This week I asked our school children if they know the first letter of the alphabet. They all responded "A."
"But do you know," I asked, "What is the first letter of God's alphabet?" After a number of guesses, I finally had to say, "It is the cross." Our Holy Father stated that when he addressed some fifty thousand young people in Rome. "The Cross is the first letter of God's alphabet and it is written in the life of each person."
In today's reading of the Passion according to Luke we see the two ways of responding to the cross. On one side of Jesus was a man who had learned how to rely on himself. Now he had a last chance to rely on God. Instead he clung to his false self esteem and blasphemed Jesus. "Save yourself. And us too if you are the Messiah."
But the other thief feared God. He didn't blame God for his suffering, but simply said. "Remember me." What a tremendous moment of grace. In effect he embraced the cross and received forgiveness.
Pope John Paul tells us we each face a choice. We can run from the cross. So many people think they can escape the cross with drugs, booze, sex, money, television. You name it. The relief is only temporary. We can run from the cross, but we cannot hide. Without God, the cross crushes us.
There is another alternative. That is the one we are presented with as we begin Holy Week. We can embrace the cross. In Jesus alone will we find forgiveness, healing, rest for our souls. The good thief, from the depth of his pain, cried out to Jesus. "Remember me."
In the end there will be only two types of people. Those who join themselves to Jesus and say to God, "Thy will be done." And those who cling to their own hurt and say, "My will be done." One is left behind, not because Jesus does not want to take him, but because he refused to go. He wants his own terms. The other accepts Jesus terms and hears the words, "Today you will be with me in Paradise."
At the beginning of today's Mass you each received a palm branch. It is a symbol of victory. Carry it with you and place it behind the crucifix in your home. It will remind you that only through the cross, the first letter of God's alphabet, will you gain the final victory.
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Letter from Former Catholic: Syllabus of Accusations against Popes & Some Responses
Holy See Addresses Scandals Caused by Priests
How Seattle Has Addressed Issue Statement by Archbishop Brunett
Stem Cell Research: Teaching of Bible & Catholic Church
my bulletin column
Parish Picture Album - April 2011
40 Days for Life (Everett, WA)
Q&A about Planned Parenthood
Another sting by Live Action: Planned Parenthood CEO’s False Mammogram Claim Exposed
Reasons Young People Leave Their Faith - Presentation for Monroe Christian Pastor. (For pdf format click here)
Background for presentation on "Reasons Young People Leave Their Faith": High School Course – World Civilization - Section on origins of Christianity. (For pdf format click here)
Parish Picture Album
Laetare Sunday: the old & the new (March 2012)
Al Kresta at Rally for Religious Freedom: "We want this to be an enduring victory for American religious liberty...The way we ensure this does not become a political tempest in a teapot: Psalm 51 'Create in me a clean heart, O God..."
Please take time to read what our bishops are saying about Religious Liberty & Conscience Protection
The Archdiocese of Seattle also has helpful resources regarding the defense of marriage and family
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
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Parish Picture Album
(view slide show of Men's Conference Volunteers)
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru
(new, professional website)
photos of Diego
(teenager with eye disease helped by Mary Bloom Center)