Saturday, April 23, 2011

A very happy Easter to all!

May the risen Lord extend to you and your families his peace and his blessings.

As we celebrate the feast of new life, I pray that each of us be renewed in our faith and commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ. In him and through him we find our joy and strength.

A warm welcome to those visitors with us today for Mass and to family members home for Easter!

Sincere thanks to all who have helped us observe Holy Week and celebrate Easter. Our parish community is blessed to have so many wonderful members who give of themselves in service. A special word of thanks to the priests who help us. To the altar society, the liturgy committee, all the liturgical ministers, the altar servers, those who participated in and provided support for the dramatization of the Palm Sunday Gospel and the living stations of the cross on Good Friday, the choirs, the Youth Ministry Group, Marin Villa, the Knights of Columbus and all who have helped to prepare and decorate the church for Easter. We are indebted to you!

My thanks also to those who have been generous in their financial support. May God bless you.

— Monsignor Gerald McSorley, 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 20, 2011 (Wednesday of Holy Week)

Transcript of homily recorded on Wednesday, April 20, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

There were actually two disciples called Judas, and the who betrayed the Lord — Judas Iscariot. And every time they talk about the other Judas, the scriptures will say, "Not Iscariot; Judas, not the Iscariot." Judas  Iscariot is a name that we associate with betrayal. That name, standing alone, speaks to us, he's the one who betrayed the Lord.

And we wonder how it is possible for someone to betray Jesus. We wonder how it is possible in our own lives that we have been guilty of betraying our friends as well. We know that we are all capable of this, and some of us have even experienced guilt for our betrayals.

Judas experienced tremendous guilt. From that moment on, when he betrayed Jesus and received the payment of 30 pieces of silver, his life was never at peace again. His betrayal cost him dearly. He made 30 pieces of silver, but he sacrificed so much in return for that. He was haunted for the rest of his days with the guilt and the shame that he had done so to a friend. And in a real sense, Judas not only betrayed Jesus, but he betrayed himself. His days were short; they were numbered after that. He ended up throwing the 30 pieces of silver back into the temple, not wanting them; they meant nothing to him anymore. And then, in his remorse and in his demented state, took his own life. Judas betrayed hunself.

It is a sad day when we betray ourselves and betray our friends. It is a wonderful time in our life when we can go to bed at night with a conscience that is clear, that can rest easily because it doesn't worry about discovery.

Put off that day of betrayal as long as you can. Put it off forever if it's possible. Judas' experience is one that teaches us that there is no amount of money and there is no piece of mind for people who betray. And so, if  Judas had only gone to the Lord and asked for the mercy and the forgiveness that would have been freely given him, but yet he stayed in his sin, and he betrayed himself.

The thief on the cross hanging next to Jesus experienced mercy, "This day you will be with me in paradise." Judas could have heard those words as well, except that his own betrayal of himself would not allow it.

So, as we enter into these last few days of Holy Week, the Triduum beginning tomorrow with Holy Thursday — and we will be re-enter those sacred moments when Christ gave his life so that we might know God's love and divine mercy — let's not make the same mistake and betray ourselves. Let's experience it, and tonight we have the opportunity to know God's mercy and forgiveness in our penance service when we have several priests who will be here tonight to hear our confession. And we can hear those words of Christ given to us through the church, "Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 19, 2011 (Tuesday of Holy Week)

Transcript of homily recorded on Tuesday, April 19, 2011

By Monsignor Gerald McSorley

Yesterday's Gospel focused on an act of love performed by Mary toward Jesus by anointing and washing and drying his feet.

Today's Gospel focuses our attention not on an act of love, but an act of betrayal — two of them, in fact — the betrayal of Judas who had been chosen by Jesus, but yet he turned his back on Jesus and sold him for 30 pieces of silver. And then also, in the Gospel, we find mention made of the future betrayal of Peter. Despite Peter's protestations of his loyalty, Jesus tells him that he's going to betray him, also. And we know that Peter did deny Jesus. But the great difference between the betrayal of Judas and Peter is that Judas went into despair. Instead of turning to Jesus for forgiveness, he went out and killed himself out of despair. On the other hand, Peter was able to come to repentance and be forgiven. And so, Peter went on after Pentecost to be Peter the rock on which Jesus founded his church.

For ourselves, let's hope that we focus always on trying to do acts of love, loving acts towards Jesus and towards others. And we are reminded, of course, that sins are always acts of betrayal — great or small. But we, too, know of God's mercy and forgiveness for our sins, and there's never any reason to despair of God's mercy because God's love and mercy comes to us in such great abudnance in Jesus Christ.

