Sunday, April 24, 2016

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the week: “Someday people will want peace so badly that governments had better get out of their way and let them have it.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower.

What good is anything until it is tested and proven?

We might think it is good. We might believe it will be reliable. We might hope that it is going to come through for us. But until it is challenged and put to the test we cannot really say that we know its worth.

When tried and tested; then we will know its proven value. The word today shows several signs of understanding this truth.

“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

Hardships prove our faith. Many disciples have been willing to suffer and die for their faith. When they were tortured and put to death, before they died, they realized that they had already become kingdom people.

When John talks about his vision of a new earth he, too, recognizes that things must come to an end: “The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.”

There is no doubt that in things coming to an end, much suffering and struggle is often realized. Jesus himself tells his disciples: “My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.”

This is the ultimate pain: to lose someone because they depart from our lives. These challenges — so different and yet in some ways so much the same — all bring hardship and struggle. They also challenge us to dig down deep into our soul and test and prove how much trust we really have.

This is where we discover the kingdom alive in us.

God dwells in these places in a special way.

Here is where God leads, graces, fills, strengthens, teaches and loves.

Kingdom, alive!

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Looking Ahead

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

“A group of disciples wanted to make the holy one their guru. But the master declined the honor saying, ‘You don’t understand. I am only a finger pointing at the moon. It is the moon you must seek.’” — Sufi tale

In the final reference to shepherd and sheep in Chapter 10 of John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks most intimately about the relationship he has with his people.

Jesus (shepherd) knows his disciples (sheep). They hear my voice and they follow me. He speaks of no one being able to take them out of his caring hand. His claim for them is that they will never end nor perish.

He further claims all of this to be true, because first they are in the Father’s hand and they were given to him (Jesus) by the Father. It is in this context that he reveals the most amazing claim of all: “the Father and I are one.”

The intimacy, love and caring spoken of here by Jesus could lead one to think that this is all about love and peace. But when read in the context of the whole chapter clearly danger, wolves, thieves and marauders lurk everywhere to destroy the sheep.

Joined with today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we see that the message of Jesus draws forth jealousy, hatred and wrath.

True discipleship brings joy and peace; but often those gifts are the fruit that emerges from suffering, pain, rejection, jealousy and other realities of sin.

In this world filled with so many voices — and most of them overwhelmingly loud — it might seem impossible to hear the voice of the Lord.

It won’t be because it is loud or piercing that we shall hear it. It is because it is persistent and profoundly loving; the intimacy of the Lord’s voice makes it easy to hear, understand and follow.

There is still a deeper significance to the shepherd and his sheep. In his deep, abiding desire to protect and care for his sheep, Jesus shares this “shepherding” with sinful men in the sacrament of priesthood.

On this Good Shepherd Sunday, everyone at Mass today is invited to “have the eyes and the voice of Jesus” in seeing and recognizing the qualities of priesthood.

Furthermore, on this Good Shepherd Sunday, all are asked to “voice the call of the Lord” by inviting someone to consider a vocation to priesthood.

If you see the qualities of a vocation, give voice to that personal call. Ask someone to consider a vocation — calling — to priesthood, the diaconate or religious life.

Invite them to discernment — to listen to a possible inner call, an inner voice. Tell them you will pray for them, be at their side, and encourage them to consider the call.

Certainly, no harm could come from that and, quite possibly through you, someone may hear the call.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

St. Bernard Sunday Homilies podcast

Our Sunday Homilies podcast features recordings of homilies given by our parish and visiting priests, alternating between the 8 and 9:30 a.m. Sunday Masses. 

You can listen to each episode individually via our SoundCloud player found below each episode description. Or you can listen to episodes on our SoundCloud page.

Third Sunday of Easter
Sunday, April 10, 2016
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

"Something extraordinary happened to Jesus in Resurrection; and the risen lord, now, is the same but somehow different," Father Perry tells us in his homily for the Third Sunday of Easter, "so that we come to Mass we don't come to celebrate Jesus, we come to celebrate Jesus Christ. The difference is the Christ is the anointed, risen Lord." 

Video podcast

Second Sunday of Easter (or Sunday of Divine Mercy)
Sunday, April 3, 2016
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

"Thomas is an important person for us in the scriptures, because he represents the part of us that has doubts, that has questions; and we all have them," Father Perry tells us in his homily for the Second Sunday of Easter (or Divine Mercy Sunday). "Sometimes we doubt outright and we say, 'How do I know there's a God?' Sometimes we're led to say that, because of difficulties in our life. ... And they're completely undone by life. And this is the spot where Thomas was: 'I don't believe you, my friends, my fellow apostles. ... Until I see it with my own eyes, I will not believe it.' The moment he does, he goes to faith: 'My Lord, and my God.' And I have a feeling that this Gospel was written for us, specifically to help us come to that point."

Video podcast

Audio podcast

Looking Ahead

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

“When you bow deeply to the universe, it bows back. When you call out the name of God, it echoes inside you.”  — Morihei Veshiba

There are only two places in John’s Gospel where a charcoal fire appears.

One is in the courtyard where Peter denies Jesus three times — “before the cock crows twice, you will deny me thrice.”

The second time is at the shore where Peter and the disciples eat fish cooked on the charcoal fire. Peter professes three times that he loves the Lord — “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.”

This is not only a rehabilitation of Peter, but clearly these two stories are tied together.

Typical of resurrection stories, the disciples first do now recognize the Lord, and then they do.

Clearly something has changed, even about his appearance, since the resurrection. But in these appearance stories, Jesus calls by name, or has a conversation, pulling his disciples or the women into a deeper moment in which they are able to recognize Jesus.

Thomas, Peter, John and the others even come to recognize him spiritually, not just as Jesus, but as Lord: “It is the Lord; my Lord and my God.”

Jesus providing a meal is also a prominent detail.

Just a little while before at the last supper — the meal and his death.

And now he gives them something to eat — the meal and his resurrection.

Jesus feeds his disciples, and not just with food for the body but, more importantly, with food for the soul.

Just like at Emmaus, they “know him in the breaking of the bread,” and they are overjoyed — “weren’t our hearts burning within us?”

Again, Jesus tells them to cast their nets; they catch so many fish, yet their nets do not break. They do and will participate in the mission of Jesus; it will lead them to their death, and yet the mission does not and will not break or fall apart.

In spite of errors and denials, and such a dismal inability to really see, Jesus leads his disciples forward to become the foundation of a community of believers.

In these resurrection stories, we see a powerful new life infused into the disciples and the early community of believers.

Jesus has been raised up!

If mission and meal and recognition and professions of love and faith aren’t enough; this story puts the final stamp upon all that has happened here in just two words: “Follow me!”

This is the Easter call. This is the disciple moment. This is the joy of the recently baptized.


Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Looking Ahead

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

“One person with a belief is a social power equal to ninety-nine who have only interests.”  — John Stuart Mill

“Divine Mercy Sunday” is the title given by St. Pope John Paul II to the first Sunday after Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord.

The saint’s complete support of and personal devotion to Jesus under the title of Divine Mercy probably was due, in large part, to his knowledge of St. Faustina Kowalska, who was canonized by him on April 30, 2000.

A great part of the message is expressed by the artistic image of Divine Mercy. In this image, rays of light (or waves of energy) shoot out from the heart of Jesus. The message clearly declares that the mercy of Jesus Christ is showered upon absolutely everyone.

Jesus’ mercy, grace and love are really limitless; the message and season of Easter celebrates this so powerfully in his love from the cross, a love without any limits or conditions — pure total love, available to all!

Who would not want to hear or know this message? How could a Catholic not be drawn closer to this reality? What could possibly prevent a person from surrendering without any question to such love and mercy?

The Gospel today might give some insight.

The apostles — except Thomas — were gathered on Easter night.

Suddenly, Jesus stood in their midst.

“Peace be with you,” he said.

They were overjoyed.

When Thomas re-joined them, they burst with joy and excitement over the news of Jesus’ resurrection.

Thomas doubted: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail-marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

There you have it!

To be fair, it was a rather incredible testimony. A strong man, Thomas, wanted or needed something more than some hysterical testimony. After all, everyone had been through a lot since the previous Thursday!

Thomas got his wish. To his credit, he experienced the risen Lord and responded with profound faith: “My Lord and my God.” He went from zero to 100 instantly.

We have 50 days of Easter until the great feast of Pentecost to experience, savor, understand and open up to these great mysteries and an even greater faith.

To those little corners of doubt and misunderstanding, Jesus himself wishes to speak: “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

What better Sunday than this to experience with Thomas — doubting, questioning, seeing, hearing, receiving, believing in the all-loving, all-merciful, Jesus the Christ!


Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.