Monday, August 29, 2016

Christianity meant to 'bring people together with Christ'

By  Jessica

I think that the denominations are a little, well ... I'm not sure what the word would be here.

I believe the point of Christianity is to bring people together in the journey of following Jesus Christ.

We all have different views on certain aspects of our faith. I doubt there are two people in any church who believe exactly the same things.

The Bible is interpreted and applied to each individual differently, based on their life experiences.

So why separate ourselves into all these different denominations when we could just work together?

What matters most is your love for God and your willingness to follow him.

Jessica is a nondenominational Christian from Rochester, New York. She decided not give her full name for this column.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week:  “It is no great thing to be humble when you are brought low; but to be humble when you are praised is a great and rare attainment.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Transformation!

As Jesus continues to speak about “entrance into the kingdom” or “being saved,” he does so by simply observing those around him.

At a dinner to which he was invited, he observes the way people are seeking the “high places” or the seats of honor. He gives some rather practical advice: Far better to sit at the “lowest” place, and then be invited by the host to come to a “higher” place, than to choose the highest and be relegated to the lowest because someone more important has arrived.

That will truly embarrass you. It is a case of the self-exalted being humbled. He also goes after his host by noting how many people (just like in this dinner) are invited to boost the social status of the host.

Many dinners are hosted primarily so that others will check out the guestlist to see who of great importance has attended. In this way, the host has been rewarded not for his generosity, but because of his self-seeking pride.

Jesus recommends: “Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.”

Transformation! Once again, Jesus is inviting us to something more.

Have you ever experienced a truly proud and arrogant person standing beside a truly humble person? The contrast is stunning.

The proud person is so completely self-absorbed, he has very little reserve to love.

The humble individual, on the other hand, delights and discovers the beauty in others, attracts true love and endearment from others, and becomes exalted by all — including God.

Is there really any choice? Would anyone really choose the proud and self-exalted road for themselves? Why? Why do people do it? Is it fear? Is it laziness? Is it grabbing on to an illusion? Is it the quick, fast food mentality that says: “I want and need a payback NOW! Right NOW!”

So, Jesus again goes to the deeper spiritual truth, the road less traveled, the insight far more beautiful but needing trust, to teach.

Transformation — how blessed are the eyes that see it, the ears that hear it, the mouths that speak it, and the hearts that trust it.

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

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Ingratitude is the soul’s enemy. Ingratitude is a burning wind that dries up the source of love, the dew of mercy, the streams of grace” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Transformation!

Did you ever know anyone who wanted and needed to lose 30 pounds and was absolutely committed to doing it? The only catch is they didn’t want to exercise, cut back on food intake, watch the amount of calories or sugar, or consider larger meals in the earlier portion of the day. They wanted results but were not willing to put any effort whatsoever into changes that usually bring about those results.

They had a goal but refused to consider any means of reaching it. If a person wants to achieve something, isn’t it a requirement that they do what is necessary to bring about the desired results?

To develop bulging muscles, what does it require? Exercise.

To acquire knowledge, what must one do? Study. To become a dancer, musician, writer or other artist, what must one do? Practice.

To become more than an acquaintance but rather a great friend what must one do? Spend quality time and communicate.

There are no shortcuts. There is no easier way. There are no fixes. Knowing the right person won’t get us there. In the end, the proof will be there for all to see. Either there is an authentic and total transformation into that artist, athlete, or friend, or the illusion of greatness will fade quickly in time when observed by those who recognize quality and truth.

Jesus, essentially, is saying the same in today’s Gospel. “Strive to enter through the narrow gate. Many will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough”; “Many will stand outside knocking, asking the Master to enter. They will say: ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ And he will say: “I do not know where you are from. Depart from me.”

Jesus is not talking about joining a club. Jesus is not inviting us to do routine exercises that we can check off as “completed.” Jesus is certainly not asking to “go through the motions.”

Jesus is talking about a spiritual journey in which there is dying and rising, radical change, letting go, becoming, seeking and finding, and selling all that we have to buy the one thing that makes all the difference and embracing last only to discover we have become first.

Jesus is talking not about doing but about becoming. It is not what we will do but what God will do in us when we open to complete and total transformation.

In effect, we will not forgive, or forgive more times or more often; rather, we will become forgivers.

We will not love a little or even a lot more; rather, we will become authentic lovers — even of our enemies.

The door is narrow. The entrance is hard to enter.

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

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “A saint is not someone who never sins, but one who sins less and less frequently and gets up more and more quickly.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

When a person has something tough or strong to say and knows that it may divide their listener within, they often will tag on this line: “I’m just sayin,’” as if to lessen or weaken, even just a little, the blunt or hard truth that they have just uttered.

Jesus doesn’t do that in this scripture passage. On the contrary, he doubles, or triples, up the ante.

His implied intentions become directly stated and emphasized: “I have come to set the earth on fire”; “how I wish it were already blazing”; “I have come to establish … rather, division.”

Then even more explicitly he draws out clearly the divisions he intends: father against son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

Does Jesus really want division? Is division just a consequence that follows when one makes decisions about opening to God’s kingdom within one’s heart and one’s choices?

Even family, friendship and love can intrude upon living the values and choices which flow from choosing a kingdom life centered on God and his word.

A kingdom choice — like deciding to forgive — can surprisingly, at times, cause division.

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

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “What we love we shall grow to resemble.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Jesus speaks about the deepest themes of faith and trust.

Today’s Gospel is placed in the broader context of references to Moses and the Passover (an evening of complete trust and confidence in the saving power of God).

Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son to God simply because of the promises God had made to him. This faith, trust and confidence is the stuff of which Jesus speaks in the Gospels.

Because of such trust, there is no room for fear. Jesus says that: “your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms.”

This place (interior) in which Jesus invites us to welcome the kingdom of God, places us in a completely different frame of mind and heart. When we trust and when we know with all our heart and soul that the promises of God are always good, and that his love is everlasting, we live with a generosity of heart that makes us new and alive.

Here, one discovers the power of loving, serving, giving, receiving, forgiving, compassion and making peace. Here, one discovers God in all and all in God.

Here, one discovers that being ready is being open and, that in openness and readiness, the kingdom is alive and powerful.

In this sense of alert openness to God here and now, Jesus uses a very ordinary example of the only acceptable attitude for a servant of a household.

The master is away and will return at a time that no one knows. The role of the servant is to be ready, waiting, alert, and up to serving the master’s every need. Any servant should know that this is the only acceptable attitude.

But Jesus says more. He speaks about the reward given to a servant ready and alert: the master will wait on him. He speaks about the blessing of a house not being broken into because the master was ready; such a blessing belongs to the servant who is ready and alert.

He finally tells about the beating given to a servant knowledgeable of the master’s will and a servant equally ignorant of it – both of whom do NOT do his will. Both will be beaten, but the first worst than the last. But the servant who is ready and alert AND doing the will of the master will be blessed.

The context of deep faith and trust – that of Moses, the ancients, and Abraham – reveals the proper attitude of those who are capable and desirous of experiencing the kingdom of God.

Be alert! Be ready! Be a true servant! Believe in God’s constant love and faithful promises!

Know what the treasure is, where the treasure is, and how to be open to the treasure, for this is an inexhaustible treasure “that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.”

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