So, especially this week, let's try to find ways to be with Jesus, to focus our attention on him, to do and perform loving acts towards him and towards our brothers and sisters.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 18, 2011 (Monday of Holy Week)

Transcript of homily recorded on Monday, April 18, 2011

By Monsignor Gerald McSorley

The Gospel this morning tells us that Jesus was invited to dinner at the home of Lazarus whom he had just raised from the dead, and his two sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha was preparing the supper, and what was Mary doing? She was sitting at the feet of Jesus and she was rubbing and anointing his feet with perfumed oil, we're told. And it was expensive stuff that she was using. No cheap stuff, it was very expensive. And Judas criticized her for wasting this oil, this money that was used to buy the oil. But Jesus rebuked her and said that she was doing a very loving thing for him.

So, what was Mary doing? She was showing her love for Jesus by sittting at his feet and rubbing and anointing them with oil. And this is a way in which she wanted to show her love for Jesus. So, perhaps her action can prompt us to ask ourselves, How can we show our love for Jesus? What can we do? We can't anoint his feet with perfumed oil, but what can we do to show our love? Well, we can spend some time in prayer with Jesus, talking to him. He would like that. And we can visit him here in church where he stays always with us in the tabernacle. And, above all, when we recieve him in holy communion, we can tell him how much we love him and recieve him with great love and devotion.

So, this morning, when you take holy communion, our whole attention should be focused on Jesus who has come to us and is with us in this wonderful way that Jesus found to come to us in holy communion.

And finally, we need to show our love for Jesus by the way in which we treat one another. That's what Jesus has taught to do. The Gospels tell us how Jesus wants us to love him, especially by showing our love to others. So, when we're kind and concerned and helpful to others, then we are showing Jesus our love by the way in which we treat one another.

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 16, 2011 (Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Saturday, April 16, 2011

By Monsignor Gerald McSorley

We heard some very comforting and beautiful words from God in the first reading. God, speaking through the prophets, said to his people, "I will make my dwelling with you. You will be my people, and I will be your God." You see God wanted to re-establish his relationship with the people, to enter into a new covenant with them so he would be close to them and they would be close to him.

And so God says to all of us that he makes his dwelling place with us and that he is our God and that we are his people.

And in the Gospel passage we are reminded that Jesus is God and that he came to live with us, to teach us, and to die for us, to bring us the gift of salvation. So God, in Jesus Christ, has established a new and wonderful relationship with all of us. Jesus is our savior. He is our God, also. And we belong to him. And he dwells with us.

The end of the Gospel we were told that the people who were there for the big feast day were asking, were looking for, Jesus. So they were looking for Jesus. So the question this morning is, Where do we find Jesus? Where do we find Jesus? Well, Jesus is in our hearts, first of all, because Jesus said, if anyone loves me, my Father will love him and we will come to dwell within that person. So Jesus is in our hearts. So that's the first place that we must look for Jesus.

But where else do we find Jesus? We find Jesus in other people. We find Jesus present in others, especially those who need us, because Jesus said, "I was hungry and you gave me food. I was sick and you came to visit me." So Jesus identifies himself with those in need. And so we need to learn to find Jesus in the people who need us in one way or another.

And people who need a helping hand, people who are sad, we need to go up and maybe put our arms around them and comfort them, and that's where we find Jesus, also.

And where else do we find Jesus? We find Jesus in a very special way. We find Jesus in our hearts, that's right. And we find Jesus in the church, in a very special way, in the tabernacle. You see, God fulfilled his promise when he said, "I will make my dwelling place with you." And he does that especially through Jesus who's present in the Eucharist and in the tabernacle. That's the very special presence of Jesus. Jesus is with us in a very special way in holy communion, and we keep some of the hosts that are consecrated, we keep them in the tabernacle, so Jesus is present. And that's why when we come into church we genuflect to the tabernacle, to Jesus present in the tabernacle.

So, let's always be aware of the many places that we find Jesus. And so when we come across those words, "They were looking for Jesus," let's apply them to ourselves and say, "We, too, are looking for Jesus and we know where to find Jesus."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 15, 2011 (Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Friday, April 15, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

I don't know about you, but sometimes I've imagined that it might have been easier to believe in Jesus had we had the experience him in the flesh like we can see each other. Would it be easier for us to believe in Jesus if he was physically in our presence right now, flesh and blood?

It seems, maybe, it might be. But today's Gospel suggests that it wasn't easy for people to believe in him even when he was right there in their midst, in the flesh. If we would have observed his miracles — his healings and his feeding of the multitudes and his even raising Lazarus from the dead — wouldn't we believe? Well, there were people who were there and saw all that and witnessed. So Jesus appeals to them in the Gospel today. He says, "If you can't believe in me, in my word, then believe in the works that I do. Believe in what you have seen with your own eyes." And it still was not easy for them to believe. And it's not easy sometimes for us to believe, either.

