Sunday, October 29, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Love and do what you will.” — St. Augustine.

“The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Is this hyperbole, exaggeration, to make a point?

How could a Jew — Jesus — make such a statement? For a Jew, the law and the prophets sum up love for God and the hearing of God’s voice in one’s daily life.

In Christian terms it might be summed up: “The whole Gospel depends on these two commandments.”

Could we say that?

We must.

The word of God in today’s scripture readings works together beautifully as usual.

The first reading lays out before us what “love of neighbor” looks like: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors … you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him. If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body.”

Love.

Act humanely.

Care for one another.

Do unto others what you would want done unto you.

Do no one harm.

Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

Why? How does God love us? No conditions, no limits. God loves us first, loves us always — loves for eternity.

God loves us when we don’t love him. God loves the good and the bad, and the bad and the good, equally. He gives us his sun, and his Son, his rain, and his reign, to all, no questions asked.

Just reflecting a tiny bit ought to lead us to this very simple yet very profound truth.

“The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” and “The whole Gospel depends on these two commandments.”

Are we willing to hear this? Are we willing to open our hearts to this?

Are we willing to live this?

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, October 22, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” — Mother Theresa.

Actions always have consequences.

For example, it's logical to conclude that if you eat contaminated food you may get sick.

Jesus makes that point in today’s Gospel.

If you use a particular currency, you are subject to the laws and limitations that are part of that currency. It seems reasonable to presume that since the Pharisee had a Roman coin he was probably using that currency.

Israel was an occupied territory of the Roman Empire. Using Roman currency had it benefits; it was a strong currency. But it also had its limitations: taxes were imposed.

So Jesus applied the logic to the question presented to him: “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar?”

If you use Roman currency, you are obligated by your use to pay taxes: “Pay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar,” was Jesus’ reply. That’s just logical. That really wouldn’t or shouldn’t be opposed to God’s law.

It would appear that the question set to trap Jesus trapped the Pharisee. Jesus took it a step further and answered a question that was implied but was not asked. He said: Repay “to God what is God’s.”

What does belong to God? Well, everything!

Are we giving all to God? Jews recited their Schema daily: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”

Actions always have consequences. To be in relationship with Caesar involves giving him certain things.

To be in relationship with God means giving all to him, since all comes from him, belongs to him, and shall return to him.

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, October 15, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”  — Hunter S. Thompson.

Perhaps only once a year the familiar question might go something like this: “Are you going to the party on Friday night?”

The equally rare and stunning response follows: “Are you kidding? I wouldn’t miss it! This is the social event of the year!”

What kind of event would qualify for that response? A presidential ball? The consecration or funeral of a pope? The grand opening of a world class opera house. The unveiling of a newly found Picasso. The last game of the World Series?

In today’s Gospel, it is the wedding of a king’s son. This is an event that, if invited to attend, one would never want to reject. Not only would it truly be the social event of the year, this would be a personal invitation from the king! To reject the event for whatever reason would also be to reject the king himself. It’s unthinkable!

Or to put it in other words: cancel everything; rearrange everything; put everything on hold; everything takes a back burner to this one!

This is Jesus’ way of presenting, once again, the kingdom of God. Here it is among you. It has arrived. It is now. It is forever. It is the single most important event you could and will ever know.

To reject the invitation of the kingdom is to reject God himself. It’s unthinkable!

This is the third week in a row that the liturgy presents this reality to us. The kingdom of God is offered; there are those who will not receive it, who cannot recognize it, who reject the offer.

Jesus says: “The offer will be taken away from you and given to someone else.”

These are startling words. This is truly unthinkable. The only response that makes real sense is simply: “I wouldn’t miss it. This is the event of a lifetime. This is the event that brings eternal life. Thank you for the invitation. I accept! I accept! I accept!”

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, October 8, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “What the caterpillar call the end of the world, the master calls the butterfield.” — Richard Bach.

We estimate 3,700 years of “salvation history,” beginning with the time of Abraham to the present.

