St. Dorothy Catholic Community Orlando/Winter Park, Florida
Fr. Jim's Corner will consist of pictures, homilies and thoughts from Fr. James F. Profirio-Bond, OFJ, B.S.Ed, M.Ed, C.A.G.S., Pastor at St. Dorothy's. He was ordained to the transitional deaconate on January 23, 2010, by Most. Rev. Lionel J. White, OSB in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and ordained to the Priesthood on January 15, 2011 in Winter Park. Fr. Jim has been involed in Church life since the age of 7 as an altar boy; in 1969 he started his ministry as Director of Music & Liturgy for several parishes in New England,. He has conducted many choirs, bands and orchestras in the liturgical setting. He has also been Principal of several Catholic and public Schools across the country and was the founding Principal of Ave Maria Catholic School in Parker, Colorado. He was professed as a Third Order Franciscan in 1969 at St. Anthony's Shrine in Boston, MA. He began his journey to Priesthood in 1972 studying at St. John Seminary.
First Kings 19:16-21
Psalms 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
Galatians 5:1, 13-18
13th Sunday of OT/Stonewall Riot Memorial Mass
Along the way to Jerusalem, Jesus meets three men who have heard his call in their hearts. They want to join his group and become his followers. These encounters teach us three tough lessons about what it means to follow Christ. First, if we want to follow Christ, we have to expect difficulties. Second, following Christ means relocating the source of our security from ourselves to God (foxes have holes and birds have nests). And lastly, following Christ means actively taking risks (letting the dead bury the dead means leaving behind one's plans and comfort zones in order to put all our eggs in Christ's basket...).
Today I would like to focus on just one of them. If we want to follow Christ, we have to expect difficulties. It is popular nowadays to focus only on the benefits of being a Christian: the sense of mission and purpose, the blessings God wants to give us, the forgiveness and the peace of heart and mind that comes with it, the strength God's grace gives to live truly noble, virtuous lives. These are real benefits. They are not to be ignored. We should desire them and be grateful for them. But they are not the whole story. We live in a fallen world.
When we declare ourselves to be citizens of Christ's Kingdom, in a sense, we lose our citizenship in this world; we become aliens, refugees, immigrants waiting to return home to heaven, or, as sacred Scripture often affirms, pilgrims. This earth is no longer our home, and the closer we get to Christ, the more we realize it, the more we feel its sufferings and imperfections.
Christ only reached Easter Sunday by passing through Good Friday, and Christians can expect nothing less. This is the lesson Jesus teaches us with his comment about setting our hands to the plow. Once we decide to follow Christ, there will be times when we will feel like turning back, because it will be hard work. But if we do turn back, we may lose our place in the Kingdom - he loves us too much to force us to persevere.
Jesus wants us to know this. He gives no false expectations. But he doesn't tell us just by using words. He tells us with his own example as well.
St Luke begins this section of his Gospel with an interesting phrase. As Jesus begins his last journey to Jerusalem, where he knows that betrayal, condemnation, torture, and a painful, humiliating death are waiting for him, St Luke tells us that Jesus "resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem." The original Greek expression is even more poetic. It says that Jesus "steadfastly set (sterizo) his face (prosopon) to go to Jerusalem. The Greek verb "sterizo”, to set steadfastly, always involves making something firm and stable. When we give our face a firm and stable expression, it is a sign that we have made a firm decision. We are not going to change our minds. We are going to persevere to the very end, no matter how hard it may get.
St Luke's point is that Jesus knew beforehand that his mission would be painful and difficult - more than we can imagine, in fact. But at the same time, Jesus accepted and fulfilled it willingly. Jesus did it out of love for us, and also to set an example for us. To follow Christ's path in life will be painful and difficult for us too, at times.
And we, with God's grace to strengthen us, are called to "steadfastly set our faces" to go on our journey to Jerusalem, to persevere in our friendship and fidelity with Christ no matter what.
Jesus' admonition to keep our hands to the plow applies to the dramatic difficulties of life, the big tragedies. It also applies to the dramatic temptations that try to lure us away from our friendship with Christ. But it also applies to the normal, mundane difficulties of every day. Plowing fields is not very exciting or dramatic work. And yet, without it you can't bring in a harvest.
In the same way, unless we are faithful to Christ in the normal tasks of our daily lives, we cannot grow in Christian virtue, and we cannot bring in the harvest of joy, peace, wisdom, and fulfillment that Christ wants to give us. Keeping our hands to the plow in daily life means being faithful to our normal responsibilities. It means doing our jobs the way Christ would do them if he were in our position.
It means doing our chores the way Jesus, Mary, and Joseph did them in Nazareth - responsibly, thoroughly, and humbly. It means using our time well, not wasting it on habits of laziness and self-indulgence.
It means patiently putting up with the imperfections of those around us, day after day, just as God puts up with our own imperfections.
This is the bread-and-butter of Christian living. This is what it means to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This is keeping our hands to the plow. It's not always dramatic and exciting, but it's the only way to live a fruitful life.
This is exactly what happened on June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York City. A group of what today we refer to as the LGBT community members and members of the drag queen were fed up of being mistreated by the police. They were used to the monthly raids on the bar. They were tipped off of the oncoming raids so that they would be prepared as the gay bars were operated by the Mafia at that time. They just had one on June 24. This one was totally unexpected. The community had enough of the beatings, harassment and being treated as disenfranchised members of society. SO they fought back. They fought back for several days following June 28. This gave birth to the fight for LGBT rights as regular people had and to have the ability to live their lives as productive members of the community. We are fortunate to have two of our parishioners, Phil and Stefan who were part of the founding of the Gay Liberation Front the day after the riot. They could not be with us today as they are up in New York for the commemorations there.
And we, acknowledge and thank those men and women and drag queens who were called to "steadfastly set their faces" to go on their journey to equality for the LGBT community to enable the community to enjoy the freedoms which we have today in 2019. There is still so much to do and with the help of Divine Providence future generations will fully benefit from those who went before them and fought the good fight.
However the fight is not over yet. We must still steadfastly set our faces to continue the fight for full equality for all members of the GLBT+ community. As I am speaking to you today, in 30 states GLBT+ Americans are not fully protected from discrimination. My statistics come from freedomforallamericans.org.
In these 30 states you can still legally be: refused housing, dismissed from a job, as Graham was here in Florida from the job he had in Clermont, denied transportation, dismissed from jury selection, denied a bank loan, refused medical treatment, rejected from college. I encourage you to check out the website (www.freedomforallamericans.org)
So we as Christians must fight for the rights of all. Today we are focusing on the GLBT+ community. We cannot be silent when we see injustice, hatred, using scripture to enhance and justify hatred, discrimination in any form. We must steadfastly set our faces forward and being the ambassadors of Jesus spreading His unconditional love and forgiveness.
In about 10 minutes Jesus will give us the greatest of all gifts. The gift of himself through the simple items of bread and wine. Jesus comes in the Eucharist to strengthen us for the difficulties he knows we will face. When he does come to us, let's renew our promise to trust him, and to keep our hands to the plow in spite of all the difficulties and opposition we may encounter until the very end.
Psalms 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20
Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 or 10:1-9
July 7, 2019 – 14th Sunday in OT
Jesus sends his 72 disciples out to preach the Gospel, and they come back rejoicing at the success of their mission. And then Jesus says something rather strange. He tells them, "I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven." Biblical commentators differ on their interpretation of this sentence.
Some read it as if Jesus were simply affirming the reports from the disciples. It would be like Jesus saying, "Yes, while you were preaching and healing, I was here and I saw Satan's influence rolling back wherever you spread the Good News." Others read the saying as an introduction to the rest of his speech, as a warning against unhealthy pride, the cause of Satan's original fall from grace.
In this case, the phrase would mean, "Well, it's good that you have experienced the power of my salvation, but be careful. If you forget that this power comes not from yourselves but from on high, you may fall into the tragic trap that the devil fell into, thinking that you are on par with God." In either case, the lesson remains the same.
Those who trust in God and obey his call in their lives, as did the seventy-two, will experience God's power acting in and through their lives, which is exactly what Christ wants. That experience will then open the door to the stable kind of happiness that only God can give, because it teaches us to depend on God, who is all-powerful, and not on ourselves, who are far from being all-powerful...
A Christian's happiness doesn't arise from how great we are or how great our achievements have been. It comes from knowing that we matter to God, that God is our Creator, Savior and Friend. It comes, as Jesus tells us, from having our "names written in heaven."
This is kind of a strange phrase to our ears: "rejoice because your names are written in heaven." What does it mean? Citizenship was an important concept in the ancient world, at the time of Christ. In a Greek city-state or colony, every recognized citizen could not only vote, but could also make their voice heard in the governmental assembly.
It was as if each of us would be able to go to Washington, walk into the Capitol Building pick up a microphone, and just start addressing Congress - and they would have to stay there and listen. Greek democracy was very participative, and citizens had notable and valued privileges. But there was also a problem: citizenship could easily come and go. It was a slave-based economy, and a war-torn international stage. Slaves could be freed, and granted citizenship. Free citizens could be also be enslaved, if their city-state was conquered. As a result, the list of citizens in any particular city was constantly changing. If you wanted to be sure you had all the rights and privileges that belonged to you as a citizen, you had to make sure that your name was on the citizen roll-call list.
When Jesus tells us to rejoice because our names are written in heaven, this is the context he had in mind. Through baptism, God has made us citizens of the heavenly city, of his Kingdom. Our names are on the list. We share in heaven's blessings now, and can look forward to their fullness later - just like all the saints. This is God's gift to us. No earthly power can take it away. And so it is a stable source of rejoicing.
It is not easy for us to live in accordance with this truth. We have a strong tendency to base our satisfaction on successes and pleasures that we can see and touch. In fact, however, those are only pointers, beautiful invitations, but the real celebration, the real meaning of life is God. Only by maintaining a vivid awareness of God's interest in and love for us, will we be able to experience the deeper, more stable happiness that can bring meaning and satisfaction even in the middle of hardship and suffering. This is what "rejoicing because our names are written in heaven" is all about.
It's an application of the virtue of hope. Like every virtue, hope can grow if we exercise it. That requires the daily mental discipline of directing our thoughts again and again to God's goodness. The easiest and most effective way to do that is by cultivating an attitude of gratitude. When we stop to think about the good things we have received from God, it puts the tough things in perspective. It reminds us that God hasn't forgotten about us, and never will forget about us. It reminds us that we are loved by the Creator of the universe. And when that knowledge is fresh in our minds, we become fountains of joy, wisdom, and strength.
This week, let's stir up an attitude of gratitude, so that God can stabilize our interior joy. Let's take a few minutes every day - maybe on the way to work, maybe before dinner, maybe before we go to sleep - let's take a few minutes to do what the wise old proverb encourages us to do: count our blessings.
And let's start right now, with the blessing of the Eucharist.
Psalms 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34,
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Jul 14, 2019
Christ's lesson is so simple! "Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself, and you will live." It is within everyone's reach to live out this simple lesson. It was even within the reach of a Samaritan, and Samaritans were considered very low class by Jews at the time of Jesus. It summarizes the entire gospel, the entire meaning of life, with such eloquent simplicity!
But we are not satisfied with simplicity.
We, like the scholar in the Gospel passage, pester him for clarifications, "Yes, but who actually is my neighbor? ..." Jesus didn't lose patience with the questioning scholar, and he doesn't lose patience with us. He gives us the parable to explain what he means. And through the centuries, he has generously given further explanations: the words and examples of thousands of saints, the teaching of the Church in every age, the nudges of our conscience... But we still complicate our lives; we still find it hard to learn the lesson. It's almost as if part of us doesn't really want to learn it.
Why? What holds us back from deciding once and for all to make Christ's standard our own? Each of us has our own brand of selfishness, and selfishness creates comfortable shadows in our lives. When we get too used to them, the simple, bright light of Christ's truth hurts our eyes. But in our hearts, that simplicity rings true. We see the brilliant, clear portrait of the Good Samaritan, and we understand it perfectly. Then we hear Jesus summarize the whole meaning of life by saying: "Go and do likewise."
The Christian life has to be simple, because we are all called to be saints. If it were complicated, only the more intelligent of us would even have a chance to become a saint. But the facts show that even children, even the uneducated and unintelligent, can reach the very heights of sanctity and lasting happiness.
St Dominic Savio is a perfect example. He lived a simple Christian life, but he lived it so energetically that soon after he died at the young age of 15, he was canonized a saint. Dominic heard the call to the priesthood while just a boy, living in northern Italy in the 1800s. He was encouraged to join a Catholic boys' school (called an oratory), which was being run by St John Bosco. There he lived a simple boarding school life, but he filled it to the brim with love for God and neighbor. He started a club called The Company of the Immaculate Conception, dedicated to daily prayers and to helping the oratory run smoothly.
Club members volunteered to wash floors, to take care of classmates who were sick or had special needs, and to put up with the discomforts of boarding school life (heat in the summer, cold in the winter, sickness, the bothersome ways of other people) with a spirit of humility and faith - seeing in those discomforts a chance to share in the cross of Christ. St Dominic used to say, "I can't do big things. But I want all I do, even the smallest thing, to be for the greater glory of God."
His personal motto, from the time he received his First Communion at nine-years-old, was equally simple - just three words: "Death before sin!"
That's the kind of simplicity we can all learn from.
Our culture has erected many obstacles to living this simple formula for a meaningful life. One of the biggest is consumerism. It is good that modern civilization has been able to produce an abundance of material goods. But this abundance has its dangers. It has created a culture in which we think we need new products in order to live a fulfilling life. Without even realizing it, our consumer society is always trying to turn us into consumer addicts. Whether it's the latest computer, the latest cell phone, the latest video game, the latest movie, or the latest appliance, we are constantly surrounded by seductive messages trying energetically to convince us that we if we get it, we will really begin to live.
But true life doesn't come from having more stuff. Stuff isn't bad in itself. It is meant to help us follow Christ and glorify God. But the advertisers tell us that, so we have to remind ourselves. True life comes from following Christ, from living like Christ.
Jesus promises his questioner that if he follows Christ's simple formula, if he will simply "go and do likewise", he "will live." That's what we all want: to follow Christ, to live life as God designed it to be lived. The less we are addicted to consumerism, the freer we will be to follow Christ's simple formula.
During this Mass, let's ask the Lord to show us how to simplify our lives. When we receive him in Holy Communion, let's ask him for strength to battle consumerism. Let's ask him to give us courage to budget our money and our time - both as families and as individuals - so that all our resources help us to "go and do likewise."
If we do, Jesus assures us, we will live.
Psalms 15:2-3, 3-4, 5