It's fairly easy to talk about faith, but believing in him — really believing in his way of life and what he stands for — that's never been easy. And it's especially not easy in the world in which you and I live, because our culture doesn't support the things that Jesus calls us to believe in: that money is not important; that forgiveness is important; that turning the other cheek is important; that going the second mile is important; that being generous, loving and kind is important. We don't see that getting us ahead in this world. Even going to church, it's kind of counter-cultural, really, to get up and make the effort to do that. It is not necessarily
supported by our culture. So, Jesus understood that.

In today's Gospel reading, he makes a reasonable proposal to people who are having difficulty practicing their faith. If you couldn't accept him as messiah, then Jesus pointed to the works — the things that he had been doing — and said, even though you put no faith in me, put faith in these works. In other words, do not deny what you've seen with your own eyes. Do not snuff out that little light of faith in your mind. At least believe in the works.

Now,  what have we seen with our own eyes that we can believe in? I hope you have experienced in your own lives the power of forgiveness — that you've done something you were ashamed of, that you felt terrible about it, and you experienced release, forgiveness, a second chance, a new opportunity. If you haven't had that experience, I pray that you will. It can change your hearts. That's a reasonable proposal for any of us. Use what little faith we have, how ever small it may be.

One man in the New Testament said one of the most honest things I think I've ever heard a person say. He said, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." Because all of us are a combination of belief and unbelief, and sometimes it seems that the unbelief is wining the battle. But hold om and hold out to what little faith you have, because with God, that faith can grow and mature and become a power in your life.

It is not easy to be a follower of Jesus, and we weren't promised that. It's just that it's the right thing to do. If you want a life of ease and comfort that doesn't make any difference in this world, you can have that. But if you want a life that is exciting, challenging, rewarding — a life that will include suffering and struggle, broken hearts, but at the same time give you a sense of God's presence in your life like you've never experienced before, knowing that what you're doing is right and good and in line with his holy will — then Jesus offers us that way. That way, that truth, that life.

It's not easy. It's not easy to believe in Christ and the way he calls us to live. It never has been. It wasn't easy for the people in his own day. But we can start where we are, with what faith we have, and we will be amazed at where that will take us.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 14, 2011 (Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Thursday, April 14, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

The people listening to Jesus that day were confused because they could not grasp the depth of his word. They were simply living their lives on a physical plane not a spiritual plane.

Most of us are inclined to think of eternal life as something reserved for the other side of the grave. But here in the New Testament, and frequently throughout the New Testament, Jesus speaks of eternal life as a present possession — something we have here and now.

For example, in his first letter, Saint John said, "We know we have passed from death unto life because we love our brothers." Now, note the verb tense John uses: have passed. He's speaking of something that has already happened. John and all those who have followed Christ's principle of love have moved from an experience of physical life here to a quality of life that has eternity stamped on it — a quality of life that not even death can touch.

When Jesus speaks of eternal life he's not talking about quantity, like numbers of days. He's talking about quality of life, quality of this day, this day of life that you and I possess. Because if we believe in eternity — and we do — then we have the opportunity to experience it this day, not reserved for something after we die.

But Jesus would say that the kingdom of God is a present reality; it is among you. Can we live this day with a a sense that what we do this day has eternal significance in God's plan is a part of eternity, because of the quality of our life, not the quantity of our years.

This is what Jesus meant when he said at the beginning of the Gospel, "If one is true to my word, he shall never see death." Obviously, he's not talking here about the avoidance of physical death, because even he did not avoid that. Jesus himself experienced a physical death. He's talking about a quality of life that is so rich, so radiant, so real, that it will last forever. Not even death can destroy it. And you and I possess that. When we here, at this table, receive the bread of eternal life and the cup of our salvation we are acknowledging that we possess eternal life now.

The practical significance of this is evident: it teaches us that we should quit postponing eternal life. We ought to be living it right now, this day. We don't have to wait until we get to heaven. We can bring a little bit of heaven here to earth and into our relationships this day. We can live with an eternal quality starting today.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 13, 2011 (Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Wednesday, April 13, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

I have a little history lesson for you: In 1833 the British parliament abolished slavery in all of the colonies, all the crown colonies. And this decree had a tremendous impact, of course, especially on the island of Jamaica. The slaves on the island of Jamaica were a major portion of their labor force. And as the official day of freedom approached, practically every slave stayed up all night long because they wanted to welcome the first rays of that first day of freedom in their lives. And as the sun came up, the slaves erupted in unrestrained celebration. They were free, and a new song was born. The words of it go this way: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty I am free at last!"

Now, of course, we're familiar with those words because we associate them with Dr. Martin Luther King when he stood at the Lincoln Memorial, and we associate them with the civil rights struggle in this country. They symbolize the deepest longing in every human heart: the desire for freedom. To be fully and finally and genuinely free is the longing of every healthy heart.

And our readings for today, from the Gospel, deals with that desire. Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." The operative word here, the important word here, is truth. The truth will set you free. Freedom will be ours when — and only when — we are willing to link our lives with the truth. I'm going to give you an example.

First of all, we have to face the truth about ourselves. We're human beings, and we have limitations — certain limitations. There's no such thing as absolute freedom for any of us, and it would be silly to believe that. Even self-destructive, we would hurt ourselves and we would hurt other people. A young man under the influence of drugs, LSD, climbs to the top of a building, jumps off, he thinks he can fly like a bird. Well, that's not the truth. That's a falsehood. He deceived himself. He didn't recognize his own limitations. He fell and he died on the sidewalk below. He was dealing with an untruth; he wasn't dealing with truth. People, human beings, no matter what drugs they take can't fly like a bird. Mortal men and woman, all of us, have certain limitations. There are certain things we can't do. We have to face that truth. We have to live within the boundaries and our limitations. If we deny or ignore these boundaries and limitations, we self-destruct or we hurt others.

The other thing is that we have our loyalties. You and I have our value system — the things that we hold to be sacred, and we don't compromise them. And because of our loyalties, and because of our values, we live within certain constraints. We live and behave a certain way. This is the reason why Jesus spoke so forcefully about the importance of choosing the right master. Who is going to be the master of your life? He was much more concerned with who we belong to more than what belongs to us. He was much more concerned with what we belong to than what belongs to us. And believe me, we all serve a master. Who or what that master is will determine the quality, even the quantity, of our days.

If our master is money, and the things that money can buy, it will determine our friends, it will determine how late we work at night, where we live. We will sacrifice it all for that.

If our master is sensuality and sexuality, if it's drugs or alcohol, it will determine the amount of freedom that we experience, and it will limit it.

And so, every one of us belongs to something. Every one of us serves some master. Who that master is determines how much, or how little, freedom you and I enjoy.

So, in the final analysis, there is only one who is the worthy master of lives, and that is, of course, the Christ — Jesus himself. True freedom can only be found nowhere but in him. He says in the Gospel, "If the Son frees you, you will really be free."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 12, 2011 (Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Tuesday, April 12, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

Well, John's Gospel is a little complicated in this particular passage, and I find that the final line, because he spoke this way many came to believe in him, I find the way he speaks in the Gospel kind of confusing; I don't know about you, but I do know this much: the first line he says, "I am going away, you will look for me, but you will die in your sin; where I am you will not come" almost seems to suggest that — and he's addressing this to the Pharisees — there's no salvation for them, that even if they go to Jesus they're going to die in their sin, and we know that that's not true. That everybody who goes to Jesus and says they're sorry receives forgiveness, and it doesn't matter when or who we are, we always find mercy and forgiveness in the Lord.

I think what the Gospel is talking about here — what Jesus is saying to the Pharisees — is that you're missing this opportunity to come to know the love of God that I'm revealing to you. And these opportunities pass. You and I are given opportunities in life and sometimes those opportunities pass and they are no more. Like, for instance, I'm looking at the second grade over here and I'm thinking, you know, if I could back to the second grade there'd be a few things that I would do differently. But I can't go back to the second grade. That opportunity is lost for me. But you second graders, you have the opportunity to have a great second grade. Now, the same applies to adults. You had time with your children at once. You had opportunities to spend time with them. That opportunity — looking around here — seems to have passed for most of us. And now we have the opportunity, perhaps, to be with the grandchildren.

But these opportunities in life come and go, and Jesus is addressing the Pharisees and he's rather stern with them about, look, you're missing the opportunity to know God's presence this day. So I'm thinking, even though the words of the Gospel might seem kind of confusing, that the simple message for me — and I have to keep it simple for me — is that Jesus is saying to me in the Gospel today there are opportunities to know Jesus today. Those opportunities will pass; they will be no more.

Don't sacrifice the opportunity today to come to know Jesus in the events and the circumstances of this day. For this day is the future's past. And we will never have the opportunity to go back and do this day again. And if we believe — and we do — in the resurrection of Christ, and that that is a reality he shares with all of us, that here today we have the opportunity to experience the risen life, that what we do this day has infinite value in God's loving plan.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 11, 2011 (Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Monday, April 11, 2011

By Monsignor Gerald McSorley

Teaching is a very good thing to do, a very noble profession and a great way of helping people by being a teacher. Now, in today's Gospel, Jesus is called a teacher. The Pharisees addressed him as "teacher." Now, he wasn't in a classroom teaching. We're told that he was teaching in the temple area. And what did Jesus teach? Did he teach science and mathematics? Religion. He taught religion. He taught us how to live, taught us how to serve God and to serve one another, how to live our lives as God wants us to live. So Jesus was indeed a teacher. He taught by his words, but he also taught by his example.

And today's Gospel gives us an example of Jesus teaching by the way he treated the woman who was brought before him and accused of being a sinner. The scribes and Pharisees wanted Jesus to condemn her, and Jesus challenged them and said well, yes, you can go and stone her, but let it be the one among you who doesn't have any sin, let that person be the first one to cast or to throw a stone. So there was silence. And one by one they walked away. So Jesus was teaching that they didn't have a right to condemn her.

Jesus was teaching compassion and forgiveness, and that's what he did towards the woman. He did tell her, go and don't sin anymore. So he wasn't saying that doing sinful things is OK. No, he said, I won't condemn you, but do not sin any more.

And that's what Jesus does with all of us, he forgives us. He tells us, you are forgiven, but do not be sinning anymore. So Jesus teaches us in the Gospels to have compassion and forgiveness towards others, and above all,  not to be going around condemning others. Rather, instead we need to look into our own hearts and into our own lives and see what we need to correct there before we start correcting other people.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 9, 2011 (Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Saturday, April 9, 2011

By Monsignor Gerald McSorley

Well, it's a little cold this morning outside, isn't it? Yes, it's chilly, definitely. But there are other ways of being cold besides feeling the cold. Sometimes we say, "That person is a very cold person." So what do we mean when we say that, does it mean they need to put on another sweater? What do we mean when we say someone is a very cold person? It means that they're mean, or at least that they're not very friendly.

So, in today's Gospel we find some people who were not very friendly towards Jesus; they were very cold-hearted towards Jesus. And a big part of the reason was that they had no respect for him because he came from Galilee. And now he was down in Jerusalem — a big city — and the people down there looked down on the people from Galilee. And so they said no prophet — and certainly not the messiah — could possibly come from Galilee.

Now, we find people who look down on others not because they're bad people — often they do not even know what they're like — but people look down on others because of where they come from, or of the racial background, other family or various things, or because they're short, or because they're a little heavier than others, or whatever. People sometimes look down on others.

And so this Gospel reminds us that we shouldn't be looking down and condemning others for these incidental reasons. We should judge a person not by how they look or where they have come from. Sometimes people in Los Angeles look down on people who come from the boondocks — Fresno or Bakersfield or some place. So Jesus in the Gospel tells us to judge others by their actions and by their character.

So it's important at school not be treating others disrespectfully or being mean to others just because the way they look or whatever reasons like that. Jesus teaches us to love others and to treat others well. So we don't want to be like the Pharisees in today's Gospel who condemned Jesus because he came form Galilee and, therefore, he couldn't be any good.

So we ought to listen to the Gospel and take that message today from our Gospel which should tell us that we are to treat others well, be kind, and be considerate to others.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 8, 2011 (Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Friday, April 8, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

I was thinking recently about those workers in Japan who are trying to contain the nuclear disaster at the power plant. I'm thinking, what heroic people these are. This goes beyond what anyone would expect of an employee. To work there is certainly risky business, and they're doing heroic things day in day out exposing themselves to harmful levels of radiation, sacrificing themselves for the well being of others. You can't ask a person to do that who doesn't have a heart that is full of a capacity for love. I can't believe that these people aren't there for any other motivation than for the love of their people, for the love of others.

And I was thinking of that because it occurred to me why would Jesus, in the Gospel today, go down to Jerusalem? They wanted to kill him. This was a dangerous, risky business that he would have involved himself in. A risky business that would have involved sacrificing his own life. He was up in the Judean countryside, and when he heard about the feast in Jerusalem, he decided to travel there — not openly, which meant he probably used the back roads; he tried to stay out of pubic view. But when he got there, there he was in the temple area proclaiming God's truth, putting his life at risk. And why would he do that? And the only answer that occurs to me was because his heart had a capacity to love. He loved Jerusalem. Later on in the same Gospel, we'll hear how he wept for Jerusalem and its inhabitants because he longed that Jerusalem would recognize its role as the city of God, of God's purpose and God's presence. But they wouldn't, and so he put his life at risk because of his love, the love that he had in his heart.

Now, it broke his heart that the people would not recognize God's presence in their lives. And our responsorial psalm, we said together was: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted."

How many of us here know someone who's had a broken heart? ... If we're also honest with ourselves we know that we know people who've had broken hearts because they risked loving. And we know that some of those people are ourselves. Now you and I have had our hearts broken because we've gone out to someone, we've done something that put in a very vulnerable position like the workers at the nuclear power plant, like Jesus entering Jerusalem. Love is a risky business, and we risk breaking and having broken hearts. But this is exactly where God enters our lives. He's close to the brokenhearted. He enters our lives through our brokenness. He enters our lives through our wounds. The opposite would be to be unloving, to not ever take a risk, to not do anything for anyone else, to be nothing but self-serving. And that is a sad place to be.

So, life today presents us with a challenge to take the same kind of risk that Jesus took when he entered Jerusalem. To be willing to love with a capacity that's open to sacrifice, that's open to brokenness. And in that, we will experience the closeness of God.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 7, 2011 (Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Thursday, April 7, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

Today's Gospel is the account of Jesus defending himself before the scribes and the Pharisees. Now, John's Gospel says "Jesus said to the Jews," but this is not all the Jews because some of the Jewish people believed and followed Jesus; the first followers were all Jewish people. But the leadership, the scribes and the Pharisees, those who were in positions of power and influence, they tried constantly to discredit Jesus and to prove him wrong.

When someone has decided that they won't see something, nothing you can do will convince them. Jesus is trying to convince the scribes and the Pharisees that he is the messiah. But their minds and their eyes and their ears shut down and close. The old saying goes, "There's none so blind as the one who will not see." Well, the scribes and the Pharisees had their minds made up about Jesus, and they were determined not to see who he was. They were determined that he was not the messiah, and on that issue, their minds were closed.

And so today's Gospel is Jesus, his defense, his pointing out to them. He simply recited the evidence that was right in front of them, and yet, they still don't get it. He included the testimony and the witness of John the Baptist, the works that Jesus had done, the miracles that he had performed, the healings that had happened, the testimony of the father, and the witness of the scripture. All this accumulated evidence, and yet they were unable, unconvinced, the scribes and the Pharisees. What would it have taken to convince them?

Now to that long list of things, we can add the New Testament. You and I have the New Testament that was written after Jesus' death and resurrection. And on top of the New Testament, we have over 2,000 years of Christian history. Most of us would say that's great evidence, strong enough to convince me; I'm convinced. I believe; we believe him. But do we really? Do we really believe in his way of love, strong enough to put it into practice? Can I turn the other cheek? Do I always repay evil with good? Do I go out and befriend those who are unpopular or lonely? Do I forgive? Do I go the second mile, being generous in my response to other people's needs? And when I don't do these things, do I really believe in Jesus' forgiveness? If so, when was the last time I went to confession?

These are questions that should concern us because, if we say we are convinced, does that conviction make any difference in the way I'm living my life. Are we really convinced that he is the way? If not, how much evidence do we need?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 6, 2011 (Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent Mother of Perpetual Mass Homily for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6, 2011)

Transcript of homily recorded on Wednesday, April 6, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

There's a lot of words in this evening's Gospel and a lot to contemplate, but I want to keep it simple tonight and just focus on the first thing that Jesus said. He said, "My Father is at work until now so I am at work."

Now, that first sentence that Jesus said represents a concept of God. When you think of God we come up with concepts, what God is like. How many times have you and I ever come up with God as a worker, a God who rolls up his sleeves and goes to work each day, whose hands are calloused because his work is difficult and it requires a lot from him?

We are familiar with God who loves. We are familiar with God who is father. And we're familiar with God who is faithful. And we're familiar with God who is forgiving. But how often do we think of God who's at work, at work? Yet, that's what Jesus said. His father set the example; he's a worker, and now Jesus was working right along beside him. The father is at work until now, so I am at work.

For one thing, it should remind us, if we've forgotten, that work is honorable. The work we do is honorable, it's God-like. When you and I roll up our sleeves and go to work and perform some service for others, when our hands get calloused because we're sweeping or digging or building or tearing down, that work has dignity. Sometimes, people think of work as if it were a curse, a drudgery: "Oh, I have to go work; oh, I have to do my homework; oh, I have to go to school." But that's not the case.

Work is honorable because it reflects what God does — God as a worker. Whether we think about it enough or not, think about this: what would life be like if you and I had no work to do? We think about those right now who are unemployed, who would love to go to work, but no work is offered them. Or those who, because of some physical handicap or disability, are unable to work. Or those who don't have an education, have never been offered an education or, when it was offered, refused it and now don't know how to work. Work is not a curse; work is a privilege.

[In] our Gospel today Jesus said, God is a worker. Our reading also reminds us that work is essential. We need to know that it's not enough just to put in 40 hours, it's not just enough to go to school each day, it's just not enough to pick up a paycheck. We need to know that we're doing something worthwhile.

You young ones, you're building your future right now. You're getting skills that will stay with you your whole lifetime. Use this time wisely. Recognize how essential it is the work that you're doing.

Now, that feeling of our work being worthwhile is not so much on what we do as our attitude toward doing it, how we look at it. I don't know if you've ever heard this story, but I came across it again and it speaks of that. It's an old story and it's about three men slaving away, working with a hammer and a chisel on stone, carving stone. And someone came along and asked each of the three men what they were doing. The first answered, "I'm shaping a stone." The second one said, "I'm making 10 dollars an hour." And the third one said, "I am building a cathedral." Now, they were all doing the same work, but one was building a cathedral. One was doing something that was going to give honor and glory to God.

All useful work is, in some sense, the work of God. And whether we're sweeping floors or washing dishes or picking up our toys or cleaning our room or doing our schoolwork or homework, it all depends upon our point of view. When you start out tomorrow morning, say in your hearts the same thing Jesus said in today's Gospel, let each of us start tomorrow morning with the words, "My father is at work, and I am at work as well."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 5, 2011 (Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Tuesday, April 5, 2011

By Monsignor Gerald McSorley

One of the highlights of a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Lourdes in France is to bathe in the water, or otherwise come in contact with, the water that flows in abudnance from the spring. That water began as a trickle in the year 1858 when Blessed Mother told Bernadette to dig with her hands in the soil. That water continues to flow in great abundance, and for many people it has been instrument of healing for many people throughout the years.

Water is a symbol of life, in general. It's for us, of course, a very powerful symbol of the waters of baptism that give us new life in Christ. Water is also prominent in both of our readings here this morning.

In the first reading, we had the vision of Ezequiel: the water flowing from the temple, which was very powerful, became a great river; it brought life to everything it touched. It was so powerful that it turned salt water into fresh water, the symbol, of course, of life flowing and all the blessings flowing from God in great abundance.

In the Gospel passage, again we have water. The pool into which the sick man had been trying for years to get into first unsucessful. But Jesus came along and he didn't need to get into the water; Jesus healed him directly. And Jesus has brought us life, brought us the new life that we receive in baptism. And from Jesus flows life and blessings in great abundance. And we can change the vision of Ezequiel a little bit and say it's not from the temple that the water in abundance flows, it is from the cross of Jesus from Calvary, through Jesus that life-giving water flows and touches all of us.

And so let us reach out to receive that water from our Lord Jesus Christ. Let's remember, as we receive Jesus in holy communion this morning, that he offers us the life-giving waters of eternal life.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 4, 2011 (Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Monday, April 4, 2011

By Monsignor Gerald McSorley

While getting dressed this morning I was listening to the radio and a commercial came on and it had the line, "Let your new life begin." Some of you may be familiar with that commercial. It is a commercial which promotes a product for losing weight.

"Let your new life begin" — that could be the theme that we hear in today's first reading where God, through the prophet Isaiah, says, "Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth. The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind."

The theme of a new beginning is a very popular one, a very frequent one, in the scriptures. God gives and encourages new beginnings. The things of the past can be left behind. Our sins are forgiven, they can be left in the past and we can have a new beginning always in our relationship with God.

The royal official and his son in the Gospel passage, the son who was healed by Jesus, they too had a new life thanks to Jesus, thanks to the miracle that Jesus gave that family by healing the son. A new beginning, a new life.

And during Lent, the church invites us to a new beginning with God in our relationship with God. If there is something that needs to be left behind — left in the past — if there is some darkness in our lives, something we need to let go of, now is the time to do it, now is the time to begin again, to begin anew and allow God to work wonders in our lives, too. And so we can say that God tells us every day that we can have a new beginning with him.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 2, 2011 (Saturday of the Third Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Saturday, April 2, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

I wonder, has anyone here ever dared to prayed like the Pharisee prayed in today's Gospel? To come into this place, where our prayers go up to heaven, and God's grace comes down to strengthen us in our loving commitments, have we ever come in here and boasted about how good we are? I don't know. I don't know. But the Pharisee was that arrogant.

The Pharisee is a classic example of the wrong way to feel right about yourself. Now, hopefully, our relationship with God helps us to feel good about ourselves. We're here today. We're here this moment. We could be doing a lot of other things, but we're here together to support one another and to encourage one another in our faith and to be nourished by the Eucharist so that our relationship with God and with our neighbor and with each other can improve. So, we should feel good about this; this is a good thing for us to be doing. This is good for us, good for our soul. And we should be pleased. But the Pharisee in today's Gospel was a classic example of the wrong way to feel good.

His methods were standard. First, he made a favorable comparison of himself with others. The procedure is quite simple: all you have to do is compare your strong points with someone else's weak points and you can always walk away feeling good about yourself.

The other part of his procedure was to establish a standard of righteousness that we can live up to. For the Pharisee this consisted of a two-fold set of rules. On one side were the sins he didn't commit. On the other side were the religious deeds he did faithfully. The secret is to make this list highly selective. We can all think of some bad things that we don't do, and we can all think of some good things that we do do on a regular basis, and if we allow this two-fold list to become our standard of righteousness we can live up to it every time with little effort and always think well of ourselves. This, of course, is the wrong way to feel right. It's a tragedy, and the tragedy is that it works. We can think of ourselves as better than others when we do what the Pharisee did.

But in the final analysis, Jesus says it was the tax collector, the one who couldn't even raise his eyes to heaven, who came in to the temple — into that place where prayer goes up to God and God's grace comes down to strengthen us. He came in — couldn't even raise his eyes to heaven — bowed his head, beat his breast and said, "God be merciful to me, a sinner." He faced up to his own faults. He didn't compare himself to others. He didn't make up a list of things he did right and a list of things that he avoided and then felt good about himself. He looked at himself the way that God looks at us — we are sinners; we've all done wrong. We've all made mistakes. Even in our generosity to other people have sometimes been misunderstood. And God loves us anyway. He loves sinners. God loves sinners. He does not appreciate the self-righteous. He finds that completely absurd, that anyone could walk in here and boast. He loves sinners. And he not only loves us because we're sinners, he gives his grace so that we can improve ourselves, be better about this thing, learn to be loving, generous and kind to one another.

