Saturday, May 15, 2021

Ascension Sunday @ St. Peter Cheasaning / St. Cyril Bannister

HOMILY - ASCENSION OF THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD
MAY 15/16, 2021

The Hierarchy of Knowledge or DIKW Pyramid is a class of models for representing structural or functional relationships between Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom – hence, DIKW.

Numerous individuals may have invented it – economists, educators, engineers, geographers, ethicists, theorists, and researchers . . . from America, Ireland, China, Czechoslovakia, and England.


But the earliest reference to such a hierarchy can be found in T. S. Elliot’s 1934 play The Rock, which contains the chorus:

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? 
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

A fundamental premise of the Hierarchy of Knowledge is that:

information is defined in terms of data, 
knowledge [is defined] in terms of information, 
and wisdom [is defined] in terms of knowledge.

Trying to break this down into verbs – action words – a potential list might be: measure, analyze, classify, understand.

In other words, knowing about someone is not the same as knowing someone . . . and knowing someone is not the same as being in relationship with someone . . . and being in relationship with someone does not always rise to the level of loving someone.

Today is the Sunday on which we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord – when 40 days after Easter, Jesus “was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God” as we heard in St. Mark’s Gospel.

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear of the faith of the early Christians. And, perhaps we might consider how fortunate they were to have lived in a time so close to Jesus’ resurrection, seeing the lively power of the Holy Spirit, and living each day with an eager anticipation of the coming of the Kingdom on Jesus’ imminent return.

2,000 years seems like a long, long time, and perhaps we may not have the same level of hope as those first Christians did.

Yet, St. Paul speaks of hope in his Letter to the Ephesians, calling us to move beyond merely knowing God to living in the Power of God.

Because, for a Christian, knowing God is salvation . . . while growing in our relationship with God is sanctification . . . and ultimately – in eternal glory – we will have perfect knowledge of God, when we see Him face-to-face.

St. Paul points out that in knowing that “hope that belongs to [God’s] call . . . the riches of glory in [God’s] inheritance [is] among [His saints] . . . [in] the surpassing greatness of [God’s] power

Our life in Christ is not only knowing about Jesus but requires that we live in imitation of Him in the here and now. Yet going beyond that, it is ultimately found in the life to come – the future glory of with God in Christ – in eternity. 

That is, more than just be-ing, Christians are called to a life of be-come-ing . . . living not only in a present-tense, but in a future-tense . . . in anticipation of God’s call. This is hope!

St. Paul tells us elsewhere in Scripture:

. . . hope that is seen is not hope. 
For who hopes for what he sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see,
we wait for it with [patient] endurance.


Next week is Pentecost. And the tradition tells us that the Apostles and disciples prayed for 9 days – the first Novena – from the Thursday of the Ascension until Pentecost Sunday. They prayed in hope for the coming of the Holy Spirit . . . that “surpassing greatness of [God’s] power” in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ – let us pray for a deeper outpouring of the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds. May we who know Christ in the Eucharist come to know, even more, the “surpassing greatness” of power of His Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

5th Sunday of Easter @ St. Peter Chesaning

HOMILY - FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
MAY 2, 2021


The “Tetragrammaton” is the four-letter word in the Hebrew Bible that represents the Name of God. This word has been considered so sacred, that its pronunciation is actually been lost to the annals of history. 

It consists of the four letters yod heh vav heh – or loosely YHWH or JHVH. Whenever a Hebrew reader comes across it, the merely substitute the Hebrew word for Lord – Adonai. In English texts, it has often been transliterated as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.”


13 years ago, the Vatican – as directed by the pope – asked that any songs or Bible translations used in Catholic worship stop using those transliterations … out of respect for the Jewish tradition of not speaking the name of God.

Nonetheless, the closest approximation of assigning meaning to those 4 letters is found in Exodus 3:14, when Moses is speaking to God in the Burning Bush and asks what name should he tell the Israelites God told him, the Lord responds: “I am who I am . . . tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”

Today is the 5th Sunday of Easter.

Our Gospel reading from St. John’s Gospel – part of the Last Supper Discourse – where Jesus tells the disciples:

I am the true vine …

This is one of seven “I am” statements that Jesus makes in John’s Gospel – in a certain sense, using the alliterative Name of God to a metaphoric title for Himself.

Earlier in that discourse, right after the washing of the disciples’ feet, He says:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life …

Last week we heard from an earlier part of St. John’s Gospel, where Jesus says:

I am the good shepherd …


In the text leading up to that passage, He says:

I am the gate for the sheep …

We heard that last year on the fifth Sunday of Lent.

One chapter later, before He raises Lazarus from the dead, Jesus says, 

I am the resurrection and the life …

We heard that read on the fifth Sunday of Lent this year. 


Two chapters earlier, He says: 

I am the light of the world … 

Next year, we’ll hear that on the fifth Sunday of Lent.


And two chapters before that He says:

I am the bread of life …

We’ll hear that chapter broken up across four weeks this summer, beginning at the end of July and continuing throughout August.

We also hear a snippet of that chapter every year on the Sunday of the Body and Blood of Christ – this year falling on June 6 … or nine weeks after Easter Sunday.


So, this year – the second of the three year cycle of Sunday readings – we hear 5 out of the 7 “I am” statements. 

Although, every year, they are read on the weekdays of Lent and Easter … if you follow the daily lectionary readings.

For your personal reflection – you can call it “homework” if you like – I encourage you to consider these seven “I am” statements of Jesus … and in your reflection, consider that question that Jesus asks His disciples in the synoptic Gospels – that is, Matthew, Mark, and Luke – when He says:

Who do people say that I am?


Followed by:

Who do you say that I am?

As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ – Who comes to us at every Mass as the Bread of Life … let us pray that He may be for us our Way and our Truth and our Life … as we continue to move through Easter season and as we live our lives out and about in the world.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Easter Sunday @ St. Peter Cheasaning / St. Cyril Bannister

HOMILY - EASTER SUNDAY THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD
APRIL 4, 2021

Last Sunday at 2:48 pm Eastern Daylight Time was the Paschal Full Moon. It was broad daylight, and you might have missed it … but once the sun set, the Full Moon was pretty obvious.

The Paschal Full Moon is the first full moon on or after the Vernal Equinox – which falls on March 21. Since last Sunday was March 28, that made its full moon the Paschal Full Moon. 

Easter is the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon. It can be as early as March 22 or as late as April 25. 


If you ever notice on some calendars it will also list “Orthodox” or “Julian” Easter as being later than when we celebrate Easter … that’s because the Julian Calendar is about two weeks behind. 

So, according to the Julian Calendar, today is March 22, and so last week’s moon doesn’t cut it. That means that Julian Easter won’t be until the Sunday after the full moon that occurs after yesterday, and that full moon is on April 26, which is a Monday, making Julian (or Orthodox) Easter on May 2.

Nonetheless …

Today is Easter Sunday. 

Christ is risen! Alleluia! He has risen as He said! Alleluia!

This morning we heard from the beginning of the 20th Chapter of St. John’s Gospel.

In today’s Gospel we hear that St. John, on arriving at the tomb first “saw” the burial cloths; and then St. Peter, when he showed up – in second place – went into the tomb and “saw” the burial cloths; and finally, that when St. John went into the tomb and also “saw” … and believed.

Awkwardly, three very different words in Greek are all translated into English as “saw,” providing us with a rather flat reading of a very dynamic story.


Fleshing out the meaning of these distinct words in Greek, it might be more proper to say that when St. John first arrived at the tomb, he “looked” (in the Greek “βλέπει”) into the tomb at the burial cloths. St. Peter, came in behind John, and entering the tomb he “examined” (in the Greek “θεωρεῖ”) the burial cloths. Finally, St. John enters in behind Peter, and “perceived” (in the Greek “εἶδεν”) the burial cloths.

Three different words, the first meaning to “look,” the second meaning to “examine,” and the third meaning to “perceive.” All, sadly, translated as “saw.”

And so, for better or for worse, we are here, this morning, in this particular church, to celebrate Easter. 

How deeply are you participating in the liturgical action being played out in today’s Mass?


Are you “looking?” Sort of just hanging around, taking it all in.

Are you “examining?” Not just looking, but scrutinizing the details – the smells, the bells, the chanting, and the singing?

Or are you “perceiving?” Looking, examining, and understanding – not only with your mind, but with the eyes of Faith, the divine action and supernatural drama that is going on right here, right now?


Today’s Gospel reading begins with Mary Magdalene finding the empty tomb. During this week, we will hear of Jesus appearing to the ten disciples hiding in the upper room. And next Sunday, we will hear the story of Doubting Thomas.

Thomas moves from doubt to belief – by the supernatural virtue of Faith. The disciples move from fear to courage – by the supernatural virtue of Hope. And Mary moves from tears to joy – by the supernatural virtue of Love. 

Faith, Hope, and Love are the Baptismal gifts we have all received. Faith, Hope, and Love are the Supernatural Virtues that make us Christian.


As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, may the eyes of our hearts be opened to be moved from looking, to a deeper participation in the Holy Mysteries of this day. 

May we be renewed in the Supernatural Virtues – the Baptismal gifts of Faith, Hope, and Love – as we recall our own Baptism, and this morning renew our Baptismal promises … remembering that if we have died with Christ in Baptism, then we shall live with Him – and ultimately we shall reign with Him in glory … for all eternity.

Happy and Blessed Easter!



Easter Vigil @ St. Peter Chesaning

HOMILY - EASTER VIGIL IN THE HOLY NIGHT, ST. PETER CHESANING
APRIL 3, 2021

In the early 1970s, a research project at Xerox – the “Alto,” a computer that used the first Graphical User Interface, or GUI (“gooey”) – introduced the computer icon. The Alto had icons for documents, folders, computers, and people. 

In 1981, Xerox released the “Star” computer into the consumer market. It was not very well received.

Apple Computer, released the “Lisa” computer in 1983, and the “Macintosh” computer in 1984. The latter used icons created by noted artist Susan Kare, who also designed the icons for Windows 3.1 … and the rest is history.


We have just – perhaps for the first time in a long time – read through ALL 7 Old Testament readings, the Epistle reading, and the Gospel for Easter Vigil.

Congratulations!

The readings take us down a path of images, tests, promises, and redemptions … covering somewhere between 5 and 10 thousand years.

We heard first, the creation account from Genesis. God creates in pairs:

Heavens and Earth,

(Waters) Above and Below, and

Land and Sea.

He then fills them with 

Sun, Moon, and Stars; 

Flying and Sea creatures; and

Land Animals and Humans. 

Three days to create space, and three days to fill those spaces.

God’s crowning achievement is the creation of humanity. The one and only creation of His that is made in His “image and likeness.”

We then heard of the test of Abraham, sometimes called the “Binding of Isaac.”


In this account: (1) the father has a plan, (2) the son bears the burden, and (3) God provides the sacrifice. Sort of like what we heard yesterday. Although, yesterday, the Father was God, not Abraham; and the son was Jesus Christ, not Isaac.

The first story served as an “image” of the second. 

And … the site of the first story, Mount Moriah, was the eventual site of the Temple of Jerusalem, which was an “image” of Paradise, the Garden of Eden.

We then heard of the Liberation of Israel from Egypt … an “image” of their freedom from sin, and our own freedom from sin and death. 

We heard the back-to-back readings from Isaiah – the Restoration of Israel and the Inclusion of the Gentiles. Then a lyric poem to God’s Wisdom, and the Regeneration of God’s people … a cleansing from sin.

After the Glory to God, and the lighting of the altar candles, we heard St. Paul tell us, in his letter to the Romans, about the effects of Baptism.

And, with the restoration of the Alleluia – for the first time in 40-some days – we heard how the women were “utterly amazed” at the three surprises they beheld: (1) the stone door of the Tomb was rolled away, (2) two angels were waiting to give them a message, and (3) the message of the angels – “Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified … has been raised.”

Images … Restoration, Regeneration, Resurrection.

The image of our first parents in the likeness of God … has been restored. 

Sin no longer has any hold over us. 

We have been “crucified … and died with Christ” … and “death no longer has any power over” us.


God has fulfilled the covenant promises. God has restored us as His beloved Sons and Daughters. 

It looks like we’ve made it … through Lent of 2021 … and have made it to Easter.

Christ has risen! Alleluia, alleluia! Indeed he has risen! Alleluia, alleluia!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Good Friday @ St. Peter, Chesaning

HOMILY - GOOD FRIDAY OF THE LORD'S PASSION, ST. PETER, CHESANING
APRIL 2, 2021

In Anglo-American Common Law, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur infers a duty of care, breach of that duty, and causation from the very nature of an injury.

The Latin phrase res ipsa loquitur literally means “the thing speaks for itself.” 

The first use of res ipsa loquitur appears to be from the Roman statesman Cicero, and it wasn’t until 1865 that it entered the mind of English judge Sir Charles Edward Pollock, a Baron of the Court of the Exchequer ... and the rest is history.


This legal doctrine has entered into many locations touched by English Common Law, besides the US and England, it appears in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, and Hong Kong.

Today is Good Friday. And we have just heard the lengthy reading of the Passion of St. John.


What a mess.

The Chief Priests, the Scribes, and Pharisees were supposed to uphold the Law of Moses. But they wanted Jesus dead. And they were willing to cut a few corners and to stir up a riot in order to get their way.

Pilate, as military governor, was supposed to uphold the Roman Law, keep the peace, and exact strict justice. Yet he was scared. He had a history of upsetting the Jewish people – accidentally desecrating the Temple with images. He threatened a slaughter, and was forced to back down. This earned him an imperial rebuke. Then he raided the Temple treasury to build an aqueduct, and later on did slaughter a group of Jews whom he thought were and uprising. He tried to keep those quiet.

So, here comes another crowd, and it's just one man … if he was that … a man.


The arrest, the scourging, the carrying of the Cross, the crucifixion and death. 

What in the world is going on here?


The thing speaks for itself. 

Hatred. Fear. Violence. Death.

And what about Jesus? 

Does He not take this all on despite His innocence?

He says very little. He doesn’t fight back. He accepts it all calmly and without reservation.


His actions speak for themself.

Love. Courage. Peace. And life.

Of course where the story ends today, we make it up to His death. 

But stay tuned tomorrow night and Sunday. 

Because after three days … He will indeed rise again.




Holy Thursday Mass @ St. Cyril Bannister

HOMILY - EVENING MASS OF THE LORD'S SUPPER
APRIL 1, 2021


The past thirteen months of the Corona Virus have turned our world on its head. Thirteen months ago, we shook hands, hugged, kissed, shared utensils, drank out of the same glass, and … gasp! … even breathed on each other. Imagine that!

Now we live in a world of vaccines, hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes, surgical masks, vitamins, and social distancing. 

It would seem that nothing – anymore – is clean enough.


Today is Holy Thursday. And our Gospel is from the beginning of Chapter 13 of St. John’s Gospel … the washing of the Disciples’ feet.

We hear at first what Our Lord knew: (1) His hour had come, (2) the devil had induced Judas, and (3) God the Father had given everything into Jesus’s power, and that He had come from the God and was returning to God.

We even hear that beautiful line: 

He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.

The word, “end” here means having reached a goal or a purpose.

And after telling us what Jesus “knew,” St. John tells us what Jesus “did.” 

He washes His disciples’ feet. 

Weird.

After His Transfiguration, where a select group of disciples have seen His glory, he now takes on the lowest role – that of a servant or slave. 

Certainly not something one would associate with glory. 

Certainly not an elevated position.

Certainly not what a “master,” “teacher,” or “Lord” would – or should – do.

Jesus’s purpose is to remind the disciples – and to remind us – of humility.


