Sunday, December 28, 2014

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

From the very first chapter of the scriptures, when it comes to family, it is clear what God intends: “Be fruitful and multiply.”

Today’s feast focuses on the holy family: Joseph, Mary and Jesus. From the beginning of Genesis, we see God’s desire and plan for a regenerating of the species through a fruitful multiplication.

God tells Abram (who becomes Abraham in the Covenant with God): “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so shall your descendants be.”

Even in Abraham’s old age, God provides for the beginnings of a mighty nation with many descendants. Sterility is no obstacle for God.

But there is more in the feast today as we listen to the Gospel of Luke. The Jews had a very deep faith understanding of the God-gift that family was. Both in thanksgiving and in the deepest sense of dedication, after 40 days the child was to be presented to God. In this particular family story, prophecy and grace and the beginning of redemption surround this ordinary family event.

Devout Simeon declares: “My eyes have seen your salvation ... a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel.”

And he continues: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted.”

Even Mary’s future pain and sorrow is predicted.

Is this what we can expect from family, whether a small family like Jesus’, or the enormous human family promised to Abraham by God? Is it always to include suffering? Will there always be struggle? Is there no doubt that both falling and rising is in the picture? And so, what makes it holy?

“The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.”

The favor of God falls upon all of us; especially those anointed with God’s own Spirit in baptism. There is no question about God’s promise of fruitfulness – just count the over 6 billion presently inhabiting the earth.

Neither is there any question about the favor of God – available to any and all who open their heart to him.

Perhaps the call of this feast day is to re-dedicate our self, our life, our day, our future, to the God of Abraham, and our God, too!

Perhaps this is what makes each of us and any family holy.

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

Together in Mission 2014

In his pastoral letter, “Witness to the New World of Faith,” Archbishop José H. Gomez writes: “Through our love for others, we bear witness to the reality of our God who is love. Through our work to make this a society of truth and love, we make God’s love for all men and women a reality in our world.”

One way we can make love for our neighbors “real” is through our support of Together in Mission. This year’s annual appeal will provide essential financial support for 35 parishes and 56 schools in our archdiocese.

Your generous contribution to Together in Mission will make a big difference in the lives of tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters. Because of you, the church will continue to be a force for human dignity and social justice in our communities.

When you receive your Together in Mission pledge form in the mail, please fill it out and mail it back or bring it with you to Mass.

God bless you for your generous gifts to those in need.

TOGETHER IN MISSION/CAMPAÑA UNIDOS EN MISIÓN 2014

267 Persons pledged as of Dec. 21
267 personas comprometidas hasta el 21 de diciembre

10% previous year income/10% del ingreso del año anterior

Pledge Goal / Meta Parroquial:  $36,461.20

Amount pledged/cantidad prometida: $39,744.51
Paid/pagado:  $34,667.51

Total amount needed to reach assigned goal: $1,793.69
Cantidad por cubrir (compromiso asignado): $1,793.69

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

“... For nothing will be impossible for God.”

That famous line known by all who have developed within themselves a biblical spirituality is the foundation of today’s scriptures.

God spoke through Nathan the prophet to King David, making it abundantly clear that the issue wasn’t what David could do for God, but what God could do for David.

The letter to the Romans echoes the same message when it proclaims the truth: “to him (God) who can strengthen you …”

God is clearly seen as powerful, capable, loving and desirous of calling, sending and sustaining his faithful ones. The most intimate statement of the same truth is revealed in the “annunciation” in today’s Gospel.

The angel Gabriel brings the call of God to Mary to be the one chosen to bring God into the world in human form through her child, Jesus — the great “incarnation,” “ … for nothing is impossible for God.”

Then the seemingly ordinary but wonderful and terrible events begin to unfold. For the eyes of faith, these “ordinary” events would have extraordinary causes and significance

An “ordinary” pregnancy would be the result of God pouring out his spirit in an abundant and fruitful way. God’s entrance into our world in human form would happen in an “ordinary” birth. Elizabeth, advanced in age, would also experience an “ordinary” pregnancy and give to the world her son John, known as John the Baptist.

Mary would understand that in her humbleness, her nothingness — God had made her great. Mary gives all of the glory to him, for she understood that “nothing will be impossible for God.”

In her simple understanding and acceptance of her call, she responds: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

How many of us, people of faith, seem so discontent with the “ordinary”?
How many yearn for and are fixated on the extraordinary — the miraculous.

Can we not believe that in the “very ordinary” God is present?

Can we not believe that in the daily stuff of life that God is working, calling, sending, giving and sustaining?

It is not the events of our lives that need to change. It is more the understanding and appreciation that God is there in “ordinary” daily life experiences — pregnancy, job loss, change of life, graduation, failing a class, death of a loved one, being talked about, giving thanks, marrying, separating, both in the good and bad. In all of it, God is there.

The challenge is to believe that through it all we are loved, we will be loved.

The grace of God will see us through “for nothing is impossible for God.”

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

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas and the love of God

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez

Jesus came into this world as a child, vulnerable and dependent.

He made himself little so that we could love him. So that we could pick him up, hold him in our arms and take care of him, just as Mary and Joseph held him on that first Christmas night in Bethlehem. 

Jesus made himself a little child so that we could know how precious each one of us is to God. My prayer for us this Christmas is that we will fully realize the reality of God’s love for us. 

The revelation of Christmas is that God is our loving Father.

Our Father! To understand God’s love we have to know that we are his children. Children of God! He loves you and me and he loves every one with a personal love. As a good Father loves his sons and his daughters.

Jesus taught us that every hair on every head is numbered. That every child is born with an angel watching over him or her in heaven. That God cares for all and for our smallest needs.

God wants only the best for his children, for you and for me. There is no sacrifice he will not make for us to be happy and at peace. He will go to any length to seek us out, to bring us back to him. Even sending his only begotten Son to suffer and die for us.

In showing us the merciful face of our Father in heaven, Jesus revealed that every life is sacred and precious and has a purpose in our Father’s loving plan for the world.

This was a radical message then and it is a radical message now.

I still think this is perhaps the hardest Christian truth for people to accept. The universe is so vast — how can God possibly know and care for me? How can I be “somebody” to God when I’m living in this big, anonymous world where I am a nobody to almost everybody else?

It sounds too good to be true. But Jesus taught us that it is true. Before the world began, God knew your name and mine and he had a plan for our lives.

This is the promise of Christmas. And this promise is an invitation to each of us — an invitation to a new life as sons and daughters of God. 

Knowing that we are loved by God should free us from our fears, our pride and selfishness. Knowing his love should give us joy every day. It should change everything for us — how we relate to God and our relationships with others; how we see ourselves and how we understand our place in the world.

What if we really believed that we are loved, that we are wanted, that we are needed by God? What if we really lived every day as if the Creator of the universe loves us with a parent’s love, as if each person we meet is loved as we are, and also has a part to play in the higher purposes of God’s love?

So as we prepare for Christmas, let us pray for each other, that we may open our hearts to our Father’s love.

He wants our joy, our happiness. And we find that happiness — when we stay close to Jesus. This is where our happiness comes from. It comes from being with God, being near to Jesus, feeling his love and presence in our lives. 

Jesus became a child of Mary so that we could become a child of God. And as God’s children we are called to continue Jesus’ mission in the world — the mission of his Church, his family.

Christmas is also a call to renew our sense of purpose and belonging to the church.

Christmas calls us again to walk the pathways of this world with Jesus, in the company of our brothers and sisters in the church. To live as Jesus did — with kindness for all and compassion and gentle understanding.

The mission that began on Christmas continues in you and in me.

Knowing that we are loved by God, we should live to share that love with others through works of mercy and acts of justice — seeking the kingdom that God intended for his children. A world where no one is a stranger, where everyone is welcomed and wanted and nobody is discarded or marginalized.

Please pray for me during this holy season and I am praying for you and your families.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

May our Blessed Mother Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of each one of us, help us all to know the love of God our Father that comes to us on Christmas. ν

Archbishop José H. Gómez is the fifth 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 at (213) 637-7000, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sunday bulletins


On this page you will find our weekly Sunday parish bulletin in an electronic format, viewable on most computers and tablets.

Submissions of articles and events are always welcome, and they will appear on the bulletin at the discretion of the pastor and bulletin editor.

To publish an event or for more information about our Sunday bulletin, e-mail stbernardla@stbernardla.cc.

Bulletins are archived in Adobe Acrobat format.

To properly view the electronic version of our Sunday bulletin, you must download Adobe’s Acrobat Reader which is available for free from Adobe’s website.



Full St. Bernard Church Sunday bulletin archive



2014


January

     • January 5
     • January 12
     • January 19
     • January 26

February

     • February 2
     • February 9
     • February 16
     • February 23

March

     • March 2
     • March 9
     • March 16
     • March 23
     • March 30

April

     • April 6
     • April 13
     • April 20
     • April 27

May

     • May 4
     • May 11
     • May 18
     • May 25

June

     • June 1
     • June 8
     • June 15
     • June 22
     • June 29

July

     • July 6
     • July 13
     • July 20
     • July 27

 August

     • August 3
     • August 10
     • August 17
     • August 24
     • August 31

 September

     • September 7
     • September 14
     • September 21
     • September 28

 October

     • October 5
     • October 12
     • October 19
     • October 26

 November

     • November 2
     • November 9
     • November 16
     • November 23
     • November 30

 December

     • December 7
     • December 14
     • December 21
     • December 28

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

Gaudete means rejoice in Latin.

Traditionally, the Third Sunday of Advent has been called Gaudete Sunday because our Advent journey has almost come to an end.

There is always joy when one comes closer to reaching the goal, or arriving at the destination. But isn’t it more than just coming to the end? What happened to us along the way? Was there any change? Is our goal or destination the point of this journey, or is the journey itself the important thing?

If we have been listening to God’s word these days, we have heard a lot about justice and peace. We have understood that something or someone has changed the universe forever. We have understood how deeply loved we are by God and that this divine visitation has forgiven and healed everyone and everything.

The journey of faith stands beside a bustling holiday season. One says, “buy, buy, buy” and accumulate as much as you can – then get more. It's never enough!

The other says: “Let go, simplify, empty yourself, embrace silence and peace, open.”

One distracts and clutters. The other focuses and prepares us to receive love and meaning deep within the spirit.

It is a great time. It is a great season. Everyone enters in different ways and to different degrees. It’s all good. But, undeniably, there is something that is greatest here.

It has been the journey. It continues. It is near its end. There is more grace and love to go around.

“Gaudete – rejoice”! As church, we say it together this Sunday.

Together may we discover what the journey has been about. Together, may the journey help us to discover who we have become.

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 7, 2014

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

No one can doubt that Christmas is coming.

Turn on the radio or television. Pick up a newspaper or magazine. Walk anywhere near a store. Look at billboards. Even some streets are already decorated. Even if we are able to focus on the real meaning of Christmas (the birth of Jesus), it still may be nearly impossible to grasp the deeper meanings of this feast day.

We don’t just celebrate the birth. We celebrate to whom he comes, why he comes, what he comes for, and what are the implications of his coming even today.

We talk about messiah. We listen to scriptures of "longing" and "Waiting." We reflect upon being steeped in sin and needing to become free and liberated from desires and forces and even temptations that constrict and control and demean.

We celebrate not just the birth of Christ but also a time of salvation. We celebrate history and human kind experiencing a radical and irrevocable change that is simply and most profoundly the time of grace. We are invited to embrace our brokenness and find wholeness.

This healing will involve not just a birth but also a death – not just a crib but also a cross. There is mystery everywhere. There are signs and invitations that point to new life and hope in abundance.

This is a time of preparing and a time of finding. It cannot be wasted or be a time focusing only on the birth. It certainly must look far beyond a heavy-bearded man dressed in red. It must look to the past and to the end of time.

That is because what happened 2,000 years ago changed us forever. We are changing even in these days of preparation because of what happened way back then.

So, as the scripture says so simply today: “Be watchful! Be alert! What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”

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

Friday, December 5, 2014

OneLife LA — and a challenge for Advent

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

Advent is a season of mercy.

The mercy of God is the great theme running through the first stories of Jesus’ coming.

In her Magnificat, Mary sings: “His mercy is from age to age.” Zechariah, father of St. John the Baptist, sings: “The tender mercy of our God … will visit us.”

So during this Advent season, I want to reflect with you on the Church’s traditional “corporal works of mercy” — feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, and burying the dead.

Jesus says these works of mercy will be the measure of our love for God and our love for our neighbor. He tells us the love that we show to the homeless and the hungry, to the prisoner and the sick, is the love that we show to God. And he warns that our indifference to those who need our mercy reflects our indifference to God.

Pope Francis has made mercy the “keynote” of his teaching. He reminds us again and again that our Christian identity and duty are defined by the Beatitudes that we find in the fifth chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel and the works of mercy that we find in Matthew 25.

Taken together, he says, the Beatitudes and works of mercy show us the face of Jesus and help us to imitate his way of life. They give us an “action plan” — a practical path to follow to find happiness and salvation.

So during this Advent, I want to challenge all of us to go deeper in our experience of God’s mercy and our imitation of Jesus Christ’s works of mercy to others.

As you know, on Jan. 17, 2015, we are hosting OneLife LA, a one-day procession and festival that will highlight the works of mercy being done in our community — and the beautiful calling to mercy that God has given us for our lives.

I am excited about OneLife. This will be a day to celebrate the beauty of human life and our duty to serve our brothers and sisters and defend their rights and dignity, especially those who are the weakest and most vulnerable.

Our Archdiocesan Office of Life, Justice and Peace is proud to be sponsoring this positive and family-friendly event along with the Knights of Columbus and the Right to Life League of Southern California. We are honored that Supreme Knight Carl Anderson will be joining us for the day. We are also partnering with our neighboring dioceses of Orange, San Diego, San Bernardino and Fresno and we have the generous support from local foundations.

OneLife LA will be ecumenical and interfaith. We will have surprise celebrity guests and musical entertainers and food trucks — a real fiesta of the human spirit!

Through OneLife LA, we are trying to build understanding and friendships and bring together the many good people who are working to build a culture of life and mercy in our communities — including Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul programs and ministries serving the unborn and expectant mothers, the homeless, orphans, victims of human trafficking, refugees, the handicapped and the terminally ill.

The program for OneLife LA reflects the beautiful clarity of the Catholic vision — that all human life reflects the image of our Creator and that every life, even the weak and the small, has infinite significance in God’s plan for creation and history.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is our inspiration and “patroness” for OneLife LA. Because by her witness, she showed us the beauty of all human life — and the need to protect life— from the child in the womb, to the innocent victims of war, to the sick and the dying.

Mother Teresa used to say, “Be somebody to somebody.” It is a beautiful way to express our duty to do works of mercy.

So I invite you to join me in a “challenge.” Let’s try every day in Advent to “be somebody to somebody” — especially those in our families and those who are poor and lonely — so they will feel God’s mercy and love.

On my Facebook page during Advent, I'm going to be highlighting organizations that are making a difference in our community, building a culture of life and mercy. I invite you to share the good things you are doing with me and on my page and by tagging #OneLifeLA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Let’s keep praying for one another during this Advent! And let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary to teach us to be somebody to somebody every day, as we await the birth of Jesus.

To participate in the “Be Somebody to Somebody Challenge,” visit Archbishop Gomez on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ArchbishopGomez.

Archbishop José H. Gómez is the fifth 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 at (213) 637-7000, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.