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Viva Cristo Rey!

By Fr. John Celichowski, OFM Cap.

The life of Blessed Miguel Pro wasn’t long—he was only 36 years old when he died—but it was full. He ministered in his native Mexico during a time of rampant anticlericalism and persecution of the Church. Under the rule of President Plutarco Calles, the government required all priests to register with the state and banned all religious celebrations outside of church buildings.

Since the time of the Caesars, there have been rulers and governments in various places that have sought to suppress the Church and limit its power, and they have often attempted to make themselves gods or demigods. Thankfully, there have always been those who have resisted such idolatry, some to the point of shedding their blood.

Miguel Pro, a young Jesuit priest, was such a person. He placed his faith in Jesus’ warnings and assurances in today’s gospel passage. In the moments before his death by firing squad, he was offered a blindfold. He refused. When photographers sent by the President gathered to take pictures of what they assumed would be his ignominious death, he extended his arms in imitation of Jesus crucified and cried out, “¡Viva Cristo Rey!” or “Long live Christ the King!”

That government in Mexico was eventually driven out.

The life of Bl. Miguel Pro is a testament that the Lord remains with, for, and in those who turn to him. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

 

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

By Fr. John Celichowski, OFM Cap.

In the 18th century, more than 1400 years after the Lateran Basilica was first dedicated, Pope Clement XII had an inscription placed over the entrance. It was, of course, in Latin; and it proclaimed this massive cathedral the “mother and head of all churches of Rome and the world.”

Now under the patronage of St. John the Baptist, the Lateran Basilica continues to serve in that role. As the cathedral church of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, it is a place that every Catholic from anywhere in the world can call home.

We all need places to call home. One of the timeless tasks of any disciple of Jesus is to make and be a church that more and more people can call home. At the same time, the Lord also asks us to make a home for him in our hearts.

Like the temple of Jerusalem in Jesus’ day, our hearts can become corrupted by preoccupations with worldly concerns. The things that impede our mission and communion with God and others need to be driven out. We pray for God’s mercy and the grace we need so that, like the temple in Ezekiel’s vision, the waters of the Spirit can flow through us and into our world.

Good Shepherd

By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.

This past Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Easter, we celebrated “Good Shepherd Sunday.” This is always the case with the 4th Sunday because there is always a Gospel with imagery about Jesus as Shepherd. It is interesting to me that the image of Jesus as Good Shepherd has remained so popular and appealing to people down through the centuries. Most of us have no direct contact with sheep or shepherds, and yet there seems to be some sort of comfort or assurance that people feel with this kind of imagery.

There is of course the famous 23rd Psalm which is a favorite prayer of many people. “The Lord is my shepherd. There is nothing I shall want.” It is a prayer of confidence, especially in difficult times.

In the Sunday Gospel we hear Jesus saying that his sheep hear his voice. They follow him and he gives them eternal life. Who are these sheep? Ourselves, of course. Do you and I hear his voice? The voice, the message, indeed comes to us in many different ways. First of all it comes through the scriptures and then through the traditions of the Church.

But the voice of the Shepherd also comes to us in many ways in our life experiences. It starts with our parents and what they try to teach us as little children and as we grow up. The voice comes to us through other teachers, pastors, coaches, mentors all through life. The voice comes to us whenever anyone tries to do good for us and to help us along the way.

We, in turn, become that voice, as we also reach out in any manner of love, compassion, instruction to other people.  And so, Jesus says “My sheep hear my voice.”  The voice, the message is always there in one way or another. We need to keep listening.

In these days of warfare and news of violence and civil strife, can we hear a voice of sanity, of peace, of justice coming through all the noise? Let us indeed keep listening for that voice of our Shepherd.

Life and Peace

By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.

This past Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Easter, we celebrated “Good Shepherd Sunday.” This is always the case with the 4th Sunday because there is always a Gospel with imagery about Jesus as Shepherd. It is interesting to me that the image of Jesus as Good Shepherd has remained so popular and appealing to people down through the centuries. Most of us have no direct contact with sheep or shepherds, and yet there seems to be some sort of comfort or assurance that people feel with this kind of imagery.

There is of course the famous 23rd Psalm which is a favorite prayer of many people. “The Lord is my shepherd. There is nothing I shall want.” It is a prayer of confidence, especially in difficult times.

In the Sunday Gospel we hear Jesus saying that his sheep hear his voice. They follow him and he gives them eternal life. Who are these sheep? Ourselves, of course. Do you and I hear his voice? The voice, the message, indeed comes to us in many different ways. First of all it comes through the scriptures and then through the traditions of the Church.

But the voice of the Shepherd also comes to us in many ways in our life experiences. It starts with our parents and what they try to teach us as little children and as we grow up. The voice comes to us through other teachers, pastors, coaches, mentors all through life. The voice comes to us whenever anyone tries to do good for us and to help us along the way.

We, in turn, become that voice, as we also reach out in any manner of love, compassion, instruction to other people.  And so, Jesus says “My sheep hear my voice.”  The voice, the message is always there in one way or another. We need to keep listening.

In these days of warfare and news of violence and civil strife, can we hear a voice of sanity, of peace, of justice coming through all the noise? Let us indeed keep listening for that voice of our Shepherd.

The Paschal Mystery

By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.

This past Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Easter, we celebrated “Good Shepherd Sunday.” This is always the case with the 4th Sunday because there is always a Gospel with imagery about Jesus as Shepherd. It is interesting to me that the image of Jesus as Good Shepherd has remained so popular and appealing to people down through the centuries. Most of us have no direct contact with sheep or shepherds, and yet there seems to be some sort of comfort or assurance that people feel with this kind of imagery.

There is of course the famous 23rd Psalm which is a favorite prayer of many people. “The Lord is my shepherd. There is nothing I shall want.” It is a prayer of confidence, especially in difficult times.

In the Sunday Gospel we hear Jesus saying that his sheep hear his voice. They follow him and he gives them eternal life. Who are these sheep? Ourselves, of course. Do you and I hear his voice? The voice, the message, indeed comes to us in many different ways. First of all it comes through the scriptures and then through the traditions of the Church.

But the voice of the Shepherd also comes to us in many ways in our life experiences. It starts with our parents and what they try to teach us as little children and as we grow up. The voice comes to us through other teachers, pastors, coaches, mentors all through life. The voice comes to us whenever anyone tries to do good for us and to help us along the way.

We, in turn, become that voice, as we also reach out in any manner of love, compassion, instruction to other people.  And so, Jesus says “My sheep hear my voice.”  The voice, the message is always there in one way or another. We need to keep listening.

In these days of warfare and news of violence and civil strife, can we hear a voice of sanity, of peace, of justice coming through all the noise? Let us indeed keep listening for that voice of our Shepherd.

A Lonely Figure

By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.

This past Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Easter, we celebrated “Good Shepherd Sunday.” This is always the case with the 4th Sunday because there is always a Gospel with imagery about Jesus as Shepherd. It is interesting to me that the image of Jesus as Good Shepherd has remained so popular and appealing to people down through the centuries. Most of us have no direct contact with sheep or shepherds, and yet there seems to be some sort of comfort or assurance that people feel with this kind of imagery.

There is of course the famous 23rd Psalm which is a favorite prayer of many people. “The Lord is my shepherd. There is nothing I shall want.” It is a prayer of confidence, especially in difficult times.

In the Sunday Gospel we hear Jesus saying that his sheep hear his voice. They follow him and he gives them eternal life. Who are these sheep? Ourselves, of course. Do you and I hear his voice? The voice, the message, indeed comes to us in many different ways. First of all it comes through the scriptures and then through the traditions of the Church.

But the voice of the Shepherd also comes to us in many ways in our life experiences. It starts with our parents and what they try to teach us as little children and as we grow up. The voice comes to us through other teachers, pastors, coaches, mentors all through life. The voice comes to us whenever anyone tries to do good for us and to help us along the way.

We, in turn, become that voice, as we also reach out in any manner of love, compassion, instruction to other people.  And so, Jesus says “My sheep hear my voice.”  The voice, the message is always there in one way or another. We need to keep listening.

In these days of warfare and news of violence and civil strife, can we hear a voice of sanity, of peace, of justice coming through all the noise? Let us indeed keep listening for that voice of our Shepherd.

Praying

By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.

This past Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Easter, we celebrated “Good Shepherd Sunday.” This is always the case with the 4th Sunday because there is always a Gospel with imagery about Jesus as Shepherd. It is interesting to me that the image of Jesus as Good Shepherd has remained so popular and appealing to people down through the centuries. Most of us have no direct contact with sheep or shepherds, and yet there seems to be some sort of comfort or assurance that people feel with this kind of imagery.

There is of course the famous 23rd Psalm which is a favorite prayer of many people. “The Lord is my shepherd. There is nothing I shall want.” It is a prayer of confidence, especially in difficult times.

In the Sunday Gospel we hear Jesus saying that his sheep hear his voice. They follow him and he gives them eternal life. Who are these sheep? Ourselves, of course. Do you and I hear his voice? The voice, the message, indeed comes to us in many different ways. First of all it comes through the scriptures and then through the traditions of the Church.

