Archive for November, 2014

Easter, April 20, 2014

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

In the Catholic Church and in some other Christian churches as well, we celebrate Easter for a total of 50 days, counting from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. But the only people who really pay attention to this oversized celebration are clergy and other professionally religious types, along with church musicians and the dedicated volunteers who take care of church decorations. For other people, Easter is over by Monday, when all the chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks go on sale.

In reality, Easter can go on much longer. It can go on as long as we are willing to use the power of Christ’s resurrection to change and grow and live a new life. It is Easter when, as our sisters and brothers will do tonight [did last night], people are initiated into the Christian family through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and eucharist. It is Easter when someone lets go of hatred and learns to forgive a person who hurt him. It is Easter when a woman decides to give birth at the end of an unwanted pregnancy. It is Easter when a young person opts for a career of service to others instead of getting rich. It is Easter when people return to the practice of their faith after years of being away. It is Easter when a couple takes steps to save their marriage. It is Easter when those who are grieving a loss find the strength to move on. It is Easter when politicians look after the needs of the poor and the homeless before their own ambitions. It is Easter when those at war put down their weapons and search for peaceful solutions to conflict.

The power of Christ’s resurrection is always available; it will never fade and will never come to an end. As we continue to allow that power to work mightily in the world and in our lives, Easter continues.

I wish each one of you a happy—and a long—Easter.

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

4th Sunday of Lent, March 30, 2014

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

In the British TV series Sherlock, a modern retelling of the mysteries written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock is a detective who is brilliant at solving crimes but completely clueless when it comes to relating to people. At the beginning of season 3, Sherlock reappears after a two year absence, during which just about everyone thought he was dead. But when he finally reveals that he is alive to his best friend and colleague, Dr. John Watson, instead of trying to deal with John’s shock, hurt, and anger, all Sherlock can do is focus on John’s new mustache, which Sherlock (and everyone else) hates. At one point, Sherlock says to John, jokingly, “Let me ask one question: Are you really going to keep that?”–causing John to attack him physically.

In our gospel story, the Pharisees are not concerned at all about the blind man’s disability or poverty, much less his humanity; all they focus on is his sin, which they believe is the cause of his suffering. We too can focus on certain aspects of the people we meet—not only their sinfulness, but also perhaps their appearance, their place of origin, their religion, their political opinions, or their personal histories with us—causing us to lose sight of their humanity, and with that humanity their dignity as children of the same God we call Father. Because all our focus is on those certain aspects of other people, we treat them harshly or callously, we ignore them or turn them away instead of treating them with the love that is supposed to be the hallmark of our lives.

Jesus does not have this problem. When he sees the blind man, he focuses on what is most important: the dignity of the person who is right in front of him. He serves him, giving him the healing, both physical and spiritual, for which he longs. When Jesus looks at us, he focuses on our dignity as his sisters and brothers, not on any other aspect of our lives, and he stands ready to help us in our need. He hopes that as we encounter the people around us, we will not get distracted and our focus, too, will be correct.

see John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

3rd Sunday of Lent, March 23, 2014

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

When my father and brothers and I went to visit our ancestral village in China in 1995, that was the first time I witnessed what it’s like to live without tap water. One of the women preparing food for dinner had to go outside the house to retrieve a supply of water, which she then used to wash the vegetables in a basin she had placed on the floor.

Now I can understand why the Samaritan woman was initially so eager to receive Jesus’ “living water,” which she thought would somehow help her with her daily chores. She completely missed Jesus’ point, of course: the “living water” Jesus gave had nothing to do with reducing her workload. But here’s the irony: for the Samaritan woman and for us, the living water of baptism should actually make us work harder.

The living water of baptism is not for the lazy. In the living water of baptism we come to share the life of Christ, God who became human to reveal his saving love in acts of mercy and compassion, healing and reconciliation, generosity and self-sacrifice. To share in the life of Christ through the living water of baptism is to share in his mission, to share in his work. The baptized must work each day with Christ to care for the sick and the suffering; to forgive those who hurt us and make peace with enemies; to give of our time, our talent, and our treasure to build up the community of the church and ensure that people everywhere have the opportunity to hear the good news.

I repeat: the living water of baptism is not for the lazy. If our baptism has value to us, if it is something we honor, we will get to work and we will keep working—with Christ our brother– in whatever ways we can.

see John 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

2nd Sunday of Lent, March 16, 2014

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Pope John Paul II will be declared a saint next month, on the Sunday after Easter, April 27. I loved and admired him and being able to touch his hands in 1979, during his first visit to the United States, is one of the highlights of my life. But Pope John Paul II was also a great supporter of Father Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, a huge and very popular religious order. The pope, like most of the members of the order, had no idea that Maciel was guilty of all kinds of terrible crimes, including child molestation, embezzlement, and the abuse of illegal drugs. On one occasion, the pope even praised Maciel as “[a] guide for youth.”

In our second reading, St. Paul reminds us that God “called us to a holy life.” But it’s important for us to remember that a holy life is not the same as a perfect life. We can be who we are now—with our ignorance, our foolishness, our impatience, our lack of charity, our selfishness, our materialism, our inattention to God—and we can still be holy. God does not expect from us perfection, that we somehow become like Christ on the mountain, with faces shining “like the sun” and clothes as “white as light.” God made us, so he knows better than anyone else that perfection is an unrealistic expectation. What God does expect from us is that we keep working with him to become better people, that we keep struggling to overcome all of those things that prevent us from being perfect. This is holiness: not making it to the top of the mountain but climbing that mountain with Christ, even if we stumble and fall along the way—and we surely will.

Nobody’s perfect. We all make mistakes; we all fail; we all sin. But none of that means we can’t live a holy life. Just by virtue of the fact that we are sincerely trying to live a holy life, we are already touched by holiness.

see Timothy 1:8b-10; Matthew 17:1-9

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, March 2, 2014

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Right around this time every year, all of the pastors of parishes here in the Diocese of San Jose have a special worry in addition to all of the other worries they might already have: the Annual Diocesan Appeal. You may not know this, but pastors fret about how many ADA pledges come in the mail each day, how many pledges are placed in the collection basket each weekend, and, of course, the total amount of contributions turned in to the diocese each week. They’re concerned not only with how many percentage points their parishes are away from their goals but also with how their parishes are comparing to the other parishes of the diocese. They carefully study the reports that come from the diocesan office on a weekly basis, noting those parishes that are doing better and those parishes that are doing worse.

Worry is not such a bad thing. It’s very understandable, very human—and it can serve a useful purpose. It can remind us that things are important and that we need to do something about them. For example, if I’m worried about making our ADA goal, I’m reminded that I need to put time and energy into this project. Similarly, if we’re worried about finding a job, how our children are doing in school, future financial security, or our physical health, we’re reminded that these are all aspects of our lives that need our attention.

Worry becomes a problem when it comes into conflict with Jesus’ description of his heavenly Father in our gospel, when it causes us to doubt or even deny that God cares about us every moment of every day. I think it’s a matter of proportion. Some worry can be okay, even beneficial. But our worry cannot exceed our faith, that confidence that God has not forgotten us, is with us in every worrisome situation, and is always working for our good.

see Isaiah 49:14-15; Matthew 6:24-34

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 19, 2014

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Think of all the people who know you. That could be a large group. Now think of all the people who really know you. This is probably a much smaller group.

John and Jesus were not strangers; they were cousins. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was so close to John’s mother Elizabeth that after learning she was pregnant with Jesus, Mary traveled to the home of the also pregnant Elizabeth and stayed with her for about three months. It’s more than likely, then, that Jesus and John spent time with each other as children, as teenagers, maybe even as young adults. Nonetheless, as well as Jesus and John may have known each other, John didn’t really know Jesus until his baptism—when God revealed him to be his Son.

We observe people. We listen to them talk. We take note of their actions. And we think we know them: their values, their attitudes, their abilities, their health, their spiritual life, even their quality as human beings—whether they are good people or bad people. But do we really know them?

We should be very careful about the judgments we make. The people who rejected Jesus, who insulted him, plotted against him, condemned him, tortured him, and eventually killed him, all thought that they knew him. But they didn’t really know him.

see John 1:29-34

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm