Sunday, March 29, 2015

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

A "Hosanna to the Son of David," shouts the crowd as the liturgy of Palm Sunday begins.

"Crucify him!" is shouted just as loudly and brings to a conclusion the readings from the word (the Gospel reading of the Passion of Mark).

A crowd simply can’t be any more fickle than this. The crowd is a classic example of a mob – easily excited and easily manipulated. The crowd doesn’t think for itself. The crowd doesn’t know what is really happening but only perceives the feeling welling up within itself.

If a convincing voice cries out "murder," then the crowd must provide the one to be murdered. The crowd is so easily used to achieve even horrific ends. This scene is an old scene; it is a present scene, and it is the future. It is simply human.

Although history teaches lessons, it doesn’t necessarily teach people how to think or how to live moral lives. This is one reason the church believes in the need for the forming of consciences. This is why the church seeks to think through and attempt to communicate logical, thoughtful and wise ways to live our lives as Christians.

The church is not perfect. The church has made mistakes throughout history. But the church certainly makes an honest and helpful contribution to the human race in attempting to figure out how we can live – not like crowds and mobs, but rather like thoughtful, caring, faith-filled followers of Jesus Christ.

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, March 15, 2015

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

The princes, priests and people “added infidelity to infidelity” and even desecrated the temple.

John tells us that those who live in sin hate the light and love and are attracted to darkness. But just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert (those who looked at it were saved from their sin), so must the Son of Man be lifted up.

We must truly look to him, look at him, and discover his look of love at and for us. This is the good news of the word today.

The letter to the Ephesians today says it most succinctly: “God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ — by grace you have been saved.”

It is expressed eloquently in the A Cycle Gospel provided for our elect in the RCIA. The man born blind when asked by Jesus: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” answered him: “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”

Jesus answered: “You have seen him.”

The blind man now had sight: both physical and deeply spiritual. He could truly see! No more blindness. No more lack of recognition. No more darkness. Only sight!

Where are we in our journey of faith? Do we see – really? Do we recognize – really? Do we look for the light or darkness – really?

Jesus’ word today, as always, saves!

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, March 8, 2015

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

Question: “Why do I have to do this?” Answer: “Because I said so!”

Once again, a command or rule becomes more important than the reason for having it.

Every command or rule, however, should have a clear reason or value that makes good sense, is important, and makes life better for the person following it.

God speaks and calls us to follow for reasons that make good sense, have important value, and make life better for us. It is the reason we are urged in the scriptures not only to observe God’s commands but to love them.

Any organization, church or temple can become riddled with rules. Structures and practices to get around them are called loopholes.

Religion is supposed to bind us together in faith and to faith, not take the place of it. Faith, not religion, is the goal. Religion is the means to discover and live out our faith.

The temple and the money changers and the sacrificial offerings and the rules of offering, and the many, many, many things we observe, are all meant to lead us to God, to faith and to living commands and rules that make good sense, have value and make life better for us.

Every once in a while it becomes necessary to turn over the tables and turn things upside down. We have councils and changes and new translations and changes of leadership – all unravel, reconnect and ask of us to open to the new or to renew.

And really, at the heart of it all, Jesus is the one turning over the tables and turning things upside down.

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, March 1, 2015

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

Abraham promised everything – even the sacrificing of his own son.

God gave everything – even his own son handed over to the cross.

In a mystical and divine moment, Jesus was transfigured before the eyes of a few select disciples. For a moment they saw him in his glory. Then came a voice: "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him. Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them."

Perhaps we have had our Abraham moments – offering everything we are and have to God. Perhaps we have stopped to appreciate the total gift of Jesus Christ to us and can say that we know we are loved. Perhaps we have even been blessed with mystical and divine moments of grace that have transformed us.

Eventually, we return to the moment like the disciples: "looking around we no longer see anyone but Jesus" –  the Jesus who silently and gently lives within us.

Lent is about accepting this Jesus every day in very ordinary ways as we simply, slowly and continually walk our journey of faith.

Most of our faith life is coming down the mountain and doing the ordinary things of life in extraordinary ways, because we have indeed known the glory of the Lord.

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