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.

Monday, April 07, 2003
Welcome St. Bede Parish

First of all welcome to all the readers from St.Bede Parish in La Canada Flintridge, CA. This is mission week in St. Bede Parish and those who are unable to attend the morning or evening sessions are welcome to read the mission notes here and participate in the discussion.

There are two things going on this Blog/website this week.

First, there is the on-line retreat that began Ash Wednesday and will continue through Easter Sunday.

Secondly, the Mission notes for each day of the Mission will be posted along with discussion questions. You are invited to read the scripture readings and the notes and use the questions to help you reflect on their significance.

If you have any questions, please send me an email.

Participate in the Preaching

Go to the Link join the conversation below each post. You may use a nick name and do not need to post your email address. Please respond to the posts and not to each other.

The Plenary indulgence is granted for those who participate in the preaching and are present for the final blessing. For those who heard me preach on Sunday, and indulgence is not a thing that we can earn. A better word for indulgence is the experience of intimacy with God. Intimacy cannot be earned either, but neither can you experience intimacy if you are absent. So a quality of presence is necessary for the indulgence. The usual conditions apply: the sacrament of reconciliation and the reception of Eucharist are some of the minimum requirements.

Confessions will be heard on Wednesday night of the mission and the close of the mission will be a solemn Eucharist.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 6:58 PM link
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Mission Night One

Have you ever wondered why we celebrate the Death of the Lord?

Does it seem just a bit morbid?

1 Cor 11:26: We proclaim his death.
Romans 6:3, You are baptized into his death.

Think of where your life is most in need. Where has your heart been broken? Where is hope tenuous and unsure?

You know we are built with high expectation and often we miss the mark. When I was in grade school and high school there was such an emphasis on grades and whatever I produced was never enough. I remember getting all A’s once with one B. It was insufficient. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

God comes to earth and goes in a different direction. He attends to the leper first. “If you choose you can make me clean.” He heals the centurion’s servant, a pagan, a Roman, but still he says but the word and the boy is healed. He heals Peter’s mother-in-law. She has no status or importance without a husband. He attends to the incomplete, the unprotected, the poor, the humble, the stranger, the foreigner.

Where do our hearts go? Often our values and self-discovery are identified with products. Many times money is the main symbol of our worth. We tend to have substitute relationships with cars, computers, and with bank accounts, or at least our commercials portray us this way. In our world power is necessary for victory and it often leads to violence and oppression. People are expendable and things are often good substitutes for people. On the television sexuality is portrayed mainly as unfaithfulness and married people are portrayed as being unhappy and unfulfilled or at least having limited freedom.

Do we look for relationship like we are shopping for a car? It (she) looks the way I like, fulfills my self, and completes me? If it gets dented, get it fixed. If it breaks down, get a new one.

Where does judgment play a role in our life? Are we beset by disappointment, fear or doubt? I remember a woman with cancer who wondered what she did wrong to deserve cancer. I remember a young woman asking if her mother went to heaven and wondering why she had to suffer.

In many ways this struggle and doubt is very similar to the struggle of the early Christians in their desire to understand the death of Jesus. The disciples did not know what to think. We have struggled for centuries with this.

St. Paul had an answer.

Romans 3:24-25
All 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. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed;

For the Jewish people the Day of Atonement was a most holy day. The ritual that was celebrated was important because it was for the forgiveness of the sins of the people. In this ritual (which is fully described in chapter 16 of Leviticus) the priest would enter the Holy of Holies and he would sprinkle the blood from the sacrificed animals on the propitiatory. The propitiatory was a rectangular plate made of pure gold that was place on top of the Ark of the Covenant which contained the law (Ex. 25:17-25). This was called the `mercy seat' because this was where God was encountered. This was where God's presence could most keenly be felt. It was sprinkled with the blood during the ritual of atonement as a means of communicating with God. The blood carried with it the remorse of the people for their sins, and as a sign of the life force of God, it communicated the forgiveness that God extended to the people.

In equating the body of Jesus with the propitiatory and his blood with the blood of the sacrifice, Paul is making a very bold assertion. The followers of Jesus were trying to make sense of the humiliating public execution that ended Jesus’ life. It seemed to be the all too sudden and abrupt ending to the message that he preached. However, through this statement Paul give meaning to the event of the cross. The blood-shedding on the cross becomes a part of the mission of Jesus, not its end. The death on the cross becomes a sacrificial offering made for the atonement of the sins of the people.

So what does this all mean? First of all it says something about how God dwells with his people. By associating the body of Jesus with the propitiatory, it asserts that God dwells within Jesus. This is not so much a statement of the divinity of Christ as it is stating that God dwells most intimately in a stripped, beaten, broken, and misunderstood man, condemned as a criminal. In other words, God doesn't appear where we might expect him; rather he appears out on the fringes of established values and ideals. God's dwelling place is not with the powerful and respected, but in the midst of those broken and calling out for justice and mercy.

Secondly, if the body of Christ is the propitiatory, than the cross becomes the Holy of Holies The Holy of Holies was the most sacred sanctuary of the temple; the dwelling place of God. What a paradox that creates! If the instrument of public execution can be the special place of God dwelling in the world, than it opens up a paradox at the very heart of our perception of the world. Paul speaks of the cross as a "stumbling block to Jews and an absurdity to Gentile" (I Cor. 1:23). No longer can we look for God above or beyond the fray of daily existence. God dwells in a broken and shamed man hanging on an instrument of execution. Somewhere in that violent end of life is the hope for new life. Somewhere in that gesture of powerlessness, lies genuine power. Somewhere in the shame of the cross lies the beginning of true human dignity.

Thirdly, Paul gives us a new way of looking at the blood-shedding of Jesus. His blood is likened to the blood of the Day of Atonement. The cross is not the place of the careless shedding of blood in a violent act; rather, it is the means through which God saves his people from their sinfulness. This act of death brings about new life. In the blood shed on the cross we have an image that hold within it both death and life. The blood shed on the cross, like the blood of the Day of Atonement, releases us from sin, and allows us to enter a new life.

So What? What does this do for our life?

It is meant to give us absolute confidence.

Hebrews 19:10-25
Brothers and Sisters,
since through the blood of Jesus
we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary
by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil,
that is, his flesh,
and since we have "a great priest over the house of God,"
let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust,
with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience
and our bodies washed in pure water.
Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope,
for he who made the promise is trustworthy.
We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works.
We should not stay away from our assembly,
as is the custom of some,
but encourage one another,
and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.

This is where we experience the covenant God has established in our flesh and blood. It is most visible in the married couple that has learned how to be weak with one another.

Power creates barriers and divisions. When we are weak with one another we discover intimacy. That is precisely God’s deepest desire; he wishes to share this intimacy with us. This covenant is no longer written in law or in mind or in memory. It is carved in human flesh and blood, and each one has the ability to know the Lord, intimately.

One suggestion for more on this confidence is to look for and read St. Gaspar’s letter 62 on confidence.

We have been slaves all our lives to our own fears and hopes and expectations. By his death he robbed the devil of his power and freed those who through fear of death had been slaves their whole life long.(see Hebrews 2:5-18) Death has no power over us. (see Romans 6:9, Rev 20:6).
We celebrate the death of the Lord because he is our life and our freedom. We can live with absolute confidence and enter the presence of God with bold faith as no struggle, disappointment or disillusionment has any power over us. And even if this disappointment reveals our own weakness, we can have no fear because we trust no longer in ourselves but in the one who has loved us.

We hold the death of the Lord deep in our hearts. Living, now we remain with Jesus the Christ.

Discussion questions:

1. How would you describe your covenant with God? God's with you?

2. What does it mean to be God's people? What responsibilities and privileges are involved?

3. Who may feel without hope? What events rob people of hope?

4. Who is cut off from the people in my neighborhood or city?

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 6:46 PM link
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Monday of the Fifth Week

The Readings
Dan 13: 1 9,15 17,19,30, 33 62 Susanna falsely accused
Psalm 23 Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil, for you are at my side.
John 8:1-11 The Women caught in adultery. Let the one among you without sin be the first to cast a stone at her.

St. Gaspar del Bufalo
"As the eyes of the dove are open and clear, so also will our intellectual vision of God and of heavenly things become open and clear. With a pure intention we shall seek nothing but his glory and true good of souls: "It follows that if your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light." It is then that the Lord, transported in love and joy, exclaims: "Your eyes . . . are doves;" "for they hold me captive." Dear brothers, these very reflections --- these truths --- enable us to draw abundant fruit from our retreat and to acquire thoroughly the science of the saints, the focal point of our heart's desire. The virtue that is acquired, then, becomes most pleasing to our hearts. Whoever looks forward to becoming virtuous, is disgusted with whatever leads away from God. He thirsts only after God, for in the unitive way he will be continually filled with desire and ever thirsting for God himself. "

"If people return into the arms of God's mercy, all else will easily fall into place. Once consciences are set right, so too will all problems find a solution. I compassionate with you in the burden that you have with your worries, and I beg God that whatever you do will be accompanied with a copious supply of blessings."

We tend to objectify sin. When we talk about it we are speculative and theoretical. Is sin something personal or relational? Can we own up to it or take responsibility for it? The world treats it as something elsewhere, alien, outside. If it feels good it is morally ok, some would say. They take offense if we describe a particular act as sinful.

Last week we saw in the prodigal son parable that there are two types of sinner. The first is overt, blatant and conspicuous. The second is covert, hidden, concealed behind a facade. The younger son had clearly broken the relationship with his father. The elder son, at least in the culture, was still in the right, and was demanding his rights. But there was no relationship of love with his father either. He wanted justice, but he was just as guilty. Human justice is never complete, never thorough enough, never total or whole. Human justice can never be final.

Now beyond the parable, Jesus is met with the situation in the flesh. It is a trap. If he forgives her he stands against the law of Moses. If he condemns her he could be in trouble with the law of Rome. It is a set up. Was she indeed caught in the act? Where was the partner? He was just as guilty. The situation is very irregular. If real, it would have been taken to the Sanhedrin anyway.

Where is sin here? Is it just outside? Is it just her? What about us? Mercy and Justice come face to face here, and Jesus is Mercy. The challenge is to look first to self. Gaspar knows this implicitly. If each conscience is set right, everything else falls into place.

- How would I describe my relationship with Jesus?
- Is there anyone I dismiss because of judgement? Why?
- Am I just taking care of myself? How would I describe my relationship with the world?

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 9:07 AM link
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