Dear Faith Family,
Today’s Gospel is one of my favorites. When a pregnant Mary encounters Elizabeth, the latter is overjoyed and her son (the unborn John the Baptist) leaps with joy because of the encounter.
At surface level, this is a cute story about family reuniting and celebrating the upcoming birth of the Savior of the World. While it is indeed true (it’s pretty darn cute), it also is a strong callback to the Old Testament. What John the Baptist does, closely resembles how King David would act in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant.
In the book of Exodus, when David would “dance before the LORD with all his might,” the Ark of the Covenant was believed to have contained the living God. Jesus, present in Mary, the New Ark, received a similar reception from John the Baptist. We are also blessed to have Arks scattered around in parishes across the world that hold the living God.
What does this mean for us? While I may not be advocating for a dance session in front of the tabernacle, I do believe that it is vital for us to look at God with a joyous heart. If we truly believe that God opened the gates of heaven for us, how can we not be joyous? If we truly believe that God wants to encounter you, simply because He loves you, how can we not be moved?
Sometimes when we think of the disciples of the New Testament and various saints, we think of solemn people who kept their emotions in check. People that were beyond human inclination and had a hyper fixation on God. The reality is, these holy men and women were joyous, first and foremost, even in the face of fear and persecution. The joy that God brings truly can overcome all things.
Our faith is quite unique. We have a God who was willing to become man, just to be with us. I truly believe a proper response to this love, is joy. This obviously may look different for each person, but I know it’s a common denominator for all those who pursue the living God.
If you struggle with understanding the joy that God brings, I invite you to spend more time with Him. Add more intentional time to pray and listen to God.
Allow yourself to be immersed more at Mass (for those with kids, Little Church is pretty awesome). And allow yourself to be a little Ark when you receive Communion.
Youth and Young Adult Minister
Our home, our parish, flourishes as much as it does because of the many people who very quietly do all manner of activities, with big hearts and an attitude of genuine service. I am hard pressed to think of any couple who have done more, for as a long a time (at least within my assignment as pastor) as have Pam and Neil Kingsley.
When I arrive to vest for my weekday Masses at 7:30 am, Pam is already on our beautiful campus and has unlocked the church doors, greeted the weekday sacristans, made the day’s fresh coffee for the staff’s many caffeine devotees, and begun her work in the office. She works patiently and quietly for a very long day, carefully managing donations, accounts and bills. In this interval without a parish business manager I have shared some of those responsibilities with her, and been blessed by her willingness. People who enjoy her good company, her kindness and her very good will frequently stop by and spend time with her. She ends up staying long beyond eight hours because, she says, that she enjoys the interruptions, and wants them to continue, while also working a full day. She does at least that much.
Her husband, Neil, one of our parish deacons, works for the parish overseeing all the maintenance and grounds, managing almost twelve acres, with its gardens, parking lots and some $30 million dollars’ worth of buildings. I have learned that there is no such thing as “normal upkeep” for our parish plant. Predicting when plumbing is going to head south, or sound systems fail, is not a precise science. When a sprinkler fails in a spectacular way (always in the middle of the night, it seems) the local water company contacts Neil. When the security alarm sounds (because the absent-minded pastor forgets to turn it off before going into his office), Neil fields the call from the security company whether it’s a workday or not. At any given point, there is the work that Neil intended to do, along with the crises that spring up organically because there are gremlins in the air ducts. Neil’s job encompasses so many tasks that it causes me to wonder how he can hold it all together.
After everything else that Pam and Neil do, their truly special gift for us comes to the fore in their volunteer work with the environment. Has there ever been any parish more blessed with talent than Padre Serra? The freshness of their ideas, responding to guidance from the parish liturgy committee amazes me at the changing of each liturgical season. They go the extra mile taking the environment into each corner of the church, so that everyone can feel a part of it all. Their creativity ensures that each season will have both continuity with the past and something new and uplifting. They work flexibly with new circumstances as they arise. For example, the live-streamed Mass needed a clear view across the church, which means they couldn’t use the tall banner poles for the Easter season – and yet it was still spectacular. They combine this with a lovely ability to gather volunteers to work alongside them on the big projects, and to maintain the plant throughout the season. Everything attest to their goodness and generosity.
