Archive for August, 2014

Baptism of the Lord, January 12, 2014

Monday, August 25th, 2014

According to recent reports out of Rome, Pope Francis has abolished the title of monsignor for priests younger tha 65 years of age. I guess there’s no rush in getting measured for one of those fancy monsignorial outfits.

Everybody wants a little recognition—even the people who say they don’t. We like to see our names in print—spelled correctly, of course. We listen for some mention in lists of people being thanked. We feel proud when our superiors praise us—and even better when we get a raise. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day mean more to us than we’re willing to admit. Maybe it’s because we want to be appreciated; maybe it’s because we want to know we’re important to somebody; maybe it’s just because we’re a bit insecure.

Jesus had no need for recognition. When his cousin John, attempting to recognize Jesus’ higher status, protests his decision to be baptized by him, Jesus still insists on humbly receiving baptism from John’s hands. But something amazing happens. In spite of Jesus’ lack of interest in recognition, the heavens open and God himself recognizes him as his own beloved Son.

You and I don’t have to seek recognition either. That’s because just as God the Father recognized Jesus as his beloved Son without any request for recognition, God recognizes us as his beloved children, regardless of whether we ask for recognition or not. As for any other recognition we could get, well, when we compare recognition from God to recognition from people, there’s really no comparison.

see Matthew:3:13-17

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Holy Family, December 29, 2013

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Some families don’t communicate. Some families fight all the time. Some families are eccentric; others, downright crazy. Some are too competitive, some too materialistic, some too concerned with appearances. Some are stuck up, some are close-minded, some prejudiced against those who are different from them. Some families—for whatever reason—may seem as far from the ideal of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as a family can be. They themselves might come to the conclusion that they are not holy, and others may readily agree.

But while behavior can be a reflection of holiness, holiness is not determined by behavior. Every family in the great human family, no matter how unlike Jesus, Mary, and Joseph it may be, is holy because it is composed of God’s children, and every child of God is holy.

It is still possible, of course, for families to grow in holiness, and that should be the goal for your family and for mine. But we should never think that any family is starting from nothing, that it is somehow less than holy. God has seen to it that all families that share this earth, from the best to the worst, share at least some of the holiness of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Christmas, 2013

Monday, August 25th, 2014

There was no room in the inn. But there is room at the manger.

There is room for people of every color, ethnic group, nation, and tribe. There is room for people of every age, ability, size and shape, physical and mental condition.

There is room for the poor, the hungry, the homeless. There is room for those who are rejected, persecuted, hated by others. There is room for the lonely, the lost, and the confused. There is room for those who feel as though they have no other place to go.

There is room for the ignorant and the foolish. There is room for the selfish, the greedy, the materialistic. There is room even for the cruel and unjust. There is room for those seeking forgiveness, for those who should seek forgiveness, and for those who are unforgiving.

There is room for those who have doubts about faith, for those who disagree with the Church, and for those who have left. There is room for people of other religions—or none at all. There is room for people who are angry at God and for those he has disappointed.

There is room at the manger. The tiny Child born there came into this world as the ultimate sign of God’s love not just for this person or that person but for all—for all are in need of the salvation he brings.

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

3rd Sunday of Advent, December 15, 2013

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Today it’s quite possible for two people to meet on the internet and then carry on a friendly or romantic relationship for weeks, even months, before they actually see each other face-to-face. Of course, the internet also makes it quite possible for one or both of those persons to be less than truthful about any number of personal details, creating a situation where the person someone eventually sees face-to-face is not at all the person he or she expected.

It turned out that Jesus was the person John and his disciples expected him to be: the messiah for whom they had longed and prayed, the one who gave sight to the blind, enabled the deaf to hear, and raised the dead to life. For John and his disciples, there was no disappointment.

Unfortunately, you and I are not exactly the people God expects us to be. We lie—and not just on the internet, we cheat, we’re greedy, we’re selfish, we can’t get along, and we don’t spend nearly enough time in prayer or worship, giving thanks for all the good things we’ve received from God’s hands. Who could blame God if at times he is disappointed that the people he expected are not the people he finds?

But here’s where we have to go back to our second reading. God is the farmer who waits patiently for the “precious fruit of the earth.” Full of mercy and compassion, and understanding the weakness and imperfection of the ones he has created, God does not turn around and leave us, giving up any idea that we can improve; rather, he waits patiently for us to change and grow, to respond to the grace which he so generously provides, continuing to love us and gently call our names, until in heaven we fully become the people he always expected us to be.

see Matthew 11:2-11; James 5:7-10

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time/Parish Centennial, November 3, 2013

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Things were certainly different a hundred years ago when our parish was established. For one thing, there was no city of Cupertino; the city was not incorporated until 1955—42 years later. There were orchards and vineyards everywhere, with farmers, including hard-working Catholic immigrants from places like Croatia, Italy, and Germany, producing the ubiquitous apricots and prunes, as well as cherries and grapes. I understand not many people grew apples, but if they did, well, those were the only apples anybody cared about. There were no iPhones; people were lucky if they had a phone. One of the great inventions of 1913? The modern zipper.

Yes, things have changed. But what has not changed is the presence of God in this community. God was present in 1913 and God is present today in 2013. We see God’s presence in all the good purposes and efforts of faith God has powerfully brought to fulfillment:

  • We see God’s presence in a thriving school and catechetical ministry
  • We see God’s presence in the focus we give also to adult formation, through thoughtful and enriching presentations, discussions, and group study of the Bible
  • We see God’s presence in the dedicated service of organizations like the Holy Name Society, the YLI, and the Knights of Columbus
  • We see God’s presence in the care we show for the poor and homeless through participation in the Rotating Shelter and Habitat for Humanity and the distribution of Thanksgiving baskets, vouchers for food and gasoline, and other aid
  • We see God’s presence in our ministry to the sick and homebound, which expanded six years ago to include a huge hospital in our parish boundaries
  • We see God’s presence in our recognition and affirmation of different cultures and different cultural expressions of faith in celebrations like those for Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Lunar New Year, and Simbang Gabi—and in the welcome we extend to all who come to us
  • We see God’s presence in the many liturgical ministers—lectors, ministers of holy communion, musicians, ushers, greeters, altar servers, and all who work quietly behind the scenes—who share their gifts with the worshiping assembly each week
  • We see God’s presence in the value we place on prayer, especially the rosary, and in our devotion to the holy Mother of God

Here in Cupertino, at the heart of the Silicon Valley, in our own day and in days to come, the presence of God may be obscured, not by a crowd straining to get a glimpse but by beautiful, gleaming buildings which seem to proclaim the supremacy of modern technology over the things of heaven. As we begin our second century, let our parish community, led by the Spirit, continue to work humbly with the Lord Jesus to make God’s presence visible in all that we say and do.

see 2 Thes 1:11-2:2; Luke 19:1-10

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 27, 2013

Monday, August 25th, 2014

As you may know, priests cannot reveal what people tell them in confession, even if they have committed a crime. We refer to that prohibition as “the seal of the confessional.” But I can tell you, as I tell the parents of children preparing for their first reconciliation each year, that most confessions are very, very boring. That’s because we’re all human beings, and because we’re all human beings, we’re all the same: we all commit the same sins. Impatience with loved ones or friends? We all need to work on that. Judgments of people we don’t really know? We all make them. Selfish behavior? Not unusual for any of us. From laziness to lust, we’re all acquainted with it.

That’s why the Pharisee in our gospel story got it wrong when he said to God, “I am not like the rest of humanity.” Any one of us who says something like that is not being honest or is completely lacking in self-awareness. To be human is already to be like other humans, and that means to be someone who is weak, who makes mistakes, who fails, who sins. Granted, one person’s catalog of sins may be slightly different than that of another—you might be a little better or worse than I am in one area or two—but nobody has the right to think that he or she is different from everybody else. And that goes not only for people who think they’re better than others but also for those who think they’re worse than others.

One advantage of sharing in the same humanity is sharing in the same abundant and gracious mercy of God, the God whose Son died and rose to save us all, the God whose Son could truly say, “I am not like the rest of humanity.”

see Luke 18:9-14

By Rev. Gregory Kimm

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 13, 2013

Monday, August 25th, 2014

In 2009 a company called Commerce Planet agreed to pay more than $500,000 in fines to settle a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission. The company was advertising on its website a free seven-day trial of an “online auction starter kit”; all the customers had to do was provide their credit card numbers and pay a small shipping and handling fee. But way down at the bottom of the page—so far down that it was not visible on a person’s computer screen–was the information that those who signed up for the free trial were also enrolling in a program for which they would be charged $59.95 a month if they did not cancel within a few days.

Sometimes the conditions to an agreement are hidden. For example, we may not disclose to the people around us that one of the conditions for doing something good for them is that they show some appreciation for what we do. But honestly, how long are we going to keep visiting the sick, comforting those who are grieving, offering a kind word to those who are discouraged, providing food for the poor, raising a family, distributing holy communion at mass, teaching religion to children, or organizing a parish event if nobody says thank you? Isn’t there a certain point where people’s lack of gratitude will turn us off to the idea of serving them?

Ten lepers were healed; one came back to thank the person responsible for the healing. And yet Jesus did not stop serving people. In fact, he continued to give more and more of himself, eventually giving his life for his sisters and brothers. Not once did he make gratitude a condition of his service.

Instead of looking for thanks, we should look for ways to imitate Jesus’ example of selfless love.

see Luke 17:11-19

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 6, 2013

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Some married couples stay together out of a sense of obligation: maybe because they made a promise; maybe because they don’t want to embarrass their families; maybe because they believe their religion demands it; maybe because they think divorce will hurt the children. But what kind of marriage is created by obligation?

Speaking of children, imagine how you would feel if your parents told you that they fed you, they clothed you, and they gave you shelter because they had an obligation to do so. Imagine how your children would feel if you told them obligation was what drove you to take care of them.

And how good are friends who might spend time with us, who might talk with us on the phone, who might share a meal with us, not because they actually like us but because of some perceived obligation to behave toward us in a friendly manner?

The things we do because we are obliged to do them are not the things we really value. Jesus wants us to forgive sinners, serve the poor, welcome strangers, work for peace, strengthen our community, and, yes, pray and worship regularly not to fulfill some obligation but because we see the value in doing it; because our hearts tell us it is right and just.

Jesus was not obliged to save us; he did it out of love. We all can learn from him.

see Luke 17:5-10

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 29, 2013

Monday, August 25th, 2014

It’s nice to compliment a friend on her appearance. But it’s not necessary. It’s nice to let someone into the street when you see he’s waiting to make a turn. But it’s not necessary. It’s nice to bake some chocolate chip cookies for your pastor. But it’s not necessary.

What is necessary, and not just something nice, is helping the poor, as the rich man in Jesus’ story sadly discovers too late.

To care for the poor as Jesus did is not optional, just as it’s not optional for us to do whatever we can to insure that all of God’s children—our sisters and brothers–live their lives in safety and dignity. But caring for the poor is more than just a matter of familial concern: God’s justice demands it, for the gifts that we have received from him are not intended for our benefit only but are meant to be shared for the good of all. St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan in the 4th century and one of the Church’s great teachers, puts it this way: “It is not from your own possessions that you are bestowing aims on the poor, you are but restoring to them what is theirs by right. For what was given to everyone for the use of all, you have taken for your exclusive use. The earth belongs not to the rich, but to everyone. Thus, far from giving lavishly, you are but paying part of your debt.”

Helping the poor is an obligation for us but it’s not something we should do out of fear of some divine punishment. Instead, we should do it out of joy at the privilege of working with God to provide good things for his children who need them. Blessed are the poor—and we are blessed to help them.

see Luke 16:19-31

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Feast of St. Joseph of Cupertino, September 22, 2013

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Sometimes God is the one who seems dishonest. Certainly Joseph of Cupertino had little reason to find God trustworthy. Born into poverty, Joseph as a child was both sickly and slow and appeared to have no chance of amounting to anything in this world. His own mother rejected him and made it clear that she considered him worthless. When he tried to enter religious life, no community would take him, and when he finally found one that would grant him admission, they put him to work in the stable. He did somehow manage to become a priest, but stories about miraculous healings, talking with animals, and, of course, his weird habit of flying through the air in religious ecstasy brought contempt and suspicion from those around him. Eventually, Joseph made his superiors so uncomfortable that they refused to allow him any contact with the outside world, essentially forcing him to spend the last 10 years of his life in prison.

God is good? God is love? If Joseph had come to the conclusion that God was dishonest, that God was not trustworthy, who could blame him? But here’s the amazing thing: Joseph did trust God, and he never stopped trusting him, in spite of all of the terrible trials he had to endure in his life. Perhaps it was all that flying that gave Joseph a different perspective, but he had the ability to see that God’s way is the best way, even if it seems dark and dreary to us. Today, as we celebrate in this centennial year the feast of our patron saint, Joseph is praying for us, that we too may trustingly take the hand of God and follow wherever he leads.

see Luke 16:10-13

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm