Friday, December 18, 2020

HOMILY – 4th Sunday of Advent – Saying Yes to God


          How many of us are prepared give up our hopes and dreams to follow God’s plan? How many of us are prepared to walk away from the path we are currently on to walk instead on the path the Lord calls us to? This path may include struggle, suffering, perhaps even disgrace. Are we prepared to walk this path? 

          Mary was a no-body living in a no-place part of the world.

She was a 14-year-old girl faced with a choice. I’m sure she had her own hopes and dreams for life. But all of that changed when she met the angel Gabriel and heard God’s plan for her future.

This young woman was told by an angel that she will play a unique role in salvation history for her people and for the whole world. She will bear a child (out of wedlock) and he will be the Son of God. Heady stuff for a teenager.

But Mary has a choice in the matter. She has free will. This is not forced on her by God.

How many women in Mary’s time had the freedom to make their own choices? How many women were given that level of respect by their families or their communities? Mary had just been betrothed to Joseph, a decision not her own.

But God gave her a choice. And Mary said, “yes.”

Mary is the perfect model for how we should live our lives as disciples of Christ.

Seattle Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg said this about today’s Gospel passage:

“What made Mary great and what makes us great is not the world in which we live or our own call to fame (or fortune or power), but rather God’s invitation and action in our lives.

The Gospel is about God and not about us. It’s about what God can do and not what we can do.”

God’s path for our lives is not forced on any of us. God’ has given each of us a choice to follow God’s plan. We each experience our own annunciations in this life. Our faith encourages us to develop ears to hear while keeping our hearts attuned to Christ. And we must have the courage to act on God’s call in our lives.

“That is the dilemma of discipleship. God graces us with talents, possibilities, opportunities, skills, and other blessings for a reason – namely to accomplish a divinely intended mission in the world. Our of respect for our free will, God first asks our permission to use our lives.” 

What lessons can we learn from Mary on following the voice of God?

I found this humble offering and would like to share it with you. A shout out to author Marci Ferrell. It is entitled –

Ten Lessons God's Word teaches us through the life of Mary:

1.  Mary knew God's Word. In the time Mary lived she was probably illiterate, but she had heard the Word of God and kept it hidden in her heart.  How well do we know God's Word?  Are we able to speak the Words of His truth to others?  Is our time in the Word an important part of our day?

2.  Mary was filled with the Spirit.  As believers, we have the Holy Spirit working in us, and there is nothing we can accomplish for God outside the power of the Holy Spirit.  Do we tap into the power of the Spirit, or do we rely on our strength to get through difficult situations and trials?

3. Mary said “yes” to God's plan for her life.  She had an obedient, submissive, and a humble heart.  Are we willing to say, “yes Lord,” to whatever task Jesus calls us?

4.  Mary was quiet before the Lord and meditated on all He had done in her life.  How often are we truly quiet before the Lord, just pondering on what God has done and is doing in our lives? Do we take the time to meditate on God’s Word?

5.  Mary turned to Jesus for help when she had a problem to be solved.  When a problem arises where do we turn to first for guidance?  Do we seek Christ or turn to others?  Do we spend time worrying? Do we point others toward Christ?

6.  Mary was a woman of worship.  She gave praise to her Lord knowing that the road before her was going to be a difficult one.  Do we praise God in and through all circumstances in our lives?

7.  Mary trusted in the Lord and waited on God’s timing.  A virgin betrothed to be married, and she just had a visitation from an angel of the Lord telling her she is to give birth to the Son of God.  How do you explain this one to Joseph?  Mary didn't take matters into her own hands, but let the Lord change Joseph's heart.

8.  Mary was a chosen vessel of the Lord.  If you are a child of God, you have been chosen to be an instrument that God is using to fulfill God’s purposes.  Mary was chosen to give spiritual life to the Son of God, and we are chosen to give spiritual life and encouragement to others.  Are we living an eternally focused life?  Do we take the time to share the truth of the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ with others?

9.  Mary was a faithful servant.  When it seemed like everyone had deserted Jesus, his mother Mary was there, and she followed him all the way to the cross.  Today there are not many professing believers who are ready to follow Jesus to the cross.  Are we true followers of Christ?  Are we faithful to Jesus no matter the circumstances or the difficulty of what we may be called to endure?

10. Mary knew Jesus was dying on the cross for her sins.  Jesus was her son, but he was also her Savior.  The child she loved, she also watched die on a cross for the sins of the world.  Do we believe Christ died for our sins?  Have we repented our sins and put our faith and trust in Christ and Christ alone for your salvation? 

As we approach the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, may we have hearts that are submissive and obedient to God's will for our lives. May we have the courage to say “yes” to God’s plan, no matter where it leads us. May we each become instruments of God’s peace in the world.


Friday, December 4, 2020

HOMILY – 2nd Sunday of Advent – Waiting, Expectantly


Are you prepared for Christmas?  I know that’s a loaded question this time of year.

The word “prepare” is the one word that pops to mind when reflecting on this weekend’s readings. Our Church calls us to spiritually prepare for the birth of the Christ child -- as we wait expectant yet hopeful.

Our spiritual preparation requires a healthy dose of humility if it is to be successful this Advent season.

This passage Morning Prayer caught my eye:

“Prepare a path in our hearts for the coming of (Christ)… 

Bring low the mountains of our pride, and fill up the valleys of our weakness.”

In other words, we all probably have some work to do to prepare for Christmas. And this preparation has nothing to do with the Christmas shopping, or other Holiday to-do list.  

Perhaps the best way to understand how God wants us to prepare for what’s to come is to be like first-time parents awaiting the birth of their own firstborn child.

No doubt Mary and Joseph, and John the Baptist’s parents Elizabeth and Zechariah all experienced this preparation and waiting, expectant yet hopeful.

I’m reminded of the Christmas 1990.  My wife Mary and I were expecting our first child, with a due date one week before Christmas.

We’d moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, earlier in the year for a job managing a radio station. Mary was less than enthusiastic about our time spent living in the South. She was a real trooper for leaving family and friends behind to go to a place unknown to have our first child.

In the months leading up to December, we did all the things first time parents do to prepare for the blessed event.

We prepared a bedroom for the baby. We prepared the car to be able to transport the baby. We prepared for childbirth with Lamaze classes. We prepared to be Christian parents by taking baptism classes at our local parish. We prepared to have family come to visit once the baby was born.

We were all consumed with preparation as we waited expectant yet hopeful of the big change coming to our lives.

And shouldn’t we all be spiritually preparing for the big change coming to our lives this Christmas?

If we listen to the cry of John the Baptist, we’re all called to “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his path.”   

We’re about to celebrate the greatest event of all human history, the birth of Jesus. Our hearts need to ready to meet the Christ child.

            On our due date, my wife thought she was going into labor and called me home from work. She was so happy and had big smile on her face as we drove to see her doctor. She was convinced the time was now!

            Dr. Eddie walked into the exam room, took one look at my wife’s beaming smile, and said, “Mary, you’re smiling. You’re not in labor yet. If you were, you wouldn’t be smiling.”

            So, we returned home to wait expectant yet hopeful, and we prepared some more.

            I had to work on Christmas morning.

            As the shift was coming to an end, the phone rang.

            It was Mary calling (with distress in her voice) to say “I’ve been in pain all morning. Please come home quickly.”

            So, I jumped in the car and headed home.

            When I got there, the smile was gone.

            Yep, we were now officially in labor.  But contractions were still 10-to-12-minutes apart and we were told to wait until contractions were five-minutes apart before going to the hospital.  

            So, we spent Christmas Day 1990, all by ourselves, far away from family and friends, experiencing childbirth for the very first time. We were waiting expectant yet hopeful, albeit a little stressed that Christmas day.

            The truth is nothing can truly prepare us for such a blessed event. We did all we could to prepare. But the rest was left to the grace of God. 

Mary gave birth to our first born son Sean Michael Kelly 30 hours after going into labor. The bouncing baby boy arrived one day after Christmas 1990, on the Feast of St. Stephen, first Christian martyr and a deacon.

            For a 29-year-old struggling with his faith, the experience helped seal the deal between God and me. After witnessing a miracle, faith was real in ways it had never been before. I had never felt love like that before.

We’d experienced a true God moment together. Our lives would be forever changed.

            And this is what God is calling us to do as we prepare the way of the Lord this Christmas. Make paths straight, fill in every valley and make low every mountain and hill.

            Everything in our world had changed with one miracle: the birth of a child.  

And so, our story is God’s story for us all.

We are called by John the Baptist to prepare a way for the Lord in our hearts and change everything as we orient our lives to Christ.

As we baptized our son one week later, with family finally in town, our pastor Monsignor Gaston Herbert reminded me of something stupid he heard me say on the radio shortly after the baby was born.

            When asked by a fellow radio host on the air, “What was the experience like, DK?”  Yours truly said the following fateful words, (and I quote) “It was fun and easy.”

Monsignor Herbert howled as he repeated my careless words, and then baptized our first child.

The people living in the time of Mark’s Gospel were awaiting the second coming of our savior Jesus Christ. They were waiting expectant yet hopeful. Today we’re reading the very beginning of Mark’s Gospel.

            Bible scholars agree. Mark’s was the first written Gospel, probably between 65-70 AD. This was nearly a generation after the death of Christ. It’s believed Mark’s community lived in Rome.

This early Christian community faced persecutions, betrayals, denials and many conflicts. Mark’s Gospel helped keep this community focused on the expected and hopeful Second Coming of Jesus. Many at this time believed the generation that witnessed Jesus in the flesh would not completely pass away without Jesus coming again.

The action in Mark’s Gospel is fast-paced and designed to get all its readers caught up in the drama, and begin to see ourselves as a continuation of the story of Jesus Christ.

The belief was Jesus is returning soon.  So, prepare.  And so, we, too, are called to prepare while we wait expectant yet hopeful. 

         My sisters and brothers, the Lord is coming soon! 

Let us prepare our hearts to welcome a child who changed our world forever.


Saturday, November 21, 2020

HOMILY – Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Sounds a little like the title of a Marvel Superhero movie. And in some ways it is.

Jesus is talking about Divine Judgment in today’s scripture Parable of the Sheep and Goats. This is the final public teaching of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel and has one of the most important lessons for all Christian believers.

Jesus is reminding us that judgment will be based on the acts of charity or what the Church calls Corporal Works of Mercy.

  We heard a few weeks back the Greatest Commandment. This week we hear about how to put the Greatest Commandment into action by showing our love for our creator and for our neighbor.

A few weeks back I heard about a person experiencing homelessness setting up shop outside St. Patrick. Mass was about to start and people didn’t know what to do about the poor soul living outside our Church door.

I said, not a problem, I’d be happy to talk to him. As I stepped outside to chat with the man, we instantly recognized each other. It was my friend Robert who we had worked with for the past few years with our MercyWatch outreach in Snohomish County.

When he saw me, he broke into tears and embraced me and we got caught up on what was going on in his life.

Some parishioners were shocked to see the deacon hugging a homeless person. One of our new parishioners witnessing all of this said, “What’s the deal people? So, the deacon knows a homeless guy.”

Yes, I know him, know his story, know his many struggles. He was a regular at Mass in Everett. Robert is a devout Catholic who attended Catholic schools. And now he lives on the streets of Seattle and is using our front porch to keep out of the rain.

He’s been attending Sunday Mass each week since our encounter and our MercyWatch team has been making special trips to St. Pat’s weekly to give Robert food, water, socks, blankets and other needed survival items.

We walk by these poor unhoused souls every day. Homelessness is exploding in our fair city. What are we Christians supposed to do? 

We are to show love to our neighbor. And by doing so we show love for God.

In doing so, we encounter the sacred through our works of mercy and charity. This is what distinguishes holy Christian service from secular acts of kindness.

In this week’s parable, Jesus opens our eyes so we can recognize His presence in the “distressing disguise of the poor”, as St. Teresa of Calcutta described it, and know Him, love Him, and serve Him.

Such a new awareness should motivate us to readily demonstrate heroic generosity and compassion for others who are struggling on the margins. Especially in this time of pandemic.

Jesus also reveals something important about what the Church now calls the preferential option for the poor. These are “the least of these sisters and brothers” in the world in need of our care.

So, how can we provide this care as a paired parish community?

Beginning in the new year, we begin formation for a team of outreach workers to learn about how best to provide the ministry of presence and service to our unsheltered friends.

Once formed, this group will head out every Wednesday at Noon to provide needed emergency supplies to our street friends experiencing homelessness.

What do they most need? Besides food and water, the most requested items are socks, blankets… and rosaries. Yes, rosaries. Folks on the streets need faith, too, to sustain them in their plight and we have found rosaries in hot demand.

You can help simply by supporting our efforts: making sandwiches for our team, providing bottled water, socks, blankets, hats, gloves and handwarmers. All of these items will be needed for this effort. And everyone in the two parish communities can do their part to keep us in good supply.

Jesus reminds us today: 


“For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me…”

           The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe was established by Pope Pius the Eleventh in 1925 to remind people that one person alone has a claim on our lives: Jesus Christ. We follow his lead always.

           In the 1920’s authoritarian dictatorships were becoming common in Europe. The Pope wanted to counter this emerging popularity among the Catholic faithful.

           The Popes encyclical announcing the Solemnity said this:

“Nations will be reminded by the annual celebration of this feast that not only private individuals but also rulers and princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ. It will call to their minds the thought of the last judgment, wherein Christ, Who has been cast out of public life, despised, neglected and ignored, will most severely avenge these insults…”

           As we grow deeper in our faith, deeper in holiness, I invite you to become a part of the Sacred Encounters team as we together better put our faith into action and bring the love to Jesus to everyone.


Friday, November 6, 2020

HOMILY – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Be Prepared


If you knew today was your final day on earth, how would you spend the time you had left? 

Would you do anything differently?

Who would you want to talk to?  What would you want to say?

Would go to confession to unburden yourself of any baggage you might be carrying?

Are you ready today to meet Jesus face to face?

Saint Benedict’s Rule for Monks encourages they think about their death every day: “Keep death daily before your eyes. This is part of a wisdom tradition. If we realize that this might be our last day, we generally will try to make good decisions about how we are living.”

Father Mychal Judge lived his life this way. The Franciscan friar was as a Catholic priest for 40 years, serving his final nine years as chaplain to the New York City Fire Department.

During his long ministry, Fr. Mychal battled alcoholism and found his sobriety thanks to AA.

He was very well known in New York City for ministering to the homeless, the hungry, recovering alcoholics, people with AIDS, the sick, injured and grieving, immigrants, and those who felt alienated by the Church and society.

A dear friend remembers giving him a jacket as winter was approaching.  Fr. Mychal didn’t have a jacket at the time.  But on the way home after receiving the gift, Fr. Mychal saw a homeless person lying in the cold and gave it to him. He sheepishly told his friend, “He needed it more than me.”

When anointing a man dying with AIDS -- a man who asked friends “Do you think God hates me?” -- Fr. Mychal just picked up the frail man, kissed him and silently rocked him in his arms.

Fr. Judge was considered by many to be a living saint for his extraordinary works of charity and his deep spirituality.

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, Fr. Mychal heard the news of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. He quickly changed out of his Franciscan brown habit, put on his Fire Department chaplain’s uniform, and rushed to the scene. 

He was met by Mayor Rudy Giuliani who asked him to pray for the city and the victims.

Fr. Mychal was spotted by many in the early moments of the tragedy consoling the injured and traumatized, and praying his rosary. 

When the South Tower collapsed at 10:59am local time, Fr. Mychal was among those killed by the debris that went flying through the North Tower lobby.

Shortly after his death, an N.Y.P.D. lieutenant found the priest’s body. He and two firemen, an emergency med tech and one civilian bystander carried Judge’s body out of the North Tower, a moment captured in a breathtaking photograph by a Reuters photographer.

The Philadelphia Weekly called the photograph “an American Pieta.”  Judge’s body was laid before the altar of St. Peter’s Catholic Church.

Fr. Mychal Judge was designated the first official victim of 9/11. 3000 people attended his funeral. His fire helmet was presented to Pope John Paul The Second.

Fr. Mychal Judge’s spiritual lamp was found burning brightly as he met Jesus in the rubble of the World Trade Center.

We Christians are called to live in such a way as to always be ready for Jesus’ arrival.

This weekend’s readings speak of this readiness by highlighting the importance of wisdom.  The wise prepare. The foolish do not. And when the door to the wedding banquet is locked, the foolish won’t be allowed to enter. 

We are called to always be ready to meet Jesus and live our lives like we could our Savior at any moment.

After all, we know neither the day nor the hour when He will return just as we know neither the day nor hour when our journey in this life will end.

As we come to the close of the liturgical year, our Church turns to Matthew 25. Matthew is using themes drawn from Jewish Apocalyptic literature.

These readings are designed to get us thinking about end times.  For our evangelical sisters and brothers, this is a conversation about Rapture and the end of the world. That's not what the Catholic Church teaches. For Catholics, this conversation is more personal. It’s all about becoming our best selves before meeting Jesus face-to-face.

When the Lord comes, all that will matter is the kind of person we are, not what we have achieved or what we have amassed in this life.  But who we are and what we’ve done to build up the Kingdom by serving others -- especially the poor and marginalized.

What if we should be caught unprepared, with little or no oil in our spiritual lamps?

This is an important question for reflection.

We are called to keep our lamps burning brightly. There are 5 easy ways to do this:

1. Pray.

Pray daily and grow in your relationship with Jesus. This is the most important relationship and we should want Christ to be our best and closest companion on this road we call life.

2. Give to the needy.

By serving the marginalized and outcast, you will be building up the Kingdom and preparing for the Lord’s return by being Jesus to others.

3. Examine your conscience.

Is there someone I’ve harmed?  Is there someone I need to ask for their forgiveness?  Is there someone God is calling me to forgive?  Is there something I need to change about myself in order to be better prepared to meet Jesus?

4. Confess.

Use the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is a powerful way to unburden oneself from any sinful baggage we might be carrying.  

5. Be joy-filled.

We are a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a Holy nation.”  We have been called out of darkness into his wonderful light.  So, rejoice.


True wisdom means living a life centered on the divine, on following God’s will in our lives, on loving God by loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Then and only then will we be prepared for the coming of the Lord. Then and only then will our spiritual lamps be burning brightly for Jesus to find us. Then and only then will St. Paul’s words today be fulfilled, and, “we shall always be with the Lord.”

Fr. Mychal Judge wrote a special prayer. I think it’s fitting as we reflect on how best to live our lives as if it were our last day:

          “Lord, take me where You want me to go; Let me meet who You want me to meet; Tell me what You want me to say, and keep me out of Your way.” 

Friday, October 23, 2020

HOMILY – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Orlando’s Healing (y en español)


I was blessed once to witness the miracle of Christ’s healing. It was pretty amazing to experience.

Today we offer the Sacrament of Holy Anointing at Mass.

What does the Catechism of the Catholic Church say about this Sacrament?

"By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ." 1499

While the readings this weekend may not perfectly reflect what we are about to witness as a faith community, I would contend all three readings show the mercy and love of Christ which is at the heart of this important Sacrament.

Nearly a decade ago, I served as the one and only Catholic spiritual care volunteer at Bailey Boushay, a HIV/AIDS hospice on Capitol Hill.

That’s where I met Orlando.  The first time I visited him I tried to offer communion. He spoke only Spanish. At the time, I did not. 

Orlando clearly understood what I was offering him, but got a scared look on his face and shook his head “no.”   I did not understand what he was trying to tell me.

Orlando had advanced AIDS. He also had a rare form of cancer eating away at his body. 

His doctors and nurses said he was nearing the end of his life.  In fact, some thought Orlando would only last a week or two at most. 

He was in his early 40's.  He was in a lot of pain.  He was very scared.   

So, I asked the Spiritual Care Director to ask Orlando through a Nurse interpreter what he was trying to tell me.  Orlando listed himself as Catholic, but refused to receive the Body of Christ.   

She found out.  Orlando was born in Cuba and baptized Catholic.  But due to Fidel Castro’s communism and anti-Catholicism, Orlando never got to celebrate first communion or any other sacraments during his lifetime.

Orlando thought it was too late for him.   

When told this, I asked her to share with Orlando that it might not be too late and to see if he would be interested in finding out more.

She immediately told him, and his face lit up and he said, “Si!" (Yes)!

A quick call to the Archdiocese, a helpful staffer, and a Redemptorist priest named Fr. Pete who spoke fluent Spanish was at Orlando’s bedside.

Over the coming days, he would catechize Orlando in the ways of the Catholic faith, he would hear his confession, anoint him, confirm him, and give him first communion.

When Jesus wants something to happen, it happens fast!

A few Sundays later, I stopped into Orlando’s room and noticed he looked much better.  When I offered communion, his face lit up with a big smile and he said, "Yes, Si!”

For the next few months, I would give him communion on a weekly basis.  Soon he was out of the bed and in a wheelchair.  A few weeks later he was walking. 

Doctors couldn’t explain it. Orlando’s health made a “miraculous recovery.” Those are the doctors' words not mine.

Eventually, Orlando was released from hospice care into transitional housing.  At last check, he was doing well.

 This miraculous healing came through Christ’s Sacraments.

Skeptics will say the miracle is anti-retroviral drugs keeping Orlando alive.  None would disagree that this miracle is part of God's plan for Orlando. 

But I believe his true healing came from being one with Christ and knowing he encountered Jesus in the Sacraments.

A wise person believes in the transforming power of the Sacraments.  A fool rejects them.  How many foolish people in our world today are in such desperate need of Jesus Christ in their lives?

Some rejected the power of Christ’s love found in his Greatest Commandment: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your hearts, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. This is God’s greatest law for us.”

Jesus took all 613 Laws of Moises and boiled them down to the essence of what God asks of us. Love him and love each other. It’s that simple.

As we heard in our second reading from Thessalonians, "you became imitators … of the Lord, receiving the word with great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you became a model for all believers.”

Jesus Christ is Lord of all – yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  When we step into God’s house to show our love of our creator each week, we are joined with Jesus in His powerful ministry simply by taking Holy Communion, by receiving Christ’s Sacraments, and by showing loving our neighbor. 

As we celebrate Mass today, we make present Christ's life, death and resurrection and we are called to enter into it.  The Sacrament of Holy Anointing nurtures our spirit.

As you participate in this sacred healing, remember the miracle Christ did for my friend Orlando. Know that when you are anointed, you too have new life within you.   

I pray, we all pray, that as we encounter Jesus in this Sacrament, you will feel his healing touch, and the power of Christ will bring you new life.   


Una vez fui bendecido al presenciar un milagro de sanación de Cristo. Fue increíble experimentarlo.

Hoy ofreceremos el Sacramento de la Santa Unción en la Misa.

El Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica dice:

"Por la sagrada unción de los enfermos y la oración de los sacerdotes, toda la Iglesia encomienda a los enfermos al Señor que sufre y es glorificado, para que los levante y los salve. Y, de hecho, los exhorta a contribuir al bien del Pueblo de Dios uniéndose libremente a la Pasión y muerte de Cristo”. (1499)

Si bien las lecturas de este fin de semana pueden no reflejar perfectamente lo que estamos a punto de testimoniar como comunidad de fe, yo diría que las tres lecturas muestran la misericordia y el amor de Cristo que está en el corazón de este importante sacramento.

Hace casi una década, serví como el único voluntario del cuidado espiritual católico en Bailey Boushay, un hospicio para el cuidado de enfermos con SIDA en Capitol Hill.

Ahí conocí a Orlando.  La primera vez que lo visité traté de ofrecerle la comunión. Sólo hablaba español. En ese momento, no lo hice. 

Orlando claramente entendió lo que le estaba ofreciendo, pero tuvo una mirada asustada y se negó con la cabeza "no".   Yo no entendía lo que intentaba decirme.

Orlando tenía SIDA avanzado. También tenía una rara forma de cáncer devorando su cuerpo.

Sus médicos y enfermeras dijeron que se acercaba al final de su vida.  De hecho, algunos pensaban que Orlando sólo duraría una semana o dos como máximo. 

Tenía unos 40 años.  Tenía mucho dolor.  Estaba muy asustado.  

Así que le pedí al Director de Cuidado Espiritual que le preguntara a Orlando a través de un intérprete de enfermeras lo que estaba tratando de decirme.  Orlando se identifico como católico, pero se negó a recibir el Cuerpo de Cristo.  

Ella supo que Orlando nació en Cuba y fue bautizado católico.  Pero debido al comunismo y al anticatólico de Fidel Castro, Orlando nunca llegó a celebrar la primera comunión ni ningún otro sacramento durante su vida.

Orlando pensó que era demasiado tarde para él.    

Cuando le dijo eso, le pedí que compartiera con Orlando que no era demasiado tarde y que le preguntara si estaría interesado en averiguar más.

Inmediatamente cuando le dijo eso y su rostro se iluminó y dijo: "¡Sí!" "(Sí)!"

Después de una llamada rápida a la Arquidiócesis, una persona servicial y un sacerdote redentorista llamado Padre Pedro que hablaba español con fluidez, estaba al lado de la cama de Orlando.

En los siguientes días, catequizaba a Orlando en los caminos de la fe católica, oía su confesión, lo ungiría, lo confirmaba y le daba la primera comunión.

Cuando Jesús quiere que algo suceda, ¡sucede rápido!

Unos domingos más tarde, me detuve en la habitación de Orlando y me di cuenta de que se veía mucho mejor.  Cuando le ofrecí comunión, su rostro se iluminó con una gran sonrisa y me dijo: "¡Sí, Sí!"

Durante los próximos meses, le daría la comunión semanalmente.  Pronto salió de la cama y empezó a usar una silla de ruedas.  Unas semanas más tarde estaba caminando.

Los médicos no pudieron explicarlo. La salud de Orlando hizo una "recuperación milagrosa". Esas son las palabras de los doctores, no las mías.

Finalmente, Orlando fue dado de alta y del cuidado de hospicio fue a una vivienda de transición.  Por fin, lo estaba haciendo bien.

 Esta sanación milagrosa vino a través de los Sacramentos de Cristo.

Pero creo que su verdadera sanación vino de convertirse en  uno con Cristo y saber que se encontró con Jesús en los Sacramentos.

Algunos rechazaron el poder del amor de Cristo que se encuentra en su mandamiento más grande: "Amarás al Señor, tu Dios, con todo tu corazón, con toda tu alma y con toda tu mente. Y amarás a tu prójimo como a ti mismo. Esta es la ley más grande de Dios para nosotros".

Jesús tomó las 613 Leyes de Moisés y las revertió a la esencia de lo que Dios nos pide. Amarlo y amarse el uno al otro. Es así de simple.

Al celebrar hoy en nuestra Misa, hacemos presente la vida, la muerte y la resurrección de Cristo y estamos llamados a entrar en ella.  El Sacramento de la Santa Unción nutre nuestro espíritu.

Al participar en esta sagrada sanación, recuerden el milagro que Cristo hizo en mi amigo Orlando.  Sepan que cuando son ungidos, ustedes también tiene una nueva vida dentro de ustedes mismos.  

Ruego, todos oramos, para que, al encontrarnos con Jesús en este Sacramento, sientan su toque sanador, y el poder de Cristo les traiga nueva vida.