By Fr. Matthew Brumleve
Mercy, Pope Francis says, is the very face of God. The pope also said: “Mercy makes us understand that violence, resentment, and revenge have no place in the life of a Christian.” But oh how we love those things – rather than forgiveness. . .
There once was a little boy, Johnny, who was visiting his grandparents on their farm. And his grandfather gave him a slingshot to play with out in their vast woods.
The boy practiced shooting his slingshot every day – but he could never hit what he was aiming at – trees, stumps, tin cans on fence posts. . . all were missed – why, he probably couldn’t even hit the side of the barn!
Getting a little discouraged after a week, he decided to give up on the slingshot.
But as he neared the house from walking back from the woods that day – he saw his grandmother’s pet duck. Just out of impulse, he picked up a rock, put it in the slingshot and let fly at the duck – most to his surprise – he hit the duck square in the head and killed it.
Johnny was shocked and scared. . . it was his grandmother’s pet duck! In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the woodpile – only to see his sister, Sally, watching. Sally had seen what had happened – but said nothing.
Until after lunch that day – when Grandma said, “Sally, help with the dishes.” And Sally said, “Grandma, Johnny told me HE wanted to help with the dishes, don’t you Johnny?” And she quietly whispered to him, Remember the Duck. . .
So Johnny helped with the dishes. Later, Grandpa said, “let’s go fishing.” Sally and Johnny were both ready to go – until grandma said, “I need Sally to stay and help me clean the house.” And Sally said, “Oh no, grandma – Johnny will be more than willing to say and help, won’t you Johnny?” As she quietly whispered, Remember the Duck. . . So Johnny stayed, and Sally went fishing with grandpa.
After several days of doing BOTH his chores and Sally’s, Johnny could not stand it anymore. He went to his Grandmother and confessed that he had accidently killed the duck. She knelt down, gave him a hug and said, “Sweatheart, I know. I was standing at the window and saw it all. But because I love you, I forgave you. But I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you. . .”
Something like that happened in today’s Gospel – and happens in our lives. There was, you recall, a campfire. Around it, Peter, Jesus’ hand-picked leader of his group, denied him three times – and with swearing and cursing at that!
Then, loaded with guilt, Peter bolted from the fire and fled into the dark streets of Jerusalem. Still enslaved by his guilt, he apparently just wanted to go back to what he knew best — fishing — rather than doing that fishing for men and woman as Jesus had invited him to do.
That’s where we find him in today’s Gospel. Then, as we heard, Peter unexpectedly found himself around another campfire. This time he had the chance to affirm his love for Jesus three times – and Jesus, who was wondering just how long his guilt would make a slave of him – embraced Peter and forgave him – and set him free — just as Johnny’s grandmother did for him.
But this should not surprise us. Mercy was Jesus’ name and forgiveness was his game – not revenge. And hopefully we can all nod in agreement and be filled with gratitude that Jesus will give us a second chance as well, no matter what we do. . .
For Jesus, there is always another campfire around which to set things right – for all of us. And it is only when we are liberated from our fear, our guilt, our pain and confusion – that we can do what Jesus asks of us – just as he asked Peter:
LOVE ME: BY FEEDING MY LAMBS, BY TENDING MY SHEEP, BY FEEDING MY SHEEP – that is how we are called to follow after Christ.
And we cannot do that if we are carrying around the weight of the past – being held back by grudges, or seeking to harm or retaliate against another – by reminding them of the ducks they have slain. . .
Mercy: is the very face of God. We show mercy to others by forgiveness, and through love:
Feed my lambs.
Tend my sheep.
Feed —- my sheep.
Come, let us follow after the Lord.
By Fr.Matthew Brumleve
During the Jubilee year of 2000: Pope John Paul II designated this 2nd Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.
On this Sunday, and throughout the Easter season and in fact – throughout our lives — we are invited to take up the strength of grace that comes to us from the mercy of God – and show that mercy to others.
THAT is a direct command which always comes to us in the Gospel on the 2nd Sunday of Easter. Jesus says to the disciples [and to us]: “As the Father has sent me, so I also send you.”
After saying this, Jesus then entrusts them with a special task, telling them: “receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive — are forgiven.”
This is the meaning of mercy that is presented to us by Christ: forgiveness. Not carrying around the weight of the past – not to be held back by grudges, not seeking harm or retaliation of another — but forgiveness.
The first task the risen Christ gave to his followers is to forgive one another. . . This commission is to be a concrete and visible sign of Christ’s mercy.
Today, in Pope Francis – we have a Pope who never tires of talking about mercy. “Mercy,” the Pope says, “is the face of God.”
I can do no better today than to simply read some of Pope Francis’ quotes on mercy – pausing after each one to let it soak in a bit – and then we will end with an appropriate response to mercy – singing.
Pope Francis says:
“Jesus kept his wounds so that we would experience his mercy. This can strengthen us and give us hope.”
“Let us never forget that mercy is the keystone of the life of faith –and a concrete way with which we give visibility to the Resurrection of Christ.”
“We are all sinners but God heals us with an abundance of grace and mercy and tenderness. We are called to go and do likewise.”
“Mercy is a verb – not a noun: we have to show mercy in order to receive mercy. We cannot meditate on mercy without it turning into action.”
“Start by feeling compassion for the poor and the outcast – then surely you will come to realize that you, yourself, stand in need of mercy.”
“Mercy warms the heart and makes it sensitive to the needs of our brothers and sisters. Mercy commits everyone to being an instrument of justice, reconciliation and peace.”
“For it is by mercy that the Lord forgives our sins and gives us grace to practice acts of mercy in God’s name.”
“Mercy makes us understand that violence, resentment, and revenge have no place in the life of a Christian. The first victim is whoever lives these sentiments – because it deprives them of their own dignity.”
“The most important thing in the life of every man and woman is not that they should never fall along the way – the important thing is always to get back up – not staying on the ground and licking your wounds. God’s mercy helps us to do that – to get back up — and our mercy can help others do it.”
“If our hearts are closed – if our hearts are made of stone – the stones quickly find their way into our hands and we are ready to throw them. So open your heart to mercy – -and let go of the stones.”
“God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking God’s mercy,”
“Let the church always be a place of mercy and hope – where everyone is welcomed, loved, and forgiven.”
After meditating on mercy – how can we keep from singing? So I invite you to turn to #494 in the hymnals to learn a simple refrain. . .
Mighty Spirit of our Lord. . .
Give us faith to live your word.
You have loved us as your own. . .
Make us turn to you alone.
May we be a blessing true. . .
Christ as Lord of all we do.
Be the fountain of each soul. . .
Flow in us and make us whole.
Make us children of your light. . .
As your gospel shining bright.
God who lives beyond our death. . .
Love as near as every breath.
As the mystic St. Faustina taught us to pray:
For the sake of his sorrowful Passion – have mercy on us and on the whole world. AMEN!
By Father Matthew Brumleve
On behalf of myself and our deacons: Jim Koger and Mike Lewis,
Our Principal: Kaci Monaghan.
Early childhood director: Mary Ragan
Liturgist and financial coordinator: Robin Lamb
Religious Education Director: Jean Folken
Office Administrator: Lisa Angotti –
And anyone else I may be forgetting about –
I wish all of you a happy and holy Easter! We are glad you chose to spend part of your day with us here at St. Patrick – and hope you get to spend the rest of your day with family and friends:
Enjoying some good food, a little candy, perhaps an Easter egg hunt – but most especially just enjoying each other’s company.
The resurrection of Jesus calls us to NEW LIFE – and so may you find the strength and grace you need in this liturgy and in this Easter season – to be a witness to the resurrected Christ in your home, your place of work, here in the parish – and in your schools and neighborhoods. And to this we say: ALLEULUIA!
It was Art Linkletter who first told us years ago – that kids say the darndest things. And if we need proof of this – here are a few examples:
** An exasperated mother, whose son was always getting into mischief, finally asked him: “Carl, how do you ever expect to get into heaven?”
The boy thought it over for a moment and finally said: “Well, I’ll just run in an out //and in and out// and in and out – and keep slamming the door – until St. Peter finally says, ‘For heaven’s sake, Carl, either come in or stay out,’ —and then I’ll just stay in!”
**After listening restlessly to a long and tedious homily, a six year old boy asked his father what the priest did the rest of the week. “Oh, he stays pretty busy,” his father replied.
“He takes care of Church business, visits the sick, helps the poor. . . and then he has to rest up. You know — Speaking in public isn’t an easy job.”
The boy thought about that, and then said, “well let me tell you – listening in public— ain’t an easy job either!”
** A Sunday school teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan, in which the man was beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the side of the road.
She described the situation in vivid detail so her students would be drawn into the drama.
Then she asked the class, “If you saw a person lying on the roadside all wounded and bleeding – what would YOU do?
A thoughtful girl broke the hushed silence by saying, “I think I would throw up!”
And finally, for any friends we may have from Minnesota – and I think we have a few — A little girl from the twin cities came home from Sunday school with a frown on her face and a real attitude. . .
“I am NEVER going back there anymore,” she declared. “I don’t like the Bible they keep teaching us from.”
A little worried, the girl’s mother asked: “Why not?”
“Because,” said the little girl, “the Bible THEY use is always saying St. Paul this – St. Paul that. You would think that every once in a while –they could say SOMETHING about Minneapolis!!!”
There is a reason for telling such things on Easter Sunday – because I think above all else – Easter is a day for LAUGHING. . .
LAUGHING at the folly of the scribes and Pharisees and Roman officials — who thought they could silence the message Jesus was proclaiming – by silencing the messenger. . .
LAUGHING at the naiveté of the Pilate and the guards – who thought a stone – even a very big one – could contain the risen Lord.
LAUGHING at either the fear of the lack of faith on the part of the disciples that kept them hidden away – while women went to the tomb as the first day of the week was dawning.
LAUGHING perhaps even at ourselves who continue to think all of this is just too good to be true.
Yes, on Easter – we can laugh at darkness, laugh at sin, laugh at death, laugh at the power of evil: BECAUSE JESUS HAS BEEN RISEN FROM THE DEAD!
LAUGH because the TOMB IS EMPTY – the long reign of sin and death have ended!
LAUGH because our salvation has been won FOR US – we don’t have to do anything to earn it!
LAUGH for life is now perfected in Jesus the son!
AND OUR RESPONSE TO THIS CAN’T HELP BUT BE:
Alleluia, alleluia. Alleluia! Happy Easter!
By Fr. Matthew Brumleve
First of all, I want to say congratulations to Sarah – who will be Baptized tonight,
And Jennifer – who will be making a profession of faith. And hopefully you realize what we do tonight just marks the beginning of your journey in our Catholic faith – not the end – because our journey with the Lord is life-long — and ends when we gaze face to face at Christ in heaven.
I welcome all those who have come to be with you both this evening – and with the faith community of St. Patrick as we celebrate this solemn vigil tonight. And, of course, I wish all of you a happy Easter.
In however God led you here tonight – I am glad you are with us — and hope you experience something in this liturgy which re-ignites the flame of faith in your heart so you can run from this place and boldly proclaim by your words and actions – the good news of Easter.
At the foot of my parent’s bed all throughout my life – there was a cedar chest – given to my mother years ago by her parents — as a hope chest.
So it was once filled with sheets and linens and I suppose pots and pans — all the things she would eventually need to set up her own household.
All those things were taken out – when her hope was fulfilled when she married my father in 1953.
That one-time hope chest then became a secure place for storing such things as photo albums, cast off baby blankets, war medals awarded to my uncles – and many other family treasures and heirlooms.
For well over 30 years — whenever I would go home, I would spend some time – exploring our family’s history by exploring the contents of that cedar chest. All of those precious items allowed me to connect to those who had gone before me – and gave me a sense of belonging.
As Christians – we spent some time tonight – a lot of time, really – exploring our family’s history by opening up our cedar chest – the Bible: both the Old and New Testaments. . .
We have listened attentively to the Word of God – in order to connect to those who have gone before us –so that we can have a sense of belonging.
We have read and sung more from the Scriptures tonight – 9 different readings plus the singing of Psalms – then we normally read in almost a month of Sundays!
And when we read from Scriptures – we always hear a consistent message: God loves us!
Tonight our cedar chest of readings from Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Baruch, Ezekiel, Romans, and Luke – spans roughly 2,000 years of time.
Near the bottom of the cedar chest – is the second reading from Genesis telling us of Abraham’s test from God which occurred some 75 years or so AFTER Abraham was first called by God: placed historically by scripture scholars around the year 1,800 BC.
And the top layer of the cedar chest — contains St. Paul’s letter to the Romans written around 57 AD – right before he is taken in chains to the great capital city of the Empire. And the Gospel of Luke, probably reaching its final written form around 85 AD.
The point I wish to make is not the exact span of time covered by the readings – which leads some to estimate the age of the world – but my point is the consistency of the story line within this broad range of readings…. The story that has repeated itself well over 2,000 years and will continue to repeat itself in our brief life span — and repeats itself in the very fabric of our individual faith lives.
That story line is:
In love, God reaches out to his people.
People respond to God’s love.
People get distracted by other things and stray from God.
God doesn’t give up and reaches out a 2nd, 3rd, and a 4th time – in love. God never gives up on us!
The question that comes to my mind is: I wonder if God ever gets tired?
Tired of you, tired of me, tired of all his created beings – who just can’t seem to stay focused or committed to him for very long. . . and stray off on their own – leaving home with their bags packed, always in search of greener pastures – but often times ending up in the slop of the pig sty. . .
And that is an easy question to be answered based on 2,000 years of Scripture: NO:
God never tires of extending his love, his mercy, his forgiveness, his grace – because God desires nothing more than to spend ALL eternity with each and every one of us. And so God wants to connect with us – to claim our hearts as his own – and so reaches out again, and again, and again.
THIS IS GOOD NEWS!!
We follow a very strange God – a God who lavishes —-lavishes—such extravagant love on each one of us. A get down on your knees God who does anything he needs to — so as to gain our attention AND capture our hearts: A God who does not even withhold his OWN SON from us – allowing him to be crucified for our sake.
The one who embraced the cross – rather than run from it.
The one who willing laid his hands upon the wood of the cross – instead of fighting it.
The one who willingly handed over his spirit – so that we might have that same spirit PULSING within us.
Jesus’ very spirit – who gives us life. Gives us courage. Gives us strength and confidence.
And the best news of all – is that not even a tomb with a huge stone at the door —could hold back God’s love for us!!!
NO – as the women who go to the tomb at daybreak on the first day of the week find out — the stone is rolled away from the tomb so that we could get in – and see that DEATH HAS BEEN ROBBED OF ITS POWER!!
The stone is rolled away – so that we could get in — and see that a new world order has begun – so that we could see the truth of Jesus words: “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up!”
The stone is rolled away – so that we could get in — to see, and hear, and experience that by his cross and resurrection, Jesus has set us free. Free from sin. Free from death. Free from our old ways of doing and being.
Free from all those things that may hold us back and distract us from following Jesus with all our minds and all our hearts – and keep us from loving our neighbor as ourselves.
The stone is rolled way — freeing us from all those things that keep us locked up in fear – than reaching out in mercy, and compassion, and forgiveness.
YES – the greatest news of all — is that the TOMB IS EMPTY.
And there is only one way of responding to such good news: alleluia – alleluia — alleluia!!
A life without pain seems like a good idea. No one in their right mind likes going through pain — it’s annoying and debilitating. That’s why we prefer things that don’t cause us discomfort.
But is a pain-free existence all it’s made out to be? I’m not quite sure when you consider a list of things to keep away from if you want a pain free life. To avoid pain:
*Don’t fall in love or commit yourself to someone.
*Don’t become a leader of any kind.
*Don’t give your opinion on anything important.
*Don’t set high standards for yourself or aspire to be the best at anything.
To avoid pain:
*Don’t try to help people, especially those most in need.
*Don’t take risks that may involve making mistakes that others may notice.
*Don’t listen to all the reasons to try something, but take heed of all the reasons not to.
*Don’t have kids, especially ones that grow up to be teenagers.
*And certainly to avoid pain, one should not try to make the world a better place. . .
We all began Lent in the quiet and desolation of the Desert. Lents ultimate end will be in a garden – where we will discover the tomb is empty.
Between now and then – during this Holy Week, there is a lot of pain. . . but the pain, cannot be avoided.
Motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, once said: “We will all suffer one of two things, either the pain of discipline, or the pain of regret or disappointment.”
The word discipline comes from the word disciple – which is Latin for pupil – one who follows after.
Let’s come to our senses – and make the commitment to follow after Jesus – to be his faithful disciples – to endure the pain of discipline — rather than the pain of regret or disappointment. Because whether we like it or not: there is no pain-free way to the garden of resurrection and new life.
Maybe it’s best for us this week to remember these words of Winston Churchill: “When you are going through hell, just keep going.” That’s certainly what Jesus did — as he set all the captives free.
When a child is learning to ride a bike, training wheels are a good idea.
They make the bike safer and more stable.
They give the child a greater sense of security and encourages them to ride without the risk of falling.
But you can’t keep them on forever.
You can’t ride to high school with training wheels. Or complete a triathlon. Or compete in the Tour de France.
There comes a time when they have to come off.
What about you? Do you still have training wheel on. . . . . Are you still playing it safe?
Have you become dependent upon removing all possible risk of falling or failing?
Are you living your life at half-pace with the training wheels still on?
Or – are you flying – with the wind in your hair and the exhilaration that comes from going as fast as you can despite the risk of falling or failing?
“While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced and kissed him.”
I hope by this point in Lent – you have taken some time to look at the various pictures depicting people in this story of the Prodigal Son – placed at the Baptismal fount. My favorite is this one of the father —
With the wind in his hair and the exhilaration that comes from going as fast as he can despite the risk of falling or failing – the father RAN to his youngest son, embraced and kissed him.
The Greek word for RAN used in this parable – is trexo: which means “running wide-open” it conveys intense desire to get to the goal as quickly as possible.
It means to run like an athlete competing in the ancient Greek games – moving forward with full effort and directed purpose.
Trexo is used 17 times in the whole New Testament – only 3 times in the Gospel of Luke – once here – as the father has intense desire to get to his son as quickly as possible to forgive him.
Another time— when Peter runs from the empty tomb of Jesus to spread the good news of the resurrection.
And once more — when the two disciples on the road to Emmaus run back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples what they had seen and heard – Jesus, who made himself known in the breaking of the bread.
Let’s let that sink in for a minute — the father ran to his son — with the same reckless abandonment – definitely no training wheels on his bike — as those who were running to spread the news that Christ had been raised from the dead!
The father ran to his son — with the same reckless abandonment — as those who were running to spread the news that Christ was risen!
What does all of this have to do with us?
That connection is found in St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians where we read: “God has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given to us the ministry of reconciliation. >>
God, not counting anyone’s trespasses against them has entrust to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ.”
The father in the story is God. And God is just waiting for us to “come to our senses” and return to him from our sins. And God will run to us with intense desire to get to us as quickly as possible to wrap his arms around us in welcome. . . God’s running is as enthusiastic as God’s loving — it is done full throttle – with no misgivings or regrets – with no fear of failing or falling. . . .
AND THE FUNNY THING IS, THAT JUST LIKE THE GARDENER IN LAST SUNDAY’S GOSPEL — GOD EXPECTS US TO BE LIKE HIM —
for God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. God has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation – God has made us ambassadors, that is representatives, of Christ!!
Now I don’t know about you, but I do know about me – and I usually don’t go running toward someone as if I am an athlete competing in the ancient Greek games — advancing speedily with full effort and directed purpose – to throw my arms around someone to forgive them.
NO, if I go at all – which I am ashamed to admit — I usually go kicking and screaming, cautiously moving for fear of falling or failing – as I move toward someone to reconcile with them. But that’s NOT the way God wishes me to be. . .
Let’s come to our senses. Let’s come to know that God wants us to be reconciled with one another rather than carrying around the weight of grudges – for the weight of those grudges will keep us from trexo:
an intense desire to get to the goal as quickly as possible – running with as much abandon to forgive — as God wants us to run spreading the good news of the resurrection.
Isn’t it time we took our training wheels off when it comes to reconciliation?? Not worry about failing or falling — not even worrying about what we are going to say —- but just go do it! And the funny thing is — God is just waiting to help us. . .
Merciful God, help us to “come to our senses” and to admit we are not always the people you call us to be.
We fail at so much – and yet you still love us!
Like the father in the Gospel today – you are watching and waiting for us to turn from our sinful ways back to you – so you can wrap your arms around us and welcome us home.
We the help of your grace, may we be a little less critical and judgmental — and more forgiving and merciful to those who don’t always live up to our expectations. Help us to be ministers of reconciliation and ambassadors of Christ.
Sing #480: Refrain – Verse #2 — Refrain