One of my favorite stories of the Easter Season is the account we just heard of the disciples who set out on the night of that first Easter Sunday for the small town of Emmaus about a seven mile journey from Jerusalem. As they walked along speaking about the events of recent days they were joined by a third companion who entered the conversation and soon began to unfold for them the meaning of all they had experienced.
When the disciples arrived at an inn for the night they imposed upon the stranger to join them for a meal. They sat down and the stranger took the bread, said a prayer of blessing, broke it and gave it to them. At the meal the Word they had heard became the Bread they received. Immediately their eyes were opened and they recognized that the stranger who had joined them was none other than the Risen Jesus himself. Without realizing it, even as they had travelled on, they participated in the second Mass after the Last Supper itself. The pattern of hearing the Word and then sharing the bread, that has become Christ’s Body and the wine that has become Christ’s Blood has provided the basic structure of the Mass since the very beginning.
We could take it a step further and say that this pattern for us Catholic Christians provides not only the structure of the Sacrifice and Meal that gives us life, but it is the pattern of our life itself. The entire life of a Christian is a journey in which we reflect on the Word of God, which became Incarnate in Jesus and we are nourished by him. The Mass, in other words, is not simply something we do, the Mass is our very life! The Eucharist sums up the meaning of our lives.
I always like to tell the story of a group of martyrs from North Africa. When the Emperor Diocletian put out an edict in the year 304 calling for the death of anyone who persisted in the practice of their Faith as Christians a group of 49 continued to gather for Mass in a town called Abitina. One Sunday they were arrested and brought before the representative of the Emperor. The only thing they were asked was to cease celebrating the Eucharist. The answer they gave was that they could not do this. When the interrogator asked them why, their response was this: “Sine Dominico (esse) non possumus. Intermitti Dominicum non potest.” In other words, “Without the Sunday Eucharist we cannot survive.”
Perhaps there are many of you who, after these weeks now without the opportunity to participate in the Mass and receive Holy Communion, understand the words of these holy martyrs more fully. It is true! For us Catholic Christians to live long term without the Sunday Eucharist is inconceivable.
There have always been situations that have required people to live for a time without regular participation in the Mass. When we are sick often we are unable to go to Mass. In fact, if we are contagious we ought not attend. Those who live in a place with insufficient priests have had no choice but to go long periods of time without being able to attend Mass. I have visited places like that. You can even find such places in Mexico today. If it has not been your personal experience there are many in our community who have heard the stories from previous generations.
At this moment we are living in another situation in which we have found it necessary to close our churches and most of us have not been able to participate in the Sacraments. Here in the United States it has always been so easy to find a church nearby. Although we don’t have enough priests, generally people in this country can easily find a Mass. We may have even taken this opportunity for granted. We may have thought of the opportunity to walk so closely with Jesus as a burden rather than the amazing honor that it is to listen to the Risen Jesus as his Word is proclaimed and to share the same food as he gave his Apostles at the Last Supper when he said, “This is my body” and “This is my blood.”
Understand that we are not closing our churches because the state has ordered it. Just as for the Martyrs of Abitina this right is too precious to make subject to the mandate of the state. We will always stand up for our First Amendment rights to religious liberty. But in this case the purpose of the state and the church coincide. We in the Church are supporting the efforts of the state to forestall this deadly virus. For a time, which thank God is temporary, we are sacrificing one of the most fundamental aspects of our life in the Church—that which is the very pattern of our journey through life.
In this moment of insight into all the Eucharist means to us perhaps we can understand better than we ever have what the Martyrs of Abitina were saying. Sadly, there are still those out there, perhaps some members of our families, who have never experienced the joy of those disciples on the road to Emmaus. They never did recognize that it was the Lord walking alongside them. Sometimes in life we only appreciate what we have had when it is taken from us. Maybe God will use this difficult time we are passing through to deepen our hunger for this life-giving Companion.
Let us pray that very soon we will gather with a joy that we can hardly contain to celebrate the Eucharist together once again along the journey of life.
A very Happy Easter to you all! These words might stick in our throats a bit as we mark this Feast in the midst of such trying times. But practice saying the words and they might come a little easier. And why wouldn’t it be a Happy Easter? It was for just an experience such as this that Christ entered into our lives, shared our suffering and even our death. It was for just a moment such as this that Christ Rose victorious.
