Sunday, January 25, 2015

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

The call of the first disciples is known by most all of us and pretty much taken at face value.

Jesus sees them, invites them to follow, and they get up and go.

That’s it.

But if you stop to think about it, there is something quite mysterious about the account, if not weird. At least from the text itself, there is no evidence that they knew each other before this moment, or that they had ever had any contact or conversation before.

Jesus saw Simon and Andrew (they were brothers) and he said to them: “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.”

They abandoned their nets and followed him.

A little farther along he called two more brothers (James and John) as he passed by them; they abandoned their father and the boats and followed Jesus, too. No questions were asked. Jesus gave no explanation or information. They all walked away from their work, their families, their routines. Why? What happened that was so compelling that they simply followed without a moment of hesitation? Did Jesus have some mysterious power to command an utterly total response on the part of these brothers?

From the first moment that Jesus began his public ministry, it seems he had an overwhelming effect on people. They said: “Where does he get this authority? No one has ever spoken like this.”

The evangelist Mark presents a Jesus to us that has power over demons, over nature, over human illness.

Does his power reach into us? Does his word have authority and leave us spellbound? Do we find that when he calls we always wish to follow?

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 18, 2015

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

Who likes waiting for anything?

Yet isn’t this life waiting, waiting, waiting?

Today’s scriptures are filled with words and images of waiting, listening, being called, looking for, staying, and finally being called bluntly to “come and see.”

One could easily come to the conclusion that an absolutely essential quality to being a person of faith in a vibrant relationship with God requires waiting, listening and expecting.

These aren’t just Advent themes but everyday themes of the spiritual life.

Minister Derrick McGhee states it this way:

If you can wait on your hair stylist, you can wait on God.

If you can wait at a fast food restaurant, you can wait on God.

If you can wait in the emergency room of a hospital, you can wait on God.

If you can wait in rush hour traffic, you can wait on God.

If you can wait in line to purchase concert tickets for your favorite artist, you can wait on God.

If you can wait on a nice cup of coffee to brew, you can wait on God.

If you can wait on a parking space to open closer to the entrance, you can wait on God.

If you can wait until the end of the week or month to receive your paycheck, you can wait on God.

If you can wait on the Lord, then speaking the words of Psalm 40 today should flow sweetly from your lips: “I have waited, waited for the Lord. Here am I, Lord, I come to do your will.”

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 4, 2015

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

The feast of the Holy Family and today’s celebration of Epiphany are closely connected – in the person of Jesus.

Last week, his parents presented him to God. This week, he is being sought after by king Herod, supposedly so that Herod could show him homage; however, we know the darker designs, and all of the babies under 2 years of age in Bethlehem discovered those designs as well.

The deeper connection for us and for our families lies precisely in the connection of these two feasts. The whole idea of presenting a child to God is not some pretty little ritual or picture-taking moment. This is serious!

We (parents) give our child to you (God)! We dedicate our child to grow as your child, as a holy child. We will shape and form his or her faith. We will educate, foster self-respect, model wholesome familial and social interaction, be the best models of faith, and provide both caring and tough love.

We will not be afraid of the "no" word. We will always teach consequences for one’s actions. This child will know love, how to survive, know who he or she is and will contribute generously to making this a better world.

The light has come. Epiphany.

This light drew the Gentiles to the greatest happening — the birth of Jesus. They recognized who he was and that he had a mission and significance as bright as the star that led them to him. Even king Herod was afraid, because truth and love would replace lies and hate and fear. What king of power and control wouldn’t want to stomp out a new power of love and peace and justice and goodness?

Epiphany proclaims this new light in the person of Jesus Christ. Epiphany is the light that calls us to recognize our Lord. Epiphany is the revelation of the eternal truth inviting us to participate in it as never before. Indeed, we are children of the light.

What will it be for me and my family? Light or darkness? Who do I present my child to? God or the world of greed, profit, materialism, mindless pleasure and zero values?

God, take me. God, take my child. God, take my family. God, take my future. God, take this world.

We present all to you. Give us your light.

Be our Epiphany today – the revelation of you in our lives.

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