A physical thirst leads her to a drink beyond her imagining.
Everything that we thirst for is a limited good. As we confront the limited nature of the things we desire, they push us to seek the unlimited goodness who is God. Money will only keep us happy for so long. Then we will long for something else. Even the closest and most intimate human relationship has its down side. As we face the limits of relationships, we recognize that we want something more. It is gratifying to be successful in our work and in the eyes of other. But once we claim that success, our heart says, “Is that all there is?” The Samaritan woman looks out at us from today’s Gospel and says, “When you find the water you seek, you will want more. God has made us that way. The water you obtain is meant to lead you to the water that only Jesus can give.”
Have a Blessed Lent!
Today I want to start by offering congratulations to Fr. Mark on the birth of his newest nephew, Luke James, born on February 26, 2020. Luke is the first child of Fr. Mark’s twin sister Lisa and her husband Sean. Fr. Mark’s brother and his wife have two boys and a girl. Let us pray that Fr. Mark will influence one of his nephews to become a priest! I have three nephews, but none followed me.
I also want to introduce the members of our new Parish Pastoral Council. They will be meeting for the first time on Saturday, March 21. The former Council went on a “hiatus” while I worked with my Pastoral Leadership Team (Fr. Mark, Phil Britton, Mary Jo Trapani, and Zara Tan) to create a parish vision and re-structure the styles and forms of parish leadership. The new Pastoral Council consists of 4 members from the former council: Maybird D’Silva, Marty Kadziela, Jim Marks, and John Shea; 3 members who responded to my bulletin invite last year: Dave Baier, Margaret Dodd, and Doug McIlvaine; and 5 members invited through discernment of my Pastoral Leadership Team: Joana Lopez, Ric Rodriguez, Lea Rodriguez, Mary Rsavy, and Angie Tse. Required reading for the new members have been the two books that have guided my Pastoral Leadership Team in transitioning our parish from maintenance mode to mission mode. If you are interested in reading the books to get a greater insight as to what is going on at OLM, the titles are: Divine Renovation by Fr. James Mallon and Ablaze by Deacon Keith Strohm. The Pastoral Council will meet with the Leadership Team quarterly. After our first meeting in March, look for the “Pastoral Council” tab on the website for pictures of the members, and a summary of our first meeting.
Today is the Second Sunday of Lent and the gospel of the Transfiguration. Jesus led Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. This Lent we are journeying to the heights. Those heights being the renewal of our baptismal promises on Easter Sunday. Let us strengthen our spiritual muscles to reach the top of the mountain through prayer, fasting, almsgiving and receiving the sacrament of reconciliation during this Lent. The next three Sundays of Lent, we will celebrate the liturgical rites of the Scrutinies with the elect who will be baptized this year at the Easter Vigil. The First Scrutiny will be at the 4:00pm Mass on March 14, the Second Scrutiny will be at the 9:00am Mass on March 22, and the Third Scrutiny will be at the 10:45am Mass on March 29. Please pray for our elect for baptism, and our candidates for Reception into the Church.
Have a blessed Lent!