Tuesday, August 9
Padre Serra Parish
Monday, August 8
If I remember correctly, my plan to convince my wife went something like this: “I can absolutely justify borrowing the money. That device will meet all my future needs. Just think, all the parts are individually replaceable. I know it’s big, but it’s also extremely fast for a 1985 model.”
Unfortunately, even the best computer ever made was never updated as I had planned. Five years later and every five years thereafter, we purchased a new laptop that outpaced, outlasted and surpassed even what I thought was the most impressive of all systems at the time.
Most of us can substitute some material possession in this story that over time becomes less appealing. We buy the next ‘one thing’ we believe will provide the answer, but it does not. Whether bigger, faster, newer, or for some other reason, we are continually seeking more. A reflection on Ecclesiastes might help us find what we really need.
“Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity.” The book begins and ends with these powerful words. The phrase itself conjures images of the superficial, the meaningless, or futile. The author leaves little to the imagination.
There’s nothing wrong with liking our belongings or appreciating something new. Even so, our material possessions cannot take the place of our call towards greater holiness. We do, however, need a reminder from time to time. Fortunately, there are some strategies we can implement to anchor our focus beyond vanity. Consider the following as lifestyle opportunities:
Our relationship with God is the antidote to vanity. A complete investment in the Lord does not weaken over time. Ours is to choose well and know that even the smallest of steps can make an enormous difference.
Deacon Luc and Diana Papillon
Part of the formation that music and liturgical ministers undergo teaches us to look for the bridge that connects the First Reading at mass to the Gospel. At first glance, this week’s connection eluded me (and, if I’m honest, at several glances beyond the first). But with the help of others wiser than I, a bridge became visible and I’d like to share it with you.
In the First Reading from Genesis, we have Abraham pleading with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction. In a way that reminds me a bit of the tireless negotiating my seven-year-old granddaughter subjects me to, Abraham asks God if he will spare the city if there are fifty righteous people there. But he doesn’t stop there. With occasional respectful phrases (“See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord though I am but dust and ashes!”), Abraham secures the commitment from God that even if there are only forty, only thirty, only twenty, and finally, only ten innocent people there, the city shall be spared.
The Gospel has Jesus’ disciples asking the Lord to teach them to pray. Presumably they can see how prayer grounds every moment of Jesus’ life, and they want to follow their master’s example. In response, Jesus teaches them the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father that we say every Sunday at mass. But he doesn’t stop there. As a good Rabbi, he tells them stories of friends and neighbors, late night disturbance and request, and fathers who care well for their sons. He says, “I tell you, even if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up ... because of his persistence.”
As Christians we are used to the idea that we can come to Jesus with any request, that God encourages and desires intimacy with us like a loving father who dotes on his children. But in Abraham’s time, there was not yet such a conception. The God Abraham bargained with was holy, wholly other, all powerful, mysterious, remote and prone to anger. Yet he was persistent, and God was merciful, ultimately granting Abraham’s request to spare Sodom.
Here is the bridge: Jesus wants us to be persistent in prayer, just as Abraham was. The answer we get may be “yes” or it may be “no.” It may be silence. But we know that God is loving, merciful, just, and powerful, and that he wants us to ask boldly for what we need.
One last thought: It didn’t hurt that what Abraham was asking for was in accord with God’s merciful nature. It doesn’t hurt either if we try to discern what God might want us to ask
for when we aren’t sure.
So in addition to persistent requests, we can
also ask God to reveal to us what God wants. And we can be patient.
On the other hand, the neighbor in the middle of the night
demanding bread was anything but!
Dear Parish Family,
In today’s Gospel, Luke tells us about a time when Jesus was visiting with his friends in Bethany. Most likely Jesus was accompanied by his disciples and perhaps others who also wanted to visit and hear Jesus’ teachings. Martha, the good host, was diligently making sure everything was just right for Jesus and his friends. While Mary made herself comfortable at Jesus’ feet and was eagerly listening.
I often like to imagine myself in the gospels as I hear them and think where I would be. I think I would be like Martha, making sure the house was perfectly clean to receive Jesus. Did everyone have a drink or food, are they comfortable? I take joy in being able to serve, and to be busy, have a purpose. Yet this can be problematic too, because in the desire to be a good host and have everything perfect, I often forget to enjoy the food and miss the opportunity to spend time with the guests. At times I can see myself as Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet. Just listening intently to every word he would say. Being truly present in the moment, taking it all in, not worried about anything. To place myself in this moment reminds me of the moments I get to experience Adoration. To be in God’s presence, allowing myself not to “Do” anything else other than to just “Be Present.”
When Martha complains to Jesus about Mary not helping, Jesus made Martha realize that in any kind of activity and service to God, faith is essential, so that there is no need to worry and be anxious. One must take time to be still and listen to the Word of God with full faith and trust in His wisdom and providence. We see this in Mary’s attentiveness to the words of Jesus, which fill her with the peace that only Jesus can give, freeing her from all worry and anxiety.
When we are tempted to justify ourselves for not having time to pray by saying, “My work is my prayer,” let us remember this: It is all right to pray while we work, but it is not possible to work while we pray. Before working, we have to pray first so that there is guidance, enlightenment, inspiration and strength from God. If we know we will be very busy on that particular day, the more time we need to spend in prayer. Jesus said: “I am the vine, you are the branches; apart from me, you can do nothing.” So, the question is not, work or prayer? The answer is: prayer and work! Prayer will bless the work of our hands and remind us that ALL our work is meant to build God’s kingdom.
With this said we must also take time to rest and relax. God gave us the example, resting on the seventh day of creation. Bethany was the favorite resting place of Jesus with his dear friends Martha, Mary and Lazarus. The fact that Jesus had a favorite resting place and set of friends illustrates that he is like us
He was very busy, but he finds time to relax and enjoy
the company of friends.
Being busy in life is not an excuse to
forego vacations, days off or moments of relaxation.
Our body also needs some rest in order
to function properly and fruitfully.
Faith Formation Minister
Dear friends on the journey,
While scripture was written for a particular time, people and culture, it is no less relevant to us today in our own unique culture and situations. Understanding its original context can clear the field so we can get to the heart of the message and ask the question: What is God trying to tell me in this passage? For the message to have an impact requires meditation and action. So how can we do this?
Ignatian spirituality offers a way for the Holy Spirit to, as Fr. Kevin O’Brien says, “make present a mystery of Jesus’ life in a way that is meaningful for you now.” The spiritual practice of imaginative prayer guides us to immerse ourselves in a gospel story, engaging our senses and imagination so we can identify with the people and connect our own circumstances to theirs.
Today’s gospel of the Good Samaritan is a perfect passage to meditate on using imaginative prayer. The story contains the great commandment, a difficult situation, many characters and timeless messages for us. I invite you to take some time this week to use this spiritual practice, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you to what God is saying just to you right now. I’d like to focus on the characters in the story and offer these questions as guides. Imagine you are the:
Jewish Lawyer: Am I more concerned with the law rather than humanity? Am I more devoted to the letter than the spirit, for instance immigrants seeking a safer life? Do I view situations only in black and white? Can I acknowledge the gray and look at it from another perspective?
Victim: When have I experienced suffering, trauma, or pain – physical, emotional, mentally, sexual, or otherwise? Did I ask for help? Who did help me in those moments? Have I expressed my gratitude to them? How am I better because of another’s kindness?
Priest/Levite: Am I too busy for others? Am I better than others because of my race, ethnicity, neighborhood, economic status? Am I afraid to get involved in a difficult situation, like a car accident, even though it will delay or cost me? Is it possible to move out of my comfort zone to help another?
Samaritan: How has my own experience of suffering shifted my view of others? Am I more empathetic because I know what it’s like to be invisible, misunderstood, or judged? Am I able to see another’s situation without judgment and help even though I may not agree with them?
Innkeeper: Have I ever been “dumped” on? How did I respond when a task or situation, like having to care for a sick relative, was thrust upon me without warning or permission? Did I roll up my sleeves or resist it?
