The New Gasparian
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A journal dedicated to the life and mission of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, and to a life lived in response to the call and the cry of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our on-going mission is to share good news of hope and communion.

Sunday, November 10, 2002
Come and Pray

One of the things I miss about parish life is a little group that used to gather in the darkness of early Wednesday mornings to struggle with the sacred scriptures and to pray together. Centering on the Word is what Missionaries and Companions of the Precious Blood do. That little group is now spread about the map, but this internet has given us the ability to gather in cyberspace and do the same things: to listen to the Word, to present ourselves to the Word no matter who or how we may be, to be challenged by the Word and to respond to the Word in faith. You are welcome to listen in and to provide your own insights and response to the word.

Come and pray with us.

Conversations That Matter

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 10:27 PM link
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Scriptural Rosary

The young master of
OneRock has posted his own scriptural Rosary for the new Luminous Mysteries here.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 5:28 PM link
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Renewing the Heart

Jesus promises to renew each and every heart. Jesus stands and waits at the table with an unending invitation to come and feast, to receive the gifts of the heavenly banquet. Yet, still, there is fear. There is preoccupation with the world in which we live and its entertainments. The efforts at Renewal, small groups, faith sharing, are not some artificial thing imposed on the church from outside in order to change it into something else. Faith-sharing community is what the church has been doing for centuries. Faith-sharing community is the church's constant response to the Lord who beckons us to the feast.

Communion and community are a given. It is not something we create. It already is. We are changed, transformed by our involvement in communion. We are transfigured by our immersion in Christ and in the community. Community is fundamental. One of the favorite images Jesus used was a wedding banquet. His effort at reconciling sinners and outcasts and inviting them to the feast was an invitation to the community of a New Israel.

The choice for involvement in these communities is always free, yet the gifts and the call of God call are irrevocable. St. Gaspar, our missionary founder and our apostolic inspiration, was never put off by refusal. Jesus is not put off by refusal. The invitation is always there.

The invitation is to relationship, and this union/communion/ relationship with our creator has been entirely reformed, reconstituted and remade in the Blood of Jesus. The work is God's work. God accomplishes it. God's work is placed in the hands of a human being, and is realized in the man, Christ Jesus. The tragedy is when anyone still feels or experiences themselves as cut off, as cast off and unacceptable, as unbefitting this union relationship with the one who loves us.

How does this blood achieve this relationship? In our mechanistic culture this is often displayed as some gory prize sought after by a bloodthirsty God in the distant heavens who is only waiting to see us suffer for our sins. That could not be any further from the truth. This misunderstanding is more likely some adversarial tactic to keep us from this covenant relationship by driving this wedge of fear between us and the supposed wrath of a vengeful God.

Let us briefly look at how our ancient ancestors saw this blood. We must remember that their understanding was pre-scientific. For them blood was simply life. It was the vehicle, the carrier of God's life. If there was any place we could touch the boundary between life and death, that mystical place where the face of God was approached, this was it. The circle of communication from God to us was complete in this blood. When Moses splashed the blood of the sacrifice on the people in the desert (Exodus 24) they felt touched and stained by the very life of God. This was in the days before dry cleaners, and this blood marked you as belonging to this people of God. This action was closely related to the reading of the law, the book of the covenant. So the law and the sacrifice were designed to bring people near, to make them whole, and to mark them as belonging to community.

But Jesus saw, however, that the law was being used to keep people apart. Sinners and pagans were marked out as aliens and strangers, given no hope and kept separate. The manner in which the Law was administered gave credence to a belief in a God of wrath, and Jesus desired to show us a God who is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4). His stories and teachings of reconciliation, his eating with sinners, and his healing of pagans, all made the advocates of law and order uncomfortable. It is what ultimately led to his death, as his struggle with authorities turned ugly with the turning of tables in the temple and the accusations of his being in cahoots with Beelzebub. God did not demand Jesus' death. The temple authorities and the Roman political machine demanded Jesus' death. It is not the wrath of God we have to fear. We are faced, rather, with the struggle of wills between fearful, defensive humanity and our God who is rich in mercy. The presence of Jesus, faithful servant, in this struggle indicates God's faithful presence with us in ours.

After his death and resurrection his disciples were faced with another struggle. How could the merciful and compassionate God, the Father of Jesus, have allowed this? How could Jesus’ death be compatible with his being the Messiah? It was believed that those "hung on the tree" were cursed, were cursed by GOD! How did we reconcile this horrible death with this new picture Jesus gave us of God whose only desire was to gather us into his arms? Blood was the answer.

St. Paul put forth the resolution that we are "now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith (Romans 3:24 25)." Drawing on a rich heritage of images from the Hebrew Scriptures, Paul finds meaning for us. He equates the body of Jesus with the place of atonement or "mercy seat," a rectangular plate made of pure gold that was placed on top of the ark of the covenant which contained the law (Ex. 25:17 25). This mercy seat had been sprinkled with blood during the sacrifice as a way of communicating our sorrow for sin. Now the blood of a spotless lamb took its place. Now also, Paul was equating the cross with the Holy of Holies, as the place of this sacred sacrifice. If the body of Jesus is the atonement, and if the cross is the holy of holies, quite a paradox is created. We are now saying that God dwells most intimately with a beaten, broken condemned criminal. At the death of Jesus the veil in the temple was split from top to bottom. The dwelling place of God has changed. No longer confined to some distant temple, the dwelling place of God is the human heart beset by trials, struggles and disappointments.

What does the blood of Jesus say to us about God, about Jesus, and about ourselves? This blood asserts rather strongly that God shared fully in our condition. Jesus transformed the images of the holy of holies and temple from a building as dwelling place to community as holy temple and each one of us as temple. In Jesus, we all have access to the mercy of God, mediated not once a year but in every gathering for Eucharist. This blood's sacredness means we are sacred. Whether it is a time of peace or a period of struggle in our lives, we know the faithful presence of God in this blood.

As Pope John Paul II has urged the renewal of the church as we gather in our small faith sharing communities, we know it is this precious blood that brings us close and draws near all who are afraid or feel cast off. As the Holy Father has stated: "I urge a renewal in the image of the church herself, as a communion benefiting from the gifts of all her members, authentic communion,...a mutual abiding love, having nothing to do with power, privilege or dominion." (John Paul II, July 2, 1993) He has also urged us to delve more deeply into this mystery of the rich love of God, to renew our hearts on this sharing of faith and in our participation in this sacred banquet. "The Most Precious Blood of our Lord has always been the object of a special attention on the part of all the saints: it is the school of sanctity, of justice, of love. Never cease to delve deeply into this mystery of justice and love: diffuse it into the whole world." (John Paul II, October 19, 1989)

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 1:22 PM link
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Watch with your heart, watch with faith, watch with love, watch with charity, watch with good works....make ready the lamps, make sure they do not go out,...renew them with the inner oil of an upright conscience; then shall the bridegroom enfold you in the embrace of his love and bring you into his banquet room, where your lamp can never be extinguished.

St. Augustine, Sermon, 93

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 1:03 PM link
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