Archive for June, 2015

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 14, 2015

Friday, June 19th, 2015

I sometimes wonder where I would be today if, as a high school senior in Bakersfield in 1977, I had decided to go to a secular liberal arts college somewhere here in CA instead of traveling across the country to attend a school called The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. It was at that university that my involvement in campus ministry activities and my friendships with people who were interested in priesthood and religious life ultimately led to the discovery of my own vocation to the priesthood. Looking back now, I can see that God was guiding me as I made that decision to travel across the country but at the time, I had no idea what God was doing in my life.

The man in the first parable Jesus tells in our gospel “knows not how” the seeds he has scattered are turning into grain day by day and night by night. But his lack of knowledge does not prevent the grain from springing up, eventually producing a bountiful harvest. Similarly, our lack of knowledge of how God is working in our lives does not prevent God from actually working in our lives—both mightily and mysteriously.

Maybe more often than not, there is more that we don’t understand about God’s workings than what we do understand. We see a world full of once unimaginable horrors; we see people falling sick and dying, losing their jobs and sometimes their homes, ending relationships that once seemed perfect; we see our children stop practicing the faith in which they were raised and become strangers to values we thought we had passed on to them. “Where is God?” we ask, searching for answers, trying to make some sense out of what we see before us.

But our lack of knowledge of how God is working in our lives does not prevent God from actually working in our lives. Someday, we all will understand the mighty and mysterious workings of God, which are going on even at this moment. In the meantime, we must, as St. Paul says in our second reading, “walk by faith” and “not by sight.”

see Mark4:26-34; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Body and Blood of Christ, June 7, 2015

Friday, June 19th, 2015

What foods are good for us? That’s a very difficult question to answer.

The beneficial nature of some foods seems to depend on who you ask. Some of you might remember that in the 1970s the dairy industry in this country launched an advertising campaign with the slogan, “Everybody needs milk.” When there were complaints that the slogan wasn’t true, and that milk was actually harmful to some people, the slogan was changed to “Milk has something for everybody” and later, to “Milk . . . it does a body good.” But milk continues to have both its friends and its foes.

In regard to the benefits of some other foods, people keep changing their minds. Take eggs, for example. They were always considered healthy in our house because my father managed egg ranches. But for years medical experts warned that eggs were too high in cholesterol. Today, it seems that the cholesterol in eggs is not as bad for us as we once thought and eggs are often recommended as a source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

And now, more than ever before, we have to be wary of various foods that may be beneficial to some but are dangerous to others. Just ask the parent of a child with a peanut allergy—or another parent who has to avoid various allergens when trying to prepare food for a child’s classmates or friends.

How blessed we are in our heavenly food, the body and blood of the Lord. Its benefits are incomparable and unquestionable. No other food can strengthen us to face the challenges of life. No other food can increase our love for others—even our enemies. No other food can move us to serve those in need. No other food can give hope to the dying. No other food can make us better human beings. No other food can bring us into communion with the living God and allow God to live in us.

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

6th Sunday of Easter, May 10, 2015

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Many of us learned about love from our parents—and we learned that love meant sacrifice. I remember my father working long hours, sometimes seven days a week, not in some air-conditioned office but outside, in the dirty, smelly, and—especially during the summers—hot environment of a chicken ranch in Bakersfield. I remember my mother getting up early to wake us up, feed us breakfast, and make sure we didn’t miss the bus to school; then cleaning the house, doing the laundry, driving us to medical appointments and various activities, fixing dinner, and helping with homework—not to mention taking us to church every Sunday.

When Jesus says, “Love one another as I love you,” he doesn’t mean that he wants us to be nice to one another or even to be kind to one another; he wants us to sacrifice, to put other people before us, to be selfless as he was selfless when he laid down his life for his friends, that is, for you and for me. Many people are already doing a fine job of modeling this kind of sacrificial love: not only parents but also soldiers, firefighters, police officers, caregivers, missionaries, and school teachers. But all of us, as the friends and disciples of Jesus, are called to demonstrate this same love, in whatever ways we can. For some, the sacrifice may involve actual physical suffering; for others, the sacrifice may be forgiving people who hurt them or allowing others to claim the credit for something that they did.