Jesus: When I am in a difficult situation, do I recall a similar situation in scripture and consider his teachings or what he would do in my situation, and did it?
1923 - 2022
Monday, August 8
Padre Serra Parish
Monday, August 8
Dear Faith Family,
“Freedom is love, with no condition.”
This is one of my favorite quotes. I heard it as a teenager and it stuck with me. To me, it is somehow both simple and profound and It has helped me to understand what type of life I want to live. Freedom is vital to the human person and it is through freedom that we are able to be our best selves.
At first glance, the quote may seem like one developed for the American sentiment. Maybe it was given from one our great forefathers in American history? Maybe it’s from someone who signed the Declaration of Independence? Or since this is a bulletin letter, maybe it is a quote from a saint from our vibrant Church history?
Nah, it is a lyric from a ska band I grew up listening to. The song is called Every New Day by Five Iron Frenzy. Yes, a band with a horn section wrote a lyric that shaped the way I view life.
When we hear the concept of freedom, we tend to automatically associate it with American values (which is indeed proper and good). Sometimes though, we fail to realize the necessity of freedom/free will when it comes to our faith. Unconditional love means nothing without the ability to choose to give or receive freely. Our faith is dependent on the concept of freedom. God gave us freewill, because without free will, love does not exist.
Our God is not tyrannical. He does not force us to love. Our God is not a dictator and He does not force us to receive love. Our God though has given us free will to help us to understand Him fully. If our relationship with Him was forced, it would not be a relationship at all. God used His free will to create all things out of love, and He used his freewill to give himself on the cross to show us what love looks like. We use our free will to worship and to be charitable. Worship is not worship without free will. Charity ceases to be when it is forced.
This is one of main reasons why our faith holds so much beauty, none of it is forced. Once we do make the decision to love God and love our neighbor, the beauty of our faith becomes vibrant. We have made the choice to “encounter Jesus and be disciples” with our God given free will. Beauty lies within the choices that we make with our freedom. Hopefully we feel compelled enough to share the beauty of our faith, so others can know.
So freedom truly is love, and it brings about no condition. You will have free will even if you make the wrong choices in life. God gave free will to all sinners and saints. It is our choice to pick the path.
Dear friends on the journey,
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” These are Jesus’ final words in today’s gospel and also known as the Great Commission to his apostles. With the Holy Spirit upon them, the apostles traveled beyond Jerusalem to share the good news of salvation. Like a net gathering fish, they and their followers gathered others, baptizing and teaching them the message of God’s love. In the centuries that followed, women and men of faith have continued to answer the call to go out, baptize and teach, including our patron saint Junipero Serra whose motto is Siempre Adelante, Always Forward.
This weekend we honor the feast day of St. Serra, a Spanish Franciscan priest who preached the good news of salvation along the coast of California in the 18th century. The net of his missionary work has gathered thousands more disciples, extending to the little plot of the vineyard that is now Padre Serra. As we also celebrate our parish anniversary this weekend, we recognize the hundreds of disciples who, since 1988, have been baptized, catechized, evangelized, who have prayed, built strong families, fed the hungry, visited the sick and imprisoned, comforted the bereaved, and witnessed God’s love in their homes and communities. Siempre Adelante!
Last weekend, we announced the June 30 retirement of two disciples, our longtime receptionist and liturgy assistant Jane Riggio and RCIA coordinator Catherine Shadduck. Many years ago they answered the call to go, baptize, and teach, and their nets have overflowed! In preparation for their retirement, they have mentored other disciples to take the nets. Siempre Adelante!
I’m happy to announce that Mary Huebner is taking on the role of liturgy assistant and coordinator of adult initiation. Mary is a long time parishioner and staff member, having coordinated the children’s First Communion program and currently supports the administration department. Children’s initiation will now be coordinated by Jennifer and David Gutierrez. Jennifer is currently our first and second grade coordinator and Dave has been a catechist for many years most recently in children’s initiation. Catherine has also mentored Martha Rodriquez to coordinate adult confirmation. Martha will continue supporting the middle school and high school ministries. Siempre Adelante!