But the voice of the Shepherd also comes to us in many ways in our life experiences. It starts with our parents and what they try to teach us as little children and as we grow up. The voice comes to us through other teachers, pastors, coaches, mentors all through life. The voice comes to us whenever anyone tries to do good for us and to help us along the way.

We, in turn, become that voice, as we also reach out in any manner of love, compassion, instruction to other people.  And so, Jesus says “My sheep hear my voice.”  The voice, the message is always there in one way or another. We need to keep listening.

In these days of warfare and news of violence and civil strife, can we hear a voice of sanity, of peace, of justice coming through all the noise? Let us indeed keep listening for that voice of our Shepherd.

Love Your Enemies

By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.

On the 7th Sunday of the Year, Series C, we hear one of the more challenging and central teachings of Jesus: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” This is another example of how Jesus challenges our natural human tendencies.

He is, in effect, telling us to be more like our merciful God, who lets the rain fall on the just and the unjust. He is telling us to act out of mercy and certainly not in anger and revenge. Our world still badly needs to learn that lesson.

When I read this passage, I stop to consider if I have any enemies. I am not aware of people who are trying to hurt me in any way. We who can say that are blessed. However, if not enemies, there are people who do things that I don’t like and who can stir anger in me. I disagree with them. They do things which seem wrong and unjust. How would Jesus want me to think and act with regard to them? I cannot agree with their behavior. Perhaps I can try to better understand. And I certainly can pray for them. I can be honest about my own faults.

No matter how hard we try to live the Gospel, we will never be in complete agreement with everyone. There will remain evil in the world. We will stumble ourselves once in a while. We will have to leave much up to the mercy of God.

The strong words of Sunday’s Gospel remain an ideal which we may never fulfill in this life. We keep reading and listening and allowing these words to speak to us and slowly transform our lives.

I Want to See

By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.

The Gospel passage for the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Series B, is about the cure of a blind man, Bartimaeus. Despite his physical blindness, Bartimaeus seems to have more faith, more insight, than the people around him. He calls to Jesus as “Son of David.” That is a title for the Messiah.

When Jesus asks him what he can do for him, Bartimaeus makes that simple and profound request, “Master, I want to see!” He wants to see with his eyes, but further, he wants to see and understand who Jesus is and what their relationship might be. The stories of healing in the Gospel are always about more than the physical cure or healing. They stand for something more and deeper.

And so, we could put ourselves in the place of Bartimaeus. If Jesus were to ask you what he can do for you, right now, what would you ask? We all could say, “Master, I want to see!”  I want to see and understand myself better. I want to understand my relationship with God better. I want to better understand my relationships with other people: my wife, my husband, my children, my parents.  I want to see and understand the world with more compassion and charity and justice.

It is often said that we do not see things as they really are, but that we see things as we are. In other words, we all have our own biases and conditioning and life experiences which color how we see and understand our world. We could ask, again and again, that Jesus would help us to see things more clearly so that we would live more honestly and sincerely in our world.

It is a good prayer to say over and over, “Master, I want to see!”

Stay Awake!

By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.

In the Gospel for Thursday of the 21st Week, Jesus reminds us to “Stay awake, for you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” When we read and hear these words, we perhaps think of death, the time of our exit from this life.  That is a valid understanding and it is something for which we ought to prepare, with as little fear as possible.

But we can also have a wider meaning for those words about being awake. Being awake, staying awake is standard teaching by those who teach prayer and meditation. We are encouraged to be awake to the presence of God in our lives at all times.

We say we believe that God is everywhere and with us in every moment, but it is easy to be distracted and forget about that presence as life hands us its various issues and problems and distractions. And we can’t be expected to walk around mumbling “God is here” all day long.

However, that presence of God is still the reality we are to believe. And so it is good for us to occasionally remind ourselves that we are indeed to be awake to that divine presence in everything we do. There is the phrase, “the sacrament of the present moment,” which has been a part of our spiritual tradition for a long time.

The people we recognize as saints in the Church were very much aware of that constant presence.  St. Therese of Lisieux had her “Little Way” of relating with God in ordinary things.  Mother Teresa, now Saint Teresa, said we might not do great things, but we can do little things with love.  I’m sure Blessed Solanus was very much aware of that constant presence with his regular focus on gratitude for all things. We could go on and on.

And so, when we hear Jesus say “Stay awake,” it doesn’t have to be a scary thing, but can be a hopeful and encouraging reminder that indeed, God is present to us in every moment. It is up to us to find ways in which to stay awake as we wash the dishes, do the laundry, work in our office or factory, or whatever we do. This may be so simple that we forget to do it!

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