We will know we are loving others as Jesus loves us if we have given up pleasure or profit for someone else, if we have truly made a gift of self with no thought of return—even from God—for what we have given.

see John 15:9-17

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

4th Sunday of Easter, April 26, 2015

Monday, June 8th, 2015

As some of you already know, according to Chinese tradition, every year is named after one of 12 animals and children born during a particular year are supposed to have the characteristics of the animal after which the year is named. Many Chinese couples tried desperately to avoid having a baby born during this year–the Year of the Ram, or the Goat, or the Sheep, depending on how one translates the Chinese character for the animal. That’s because these couples believed that children born this year would be followers rather than leaders, too passive, unable to think for themselves.

But we don’t have to be mindless sheep in Christ’s flock. Yes, Christ wants us to follow him but he never said anything about being mindless. God gave us our minds and God expects us to use them, even when it comes to our faith. We all need to be lifelong learners of our faith, always growing in knowledge and understanding, and that is not going to happen without study, reflection, and discussion. Along the way, there may be debate, questioning, and yes, doubt, but these things are not problems; rather, they are signs that we are using the gift of reason that God has given to us and appropriate parts of the process of becoming mature Catholic Christians.

If we are mindless sheep, just going along with what everybody else is saying or doing without thinking, without knowledge and understanding of the faith we profess to have, we can’t blame our Shepherd. He is leading us in a different direction.

see John 10:11-18

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

2nd Sunday of Easter, April 12, 2015

Monday, June 8th, 2015

There was a time when identifying ourselves just meant giving a Social Security number or PIN or showing a driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate. Today we may also have the task of remembering any number of user names, passwords, and answers to security questions. Of course, as the technology has become more sophisticated, so have the thieves. Identity theft is a huge and very common problem: probably everyone here has been, currently is, or will be a victim.

When identifying himself to Thomas, the risen Christ did not simply rely on facial recognition. He showed Thomas his wounded hands and side, even offering Thomas the opportunity to touch them. In this way, Jesus didn’t just verify his identity; he verified as well what he was willing to do for Thomas and all of humanity: he suffered, died, and rose again, all out of love for the world.

The risen Christ was, I think, also sending a message to us about what we need to do to verify our identity as the people he redeemed, the people who are supposed to be living the new life he won for us. It is not enough for us to present a baptismal certificate, fill out a parish registration form, or show up at church every week; it is even less acceptable simply to declare that we are Christians. No, what we need to do is to show our own wounds, proof that we have followed Jesus in the way of the cross, proof that we have learned from Jesus that we must make sacrifices and die to ourselves before we can rise again. We need to show the wounds that have come from putting care of the family before personal pleasure; from forgiving people who have hurt us deeply; from reaching out to a friend who may or may not want someone’s help; from committing one’s life to the service of others; from spending countless hours volunteering at the parish.

The wounds we get from trying to be like Jesus will prove that we are succeeding—and that we are just who we say we are.

see John 20:19-31

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

4th Sunday of Lent, March 15, 2015

Monday, June 8th, 2015

The whole world was shocked when on May 21, 1972, Laszlo Toth, a Hungarian-born Australian geologist, took a hammer and attacked Michelangelo’s statue of the Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Shouting “I am Jesus Christ . . . risen from the dead,” Toth caused extensive damage to this marble statue depicting the Virgin Mary holding her Son after the crucifixion, breaking one of Mary’s arms and her nose and leaving more than 100 other fragments on the floor of the chapel where it was displayed. Today, fully restored, the statue rests behind bulletproof glass and is as beautiful as ever.

We may not have internationally-acclaimed masterpieces hanging on a wall or sitting on a bookshelf in our living rooms, but we all have objects that are valuable to us for one reason or another, even if the reason is just sentimental. These objects can be easily damaged and require care in handling and protecting them. God’s children, to whom the Letter to the Ephesians refers as God’s “handiwork”—some translations say, “work of art”— require the same kind of care, for which we are all responsible.

How easy it is for us to damage God’s work of art with unkind words or gestures, acts of discrimination or exclusion, physical or emotional violence. We must be vigilant in watching over one another, treating one another with the love and respect that a creation of God deserves. In this way, we will sing the praises of the One who created the work of art that is each one of us.

see Ephesians 2:4-10

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

3rd Sunday of Lent, March 8, 2015

Monday, June 8th, 2015

During the past week, how much time and/or energy did we put into the following activities?