Our new parish receptionist is Lana Chang CSJ, a sister of St. Joseph of Corondolet. Sr. Lana emigrated with her mother from Hong Kong to Los Angeles where she grew up attending Catholic school. As a CSJ, she has been a teacher or principal in the Los Angeles area since 1972.
1935 - 2022
Funeral Liturgy - Cremains
Saturday, August 6, 2022
Padre Serra Parish
I have the suspicion that we aren’t nearly hungry enough to truly appreciate what Jesus is doing for us. Things have changed so very much for us since his day.
In 2020, the USDA calculated that we spent 8.6% of our income, on average, for food. Consider that in 1900, just 120 years earlier, we spent 43% of our income on food. It was harder to produce, even though half of the country worked in agriculture, because mechanization of farms hadn’t happened yet. A horse and a plow to sow, a team of horses and a combine to harvest, home production and yet other horses and wagons to move to market just couldn’t compete for efficiency with our tractors, combines, food factories and trucks. Food preservation also was expensive. Many of our modern methods of lengthening the shelf life, and safeguarding from bacteria and spoilage hadn’t been discovered. Pickling, smoking, drying and salting, all available at the time, were labor intensive and required expensive ingredients.
For most of human history, life was hard and food was expensive. People were shorter, much thin- ner and vulnerable to sickness, and lived shorter lives. We duly credit advances in the medical field for our longer lifespans now. Many medical anthropologists, though, recognize that the greatest positive advance in lifespans was due to readily available and affordable calories.
Yes, the very bane of our modern waistlines, ready access to delectable, sweet or salty, crunchy or creamy calories, relates to our expanded lifespans. For the overwhelming majority of us there simply is no need to be hungry. We are far less likely to starve because of famine, than dieting. I’m not sure we can appreciate how topsy-turvy this is from earlier ages.
What Jesus did for the crowds in today’s Gospel was a stunner for the people involved. It’s amazing enough that a crowd that included 5,000 men all had a bite to eat. It’s something else, altogether, to say that this hungry, emaciated sickly crowd all “ate and were satisfied.”
Our Savior wants to feed us, desires to nourish our spirits with His very Self, given in the form of simple bread, and the celebratory drink of wine. Are we hungry enough to appreciate what He wants to do? And that is before we get to the utter sacredness of God’s outreach to us in this manner. Not only is Holy Communion nourishment. It’s God.
But it all seems too easy, doesn’t it, and perhaps too often? If we spend a great deal in the presence of anything “special,” it can begin to lose its luster. I can remember a scuba trip I went on, where lobster was the main course, I kid you not, every dinner for a week. By day four, I wanted nothing so much as a chicken breast. And here we are, on a daily basis if we want it, able to receive the Creator of the Cosmos.
Frankly, we have to work on keeping the Eucharist in the place it needs to be in our lives. We have the obligation to be alert to the intention and aware of the Eternal Consciousness that accompanies Communion
We have this day every year precisely to remind us of the infinite
value of what Jesus offers us.
Let’s be attentive!
Dear friends on the journey,
Long gone are the days when I get the whole summer off. Adulting has a way of doing that. Yet, I still long for summertime. Weather that calls me to the lake and beach. Longer days for adventuring. The season that opens schedules for more carefree social time, baseball games, fireworks and BBQs, and casual gatherings with friends and family. These days are finally upon us! And don’t we need them more than ever!
No one needs a reminder of the last two years. The pandemic forced us into our homes, physically separating us but we were far from estranged. Our parish never closed. We just gathered in new and creative ways. But we’ve slowly been emerging from a blanket of uncertainty, unknowing, and fear. All Masses are again indoors, kids and teens have been onsite for formation, adult ministries are meeting in person. Future planning finally seems to be possible again so our pastoring team has planned for a normal program year just as it was pre-pandemic. But one area has been amiss and that is our parish family social time.
