Homily - Trinity Sunday

Proverbs 8:22–31
Romans 5:1–5
John 16:12–15

Trinity Sunday is about mystery, the mystery of our God, the God of us Christians. At the core of this mysterious God is a community, a community of persons. The community of persons that is our God is what we are remembering and celebrating today. We may use the word “Trinity” and understand by it the number three, a genuinely mysterious number. But today is not a feast of numbers, three and one. We are not about numbers, we are about persons. We acknowledge today that our God is a community but not isolated unto itself. The story of the Trinity is a story of love. And like all love that means that our Trinity is a God who goes beyond himself, who reaches out and includes us in the wonderful love that ever flows between Father, Son and Spirit. To profess belief in the Trinity, in God as a community of persons, is also to profess ourselves has having been drawn into that communion, into that love.

We heard Wisdom speaking in the Book of Proverbs this morning. In our Christian tradition we have come to know that Wisdom is the Word made flesh. It was the story of how she accompanied God through all of creation as though wisdom itself was the architect. Wisdom drew up the plan and God made it happen and so creation is orderly, beautiful and filled with wonder from the stars in the night sky to the smallest flower in all its color down to the mystery of the atom. Wisdom says that in making all this happen, I delighted God. What God has made is delightful; it makes him happy. God is happy to create, to make; it is a joy for him. And then wisdom says God delights in the human race, God takes delight in the children of men. God delights in us humans. God is happy to have made us. Seeing us is to bring joy, perhaps laughter to God.

Remember when you and I were happy to be with someone; delighted to have made another person happy, to have brought a smile to their face or to have restored hope in their lives. Just to see an old friend, just to share a meal with someone you know brings delight. We know what it is to be delighted to be with someone; we know what it is to be able to make someone happy, to draw out beauty and joy in them, yes to make them dance and shout for joy, as the psalmist sings so often.

That is our Creator God, that is our Father. God does not run away from us because of faults, failures and weakness. That is not the position of our God. He wants rather to find every reason to delight in us, to be happy that we are his children. We know how much he delights and wants to be with us because we believe that he sent his Son. This Son of the Father comes really for only one purpose: He comes to share love, to share the love and joy the father and Son have; their delight and happiness in one another, they want to share with the children on earth. The Son comes from the Father’s side and heart, the places of love and delight, to share that with us. For Jesus it meant sharing in our suffering and sorrow; it meant a journey of love that embraces us in our worst moments. It was a journey into the darkness of our world, into its violence and intrigue, into its hatred and divisions. But Jesus did that to make us delightful in God’s eyes. Yes it is our faith that the Father’s Son was delighted to be with us humans even when we had lost the ability to delight in being treasured by the Father of all.

St. Paul told us this morning that we stand in grace; we stand in God’s favor. We are no longer bowed down by what oppresses us. We believe Christ walked with us on our journey, walked through its end of sorrow and death. He was loved by the Father for doing that for us the Father’s children. For those of us who have been graced to believe that Jesus is the face of the Father’s commitment to us, we can stand up and stand firm. Someone delights in us and we are revived by grace.

The sign of our faith is that our sufferings no longer overwhelm us. In the mystery of our Triune God, our sufferings can form us in character. Christ has filled our trials and sorrows, our pain of body and heart, with hope. Our human story can be the story of hope in the midst of incredible desolation and aloneness. We who now cling to Christ have hope. And the hope we have no one can take from us.

The hope we have in Christ, says Paul, comes about because God’s love has now been poured into our hearts. God’s love is not a drip, drip affair, like a leaky faucet or our stinginess in pouring. It is love poured out to the fullest. The heart of God who delights, the heart of God who shares love with his Son, this heart has been extended in the Spirit to include us and our hearts. This is the mystery of God’s love. It is not exclusive, it is inclusive; it embraces and holds. It might be we forget that. Have no fear, Jesus sends the Spirit to remind us of that truth. Each time we look beyond ourselves, our small world and reach out to be with another, to share with another, to lift up another; each time we do that, it is the Spirit awakening within us that love poured into our hearts. Each time we touch the love poured into our hearts, we know our God as a community of persons sharing what they have with us who are human but delightful to be with.

Prior Joel Macul, OSB

Homily - Pentecost Sunday-2019


Acts 2:1-11
Romans 8:8-17
John 14: 15-16, 23b-26

The fifty days of Easter do not end with a whimper. Easter does not appear to go out quietly, according to the description in Acts. Easter comes to its fulfillment with “noise like a strong driving wind.” The noise fills the whole house where the disciples are gathered. The sound causes others to gather to find out what is going on. It was a gathering from every nation. The diversity of those gathered seems to correspond to the uniqueness of the noise itself.

There is drama here of the first order. But is it the noise alone that is the drama? Is it not what happens to the noise that is the real drama? The noise fills the house, it enters within the dwelling. The noise seeks to go inside to enter where the community is gathered. But then we hear that along with sound there is fire in the shape of tongues. And what happens to the fire? The fire enters into each person. And suddenly those gathered are filled with the Holy Spirit. The noise like wind and the fire like tongues fill the dwelling and the people. The drama is that the wind and fire symbolize God’s power to dwell within. The wind and fire are God’s dramatic entrance into the heart of the human community and person. Put simply, the Holy Spirit is God within. Now God fills all space both without and within. The key word in our story is the verb fills. The wind fills; the Holy Spirit fills.

On Pentecost the Spirit comes as God dwelling within the human heart. The noise of God’s breath as it were fills each disciple. And something changes. The noise of the wind becomes the speech of the disciples. Now their speech is such that they can speak and be understood in every human tongue. The Spirit breath of God is filling human language. He is purifying it, as it were. He transforms it so that instead of being a barrier between human beings, it becomes the bearer of a word about himself. God lives in people in such a way that they are newly connected to each other. Human language is a bond between us but it often seen and experienced as more off-putting than bringing us together. But something new is happening here. Human language is now the place where God’s Spirit lives. The Spirit lives within us as close and as much a part of us as is our ability to speak and communicate with each other.

The loud noise that the disciples and the crowds hear may be God’s last shout, last roar. And when it settles down, it is not something deafening. It is not a noise that we want to shut out with our ears. When the noise of God settles down, it comes out in human speech that all can hear and understand. The single word of Jesus echoing over the hills of Galilee or in the courtyards of the temple is now found in our voices, our words. God’s word comes to live in us. We have been transformed into his messengers. God lives, daringly, in our human languages, in our everyday speech.

If we think that God’s dwelling within us and transforming our speech is a marvel, then listen to what Paul is saying about the Spirit. Paul reminds us that the Spirit lives in our very bodies. So powerful is this Spirit that it can make a dead body live. If the Spirit that transformed the body of Jesus is living in us, then our bodies too will be transformed. Spirit is on the side of life. Spirit is life; it is the breath that God sends to raise up dead bodies. The Spirit living within us is our connection to life that does not end.

In fact, if God’s Spirit fills us and is within our bodies, then death is somehow changed. The Pentecost Spirit alters the very direction and goal even of our bodies. The Pentecost Spirit is meant to transform the way we view our own death. The Pentecost Spirit has to bring a new way of approaching any threat of death that looms in our lives. All moments and types of death can become moments when God’s breath can enter and pull us to a new form of existence. If God’s Spirit can live in our human words and transform them, then God’s spirit can live in bodies that will die and transform them into something that lives forever. We can never again look upon our bodies with an attitude of carelessness or hopelessness. Our human bodies are filled with God’s Spirit. ….Pentecost makes a loud noise in our ears so as to disturb our thinking. That thinking that needs disturbing is that our language is to be transformed to bear always a word, a sound of good news. Our bodies, too, are not what they look like on the surface. Our bodies are filled with God’s Spirit now. Where that Spirit is, that is where we truly are.

Pentecost is the feast of God dwelling within us. His spirit fills our very minds, hearts and bodies. Pentecost is also the feast of God’s dwelling in the space between us: between our human bodies, between stellar bodies, between ourselves and Christ, ourselves and the Father in heaven; it is all filled with the Spirit. The Spirit is in our relationships to each other, to Christ, to the Father. If we think the space between us is empty or that it is antagonistic, then Pentecost says it is now filled with a gift. It is filled with the gift of a bond that binds gently and yet securely. The Spirit is what holds us together. It is found in our fidelity to our commitments. It is found in our obedience to each other. It is found in the love that passes between us, in the love and fidelity we have to Christ and his word. Our responsible actions and words, our care for each other and concern: that is the Spirit of Pentecost living in us.

Today’s noise is meant to wake us up to what is within, to the power of human language. Today we go from noise, even noisy words, to speech and word that pass on wisdom, offer comfort, speak of hope, proclaim faith and above all words that find their fulfillment in communicating love. It is love that is the heart beat of Jesus’ words; it is love that caused creation and it is love dwelling in us and around us that sustains the world and transforms it until it all is a place where God is dwelling in his Spirit. Yes, the Spirit of the Lord fills the whole world, all that it is within it!

~Fr. Joel Macul, OSB

Homily - 2nd Sunday of Easter & Divine Mercy Sunday

Acts 5:12–16
Revelation 1:9–11a, 12–13, 17–19
John 20:19–31

Poor Thomas! He comes in for bad press by most of us. We have labeled him “doubting Thomas”. That, of course, is our interpretation. It is not a general characteristic of him at all. In an earlier chapter, he calls on his fellow disciples to go up to Jerusalem to die with Jesus. In the narrative of the gospel, Thomas is the one who ends up making the clearest affirmation of faith in Jesus: “My Lord and my God.” In this he is not unlike Peter in the other gospels.

I wonder if Thomas is no different than most of us. All he wants to do is see and touch, touch above all. After all, if someone told us, “We have seen the Lord” and left it at that, we might be a bit skeptical too. Thomas wants to touch but what it is it he wants to touch? He wants to touch the wounds of the Lord. He wants to touch the crucified one; he wants to be sure that what his fellow disciples have “seen” is truly the man who suffered, was wounded and was put to death. He does not want and does not need a ghost, a figment of their imagination and hopes and dreams. Thomas’ skepticism and doubt is not bad. It makes all the difference in the world. Is it the same Jesus who was led away with a cross and whose side and hands were pierced in for our sakes that is now glorified? Can a wounded and pierced person be victorious over suffering and death? Can he be wounded and yet free from its pain? How are wounds glorious?

Thomas’ issue is not just about the certainty of the glory of the one who was lifted up on the cross. Perhaps a bigger issue or a concurrent issue is that of the word of his fellow disciples. He is not satisfied with their word about their experience. He wants his own personal experience as well. He wants no intermediary between the risen Lord and himself. The community of the disciples is not sufficient for him. He must know for himself. If there is doubt in Thomas, the doubt is in the word of the community. He is not ready to trust the word of those who had the experience of the Teacher.

Thomas is indicative of the second generation of Christians. They did not have any personal, bodily experience of Jesus. They came to know him solely through the word of those who did experience him in the flesh. They have the word of the first generation: their word, their memories, their stories and the signs that the Teacher left behind. The second generation faith does not come from having been there and seen what happened; they came to believe through the word of the initial disciples. The second generation Christian will not see Jesus. Are we not like the second generation Christian? We have never been there with Jesus, seen him, touched him, heard his wonderful words.

Jesus offers us his final beatitude today: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” This beatitude is not to the first generation but to those of us who are at the receiving end of the word of other believers. We believe because others believe.

