6th Sunday of Easter

Gospel of John 14:15-21

Good Mother’s Day to all of you mothers and to all of you who have a mother.  Today, I am in need of your help resolving a very minor marital dispute.  My wife and I have differing opinions in regard to my specific responsibilities on Mother’s Day and I am looking for support.

My opinion is this… I have a mother and my responsibility for gift buying, card getting, and dinner buying pertains to her, my mother, and not to the mother of my 4 adult gainfully employed children.  My wife’s opinion is slightly different.  So, in deference to my very lovely, kind, and generous wife, who is also the mother of my 4 children, Happy Mother’s Day, sweetie.

Which kinda leads me to today’s Gospel.

The 15th verse of the 14th chapter of the Gospel of John reads, “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.’”, and how one reads that verse greatly impacts ones understanding of what Jesus is communicating to his disciples.

Let me explain with a brief grammar lesson.

Grammar tense is essential to effective communication.  For those of us who have forgotten our 9th grade English lessons, tense is a form of the verb that expresses time. The tense of the verb tells us when an event or something existed or when a person did something. Past, present, and future are the three main types of tenses.

Mood in grammar is equally as important.  Mood reflects the speaker’s view of the character of an event. The character of a specific event may be real or unreal, certain or possible, wished or demanded.  There are five main grammatical moods in the English language. The indicative mood expresses a fact; “John ate a sandwich.”  There is the interrogative mood which asks a question; “Did John eat a sandwich?”  There is subjunctive mood which expresses a wish; “John please eat your sandwich.” The conditional mood is used when one thing is dependent upon the other; “John you wouldn’t be hungry if you had eaten your sandwich.” And finally, the imperative mood that reflects a command, “John eat your sandwich!”

Tense and mood both play a vital role in verse 15 of today’s Gospel, most especially in the 2nd half of this verse, “… you will keep my commandments.”

Now some of us may read this verse as a command… and others may read this as a fact.  Is Jesus commanding us to keep his commandments in demonstration of our love or is he telling us the reality of what happens when we in fact love him?  Our relationship with and our understanding of who Jesus is will heavily influence our answer to this question.

Lucky for us, the Greek Language, in which the New Testament was written, already provides the answer to this question.  “… you will keep my commandments,” is a future fact.

In the 15th verse of John Chapter 14, Jesus is describing the outcome of loving him.  Loving Jesus will produce obedience.  Therefore, the question that Jesus presents to his disciples is not one of obedience, “will you obey me?”  Rather, it is a question of love, “Do you love me?”

Which… brings us to love.

Jesus’s entire message is love.  He himself is the entirety of God’s love revealed to humankind.  The completeness of the Gospel is love.

Jesus established a new covenant between God and humanity and decreed the commandment of “Love God with all your heart, mind, strength, and soul… and love your neighbor as yourself.”  A simple 3 step plan?  Maybe.  A lifelong journey in fatih?  Definitely.

The Church defines love as, “to will the good of another.”  This definition definitely lacks the romanticism of modern interpretations of love.  However, when considered in regard to every single relationship in our life, especially our love of Jesus, this definition’s simplicity is quickly obscured by its immensity and completeness.

To will the good of another can be as subtle as letting a driver, who ignored the “right lane closed ahead” sign, cut the line in front of you.  To will the good of another can be as powerful as forgiving a friend a grievous betrayal.  To will the good of another can be as visible as mowing the lawn of the elderly neighbor next door, or cooking and delivering a meal to the family when one of their members is ill.  To will the good of another can also be invisible when prayers are offered in the quiet of concerned and compassionate hearts.

Yet, we must ask the harder question, “Do we love Jesus?”.  Do we will his good?

Do we consider his good when we avoid coming to Mass?  Do we consider his good when willfully refuse to confess our sin?  Do we consider his good when we withhold kindness and charity from those who are in need?  Do we consider his good when we condemn those who look different, speak differently, pray differently, vote differently, or love differently than us?

Oftentimes we confuse love with contract.  Whether it be with coworkers, friends, family, or a spouse we all expect something in return for our investment.  When they fail to meet their end of the bargain, we no longer feel compelled to meet ours.

Not only do we consider our human relationships contractually, but we relate to God and the church in the exact same way.  Jesus asks us to love him, instead we hear “obey me.”  When we confuse his call to love with a call to obedience, we respond with… 1) an unholy self-righteousness or 2) outright rebellion.  We go to church because we are “good Catholics”, or we don’t go to church because we can’t stand those “good Catholics.”  Jesus didn’t call us to be good… he called us to love.

Now, please do not twist my words.  Loving Jesus is not an excuse to live in disobedience.  We cannot say, “we love Jesus; therefore, we are now free to sin.”  Being in a loving relationship with Jesus produces in us a freedom to avoid sin.  He tells his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Jesus is not calling us to enter into a contractual agreement with him.  He is calling us to love him.  To will his good as he wills the good for us… each and every single one of us.

As we come before him this day, here in front of this altar, our challenge, is that we do so not out of obedience but out of love.  For his good as he wills good for us.


5th Sunday of Lent- Gospel of John 11:1-45

As many of you know, this past week was spring break.  Along with many others, my wife and I headed south in search of warmer weather.  We packed up our shorts and t-shirts, swimsuits, sandals, and big brimmed hats, and away we went.  Visions of the sun’s heat warming our faces and our sandal shod feet filled our heads and lifted our spirits.

That first morning of our sun seeking spring break adventure… snow! Looking outside through the frosted window, I cried out, “Let us go farther south, surely it will get warmer.”  My wife wholeheartedly agreed, and we packed up and headed more south.

The second morning of our sun seeking spring break adventure… dark clouds and rain.  The morning temp, 33 degrees.  Our solution?  Go more south!  “Surely there must be sunshine and warmth there!”, I said.  So, we packed up the RV and more south we went.

The 3rd & 4th mornings of our sun seeking spring break adventure… more dark clouds and rain.  A cold rain, a wind driven rain, a rain that sometimes looked more like snow than rain, rain.  Our solution?  We sat in the RV and played Boggle, Scrabble, and Shanghai Rummy until I said, “Let us go more south?”  Kristina said, “Sure, why not”.  We packed up our things and went even more south.

During our 6-day spring break adventure, we experienced 1 day during which it neither rained nor snowed.

I want to be clear; I am not complaining.  We had a wonderful 6 days together which included rest, great meals, lots of reading, and multiple walks in beautiful places between rain and snow storms.  To be honest, the biggest frustration I experienced during this past week is that my 5-year long losing streak in both scrabble and boggle is still intact.  Yet, our expectations of a sun filled spring break adventure were not fulfilled.  And that, I can safely assume, is the one thing we all share in common… we all have had the unpleasant experience of unfulfilled expectations.

No matter the circumstance; whether it is a last-minute vacation cancelation, or a rained-out weekend outing, or an accidentally overcooked holiday meal, or well-earned job promotion pass-over, or a once serious relationship break-up… we all have experienced the sadness, the disappointment, and, yes, even the anger, that accompanies unfilled unmet expectations.

Today’s Gospel provides us a bit of insight into unfulfilled expectations.

Today’s Gospel begins with the significant illness and eventual death of Lazarus.  Upon hearing about Lazarus’s illness, Jesus tells all who will listen that Lazarus will not die, and that he will make use of this tragic event to glorify God.  In other words, Jesus told everybody what they could expect from him, and what he was expecting from them… to see and believe that he is the very Son of God, God incarnate who came to this earth for the salvation of all humankind.

However, not all were able to meet this expectation.

First, the disciples.  Yes, they believed Jesus to be the Messiah, but they failed to see Jesus in his entirety, as the very Son of God, God incarnate.  Their political aspirations, as intertwined as they were with Jesus as the restorer of Israel as a political kingdom, prevented them from realizing that Jesus was calling them to so much more than political power and authority.  Their concern for physical safety, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back…?”, and Thomas’ announcement that they should all go and die only affirms that their understanding of Jesus was limited by their unwillingness to believe in Jesus beyond his immediate benefit to them.

Next was Martha.  Four days later, as Jesus and his martyrdom seeking disciples arrived at the outskirts of Bethany, Martha goes out to meet him.  She immediately states, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Did she believe Jesus to be the great healer and savior, yes!  Yet, her inability to see Jesus as nothing more than a healer and a savior prevented her from believing in Jesus in his entirety.  Jesus wanted Martha to see him as he truly is, the Son of God, God incarnate, but Martha’s faith was limited by her unwillingness to believe in Jesus beyond his immediate benefit to her.

Mary, at the invitation of her sister Martha, rushes out to meet Jesus, who is still on the outskirts of the city.  She too evidences her faith with the very same words of Martha, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Yet, just as in the case of the disciples and her own sister Martha, Mary’s faith was limited by her unwillingness to believe in Jesus beyond his immediate benefit to her, as she joins those in mourning the death of her brother Lazarus.

What is Jesus’s response to all this?  St. John writes, “he became perturbed and deeply troubled.”  In other words, Jesus was so taken back by their lack of faith that he became angry and upset.  In verse 35 (the shortest verse in the Bible, in case you ever need an answer to a Bible trivia question) “Jesus wept.”  He wept not out sadness for the death of Lazarus.  He knew from the very beginning that Lazarus would be resurrected.  He wept because he was angry and disappointed when those whom he loved failed to meet his expectations.

Jesus so desperately wanted his disciples, Martha, Mary, and all those who followed him to see him in his entirety… as the Son of God, God incarnate.  Not just as the promised King of Israel with authority and power.  Not just as the Miracle Worker and Savior, who takes away pain and suffering and promises eternal life.  Rather, Jesus wanted his disciples to know him as the very God who created them, who sustains them, who loves them, and wants to have a deep and intimate relationship with them.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, if that is what Jesus desired for his disciples, Martha, Mary, and all those who were present that day some 2000 years ago, then this is exactly what Jesus desires for us… to have a deep and intimate relationship with him.

This being the 5th Sunday of Lent, with Palm Sunday just one week away, we are being called to put aside our own limitations of faith.  To identify and remove the false ideals which prevent us from seeing Jesus as he really is, the Son of God, God incarnate, who absolutely loves us and desires to be in an intimate and all-consuming relationship with us.

Faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior are not just words we utter in the Creed or in our “Amen”.  Faith in Jesus Christ is a relationship.  A relationship of love and trust.  A relationship in which he is calling us to live more deeply and more intimately in love with him every day.  He expects this from us.

A relationship with Jesus is a real thing.  It is not some mysterious concept, or fleeting feeling, or some rigorous allegiance to rules and traditions.  Our relationship with Jesus is personal, intimate, and real.  It is manifested here when we stand in front of this altar and profess his presence.  It is manifested in our relationships with one another, in the words we use, in the service we perform, in the charity and kindness we share.  It is manifested when we see ourselves as sinners in need of salvation and recognize we are exactly like very other human being on this planet… a person whom Jesus loves.

Our challenge this day is to move our relationship with Jesus beyond that of, “what can Jesus do for me”, and to let go of those things that prevent us from seeing him as he truly is, the Son of God, God incarnate who absolutely loves us and desires us to be in an intimate and all-consuming relationship with him.

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Gospel of St. John 16: 12-15

“In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end.”

Today, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, these two prayers, the sign of the cross, and the doxology, are most appropriate.  Though they may be short, simple, and well known the Truth they communicate is profound and foundational to the Christian faith, the Most Holy Trinity.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Mystery of the Trinity as the “central mystery of Christian faith and life.”

Yet, it could be argued that in today’s modern era the significance of this “central” Mystery of Faith may be diminished due to its common acceptance and practice.  Unlike the early Church of the 4th century which was embroiled in controversy and persecution in its defense of the doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity.  At that time, Holy Mother Church was defending herself from the Arian heretical teaching that Jesus wasn’t God but a higher order of being.  Though it took time, and more than just a few martyrs, eventually the church persevered, and the Doctrine of the Trinity was solidified.

In contrast, it could be argued that our modern-day automatic response in crossing ourselves and muttering the words, “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit” occurs with very little consideration for the Truth represented by these words and action.  It might even be said, that by signing ourselves so absentmindedly, we are committing an injustice to the relationship of perfect love that is our Triune God.  Especially, considering that our very existence and our salvation are dependent upon the love shared in, with, and by the Holy Trinity.

At risk of turning this homily into an RCIA teaching lesson, I want to remind everyone that our faith teaches there is one God.  One true God.  However, the concept of one God is not uniquely Christian.  Muslims and Jews also believe in one God… and at risk of inciting a riot, Muslims, Jews, and Christians believe in the same God.  Though, and I want to be clear, to attempt and draw further connections beyond that general statement, the waters will definitely get more than a bit muddy, and history has proven a bit bloody.

So… what makes our Christian belief in one God unique?  Christianity is the only religion that proclaims, “God is love.”  God is love… and the lover must have a beloved.  Love requires relationship and God is a perfect love relationship with the Son and with the Holy Spirit.  This relationship of perfect love, between love and the beloved, is the Blessed Trinity.

When we cross ourselves, “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit” we acknowledge this divine, intimate, and mysterious love.  When we pray, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end” we pronounce the always and eternal existence of this divine, intimate, and mysterious love.  When we profess our faith in the Mystery of the Trinity, we are not doing so blindly, rather we are celebrating the reality that God has revealed his divine, intimate, and mysterious love to us.

The mysteries of faith are not mysterious because they cannot be known.  The mysteries of faith are so… because they can only be revealed to us by God.

Therefore, if the Mysteries of Faith can only be revealed by God.  If God is love.  If God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are in relationship in perfect love… then what are professing when we pray, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”?

We are professing that God is the creator and the holder of all things.  We are professing that the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ grants us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.  We are professing that the gift of the Holy Spirit, given to the church on that glorious Pentecost day, empowers us to continue in the work of Jesus in the building of the Kingdom of God.  We are professing that all of this is perfect and holy love.

Holy Mother Church, in her divine wisdom, has not called us together this day, this Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, that we may only reflect upon the Mystery of the Trinity.  Rather, she has called us together this day so that we may manifest the Mystery of the Trinity in our lives.  We are a people called by God to be like himself… a people of love.

So, I ask… how are our relationships?  Are we manifesting this perfect and holy love in our marriages?  Are we manifesting this perfect and holy love to our children?  Are we manifesting this perfect and holy love to our parents, brothers & sisters, and family members?  Are we manifesting this perfect and holy love to our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and employers?  Are we manifesting this perfect and holy love when we drive down 17th Street at 5 in the afternoon?

When we cross ourselves and say the words, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” we are confessing our faith in one God, in three persons, in perfect love and  we are inviting our God to make this moment… this time… this place… a holy and sacred moment, time, and place in love.

So… I invite you this morning to join together and pray, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end.”


Hearing Voices

4th Sunday of Easter

Gospel of John 10:27-30

In today’s Gospel, using the imagery of sheep and a Shepherd, Jesus provides the simplest summary of the mystery of salvation.  This simple and concise summary is a description of a relationship.  His relationship with us, those who hear his voice.

A few years ago, I worked at a place where I was very fortunate to have gotten to know and become close with a wonderful group of individuals.  They were not only good at their jobs, but they were also very kind.  One of the things that made this period of time uniquely special is that although we were quite an eclectic group of individuals, we all got along.

After a bit of time, and because of the trust and care we had developed for one another, we would find ourselves engaged in rather deep conversations about religion.  Now I am sure that upon hearing this, all of you HR people just spontaneously gasped, however, I assure you, it just somehow worked.

Now, one person in particular was a very committed atheist, and we would often find ourselves engaged in very interesting, enjoyable, and, at times, intense conversations.  During one of these conversations this individual stated that one of her major problems with religious people was their claim that they “heard God.”  My response, “I hear God all the time.”

With a look on her face that indicated she might be a bit concerned she was talking to a crazy person, she asked, “Really?  You hear the voice of God talking to you personally?”

I answered, “Yes.”

Now, with a tone and an expression indicative of someone who is now convinced she is indeed talking to a crazy person, she challenged, “Well… what does he say?”

I responded, “He says, ‘Jason, quit being such a jerk.’”

The idea that we can actually hear the voice of God may sound a bit strange, especially to those who are not accustomed to His voice.  However, Jesus does speak to us.  In fact, he is speaking to ALL of us… everywhere, throughout the entirety of human history.  Jesus is speaking to all of us all of the time.

This 4th Sunday of Easter, Holy Mother Church, in her wisdom and mercy, is inviting us to reflect on what it means to hear the voice of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Today’s Gospel reading is taken from the 10th chapter of John’s Gospel and is set in the context of Jesus’s response to the Jews who are questioning his authority.  This is not the first time Jesus was challenged to give an answer for his authority and the Jews demanded, “How long will you keep us in suspense?  If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus had already answered them plainly.  In the previous verses of John chapter 10 Jesus described himself as the “Good Shepard”, as “the door”, and as “(he) who lays down (his) life for the sheep.”  Yet, in spite of his own words, and in spite of his works, the Jews would not accept his answer… an answer they refused to hear.

What strikes me as most interesting about this interaction, this confrontation, is the fact that it is possible to refuse to hear the voice of Jesus.  That somehow, through the gracious gift of our free agency, any one of us, when given opportunity to hear the voice of Jesus, can simply refuse to hear it. So, obviously, that begs the question… do you hear the voice of Jesus?

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them; and they follow me.”  To hear the voice of Jesus is predicated on the reality that we must be in relationship with him.  It is not enough to know about Jesus.  It is not enough to accept that Jesus was a real person who lived in a real place during a real period of time.  Knowing ABOUT Jesus is entirely different then KNOWING Jesus.  To know Jesus means you must encounter Jesus.

So how do we encounter Jesus?

We encounter Jesus through his church.  We encounter Christ when we receive the Sacraments.  We encounter Christ when we listen to the preaching of the Word and the teachings of the church.  We encounter Christ when we pray.  We encounter Christ when we serve the poor, and when we serve one other.  Each of these occurrences provide us opportunities to encounter Jesus Christ and in turn allow us to develop a personal and vibrant relationship with him… and in that, and with that, and through that relationship, we follow him.

Now, that is sometimes a not very easy thing to do.  Sometimes in this earthly pilgrimage of faith we come up against teachings, clergy, and sometimes, one another, even in our own church, that cause us difficulty in following Jesus.  I get that… heck, I live that.  However, if we are a living a vibrant, dynamic, effective life in Christ then we must also accept that relationship struggles are necessary.

Christ is continually calling us to a deeper relationship with him which in turn calls us to deeper relationships with one another.  The command, “Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength and your neighbor as yourself” is a twofold, yet single commandment of love.  To have a deeper relationship with Christ requires greater love… for both God and your neighbor.  It’s a single command… not a one or the other.

“I give them eternal life and they shall never perish.”  Our relationship with Christ is not one-sided.  Our relationship with Christ is not simply that of an obedient slave following the will of a kind master.  Our relationship with Christ is one of hope.  Our relationship with Christ is one of security.   Both of which can only come from the Father.  Our relationship with Christ ensures that we are known by the Father, and that we are loved by the Father, and that we are secure in the Father. 

Our lives have meaning and purpose not in the things we possess, or in our experiences, but in our relationships.  What makes us valuable is the love we share with one another… and most importantly the love we have for God.  When we choose to hear the voice of Jesus, we are in relationship with him.  When we are in relationship with him, we follow him, and we are loved, and we are capable of loving.

So I ask you… are you hearing the voice of Jesus?

Divine Mercy Sunday

I usually start out my homily with a quaint personal story.  It drives my wife crazy when I do this.  As some of you know, my wife reminds me that I am personally not that interesting and eventually, someday, I am going to run out of cute, folksy, interesting stories to share.  Well, folks… that day has finally come.  I’ve got nothing.

With the glow of Easter Season still upon us and in light of the record attendance at this past Easter’s Sunday Masses, it may seem a bit odd to even be considering the question that I am about to ask, however, nonetheless, here it comes; “Why are Catholics, especially young Catholics, leaving the Church?”

A recent study shows that 50% of young Americans who were raised Catholic no longer identify themselves as Catholic today.  In addition, a 2015 Pew Research study reports for every one Catholic convert, more than six Catholics leave the church.  To make that statistic a bit more personal, let’s consider the 19 people, both children and adults, who were initiated into our parish this past week.  If the math holds true, then 114 people walked away from Pope St. John Paul II Catholic Community this past year… and haven’t come back.

If some of you sitting here are thinking to yourself, “good riddance!”, then you must know that you are a part of the problem.  If some of you sitting here are thinking to yourself, “I don’t even know 114 Catholics”, then you too are a part of the problem.  If some of you are sitting here and thinking, “we are in trouble!”, then we are in the same boat.

So, what do we do?  What is the solution?  Unfortunately, I don’t have one.  Our church didn’t get here over night, and it isn’t just one issue.

Priests abusing children and the Bishops failure to protect the innocent is a significant cause, for sure.  Sanitized religious education programs designed as sacramental funnels and parents prioritizing soccer/hockey/baseball schedules and family vacations over foundational encounters with Christ, are others.  The Church’s teachings on human life & dignity, homosexuality, marriage and divorce stand resolutely against cultural norms.  Combine that with the heretical idealization of political platforms… on both sides of the ballot… and the church is no longer a refuge, a place of healing for the marginalized, downtrodden, and afflicted.  The rationalization, “Why go to a church that doesn’t even want me there?” has a bit more truth than most of us would care to admit.

However, with all that being said, I do believe that today’s Gospel, on this second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, provides a foundational truth from which the solutions to our problems can begin to take root.

The events described in this Gospel occurred during the evening of Resurrection Sunday where the disciples were gathered together in one place.  Christ’s appearance to the disciples in the upper room behind the locked door was at the conclusion of a day in which Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb and to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

It is significant that Mary Magdalene and the other disciples who returned from the road to Emmaus were there.  Though they each had a personal encounter with Jesus they were there sharing their experiences with the other disciples.  Their personal encounters were not only for them individually but for the benefit of the whole community.

Also, it is important to note that the disciples weren’t gathered together because they were fearful.  The door was locked because they were fearful.  They were gathered together because that is what Jesus had instructed them to do at the Last Supper. 

And, since we are talking about fear, notice that the Peace of Christ not only removed fear, but that His peace was inclusive.  That frightened, confused, and befuddled group of believers gathered in that one room (dare I say Church) on that evening encountered the risen Christ and their fear was vanquished.  Each had their own individual journey to that one room (dare I say Church) that day.  Each in a different emotional, physical, and spiritual state.  Peter was most likely struggling with guilt and shame.  Mary Magdalene was probably both relieved and confused.  The two disciples who returned from the road to Emmaus were feeling who knows what, yet the peace of Christ ministered to them all.  Christ came to them, and he met them each individually in community.

Except, of course Thomas.

Thomas was not present on that first Easter Sunday.  He had not gathered with the other disciples.  He had separated himself from the community.  His reason for being absent is not known to us, however he might have said, “I would rather be on the water, thinking about God, then in the Church thinking about the water.”  I don’t know.  However, what I do know is that he was there, in that one room (dare I day Church), the following week and that is where he encountered Jesus.

We all love our own personal Jesus.  Whenever we encounter him on the mountains, valleys, rivers, and plains; or on our streets, in our homes, or at our private alters of prayer, we are often filled with awe and are inspired.  I am not arguing against that.  In fact, I too have had wonderful experiences of encountering Jesus in private and very personal ways and places.  But these personal and private encounters of his majesty and beauty found in the magnificence of his creation; in the gentle whisper of the Holy spirit heard on the wind, or in the quiet rhythm of a mountain stream, or in the melody of a songbird are but a partial reflection of our Lord and our God.  They are precious and formative indeed, but lack his fullness, his entirety, his completeness.

Christ revealed himself, fully God, fully man… Prophet, Priest, and King… completely and entirely in his Church.  To seek Christ outside of his Church, is like searching for a buried treasure with only an X on an otherwise blank sheet of paper.  We possess confirmation that there is indeed a treasure, but without context, direction, and help we will never find it.

The Church is not unaware of the problems.  The scandals, the divisions, the cultural divides are real and present and have had a negative effect.  Yet, just as the Apostle Thomas’ story did not end with his exaggerated demand for proof, we too must never abandon our faith and our hope that the solution to all the church’s problems and wrongs first start with encountering Christ… here in this place….  in front of this altar… in community with one another.  Christ is here and he invites us to reach out and touch his wounds, and with and through his boundless mercy and love we to shall come to proclaim the profound statement of faith of the Apostle Thomas, “My Lord and my God.”