Posted by FrGamble
Jun 24, 2012

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

I gotta start off by apologizing for not putting together a Father's Day homily I promised the Wiz. I have a deacon who has five kids and thought he would do a great job preaching that weekend. Sorry to disappoint the Wiz who I'm sure is a great and proud papa. anyway here is a slightly abbreviated homily for this weekend:

During the liturgical year we only celebrate three birthdays: The birthday of Jesus aka Christmas, the birthday of Mary, and today the birthday of John the Baptist. It is a pretty big deal to celebrate St. John the Baptist today and that might surprise many of us. This feast even bumps our regularly scheduled Sunday out of the way. So first of all lets ask ourselves why is St. John the Baptist such a big deal?

We have to remember that he is the forerunner of the Messiah. He is the last prophet who makes ready the way for the Lord, Jesus’ precursor and the one who recognizes Jesus and points Him out for the world to see. In many ways this is our fundamental job as a Christian – to be the forerunner to Jesus. We should be the ones who point out Jesus and help people get ready to experience God’s love and compassion. In short St. John the Baptist is a great example of an evangelizer and that is what we are all called to do as well.

So let’s take a look at St. John the Baptist’s life and find out how we can learn from him to be a great evangelizer. First, let’s start with his name. You can hear the surprise in the Gospel that the family is not going to go with the traditional family name, instead they chose a name that no one seems to have heard before – “John is his name.” John means, “God has graced you!” The first hurdle we have to get over if we are to be an evangelizer is that we don’t think it is our job or we don’t think we can do it. That is when we should remember John – God has graced you and given you what you need to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. In fact he formed you in the womb and uniquely made you for that specific purpose, you can contribute something no one else can in God’s plan of salvation. In fact God is depending on you. No matter how old, no matter what your vocation or occupation, you are called to bring Jesus into the world and into other people’s lives by your words and actions. When you doubt that remember, “God has graced you!”

I’m glad God has indeed graced us because the very first step to be an evangelist like John the Baptist is the hardest. It is to humble ourselves. This is not easy. In our second reading we hear that people remember John saying, “there is one coming after me and I am not worthy to untie the straps of His sandals.” We also remember the baptist’s iconic line, “He (meaning Jesus) must increase, and I must decrease.” To be a good evangelizer you have to be humble and realize that no one really needs to hear the Gospel according to Matt, or Bill, Sue or Stephanie. They need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This means that you have to often ask yourself am I proclaiming a gospel that is more about what I want to hear, what I feel as right, or what I think is the message? To think this way is to make God decrease and I increase. We might seriously wrestle with some of the Church’s moral positions or teachings, but with humility we won’t immediately say such brazen or bold comments like, “the Church is wrong about this” or “this is really what we should teach”. This is dissent and while certainly possible to hold because of your human freedom it is a very serious thing because of our human frailty.

For example I really like cheese, maybe that is the reason I am not decreasing in size like I should, anyway I would love for the moon to be made of cheese. Someone once told me it was and if it was we would never run out, that sounds great. However, NASA tells me it is in fact not made out of cheese. I would have to be filled with lots of hubris to disagree with this institution that has studied the issue and devoted so much time and energy into researching what exactly the moon is made of. I can certainly continue to do so, but without giving NASA’s argument the weight it deserves I end up looking childish. In regards to some of the many important and complex issues facing our world and the Church today we would not be doing ourselves justice and maybe a little foolish if we boldly rejected the Church’s teaching without first humbly recognizing that for thousands of years the smartest men and women the world has know, countless theologians and saints, who have studied and prayed over these questions at a level and depth that I simply could never reach, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit in a Church established by Christ to help us. Is it possible that in our limited understanding, our emotional and intricate history that colors so much of what we can see that we might want to give the benefit of the doubt to the Church? Or at least take very seriously its teachings with the gravitas they deserve based on thousands of years of tradition, prayer, and study? I think if we truly humble ourselves like John the Baptist we will easily see that the first step of an evangelizer is to recognize that I am called to proclaim God’s truth not my own personal feelings.

Let me stop here for a second and again recognize that this is hard. There is no doubt many of us may have serious and intelligent difficulties with the Church’s teachings especially in the ways they are often misinterpreted in sound bites we hear all around us. Can I suggest a first step? You have a fairly friendly pastor, come talk to me! I might not have all the answers but together we can respect the Church and seriously look at what it has to say which can lead us only to a better understanding.

May the Church be renewed on this great feast of the birthday of St. John the Baptist and may we find the courage to renew our commitment to the new evangelization. An evangelization whose hallmark is every single Christian taking seriously their commitment to spread the good news through their humility and recognition of God’s eternal truths over the passing fads and personal feelings of the world.


EvenBob Jun 24, 2012

In order for us to love something, it has to have lovable

qualities. Whats lovable about god? Don't say he's lovable

because he created us. Thats like saying John Rockefeller

was lovable because he founded the University of Chicago.

FrGamble Jun 25, 2012

Bob, that's a little like asking what's lovable about your adorable grandaughter? To try to break it down into qualities would first of all be too long a list and secondly imply that my love would be conditional only on those qualities. Your love is not only because someone is cute but it is grounded in a relationship. My love of God is grounded in a relationship of unconditional love that I feel from my heavenly father or in this case let's just say grandfather.

Posted by FrGamble
Jun 10, 2012

Corpus Christi Homily

Corpus Christi 2012

Today on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ it is appropriate to reflect upon the ways Jesus Christ is present to us. Christ is indeed present in many ways, however today we focus on the unique way in which we can say He is really and truly present. In fact we as Catholics try to reserve the phrase, “Real Presence” to only describe the way Christ is present in the Eucharist. This is not to say the other presences of Christ are not real or true, but that the Eucharist is Christ’s complete presence in a way different than all the rest.

For example in the Holy Mass the Church teaches that Christ is present in four ways. First of all Christ is present in all of us. Christ is present in the community of believers that we rightly call ourselves the "Body of Christ". Christ is also present in the presider at liturgy who takes the role of Christ, the head of the body. Christ is clearly present in the Scriptures proclaimed and reflected upon. However we rightly say that the real presence of Christ is found in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. What does this phrase “real presence” mean and why do we reserve it for the Eucharist alone? To help us understand lets look at some common misunderstandings about how Christ is present.

Some people will say that Christ is physically present in the Eucharist. This is true but is woefully incomplete. I remember a few years ago I was celebrating a baptism here and in the third pew was a family member who had headphones on and was actually watching some football game on a little TV he had brought with him. Yes it was rude, but when challenged he could say, “What are you complaining about I was physically present.” Yes his body and blood were sitting in the pew but he was definitely NOT present. You see we are more than our flesh and blood, we are also made up of a soul, a mind, intellect, our will and strength – all of this needs to be there if we are to be truly present. This is the mistake of Van Gough isn’t it? Remember he cut off his ear to impress his lover. That is just gross. Maybe he meant to say I’m willing to give myself totally to you, but to express it he gives her a piece of himself?!? Jesus is not giving you a piece of himself, that would be kind of gross and not be a complete gift of self. We are more than our ears, hair, or fingernails! Jesus will not give Himself to us incompletely that is why we actually say that the Eucharist is Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. We should also remember at this time that Jesus after His resurrection has a glorified body. The flesh and blood of Jesus’ earthly presence is transformed into the type of body we will all have one day. A glorified body no longer suffers decay and no longer suffers the limitations of space. This is how and why we profess the Resurrection implicitly every time we celebrate the Eucharist. It is because of Jesus’ glorified body that He can give His complete glorified Body and Blood in every host or chalice.

Now sometimes this type of discussion will lead people to say then that Jesus is spiritually present in the Eucharist. This would be an emphasis on his soul and divinity being present. However again we run into the problem that this is not a complete gift of self. If you invite me to your wedding and I say that "I will be there in spirit" or "spiritually present" - I wouldn’t mark me down for the reception. This emphasis on the spiritual reality of Christ in the Eucharist sometimes leads to the heresy of people saying the Eucharist is just a symbol of Christ’s presence. Jesus Christ does not ever just give a part of Himself, He can’t love halfway. The Eucharist is the miraculous gift of Christ continuing to give Himself to us completely as he did in Bethlehem and on Mt. Calvary and now on this altar and soon in your hearts.

This all came home to me at our priesthood ordination this Saturday. We ordained seven men to the priesthood. Four for our Archdiocese and three for the special Anglican Ordinariate you may have heard about for those who are converting from Anglican or Episcopalian denominations and want to continue their style of worship. When a soon to be ordained priest’s name is called he stands and says, “Present!” Then he walks up to the bishop, turn’s and faces him, and is questioned to see how truly present he is. After the vows are completed with the words, “I do, with the help of God” the ordinandi prostate themselves on the floor of the Cathedral. They die to themselves and the world truly and really giving themselves completely to Christ, not just physically and not just spiritually, but in a Real and True way.

Today as you receive the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist I think we should ask ourselves are we really present to Jesus? Are we just here with our Body and Blood sitting on a pew but not truly spiritually present? Are we here spiritually, but unwilling to act on what we believe and put our faith into practice with our bodies? Christ is Really, Truly, and Completely present to you today. Are you really, truly, and completely present to Christ?


odiousgambit Jun 10, 2012

Thanks as always Padre. I'll have to ponder the lesson.

Can these ex-Protestants, the ones married, stay married? Well, the answer is "of course", but how does that go over?

If single, do they have to vow to stay single?

FrGamble Jun 10, 2012

The fact that two of the seven are married and obviously continue to be married goes over surprisingly well. I think their wives are very much part of the formation process so they know exactly what their husbands are getting into. I also have heard that the wives have complete veto power, meaning that if they say no to the ordination it doesn't happen. It is also understood that if for any reason the man becomes single again he will remain in that state for the rest of his life.

Anyone who is single at the time of Ordination does indeed make a promise to be celibate for their whole lives.

buzzpaff Jun 11, 2012

" It is also understood that if for any reason the man becomes single again he will remain in that state for the rest of his life."

Talk about an unhappy widower !!

Posted by FrGamble
May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Homily

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Mother’s Day 2012
Acts 10:25-48; 1Jn 4:7-10; John 15:9-17

This homily will be in outline form, which is usually only what I use to preach from anyway.

1. Jesus is preparing His disciples and us for the Ascension, which we will celebrate next weekend.
A. Last week – vine and the branches, this week – remain in me and I in you
B. images to remind us that even though Jesus has returned to the Father in Heaven we are and always be connected to Him.
C. We are connected to Him by following His commandments and living like he did in the world.

2. So I was asking the kids at the school this week, what do we do to stay connected to Jesus and live like Him as His disciples?
A. The first little girl said, "We can sacrifice our lives for others." I almost didn't ask any more questions, I mean that is knocking it out of the park like Josh Hamilton. However, the other predictable and good responses did come: preach, teach, serve the poor and needy, even one little boy said "Do miracles"
B. All of these are good answers, but I was looking for something that was at the heart of Jesus Christ, what was Christ's fundamental attitude, a value He possessed from the womb to the tomb, what was at the core of who Jesus was?
C. The answer I think that sums up everything about Jesus and the hallmark of who Jesus is one simple fact: He loved His momma!

3. Jesus was a momma's boy and I think His disciples should all be momma's boys and girls as well. What does this mean?
A. We are willing to be obedient and humble
i. we recognize that our lives our contingent on someone else and ultimately upon God, we did not control when we came into the world nor when we leave the world.
B. When we speak about mother's we are speaking in code about the type of love the perfect mother would exemplify
i. Jesus in the Gospel says, "love one another as I love you." This is a profound statement, we are not called to a cheap and easy type of love. Love in the way Jesus loves us is the type of love that is willing to sacrifice for another, willing to suffer pain for another, willing to literally or figuratively give you body and blood to another, a willingness to put the other first and myself second.
ii. Doesn't this type of love describe a mother's love? a mother had to suffer for us to have life, a mother literally gave us part of her body and blood that make up our own bodies, a mother puts her child before everything else and continues to nourish and raise the child often putting herself a distant second.
C. All of this means that as disciples of Jesus we honor, revere, celebrate, and rejoice in this special type of love, exemplified in a special way by the Mother of God.

4. What about if our mother is not or was not an example of this love?
A. Remember on the cross Jesus said to John the beloved disciple, "Behold your mother!" This is Christ giving to him and all of His disciples the perfect example of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God. She is the mother for us all, because through baptism we are all made children of God.
i. Sometimes other Christians will give us a hard time for giving flowers to Mary this month, or by asking for her help, guidance, or intercession, some Christians even worry that we have images of Mary and statues of her. Well we are doing absolutely nothing that Jesus Himself did not do. He loved his momma always, not only because of the fourth commandment, but because she was so special. Jesus wants us to honor His mother. We of course do not worship Mary or treat her like God, but we do honor her. By the way Mary, like any good mother will always point us to her son, she will always brag about Jesus and help us to know and love her son, like she does.
B. Also remember in this broken world, when not all mother's are perfect, we can celebrate and strive to live the special type of love that Jesus and His momma show us, a type of love exemplified in that first answer given by that little girl, "To give our lives in sacrifice for others". If we do that we will always stay connected to Jesus, remain in Him, and show the world the Good News of Jesus Christ and we will be loving our momma!


Ayecarumba May 14, 2012

Thanks for this Father Gamble. It seems a challenge for many Catholics to know where to draw the line between worshiping and honoring Mary. Based on votive count, I'd say she runs neck and neck with Jesus alot of the time.

I am curious what your take is on the impetus for the "Water to Wine" miracle at the wedding feast. Did Jesus perform this miracle only at the urging/nagging of his mother, or would he have done it on his own if she wasn't there?

odiousgambit May 14, 2012

Thanks, Padre.

Jesus had a "Father" thing too, that's for sure, but nice to be reminded of this loving his mother, on Mother's Day weekend.

Wizard May 15, 2012

Hi Father. It is nice to see your homilies back on the site. However, as someone with more of a Protestant background, I can't let your position on Mary go unchallenged. You said, for example, " Jesus wants us to honor His mother." Where do you that that? I would point out that Jesus wanted exactly the opposite. When someone in the crowd tried to try attention away from Jesus' message and onto Mary, Jesus nipped it in the bud.

"As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it. " -- Luke 11:27-28

odiousgambit May 15, 2012

Oh, yes, Michael, that was very worthy of a Protestant! You are so gutsy!

Divinity of Mary is definitely a sticking point with us. It really can't be defended by Scripture IMO, which means, to a Protestant view, it is wrong. I believe the R. Catholic Church considers this to be one of those times a Doctrine has validity outside Scripture, and when they do that it drives Protestants nuts.

I am no longer a 'good enough' Protestant to feel such complete conviction that only the Bible counts. Nonetheless, it tends to be my default position.

I hope we hear a response from Fr. G.

FrGamble May 15, 2012

I just took a quick count and on our Church campus we have one statue of Jesus (not counting crucifixes) and four statues of Mary. I admit that gives the wrong impression. Let me be very clear we honor and respect Mary but we do not worship or believe she is divine or some type of god. Sometimes people go a little overboard in loving their moms, I imagine people can understand that. To understand where the tradition of honoring Mary came from I do think we have to go back to the beginning and look at the Bible.