He loves us where we are, but he never keeps us there, because if we will be honest and admit and have a relationship with God, he'll always take us to a better place. Then we can go home, leave this place of prayer in the sure and certain knowledge that the grace of God will actually set things right in our life.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

New parish administrator for St. Bernard's

The archdiocese this week announced the appointment of Father Perry D. Leiker as administrator of St. Bernard’s. His appointment will be effective July 1 of this year.

Father Leiker is currently completing his second term as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Hawthorne. He was ordained in 1976 and is a native of the Los Angeles. I wish him every blessing and success here.

— Monsignor H. Gerald McSorley,

Friday, April 1, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 1, 2011 (Friday of the Third Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Friday, April 1, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

Well, this is certainly a great day to get together because the Gospel is core to who we are, what we're about, and where we're going.

A scribe came up to ask Jesus, "Tell us what is the greatest of all the Commandments." And Jesus revealed that love of God, neighbor, and self is the core. Love is a triangle. Love is a three-sided affair, if you will. Now, novels and movies are made up of three-way love affairs, but you and I are experienced in that and you and I are called to that.

And the first love that we are called to is love of ourselves. Now, I'm not talking about an egotistical, self-centered kind of love, but you will take you wherever you go. You can walk out of class and go out into the playground. You can walk out of school and go home. You can walk out of your home and go into your neighborhood. You can take a trip across the world, but you will go with you. And unless you like you you'll never be happy, and you'll never be able to give yourself in love to another person because you can't give what you don't have. So unless we love ourselves the way God loves us, then we can never experience love for another.

So, the first love, Jesus says, is to love ourselves, and then to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. And that's a challenge, because sometimes it's not easy to love those around us who are our neighbors. Sometimes it's very, very challenging, and they find it challenging to love us, too. This is where the rubber meets the road, where we have to be challenged to be grow out of ourselves, to become people who are able to love another. Husbands and wives have to do it. They have to listen to opinions that are not their own. Priests have do it with their parishioners. And most of the parishioners are very easy to love, but sometimes not so easy. And they find it difficult to love priests sometimes, too. But we're in this thing together. God has put us on this planet to learn how to live together, and if we don't learn how to live together, we're going to blow it up. There's all kinds of evidence going on right now that says people need to learn to love each other.

And then finally, and ultimately, you and I are called to love God. And one of the reasons that we're here right now is that we're expressing our love for God. We're worshipping God, and we are being grateful to God for what he has done in our lives. But the way we love God is by reflecting the kind of love that God has, and God's love is to love all — even those who are difficult to love. There are kinds of ways to love people, but how does one express one's love for God. And the only real way that I'm able to do that is by loving those whom he loves, and that includes the people we know or will ever meet.

Every act that you do today that is kind, that is merciful, that is gentle, is your expression of loving God. Every time you are patient with somebody who is difficult to like, is your expression of loving God. So true love is a triangle; it has three sides. It involves yourself, your neighbor, and our God.

Daily Lenten inspiration, March 31, 2011 (Thursday of the Third Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Thursday, May 30, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

Of all the crazy and absurd things that Jesus' adversaries accused him of, today's Gospel has to be one of the best. It's perhaps the most absurd charge ever leveled against Jesus.

He had just performed a miracle. He had cast out a mute spirit from a man who had been unable to speak. Now the man spoke plainly. Some people were amazed, but others, for some strange reason, were offended and said, "he is casting out devils by the power of the devil." In other words, they were accusing Jesus of doing a good thing by evil means. He had healed a mute man; they couldn't deny that. That was a good thing; this they could not dispute. But they concluded he had done so through demonic power. His accusers did not know it, but they were actually accusing Jesus of an impossibility.

When devilish circumstances are met with devilish force, nothing is resolved. All it does is set up a vicious cycle of devilish deeds. When two wrongs come together, they never equal a right. Two wrongs never give birth to good. When hatred is met with hatred, it sows the seeds of continued hatred. On the other hand, this cycle will go on until somebody decides to put an end to it. The thing that the critics of Jesus forgot, and that sometimes we can forget, is that we can never reach the right destination by choosing the wrong road. The road that we travel must be on par with the goals that we seek or else we will never get there from here.

So if our aim in life is to accomplish good — to cast out evil — if our aim in life is to leave the world a little bit better place because you and I were here better than we found it, we're going to have to live as Jesus lived. We must learn to turn the other cheek. We must answer harsh words with soft words.

Evil cannot conquer evil. Only good can conquer evil. Never in all of the history of the world have two wrongs ever produced a right.