Corpus Christi

I had always been raving about the people of the Parish.  However, this is not the only reason for my sense of gratitude for my assignment here as your Pastor.  The other star in that firmament is the neighborhood itself. 

When I came from Salt lake City last March, where I attended the installation of Bishop Oscar Solis, some parishioners picked me up from the airport.  As a token of my gratitude, I invited them for a snack at the home of my brother in Playa del Rey, near the airport.  My sister in law instantly whipped a small feast to the delight of my companions.  Playa del Rey, as a seaside community near LAX, is a nice and comfortable neighborhood with yearlong pleasant weather due to its proximity to the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean.  On the way back, one of my companions shared a question in his head: where would he like to live, that beach community or the locale of our Parish?

Answering that question was the subject of our conversation while traversing the 105 on the way back home. I am a sucker for cool weather so instinctively I was leaning towards the beach.  That neighborhood was in fact one of my very first official residences within the Archdiocese, having been assigned there for a few months with the late Msgr. Gabriel Gonzales in the Parish of Saint Anasthasia.  However, in the end, I said I too preferred our corner of the county.  My reason?  The food!.  There are very few communities that can rival the combination of restaurants and supermarkets that dot the landscape of Artesia, Cerritos and even our portion of Lakewood and Norwalk.  I don’t have to detail here why I feel that way (maybe I should start a food blog as suggested to me for years!) but let me say that within a three mile radius from the Church, there is such a concentration of great places to eat that there is no need to go elsewhere.

Allow me to balance my fascination with good food with my fascination of what food means to the larger picture.  In the end, good food is just one of the threads that bind the community.  It solidifies fellowship. It deepens friendships. 

Today we gather in celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi.  We acknowledge today that indeed the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  We, however, cannot fail to see that that God had chosen to frame the source and summit of our Christian life in the context of a meal.  The Eucharist, in a sense, highlighted the special power of a meal. 

Aside from taking instagram-worthy pictures of our meals, are we attentive to the people with us at table?  Do we strengthen our bonds as we enjoy the comfort of our food or are we so engrossed with our own devices (figuratively or literally) that we become self-absorbed robots?    Do we savor our God given food with gratitude or are we simply indifferent to it?

May this Feast of the Body and Blood of Our Lord open our hearts and minds to the wonderful gifts that are lavished upon us, not only in the Eucharistic meal but in the bonds of charity forged in our tables of fellowship. 

- Fr. John

Trinity Sunday

Last Friday, I had lunch with a friend of mine, the Pastor of the Concordia Lutheran Church on the end of 183rd St. in Cerritos.   I became fast friends with him and we decided to make this lunch as regular part of our monthly schedules.

In our conversations I learned a lot about Lutherans.  There is a reason why there is a lot of positive dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans and that is, we agree on a lot of stuff.  I had told him that one of my favorite YouTube channels is Lutheran Satire and a lot of their videos (a lot but alas, not all) can be used to defend our own catholic beliefs, albeit with a lot of humor.  We often have a picture of Martin Luther as the ultimate anti-Catholic demagogue but a close study of his belief reveals that if you brush aside his hot headed German side, we are closer than we think.

I had been mentioning before that I have a brother who is a Pastor of an Evangelical Church.   It is obvious that we do not agree on certain doctrinal matters (we have much more things in common with Lutherans) but I am quite close to my brother.  Instead of highlighting the things that set us apart, we talk about our common ground.

Our world today is torn by a lot of violence and hatred.  We would think that our “global village,” made even smaller by the burgeoning internet, would be more understanding of each other.  Instead, we have spawned an army of people who are trolling each other because of competing beliefs, politics and ideologies.

Today is Trinity Sunday and we are given the opportunity by the Church to reflect on this great mystery of our God, whose innerlife is revealed to us by Jesus in the Gospels.   We believe in a Triune God – three persons in one God.  Our imagery of God reflects that one thing we lack as Christians and as human beings, unity.  Jesus himself prayed: “so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us” (John 17:21).

We will always have common ground.  It can be expressed in different ways in our lives but we will always have something in common with each other.  Let us seek that which binds us rather than simply pointing out our differences.  If that is so, then we can all take a step closer in being in the image of our God, three persons, One God.

- Fr. John