In the initial scene of today’s gospel, it is the first day of the week, the day of resurrection, the day of creation. On that first day, Jesus creates the new community that will now carry him and his word out to the world, physically and in time. I say Jesus creates because it is clear he breathes on them the Holy Spirit. He breathes on them as the spirit first blew over waters of chaos. Here the breath is on a fearful community sealed off in defense from the outside world. Or it is like the breath of the prophet Ezekiel over the dead bones of Israel which gives them new life and makes them stand up again. The disciples are given new life from the Master’s breath of Spirit. The locked doors and walls of the upper room cannot hinder the power of the Spirit.

This spirit-made community is then endowed with two gifts, the first of which is peace. Shalom means a sense of harmony and right order among them, a harmony that comes not from within but from the power of the cross and the gift of the Father. This is a community of shalom living in a world of disharmony and fear. But this community knows its Teacher and knows it is loved by the Father. But now the community must conform itself to the relationship between Jesus and the Father. It must be sent; it is apostolic. It goes not with its own message and power but with that of the Father. The community’s purpose is to reveal to the world that God’s word and Spirit are still creating and calling together. The community Jesus breathes into existence is one that breathes peace into a world of brokenness and fear. Its greeting must always be: “Peace be with you!”

The second gift the Risen Lord gives is empowerment to bring God’s forgiveness into people’s lives. The community lives so that God’s mercy is always offered. When the community is preaching and living forgiveness, then the new world of resurrection can be touched and felt. Forgiveness is about bringing people and broken relationships together. When broken relationships are reconciled and healed, that can be seen and touched. It can be relationships on the big screen as when conflicting parties within a nation come together, speak the truth about their hurts and are reconciled. It can be as close as healing a relationship between a parent and a child after many years of misunderstanding and rejection.

Thomas so much wanted to touch: a love that was willing to become a sacrifice, a love laid down for others. But that is exactly what the risen Lord empowers his fearful disciples to be and do. We want to see and touch. These are so basic to being human. But we can touch the risen Jesus. We can touch and feel peace in our lives and in our community. We can see and touch when forgiveness is at work as a principle for human relationships. Perhaps we need to believe that when we are touched by peace and forgiveness, no matter how fragile its form, we are in reality touching the risen Lord alive and working in the world.

Thomas’ doubt is really a reminder to us to trust in the word of the community that the lord is alive and conquered death. And Thomas is a reminder to us to keep wanting to reach out and touch, touch where love has been poured out; to touch where words have brought about reconciliation, healing and peace. And Thomas is a reminder that in the end our faith is rather simple: My Lord and my God to the one who loved us to the end and by dying made all things one.

Prior, Fr. Joel Macul, OSB

Homily - Easter Vigil-2019

Our Prior, Fr. Joel Macul shares his thoughts for the Easter Vigil homily:

Gn 1:1–2:2, Gn 22:1-18
Ex14:15–15:1, Is 54:5–14, Ex 55:1–11
Ez 36:16–17a, 18–28
Rom 6:3–11
Luke 24:1–12

We have just heard the story of the myrrh-bearing women. They come to the tomb as new light is dawning. But their experience, at first, is anything but a new dawn. It is all negative; it is an experience of absence. Where is the body? The body of the Lord is not there. That is what they have come for. They have come to complete the work of burial. Their reaction is one of puzzlement, they don’t  understand. Just as at the birth of the Jesus angels spoke to bewildered shepherds the good news of a birth, so now two angels announce the victory of God over death: “He is not here, he has been raised.” And this proclamation is followed immediately by the angels’ summons to remember. “Remember what he told you…”

In other gospels we hear the angels send the women back to the apostles with the good news of risen life and to tell the apostles to go back to Galilee to see Jesus there. But that is not what Luke would have us do. We don’t go to some familiar place to see Jesus. The angels send us back to memory. There Jesus lives and there we will hear what he has to say, not about the past but about where new life is now.

Our activity these past three days have been about memory or anamnesis. That is the goal and purpose of keeping Passover. On Thursday night we heard the Lord tell Moses that eating the Passover lamb each year was a memorial feast of when the Lord passed over the community, not killing them because the blood marked them as belonging to the Lord. The blood of the lamb became the symbol of life. Eating this meal each year would bring the saving act of that first lamb to bear on the present life of the community. We heard that Jesus took bread and shared it as his body and took a cup and said it was a new covenant in his blood. Each time he gave the command: “Do this in remembrance of me.” And so we take bread and a cup as his body and blood and keep his memory. The power of his body given up for us and his blood poured out as forgiveness is as real for us today as it was the day he gave the command to remember him this way.

The memory we are keeping these days is not just a repeat of some past action, it is a bringing the past forward to touch and change our lives today. We have not been on a walk done on memory lane these days. We are remembering because in these actions and words lie the meaning of our lives as our God has given it to us and worked it for us. At that same supper table of Passover, Jesus washed disciples’ feet. He became their servant. And the command: when you do the same to one another, you are connected to me and you will find your identity. When you lay down lives for one another, then I am not in a tomb waiting for burial rites, but am alive among you and my way is alive among you. I am indeed risen and visible. To remember the words and actions of Jesus is to know him now in the present and to bring him alive into our world and time.

Hopefully, this vigil our memories have awakened in story and in prophetic words and images. The creation story is not heard in nostalgia. Creation is happening now, we are there and creation is here: light is bursting out of darkness and the victory is that darkness cannot overcome it. Tonight, standing around the fire, we have captured, as it were, this primal light of creation and recognized it as the risen Christ. We carried him as the Passover candle and proclaimed victory and gathered around him in this light. We have remembered that he is light now in the midst of many a shadow of death that threatens so much of the human family in form of division, separation, violence, economic unbalance. We are people who are at the first dawn and see the light spreading gently and believe it can transform the world. Remembering that enables us to see and name light where others only name despair, brokenness, paralysis, blindness and death.

The women at the tomb were called to remember. Remember what he told you about himself, about the whole story of being handed over, crucified and then raised. Remember his words and with them remember the whole story. It is easy for us to cut short the words of Jesus, cut short his story. We are remembering tonight so that we will remain in his word and not cut out a word or cut short any of his story and his life. Jesus will be alive for us today and any day when we remember, when his word and life stand in front us as the new life, the new creation, a living hope. The faithful women were treating Jesus as over. Their challenge to us is precisely to see that Jesus is not over, not in the past, but living ahead of us.

Resurrection is the future. Remembrance, what looks at first sight like going into the past, is needed so that the future is grounded and rooted in the risen Lord who once lived among us but now is raised so that what he lived, we might live in our time: loving the stranger, speaking gently, taking a hand to lift up the weary, standing by those who have no voice, not being afraid of those who don’t like to hear about offering the other cheek, and lastly remaining faithful, like father Abraham, to the God of the covenant, in the face of all insecurities all alternatives that pull us away from the source of life.

You see, the transforming moment for the women, was no longer to be anointing the body of the dead. Their moment of transformation came, Luke says, in remembering Jesus’ words. In that moment of transformation brought about by memory/anamnesis, they became messengers of good news, like the two angels in the tomb. In their remembering, they allowed Jesus to be the interpreter of what was at first perplexing and incomprehensible.

What of us? Have our memories been awakened this Passover Triduum so that when we leave here, we will go out into a new way of life beyond imagining because Jesus’ words have transformed our hearts and made them Spirit filled? Will we allow Jesus to interpret our lives in all their moments, but especially those that seem a dead end? Our remembrance of Jesus’ death and resurrection, his Passover, wants to work its way into our very self so that all we see and do are grounded in the power of a love that calls forth life, freedom, forgiveness and peace.

Christ is risen, alleluia!   He is truly risen, alleluia!

Laetare Sunday-4th Sunday of Lent-2019

Joshua 5:9a, 10–12
2 Corinthians 5:17–21
Luke 15:1–3, 11–32

Jesus was a prophet. The reading of Luke’s gospel makes this clear. As a prophet, Jesus was the kind of person who liked to challenge your way of thinking. If you thought reality was to be seen this way, he was almost certain to have another. What made it hard was that Jesus was not talking about opinion. Jesus claimed that his way of looking at things and his actions were none other than God’s way of seeing things and God’s way of acting in the world and with its people. What Jesus was challenging then and today was how God was to be understood and where he was to be experienced.