On Palm Sunday, I spoke of the humility of Christ … and the hymn found in the second reading from the second chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. 

though he was in the form of God … 
he emptied himself,
     
taking the form of a slave … 
he humbled himself …

And in this humble role, Jesus proceeds to make His disciples “clean” – the word here means both “clean” as well as “pure” – in a physical sense, in a ritual sense, in an ethical sense – and in a spiritual sense.

And Our Lord calls what He is doing a “model” … an “example” … a “thing to be imitated.

What are we imitating? 

Humility. 

Holiness. 

And in the verses just following what we heard read this evening, our Lord promises “blessedness” … in the Greek, makarios … “Happiness.”

The world tells us to pursue happiness – for its own sake. Yet starting there it is very easy to get lost, and we see that in the world – many people are lost. Because to start there is backwards … it turns the reality up-side-down.

Our Lord teaches us to be humble – as He is humble. He teaches us to be holy – as He is holy. And with that as a foundation … imitating His humility and His holiness … only then can we be truly happy … blessed in His grace, in His mercy, and in His love.

As we approach this altar to receive Him – Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity – Christ Jesus our “master” … our “teacher” … our “Lord and God” – let us do what He has done for us … for one another … to one another … so that we might indeed be blessed in Him.

May our imitation of Christ’s humility lead us to holiness … and ultimately eternal happiness with Him for ever.



Saturday, March 27, 2021

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion @ St. Peter Chesaning / St. Cyril Bannister

HOMILY - PALM SUNDAY OF THE LORD'S PASSION
MARCH  27/28, 2021


Born in London on October 10, 1865 – Venerable Cardinal Rafael María José Pedro Francisco Borja Domingo Gerardo de la Santísima Trinidad Merry del Val y Zulueta, or more simply Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, held many important positions within the Church. 

The son of a Spanish nobleman who was descended from Irish merchants, Merry del Val held doctorates in both Philosophy and Theology as well as a license in Canon Law. He was ordained in 1888, was made a monsignor in 1891, sent as Apostolic Delegate to Canada in 1897, named titular Archbishop of Nicaea in 1900, and served as the secretary of the 1903 conclave that elected Pope St. Pius X. That pope named him Cardinal Secretary of State; while his successor, Benedict XV, appointed him Secretary of the Holy Office. He died during surgery for appendicitis in 1930, and his cause for canonization was opened in 1953.

A prayer, titled The Litany of Humility is often attributed to him. And if he didn’t write it, he most certainly made it more well known. 


At the front of the church are prayer cards, if you’d like to take one home and pray it. I first discovered it in 1993, and found it difficult at first to pray.

Humility is not something that is very well appreciated in modern times. And if you find yourself struggling with it, too, don’t give up. Keep praying.

Today is Palm Sunday. 

And we just heard the lengthy reading of the Passion from St. Mark’s Gospel. 

The Old Testament reading from the Prophet Isaiah is a foreshadowing of Our Lord’s Passion, written roughly 700 years before Christ.

The Epistle reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, is considered to be an ancient Christian hymn … a Creed of sorts … praising the Humility of Jesus Christ, and attempting to recognize the great emptying He experienced in surrendering His Divinity and becoming a mere human.


The word St. Paul uses for “emptied” is the Greek word ἐκένωσεν from the verb κενόω … which implies a total self-emptying, and giving rise to the Theological term “kenosis” is defined as “[t]he voluntary renunciation by Christ of his right to divine privilege in his humble acceptance of human status.”

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen has compared it to a human being becoming a snake, or in a homily to children to becoming a puppy. It's still you on the inside, but you're sort of trapped.

Nonetheless, as we enter into Holy Week 2021, let us reflect upon the great humility of God … first in His incarnation as a fetus at the Annunciation, His birth as an infant at Christmas, and now in His total annihilation at the hands of wicked men in His Passion and Death.


As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ – in the Most Blessed Sacrament … another of His great expressions of His humility … let us pray that we might have a share in His kenosis and divest ourselves of any obstacles that might keep us from living out the fullness of our life in Christ, both here and in eternity.