So, we begin the new program year with Serra Summer, a season of pure fellowship and fun for all ages. After three full years, our parish picnic is back and kicks off the summer activities:
This is what the Lord GOD showed me: a basket of...summer fruit. Amos 8:1
As I think about this weekend’s Solemnity which closes and culminates the Easter Season, I try to imagine what the outpouring of Holy Spirit must have been like for those who experienced it as it’s described in Scripture – whether it’s the Risen Jesus appearing in the locked Upper Room and breathing the Spirit and peace on his disciples, or the rushing wind and tongues of flame described in the Acts of the Apostles, or the sudden ability of Jesus’ disciples to speak and be understood in a multitude of languages. All of those stories seem both thrilling and remote.
If there was ever a time where we needed an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church isn’t now that time? I write this overshadowed by our collective sadness over yet another mass shooting – this time, at an elementary school. How can we joyfully celebrate Pentecost in light of such violence as that, or the war in Ukraine, or any of countless other occasions of violence, hunger, trauma, and grief?
While we may not have experienced it in such a dramatic way as the apostles did, or as the early church did, nevertheless our faith tells us that at our baptism we were given the Holy Spirit – none other than the One who inspired such courage, such wisdom, and such love in the apostles so many years ago. None other than the Spirit that built the church to which we belong today and whose truth we profess.
Often when we celebrate Confirmation, Fr. Patrick tells the newly confirmed (and all of us) that the grace of that sacrament is one that is quietly there for us to draw on when needed – when we need the courage to do the right thing. To stand against bullying and violence. To love the not very lovable, and not very attractive. To care for all of creation. To find the outcasts and bring them back in.
We may feel powerless to change our world, our politics, maybe even ourselves. But we can draw upon the Gifts of the Holy Spirit given to us in baptism and confirmation to be God’s love right where we are, to (as a song in the ’70s said, probably meaning something quite different) “love the one we’re with.” It might not change the world, but, then again, it might. St. Teresa of Calcutta said we are called not to success but to faithfulness. Plant the seed, tend the garden, leave the harvest to God. Here is a list of the gifts given to all of us for the good of all:
Wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, fear of the Lord, and piety.
Let’s support one another in drawing upon the inexhaustible supply of grace given to us by the Holy Spirit.
1921 - 2020
Saturday, July 9
Padre Serra Parish
San Fernando Mission
1942 - 2022
Saturday, July 16
Padre Serra Parish
Not at this time
Dear Parish Family
On this Ascension Sunday, I can’t help but wonder what it must have been like for the apostles to witness Jesus in glory ascend to heaven. What an amazing thing to see with human eyes. As I ponder this, I began to make note of recent moments where I have been blessed to see God’s glory in action. As I look back, I am filled with so much joy and gratitude. We began the month celebrating the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation. The children coming to the table to receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time, and the Holy Spirit descending over the youth and adults as they are anointed and sealed in his spirit. I am made aware of the gift our Lord has given me to allow me to witness and celebrate these spiritual milestones with the children, teens, adults and their families.
This particular year, I was brought full circle, in my ministry as a catechist. One of the young men who was confirmed, reminded me at rehearsal that I had been his catechist for First Communion, which was almost 20 years ago! When he told me his name I remembered him immediately; his group was a special one for me because it was the first time I taught middle schoolers. Which was a bit scary for me at the time because I am so short and most of the kids in the group were taller than me. They were all so great and I think in the end I learned much more from them.
As the Children’s Faith Formation Minister, I don’t always get the opportunity to directly interact in the weekly sessions with the children. This past program year, however, I had the opportunity to lead a multi-grade Spark! Zoom session for our distance learners, and when needed, filled in for a catechist who was out sick, and a team member co-leading Three:Sixteen sessions. Many of these days I ended the afternoon physically exhausted but my spirit was on fire! I am reminded why Jesus said to enter the kingdom of God we must be like little children. They are so open to receive his love and to return it. This experience has reignited my love and vocation of catechist. I am grateful to the CFF team, all the catechists, peer leaders and volunteers who tirelessly give their time and talent. Especially during the last two years with all the challenges of the pandemic, this ministry would not be possible without you.
The more I think about it, I come to the conclusion that there are moments to stare into the sky and witness the Glory of God, yet we are not meant to stay there. We are to be sent into the world to spread the good news. Even Noah left the arc, Abraham left his tent, Moses left his nation and went into the desert, as did all the prophets.
