Thursday, April 9, 2015

If we are resurrection people, where is the change in our lives?

By Deacon John De Gano
St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

In response to Pope Francis’ now famous ‘smell of the sheep’ comment, I went up a mountain in the wee hours of Easter morning hoping for a spiritual encounter with the Living God through those participating in the annual Easter Sunrise Service on Mt. Rubidoux.

I had come for ‘the lost sheep,’ to encourage and possibly reconcile them back to the church of their youth. To pray and to rejoice in Jesus’ message of salvation – symbolized by the first rays of dawn illuminating the empty tomb.

And with me I brought the tears and fears of three whose stories had been placed on my heart over the past few weeks.

Nadine, who with her husband, are up in years and despite a life dedicated to their church now, because of failing health, have to consider giving up their home and faith community in order that their relatives can look after them. Nadine is learning to die to herself in order to let others minister to her needs.

Janet, a woman of great heart who suffers depression because the person she cares for has just lost her eyesight and now needs 24/7 attention that her elderly parents are unable to provide themselves, and so Janet suffers in silence and is in desperate need of “downtime” for herself.

Tony, who was admitted to the hospital with terminal cancer, had signed a DNR and so the hospital workers would not attach a monitor to him. If his family members had not insisted on taking the day off and staying with him until he passed, he could have died alone. And no one would have known.

These stories are not unique events. They are real and the people living them are in great need of our prayers and pastoral care.

What are some of the stories God has placed on your heart this Lent?

Maybe God is inviting you to change; to be the difference in the life of someone who has need of TLC.

Perhaps it’s to be a listening ear, like that provided by Bereavement or Stephens’ Ministry?

To pray for our sick and homebound? Or to visit them and/or offer to grocery shop for them?

To give the gift of time to another, sitting for them while they “take a breather” or a walk, or just have someone (a grownup) to talk to?

Each of us can bring new life to those who are in darkness. We just need to reach out and offer them a hand.

If there’s a need in your community that isn’t being met, then do something about it. Live your resurrection (with Christ) now! So that people’s lives are filled with hope.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Don't dwell on the negative, live in hope!

By Bishop Gerald Barnes
Diocese of San Bernardino

The following is taken from a homily Bishop Gerald Barnes gave during Mass on March 18 at the Diocesan Pastoral Center, San Bernardino.

Readings for the day: Is 49:8-15, Jn 5:17-30

I really don’t like traveling, especially when I have to fly somewhere. It takes up a lot of time to get there. Recently when attending a conference, I was told I was going to be picked up at a certain time from the airport. I wanted as many details as possible, so not to cause any delays.

A member of the Knights of Columbus was going to pick me up, so I waited... and waited… and waited. Finally I called to find out if I was in the wrong location, and they said, “No, no. There are two other bishops coming and are going to be picked up too. You were going to ride with them. You can go now and we will send someone for them.”

So I waited. I saw someone that looked like a knight. He didn’t have the sash, sword or hat on, but I asked him anyway. He said he was going to pick up two bishops, but I wasn’t on his list. He called the organizers and they told him to take me instead. They were going to send someone else for the other bishops.

So he took me to the hotel and I go to the desk to check-in and they say, “I’m sorry you aren’t registered here.” I show them my reservation and confirmation number and they inform me they have four hotels in the city. My reservation is for one of the other hotels by the same name.

So I go to the correct hotel. It’s already 5 p.m. and at 6 p.m. I’m supposed to be at this opening dinner. I go to the front desk to check in and they tell me, “I’m sorry, but your room is not ready.” And I say, “thank you very much.” Thinking I’m trying to be negative, they say, “I’m sorry, sir….” But I say, “No, no. I just want to thank you. You see, this is the third thing gone wrong. Everything else is going to go right.”

You have some of those days. You have days when it is one thing after another, after another. If you can appreciate that, then you can look at what the Hebrews were going through in the first reading today. They felt everything was against them. They had been in exile for so long. There wasn’t anything else for them. When things go wrong in life, it is easy to feel very sorry for yourself. They felt sorry for themselves. The prophet reminds them that God has not abandoned them. God is with them, even when they think He is not. Even if a mother forgets her child, which you could never imagine would happen, He will not forget you. That is the message I hope we can take into our hearts.

One of the great focuses during Lent is to focus on God’s tremendous love for us, in spite of our unworthiness, in spite of our difficulties, in spite of sinfulness. God will never rub our name out. He always carries us in the palm of his hand; our names are etched.

So, when you run into difficulties at work, with people you serve, with family and with your community, never give up. God never will and never can abandon us. With 23 years as a bishop, I can attest to that. There are some days that feel like it is Friday the 13th, when it is only Monday the 2nd. God never gives up on us, in spite of our failures. Let us take this time during Lent to focus on God’s love for us and, in any way we can, quit feeling sorry for ourselves. The Christian lives in hope.