Sunday, September 27, 2015

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

In the Book of Numbers, a part of Moses' spirit was taken from him and poured out over seventy elders and they began to prophesy.

Two elders (Eldad and Medad) were not present, but they were on the list, and they, too, began to prophesy.

Instead of rejoicing at this blessing, Joshua, son of Nun, complained: “Moses, my lord, stop them.”

Similarly in the Gospel, John complained to Jesus: “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”

What is the matter here? Why do Joshua and John have a problem? Is it jealousy? Are they that concerned with a lack of proper form – "two weren’t present in the tent" and this "someone doesn’t follow us"?

Is it a question of territory or power or control? Whatever is going on clearly was of no concern to God, Moses or Jesus. Moses didn’t stop them.

"Are you jealous?" he asks. Moses rather expresses the wish that God’s spirit would be bestowed on even more people.

Jesus did not stop this someone who was driving out demons. On the contrary, he confirms that simply acknowledging his name validated his ministry: "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us."

You can’t get more open or liberal than that.

Sadly, territory was and continues to be an issue to people, especially in the church. Power was and continues to be an issue to people, especially in the church. Jealousy was and continues to be an issue to people, especially in the church.

Perhaps rather than worrying so much about what someone else is doing (especially if it is good), we should not just listen to but actually hear the word of God today.

Perhaps we all ought to invoke the name of Jesus more often – do things in his name.

Perhaps we would find that our words and actions and desires were more valuable and blessed when they were rooted more deeply in Christ. That could never do us harm.

And if we were indeed more deeply rooted in Christ, perhaps we wouldn’t need to pay too much heed to the warning that Jesus speaks at the end of today’s Gospel.

Perhaps we would never cause one of these little ones to sin if our lives and actions were focused deeply on Christ.

It almost sounds like preventative medicine – stay connected, rooted, united, close to Christ.

"Amen, I say to you, (you) will surely not lose (your) reward."

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

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

Jesus teaches the greatest paradox in our faith: "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all."

This is not the teaching the world gives to us. It doesn’t make sense to most. Even people of faith have trouble grasping this truth.

Jesus teaches that in serving, relinquishing power, not holding onto control — even accepting or embracing suffering and rejection — one can discover the kingdom of God, spiritual power, greatness of life and "be first."

Many would say it is impossible to prove this paradox. It is precisely why it is a paradox — an apparent contradiction. One usually discovers its truth only as one lives it.

Christians and non-Christians alike have discovered and attempted to share this truth over the ages:

Mahatma Gandhi: "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."

Shirley Chisholm: "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth."

Bernard Meltzer: "Blessed are those who give without remembering. And blessed are those who take without forgetting."

Albert Schweitzer: "The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."

From the earliest of years, children argue and fight over who will be first in line. Some grow up and as adults still have never lost the lust for being first and most important.

When one lets go of this need, and most finally learn it in service to others, then one discovers the joy and peace that Jesus calls the "kingdom of God."


At St. Bernard, have innumerable opportunities to serve. Some include: Eucharistic ministry to the sick; all of the liturgical ministries; opportunities to give to and help the poor; donate food, donate money; donate time.

Jesus didn’t just speak it — he lived and died it.

My prayer is that all will discover this paradox by explicitly living it before this year expires.

"Find ourselves" — that is the hope of Jesus for each of us.

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

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Doctor-prescribed death is the wrong choice for California

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

Last week, the California legislature voted to allow doctors to help their patients kill themselves.

This decision is deeply disturbing — and so is the process that led to this vote.

Assembly and Senate leaders chose to push this bill (AB2X-15) through an “extraordinary” legislative session that Governor Brown had called to deal with health care financing for the poor.

This is no way for our government to make policy on a life and death issue that will affect millions of individuals and families for years to come.

The people of California — especially the poor, the elderly, minorities and the disabled — deserve much better from their leaders.

And make no mistake, it will be these most vulnerable populations who are going to suffer from this legislation.

We know already that poor families, African Americans, Latinos and immigrants do not have enough access to quality health care. We also know that the millions forced to rely on Medi-Cal have limited treatment options when they face a serious diagnosis or terminal illness.

In a health care system that is so cost-conscious and profit-driven, I am afraid that lethal prescriptions to commit suicide will fast become the only acceptable “treatment option” for our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. I am afraid that in our health care environment, suicide will be promoted as the most “efficient” and cost-saving alternative.

The sad reality is that millions of Californians do not have the luxury to think about a “death with dignity.”

They are too busy struggling with low wages and not enough job opportunities; with housing costs and troubled neighborhoods; with poor health care and discrimination.

Our government’s priority should be to help make life more dignified for people, not death.

And lawmakers need to be honest in their language so we can understand what we are really doing with this legislation. We are not legalizing “aid in dying.”

What the legislature is legalizing is the ability of a doctor to write prescriptions for the express purpose of killing another human being.

And we have to ask ourselves: Is this the legacy that we want to leave for future generations of Californians? To say that in the face of human pain and suffering, we as a society responded by making it easier to kill those who are suffering?