When we come face to face with our human frailty; when we realize that no amount of money or power or scientific knowhow can prevent this house of cards that we call human existence from being shaken to its core and even falling, that is the moment we begin to understand our utter need for God. We need One who is not contingent, not passing like ourselves, to reach out to us with His merciful love and to save us.
And the salvation we need is not simply a ‘genie in the bottle’ kind of short-term fix. We need something that truly gives us a hope that reaches beyond the passing nature of life in this world. We long for something only God can give, the grace of forgiveness that inoculates us with freedom from our sins and raises us to a share in God’s very life. It is only this gift that will liberate us from the tethers of this broken world so marked by suffering, pain and death.
This is what Easter is about. It is not about cute little Easter bunnies, colored eggs and showy hats. These are fine in themselves but if we forget the reason for our joy then these springtime displays become empty and superficial—as fragile as the hardboiled eggs we hide.
No, what we celebrate today is the greatest event of human history, but it is not simply a day in history. What we celebrate today is an event that turned history upside down and wrote a different ending to the long human story, doomed when left of its own accord to always end in violence and evil, suffering and death. God has written a new ending to the human drama that turns suffering into victory and death into life.
This Feast we celebrate today as we sit confined in our homes and fearful of tomorrow is exactly the Good News we need to hear! It is not another story of the impending inexorable advance of this deadly virus. It is the news that even as we do what is in our ability to avoid unnecessary suffering we need not live in fear. We are not alone. The One who has loved us so that he entered into our lives and took upon Himself our suffering is with us now. He has overcome even death itself! Christ is Risen!
A very Happy Easter, indeed!
Bp. Mark Seitz
It feels as though we are in uncharted waters. Certainly in the lifetime of most of us we cannot recall experiencing a time such as this. We have heard of pestilences such as ebola and have shuddered to consider what people on the other side of the world have experienced. But it never happened here!
Here in the U.S. A. we had things under control. We are the most prosperous, most technologically advanced nation in the world. Sure we had our challenges, but still, we had things under control.
Then a tiny little new virus comes along. It was named corona for its shape. Isn’t that cute? It begins by bringing the proud dictatorship of China to its knees. That was too bad. Then it started making its way to other places. It really began disrupting our travel plans. How inconsiderate of that tiny little pest!
The virus continued its persistent assault until it arrived on our hallowed shores—without a visa! And we began to discover that we were just as vulnerable as the rest of the world had been. No amount of technology has yet been able to hold it off. Our army, the strongest in the world, is powerless against this covert enemy.
As it drew closer and closer to our communities our concern began to grow. We began to fear for ourselves and for our loved ones. An initial reaction was to fight it by using our most vaunted weapon against human fear and suffering—we began to shop! We began to empty the stores. If we could only have all the food and toilet paper we could possibly need then we would feel better. But the truth is that no material thing is going to do it this time.
In a moment like this we know deep in our hearts that there is only One who can help us. We need a superhero. We need God to come to the rescue and fix this situation, like a genie in the bottle who will grant our wish. But where is God anyway? Why has God, if God is out there at all, allowed this to happen? And why didn’t he fix things when we asked?
Maybe we should start by not casting a blaming eye at God. Maybe we ought to start looking within. Not to say that this is caused by us. We are not that powerful. But look within to recognize the truth about ourselves—that we have lived an illusion. We, in the U.S.A., were not in control after all. Consuming would never fill the emptiness in our hearts. No amount of drugs, legal or otherwise, no amount of alcohol, no amount of food, no amount of porn or sex, no amount of money will fill that place within us that is reserved for the love of our Creator.
This world is a broken temporary place that is not our permanent home and no earthly power is going to transform it into our paradise. God is not the genie that will do that for us either.
Here we are at the end of Lent, the beginning of Easter. They are not really two distinct Seasons. They are one uninterrupted procession with our Savior through all that life can throw our way, through apparent defeat in his Crucifixion and Death, to that glorious Easter morning and beyond.
Can you see him walking through the clouds and the mist, standing upon the uncharted waters of our lives today? Can you hear him calling out to us, “Do not be afraid! I am with you!” Yes! The Risen One is in our midst. He seemed to have been defeated by the brokenness and evil present in our world. Perhaps we had an illusion that we were in charge. We had forgotten that Jesus came for a moment such as this!
Seek him now! Let us ask our Savior to help us, to walk with us, to save us. Just as for the disciples locked up in their houses in fear he will enter into our midst and say to us, “Peace be with you!”
I Was Blind But Now I See
[Singing] “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found; was blind, but now I see.”
There’s something about that song... It is the rare Christian who cannot identify with it. We are attracted to more than a nice melody. The words also find a resonance in each of our hearts.
Did you ever notice that the words come right out of today’s Gospel! The Gospel is about a blind person who comes to clear vision and seeing persons who turn out to be blind. This is what the formerly blind man says to the Pharisees, “I know this much: I was blind before; now I can see.” What is obvious to the formerly blind man is unseen by those who are supposed to recognize the truth revealed by God, the religious leaders of that time. Jesus clarifies for his listeners that it is not the blind who are sinners, but those who refuse to see.
It really marks a wonderful miracle of God --an “Amazing Grace”, if you will.
Here is a man blind from birth—a man who has been reduced to begging to get by. No doubt he had long ago lost hope that he would ever see. He did, however, have an advantage over the other group that suffered from blindness. He knew he was missing something! The Pharisees did not.... They didn’t understand that to have a relationship with God we will always have to be willing to face the hard truth about ourselves, to let go of what may be comfortable, to be changed.
Is it possible that God will be using this previously unimaginable situation that we are now passing through with this deadly virus in order to bring a new vision to us? In one of God’s great paradoxes the blindness that the man in the Gospel had experienced all his life became for him the path to new vision and new life in Christ. Had he not been blind he would not have been so ready to see.
I remember a youth retreat program that I took part in as a young priest. One of the highlights of the weekend was when we placed blindfolds upon the retreatants. At first, watching them carefully, we invited them to find their way around the room. Filled with the pride of youth they set out with a confidence that soon proved unfounded. They were totally disoriented. We had to save them from walking into walls and other obstacles. Then we asked someone, without speaking, to assist them. In a short time they came to trust the one who was guiding them and they began to even maneuver steps with relative ease. As we reflected with them after the experience we hoped they would come to understand that in this human condition there is some blindness in all of us. We need others! We need God!
How will our vision be changed by this experience of the pandemic? Will the recognition of our human frailty lead us to put our confidence less in human beings and more in the One who does not change or have an end? Will the fear we are experiencing lead us to a greater trust in the One who alone can calm our anxiety and console us? Will our sense of isolation lead us to set time aside so that we can connect more deeply with the God who is always with us? Will we come to understand more fully our interdependence upon one another?
The truth is that things could go either way. This experience could make us more like the blind man that received his sight or more like the Pharisees who simply used the encounter with the work of God to reinforce their blindness.
Let us pray that God will use this difficult and challenging time as only God can—to bring good out of evil. Be confident that Jesus, who heals our blindness, will be at work among us now more than ever. Trust that God will work through us who have sought to have our sight restored even more powerfully.
God chooses those like us who are weak because the weak are most likely to be able to recognize that without God’s help….they are blind.
Well here we are again in the midst of these 40 days of penance and prayer, sacrifice and fasting, giving up and almsgiving! We began on Ash Wednesday with the ashes that were placed on our foreheads signifying our repentance and the awareness that we are dust and to dust we will return.
By this time you may be wondering, as I often do, when it will be over. When will Holy Week run its course replacing the difficulty and drudgery of Lent with the alleluias of Easter?
If this is the way we are feeling about Lent we need to perform a Lenten makeover! Does Lent rightly include the elements of sacrifice and self-giving I alluded to earlier? Absolutely! But there is a surprise lurking underneath the ashes of this holy time. It is 40 days of amazing grace, 40 days of new vision and new self-understanding, 40 days of newly claimed power over the sins and the inertia that often dominate our lives! Lent invites us to enter into a new focus on that which truly matters and God's action in our lives. Lent reveals how God can transform us and make us clearer signs of His presence in the world.
Lent is like a spiritual powerhouse of diet and exercise that, over the course of 40 days, can put us in peak form set in place patterns that, God-willing, can free us and place us on a trajectory into the Kingdom of God.
The first Preface of the Mass for Lent says it better than I ever could:
"For by your gracious gift each year
your faithful await the sacred paschal feasts
with the joy of minds made pure,
so that, more eagerly intent on prayer
and on the works of charity,
and participating in the mysteries
by which they have been reborn,
they may be led to the fullness of grace
that you bestow on your sons and daughters."
Did you notice any reference to sorrow and sadness? With such great potential for blessing in our lives Lent should not be seen as a time of woe. Quite the contrary!
Let's get after it! Joy awaits!
We who live in El Paso often think of ourselves as living off in a forgotten corner of the world. We even wonder at times if our fellow Texans know that we are part of our State.
I have just returned from the city that you might call the Capital of the Catholic Church, the city of Rome. It is a long journey crossing 8 time zones. The trip is a Pilgrimage required for Bishops which takes place about every 8 years. The official short name is “Ad Limina Apostolorum”, a Latin title which translates, “To the Threshold of the Apostles”. We go as part of regions of the Church in the U.S. Our region is made up of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. We are made up of 18 Dioceses. 26 Bishops were part of our group. We are one of the largest regions in terms of the number of Dioceses that make us up.
The trip is intended primarily as a spiritual journey to strengthen the connections with our roots as a Church and particularly to strengthen our mission as Bishops to continue the work that Jesus first entrusted to the Apostles to preach, teach and baptize in his name. To do this we go to the place where the two primary foundation stones upon which Jesus built his Church, St.s Peter and Paul, gave the ultimate witness.
We concretize our closeness to that foundation by praying and celebrating Mass together at the four major Basilica churches of Rome: St. John Lateran, which is the Pope’s Cathedral; St. Peter’s Basilica, which is the place where St. Peter is buried; St. Paul’s Outside the Walls; where St. Paul is buried; and St. Mary Major, the earliest Church in Rome that was dedicated to Mary.
Of course, an unforgettable highlight of the trip is the audience with the Successor of St. Peter, Pope Francis. Even a brief encounter with him would have been a memorable treat. Jesus promised that through the ministry of Peter and his successors the Church would always have the assurance of the Holy Spirit to guide her and keep her faithful. The Pope represents the unity that all the Bishops have as they carry on the work of Christ. Through them the whole Church, despite the weakness and sinfulness of all the members, has the promise that Christ will be present and at work until the end of time.
Well, at our audience the Pope didn’t limit himself to only a meet and greet. After graciously greeting and speaking to a group of priests and seminarians who joined us, he sat down and visited with us for more than 2½ hours! There were no formal presentations. Each Bishop had presented an in depth report on the life of the Church in our dioceses some six months ago. The Holy Father just invited us to raise to him anything we wished to inform him about or to ask. We had a far ranging discussion of trends that we see in our region and in the Church as a whole. The Pope shared concerns and priorities of his.
One thing that came across clearly, and this may sound strange, is how deeply Catholic he is! Have you ever heard the rejoinder,”Is the Pope Catholic?”, when a person is wondering if something is true, Well, in this time of turmoil and disappointment and rejection of practically every institution, I am happy to reassure you that the answer to the question about the Pope is, “YES”! Yes, he is Catholic to the core of his being!
Listening to him speak his deep love of Christ, his utter fidelity to Christ’s teaching whether those teachings be in season or out, and his profound desire to follow the voice of the Holy Spirit came through loud and clear. What I think is difficult for many who are influenced by the secular spirit of our age is that a man such as this, so trusting in the power of the Spirit, is not afraid to open the door to a discussion of difficult questions. It is not a matter of having a prior agenda. It is a search for answers that often lie beyond what we feeble humans can conceive. Don’t worry, the Church has a good captain at the helm!
The Pope had a couple real surprises in store for me personally in our encounter. When Fr. Ben Flores, the Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish and our Vicar General, and I introduced ourselves to him he looked at me and exclaimed, “¡Este es el obispo de mucha fama!” “This is the very famous Bishop!” Apparently he had heard about our challenges here on the border and recognized me as the Bishop of this place. I received his greeting as a word of encouragement to all of our community for the powerful witness we have given in our welcome of people in need at our border in fidelity to the Gospel.
