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RECEIVE! RESPOND! RETURN!

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Pentecost Sunday (Year C) May 19, 2013
RECEIVE! RESPOND! RETURN!
I would like to summarize today’s great feast in three words: received, responded to, and returned in kind.
Pentecost is all about receiving. The Gospel passage is very clear. The Lord says, “receive the Holy Spirit.” Let us go direct to the point. Christian life is such because we are gifted. Christian life is characterized primarily with receiving something that is not ours by our own merit, but by grace.
Today, the so-called birthday of the Church, we focus our sights on being gifted, on being recipients, on being enriched by the same God who created us, the same God who saved us, and the same God who now calls us to return what we received in kind.
The internet world is awash in articles that point to a growing narcissism epidemic. More and more people, young and old alike, arebecoming self-centered and spoiled brats who think they are burgeoning “cewebrities” or “celebutantes.” People’s profiles in facebook now are “p…

HE, GOING AWAY; WE, KEEPING TO HIS WAY!

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Ascension Sunday May 12, 2013
HE, GOING AWAY; WE, KEEPING TO HIS WAY!
From the human viewpoint, Jesus’ death was a failure, a defeat. But God’s viewpoint, not ours, had the final say in the end. He rose from the dead. Today, God puts a definite period to this saga of seeming defeat. He ascends into heaven. In glory. In triumph. In joy. The Gospel of today tells us thus: “They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.” (Lk 24:53)
This image of disciples going their merry, grateful way is a far cry from the two disciples dejected and destined toward their Emmaus of despondency, no more than 40 days before.
I would like to think of the Ascension of the Lord, among other things, as an image of the Lord’s going away … He takes leave of his beloved disciples. Physically, that is, not not much more. He says good-bye to them, but this is one good-bye that is not associated with sadness, and definitely not one that puts a …

PEACE, YES! TROUBLE, NO!

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6th Sunday of Easter Year C May 5, 2013
PEACE, YES! TROUBLE, NO!
A decade ago, I was deep in study once again, somewhere in the US East Coast. It was supposed to be a Catholic institution, but I soon found out that most students were not only not Catholic. Some were even anti-Catholic! One day, there was an imam who came to talk about his religion. Of course, he did talk about it, and in the process also talked against my religion, ever so subtly. I wouldn’t have minded that one, coming as it does from someone like him. But when a “Christian” deridingly asked me whether Catholics were Christians, I was definitely incensed.
I wasn’t in the mood for peace at that moment. I was seething … like I was on so many other occasions in my life when my ego was stepped on, hurt, abused, or otherwise put down.
It is hard to be at peace when being a Catholic nowadays is equated with so many unsavory terms … when being orthodox means you are the object of the derision of so many politically correct, bu…