Sunday, December 29, 2013

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

The scriptures today reveal a lot of "heart language" and "heart living."

It is not just about what to do, but how to do it. The how also has to do with many values and qualities like compassion, forgiveness, caring, listening, consideration, kindness, honoring, and patience.

The Gospel recalls the events following the birth of Jesus in Matthew: The magi had departed, and Herod was "on the prowl" to destroy Jesus. God carefully guides Joseph, through his dreams, to flee to Egypt and take multiple precautions for the safety of his family.

Does God guide us in the same way? Is there a way that we are led, prepared, or cautioned through life? In the realm of spirituality, a lot of value is placed on listening in the heart. It is in the heart that we talk of hearing God speak to us or recognize God leading and guiding us.

It is often said that if you want to know what God's will is for you, then you must discover what your own will is at the deepest center of your heart — not controlled by fear, frivolous needs, wants, anger or resentment. The deepest center of our heart will speak our truth where God and we are one. What we want and need at the center of the heart has to, by definition, be what God wants for us, because that is where God dwells and where we are one. There, we recognize just how awful and awesome God is — the God who dwells within!

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email pleiker@stbernard-church.com.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

We are still in Advent, and yet we hear the story of the birth of Jesus today. Doesn’t this spoil the event on the 25th of December? Aren’t we a little bit premature? Why can’t we wait?

Or is this preparation carefully and strategically planned so that we walk into the feast on Dec. 25 with our "eyes wide open," leaving little chance to miss the significance of this great event? In other words, this Sunday prepares us well.

With Matthew we note: "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about." We all know the story. We don’t really find surprises even in the details. We can even say that this story is, after 2,000 years of telling it, a part of us. We are, in a manner of speaking, Christmas people. We long to share in the retelling of the birth of Christ. We even go so far as to say we want Christ to be born in us.

We are not looking for surprises. We are looking for familiarity. We are looking for connection and integration. We want this story to fill us with peace — the prince of peace. We want Christmas to help us long for the promises and fulfillment that come to us when Christ gently and powerfully (at the same time) fills our lives, our hopes, our spirit, our souls. After all, we proclaim him "Emmanuel" — "God is with us"!

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email pleike@stbernard-church.com.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Looking Ahead: 'Go and tell John what you see and hear'

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

Jesus said: “Go and tell John what you see and hear.”

The promises of old were being fulfilled. “The blind regain their sigth ... the deaf hear ... the mute speak ... the lame walk ... lepers are cleansed ... the dead are raised.”

This was an amazing time. John asked for it to be verified, and Jesus gave voice, witness and testimony that it all was true. Everything we hear proclaimed about the time leading up to the birth of Jesus and the testimony of his life and ministry tell of a time of great spiritual energy. Miraculous and ordinary became intertwined. The promise of ages became a reality in the present – in the now.

It seems impossible that anyone could have entertained doubts or could have become weak in their faith. What had they just experienced with the Lord? Was it remarkable and like nothing that had ever been before? Then how and why could people give up, give in, let go? Paul tells us what people of faith have always been told and will probably always have to be told: “Be patient ... make your hearts firm ... do not complain ... do not judge.”

To put it simply: such wonderful spiritual truth can excite us one moment; and how easily we can succumb to doubts, fears, jealousy, and even forgetting all that we have and all that we have become. So we remind ourselves and one another of the great promises told of Jesus and fulfilled in Jesus. We bind ourselves to walk with him and to walk with one another. We trip and fall; we pick each other up. We proclaim that today, tomorrow and always, the Lord is coming. And in and through him we will keep faith forever!

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email pleiker@stbernard-church.com.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Looking Ahead: 'Let us walk in the light of the Lord'

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

“Let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

In the darkest month of the year we are called and challenged to walk in the light and to become people of light. Of course, in the celebration of the birth of Jesus, we welcome Christ the light; therefore, we are exhorted to be alert, we are encouraged to get ready!

What if the Lord were to come and we missed him? What if the light were shining but we remained in darkness? What does it even really mean to become people of light?

This time of the year also becomes one of the busiest times at work, school, church, and home. As we prepare for Christmas Day, we can easily miss the experience of remaining ready and alert.

The time of preparation has its own gifts. As we “throw off the work of darkness and put on the armor of light” we find Advent shaping our hearts and forming our spirit. Being ready and alert each day does more than prepare us for the day of Christmas, it opens our spirit, helps us to see more and more clearly, and creates a space within us so that something or someone is truly born into our lives.

The manger is us. The light becomes us. The familiar Advent phrase should be on our lips many times every day of Advent: “Come, Lord Jesus.”

Will we be ready? Are we alert?

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email pleiker@stbernard-church.com.