Later in our conversation with the Holy Father as a group I took the opportunity to remind him of the events that took place in El Paso on August 3rd. I told him that a man filled with hate had come from far away with the desire to shoot as many people of Mexican origin and immigrants as he could. I explained that 22 were killed and another 26 were wounded. I specifically mentioned Willie (Memo) Garcia who continues to fight for his life in Intensive Care.
My request of the Pope was that he would send me back to my Diocese with assurances of his blessings and prayers, especially for the victims and their families. I expected him to simply give me that assurance. Instead he asked me, “”How many rosaries would you like?” I was shocked by the question and unsure of how to answer. How many could I ask of the Holy Father? I blurted out, “20”. He summoned an aide and whispered to him some instructions. Soon a large white bag was brought in to the Pope. It was the rosaries!
At the conclusion of our audience, Pope Francis beckoned me to come forward and handed me a bag heavy with rosaries. Not 20, but 50! I can hardly wait to offer these signs of the Holy Father’s closeness and blessings to the families of those whose lives were so drastically changed on that awful day!
Yes, at times we in El Paso and all of west Texas may feel as though we are in a forgotten and unappreciated corner of the world. Some people may not give us our due. However that may be, that is not the case with the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis! We are very much in his heart.
It’s good to be home!
As a Catholic and Christian leader on the border, I am often called to be a doctor of the soul. Standing here at the US-Mexico border, how do we begin to diagnose the soul of our country?
A government and society which view fleeing children and families as threats; a government which treats children in US custody worse than animals; a government and society who turn their backs on pregnant mothers, babies and families and make them wait in Ciudad Juarez without a thought to the crushing consequences on this challenged city . . . This government and this society are not well. We suffer from a life-threatening case of hardening of the heart.
In a day when we prefer to think that prejudice and intolerance are problems of the past, we have found a new acceptable group to treat as less than human, to look down upon and to fear. And should they speak another language or are brown or black . . . well, it is that much more easy to stigmatize them.
Why can’t we put ourselves in their shoes? Because we have decided they are not our neighbors, we have decided that they are aliens and illegals. We think these parents simply have no right to save their children from violence or malnutrition. They have no right to a job or to support their families. They have no right to reunite with family.
For this heart-sick government and society, these people should have stayed home, given into hopelessness and watched helplessly as their children suffer. Would we rather they die on the banks of the Rio Grande than trouble us with their presence?
But we have not suffered the mistreatment meted out to them by those who represent our country. We haven’t really felt their hunger and cold. And it is not our children who will be denied food, water and tenderness tonight.
We Americans need our hearts checked. Our hearts have grown too cold and too hard and that bodes ill for the health of our nation.
In the America of today, is there no more Golden Rule? Have we forgotten the lessons of Scripture? Have we forgotten the commandment to love? Have we forgotten God?
But here on the border, he knocks. In the struggle for hope and freedom and family, he knocks. In the lives of Jackleyn and Felipe and Oscar and Valeria, he knocks. In our neighbors here today, he knocks. He knocks. He knocks. He knocks.
No Fire Can Destroy the Risen Body of Christ!
Easter Vigil Homily, 2019
What was it that impacted us so powerfully when we learned that the Cathedral of Notre Dame was on fire? I had never even been there, but it was as though someone had told me my house was on fire. I remember when, a good number of years ago now, a member of my family told me that the house in which I grew up was on fire. My family had moved out a number of years prior. The property had to be cleared so apartments could be built. Local firemen decided to burn the old farmhouse for practice. It still hit me right in the gut. This was the place that housed part of my childhood. It held my memories. In some way it was part of my identity going up in flames!
I suspect that might be at least part of what we were feeling as we heard this news. To some extent we all, whether Catholic or not, believers or not, saw this as part of our identity, our heritage. If it had been instead the Eifel Tower or Parliament in England or even the US Capital we would have felt the loss. But this was a church, a Catholic church. It lies in the center of Paris, one of the world’s great cities and had served as the beating heart of that city for more than 850 years.
