Sunday, June 23, 2013

Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow him.

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
              June 13 2013                          
                    Gospel Luke 9:18-24
Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone. He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” 

Jesus tells in today's Gospel that we must take up our cross daily and follow him.  We follow him because that is exactly what he did.  Fortunately for most of us, we will not be nailed to it as he was. 
There is not a person on this Earth that has not or will not experience suffering in their lives.  Just like death, we cannot escape it, hide from it, or avoid it.  Suffering may come to us when we least expect it and we must be prepared to deal with it.
So, how do we do that?  Well, as followers of Jesus, we do it with the knowledge that God will give us the strength to endure our suffering, no matter how bad, how long, or how often it occurs.  We should not turn from God when we suffer; we should turn to God for help and strength.  God does not cause our suffering; it may come from others or it could even occur because of decisions we have made. I guess the point is, we should not blame God for what we endure. 
Jesus came to teach us that God loves us.  He took upon himself our human condition and experienced all of the suffering we experience and then some.  We have a great example to follow in Jesus; a God who knows first hand about human failings and human suffering. In healing the sick and forgiving the sinners, he tried to alleviate the pain and suffering of others.
This is also what we are called to do as followers of Jesus.  We gather in community and help one another.  We must support one another in times of trial and accept the support of others when it is our time to experience our own pain and suffering.  We are the body of Jesus and as such we are called to respond to others as Jesus responded to his followers, friends, and community, with love, compassion and forgiveness. 
So as you go through this week, my prayer for each of you is that you recognize God's presence in your life when life turns sour; and that you recognize the pain and suffering of others around you and become Jesus for them.
May God bless you all.

Reverend Sue Provost
                              St. Valentine Faith Community
                                                              Mass: 10AM Every Sunday
2301 E Sunset Road
Suite 18
Las Vegas, NV 89119
702-523-8963 Rev Sue Provost, Pastor

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Body and Blood of Jesus is his gift to us.

Corpus Christi Sunday
              June 2, 2013                          

                    Gospel Luke 9:11b-17
Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured. As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, "Dismiss the crowd
so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here." He said to them, "Give them some food yourselves." They replied, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people." Now the men there numbered about five thousand. Then he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty." They did so and made them all sit down. Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.

This is a pivotal week, for me. Taking communion every week was one reason for becoming Catholic. I was going to be married Catholic and could not imagine not being able to take communion as our first meal. 

It would be not long after my confirmation that I was given confirmation of my faith in the importance of the Body and Blood. St Michael’s was a small parish; so there usually was the pastor, one of the nuns and the reader serving at the altar. The reader usually got forgotten for the wine. One week, as I was driving to church, I realized that I was going to miss out on the wine because I was reading. Well, I thought, the Body will be enough. Can you imagine my surprise when the nun came over to me with the cup?  And yes, that was the only week I remember receiving the full communion when I was to read.

This is also a somewhat pivotal week in the Liturgical calendar. We are seeing the Sunday Schedules to be listed as Ordinary Time; that is numbered in order. Ordinary Time though becomes regular and routine.

The first reading is from the Old Testament, the second is from the New Testament, the prediction and the fulfillment. Our first reading shows that bread and wine has a history (and a history with Gentiles).

Our second reading shows us Jesus giving new meaning to the bread and wine (we heard the last couple of weeks, Jesus say “I make all things new”). This can be comforting. Yet when we fall into a routine we can get forgetful, and do things without thinking. This has happened to me with communion. The Body and Blood which was bread and wine become bread and wine again because I am approaching and receiving in rout. 

Many little kids have more understanding and put forth more effort in their approach when they turn and look up to their parent and ask if they are holding their arms just right. The parents are many times are saying, “yeah, yeah, that’s good, shhh. ”Luke, on the other hand he went for a blessing not only to the person giving the Body, but also to the person giving the Blood. The Eucharistic Ministers at the 8 AM mass got used to it, but the first couple of times it momentarily confused the minister with the Blood.

This helped to keep me focused on the true meaning of communion. Then not long after Luke received his first communion, it became routine again. So I had my pocket prayer book to have Luke and I say before and after prayers. I started focusing on our physical posture when approaching communion in hopes that that would keep the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

It reminds me of a Peanuts comic strip. Charles Schultz was a minister like a deacon of his congregation. Much of his work is a homily. His Sunday strip would be a well-disguised message. One comes to mind where Charlie Brown tells Lucy to keep the bat trademark up so as to not crack the bat. Well she does not crack the bat, but she did miss the point of why she was at the plate.

Our Gospel reading reminds us why we come to the plate: (LK 9:11B-17)

1.    That communion fills us full with plenty leftover.
2.    That He had been giving communion throughout his ministry
3.   That this is the way to recognize God’s faithful followers

The second reading reminds us: (1 COR 11:23-26)

1.   That Jesus gave us communion at Passover
2.   That like the first Passover when the angel of death passed over the Israelites that followed the directives given to Moses, we will avoid true death when we follow Jesus.

The first reading reminds us: (GN 14:18-20)

1.   That communion is for all, even a Gentile King, because he recognizes and believes in God the Creator.
2.   That victory over death is celebrated by the breaking of the bread and drinking of the wine.

 I pray that even though I have made you laugh and that I may have seemed to ignore the solemnity of this day; That when you find yourself coming to communion as a habit and you do without thought you will remember this homily and receive the body and blood of Jesus with faith, understanding and the solemnity that Jesus gave it to us. 

Homily written by Linda Pilato

                              St. Valentine Faith Community
                                                              Mass: 10AM Every Sunday
2301 E Sunset Road
Suite 18
Las Vegas, NV 89119
702-523-8963 Rev Sue Provost, Pastor

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)