Saturday, July 16, 2022

Become Mary at the Feet of Jesus


 

Deacon Kevin Gingras

July 17, 2022

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/071722.cfm


First off, let’s begin with something I found very cool. In our first reading from Genesis pay attention to a tiny detail that might get missed (I certainly missed it):

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. Looking up, Abraham saw three men standing nearby.


No, not terebinth, that’s just a tree that would have offered Abraham some shade as the day grew hot.  It’s these two things: first, the LORD appeared to Abraham - sounds singular - the LORD - then suddenly it’s three men - scholars make the obvious point of saying that this is a prefiguring of the Trinity. I thought the was very cool!  Now on to the Homily!


A meal is a significant part of covenants and relationships.  At the Passover feast, they had to slaughter the unblemished lamb, put its blood on the door and then eat it, they had to finish with that meal as a family.  Even without a covenant attached to a meal they were very important.  We read about two meals today.  First Abraham and Sarah prepare a meal for the “three visitors”.  In the Gospel, we see Martha anxiously preparing a meal as well.


We are family here.  Today we share, as a family, a covenant meal!  Like Abraham received the LORD in the reading from Genesis we will do just that today, the difference is Abraham fed the LORD but today the LORD will feed us with the meal of the very last covenant, the Eucharist. Like Paul said in our reading to the Colossians:

But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.


After receiving the Eucharist, the culmination of this meal at the Altar of the Lord we will have Christ in us, the hope for glory.  What MORE could we want!


Since we are beginning the Eucharistic revival let’s ponder just that, the Eucharist and Adoration again.  Read exactly what Mary is doing in today’s Gospel?

Martha had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.

So here is Martha preparing, serving, and worried about Earthly things and there is lazy Mary, doing nothing but relaxing with Jesus.  No, that is certainly not what Mary is doing.  Mary is doing what we can do in Adoration, Monday through Friday weekdays right here in this church from 10 am to 8 pm.  The Eucharist is the Lord!  We can sit at the feet of the Lord and become like Mary, listening to the Lord speak to us but there is a catch.  We first must leave our Martha tendencies out in the car.  Leave our earthly things behind, don’t worry, they will still be there in the car when you get back and if you want, you can leave the window open a bit for them if it’s hot out.


If you are like me you might use your phone to pray, take it in with you and do just that, there are so many great prayer apps out there.  If you are also like me there might be nights when the phone is a major distraction and it will cause you to be more like Martha.  If it’s one of those nights leave it home or turn it off. Save your Martha tendencies for when you are having important guests over.  In adoration try to remove all the Martha distractions so you can really become Mary at the feet of Jesus.  Remember:

Mary chose the better part and it will not be taken from her.

No one can take Jesus from us except ourselves.  We mustn’t let our burdens, our worries, or our anxieties blur our focus on Jesus.


Sometimes it is harder than other times to focus, don’t worry, it takes practice and perseverance, even the saints knew this.  


Take what St. Francis De Sales said: 

If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master’s presence.  And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back and place it again in our Lord’s presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.


Saturday, June 18, 2022

Corpus Christi


Deacon Kevin Gingras

June 19, 2022

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/061922.cfm


Today’s feast of Corpus Christi was established by Pope Urban the 4th in 1246 when he was just a bishop, and it is meant to focus our attention on the Most Holy Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Today in 2022, dioceses across the country are launching into a three-year Eucharistic Revival.  There is no better time to launch this than on this Solemnity.  We are well overdue for a renewal and strengthening of our own belief in the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  We need it now more than ever.


Lately, I have been trying to renew, re-evaluate, re-establish and strengthen my own thoughts on the Eucharist.  For example, I’ve had many people of other faiths ask me “why are you Catholic” and my response used to be “because Catholics believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist”.  I’m changing that response a bit but before I tell you my new response - a story!


In May I was at 4th Watch in South Dartmouth at Apponaganset Park where there was Christian music, a speaker, and most importantly, adoration.  We were sitting on a blanket during adoration and to our left was the bay, in front of us was the Eucharist and to our right was a playground and courts filled with people.  I began to think that in front of me is the Eucharist, the body of Christ.  That is what I believe.  Then light donned on my thick, balding head.  It doesn’t matter what I believe or what those folks over there playing basketball believe, in front of me is still the true Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.  It doesn’t matter what those children playing on the playground believe, or even their parents watching them play, still, it is the body of Jesus Christ.  The volleyball players or the people passing in the boats in the bay, or the kids jumping off the bridge into the bay - it doesn’t matter what they believe either- that is still the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord and Savior up there on that little altar in the monstrance next to the incense.  What people believe cannot change the fact that it is the Body of Christ.


That prayer process is why I will try to remember to respond “because Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, the center of our faith.”   It has been since it was established by Christ himself.  All we need to do is read Sacred Scripture to see its origins.


We see many foreshadowings of the Eucharist in the Old Testament.  Melchizedek, from our first reading, was a foreshadowing of Christ and the Eucharist in the book of Genesis.  He only makes that one appearance in the whole Bible, but then we hear of him again in Psalm 110 which we also heard today, and again, we hear of him nine times in the book of Hebrews.  All he actually did in scripture we heard today. He offered his Uncle Abraham a gift of bread and wine, that’s it.  What’s the big deal?  Well, we have to dig a bit to see the real gems hidden in this scripture.    Melchizedek’s name means king of righteousness and Christ is, of course, the righteous one.  Melchizedek was the king of Salem and Salem means peace.  Christ was the Prince of Peace.  Melchizedek was also a priest of God prior to the Levitical priesthood of Aaron and we know Jesus is the High Priest.  Melchizedek blessed Abraham with the gift of bread and wine and Christ blesses us, Abraham’s children with bread and wine that becomes His body and blood.  A simple little verse in the Old Testament but so much to unpack in it!


There are many other foreshadowings of the Eucharist in the Old Testament such as the manna in the desert and the blood of the sacrificial lamb they put on the doors so the angel of death would Passover them - the blood of the unblemished lamb would save them just as it saves us today in time.


Today’s Gospel is a great foreshadowing of the Eucharist as well, the feeding of the five thousand.  Through this miracle, Jesus fed all those people there and had 12 wicker baskets left over, one basket for each Apostle.  In every Catholic Church today Jesus, the perfect sacrificial lamb will make himself present for all of us who are worthy and properly prepared to receive Him.  


As Catholics receive him we must!  One of the Five Precepts of the Catholic Church states:

You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season. This "guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin, and center of the Christian liturgy."

Spend some time this week in Adoration pondering the fact that the Eucharist you receive is indeed the true Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   

Pope Benedict has said about adoring Christ present in the Eucharist:


"Adoration means entering the depths of our hearts in communion with the Lord, who makes Himself bodily present in the Eucharist. In the monstrance, He always entrusts Himself to us and asks us to be united with His Presence, with his risen Body." 


Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Greatest is Love

 

Deacon Kevin Gingras

May 15, 2022

5th Sunday of Easter

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/051522.cfm


Faith, Hope, and Love are the three Theological Virtues.  We read in 1 Corinthians:

So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The greatest is love - why?  God is love and love is eternal.  When we die at our own particular judgment we can go to Heaven for eternity, Purgatory until we are ready to be in the presence of the perfect love of God, or to Damnation for eternity.  Let’s pray hard it’s not the latter!  


If and when we get to Heaven faith isn’t needed anymore since we will be in the presence of God and there is nothing left to hope for because we just attained it all, there is nothing better than Heaven, all we can hope for has been fullfilled!  Love is what remains, we will bask in the perfect Love of our Heavenly father.   


If we deserve eternal Damnation when we have our particular judgment, faith is gone as it will grant us nothing, hope is gone because it is hopeless, but we will suffer the knowledge of the Love of God that we have lost for eternity.  Love is eternal, God is eternal, God is love and love always remains, it is the greatest of the three Theological Virtues.


God gains nothing by us loving him.  God is omniscient, omnipotent, and doesn’t need our love at all but what is really cool about that downer of a statement is that while it is true God doesn’t need our love - God still WANTS our love anyway!


I’m not sure if this is still a thing but I can remember my kids making a macaroni necklace for my wife to give to her on Mother’s day.  They would paint the giant, uncooked macaroni different colors and then thread yarn through it and tie it off to make the necklace. They then presented it to her on Mother’s Day with a great big smile as if the gift was really a diamond necklace. To be bluntly honest the last thing my wife needs is a poorly painted necklace made of pasta but she accepted it and loved the kids all the more!  She didn’t need it but she wanted it because it was a gift from one of her children.  Now I’m not saying we all should make macaroni necklaces for God, no, instead what I am saying is exactly what the Gospel of Mark tells us in chapter 12, verse 30:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

We are God’s children and love is the gift that God wants from us.  So what are some tangible ways we can love God this way?


Love God not because it helps God, because it doesn’t, love God instead because it helps us.  We are created by God to love God so going against that is going against the very fiber of our being!  We love God by adoring him in adoration, going to Mass, and then giving God our FULL attention at Mass, evangelizing, tell others about God’s love, especially about His son Jesus Christ.  Receive the sacraments, follow God’s commandments, and try to stay in a state of grace. We know this isn’t always easy.  We see that in the reading from Acts today:

They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

So persevere in the faith, that is how we show God we love Him.


Love yourself too!  Sounds funny to say that but we all are God’s creation, ourselves included and sometimes we forget ourselves in that.  Don’t love yourself to the point of becoming a narcissist standing in front of a mirror flexing and telling yourself how great you are.  Love yourself enough to forgive yourself.  Get to confession, tell the priest your sins, and realize you are absolved of your sins, do not beat yourself up over them thinking you are a horrible person.


Our Gospel gives us another way to show we love God:

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.

We must see God in all other humans because we are all creations of God, not just those folks we like, but those we dislike, yeah, they are also part of God’s creation too!


Cardinal Sarah talking about charity, also known as love states:

It urges us to evangelize; to put it simply, the Church reveals the Love of God.  Often the absence of God is the deepest root of human suffering. Consequently, a Christian cannot perform acts of charity only for his brethren in Christ but must do so for all men without any distinction.


Friday, April 15, 2022

We Know the Rest of the Story

 


Deacon Kevin Gingras
Apr 15, 2022
Good Friday

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/041522.cfm


On my ride home from work, I used to tune in to WBZ 1030 so I could hear Paul Harvey tell us some interesting narrative that always ended with a crazy twist and his famous tagline: “and now you know the rest of the story!”

That’s the only way I could see the Good in Good Friday, we know the rest of the story.  For a moment I’d like us to imagine if we were one of Jesus’ close followers on that original Friday over 2,000 years ago.  Imagine, for a moment while all this was going on in today’s Gospel we didn’t know the rest of the story.  What would be going through our thoughts as the story unfolded.

We would probably be wondering when Jesus is going to relieve us from our oppression from the Romans. To gather his army and fight, what an honor it would be to fight the Romans next to the Messiah!

The first big moment is when we go to the Garden of Gethsemene.  We’ve been around Jesus a lot, we know he always prays before something big and we know it’s close - really close.  This could be it.  We see Jesus going off to pray with his inner circle of disciples, perhaps He’s also planning.  The soldiers arrive just as Jesus comes back.  Peter strikes first, and we might think this is it, this is the moment.  No, Jesus puts a quick end to it and even heals the man whom Peter struck with his sword!

Things get pretty chaotic from that moment on.  We don’t see much of Jesus for a while but know he has been brought into the High Priest’s area.  At one point we see somebody run off weeping, it looked like Peter but we can’t be sure.  We thought Peter would be one of Jesus' generals why would he leave like that?    

Next, we see Jesus being brought, bound to the praetorium to face Pontius Pilate.  This is not going as we thought it would.  Pilate asks the crowd what crime has He committed and some Jewish leaders our shouting how they want Jesus crucified.  They want Pilate to kill Him!  Pilate clearly doesn’t want any part of this.  After a bit, Pilate asks to release one prisoner as is his custom during Passover.  He brings forth Jesus and Barabbas.  Barabbas was a murderer, a rebel.  Surely the crowds will choose Jesus to be released right?  This wasn’t the moment, that’s OK, Jesus can reorganize and move on from this.  But no!  The crowds want Barabbas.  Pilate brings Jesus back in.  We sit in dismay and shock at what has just taken place.

A while later there is some movement and Pilate brings Jesus back out.  At least we think it’s Jesus, He’s barely recognizable after the scourging.  Pilate proclaims “Ecce Homo” - behold the man.  He looks barely human now.  The chief priests and guards begin to scream “crucify him”!  Pilate clearly doesn’t want to but the crowd wins out, it looks like Jesus will be crucified.

We watch as Jesus carries his cross to Golgotha and is crucified with two other criminals.  Perhaps Jesus was just a false prophet, perhaps he wasn’t the savior we wonder.  Our minds are swimming.  We watch Jesus die on the cross.  We leave distraught and beating our breasts.  How could this have happened this way??

Fortunately, we do know the rest of the story so we know how it could happen and we know why it had to happen.  Our first reading from Isaiah tells us:

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured…

But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; by his stripes, we were healed…

We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way;

Jesus was our new high priest.  His garment, his tunic, the one they cast lots for so as not to destroy it, was seamless like the tunic the high priests wore.  Josephus writes regarding the high priest's garment: 

Now this vesture was not composed of two pieces, nor was it sewed together upon the shoulders and the sides, but it was one long vestment so woven as to have an aperture for the neck.

Jesus was also the new and perfect sacrificial lamb.  Being without sin He was an unblemished lamb.  

It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon. And Pilate said to the Jews, “Behold, your king!”

