Sunday, February 26, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” — Corrie ten Boom

At many hospitals, police stations, and other local sites, one can often find a sign at the door that identifies the facility as an “Infant Drop Off Site.” That means, if you have an unwanted baby, and you are tempted to do the unthinkable like throw the baby in a trash can, you can drop off the infant without any questions or consequences; the baby will be given safe haven.

In today’s liturgy, Isaiah asks what he suggests is an unthinkable question: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?”

Even if the question were just rhetorical, he refuses to leave it unanswered, because his answer clearly admits that it happens. If he were living now, he would say: “That’s why we have Infant Drop Off Sites.”

So he admits: “Even should she forget, I will never forget you,” says the Lord.

Following that description of God’s love for us, the Responsorial Psalm encourages us to have absolute confidence in God: “Only in God is my soul at rest.”

Then, a flood of images through words fills our minds and hearts. We are told that God is: “Our rock; our salvation; my stronghold; my hope; my safety; my glory; my refuge; my strength.”

Resting in God alone – and finding in him salvation, hope and refuge – these images evoke a clear sense that God means for us to have a relationship with him.

God is not simply to be adored or worse, feared, like the gods of ancient Rome, Greece and other places. He does not want human sacrifices, nor does he destroy us in whimsical fashion. No; he seeks relationship. He offers love and peace. He invites us to find rest and confidence in relationship to and with him; therefore, we need not worry what we will eat or wear or have.

Birds don’t worry. Bees don’t worry. Lilies don’t spin clothes. It is all provided. Seek only relationship – his kingdom; trust in his love.

St. Augustine once said: “Pray as though everything depends upon God; then work, as though everything depends upon you.”

In this phrase he gave not just a reflection but a spirituality, a way of living. God has provided. God has offered love and relationship. We need not worry, but we have been given minds, bodies and strengths to do what needs to be done to reap what God has sown for us.

It’s there. You’re in it. It’s already done. A mountain of worry will not bring about an inch of prosperity.

Jesus asks the question: “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?”

And just as quickly he responds: “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them (food, clothes, etc.) all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.”

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.

Friday, February 24, 2017

St. Bernard Ash Wednesday schedule

The St. Bernard Catholic Faith Community invites you to enter Lent with a spirit of prayer and penance.

In a particular way during Lent, we are asked to devote ourselves to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy that "remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbors in body and spirit."

"Lent is a favouable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ." — Pope Francis.



IN ENGLISH

Liturgy of the word, with imposition of blessed ashes
The liturgy of the word, with imposition of blessed ashes, will be celebrated.

  • In the church:
    7 a.m.
  • In the Pastoral Center:
    Noon to 4 p.m.
  • In the parish hall:
    5 to 9 p.m.

Mass, with imposition of blessed ashes
Holy Mass, with imposition of blessed ashes, will be celebrated

  • In the church:
    8 a.m.



EN ESPAÑOL

La liturgia de la palabra, con imposición de cenizas benditas
La liturgia de la palabra, con imposición de cenizas benditas, se celebrará.

  • En la iglesia:
    6 a.m., 4 a 7 p.m. y 8 a 9 p.m.

Misa, con imposición de cenizas benditas 
La santa Misa, con imposición de cenizas benditas, se celebrará.

  • En la iglesia:
    7 p.m.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.” — George Burns

“There’s nothing new in this world” is a phrase often used to describe how the new is really old or, at best, it is the old dressed in new clothes.

One could argue, since we are in a technology age that people 100 years ago could never have imagined.

But in today’s scriptures, we hear words over 1,000 years old that are not new – far from it. They echoed in the ears, minds and hearts of every Jew and became part of what Jesus would describe as the most important commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

But more than just an echo in his mind, this section from Leviticus is foundational and core to everything that Jesus preaches and teaches in Matthew’s Gospel.

Jesus, first of all, gives the reason for loving. It isn’t about getting praise or winning points or even doing things right. There is a reason and meaning that is so profound and fundamental that it goes to our very identity: “Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.”

God, who is love and who loves all, always, in all ways, calls us to love in the same way; therefore, Jesus captures within his teaching that purity and totality of love which go far beyond what you have heard or what has been taught to you before.

Jesus repeats again and again: “You have heard that it was said ... but I say to you!” In each of these sayings, Jesus asks his disciples, and “all who have ears to hear,” to go way beyond the “righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees” and live the fulfillment of this love: “Offer no resistance to one who is evil; turn the other cheek; hand over your cloak as well; go for two miles; do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”

The best he saves for last: “Love your enemies; pray for those who persecute you.”

His reason is simple — that is what God does: “He makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” After all, even sinners love those who love them.

But Jesus asks more: “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect,” or quoting Leviticus: “Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.”

There is another reason, perhaps a selfish one or at least self-serving, that is discovered when ones lives Jesus’ teaching. To “love like God loves” brings a peace, joy, contentment, harmony and holiness that is incomparable. It is as some would say: “living in God and God living in us”!

It might behoove us, the disciples of Jesus, to pay extra attention and trust when the master says those words: “But what I say to you is ...”.

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, February 12, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

When the scriptures utter things like: “Be holy, like your heavenly Father is holy,” what is it that they are saying?

A clear understanding emerges from the Gospel today.

The Sadducees and Pharisees fulfilled many roles and purposes in Jewish society: political, social, religious. Like anybody, they would at times lean left or right, or even be quite corrupt.

They often quarreled with Jesus, and he frequently disagreed publicly and strongly.

Today is such an example.

Whereas the Pharisees would pronounce the law and claimed to live it to the letter, in fact, Jesus accused them of side-stepping the law by their clever juridical understandings and explanations. They loved places of honor and respect and claimed to adhere strictly to the law.

The scriptures are cluttered with their accusations against Jesus for his blatant breaking of laws and commandments of the Lord, such as, healing on the sabbath.

Today, Jesus draws the line in the sand. He tells them clearly: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law of the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”

The Pharisees could recite the law; they knew it very well. It was their interpretation and especially their use of it to condemn others that particularly irked Jesus.

First, Jesus gave the complement: “whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven” — which the Pharisees clearly believe applied to them.

Then he dropped the bomb. Perhaps in his most straightforward condemnation of the Pharisees in all of the Scriptures, he spoke: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Then he proceeded to unveil what he had described as the fulfillment of the law: “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

The language is strong. He even speaks about “tearing out your eye” and “cutting off your right hand” should these be an occasion to sin. In Jesus’ concept of the fulfillment of the law, it went way beyond and far deeper than the extreme limit of the commandment: “You shall not kill.”

The fulfillment of the law calls us to love, reconcile, heal, and peacefully coexist with our neighbor.

Jesus sees the law as calling us to be holy as God is holy. To approach the holiness of God in the giving of gifts and sacrifices, Jesus even suggested leaving the gift at the altar if you recalled a division between yourself and your brother.

First, go reconcile. Then, come back and offer your gift: “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”

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, February 5, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.” — Desiderius Erasmus.

Ask a person with high blood pressure who has recently been told by their doctor: “Remove the salt from you diet.”

Some simply use a substitute. Some say they don’t miss it. Some say: “Without it my food has no taste.”

Jesus said: “You are the salt of the earth.”

A woman, as a result of a serious accident, was blind for four months. After the final surgery and accompanying recuperation, the bandages were removed and she was able to see. She was later quoted as saying: “It’s the light — the light; the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!”

Jesus said: “You are the light of the world.”

Isaiah calls it the “light.” He could equally refer to it as “salt.” In this respect, his writings could almost be called another Gospel, for he certainly speaks the heart of Jesus’ message, at least as it refers to love and care for the vulnerable and the poor.

Speaking for God, Isaiah calls us to: “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own.” “Then,” he says “your light shall break forth like the dawn.”

Becoming salt and light is a dual thing. We do it because it seasons and brightens the lives of others, but we also do it because in the becoming of light and salt, our own lives are changed and we discover the power and grace of God in our own lives and actions.

Albert Schweitzer, the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner and theologian, organist, philosopher, physician and medical missionary once said: “Do something for somebody everyday for which you do not get paid.” This is one quote out of literally hundreds he wrote in his famous book “Reverence for Life.”

Schweitzer got it. He realized that the Gospel is absolutely true. Living and doing it is not so that we can do good; living and it is so we can be and find good.

We are changed. We discover. We become salt and light.

“One thing I know: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve,” Schweitzer wrote. Serving, giving, sharing and forgiving — these are the things of gospel living. Schweitzer saw it so clearly.

Jesus IS truly concerned with our happiness. Jesus knows it gets awfully lonely being stuck. Real happiness happens when we go out of ourselves for others. Money can’t buy it.

Power can make it happen but often doesn’t. Prestige and position could multiply it and does for the few. But real happiness can be found in being salt and light.

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.