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Dear Reader

I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

What does Jesus look like?

26You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-20)
     So, what does Jesus look like?  Although even though from the Scriptures we know that he walked the earth as a man, we do not have a picture of what he looked like.  Most of the pictures I have seen depict him as a white male with long brown hair and blue eyes.  He was probably not white, did not have very long hair, and did not have blue eyes.  In the part of the world he lived in, people did not look like that. 
     What he looked like was really not important.  Who he was and how he treated people was what has stayed with us for over two thousand years.  Being that he is God, he can look anyway he wants to.  We cannot limit Jesus to a specific image.
     In today's world, he could be black man, an Indian, an Anglo, or (should I say it) he could look like a woman.  If Jesus is truly in all of us, he can very easily look like one of us.  Jesus is in all of the people we encounter on a daily basis, both male and female, and in every color of this beautiful world, we live in.  That is why we can say that the "Kingdom of God is at hand."  We are Jesus, we are the kingdom.  We just have not figured that out yet. 
     Many things happen to us as we live in the world.  These things may color our perception of who we are and how we relate to other people and the world.  Sometimes these things are not good, we lose sight of our significance, our talents, our need for one another, and we forget that Jesus is right there with us and in us.  We may not see Jesus with us, but he is there.  He is in that person who offers us a kind word when we are down.  He is in the person who puts their arm around us and comforts us when we need it.  He is in all of the people in whom we share both good times and bad times.  He is in us, as we are there to love others. 
    Therefore, what does Jesus look like?  Does it really matter?  I think it matters more what he does within us.  Looks are temporary, we all change.  Just look at your baby pictures as compared to how you look now.  What does not change is that we are Jesus to one another.  That may seem like a big responsibility, but it really is what we are called to do and to be. 
So, what does Jesus look like?  He looks like you and me, "for we have clothed ourselves in Christ". 






Thursday, June 15, 2017

David’s Star


Through the mist of times you emerge in the splendor of your youth
 
 with your strong hands, you still rupture lions' jaws and smash their steel deadly fangs,
 
you still vanquish savage, rapacious wolves; with the power of your mind and word, 
 
with your resilience, you still demolish the goliaths of the world,
 
 brilliant, magnificent, David's star, I look at you with joy, with love, with hope from near, from afar.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Light Never Dies


The exhilaration Mary Anne had felt a week ago when she had been called and had been told she would be able to go home was now a thing of the past. The twelve years she had spent in prison for a crime she had not committed had left their mark on her. She was happy that finally the truth had come to light; that was definitely a most liberating feeling. He aunt's sister, on her death bed, confessed that out of hate, she had poured the poison in the bottle. The police had found only Mary Anne's finger prints on the bottle and had decided that she also had the motive since her aunt, in her will, would have left everything to Mary Anne. It was true that sometimes, being young and reckless, she had behaved roughly with her aunt. But she had never thought of hurting her or coveted her possessions. She wanted to make her way in life, besides that, she deeply loved her aunt for raising her after her parents had died in an accident. She had been so good to her. Mary Anne came home to find no one waiting for her and her aunt's sister had lost everything. Mary Anne had nowhere to go. She went to the shelter and with the little money she had, she managed to get food and some clothing. It was Saturday night now and she found no place at the shelter, so she had to find elsewhere to sleep that night. But nobody wanted her. They all knew her from the television, from the mass media who had run a special on her. Whenever she went to look for work, they looked at her with disgust. If she went to a motel, they told her there was no vacancy. Soon she had realized that there is no place for her in this world, that there was no hope left for her. As she was wondering on the street, she heard voices of people singing songs. Mary Anne recognized the songs from a long time ago. She approached the source of the sound, and she saw that there was a church. There were people there processing around the church with lit candles, singing songs of resurrection. It was the Easter vigil.  As she was standing by, a child approached her, gave her a candle, grabbed her hand, and smiling said "come, sing with us." Mary Anne walked with the group of people, carrying the light, singing a song of resurrection that she had learned when she was a child. She realized then that there was still light in this messy world. The light of eternity was still shining down on this world, the light of God never died. Thus, there was yet hope for her. Everything can be taken away from the human being, even his body, his life, but not the light of God. Christ is Risen.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Words

Listen to the silver bell, congenital traveler through valleys,
through mists and know this well,
Your words can hurt, your words can kill, your words can build, your words can heal.
The shaking child, the wounded heart, when you encounter on your path, earthly traveler,
beware, the words you say to them can be a sentence of hopeful life, or
cruel death.




Edelweis

It had been four years since I was on dialysis. In spite of many encouraging voices, I knew that I was getting slowly but surely to the end of my earthly voyage. I began to prepare even more intensely for that final moment by reciting rosary, the stations of the cross, psalms, by reflecting on passages from scripture. The metaphysical revolt began, little by little, to be replaced by an obedient acceptance to divine will, which didn't mean that I experienced also moments of terror, of the approach of death, particularly by night.
                One day, I heard the phone ringing, I picked it up and I heard the voice of a young lady telling me that she is E. and that we met very briefly at the diocesan conference for youth and that she wants to donate one of her kidneys. I must say, I was at least for a few minutes perplexed, speechless then I said decidedly, no. I thought that it wouldn't be right for me to selfishly put at risk a young person's life. Within the next few days, my doctor told me that there were available two kidneys of a three-year-old child that had died in an accident. With tears in my eyes, I said again no. How could I accept the organs of a child? They would always remind me about the cruelty of the order of human existence that claims so brutally young lives.  
                I had almost forgotten about the young lady's phone call until one day, I heard the phone again, ringing and at the other end, it was her voice. She told me that she had done all the pre-transplant bloodwork and there was positive compatibility. On the day of the transplant surgery, her entire family was there, including her elderly mother, encouraging her, encouraging me. The transplant was successful and E. became for me from that moment on the living proof of God's existence, and loving, provident care for his children. Whenever I was sick afterward, and I had to go to hospital she called me and assured me, even when doctors were in doubt, that everything would be alright, my kidney would continue to function. "St. E.", as I called her, had a lot of divine favor. I don't know if there are many people like E. in the world, "Laying down their life for others" but I know that all the people who do that are beautiful, unperishable flowers on earth.
                                                                                                Eternal gratitude.!




Saturday, March 4, 2017

Jesus Loves the Sinner


9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
 13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
 14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14)
 
If you think that looking down on others was exclusively a First Century phenomenon, think again. This parable speaks loud and clear to Twenty-First Century churches.
Churches are filled with people who are scrupulous in their observance of a rigid menu of moral standards. In each of our Christian denominations there are sincere, God-fearing people who are careful to obey God as they understand his laws.
A problem arises, however, when we are "confident in our own righteousness" or "trust in" our own righteousness to save us and justify us before God. When we move from righteous living -- which is right -- to trusting in that righteous living to give us a standing before God, then we commit a fatal error. In that case it becomes self-righteousness.
But when we begin to take pride in our own righteous behavior, it's very easy to look down on those who don't behave this way as morally inferior to us.  Then we have to ask ourselves, are we living this way because we think that it pleases God, or are we living this way because it makes us look good in the eyes of others. 
Can you imagine the impact Jesus' parable had on the Pharisees present? They must have been livid with anger. How about the crowd? They were amazed, wondering, pondering. But the prostitutes and tax collectors, thieves and adulterers in the audience may have been weeping, for Jesus had declared that it was possible for them to be loved by God, to be forgiven, to be cleansed, to be justified before God. There was hope for them yet. Jesus had given them hope.
Is Jesus trying to undermine piety and obedience? By no means! But this parable attacks with a vengeance any pride and sense of superiority that our piety and obedience may foster. Jesus is laying the groundwork for the kind of people whom God accepts. We have to remember that Jesus loved the sinners then, and he loves them now.  We have only to humble ourselves and admit that we are in need of his saving love and we will be saved. 

 


Sue Provost
702-523-8963
2520 Mesa Verde Terrace
Henderson, NV 89074
[email protected]