I believe we are a better people than that. And I believe we can find a truly compassionate way to help all Californians manage pain, treat their illnesses and prepare for death.

But there are no “quick fixes.” It will take patience, hard study and deliberate choices.

Unfortunately, Assembly and Senate leaders rushed this bill through in three weeks during this “extraordinary” session. They held only two hearings and floor debates, and barely considered some of the deeper issues of end-of-life care.

To really address these issues, we need to study complicated questions surrounding treatment costs, especially the costs of cancer medications. We need to study insurance practices that effectively limit access to hospice care and restrict physicians’ options in providing pain relief and palliative care.

We need to understand the limited health care options available for the poor, the elderly, minorities and the disabled. We need to consider the training and education we provide doctors in palliative care and geriatrics.

And we also need to understand the spiritual and psychological issues affecting those who are dying and the effects on their families and loved ones.

Our lawmakers have not even studied how doctor-assisted suicide is functioning in states and countries where it is legal.

There are well-substantiated reports of serious abuses and complications in Oregon, Washington and Belgium, among other places.

Among the allegations are that patients are being coerced by physicians and by family members to “choose” suicide over continued treatment. Elsewhere, physicians are facing legal threats if they do not provide deadly prescriptions.

Again, the question: Is this the legacy we want for the future of California?

And if we open the door and allow doctors to help terminally ill patients kill themselves, how will we prevent others from demanding the same “rights”? Are we opening the door to state-sanctioned “death on demand” for anyone who wants it? This legislation — and the process by which it was passed — is not worthy of our great state.

So this week, let us pray for the great state of California. And I urge you to join me in asking Governor Brown to veto this legislation and to insist that our lawmakers begin an open and thoughtful study of how we live and die in California.

And may our Blessed Mother Mary, Seat of Wisdom and Health of the Sick, guide us in this important hour for our state and our nation.

Editor’s note: Urge Gov. Brown to veto ABX2-15. Write to the Governor at  

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, Twitter, and Instagram.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

How does God think?

None of us can really answer that question from personal experience, but only from the "revealed word of God." That revealed word is shared with us by Jesus most directly in today's Gospel from Mark.

Jesus "began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected be the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days."

After a brief scuffle and rebuke of Peter — "Get behind me, Satan" — he tells us that this is the "thinking of God." Most simply put, it is the paschal mystery.

Some things, and perhaps we might even say, all things, can only come about through a dying and rising.

Coming about or coming into existence means transformation. Even birth is that. Whatever existed in the womb — and more precisely how it existed — is to be no longer.

Ask a newborn baby (of course, you won’t get much of an answer). The crying is testimony enough. The baby – secure and happy in the womb, with sufficient warmth, food, comfort and security – wants to escape the womb? I don’t think so.

There is no vote, no opinion poll. Nature simply decides that life as it has been known for nine months is to be no longer.

The baby must "die and rise" to life in the womb, that is, must leave the womb so that life can begin again in a much larger womb – the world.

This is paschal mystery. This mystery is a daily one for the rest of our lives. Each one is a dress rehearsal for the total paschal mystery to be realized in our physical death and resurrection – the promise.

Why do we resist it? Why can’t we see? Why do we rebuke this mystery as did Peter? Why don’t we learn how to embrace it and enter into it?

Jesus sees it so plainly. Perhaps that is why he could embrace it so totally: “Whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”

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

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Papal visit to the United States 2015

Pope Francis made his intention to travel to the United States for the 2015 World Meeting of Families public on Nov. 17, 2014, in an address to the Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman at the Vatican.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomed the news.

“The presence of Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families in our country will be a joyful moment for millions of Catholics and people of good will.  Our great hope has been that the Holy Father would visit us next year to inspire our families in their mission of love. It is a blessing to hear the pope himself announce the much anticipated news,” said Archbishop Kurtz.

More information on the pope's visit to the three U.S. cities is here.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

Isaiah proclaims: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared, then the tongue of the mute will sing.”

This is the promise of what will happen when the Lord will come among his people.

And Jesus became clearly recognized as the one with power of healing and authority when he spoke. The gifts flowed from within him and clearly he came from God. The results were indisputable.

“Then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ – that is, ‘Be opened!’ – And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.’”

The word went out to all. The people were astonished. His orders to tell no one were plainly unheeded. These were physical miracles, but clearly Jesus also opened the mouth of women who were by social norms mute.

He also opened the mouth of the poor, giving voice to their needs, their hopes, and their rights.

He opened the mouths of the sinner, the excluded, and the rejected and gave them both the hope and reality of being reunited with the community and finding their place once again.

What does Jesus do for us? How does he open our mouths, unblock our ears, and give vision to us? Do we heed him and his words? Do we unite with him to bring this to others? Are we part of the problem or part of the solution?

Healing? Health? Health care – is there any connection? Does the Christian have a responsibility to proclaim anything here? Will we join the other industrialized nations of the world and give health care to all of our citizens?

Will we be mute?

This is the promise of what will happen when the Lord will come among his people.

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