Sunday, January 26, 2014

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker 

In today’s Gospel Jesus moves from one locale to another: “He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.”

As the Gospel continues, we understand this not to be a real estate move but a sensitive and prophetic fulfillment — God’s plan being realized. Jesus moved to the land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.

Jesus was the one who had been called to fulfill what the prophet Isaiah had said: “the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.” This light was meant to reach all as Jesus began his public ministry. His message was simple: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

To all who would hear this, the light would begin to enter and the connection with God, deep within the spirit, would begin to be realized. It is in this context that he calls his disciples. They immediately left their nets, their work, their families, and followed.

A people sat in darkness – for years. Years of occupation of their land, seizing of their crops, robbing them of any wealth, taking their children into battles, leaving them out of all decisions about their lives and futures – this was the reality for the people of Zebulun and Naphtali. Darkness! But God would not leave them abandoned. He would not allow the darkness to be permanent. God sent Jesus the light; and things began to happen.

“He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.” This was to be the pattern of his whole continuous ministry. He stayed nowhere. He went everywhere. His life was not about being comfortable. He came, as has been said, to "comfort the afflicted" and to "afflict the comfortable." He came to bring light to shine in the darkness and to give new life. He taught in the synagogues; he proclaimed the Good News; he healed the sick and made them whole.

His ministry still lives on. His light today is the same. The kingdom of God is at hand. His teaching continues to guide our lives to justice and love. His healing power still makes us whole. We find ultimate wholeness, not in the condition of our bodies, but of our souls.

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

Monday, January 13, 2014

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker 

Jesus is baptized. God speaks. The Spirit of the Lord is poured over him, into him, through him. Justice and peace are bestowed upon Israel and over and through his people. In Jesus, God is well pleased. He looks upon the one he has called and sends forth; he sees his Word and salvation blossoming upon the earth.

The Baptism of the Lord is a pivotal moment when God is making happen what he has intended from of old. Isaiah's prophecies are realized, and grace and power from God burst forth through faith and hope into love and justice.

As is often the case, it is not just what happens, but how it happens.

“He shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench.” God, the all-powerful one, sees to it that justice and peace come peacefully.

Is it to happen from within? Is it to happen individually to each one as each one opens up to the hope and promise? Our own baptism holds the promise of our God taking us by the hand, calling and sending us, and teaching us his wisdom and truth. He sees us as beloved. In each of us he is well pleased.

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, January 5, 2014

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

Darkness and light — these are great themes throughout the Bible. They are the great themes of every religion and all religious experience. They are opposites, but also two sides of the same coin.

It is certainly true that we cannot live without the other; and we cannot remain in one for very long without being pulled into the other. For example, light would make no sense without darkness, nor would darkness have meaning without light; therefore, we need to honestly embrace light and darkness and recognize that both will always be a part of our lives.

One of the most important things is to know when we are in darkness and when we are in light. Getting stuck in the light will probably never be a real problem for us. Getting stuck in the darkness might. Humility is probably the best way to be able to move from one to the other, especially from darkness to light.

Herod was stuck. Herod lived in and ruled from the darkness. Herod committed horrible atrocities, even murder, because of the darkness. The magi, like Joseph, found light even in their dreams that illuminated their pathways, travels, and lives.

Today we are invited to welcome Christ the light and to discover our light 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.