Confession: A Liberating Act

         It had been only two weeks since my ordination. I had a little bit of vacation time before taking up my assignment in a parish. My uncle, a pastor himself in a fairly large city, invited me to spend some time in his parish. One Sunday when I was alone in the parish, the phone rang and I was told that I am expected to administer the sacraments to a dying man. When I arrived, the apartment door was open and in one of the rooms there was an old man lying in bed. He must have been over eighty years old. His face was pale, his eyes were glossy, his hands were long, skinny, and lifeless. He introduced himself with a weak voice, as Gino. I must say my head was spinning with thoughts about how I was to apply my moral theology, that I had learned so well, yet remained for me so far a theoretical reality. This was the first confession I was to hear. I asked for God's help and I proceeded. After I finished administering him the "last rites", he asked me to sit down and said to me "Father, I want you to do me a favor. At my burial please read this letter." And he pulled out from under his mattress a sealed envelope and gave it to me.
After two days, I was called again at the parish and told that Gino had passed. He had left word to be buried by me. At the cemetery, I opened the letter in front of all those present and I read:
"My name is Gino Fraschati and this is my 'testament' to you all. I hope that by listening to it, some of you, may find some help in the intricacies of your life.
I was a lieutenant in the Second World War. I had befriended a sergeant of mine by the name of Albert. We were close. He was a very jovial man, always having nice stories, always ready to help, always kind. He was very funny when imitating the enemy. One night, we were sitting in our camp, preparing for the next day's assault. Out of nowhere a German Luftwaffe emerged from the sky, dropping bombs over our camp. The attack was quick, lasting only a few minutes. Unprepared, we all, ran for cover. As I was ready to run myself, I heard the voice of Albert, 'Gino!' I turned around and I saw that he had been hit. He was lying on the ground and his right arm was extended towards me. I hesitated for a second, thinking of helping him. But as the attack intensified, I decided to run for cover. After the attack I came back and I saw Albert's abdominal was torn by shrapnel. He was holding it with his hands and it was bleeding heavily. His right leg had been wounded as well and was heavily profusely. I realized that Albert was dying and there was nothing that anyone could do for him. He called my name again and said with a weak voice "Erji, Erji!" and put his hand to his left pocket. I responded "Yes, yes Albert" as a tear rolled down my cheek. Then he expired. I opened his jacket and in his pocket I found a picture of his wife and two children. Somehow, I don't know how, I survived the war.
I came back and as I had promised him, I began to take care of his wife and children. I must say that after Albert's death the guilt I felt for not helping him, for my cowardliness, never left me. Night after night, the scene revisited me in my dreams. After two years, Erji and I were married. She was a beautiful woman, not only physically but also spiritually. She was a devout Catholic, always praying her rosary and going to daily mass before going to work. We didn't have any children because of a "gift" the war had given me. She saw my inner trouble and asked me to go to Church to confess. I said I could not. After the horrors I had seen in the war, I just could not believe anymore in God. She said that she would pray for me, that the good lord may give me the peace of heart. She passed, as many of you already know, last year. I went to the Church for her funeral. Afterwards, I sank into a profound mourning. One day I returned to the church, not as much to encounter God, as to feel again her presence there. Things turned out to be different though. Almost unwillingly, I went and confessed. I asked the priest if God can forgive such a horrible crime, like mine. He told me that there is no such crime on Earth God cannot forgive if there is genuine, genuine repentance. 'Remember son, he said, God is the father of the prodigal son.' I left the church with a light heart now, with a peaceful, joyful conscience. That night I had a dream. I saw Albert coming to me as a luminous being and smiling. Then after he retired, Erji appeared in my dream, offering me a white lily.
Now I wonder why I have not confessed my sin, my wrongdoing earlier. I hope my pain and sorrow and my peace after the confession will help you too. Signed, Gino, an imperfect human being who found peace by God."
For many days after the burial I reflected upon Gino's letter. I realized myself the importance of repentance, of confession in human and Christian life. They say that the moral conscience is the voice of God to the human heart, the human consciousness. Now as an older priest, I know very well that guilt, sin, and wrongdoing do not go away without repentance, confession, and expiation. The voice of the conscience cannot be silenced. It can be suffocated for a while, but it will always return in some way to us and speak to us when least expected.  God will not stop returning to us, although He will always treat us as free will agents. Raskolnikov, a nihilist, can see the light of his inner resurrection, only after he confesses his crime and accepts to do punishment for it. Repenting, confessing, and doing repair for our sins is always the starting point for us to be better human beings, better Christians, helping us reenter the path towards salvation. Without them, we fool ourselves into believing in an easy "forgiveness" by God. The death of Christ on the cross shows us the serious reality of sin. Forgiveness is a gift from God. But it doesn't happen without the repentant tremor of the human soul.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Salvific Dilemma



The saint said
"Beautiful flowers, quit telling me about God,
My soul is melting in heavenly delight!"
 
Then the saint turned around and saw
The blind soldier walking and limping
And said again
"Suffering man, quit telling me
About God's absence, evil, tragedy, pain!"
 
Then the saint
Raised his eyes toward the sky and cried out
"Why do heaven and hell have to meet
In the human heart?"
 
Quietly, resigned he said to himself
"Is the answer maybe in the cross
On cavalry's height?"

Homage to Anne Frank



Enchanting rose of Israel,
You sit quietly, powerlessly
Amidst four massive cement walls
In the darkness of your cell.
 
Your thin, frail body is trembling, shivering
Like a young plant, hit by ravaging wind.
It seems to you that terror and time are now Siamese,
Living in a perfect symbiosis,
Impassively watching
How your innocent people are brutally killed.
 
Your memory's tape is ineluctably revolving,
Incessantly displaying how Moloch's servants,
With diabolical zeal,
Are rushing to bring him
sacrifices of children, women, and men,
His monstrous, insatiable appetite
To satisfy.
 
Tears filling your beautiful eyes
You ask timidly
"Hashem, why?"
Exhausted, to fall asleep and dream
That a choir of angels came to sing you
A sweet lullaby.
 
Through the palm sized window
In the morning,
You see a verdant tree
And understand that it is
Hashem's voice
Telling you to be robust,
Giving you strength,
Reminding you that,
In the meanders of history,
No matter what,
You and your people will always be
Bearers of the divine light.
 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Pilgram Souls

Uttering Christ that split the air like sharp knives,
birds open their wings to fly South, toward sunny, warm lands.
Rusting leaves have whispered to them in secret that frost,
 cold winter will soon arrive freezing young loves.
Uttering heart wrenching cries,
Souls open their wings in the dark night to fly toward far horizons,
To search for unending light, unending warmth.
"Who knows?" Some say, they may only find death!"
yet it is men's lot to look for god's hidden, mirroring face.

Like rain drops falling in oceans, on earth, they find union, peace, rest.