Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Los Angeles to host massive Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration

Archbishop Jose Gomez with the
relic of the tilma.
(Credit: Knights of Columbus)
... From Catholic News Agency 

By Kevin J. Jones

Over 100,000 Catholics will gather at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Aug. 5 to celebrate and honor Our Lady of Guadalupe in a city where the image of the Virgin is everywhere.

Andrew Walther, vice president of media and communications for the Knights of Columbus, said the free event is “a celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe and her role as the mother of all Catholics in America.”

The Knights of Columbus are co-sponsoring the Guadalupe Celebration this Sunday with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Walther told CNA on July 31 that Los Angeles is “an incredibly important city” for devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Continue reading: "Los Angeles to host massive Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration ...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Relocation of tilma relic for Aug. 5 Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration

Archbishop José H. Gomez displays
the reliquary during the Our Lady
of Guadalupe Celebration Media
Briefing at the Cathedral of Our
Lady of the Angels on Monday,
July 30, 2012.
(Credit: Rich Villacorta)
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

Dear friends, this morning we removed the relic of the tilma of Saint Juan Diego from its permanent case at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, so that it may be venerated by the thousands of faithful at the Coliseum during the Guadalupe Celebration on Aug. 5.

The people of Los Angeles have a great love and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Guadalupe Celebration on Aug. 5 will be a living testimony of the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe uniting people from all walks of life and from all backgrounds and cultures in celebration of our faith.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

We need to listen carefully to God's Word today. We need to believe that this word is truth and bears fruit. We need to notice the detail and clear proclamation that God gives to us what we need in superabundance.

In both the reading from 2 Kings and the Gospel of John, a large number of people are fed with a small amount to food. In both cases, doubt is expressed that such a small amount of food could satisfy the needs of so many people let alone have any left over. But that is exactly what happens. All are satisfied! Food is left over — an abundance of food! God does what he says he would do!

The psalm response sums up what people of faith have consistently believed and experienced: "The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs." The truth is, however, that God always works at the deepest level of our existence — deep within our spirit. That is where God connects with us. That is where God works his miraculous wonders — deep within us. That is where we discover our strength, our courage, our hope, our faith, our abilities, our gifts. God does it for us there. God "answers all our needs" — there, in that place of spirit.

If we don’t even believe in ourselves (in here), how can we really believe in God (our there)? If we don’t find God in the temple of our own spirit, how will we find him in the temple of stones or bricks out there?

It really isn't a question of if, but rather when, how and where.

And so with faith and hope and trust we proclaim: "The hand of the Lord (indeed) feeds us; he answers all our needs."

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

Friday, July 27, 2012

For the beauty of the earth

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez

The summer months are a time of holiday for many families. Going to the beach, picnics in the park, camping. We find many ways to refresh ourselves and renew our relationships with family and friends through our contact with the beauty of the natural world.

This is the way it should be. Because this is the way we are made. In God’s loving design, there is meant to be an intimate bond of communion that unites us to the world of creation.

In Pope Benedict XVI’s words, there is a divine “covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God — from whom we come and toward whom we are journeying.”

As we know, the human relationship with the environment has become one of the most urgent issues of our time.

This is the reason for our Archdiocesan Creation Sustainability Ministry, which seeks to promote our stewardship and to address environmental issues affecting our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.

"In the Environment" (Our Sunday Visitor, $15), an excellent new collection of his writings and addresses on this issue, Pope Benedict reminds us of the deep connections between environmental issues and broader questions of peace, justice and human rights in our time.

He writes: “Can we remain indifferent before … such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? … Can we remain impassive in the face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources? All these are issues with a profound impact on the exercise of human rights, such as the right to life, food, health and development.”

Catholic social doctrine doesn’t offer technical solutions to any of these issues. But reading this new book, we can see how the church’s wisdom can help our society steer a rational course between the extremes that so often dictate the terms of today’s debates.

The pope rejects what he calls “econocentrism” and the “purely consumerist mentality.” This mentality treats the natural world as only a source of raw materials to be exploited for short-term economic gains or for the selfish lifestyles of powerful groups.

Our holy father proposes a beautiful vision of “profound cultural renewal.” He calls us to live with a greater concern for beauty, truth and communion with others.

“Life is stewardship of the goods received from God,” the pope says. He asks us to create a global economy based on the “logic of sharing” and serving others. In God’s plan, he reminds us, the earth’s goods are meant not only for the few but for everyone.

We need a new sense of “intergenerational solidarity,” according to the pope. Each of us needs to assume a personal duty to “protect God’s creation and to bequeath to future generations a world in which they will be able to live.”

Yet in our legitimate environmental concern, the holy father warns us against “absolutizing nature.”

We can see what he calls “biocentrism” in many of today’s activist groups. In the name of protecting the earth, these activists argue that the human person is no greater than any other living species and that nature is “an untouchable taboo.”

Our holy father reminds us that in God’s loving plan, the human person is of “supreme worth” and “represents all that is most noble in the universe.”

He insists that we not forget the vital link between the ecology of the natural world and “the human ecology.” And he is right: Our society will never respect the sanctity of nature until we create a culture in which the sanctity of the human person is respected.

As Pope Benedict writes: “If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology. ... The book of nature is one and indivisible. It takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others.”

These are profound words to ponder as we pray for one another this week.

Let us ask Mary our Blessed Mother, who bore in her womb the first-born of all creation, to give us a greater sense of this “book of nature.” May we come to find in nature, and in our brothers and sisters, a gift of beauty and a promise from our creator.

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

This weekend we welcome Father Manuel R. Guico from the Philippines who comes to preach to us about the mission work of the church.

Today's readings from scripture couldn't be better if they were hand picked. They speak so warmly about God's care for his people promising that he (God) would send good shepherds. Jesus' own experience of the people was that they were like "sheep without a shepherd," so he began to teach them many things.

Throughout the scriptures God always expresses his concern for his people, especially the poor and vulnerable. His care and love for them is legendary. He even sent prophets to call them to repentance and bring them back to him — back to a life of faith, hope and a life rooted in God.

The church has always had a deep missionary sense lived out in the sending forth of priests, religious, and lay missionaries who have gone to distant lands and people's to proclaim God's love for them. We have always believed that this was yet another expression of God’s love — sending shepherds to care for his flock. The vast majority of the church has not been nor never will be missionaries. Most of us will never go to foreign lands to share the love of God with people we do not know. But there are some very special people in our church who have dedicated their lives as missionaries and today provides an opportunity to listen and respond to them. It is our chance to show both our spiritual and financial support.

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Joint statement of Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila and Bishop James Conley on Aurora, Colorado, shootings

By Archbishop Samuel Aquila 
and Bishop James Conley, 
Archdiocese of Denver

Last night at the Century Movie Theater in Aurora, Colorado, a gunman walked into a full theater and opened fire on scores of moviegoers.  In the largest mass shooting in America in more than five years, 12 people were killed and about 50 were wounded by gunfire.  We are shocked and saddened by this tragedy. Our hearts and prayers go out to those impacted by this evil act.

In the chaos of the moment, people poured from the movie theater into the darkness of the night—the darkness of confusion, of ambiguity, of despair.  We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters cast into that darkness.  They do not stand alone.   As Catholic bishops, we “weep with those who weep.”

But in Aurora, which means “the dawn,” the sun rose this morning.  In a city whose name evokes the light, people of hope know that the darkness may be overcome.

For those who were killed, our hope is the tender mercy of our God.  “Neither death nor life,” reflected St. Paul, “can separate us from the love of God.”  We commend their souls, and their families and friends, to God’s enduring love.

For those who were wounded — physically, emotionally and spiritually — our hope is in their recovery and renewal.  To them we offer our prayers, our ears to listen, and our hearts to love.  The road to recovery may be long, but in hope we are granted the gift of new life.

We hope also for the perpetrator of this terrible crime, and we pray for his conversion. Evil ruled his heart last night. Only Jesus Christ can overcome the darkness of such evil.

We hope that all of us may find the peace which surpasses understanding.

The Archdiocese of Denver stands ready to assist the victims of this tragedy, and our community. Regina Caeli Counseling Services of Catholic Charities will offer counseling over the next few weeks to those who need it.  We look for opportunities to pray with our community. And we continue to work to support families and communities in forming people of peace.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The world awaits holy priests

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

There is no more important work in the church today than calling and forming men for the priesthood.

And more and more I’m convinced that in our vocation and formation work we need to become better students of our dominant American culture.

Men today are trying to hear God’s call and follow it within this culture. And we’re forming them in order to send them out as apostles to this culture.

We all know the many negative tendencies in American culture today. Secularism and moral relativism. A highly sexualized and materialistic outlook. Radical individualism. Family breakdown. Crises in marriage and fatherhood and personal commitment. Religious indifferentism and the “eclipse of God.” More and more people are living as if God does not exist.

We need to understand the impact this culture is having on our people’s faith and their ability to know and believe in Jesus. We need to understand how this culture shapes our efforts to call and form candidates for the priesthood.

The first missionaries to America were serious students of the indigenous cultures they found here. I’m thinking of pioneering priests like Blessed Junípero Serra and Father Eusebio Kino on the Pacific coast and in the American Southwest.

I’m also thinking about Bishop Frederic Baraga who evangelized in the Midwest in the mid-19th century. Recently our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI declared him “venerable,” on the road to sainthood. Venerable Baraga was an amazing missionary priest. He wrote catechisms and prayer books in the Ottawa and Chippewa languages.

These early missionaries studied these cultures in order to transform them. In order to lead people to the encounter with Jesus Christ — through and within these cultures.

In our formation of priests, we have to be thinking the same way.

The future of priestly formation in America will be and must be multi-cultural.

Our seminarians today come from almost every geographical continent, and from many ethnic, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. That means we need to be sensitive to cultural differences in our education and formation programs.

Many of our traditional assumptions about spirituality and prayer were formed over the centuries in a European context. But we are more aware nowadays that cultural backgrounds have a big influence on the way people pray and see the world.

So we want to make sure that we don’t impose in our seminaries a “one size fits all” model of spiritual direction, formation and piety.

But if our formation must be multicultural, it must at the same time also be counter-cultural and inter-cultural.

We need to prepare priests who can counteract our American culture — by their preaching, by their pastoral care, by their style of life.

We need to form priests who can purify and sanctify our culture with the values and vision of the Gospel.

The world will be converted — not by words and programs — but by witnesses.

That’s why the most important part of a priest’s formation will always be his personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ.

We need to do everything we can to promote our seminarians’ growth in intimacy with God. Through lectio divina, the prayerful reading of the sacred Scriptures. Through adoration of the Blessed Eucharist. And above all through their constant conversation with God in prayer.

Blessed Pope John XXIII once told a gathering of seminarians and their teachers: “In view of the mission with which you will be entrusted for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, this is the purpose of your education: forming the mind, sanctifying the will. The world awaits saints: this above all. Before cultured, eloquent, up-to-date priests, there is a need of holy priests who sanctify.”

That’s the whole point. That’s the purpose of everything we do in our vocation and formation efforts. This above all. To make saints.

All of us in the church are here to accompany men on their journey to the priesthood. To work with God’s grace to form their minds and sanctify their wills.

Through our prayers and through our ministries, we are here to make true men of God — in whom the men and women of our time can see Jesus Christ. Men who preach the Gospel with their lives. Men who live the mystery they celebrate at the altar. Who make themselves a total gift. For the love of God and the love of souls. Men who present their bodies as a holy and living sacrifice to God.

Let’s pray for one another this week. And let’s pray for the grace to be better promoters of vocations in our church.

And let’s entrust ourselves to the maternal care and guidance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of priests and the mother of the new evangelization.

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Looking ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker

Have you ever gotten some "good news" that was so good you could not rest until you shared it with everyone in your life who was important to you? So good, you even had to tell the neighbors? So good, you even shared it with people you didn’t like?

Today the prophet Amos makes it quite clear that God has called and sent him to "tell a message" not that he wants to share, but one that he has to share. Among the many things that the letter to the Ephesians has to tell us, one stands out: "In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us."

In the Gospel, Jesus sends the Twelve out to preach repentance. And the message was everything! They were to take nothing with them on the journey except a walking stick — nothing else.

We are disciples of the same message. We are called and sent and anointed to tell the "good news" and to have our eyes fixed on the vision of Jesus. Does the message of Jesus strike a real chord inside us? Are we moved to want to share this good news with others? Does the message grow clearer, stronger, and more power filled each year?

It is, perhaps, not a question of ourselves having good news, but rather, good news having us!

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Vocations are born from a Catholic culture

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

I have a special devotion to the heroic bishop, St. Rafael Guízar Valencia.

He once said: “A bishop can do without the miter, the crosier and even without the cathedral. But he cannot do without the seminary, since the future of his diocese depends on it.”

I often quote these words and I’ve always taken his words seriously in my apostolic ministry. I consider it one of my first duties as your archbishop to call and form men for the priesthood.

We are blessed in Los Angeles to have creative vocation programs and a good seminary. And every year, we are ordaining fine new priests.

But our church continues to grow here in southern California. We need more vocations. We need more laborers for our Lord’s harvest of love and salvation.

Vocations are a gift of God and the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our local church. All of us in the church have a duty to pray for our priests and seminarians and to pray for more vocations. All of us are called to create a culture of vocations — so that more men can hear God’s invitation to the priesthood.

I’ve been thinking and praying a lot about vocations this summer. In this column and next week’s column, I’d like to share some of my reflections.

I’ve found many helpful insights in a document issued last month by the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, “Pastoral Guidelines for Fostering Vocations to Priestly Ministry.”

These new guidelines remind us that promoting vocations is the work of the whole Catholic community. Vocations begin in the Catholic family, the “initial seminary.”

“The family remains the primary community for the transmission of the Christian faith,” according to the new guidelines. “It can be seen everywhere that many priestly vocations are born in families where the example of a Christian life in keeping with its calling and the practice of the evangelical virtues give rise to the desire for complete self-giving.”

For us, that means we need to strengthen the Catholic identity of our families. As the Vatican notes, in our highly secularized culture, even good Catholic parents are often reluctant today to encourage their boys to consider a priestly vocation.

Vocations are born from a Catholic culture. If we are all truly living our Catholic faith and following Jesus, vocations will flourish.

So each of us needs to cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus and a dedication to his Gospel mission. All of us need to live our faith with courage and joy.

Priests have a special duty, as the new guidelines point out: “Often the question of vocations to the priesthood is sparked in boys and young men as a result of the joyful witness of priests. The witness of priests united to Christ, happy in their ministry and united in brotherhood among themselves has a strong vocational appeal for young men.”

The Vatican guidelines suggest that we call our young people — and especially boys and young men — to be comfortable with prayer and silent meditation. We need to teach them to love the Word of God and to participate in the Eucharist reverently and joyfully.

Regularly going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation is also important. This enables young men to grow in self-awareness and in their relationship with God. We should also offer our young men many opportunities to come together and serve their neighbors in charity.

We should make it a priority in the church to give “boys and young men a Christian experience by means of which they can know at firsthand the reality of God himself, in communion with their brothers and in Gospel mission,” the Vatican advises.

“Feeling part of a family of sons and daughters who have the same Father, who loves them immensely, they are called to live as brothers and sisters and, persevering in unity, they place themselves at the service of the new evangelization to proclaim and bear witness to the wonderful truth of the saving love of God.”

This week as we pray for one another, let’s rededicate ourselves to our beautiful duty of fostering priestly vocations. Let’s commit ourselves to pray every day for new men to hear God’s priestly call. Let’s try to make sacrifices and offer special devotions for this intention — such as regular holy hours for vocations.

And let’s call on the Virgin Mary, the mother of priests, to help us all to be open to God’s plan for our lives and the lives of our loved ones — especially our children. Let’s ask her to help us to respond to God’s call as she did — with the “yes” of our whole life.

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Downtown Dog Day Afternoon at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

By Michael J. Arvizu

Dogs of all shapes and sizes, breeds, colors and personalities (along with a few cats) graced the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels plaza on  Thursday, July 11, 2012, for the sixth annual Downtown Dog Day Afternoon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Guadalupe Celebration

The Guadalupe Celebration will take
place on Aug. 5 at the Los Angeles
Memorial Coliseum.
On July 15 and 22 you will be able to sign up for the Guadalupe Celebration event at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Aug. 5, as well as to reserve your seat on the bus departing from our parish on that day.

For more information, call the church office at (323) 255-6142.

Performers include renowned Mexican singer and telenovela star, Pedro Fernández, international singing sensation Filippa Giordano, and Eurovision winner Dana Scallon.

Speakers include Archbishop José H. Gómez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles; Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus; and Monsignor Eduardo Chávez, postulator for the cause for canonization of St. Juan Diego.

The Guadalupe Celebration, cosponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Knights of Columbus, is a special opportunity for the faithful of Southern California to come together and be a powerful witness to their Marian devotion and Catholic faith in their communities. With many performers and keynote speakers, the Guadalupe Celebration promises to be a momentous occasion.

Tickets are required. Doors will open at 12:30 p.m. and the event will begin at 3 p.m. Seating is limited and will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees are encouraged to arrive at the Los Angeles Coliseum between 10 and 11 a.m. for best seating, as traffic may become an issue.

Tickets are limited. Request your free tickets online at www.GuadalupeCelebration.com/tickets.

Text MARY to 57682 to receive mobile alerts. Or sign up for e-mail alerts.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The keys and the sword

By Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

Last week I had the blessing to be in Rome for the Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul. Every year on this feast, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI bestows the pallium on new archbishops from around the world.

Among the 44 new archbishops receiving their pallium were four of my brothers and friends from the United States — Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore and Byzantine Archbishop William C. Skurla of Pittsburgh.

It was a happy day and a beautiful celebration. I prayed specially for all of you, giving thanks to God for this privilege to be your archbishop. It was an emotional time for me, as I recalled my own feelings from just one year ago, when I was among those who knelt before the holy father to receive my own pallium from his hands.

In his homily for this year’s Mass, Pope Benedict offered a beautiful reflection on the fraternal bonds between Peter and Paul and the “mystery and ministry” of the church. He talked about the symbols traditionally related with Peter and Paul — the keys and the sword.

St. Peter’s “keys” are a sign that Jesus gave his church the authority to forgive sins and to open the gates of heaven. These keys are also a sign that by God’s grace and Spirit, the church’s bishops and the pope are able to “bind and loose” — to make decisions on earth that are “valid in the eyes of God,” as our holy father said.

St. Paul is usually represented with a sword. That’s a symbol of how he was martyred. But it’s more than that. The pope talked about how the sword symbolizes the word of God and Paul’s faithfulness to the church’s “mission of evangelization.”

The church is human and divine, an historical and earthly reality. But she is also “a spiritual edifice built upon christ as the cornerstone,” as the pope put it.

So by God’s gift of light and strength, our human capacities and weaknesses can be “transformed through openness to God’s action.” And by God’s action, we who are only human, are made able to cooperate with God’s designs and graces.

Our holy father said beautifully: “The Church is not a community of the perfect, but a community of sinners, obliged to recognize their need for God’s love, their need to be purified through the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ sayings concerning the authority of Peter and the apostles make it clear that God’s power is love, the love that shines forth from Calvary.”

I carried the pope’s beautiful reflections home with me from Rome this week as we celebrated the Fourth of July. I always associate Independence Day with the memorial of Blessed Junípero Serra, the apostle of California, which we celebrate on July 1.

The Christian faith — carried here by missionaries like Blessed Junípero — is the cornerstone of California and our nation. Now more than ever, we need to reclaim that history and heritage! We need to remind our fellow citizens — and we need to remind ourselves — that America’s founders spelled out this nation’s ideals in frankly religious terms.

The Declaration of Independence begins with a statement of biblical faith. That all men and women are created by God and endowed with “inalienable” rights — rights that can’t be denied or taken away. The whole purpose of the government established by our founders was to defend these God-given rights.

The Declaration ends with what amounts to a religious vow: “With firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

We can’t let ourselves become so political or cynical that we no longer feel the truth and power of these ideals. We can’t treat these ideals as “museum pieces” belonging to some distant America from days long past.

Our times call for a new faith and a new evangelization. Our mission as Catholics and as citizens is to carry on the work of America’s founders and her first evangelists.

Each of us in the church is called to follow Christ — bearing the keys and the sword. The sword of God’s word. The keys that unlock heaven’s door.

In his homily, Pope Benedict said our missionary duty requires “from each of us … a constant commitment to conversion.”

Let’s make that our prayer for one another this week. Let’s pray that we will all embrace our missionary call to continuous conversion. Putting our faith into practice. Proclaiming Christ’s Gospel of hope and love.

May our blessed mother, the queen of the apostles, walk with us on our missionary way!

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

Contrasting truths are placed before us in today's word.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. ... So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith."

Paul, like ourselves, was aware that in weakness we often discover our greatest strength. In weakness, transformation can take place and the very weakness becomes something other and more. If we had not been weak we might never have found a need for growth, nor experienced it happening in and through the weakness. Yet in some of our greatest strengths we are often not perceived well by others, for the strengths themselves become a kind of stumbling block.

Jesus remarked that: "He was not able to perform any mighty deed there." He was powerless in his strength "because of their lack of faith." These are great figures speaking to us today in the word: Jesus and St. Paul. Clearly these were men of great faith and great spiritual maturity. But even they realized that weakness and strength are relative.

What appears as strength can in reality be weak or ineffective. What appears weak can sometimes reveal great strength. The "weak" David slew the "strong" Goliath — "little boy" stronger than "big giant."

Perhaps the greatest truth revealed here is that God's wondrous grace can make the real difference. When God touches us with his love, things can become oh so much more.

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

A child is dead. A woman is suffering from a constant hemorrhage of 12 years and now is penniless. Jesus appears on the scene and is about to open the eyes of all to faith and hope. Just to touch Jesus is enough! Or is it the other way around?

To be touched by Jesus is enough to bring one back to life, enough to heal an incurable wound of life, enough to quiet the fears and pains of loss by bringing peace and restoring hope. Mark presents us, in today’s Gospel, with a Jesus who draws people who are hopeless to the one who is hope. Just to be touched by him brings healing and hope to all.
How and when has Jesus touched my life? What is it like to long for the touch and healing of Jesus in my life? How do I offer to others the compassion and healing love of Jesus in and through my compassion and love. How am I instrument? This touch of Jesus is contagious. It can be shared and given by us and through us.

Paul is right – we are the body of Christ!

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.