Sunday, August 27, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “The first step towards change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”  — Nathaniel Brandon.

A true insight or new awareness should include logic and makes good sense, but more importantly is something deeply spiritual.

We can know facts and details for years without ever rising to the point of insight or new awareness. But when the light goes on and we discover the meaning of something (insight or awareness) we are usually changed in some fashion forever.

Today, Peter and the disciples are changed forever. Matthew, Mark and Luke record this conversation with Jesus and the disciples in which Peter comes to a new awareness. It is only in Matthew, however, that Jesus remarks that “flesh and blood has not revealed this truth to you but my heavenly Father.”

It is on this insight that Jesus proclaims Peter as rock, the one on whom the church is to be built and the new reality from which true forgiveness and reconciliation would flow.

True power — not control — would be shared from this understanding of Jesus, the Christ. True power from our relationship with the Christ – this is the reality that is our rich insight.

How many times have we experienced gifts, discoveries, beauty and wonders flowing out of friendship? It isn’t just knowing a person or simply having them as a friend (the fact of relationship); rather, it is in the unfolding and developing relationship that the goodness and gifts begin to emerge.

They often come through our misunderstandings, and the crashing of different ideas and tastes, and the struggles that come through hurts and letting go — the forgiveness and healing within relationships.

It is not surprising that the conversation between Jesus and Peter that will follow in the Gospel is the harshest statement that Jesus speaks to Peter in all of the Gospels: “Get behind me, Satan.”

The relationship is proclaimed, and then the biggest crashing of ideas happens. Yet Jesus is firmly committed to his friendship and love with Peter and the other disciples. He means to empower them with his love and truth. He means to guide and help them to grow even through confusion and sin — even betrayal.

How deep is his love for them. How deep is his love for us. Even in sin and our own little betrayals, Jesus is firmly committed to his friendship and love with us.

May this insight, this new awareness, grow within us that we may discover the power of Christ’s love within us each day.

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 13, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” —  Corrie Ten Boom.

When was the last time you heard God speak to you? Was it an audible voice? Did it come through Verizon? Or was it more like the experience of Elijah in the word of God today?

But even Elijah had some difficulty hearing the voice of God. He looked, or rather listened, and did not hear what he expected to hear? Nor did he find the voice where he thought it would obviously be.

Surely, it would be in the “strong and heavy wind” that was “rending the mountains and crushing rocks.” But it wasn’t there that he heard the voice. No doubt it would be in the “earthquake” or the “fire,” since these also were strong, powerful, mighty and quite impressive.

But no, it wasn’t there either that the voice of God was to be heard. The voice of God was only a whisper. The voice of God was in quiet and silence. The voice of God was profoundly not impressive yet spoke directly to Elijah’s heart.

But in the Gospel today the experience is quite the opposite. It is in the midst of a mighty wind on the lake that was tossing the boat in huge waves that Jesus came to the apostles and even invited Peter to walk across the stormy sea.

True, he faltered, but at Jesus’ beckoning he stepped into the rough waters and confidently (at first) began to walk to Jesus.

Fear, however, is a powerful thing, and it often overcomes our deepest convictions. Even then, Jesus reached out to Peter and pulled him back to safety.

When was the last time you heard God speak to you? Was it an audible voice? Did it come through Verizon? Are we looking only in the dramatic and powerful places?

Are we receptive to God everywhere in our lives? Is God present in our struggles, pain, disappointments, failures, silence, dramas, and sin?

Jesus asks Peter and ourselves very directly: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

And doubting is OK. We aren’t perfect. We are very human. We all experience fear. But, hopefully, we too will finally say: “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

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 6, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “The best proof of love is trust.” —  Joyce Brothers.

The disciples had a profound experience that went something like this, according to St. Matthew: Jesus was transfigured before their eyes; his clothes were shining bright.

Suddenly, the prophets Moses and Elijah were speaking with him. The disciples were apparently not afraid. Peter even said that it was good that they were there, experiencing this moment.

He offered to erect three tents one for each of the esteemed persons in this vision before him. But then things changed. Something more happened. Something filled them with fear and trembling. It was unmistakable. It was unthinkable. It was wonderful.

A cloud cast a shadow over them and a voice came from the cloud IT WAS GOD! But this voice delivered an interesting and inviting message: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

God was pointing to Jesus in a unique and wonderful way; in doing so, he was offering the disciples an opportunity to recognize something glorious occurring before their eyes. Now they were afraid.

Why could they not accept this remarkable gift from God not in fear but in peace? Why could they not realize that this was perhaps a onetime gift that would never be repeated and, therefore, had to be savored and appreciated?

They were afraid, and Jesus told them not to be afraid. Typical Jesus: He reached out and touched them to reassure them and reached in to offer them peace.

Great lessons fill these scriptures today for us. Let us be alert and prepared for the unmistakable, the unthinkable, the wonderful.

Let us not be afraid to discover God alerting us to the presence of his Son in whom he is well pleased.

Let us not miss this opportunity of grace.

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.