· Watching TV or movies

· Driving somewhere

· Using the internet

· Exercising or playing a sport

· Working at a job or going to school

· Arguing or fighting with someone

· Sleeping

· Taking care of the children

· Gardening

· Playing video games

· Worrying or being anxious

· Talking on the telephone—or texting

· Pursuing a hobby

· Eating or cooking

· Cleaning the home or doing the laundry

· Shopping

· Listening to music or making music

· Going out with friends

Now let’s think about how much time and/or energy we put into consciously doing something for God—including the time and/or energy we put into this mass.

God’s first commandment, which we heard in our reading from the Book of Exodus, is “You shall not have other gods besides me.” We all would probably say that we don’t have any other gods. But the amount of time and/or energy we put into our various activities may indicate that there are many things that are higher than God on our list of priorities—and we need to move God up.

see Exodus 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 15, 2015

Monday, June 8th, 2015

There have been many striking images of Pope Francis in the short time since he became the supreme pastor of the Church, among them, Pope Francis bowing before the crowd assembled in St. Peter’s Square, asking their prayers for his new ministry, and Pope Francis washing the feet of juvenile offenders on Holy Thursday. But to me, the most striking image is of Pope Francis embracing a man severely disfigured by growths and sores that cover his entire body. It is this image that I think of when I hear about Jesus’ encounter with the man with leprosy in today’s gospel.

But even those whom others consider to be beautiful can feel ugly. That’s because we can feel ugly for reasons other than physical disfigurement, including race, religion, sexual orientation, mental illness, addiction, poverty, and failure. Sometimes, a sense of our own sinfulness can do even worse damage to our self-esteem: we come to believe that some terrible deed, perhaps an act of violence or infidelity, or just the inability to live up to God’s expectations, makes us ugly.

What Jesus is trying to show us—and what Pope Francis is trying to show us, in imitation of Jesus—is that no matter what others may think of us, or what we may think of ourselves, God sees and recognizes in each one of us an inner beauty. No one and nothing can take that beauty away from us because it is God who put it there in the first place. He wants each one of us to see and recognize that beauty, too.

see Mark 1:40-45

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 1, 2015

Monday, June 8th, 2015

With many of you, I have a connection because of some church activity or ministry. Maybe you’ve come to me for counseling or the answer to a question. Maybe I’ve done a baptism, wedding, or funeral for one of your family members. Maybe I know you because we’ve served together at masses or worked together on a parish project or committee. But as for the rest of you out there, about the most we can say is that we see each other at mass on a regular basis. I’m afraid we don’t have much to do with each other.

We have even less to do with countless other people: the cashier at the gas station yesterday; the person who delivered that package last week; the waiter who took the order for lunch; all those faces we see on the street or on the nightly news. So many people come in and out of our lives all the time and we never give them another thought.

In our gospel reading, the “unclean spirit” asks the question, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” I wonder how much Jesus really does have to do with us, what involvement he really has in our lives. Do we spend time with him in prayer? Do we seek to grow in our relationship with him? Do we consciously follow his teachings? Do we model our lives after his? Do we look upon him as a brother, a friend, a source of light and strength? Or does he just come in and out of lives for an hour on weekends and, until the next weekend, we never give him another thought?

It might have come out of the mouth of an unclean spirit, but the question is a good one for us to ask: “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” I have a feeling that Jesus would like to have more to do with us than he has right now.

see Mark 1:21-28

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 25, 2015

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Imagine a football team with all coaches and no players. Imagine an orchestra with all conductors and no orchestra members. Imagine a nation with all presidents and no citizens.

Sometimes we’re not really following Jesus, like the apostles in our gospel story; instead, we have this idea that we’re the ones leading the way. It doesn’t matter to us that Jesus teaches us to forgive our enemies, to place the needs of others before our own, to respect the dignity of all people, to recognize him in the poor and the oppressed, to value heavenly treasure over earthly gain, to seek God’s kingdom above all else. No, we tell ourselves that we can make our own decisions about what is right and what is wrong, and if we decide to hate our enemies, focus only on our own needs, be disrespectful of certain kinds of people, ignore those who are suffering, keep trying to get rich, and pay no attention to God, well, that’s perfectly okay. We think we don’t need Jesus to lead us—because we think we can lead ourselves.

When we are under the impression that we don’t have to follow Jesus, when we are feeling confident that we are the best leaders for us, it would be good for us to remember a little parable that Jesus tells in the gospel of Luke: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?” (6:39)

see Mark 1:14-20

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm