Wednesday, December 25, 2013

You Belong Here, Christmas homily 2013

Here at Holy Family, this celebration of Christmas is particularly joyful as it is our first Christmas in our newly renovated church.  With the renovation comes the additional blessing of now having the space to place our Nativity in our sanctuary for the first time in many years.  Up until now it was displayed in the back of the church.  Its presence in the sanctuary enhances our focus on the profound mystery of the Lord’s birth in the most humbly of environments.
This image of the manger in the stable is one that we have come to take for granted.  It is now very common to us but it came about because of the piety of Saint Francis.  In 1223 – three years before he died Francis asked the Pope for permission for a special ceremony.  In the outdoors with real live stock and a child in the manger Mass was celebrated amidst this living nativity.  It touch the hearts of the people and the friars because even then Common sense would say that the Son of God, the messiah does not belong here in a stable.  What Saint Francis sought to teach, however, was that none of the world, nor the most impoverished of humanity is beneath the dignity of Christ.  No one can say to this newborn, “You don’t belong here,” because he chooses to be here in the stable but on the cross that hangs above it as well.  The Father chooses and the Son accepts his place amongst sinful and dirty people.
As I looked at our nativity the donkey resting behind Mary caught my attention and reminded me of song on one of my family’s Christmas albums called, the Ballad of the Christmas Donkey 

Long ago, in another day,
A donkey cried in his donkey way,
I'm not beautiful, I'm not beautiful,
What good to anyone am I.
Other animals are big and strong,
Or rare or filled with an animal song,
But I'm not beautiful, I'm not beautiful,
What good to anyone am I.

Heaven cried...donkey you can carry,
Will you carry Mary...angels for your guide.

On Christmas morn', in the stable hay,
The donkey smiled in his donkey way,
I feel beautiful, I feel beautiful,
As beautiful as anyone am I....

There are a number of examples in our Christmas stories of those who don’t fit in, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Buddy the Elf and this Christmas Donkey.  I think this is so because even if we have come to accept that our Lord and Savior belongs in a manger. We sometime have a hard time believing that we belong “here” – in church, at the manger in the companionship of the Lord.
Because I know that I’m guilty of a heavy sin, I’m caught up in addiction, I’ve been away from church, I don’t know how or can’t pray – I doubt or do not believe at all – I feel that I  don’t belong here.  What we must understand though is that the child in the manger, the condemned on the cross says to you – You belong here
A CNN poll released Tuesday found that 88% of American Catholics approve of how Francis is handling his role as head of the church.  I am not sure he cares about his poll numbers, but perhaps they are result of the fact that “You belong here” has been his authentic message.  With this the Holy Father has also taught that conversion and growth is necessary for all who belong here with Christ, whether we find ourselves at mass each week or are distant and at odds with church.
The Birth of the Savior is a moment that changes everything.  The dignity of the earth is raised; it is not God forsaken but God’s dwelling place. The human body, though vulnerable is chosen as the temple of the Lord.  Our prayer this Christmas is that we may know that we do in fact belong here and to him as he has chosen to belong to us. 
A classic Christmas carol tells us that this is a Holy Night, because it is the night of our dear savior’ birth.  But as importantly the hymn tells us it is the night when the soul felt its worth.  May every soul who celebrates this Christmas day – celebrate because he or she has come to feel his or her worth.
We do belong here, as does he who took on human flesh, so that we many know and share in the building of His Kingdom.  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving -- what's in a ...sign?

I would be happy to let this sign speak for itself but I am not sure what it is saying.  I passed it the other day and had to go back and take a picture.  I felt it was saying something about the current culture of stores open on Thanksgiving and the commercialization of Christmas but in the end I can't say it has a specific message other than -- its all a mess.

This sign makes me thankful that BK is not an option for me on Thanksgiving.  I am blessed to have a "young mom" who is still able to make Thanksgiving dinner.  For 46 years Thanksgiving for me means cream of cauliflower soup, stuffing (dressing for people from other parts of the land) that is uniquely Mom's, turkey, an abundance of vegetables and of course pumpkin bread.  More importantly - my family.  I am thankful that a lonely whopper jr has never been a part of my thanksgiving.  It makes me sad to think that for someone - that is Thanksgiving.  On thanksgiving I remember those whose meal and whose table mates will be found at this banquet.

As a priest, I have accepted the fact that I work on holidays.  It was on the job description. My work on thanksgiving, however, is proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. My job is celebrating the Eucharist (did you know that is the Greek word for thanksgiving?)  Having the obligatory fast-food background on my first job resume, I can't imagine having to go to work on Thanksgiving day amidst croissand'witches and onion rings.On thanksgiving I am grateful that I don't have to support myself under the florescent lights and heat lamps of fast food.

I thought I was "movin on up" like George and Weezie when I set aside my Roy Rogers apron for a Time Square Store shirt and tie but I soon realized the all that glitters is not gold when it comes to retail employment.  There was a time I was proud to wear the Macy's star, but I am grateful it was during a bygone era when "Black Friday" actually meant Friday.  Its good to know that there is a free cup of coffee waiting at Burger King for the weary shopper at 3:18 a.m. I am thankful, however, that I am neither the shopper nor the brewmaster.

As sad as this sign made me, it makes me sadder to know that it is a beacon of hope for the lonely diner, the desperately unemployed and the sufficiently duped Black Friday shopper.  The sign that I only happen to see because of the good fortune of a red light helped me to know I have much to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day.  It also challenges me at the depth of my soul to pray for those for whom this sign is a sign of respite, financial stability and an affordable meal.

May we be ever grateful for our abundant blessings.  Whatever our struggles may be, let us always be thankful for the blessings that are ours.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Saints, Souls and Psychic Mediums

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.
Hebrews 12:1-2a
November is a liturgical month of remembrance, beginning with the Solemnity of All Saints and the Commemoration of All Souls.  The month of remembrance concludes with the end of the church year, the Solemnity of Christ the King.  Our personal remembrances throughout this month, are seen through the lens of our celebration of the gift of eternal life lived by the saints and the proclamation of Christ’s victory over sin and death as priest, prophet and king.  As the quote from the Letter to the Hebrews teaches, we live our lives knowing that we are surrounded by the witness of those who have gone before us and we commit ourselves to living with our eyes fixed on Jesus and the victory he has won for us. 
But what is our relationship with those who have gone before us who are not canonized saints?  First and foremost we live in hope that they are amongst those having received the gift of eternal life.  Our prayerful hope is that our loved ones are indeed among the saints.   The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
Those who die in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified, live forever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they "see him as he is," face to face. (1023)
We also know that anyone of us may die not in a state of grace but still bearing the stain of sin.  Therefore, the Catechism also teaches:
All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. (1030-31)
Our relationship with those who have died is either one that asks for their intercession or prays for their ultimate joy of eternal life with God in heaven.  Our remembrance of the departed during this month and throughout our earthly pilgrimage is one that acknowledges the unbreakable bond of love and expresses our faith in the hope of the resurrection.
As we begin this month of remembrance I want to share with you some other thoughts regarding our relationship with our departed brothers and sisters, specifically as it relates to the cultural popularity of psychics and mediums.  The attention given to a celebrity medium in our community is what prompted me to address this issue, but these words are not intentionally directed at anyone in particular.  They are meant to share with you what the church teaches in this regard and to do so with charity.  Let me begin by once again quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church
God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it.  (2115)
All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone. (2116)
What is the church trying to teach in these words?  First that such a reliance on “psychic” abilities is a rejection of God’s providence.  One seeks the wisdom of a medium because one is unwilling or unable to entrust their loved one to God, but must instead have a “confirmation” of what one would otherwise trust in faith.  Second, this teaching speaks to the danger of accepting a particular “power” that a person has over another person.  In this relationship a person who seeks the guidance of a medium is granting that person power over them.  That is to say, that unless one hears of their loved one through the medium, he or she cannot have peace.  The concern is also one that speaks to the perceived power the medium has over God.  If the medium speaks with surety, what need is there for faith in the eternal love of God?
A further reflection on this matter could also point to the fact that some who have purported to have psychic abilities are fraudulent.  Like any illusionist, they have developed their skills of deception and do so only for profit and entertainment.  Accepting that as fact, I would also propose that some may genuinely believe that they have a particular ability that allows him or her to be aware of this “great cloud of witnesses,” and desire to only help people with their “gift.”  Such people may not see themselves as attempting to have power over another or God.  What harm or objection is there to this attempt to “do good?”
In a very limited way, I would like to share with you three examples, in which the experience of psychic mediums is in conflict with the Christian life.  The first example is an absence of our fundamental belief in salvation through Jesus Christ.  The typical content of a psychic reading is earthly; whereas it focuses on personal history, the events surrounding death or a desire for the well-being of those who are left behind.  The message of the departed does not typically express thanksgiving for their salvation, nor do they ask for prayers longing for salvation.  Is this not problematic for us who profess a belief and hope in eternal salvation?  What is more hopeful, hearing that a passed loved one knows that we loved and cared for them, or a profession of faith expressing trust that the loved one is seeing God face to face?  As Catholic Christians we profess a belief that we are pilgrims on an earthly journey that leads us to heaven.  We cannot hold fast to any message that does not acknowledge either God’s kingdom or a longing for it.  A failure to acknowledge the role of Jesus Christ in one’s salvation is devoid of truth.
A second conflict for Catholics is that any attempt to “conjure spirit” is an act of opening ourselves to conjuring the Spirit of Evil and the Prince of Darkness himself.  Throughout salvation history, it is God who calls and bestows gifts of wisdom and insight.  The church does in fact recognize the gift bestowed upon mystics who have experienced wisdom from those who have gone before us, a recent example would be Saint Padre Pio who had a vision of the souls in Purgatory.  He received this vision so that prayers and sacrifices might be offered for those souls who longed for purification and eternal life. A vision that longs for the salvation of others is authentically Christian.  God calls but we do not conjure, for to conjure is an attempt to control or to seize divine power on our own.  Such attempts are what Satan himself is known for.  Moreover, spiritual gifts given by God are freely shared not used for profit.
Finally, the psychic medium phenomenon often presents a false teaching with regard to the soul.  Sometimes there will be a professed revelation of “past lives” or a medium will declare that the soul of a loved one lives on now in someone else.  Neither of these statements is consistent with our professed Catholic faith.  The soul is created by God and becomes a living human body as a unity of spirit and matter in one nature. (CCC 365) The soul is immortal; it does not perish at death but separates from the body to be reunited with that body at the final Resurrection.  In addition to being in direct conflict with our faith, a profession of reincarnation lacks any consolation or hope.  The last thing I would want to hear about a departed loved one is that they are still living here in this imperfect world, only to die again.  My hope and prayer is that they are with God, not dwelling in someone else.  Such a notion also lacks a respect for the individual that the soul is now purported to live in.  Imagine being told, you are not really you, but a deceased relative.  As Catholics we cannot accept any message that denies the unique nature of the soul and the explicit purpose of that soul to live in eternal union with God.
I hope that these words of reflection help each of us to understand how we relate to those who have gone before us.  We trust in God’s love and mercy for them.  We wait in hopeful expectation for our reunion with them.  We believe it is God alone who calls us and gifts us with a surety that allows us to profess that, “the souls of the just are in the hands of God.”

Monday, October 21, 2013

Names Do Hurt

The children's nursery rhyme instructed us that, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me."   As much as we wanted to believe that we were impervious to the wounds that name calling could inflict, the name calling did hurt.  The names we are called matter because they either build us up or tear us down.  Names have also been used to dehumanize the other.  Racist and bigoted terminologies are used for that purpose - to label someone with a name, that by its definition, declares a person as one who is less than me.

The use of specific names is also used to enhance or protect a particular social or political perspective.  Sometimes we can get so caught up in "political speak" we fail to notice when the use of a name becomes absurd.  Pro-life advocates will use the words, "baby" or "child" when speaking about the unborn human person growing in a mother's womb.  The choice of those words is purposeful.  The pro-life position advocates that the unborn have the same right to life as every other human being, for that is what they are -- human persons who are not yet born.  Pro-choice advocates will use the terms "fetus" or "embryo" as opposed to "baby," because the point they are advocating is that the right to life, is a human right, not the right of something that is yet to be born.  Scientifically these terms are used to describe the gestational development of the unborn being.  A human fetus can only be born as a human - not an elephant.  The embryonic elephant will be birthed as an elephant not a person.  Nevertheless, popular media and pro-choice advocates will use these terms because their position is that this unborn being should not be afforded the same rights as those given to the born.  The name matters.

This thought process hit a level of absurdity this week amidst a tragic news story.  A young women was apprehended for shoplifting and was subsequently discovered with a dead newborn in her shopping bag. The Associated Press report, which was picked up by other print and broadcast media, spoke of the woman being caught with a "dead fetus."   However, the story itself detailed that the child was born alive and then perhaps suffocated.   I heard a radio reporter say "it appears that the fetus was born alive." On their website, the New York Daily News headline uses the words "dead fetus," but in the verbiage of the story the decease child is referred to as the woman's "newborn son."  Even if it is only from a humanist perspective, does this not bother anyone? "The fetus was born alive?" Can we no longer refer to an actual birth as a baby? The word fetus is simply a word for an unborn child yet it has been adopted by those who want to classify the unborn human as something other than human. Now we are using it to describe a child that is actually born?  Using the word "fetus" to describe a child born alive who subsequently dies is as absurd as calling the deceased a "toddler" or "adolescent."

From the website of the New York Daily News

Names matter.  They speak to the dignity of the person.  When we allow the names we use to marginalize someone we are also them to justify their lack of rights; and the circle of those whose rights are limited only grows larger.  

The next time you see or hear an unborn child being referred to as a fetus or an embryo determine if it is being used to describe gestational development or being used to avoid acknowledging humanity.  And in the same vain when you see or hear the term "illegal alien," ask if it is being used to document a person's legal right to live or work in this country, or is it being used to justify their poverty.

Names matter, they do hurt us - when used to negate our sacred humanity.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An Interview with the Holy Father

“Did you read what the Pope said?”  That question or something similar was certainly the most popular question of the week.  My answer has been, “No, I have not read the whole article yet.”  To which the response was, “Its all over the news.”  Unfortunately what was “all over the news,” was not the interview of the Holy Father but snippets and commentary based upon a manipulation of those snippets.  We owe it to ourselves and to Pope Francis to take the time to read the 13 page interview in its entirety.  It is insightful, inspiring and very traditionally Catholic, not a departure from it.  The interview can be found by going directly to
As a seminarian and as a priest I have been reading what popes have said for over 20 years.  In my memory there have not been many, if any, interviews like the one Pope Francis has given in this article. Popes generally speak to us in more formal ways through dogmatic or teaching documents or homilies.  This interview was a personal reflection that speaks to the heart of the individual.  Early on in the interview, Pope Francis states that he is much more comfortable speaking eye to eye with someone rather then to the masses.  This interview has spoken directly to hearts that needed to know the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
It has also been Pope Francis’ intention, it seems, to motivate the Church forward by an outreach that is an authentically Christ centered option for the poor.  He is calling us to never lose site of our mandate to care for, to speak for and to love intimately the poor.  Unbelievably and  unfortunately, many do not know the Church’s care for the poor.  They have not seen it or the message has been obfuscated  by media and culture.  I found an example of this sad fact this week in the comments section of an online article about the robbery of poor boxes in one of our parishes.  In reaction to the arrest of the man charged with the theft , one man wrote:
With all that money that goes into those poor boxes, when is the last time you heard of the church doing anything to help the poor?
When is the last time you heard of the church doing anything to help the poor??????  As John McEnroe used to scream at tennis umpires, “You can’t be serious!”  Sadly I am sure this person is serious as are so many others.  This is not a matter of poor public relations on our part, it is more critical than that.  It is a matter of people not knowing the merciful love of Jesus.  If they don’t know the Church, they don’t know Jesus.  If they don’t know the merciful love of Christ, they can’t understand that our advocacy for the protection of the unborn is rooted in a passion for all life.  They can not understand that our opposition to contraception mandates is rooted in the protection of God given rights to all of humanity of life and liberty.  They can not understand that our quest to uphold the sanctity of marriage is rooted in our profound understanding that God calls us to be co-creators with Him inside a marriage covenant of husband and wife because it is the best way for a child to grow in dignity and fullness. Pope Francis desires for the Church to speak to those who do not know Christ, so that they may come forward without fear and be reconciled.
I was not surprised by the Holy Father’s approach in this article because it is very similar to that of every parish priest.  As pastors, we spend most of our time dealing with the joys and sorrow of the individual.  We speak to the big issues of the sanctity of life, the destructiveness of sin and the necessity of fidelity to God and the sacraments everyday, in the most powerful way — one on one.  The Pope speaks in the article as one who knows the struggle of the individual person.  He calls himself a sinner and therefore admits his own inability to always live as he should.  He is truly a priest and bishop who knows the heart of the sinner and desires to bring it to reconciliation.  There is nothing in this interview that says we must rethink and now accept what we have always rejected as not acceptable.  Rather it says that we must rethink how the message is communicated.  If the world does not see us as authentically merciful; dedicated to the care of the poor among us—they will stop listening to everything else.  If they don’t know their priest to be merciful, they will never seek him out.
It seems to me that some of the Holy Father’s thoughts are a reaction to the chastisement he has received for what he has not said.  I found it reassuring that he knows what that chastisement feels like.  A day does not go by that a pastor does not get a letter, email, phone call or a comment chastising  him for what  he has not done that day.  The Holy Father inspires me to never be satisfied with what has been done but to be confident that what has been done has been done for the glory of God and for the love of His people.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

It is a beautiful day! Happy Easter!

A few months ago I changed the ringtone on the alarm that wakes me up in the morning. Instead of the traditional harsh and jarring I now wake up to "A Beautiful Day" by U2.  I hoped that beginning my day this way might make me a little less grumpy in the morning.  Sometimes it works. The upbeat song is about losing everything but still finding joy in what one has.  Its a much better way to wake up.

How easy it is for us to miss the beauty of the day. I am sure you have had the experience of remarking on the beauty of the day only to have someone respond. "Thank goodness after the lousy weather we have had."  Or even still having our moment of joy over the days beauty being spoiled by the person who tells us, "Its going to rain tomorrow."  Why can't we just enjoy the beauty of a day, why do we have to dwell on yesterday or be anxious about tomorrow?

This is how we are called to experience Easter, as a beautiful day which does not dwell on the sins and sorrows of the past or the anxiety of tomorrow.  It is a beautiful day - it is the Resurrection day of the Lord.  The psalmist sings, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad," and so we must.

In his 1st letter to the Corinthians St. Paul calls us to
Clear out the old yeast...celebrate the feast, 
not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, 
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
The beautiful day of the Resurrection of the Lord, is a moment to leave past hurts behind.  To acknowledge that by His death we now now mercy.  It is a beautiful day, Christ is risen and I have hope that death has no power over us.

In John's gospel we are given the account of the breathless apostles who found the tomb of Jesus empty of everything but the burial clothes and therefore, "saw and believed."  They believed not because they understood.  Nor did they believe because they no longer had a fear or anxiety about what was to come.  What they did know was that it was a beautiful day because this changes everything.  The resurrection of the Lord makes this day and everyday different.

U2 concludes their song with the words
It was a beautiful day

Don't let it get away
Beautiful day
Touch me
Take me to that other place
Reach me I know I'm not a hopeless case
This Easter day is a beautiful day because we are not hopeless.  The tomb was empty.  We live without lamenting the past or creating an anxiety about an unknown future.  Because he is truly risen and death has no power over us.

It is a beautiful day.  Happy Easter

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What did Jesus look like? A reflection for Holy Thursday.

What did Jesus look like? I am sure it is a question we have all asked at one point or another in our lives.  Recent research on the famous Shroud of Turin, suggests that he may have had a bigger build then we've often imagined.  But despite that research and the nearly two millenniums of artist depictions, do we really no what Jesus looked like?  Does it matter?

A few years ago, while on retreat, my director asked me what I thought Jesus looked like.  He asked me if I saw his face in my imagination.  I told him, I didn't have a clear picture.  He gave it to me as a task for the retreat, and then he told me to draw or paint what I imagined.  Not only could I not imagine a face, I can't draw stick figures.  What a retreat I feared it was going to be.

I think that an answer to this question is what we see before us on Holy Thursday night.  What does Jesus look like?  He looks like a Master, taking the role of a slave and washing the feet of His disciples.  Jesus looks like the humble servant.

Despite a great deal of self centered behaviors, service is still very attractive in our world.  People do like to be of service.  Colleges and employers, look for service on an applicant's resume.  In our heart of hearts we want to do good in the face of suffering, look at what happened here in our midst after Hurricane Sandy?  But service for the sake of service is empty and can just be about making ourselves feel good, if it does not come from our relationship with Jesus who served.

In a talk that he gave to world diplomats our new Pope Francis, acknowledged the good that world leaders do when they serve their people but he went on to say

In this work, the role of religion is fundamental. It is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God. But the converse is also true: it is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people.
We can't  bring people together through acts of service while forgetting God and we can not think we are in relationship with God without service.  Jesus looks like one who serves, so that we may see his face in our service to others and that they may see God in us.

Jesus also looks like one who forgives and does acts that reveal that mercy.  Peter resists Jesus' attempt to wash his feet.  When Jesus insists, Peter then tells him to not only wash his feet but his hands and feet as well.  To which Jesus responds,
Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed
Our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, reflects on this exchange as way in which we can understand our need for reconciliation.   In baptism, we are bathed in the waters of new life, we are washed clean of original sin, but the reality is, despite the bath of our baptism, we get dirty from our sin.  We have no need to be baptized again, but we do need our feet washed, we need to let the Lord forgive our sins.  We are good people, we do good things, we try to live lives that are commendable, but we sin and we need to be forgiven.  We are deceived if we think we can rest on our perceived goodness.  When we allow Christ to wash away our sin, we see His love for us.

On Holy Thursday morning, Pope Francis, challenged priests to be

Shepherds living with “the odor of the sheep."
Isn't that a wonderful phrase?  Sheep stink, feet stink, sin stinks and the Pope is telling us priests to be Shepherds in the middle of that stink.  Why? Because people need to see the loving and merciful face of Christ.

Jesus looks like the Eucharist, whose institution we celebrate tonight.  Someone recently told me of his experience attending a Seder.  He was moved to hear the words that are now a part of our celebration of the Eucharist.  Jesus was a faithful Jew, that is what the celebration of the Last Supper was, a faithful celebration of Passover..  If we want to see His face, we too must be faithful to the Eucharist.  In the Eucharist that looks like bread and wine, we see Jesus, who tells us to do this in memory of Him.  Do what?  Wash feet.  Die rather than be what you are not.  Consume rather than be consumed. If we want to know what Jesus looks like we need to faithfully attend and participate in Mass, so we can do what he commands us to do through that Blessed Sacrament

On this Holy Thursday night, I washed the feet of 12 people from my parish.  Six of them were under the age of 23.  These 12 are Church people.  They look like Jesus, because they already participate in the life of the Church, through school, religious education, youth group, outreach, and other parish organizations.  I their Pastor washed their feet in the name of Jesus, not just so I could show them what Jesus looked like, but so they could look and act like him in a world that so desperately needs them.

Do you want to know what Jesus looks like?  Wash feet.  Have your feet washed, be forgiven.  Take and eat.  Lay down your life.

Toward the end of the retreat I came upon a reflection by Anthony de Mello a Jesuit priest and spiritual writer. He writes about always being afraid to look in Christ's eyes for fear he should find in them an accusation for an unrepentant sin or a demand for something.  And then he writes

One day I finally summed up courage and looked!  There was  not an accusation.  There was no demand.  The eyes just said " I love you."
After I read those words.  I drew the picture above.  He loved me enough to let me see His face.

In these three holy days we will see what Jesus looks like.  We will see love