It would take too long to get into the details of why but know that this was about the same time the priests in the Temple would start to slaughter the lambs for the Passover, just as Jesus was being led to slaughter.

Jesus was also was indeed the Son of God.  When Moses asks God who to say sent him God says “I AM”.  When guards say they are looking for “Jesus the Nazorean” he responds “I AM”.  He responds with such authority, the authority of God, that they turned away and fell to the ground.

We must remember we have an eternal new high priest.  One that sacrificed, not a lamb for us, but instead Himself.  A fully human yet also fully divine high priest; the Son of God.  The reading from Hebrews tells us:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.

St. Leo the Great, knowing the rest of the story said:

No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross. No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ. His prayer brought benefit to the multitude that raged against Him. How much more does it bring to those who turn to Him in repentance. 


Saturday, March 19, 2022

Repent, Produce, Evangelize!


Deacon Kevin Gingras

March 20, 2022

Third Sunday of Lent

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/032022-YearC.cfm


In today’s reading from Exodus, we see Moses, a good son-in-law tending his father-in-law’s flock when something wondrous happens, the burning bush.  As this scene unfolds God calls Moses by name.   Then God introduces Himself to Moses. First God lets Moses know that He is the God of the Patriarchs, the One who established the covenant with them.  Then God lets Moses know of His plan to save His people.  Finally, and most importantly God lets Moses know His name.  God was establishing a relationship with Moses who was about to play a significant role in leading God’s people out of slavery and suffering.  Moses, like Jesus Christ, would become a mediator between God and his chosen people.


Our second reading, from the first letter to the Corinthians, gives us a three-thousand-foot view of what happened with Moses and God’s people.  

our ancestors were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all of them were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them


It explains how they were struck down in the desert for the evil they did and for grumbling against God. Fortunately, for us and them, our God is a God of multiple chances.  Moses was indeed a good mediator for God’s people. Today Jesus Christ is our perfect mediator but we still must heed the warnings of our ancestors and not choose evil and grumble as they did!


To segue into the Gospel we can repeat that phrase, our God, fortunately, is a God of multiple chances.  We don’t know much about what Pilate did to kill the Galileans and mingle their own blood with the blood of their sacrifices nor do we know much about what happened in Siloam when that tower fell and killed eighteen people.  All we do know is that Jesus tells us that their sins were no greater than any others.  After that, Jesus gives us this heartstopping quote:

But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!

 

Those are tough words but we are all sitting here, we are all still alive so therefore we all still have time to do just that.  Repent.  Jesus follows up those tough words with a story, a parable he tells them out of love for them and we should apply that parable to us today.


This parable is a tough one for me as I’m not much of a gardener and if there was an unproductive apple tree in my orchard and my wife wanted to cut down and I said to my wife “give me one more year to cultivate and care for this apple tree and if it is unproductive you can cut it down” I can assure you in one year my wife would be cutting down that apple tree!  Well, actually I would be cutting it down at her bidding, either way, that tree would be firewood next year!  


In today’s parable of the fig tree, we have to assume that Jesus was talking about a skilled gardener who saved the tree from the ax.


Each one of us today is that fig tree.  So how do we save our own bark from being thrown into the fire?  We repent!  We produce!  We evangelize! We sow fruit wherever we go!  


First off - Repent!  Go to confession, find a when a local church has confessions and then go. We must start cultivating our own ground first.  It’s like when we are in an airplane and read those terrifying air mask instructions (gosh I do not like to fly):

Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.


Before we try to evangelize and help others produce fruit, we must take care of ourselves first!  If we are a dead fig tree we won’t be very attractive to the other fig trees!  That bit sounded much better in my head but I hope you get the image.


Next, once we have been taken care of go evangelize and produce!  We don’t need to stand on a street corner scaring people that the end is near or handing out crazy religious tracts.  Start close to home instead.  We can start with our family members or good friends who might not get to Church each week or at all!  We can ask them to come with you next weekend.  If they say no, don’t get angry, don’t plead and beg.  Just let it go until next weekend and lovingly ask them again.  If they continue to say no - pray for them.  Pray hard for them.


We also must not be afraid to talk about our faith.  If we don’t know a lot about our faith learn!  Ask!  Discover!  Our Catholic faith is not all about rules and regulations, it’s about ways for us to love God and ways in which we can see how much God loves us so perfectly!  I find that the more I read scripture, the more I study scripture the more I know and love scripture and the more I realize that our God loves me!  Our God loves all of us!


At our particular judgment, the goal is not to have Jesus Christ look at us and say we exhausted the soil!  Instead, let us live by this quote from Abraham Lincoln: 

Die when I may, I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.