Sunday, June 25, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Tolerance only for those who agree with you is no tolerance at all.” — Ray Davis.

Through a series of opposites, the Gospel reveals the kingdom of Jesus and the world into which he sends his disciples.

He counters the fear and limitations of that world with the hope, vision and grace of his kingdom: concealed, revealed; secret, known; darkness, light; whispered, proclaimed; kill body, cannot kill soul; small coin, worth more.

The difference between each of these pair of words might make anyone afraid if it were not for the fact that someone great is on our side.

Jesus makes it quite clear that we are not alone and that there is a sustaining, protective and lifegiving love upon which we can depend.

Jesus speaks directly and forcefully as to what we can expect: “Fear no one. Do not be afraid. Even the hairs of your head are counted. I will acknowledge [you] before my Father. Do not be afraid.”

There are a few spiritual and emotional realities that can completely paralyze a person. Among the strongest of these is fear. When one becomes afraid of anyone or anything, very often they cannot summon the courage to accomplish what they want or need to do.

In the face of fear, they become helpless and hopeless.

Jesus understood this well; he counseled to trust and to know deep within our spirit the faithful love of God our Father. He repeated so many times within his Gospel message the same words: “fear not.”

These words of Jesus take on so much more power when one knows the end of the story: The disciples were to face martyrdom because they proclaimed the kingdom of God “from the rooftops.”

The cost of discipleship is great; the rewards are even greater. Fear is one of the only things that can prevent one from trusting fully in the ultimate saving power of God.

It is, therefore, trust in God’s love and care for us that will ultimately encourage us to stand up even in the face of persecution.

This is at the heart of what Jesus proclaimed so explicitly in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are those persecuted for holiness’ sake; the reign of God is theirs. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven.”

We take it to heart and find encouragement and hope in Jesus’ command: “Fear no one. Do not be afraid!”

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, June 18, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “I speak to everyone in the same way whether he is the garbage man, or the president of the university” — Albert Einstein.

This celebration of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) highlights two relationships: God’s special and loving relationship with us, and our relationship with one another as the body of Christ.

This feast affords me a wonderful opportunity to express my thanks to all of you – fellow members with me of the body of Christ.

The scriptures today point out how God guided his people out of love and compassion; nothing was left to chance. God led his people out into the desert, and led them eventually, to the place of promise.

He fed them, gave them drink, and protected them from the serpents. Their outer physical journey reflected a parallel inner journey of the spirit.

In John’s Gospel, God continued to care for his people. He sent his Son Jesus, who gave himself to God’s people so completely that he became their very food and drink – to satisfy their deepest hungers and thirsts.

God’s wondrous care promised eternal life and the assurance that we will be raised on the last day.

All of this, and our relationship with Jesus the Christ, especially in Eucharist, bring us into a profound relationship with one another.

Paul tells us we are the Body of Christ. Jesus describes the depth of our unity through Eucharist: “Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”

I am thankful I came to St. Bernard Church five years ago, and this amazing parish has drawn me into this portion of the Body of Christ with profound results for me.

This parish has shaped me, changed me, formed me, challenged me, taught me, and given me new life. Like a family, we have gone through it all.

We have said things, done things, refused to do things that have hurt, challenged, blessed, healed, and loved one another.

We have been asked by God’s Word to forgive. Hopefully, we have done so.

We have worked together. We have become more united – more one, more the Body of Christ.

I am thankful. My heart has been called to love, and I did all I did not just out of duty but for love.

I am thankful that I was a part of this portion of the Body of Christ.

I am thankful to and for you!

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, June 11, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners.” — Lawrence Sterne.

Love is one of those words that you can define, but it doesn’t mean you fully understand it — or ever can.

It is a mystery. You know when it is there and when it isn’t. The more you experience it, the more you discover the depths of its meaning.

But one thing you know for sure, you can never fully grasp its meaning or power because it is truly mystery.

The Trinity is also mystery. We attempt to define it; we listen to God’s word as Trinity is revealed throughout the Gospels, most especially in John’s Gospel.

We are given rich and beautiful descriptions of the love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and experience this revelation of one God in three persons – this community of love in one God.

There is rich significance in the definition of God that is given to us in the first letter of John: “God is love.”

Because it is this love between Father, Son and Spirit that is God, one can say it, describe it, attempt to define it, proclaim it, listen to the revelation of it, and seek its meaning.

In all of this we keep entering more deeply to the mystery. But the truth is we will never fully grasp its meaning. It is like the proverbial bottomless pit: The more you grasp, the deeper the truth; there is always more.

Once the mystery has been shared and begins to reveal its meaning and power, it becomes more and more a mystery to be experienced. To enter into the love that is Trinity — to open its power and be touched by it, to seek it and discover it, to open one’s mind to it — is the journey.

As Catholics, we do that simply as we begin and end every prayer by marking or crossing ourselves in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Every time we pray, we mark ourselves with the cross, and we mark ourselves with the name of God as Trinity.

We are covered by the love of the cross and covered by the love that is God – the communion of three persons in one God.
We will never fully understand it, and yet we touch the mystery countless times every day in prayer, allowing this mystery to guide, change, and love us.

We are a people of faith, and our lives are formed and transformed by the God we know and love as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the Most Holy Trinity!

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, June 4, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “A person’s a person no matter how small.” — Dr. Seuss.

On Easter night, Jesus appeared to the disciples.

This Easter Gospel tells us that he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

The gift of the Spirit of God brings forgiveness, allows forgiveness to flow especially through a ministry of forgiveness, and brings healing, peace and new life.

The first reading retells the very Pentecost event in which the Spirit of God comes upon the disciples in a driving wind, filling the entire house, then resting upon each one as tongues of fire.

They were filled with the Spirit, began to speak in different tongues as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

When we listen attentively to these scriptures today, we hear the wonders of the Spirit of God as forgiveness abounds, tongues are loosened, understanding and proclaiming are everywhere, and people’s hearts, souls and lives go through profound conversion.

God is present! God speaks! God touches!

God moves hearts and souls! God forgives!

God invites! God loves!

We are a Pentecost church, born into new life on this day when we remember and celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Our inner life of the Spirit comes from the Spirit of God.

In the words of the traditional song we sing out today: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love, and you will renew the face of the earth.”

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.