The action that the prophet Jesus offers us today is that of eating a meal. But the revealing part of this meal is not the kind of food but the kind of people he eats it with. Jesus eats with sinners. Jesus eats with those at the edge, those ‘not worthy.’

When we eat with someone, we do more than share in the food he or she has prepared for us. The food is more than just a bodily necessity that satisfies hunger. This shared food is really a symbol for lives shared. To eat with someone means to make yourself open to the other person. In sharing a meal with someone, you are involving yourself in communion. Not only do you share yourself with other people, but they are sharing themselves with you. Communion is a two way process. There is risk and delight on both sides.

When Jesus eats with sinners, as Luke tells us today, this means he is identifying with them. Not only is he sharing his life of forgiveness with them, but he is involving himself in their life of sin. In sharing a meal with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus makes a statement about who God is and how he wants to be. Jesus is revealing the way in which God loves us. What Jesus is saying in his simple act of eating is that God’s rightful place is at the table of sinful human kind. Our God is a God who invites humanity to a new way of life by sitting down at table with us and sharing in our food. The person we share our food with brings with him or her a new way of seeing ourselves, of accepting ourselves. When Jesus sits with sinners, he brings a new way of life with him. Accepting Jesus at the table means that the sinner leaves himself or herself open to the way of life that Jesus offers. In the act of eating with sinners, Jesus not only shares in the life of the sinner at the table but the sinner shares in the way of life that God is offering in Jesus. Food is shared, yes, but in the food lives are shared, are given over one to another.

Jesus tells a story, a parable, to illustrate his point. We like to see ourselves as the youngest son who comes to his senses when he hits bottom (eating with the pigs is pretty much the bottom).We take our cue of who God is by focusing on the loving father. We make sure that we have this father run down the road to greet us. The welcome of the father captures our emotions. But that is not the clincher of the story. Jesus does more than welcome sinners; he eats with them. The father in the parable does more than embrace and kiss his younger son after he has wasted his inheritance. He wants a meal to celebrate with him and for him.

It is not enough for the younger son to say, “I’m sorry.” The father must have a meal before the reconciliation is complete. All is not healed between father and son until the fattened calf is prepared and the music and dancing begin. For Jesus, the essence of conversion or repentance was accepting a God who would eat with the sinner and in this eating offer and celebrate a new way of life. The father is not satisfied until the younger son accepts from his father a meal and so opens the way to a new life.

You see, the younger son wanted to be treated by his father as a hired worker. He wanted to give up his identity as son and eat with the workers. But the father refuses to allow the younger son to give up his identity. And to make his point, he will have a meal worthy of a son.

These are not actions and stories from the past. This act of God eating with sinners and sinners finding a new identity through this God who shares a meal with them is happening right now. Right now we are hearing the story about a God who risks all to eat with his sinful people. Very soon now the meal will become a reality for us too. The Risen Jesus will offer us food again. He does not offer us a meal because we are worthy or pure or clean or have got our lives straightened out. He offers us food because we have heard of him and come to listen to him; he offers us a simple meal because he knows we are sinners struggling to find our way. Jesus joins our meal and transforms it so that when we are through eating we will be a new people with a new identity in him. Or as Paul says today, we will be a new creation. This very morning God is not only embracing us and holding us as his own, he is offering us a meal that brings him and us together in the intimacy that sharing food holds within it. On the way to death, to walk into the depths of sin, Jesus leaves us a meal with him not because we are his best followers. Better he leaves us this meal so that we will remember that when we are lost, broken, estranged, afraid and without identity, he is there in the sharing of bread and wine to say you are still children of God, human beings in his image.

If we find ourselves among those broken people, those sinners, the dissipated younger son, even perhaps the self-righteous older son, then the Eucharist is for us. Jesus comes to the table. To us Jesus says, “I am not afraid to share and live your brokenness, your death. I will eat your food. And you, take my food, and find in it the way to wholeness, the way of love, the way of healing. When we eat together in this way, then truly God and humanity are made whole. This is why I have come: that we, the Father, the Son and all the Father’s children, may eat together and sing and dance to the original rhythm of love and fidelity.”

Prior, Fr. Joel Macul, OSB

Homily - 2nd Sunday of Lent-2019

Inspirational words by our own Fr. Thomas Leitner. His homily for the 2nd Sunday of Lent:

Lk 9:28-36 Gen 15:5-12.17-18
Phil 3:17 – 4:1

Focus: The transfiguration story shows us Jesus’ Divine glory.

Function: It is a consolation for us, as it was for his first disciples, for the times in the valley, the times of pain and of hardship.

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

In movie theaters and on television, we so often see previews of new movies or TV shows. These usually aren’t sufficient for us to understand fully what this movie or show is all about. But they sometimes arouse our interest and stir our desire to see more of the movie or show.

Today’s gospel is a preview of a very special kind. To Peter, John and James, Jesus’ Easter glory is revealed. In Luke’s gospel, it’s only on two occasions that Jesus asks a group of disciples to go with him to a particular place for prayer: here on mountain of transfiguration, which is usually identified as Mt. Tabor, and later in the Garden of Gethsemani.

The Tabor experience happens just at the right time for the disciples. It is a preparation for things to come. Jesus ministry in Galilee is almost over. He has made the first prediction of his passion. In the passage preceding the transfiguration story, Jesus points out to the disciples for the first time that whoever wishes to come after him must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow him. After our passage, Jesus starts his journey to Jerusalem.

The topic of the three persons’ conversation in the vision is Jesus’ exodus, which he is going to accomplish in Jerusalem. The Greek word ‘ex-hodos’ means ‘way out.’ It is the way out of the city and up the hill of Golgotha. But the Exodus is, at the same time, the people of Israel’s way out of Egyptian slavery through the Red Sea’s dangerous waters into freedom. The word ‘exodus’ here points to the whole Paschal mystery: the one once in Egypt and the new one that is going to enfold now: it is a way through death to life.

Moses and Elijah are great O.T. persons who show something about who Jesus was and about what he did. Moses was the lawgiver; Jesus brought a new law of love to God and neighbor. Elijah was the greatest O.T. prophet; Jesus surpassed the prophets’ message by proclaiming God’s special love and care for the poor.

The whole experience is overwhelming. Peter is confused; he wants to build booths like at the festival of Tabernacles; he wants the feast to endure. But the vision ends—still God’s presence, indicated by the cloud, continues. God’s voice from the cloud makes Jesus known as God’s chosen Son and summons the disciples to listen to him.

The season of Lent is an invitation to follow Jesus more closely. It’s a time of repentance and conversion, but also of accepting anew the salvation and redemption that come from God through Jesus Christ. Like Peter, John and James, we, too, need Tabor in order to be able to endure Gethsemani and Golgotha.

Dear sisters and brothers in the Lord, the transfiguration story reveals to us Jesus Divine glory. It’s a consolation for us, as it was for his first disciples, for the times in the valley, for times of pain and of hardship.

This Sunday is a good opportunity to recall the Tabor hours of our life. Most of us can remember moments when we felt God’s closeness in a special way, during a retreat or worship service may be, or when a child was born, or during a mountain hike.

Of course, there were also other times, times when we, in one way or the other, had a share in Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and in his way of the cross.

In order to experience God’s closeness we need, like Peter, John and James, prayer times in the company of Jesus, personal prayer times, but also times of communal worship. The center of the Church’s communal prayer is the celebration of the Eucharist, where Jesus is really present, where we can listen to him, to his word, and where he strengthens us with his body and blood.

Indeed, Tabor hours are necessary in order to stir our interest in heaven and to keep our hope for it alive. “Our citizenship is in heaven.” “The cross and the bearing of the cross we can accept only if we know that they are not the destination and the end, but just the way in order to reach the glory,” one spiritual author writes. The waiting period of this earthly life … can only be endured if we know that Christ—and we with him—have to suffer in order to so enter into his glory.” AMEN.

Fr. Thomas Leitner, OS

Homily - 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time-2019

For the past 4 ½ years I have been living and working in our Abbey in Germany. A large part of what I did there was working with Refugees.

One day one of the refugees asked me, “why do you help us even though we aren’t Christians”? I asked, “why do you think we help”? He was quiet for a long while and then said, “because we are all children of God”? “Yes”, I said, “and because Jesus told us to help those who cannot help us, and do to others as we want done to us. We are to be compassionate and merciful as Allah (God) is merciful and compassionate.”

In the Gospel today Jesus gives us this exact command. He turns everything we think we know upside down and tells us to turn the other cheek, love those who do not love us, not to judge, and to be merciful and forgive.

We like to think we are a Christian country, but all you need to do is turn on the news to see that we are often FAR from being followers of Christ.

If you are shocked or uncomfortable with Jesus words you are not alone. His listeners would have been shocked as well. The Jews at the time were a conquered people. There were foreign soldiers (Romans) all over their country and people were burdened with taxes by a foreign king.

The Greek word used here for love is agape. It does NOT mean a romantic love, or liking someone, or even friendship love.

What Jesus is talking about is a whole-hearted, unreserved, unconditional desire for the well-being of the other person.

We might not like some of their behaviors. We might disagree with what they stand for, but to love those we do not like or disagree with will be to disagree with them in such a way that we still desire their well-being.

Jesus tells us we are to do good! What does that mean? That means to do well by others. It means to be just, to do the right thing, even if we do not like them or think they are bad. It means to be honorable, a trait that seems to have lost its importance.

Jesus tell us to - STOP JUDGING! I took some training over the past few years in Spiritual Direction. If you are going to help people in the spiritual life you have to learn your own weaknesses. I used to think I was a pretty open guy. I found out that I can be quite the judging guy. Not a pretty thing to see when you look in the mirror, but a good start to healing and living the Lord’s command not to judge.

Jesus also tells us to be merciful as God is Merciful. If you have never been shown mercy it might be hard to know what that is.

So what does it mean to be merciful? When I googled it I got this answer: Forgiving, compassionate, gracious, lenient, pitying, humane, mild, softhearted, tenderhearted, kind, kindly, sympathetic, patient, humanitarian, liberal, easygoing, tolerant, generous, benevolent etc.

Being merciful might be what some today would call being a “snowflake”.

Just to bring home the point, the opposite of merciful is merciless or cruel. And boy have we learned how to be merciless and cruel with the poor, with the migrant, and with those who do not think as we think.

Where have we, where has our Church, has our Society forgotten how to be merciful? Something to ponder this week.

We are asked to FORGIVE!

To forgive and pray for someone who has deeply wronged you is tuff! Man is it tuff! It’s one of the hardest things to do. I can’t say that I have totally mastered it yet.

About five years ago I was deeply wronged by someone who I thought was my friend. I must confess I am still working on forgiving him. I shared this one day at coffee break in the abbey with one of the younger monks. He got really upset and asked me “how can you call yourself a Christian if you can’t forgive this man”. I said “because I am working on forgiving and being merciful to him. I want to, but will need time and grace.”

My brothers and sisters, what the Lord is asking of us today isn’t easy, and he never said it would be easy. It certainly cost him everything. But if we are to truly be what our baptism calls us to be, then we have to keep trying. We Benedictines take a vow of conversion of life which is basically this continued trying to make our hearts more like HIS.

We gather here around the altar. We come with our brokenness, with our wounds, our judgieness, our merciful, and mercilessness. We ask that through partaking in this holy sacrifice our hearts might be made more like HIS heart. May HE strengthen us to be more loving, just, and merciful till the day when we finally see him face to face. AMEN

Fr. Adam Patras, OSB