1950 - 2022
Saturday, June 18
Padre Serra Parish
1940 - 2022
Friday, June 3
Padre Serra Parish
1933 - 2022
Funeral Liturgy - Cremains
Wednesday, June 8
Padre Serra Parish
My Dear Parish Family,
During the Easter Season the Second Reading is taken from the Book of Revelation. In today’s verses we hear John describe his vision of “the holy city of [the new] Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.” Many of us have a picture of what heaven might be like. In a commentary I recently read, it was defined this way: “Heaven is being in the presence of God. Nothing else matters.” I began reflecting on moments in my life that approached this definition:
Dear Faith Family,
Any decent human being knows that it is important to care for others. We have heard it so many times, that if we were to treat others in a different way, we would feel guilty about it. We are indeed called to love our neighbor. We are made in God’s image, therefore, we are made to love.
What does it mean to love, though? While it is in our nature to love, sometimes it is difficult to articulate what it actually means to love. Pope Benedict explained the nature of love when he said, “Love is ‘divine,’ because it comes from God and unites us to God.” To give a further explanation, St. Thomas Aquinas states that love is simply to will the good of another. If we take these two quotes from two brilliant people, we can come to the conclusion that God is love, and we have the ability to love because we are made in God’s image.
With all that said, love shows itself in unique ways. I think it is intended to be that way. The idea of loving someone is not a onesizefitsall situation, but rather, it is through our creativity and nature that we show ways to love.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus gives a new commandment, to love one another. He takes it further and explains that this is how people know that you are disciples. Our parish motto is, “Encounter Jesus, Be Disciples.” It’s quite a simple statement, but it is important that this must be driven by love. Without love, discipleship is meaningless and self-serving.
I’m not naïve enough to say that loving others is difficult; our Lord even gives a bigger challenge in scripture when he proclaims that we should love our enemies as well as our neighbor. The Apostles themselves were afraid to go convert the masses before the Holy Spirit descended upon them. It’s difficult, but the endeavor is vastly important.
If you find yourself in a difficult position where it is difficult to love, remember that through God, our discipleship becomes perfect. When we find ourselves unable to love, let us pray to our God to aid us. It is through Him, and Him alone that we are perfect.
Youth and Young Adult Minister
1936 - 2022
Tuesday, May 24
Padre Serra Parish
Dear friends on the journey,
From a young age, our life’s experiences, circumstances, and relationships with people, culture, community, and church influence our images of God. One place in particular beautifully illustrates images of God. In scripture, we see that God uses created beings and inanimate objects to represent God’s self: as creator, lawgiver, judge, architect, protector, fire, tabernacle, temple, king, healer, potter, vine, lord, king, shelter, light, rock, spirit, love, father, and of course, Jesus, God incarnate. In today’s gospel, Jesus likens himself as God the shepherd, ever the protector to a flock who knows his voice and follows in trust. The attributes of the shepherd are much like that of another image, perhaps a lesser-known image of God. So on this Mother’s Day, I reflect on God as Mother.
Do you know the story of the young child who cannot fall asleep for fear of the dark and all the bumps in the night? Several times, she calls out to her mother for comfort. Each time mom’s response is, “Don’t be scared; Jesus is always here with you.” Finally, the daughter says, “But mommy, right now I need Jesus with skin on!”
Today, we celebrate mothers as God with skin. As I remember my own grandmother Doris and think about my mom with her kids and grandkids, I can see all the Godly images and attributes in each of them, especially their unconditional love, patience, and forgiveness. Mothers are creators, and life givers, selfless and generous. They listen, guide, protect, and shelter. And a mother’s voice is known to her children, even in the womb.
Now, as a Nana, I understand how God must feel about us. I feel so much joy just thinking of my two grandsons and granddaughter and, when I am with them, oh, my heart just sings! I would give my life for each one of them. My patience with them and desire to teach them is immeasurable. There is nothing better than simply being in their presence as they nap, read, eat, and play.
They say, “You either are a mother or you had one.” So, today, I invite you to reflect on your own mom, grandma, or maternal figure.
How have they been your God as mother, God with skin for you? If you are a mother, grandmother or maternal figure, how do you image God for your own flock?