The earth is estimated to be about 4.6 billion years old. The Milky Way galaxy that contains the solar system was probably formed around 13.6 billion years ago.

The universe is calculated to be about 13.7 billion years old.

The beginning of civilization, dated from 160,000 to 130,000 years ago, was the beginning of the African and Oceanic Ice Age civilizations, as modern humans displaced the neanderthals.

Looking at these dates alone, one must conclude that God is in it for the long run.

Today, Isaiah speaks of a fertile vineyard producing wild grapes. God proclaims that he would “take away its hedge, give it to grazing, let it be trampled, make it a ruin, [neither let it be] pruned or hoed, [let it] be overgrown with thorns and briers, not send rain upon it.”

Israel and Judah are respectively referred to as the vineyard and the cherished plant; God would take from them the fruitfulness he had promised, because they produced nothing as they lived for “bloodshed” and refused to seek “justice.”

In the Gospel, we hear another vineyard story in the parable of the vineyard and the evil tenants who leased the vineyard. Instead of producing a yield of good grapes, they beat the servants and even killed the son (the heir) of the owner of that vineyard.

Even the Pharisees were able to answer Jesus’ question: “What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” They answered correctly: “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.”

What they didn’t understand was that he was referring to them: “Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

God does not destroy. God does not punish this act or that. God does not kill. God is in it for the long run.

If humans have existed on this planet for 160,000 years, God has definitely hung around with us, put up with a lot, loved us in spite of ourselves, and continues to grace and gift us without conditions and limits

As always, the subjective variable is expressed in this question: “Are we open and willing to produce good fruit?”

God is in it for the long run.

Are we?

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.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Bishops Conference president calls for prayers, care for others after tragic shooting in Las Vegas

Archbishop Daniel
N. Dinardo.
By Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo,
archbishop of Galveston-Houston 


On Oct. 2, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), expressed "deep grief" after a deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas.

We woke this morning and learned of yet another night filled with unspeakable terror, this time in the city of Las Vegas, and by all accounts, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

My heart and my prayers, and those of my brother bishops and all the members of the church, go out to the victims of this tragedy and to the city of Las Vegas.

At this time, we need to pray and to take care of those who are suffering.

In the end, the only response is to do good – for no matter what the darkness, it will never overcome the light.

May the Lord of all gentleness surround all those who are suffering from this evil, and for those who have been killed we pray, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Conversion is a daily thing.” — Jim Caviezel.

Words are cheap.

We often hear them from our politicians during election campaigns. Promises, promises, and more promises — taxes are going to be lowered while at the same time revenues will go up; we are going to be out of debt and yet we are going to spend more; everything that is wrong will become right.

A lot of words are spoken.

This also occurs in religious circles and the world of faith.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks a question — “What is your opinion?” — then presents the situation.

Two sons each respond to their father when asked to go out to work in his vineyard. One says “Yes” (but never goes), and the other says “No” (but has a change of heart and goes out to work).

Jesus’ question follows: “Who did his father’s will?”

The answer — “The one who did his father’s will” — can be understood in one word: “conversion,” or a change of heart.

Conversion is the core idea of all three readings today; a change of mind, heart and will is what conversion is all about.

The emptying of self in the second reading is about going through deep, profound conversion — “God emptying himself and taking the form of a slave.”

The Gospel speaks exactly the opposite truth of the world. The world says: “Grab onto power, hold it tight, use it everywhere you can; you must be in control; winning is everything.”

But the word of God speaks a different truth: “Let go; give yourself over to God; empty yourself; deny yourself; die in order to rise, to live anew and forever.”

This is what we call the Paschal Mystery. This is the example of Jesus and why he is proclaimed the Christ.

Words are cheap; promises are easy. Admitting “I am wrong” and changing one’s ways is conversion. It is the Gospel, and it is salvation.

Citing the brother who said “No” but changed his mind and did it, Jesus concludes: “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before 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.