Ayecrumba reminds us of the wedding feast of Cana. I do think that Jesus did not preform this, His first miracle, only because of Mary's insistence - but I do think it shows us that Jesus listens and obeys His mom. The Wizard reminds us with his quote that the most important thing for any of us is to hear and obey the Word of God. If we do that we will be like Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is the perfect example of a disciple. Finally we can look at John 19:25-27, which asks us to be like the beloved disciple and take Mary into our homes and honor her.

Outside of the biblical quotations there is of course the idea that Jesus followed the fourth commandment and in imitation of Him we do the same not only for our mothers, but His as well. There have been some really interesting theological reflections that further strengthen the ancient reverence due to Mary, such as the idea that we are unified with Christ and reborn in Baptism as a child of God so completely that we can indeed take Mary as our Blessed Mother in the same way we rightfully call God our Heavenly Father. Anyway good questions and I am more than happy to comment on it because I think it is yet another thing about Catholicism most do not understand.

FrGamble May 15, 2012

John 19:25-27: "Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, "Woman, this is your son." Then to the disciple he said, "This is your mother." And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home."

Wizard May 15, 2012

"I just took a quick count and on our Church campus we have one statue of Jesus (not counting crucifixes) and four statues of Mary."

That was classic, Father. I didn't know priests could be so witty. With that, you have earned the last word on Mary, at least from me.

I hope you'll have some kind words to say for father's day, which doesn't get half the respect and attention mother's day gets.

Mosca May 16, 2012

Mrs Mosca kind of goes overboard on the "Mary" thing. It doesn't bother me, though; if it makes her happy, I'm all for it.

scire Jul 04, 2012

The Apostle Paul wrote...."For there is no OTHER name under heaven by which men/women can be saved". Also If I recall correctly Jesus said "no man cometh unto the Father but by me".

It is always a good thing when someone chooses to 'serve' mankind thru kindness and a belief system in a religiousity which I have found if such 'religiousity' is persued in order to find the actual truth of WHAT JESUS WAS REALLY TRYING TO DO .FOR EACH OF US AS INDIVIDUALS by showing mankind how to be as strong as he himself was. (he was able to die the death of the cross). He tried to show us one thing for sure-- that death is nothing to fear.

Jesus said " you will seek me and find me when you search for me with all of your heart". I wonder how many folks today have ever done this. Religion is such a tough swallow to day that many stay on the fringe of the truth (go to services occasionally) and thus stay 'away from' finding what the truth of what Christ was really trying to impart to his diciples and mankind. Also thru a misunderstanding of what "sin" is they just may be compelled to stay in there on the fringe-- sort of way in a fearful-- sort of way --as they may fear life after death.(Hell or something unpleasant like it) They also don't want to spend the time reading the Bible--maybe the catachism (sic) but not the Bible.

Jesus was quite an individual if one thinks of him soley as a man. He was a unique revolutionary for his day. He must have belived that the control the Leaders of his race were imparting towards their fellow Jews was lacking as far as he was concerned. (now I AM NOT SAYING THE JEWISH LEADERS WERE WRONG for their time and place in history. They had their customs that is all --and JESUS saw them as 'wrong'. None of us know what life was like in those times.

Controling one's countrymen in those days was a combination of Roman Law and Jewish tradition. Much like,it seems to me anyway, what exists today in many Arab Nations. Again Jesus was a 'revolutionary' for his time and obviously saw a need for correction (whether right or wrong doesn't matter.) He did in the end thru the wisdom of those who picked up on his unique contribution to mankind (BASED ON HOW THE SCHOLARS OF THAT DAY SAW IT ALL-those who wrote/recorded the gospels some 75-90 years after he died) he did ---establish "his" church.

I want to point out something. Jesus always referred to himself as the 'Son of Man'. When one of his apostles called him the Christ the Son of God. He replied the father has revealed this to you. (i'm paraphrasing)

Jesus understood the complete old testament (OT) and surely honored all of it. He was the fulfillment of the scriptures (OT).

Jesus was trying to show us all how to be 'gods' thru finding ourselves as he found himself thru always listening to his inner voice the "I am that I am" voice that guides us all if we so choose to listen to it. We reach the understanding that the apostle Paul clearly spoke of that --"you have need that no one needs to teach you". In essence the 'Holy Spirit' is the voice that guides us to listen to-- before we act on our own behalf & as well towards others we come in contact with.

The people of Jesus's day were very crude and uneducated --naturally how could they not be . They were in need of understanding as to how to really love and treat others and get forgiveness for their many faults. Jesus was the initial catylyst for many changes.

To follow another such as his Mother Mary or pray to her or pray to the 'saints' (we're all supposed to be saints?? {Paul mentioned the saints in a generic way]---not just those designated by catholic hierachy) is way off the point of Christianity. I suspect a reason many may have left the Catolic Church. I know when I was younger I was confused by all the saints and what was they're significence. I also suspect that at some point in time women had something to do with Mary being prayed too. Or maybe it was set up that way by emporer (sic) Constantine...350 AD... let me know.

It's the Father (voice - the I am)------ Jesus (our identity to the voice)----- the Holy Spirit if you will is the VOICE that all have but have not all recognized .

PS Fr gamble I don't understand why as a man of God you would not put more info in your profile.

If the moderators of this site know you are in fact a Roman Catholic Priest --I don't know it? Unless you put it in profile.

You open yourself up to controversial/different opinions when you go outside of the "sanctuary" of the catholic church. I don't know why a Catholic Priest would choose to do so? May I ask-- do you have permission from the Catholic hierachy to have a blog here?? Or don't you need such? just curious.


If you don't agree with my comments you can certainly have them deleted/pulled..& I won't mind or comment on such.

If you return comment I might go on? I would enjoy.


Posted by FrGamble
Apr 07, 2012

Easter Homily

How are you all doing with the new translation of the Liturgy? I’m finally starting to get used to it. For the longest time I was responding, “and also with…your spirit”. To be honest the hardest part for me as a priest has been the new translation of the prayers; they are more solemn and a little more complicated than they used to be. They also use big words that I can’t pronounce much less spell. Knowing this you would think I would not be surprised by the new translation of the Easter Proclamation or Exultet. However, not too long ago I was thrown the big curve ball and was reminded by our music director that it has all been retranslated.

For those who aren’t familiar the Exultet it is the grand daddy of all liturgical chants. Imagine a seven page, ten minute monster of chant that awaits every priest or deacon that dares celebrate the Easter Vigil. It has destroyed many a vocation with clergy left rolling on the floor in the fetal position sucking their thumbs crying in embarrassment while others roll on the ground in laughter. The Exultet is hauntingly beautiful and is notoriously difficult to sing. I’ve done it the last few years and have barely survived but now with only a few days before Easter I had to learn it anew.

So I picked up the new translation thinking to myself how different could it be. The very first word is changed! The old version says. “Rejoice, heavenly powers!” The new one says, “Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven…” Is this the same song?!? Oh man, am I in trouble.

Since I knew I was going to mess up the chant royally I thought I better at least really pray it and know the meaning behind the new translation, who knew I would end up with my Easter homily. The first thing that struck me is the change in the first word. This change is significant. Exult comes originally from the Latin exsilire, meaning “to leap out or up”. That is pretty cool, we are celebrating the truth that Jesus leapt up and out of the tomb and this fills us with such great joy that we can’t help but jump and hop around like the Easter bunny! I was also super excited to see that in the new translation the Church has added my favorite word, “awesome”. I get ribbed all the time by my brother priests for using this word too much, but I love it, and the fact that it is now part of the Exultet is just, well…awesome!

Of course Exult is also a more literal translation of the Latin word Exultet. Our new translation of the Mass is a much more literal translation of the Latin. For example a few lines down the old version said, “let this Church resound with joy” the new says, “let this holy building shake with joy”. Now let’s not hope for another earthquake, but this is a literal translation. It struck me that our faith is literal. We take Jesus at His word! He takes bread and wine and says, “This is my body” and “This is my blood” and we believe Him. He says to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, and we try to do just that. He shows us that every human life is unimaginably precious so we protect the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. He shows us that God created us male and female and we recognize the beauty of their complementarity. Jesus promises us that we will live forever and we believe that this is true. Many voices in the world today would like us to take our faith more figuratively. They would say that Jesus didn’t really mean the Eucharist was His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity but it was just a nice little meal. They would like us to see that Jesus meant life is sacred only when it is convenient and healthy. That the idea that our gender means something significant and essential to defining who we are is old fashioned. Finally, they might say that God’s promise that we will live forever is to be taken poetically, as a nice sentiment, and not real. To this I say that our faith is not beautiful poetry or wishful thinking, this is the mighty prose of reality! The truth of our faith is as real and as powerful now as it was some 2,000 years ago. Truth is always true, but at times it does need to be retranslated and re-proposed to the culture of today. This task of translating our faith in a way that will attract and change the culture of today is called the New Evangelization!

There is a new line in the Exultet that I think speaks about what this New Evangelization is all about. It says, “with ardent love of mind and heart and with devoted service of our voice to acclaim our God invisible”. The first step of the New Evangelization is to grow in our ardent love of God in mind and heart. This means continue to learn your faith intellectually and to foster a real and deep relationship with Jesus in your heart through prayer. Only once we understand the reasonableness of our faith and have a relationship with God can we employ the service of our voice and our actions to make our invisible God more visible for the people of the world.

You know another weird thing about the new and more literal translation of the Exultet is the couple of times it mentions bees. Yeah, there is a lot of buzz about it. The references come in the chant when we are talking about how the candle was made, by the work of bees and human hands. Bees are pretty amazing. There are no lazy bees in the hive; it is literally humming with energy. Everybody is doing something; from the drones to the Queen everybody is part of the mission of the hive. The New Evangelization hinges on this being the case in every hive or parish Church! I, we, need your help. We can make sweet honey together, but if it is just up to me we are in trouble.

So this Easter, the very first using this new and more literal translation, let us commit ourselves to being part of the New Evangelization. First, take the initiative to study and learn more about your faith. Throughout the month of May we are gathering every Thursday at 7 pm to answer the questions that swirl around God’s existence. In the summer we will have a 10 week summer blockbuster event of adult faith formation where we will watch Fr. Barron’s Catholicism series in 3-D (meaning DVD, discussion, and dessert). These are just two examples of a myriad of things going on here at St. Sebastian’s in our new building, which by the way if you remember is called, “The Center for the New Evangelization”!
So for those of you who have never been to the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening, where we welcomed seven new members into the Church last night, here is the first line of the newly translated Exultet for your listening pleasure, please don’t laugh at me too hard – [sing first line] Happy Easter!

Posted by FrGamble
Mar 18, 2012

Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year B

John 3:14-21

To understand our Gospel for today we have to remember back to Moses and the Exodus. Do you remember in the midst of their wanderings the people began to complain and grumble against God and Moses. Not long after that their camp was attacked by some nasty seraph serpents. These poisonous snakes were causing great pain and harm to the group and they couldn't seem to get rid of them. Finally God instructed Moses to make a bronze likeness of the snakes and stick it on a pole and all who looked upon its image would be healed. This is the same image you likely see outside of hospitals and connected to the healing industry the pole with the bronze serpents.

Anyway, it all seems strange at first until we understand what is going on. God is having us confront our sin and its consequences. We are dragging our sin out into the light and forcing ourselves to deal with it. When we are plagued by sin and going through difficulties the worst thing we can do is allow it to dwell in the shadows and hide in the darkness. We need to confront our sin face to face.

Do you remember when you were a kid and just about ready for sleep. You look over in the corner of your room and you see it - the most hideous and scariest monster of all time. I can see its fangs, it's huge heaving mass ready to pounce as soon as I fall asleep. As I cry and scream for mom and dad they burst into the room and what it the first thing they do, turn on the light. All of the sudden that monster turns out to be my bathrobe on the door or my stuffed animal thrown into a corner. Sin and problems seem insurmountable in the darkness but when you turn on the light and really see them they can be overcome. Sin is a lie and it thrives on deceiving you. The evil one will say, "You can't handle this problem, it is too big for you, too overwhelming, where could you even begin to address this problem in your life, there is no hope, give up." Lies, lies, lies, all lies! There is no problem too great and no sin so evil that it cannot with God's help be overcome or forgiven.

So how do you bring these things to the light? A great place to start is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There is no safer place in the world for the sinner than in the confessional. In this great Sacrament of God's love for you the light of Christ will shrivel away any of the guilt and shame you feel and allow you to know you are completely forgiven. You will be set free from those past mistakes and no longer need to carry them around with you. Once you experience the joy of confession you will realize there is no need to be ashamed and fearful of our problems and mistakes. Outside of the regular practice of Reconciliation, we need to have people in our lives who we can talk to about our struggles. Someone like God who will love us unconditionally, will not judge us or even try to always solve our problems. Counseling is a wonderful gift we can give ourselves. Honesty with your husband or wife is a great blessing. True friendships that go deeper than the surface; all of these are precious gifts and ways in which we can drag our sins out into the light, laugh at their weakness, be encouraged to not sin again, and inspired to be better.

Sometime soon spend a little time looking at a Crucifix. In the Gospel Jesus says, "...the Son of Man must be lifted up..." This is the cross when Jesus is lifted up. When we look at it, like the chosen people of old, we confront our sins and their consequences. When we gaze upon that awful reality we are at the same time healed. Your sins have already been cancelled and paid for through that greatest of all acts of love. The Crucifix brings them out into the open and at the same time is the way they are healed and forgiven. For our faith does not end at the cross but the power of God leads us to the Resurrection. The Cross of Christ encourages us to be fearless in confronting our sins and reminds us too that our story too does not end there. [Read John 3:16]


AZDuffman Mar 18, 2012

Interesting that is where that image that is used to this day comes from, never knew that one. Though I must ask how this is reconciled with the "no graven images" rule.

FleaStiff Mar 19, 2012

Perhaps the snakes felt the bronze sculpture was ugly and left or perhaps the sculpture served as a Look Out For Snakes sign and reminded those wandering about barefoot to wear snake protectors.

Wizard Mar 19, 2012

Thanks father, I think that was a good lesson that anyone can take something from. Indeed, I also didn't know why there were snakes in medical emblems. One thing that seems to be omitted from a discussion of sin and forgiveness is confessing the sin to the victim. For example, suppose a kid confesses that he lied to his mother. What would be your response in the confessional?

FrGamble Mar 19, 2012

What kid doesn't confess lying to his mother in the confessional? I think my role is to inspire and encourage in the confessional. Once it has been determined the general idea of what was lied about (in order to make sure it is nothing very serious) - it usually is not doing homework, cleaning room, chores, talking to certain friends, etc. I need to gently remind him how important it is to tell the truth and remind him why our parents have rules and responsibilities for us (hint: it is not to torture us). A good pennace may be to give a nice compliment to your mom or to say thank you to your parents. A better example might be the classic kid throwing a rock through a window. Interestingly, while I can and should encourage him to own up to the crime and tell the owner, I cannot make that a condition of his forgiveness if he is truly sorry. I look at it as getting right with God and once that happens through the Sacrament then God will work with him to change his ways and make restituation.