Saturday, April 7, 2012

Making The Passion....Personal...Then....On To Mass

As we leave our houses, or homes, to drive or walk to church, we each will have our own thoughts, feelings and emotions. They are uniquely ours, one of a kind. Yet, because we "are spiritual beings having a human experience", there is a great deal we have in common. First, we all share the same place of origin, the infinite love of our Gracious God. It is our blessing to have such an origin, yet it is also a great curse. There is nothing in this life that will satisfy us. "You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and we will never rest until we rest in You." There will then be restlessness within each one of us. There we will always have that deep feeling that there is something missing. Nothing that we can buy, achieve, or accomplish will bring us anything like lasting happiness. We have to grow in the acceptance that in every success, is already sewn the seeds of failure, and disillusion. From our journey into the Paschal Mystery we are also exposed to, and confronted with this truth, "within every so called death, failure and loss is sewn the seeds of new life”. Because of the sufferings and death of Jesus, who became the Christ because of what He endured, we too, His now reality, will share the same experience. Jesus, The Christ of God, continues to live out the reality of His Paschal Mystery within the DAILY living of each one of us. That, every moment, daily living out of The paschal Mystery is what we all bring to each and every Eucharistic celebration, we are privileged to celebrate. If there is no conscious connection between our daily living, and the Eucharistic celebration, then we end up with, “liturgy without soul". To my way of thinking there is too much of that happening in our church, and as result so many can take or leave The Mass. Liturgy, is "the work of the people', and as such, God will provide, each and every one of us, the necessary grace for us to have a grace-filled celebration. A celebration that will always be old and new. Never, never, the same. As we bring the evolving newness of a life, that is constantly being renewed, so our liturgical celebrations “life filled”. We will be looking forward to discovering anew the to-day celebration of our unique participation of Jesus's suffering, death, burial, Resurrection, Ascension, and His sending of a new Spirit for the new life that His followers were then living. As it was then, so it is with us now, and ever shall be until we all return to our original place of Blessings. A place we never forget, keep looking for, but can never find it in our present reality, as spiritual beings, having a human experience. This begs the question, then what is left for us to do?

For the past many, many years as I leave my car and walk through the parking lot, with fellow parishioners, the following questions have surfaced. Why are these individuals, and families coming to Mass? What are they looking for that will make their sometimes troubled lives less stress-full, and more meaning-full? Where have they encountered the suffering Christ, and were not aware of His existence widen, disguised, within the flawed humanity of themselves, and those who have shared their week? Where has The Risen Christ appeared within the reality of their daily living to give hope and encouragement? The Risen Christ always dwells within the reality of daily life. Has His appearance come in at a time, or in a place where they were surprised, or even shocked? The Risen Christ, as well as the suffering Jesus has many, many disguises. We must be alert, "The Son of Man comes at a time we least expect", and He does not come where we expect Him to appear. I wish He was more predictable, and would appear on command. There goes my need to control and not have to deal with another aspect of my powerlessness. Will this ever come to and end, is a constant question of mine? The constant answer is a definite “NO, not in this life. Life is not a problem to be solved, it is a mystery to be lived", experienced and celebrated within our daily living, and the Eucharistic celebration. To make that connection more real, the following has been put in place for this year's Mass in the tent.

I asked those who are going to celebrate in the tent to give me, in one or two words, what are they struggling with and need to connect with during this year's Easter Celebration. I want each person to know their suffering, is not their suffering alone. We are NEVER alone. We may think it, feel it, even be overwhelmed with loneliness, yet we are never alone. This is a further manifestation of our spirit dwelling within a humanity that is in the process of being transformed. (Keep in mind, process takes time, and cannot be rushed.) These are our Gethsename moments already experienced with Jesus in The Garden of Olives. The work of salvation IS being accomplished in, and through these awe-full, repulsive, moments of real life. There are those who are experiencing the scourging at the pillar. They are, as Jesus was, the continuation of The Incarnation. They are not always physically flogged, although that is the reality of some, they are whipped with words and action meant to destroy any vestige of humanity. Words are such weapons in the arsenal of so the many who take the place of the Roman soldiers in the lives of so many. Verbal abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse are today’s whips lashing the already suffering body. Now this is where this gets tough. We ourselves do the whipping. We ourselves do the scourging? Why? We have these unrealistic expectations that are impossible to achieve, perfectionism is the lash of choice for so many. This whip is passed down from generation to generation. Some generation must put a stop to this ongoing scourging of The Body of Christ. How many are victims of the court system? Where so often it is money and powerful connections are what decides the outcome. That is why it is pointed out to be a court of law, not justice. How many unfortunate women, and their, vulnerable children are beaten, bruised, and betrayed by that which is supposed to bring them justice. It is so sad when “might is right” to the detriment of so many. Under these cruel circumstances, The Scourging at the Pillar will continue. The pain, the anger, the frustration, has to be brought to prayer, so that The same Power who raised Jesus from the dead, will bring about new life when there is only apparent, death and destruction. When all seemed lost in the life of Jesus, it is then the Resurrection happened. As it was, so it is, and ever shall be. “I believe, help my disbelief.”

These are some of the realities being brought to Easter Mass. No sugar coating, no minimizing is allowed, or else nothing happens. We must embrace the words of The Abandoned One, The Beloved One, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”. There the historical Jesus began His journey into being The Christ of God. After the death, there was the tomb time. There is great difficulty in waiting. It is the most difficult of all reality. Something, someone, had died, a loss has happened and we are waiting for the new life. Just Jesus was risen, then we are assured that same Spirit of Creative love in now bringing a new life for us to live. For our part, we must own the ending and ask for the new Spirit for this new life we are given to live. Because many of these new realities are forced upon us, we do not have to like it. We do have to ask for the gift of acceptance. Acceptance is not an instant happening. Acceptance is a process. A process under the loving, merciful direction of The Holy Spirit. We will forever and always be given what we need, not what we want. God our gracious Father knows our deepest needs and responds to our deepest call out to Him. “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord...make haste to help me." The prayer that must be ours as we journey on the road that leads beyond suffering, and death to the new transformed life, of The Resurrection.


  1. Fr. Joe,
    Loved your message in the tent!

  2. Father Joe,

    I just wanted to thank you for your sermon, tonight, at mass. I've heard you preach before, but, tonight's message really hit home with me.

  3. This really resonates with me, I have always felt this restlessness , ever since I was a young girl, and have felt it is the soul longing and yearning for God, Thanks for expressing it so beautifully