I apologize that it has been so long since a post! At the end of September I began a new assignment: I was named Administrator of Saint Andrew Church in Johnstown, which geographically is pretty close to where I was previously assigned. It has kept me very busy, and unfortunately I have not devoted time to posting here. Hopefully in 2020 with a few routine adjustments I can do that. I will hopefully post about some of the great things that have been happening at Saint Andrew.
Here is my homily I preached for my Christmas Masses. Have a blessed season of Christmas!
This is my body, this is the chalice of my blood. The word became flesh. God took on flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin and today we celebrate the nativity of Jesus Christ. This entrance of God into our world happens every time Mass is offered. Saint Matthew spells out a long lineage tracing Jesus to both Adam and King David—Jesus is the new Adam who will undo the sin of Adam, and He is the descendant of David whose kingdom will last forever. We would expect a flashy entrance into the world.
Yet it is not that way at all.
He comes in silence, into an obscure village where there is not even a single room left, and His mother gives birth in a cave where animals would find shelter. What a stark contrast to the way we want to go through life: controlling everything and being in the limelight. What a moving fact that God, the creator of everything that is—the mountains, the oceans, the blades of grass, blood vessels, scorpions, bats, bees, trees, stones, the human person—-this God takes on our wounded nature in such a way.
No matter where we are in life we should know that God’s love is so powerful that He does this. His love is hidden in the power of a child. A little infant has great power over a room. This power is not the power of brute force but of love.
This love is so powerful that is moves us to turn away from anything that keeps us from experiencing this love full on. This love is so powerful that it did not cease with the birth in the manger. This love went all the way to the cross for you and for me. This love transforms bread and wine at the altar into the Eucharist—the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ.
The Blessed Mother conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, the man ordained to the priesthood utters the words of consecration and just as silently and just as suddenly the word is made flesh. How humble that He would obey the words of a sinful priest. This makes this priest shudder every time this happens, because I see my own pride and sinfulness contrasted with this faithful and humble love.
Saint Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, a polish bishop who founded the Sister Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, once said “it is not necessary to go to Bethlehem, because you have the same Jesus in the tabernacle, clothed I the sacramental swaddling clothes…If you want to know the greatness of this love, mediate on God’s great acts performed for men, namely the three eternal monuments of love: the manger, the cross and the altar. Stand especially beneath the cross, and look towards the love Crucified. Stand before the Most Blessed Sacrament and mediate on the immolation of the hidden God, the immense sacrifice of self, the entire giving to men with love without limits. Then penetrate into the Heart of Jesus and look at His love.”
On August 18, 1996 a priest had ended Mass in Argentina in the diocese of Buenes Aires. A woman told the priest about a host that had been desecrated in the back of the church. The priest went to place the host in water to dissolve it and placed it in the tabernacle. On the next Monday the priest opened the tabernacle and found a bloody substance in the dish of water. Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio was informed and the host was sent to New York for a scientific study without telling the laboratory about the origin of the substance.
One of these scientists was Dr. Frederic Zugiba, a well-known cardiologist and forensic pathologist. He determined that the analyzed substance was real flesh and blood containing human DNA. Zugiba testified that, “the analyzed material is a fragment of the heart muscle found in the wall of the left ventricle close to the valves. This muscle is responsible for the contraction of the heart. It should be borne in mind that the left cardiac ventricle pumps blood to all parts of the body. The heart muscle is in an inflammatory condition and contains a large number of white blood cells. This indicates that the heart was alive at the time the sample was taken. It is my contention that the heart was alive, since white blood cells die outside a living organism. They require a living organism to sustain them. Thus, their presence indicates that the heart was alive when the sample was taken. What is more, these white blood cells had penetrated the tissue, which further indicates that the heart had been under severe stress, as if the owner had been beaten severely about the chest.”
That’s what happens every time we come to Mass. The word is made flesh and we experience Jesus in His glorified body. What could possibly be more important than this every Sunday of the year? If you are a Catholic but have fallen away from the practice of the Faith, what better time to return to the Lord. If you are not a Catholic, the Church is our Mother with open arms, ready to receive you. The Church is the bride of Christ. Come and speak to a priest about entering the Church. Despite the sinfulness of her members, our Lord remains with us in the Eucharist. Please do remember: we must be careful about receiving our Lord in the Eucharist. Those who are practicing Catholics in the state of grace may receive the Eucharist. All others, we can pray a spiritual communion in our pews. One is never judged for abstaining from holy communion. No matter how wounded or alone you may feel this Christmas, our savior will once again take flesh, veiled in the host and in the chalice, for our sake, because His desire to be with us is that strong. He desires to unite Himself with each one of us, so it is a real call to allow that to happen in our lives—to make whatever life changes we need to make to truly allow Christ to reign in our lives— so that we may enter into the eternal promised land that Our Lord promises to those who eat His flesh and drink his blood (Jn 6).