No other building could have served the same purpose and done it so well because this church speaks to the history, the meaning and identity of the French people in a way that transcends any other factor that could tell them about themselves. Even for those who attempted to put their identity aside and go off on their own as people without a living faith it served as a tenuous but important cord that spoke to them of home. The French, and really all of us, are in many ways like toddlers who feel brave to wander away from the grasp of mom but who become fearful if she is out of sight.
I suspect we have all had moments like this in our life of Faith. Some of us have wandered, searching for a home that we have somehow longed for without even being able to put a finger upon what it was for which we were hungering. Some of us grew up knowing where home was but we nevertheless struck out on our own like the Prodigal Son, thinking there must be something even better over the next hill. We set out on our own only to soon discover that we were lost.
Tonight we have gathered in our beautiful Cathedral. We have gathered with our Catechumen Elect who will find themselves on this night in the home they now realize is the place, the Faith, they have searched for, longed for. We who are already Baptized, fully initiated members of the Church, have come together with them to celebrate the event in our history that brings meaning and identity to every aspect of our lives, the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We rejoice to welcome those who will also be adopted into the family of God.
We have heard through the Scriptures in summary form how God created us and formed a People whom he called His own. We listened as we recognized his merciful love revealed to us through the ages. Our hearts have filled with joy once again as we sing our Alleluias, praising God for His victory over sin and death and we rejoice to know that His victory is ours as well.
Yes, brothers and sisters, we are home! Our home is no passing building of bricks and wood, but the very Body of Christ, made up of feeble sinful members like ourselves, but which at the same time is the holy and undying Body of the Risen One, who lives and reigns forever and ever! AMEN! ALLELUIA!
Bp. Mark J. Seitz
April 20, 2019
You got it, Peter! You really understood! The first reading said it well, “For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years.”
If someone had asked you who you were imitating, who you were like, you probably would nothave said, “Jesus Christ”; but somehow, thanks in part to your family and your upbringing, thanks to the goodness God placed in you--you got it! Even from the time you were a young child, I am told, you wanted to be a man in uniform, you wanted to serve.
Many today don’t even ask the question. Many just ask, “What would bring me pleasure?” “What can I get?” They don’t ask, “What can I give?” “How can I make a difference?” “How can I make others safe?”
I won’t suggest you were perfect. I don’t think any of us are. But you were clearly a person on the right track. As we look back on your life we can see many ways in which you remind us of Christ. That, I think is why your wife, Ashley and your sister, Melissa, chose the Gospel passage we know as the Beatitudes. They represent the most concise summary of what it means to be a follower of Christ. As such the Beatitudes also serve as a description of Christ himself who is our living model of a person who is faithful to God.
We heard Jesus say, “Blessed are the meek.” You were meekin the sense of the humility necessary to poke fun at yourself to bring a smile to the face of your family and friends. You served your family and did your work quietly without seeking to call attention to yourself.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” You certainly hungered and thirsted for righteousness, for justice. You wanted to protect the innocent and get the guilty off the streets.
“Blessed are the peacemakers.” You were a peacemaker, trying to resolve disputes and calm situations.
And, yes, you were “persecuted for the sake of righteousness.” The brutal and unprovoked attack you endured is not unlike that suffered by the Lord Jesus in whom you trusted. Jesus is the One who is completely righteous, completely innocent, and he was brutally beaten, nails were pounded through his hands and feet and he was hung upon a cross to die.
Yes, Peter, you might not have claimed it, but you became in so many ways like our Savior. He is a Savior who also said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” You did that for our entire community which you loved.
For this reason we will trust Jesus now. We will put you gently into his loving arms to hold you up and guide you safely to your heavenly home.
And we will also assure you, Peter, that we will as a community come together and care for your family: for Ashley, your wife and Natalie, your daughter, for your Dad, Luis, and your Mom, Esther, for your brother, Louieand your sister, Melissa. We will be there for all your relatives, for your friends and for your brothers in law enforcement as they carry on the courageous work you did so well. As we heard in the Gospel all these are also called “Blessed”because they are very poor in spiritright now due to your passing. They are the “Blessed”who mournnow and this whole El Paso community with them.
We will all be strengthened by the Faith that as Christ has promised we hope to see you again one day when having completed ourjourney through life we will share good times together in a place where justice and righteousness will reign, where pain and separation will be no more, where the Blessedwill gather, in the never-ending banquet of heaven.
Bp. Mark J. Seitz Bautismo del Señor - C – Semana Nacional del Migrante 2019
13 de enero, 2019 Catedral de San Patricio
Lema: “Construyendo Comunidades de Bienvenida”
“Él los bautizará con el Espíritu Santo y con fuego". ¡El Bautismo es poderoso! ¡Cambia todo! Para Jesus su bautismo marcó el comienzo de su misión, el momento cuando el Espíritu Santo abrió el nuevo y último capítulo de su vida que impulsó su vida por el tiempo de su ministerio, hasta el tiempo de su pasión y muerte y últimamente a su resurrección.
Para nosotros el Bautismo marca el momento de una transformación de una creatura de la tierra hacia una creatura del cielo, un hijo adoptivo de Dios y un hermano verdadero de Cristo, nuestro Salvador. Para Cristo marca una transición, para nosotros, una transformación.
Lastimosamente, muchas veces no podemos ver los efectos del Bautismo en nuestras vidas. Con la presencia del Espíritu Santo en nuestra vida debemos llegar a un punto cuando vemos todas las cosas de la vida por los ojos de Cristo, en la manera de Cristo. Como Cristo debemos entender que todos, y particularmente los más pobres y marginados, son nuestros hermanos y hermanas, miembros de la familia de Dios. Debemos llegar al punto cuando entendemos que estamos viviendo no para el momento que pasa, sino para hacer de esta vida un camino hacia el Reino de Dios. Con la presencia del Espíritu Santo debemos entender que no dependemos solamente en nuestros recursos materiales o habilidades. Dios puede proveer lo que necesitamos si estamos siguiendo su voluntad.
Con la gracia del Señor podemos elevar todas las valles y rebajar todos los montes. ¿Que no puede hacer el poder de su amor?
Esta semana estamos celebrando La Semana Nacional de la Migración. Y en la luz de esta Fiesta del Bautismo del Señor creo que podemos descubrir una perspectiva totalmente diferente para evaluar las cuestiones de la recepción de migrantes y refugiados. Por eso, el lema de este año es, “Construyendo Comunidades de Bienvenida”. La hospitalidad hacia los que llegan a nuestras comunidades buscando un lugar de seguridad para ellos y sus familias es una característica natural para los que viven en el Espíritu de nuestro bautismo. Esta es una cualidad fundamental de los seguidores de Él que nos amó cuando éramos forasteros de Dios por nuestros pecados.
En verdad este esfuerzo para construir comunidades de bienvenida es una virtud que es necesario para cualquier sociedad justa y exitosa. Porque aunque cada grupo necesita su identidad cultural y religiosa, si no tiene una actitud abierta a recibir y ayudar a los otros va a tener una sociedad fracturada y dividida, una comunidad donde no pueden establecer el buen común, donde no pueden trabajar juntos para el bien de todos.
Viviendo como los hijos de Dios que somos por nuestro bautismo entonces no es solamente para ayudarnos a llegar a la meta de la vida en el reino de Dios, es también el fondo necesario si queremos construir una sociedad justo y bueno en esta vida. Con la ayuda del Espíritu de Dios podemos ver el que ha venido de un otro lugar, no como una amenaza, sino como un hermano o una hermana que hasta ahora no teníamos la oportunidad a conocer. Podemos ver el forastero como una persona llena de potencial y de los regalos de Dios.
¡Sí! Todos nosotros somos, antes y después de nuestro bautismo, pecadores. Pero cuando amamos como Cristo, servimos con Cristo, hacemos la voluntad de nuestro Padre Celestial, como Cristo, tenemos también la confianza que Dios puede protegernos, Dios puede proveer lo que necesitamos, y Dios va a bendecir nuestros esfuerzos para servir los inmigrantes.
El Padre va a decir con orgullo acerca de nosotros lo que dijo acerca de su hijo, “¡Tú eres mi Hijo, mi hija; en ti me complazco!”
Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz