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Monthly Archives: July 2018

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B – Feast of Fr. Stanley Rother

July 29, 2018

Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi


Fr. Stanley RotherThe miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish is the only miracle account to appear in all 4 Gospels. In fact, Matthew and Mark include 2 different versions of this story in their Gospels, so Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the multitudes appears 6 times in the Gospels. Obviously this narrative was very important to early Christians. Why was it important?

This miracle shed light on the early Church’s experience of the Eucharist, where from so little came so much. From a little bread and a little wine the eternal Son of God gave these first Christians the gift of Himself. The One whom the whole world could not contain shared the abundance of His life with them in what appeared to be so little.

In addition, the early Church experienced the multiplication of its members through the celebration of the Eucharist. From a few faithful followers of the Risen Christ there was born a community of faith spreading like wildfire across the known world. There was always more of Himself that the Risen Jesus wanted to share with those who hungered for him.

The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves also propelled the early members of the Church to care for those in greatest need. As Jesus fed the hungry, so would Jesus’ followers.

In the Acts of the Apostles, we hear how those who joined the first Christian community would sell their possessions and place the proceeds at the feet of the apostles to be distributed to those in need. Also, the early Christians became known for feeding the hungry and taking care of the poor who were not Christian. An emperor hostile to the Christians commented on this fact, noting that Christians “support not only their own poor, but ours as well.”

So, the early Church’s experience of the Eucharist and its care for the poor flowed from the miracle of the loaves where Jesus fed the multitudes and there was even food leftover.

The miracle of Eucharist was at the very center of Blessed Stanley Rother’s life. Growing up on a farm in Okarche, Oklahoma, as a member of a German-Catholic family, to the end of his life in Guatemala, the bountiful blessing of the Eucharist nourished Stanley Francis Rother on his journey of faith. From the time he received his First Holy Communion in the early 1940’s at Holy Trinity Church in Okarche until he received his last Holy Communion that last week of July 1981, the celebration of the Eucharist sustained Blessed Stanley.

He came to know the super-abundance of God’s love for him in Christ Jesus as he received the great gift of the Living Bread come down from Heaven week after week. Working hard on the family farm six days a week, Sunday came as a welcome day of rest and rejoicing, the feasting at the table of the Lord leading to the Sunday feast at the family farm. Franz and Gertrude Rother, the parents of Blessed Stanley, passed on to their son the gift of Faith, teaching him by word and example to trust in God’s goodness and generosity, to trust that the hand of the Lord would feed him and provide for all his needs.

As a priest, the celebration of the Eucharist was the Source and Summit of his daily life of faith. It was only by being so intimately joined to the Risen Lord in the Eucharist that Fr. Rother could serve his people joyfully and generously. Feasting on the Good Shepherd’s love for him, Fr. Rother could shepherd his people in Guatemala through the dark and dangerous valleys of life.

The incredible miracle of the Eucharist, the great and unimaginable gift of the Son of God’s life given to and for His people, would define the end of Fr. Rother’s life on earth. The words of Jesus became his own — “This is my body, given up for you” — as he laid down his life in love of the people of Santiago Atitlan. The words of Jesus took flesh in Fr. Rother’s life—“This is my blood, poured out for you”—as he poured out his blood on the floor of his own rectory.

Blessed Stanley knew that as long as he gave to Jesus the little he had, that it would be multiplied beyond what he could imagine.

Blessed Stanley’s generous service to the poorest of the poor in a remote corner of the world also flowed from the bounty of the Eucharistic celebration. Because of the miracle of the Eucharist, where a little bread and a little wine given to God become the living presence of the Eternal Son of God, Blessed Stanley knew that as long as he gave to Jesus the little he had, that it would be multiplied beyond what he could imagine. That the as long as he gave to the Lord what he had, the Lord would use it in ways he could never ever dream of before.

For example, take Blessed Stanley’s skills as an Oklahoma farmer. He put these to use in Guatemala to help his people reap a much more productive harvest from the land. By teaching them how to make the best use of the land and showing them modern farming techniques, what had been a few loaves became enough food to feed thousands.

Or look at the way Blessed Stanley came to know and love these people who were at first, strangers to him. Arriving without knowledge of their difficult language, he patiently persevered in getting to know those placed in his care, living and working alongside them, cultivating their faith, learning their language, respecting their dignity and earning their trust. Blessed Stanley would learn the native Tzutihil language, celebrate Mass in Tzutihil, and even make possible a printed translation of the Bible in Tzutihil.

He would go to his parishioner’s homes to share a meal with them, even though their food was much different from what his mother fixed him on the farm in Okarche, and even though their food was never completely sanitized. So, without fail after dining in their homes he would become ill upon returning to the rectory, but that did not prevent him from going out again to share another meal, Fr. Rother knew how important it was to his people that he be in their homes and receive what they had to share with him.

Stanley Francis Rother’s example of a faith-filled life centered on the Eucharist reminds us that the call to holiness is for everyone. Blessed Stanley’s life challenges us to live out our own unique call to love God by loving our neighbor.

In March of this year, about 6 months after Fr. Rother was beatified, Pope Francis released his apostolic exhortation entitled: “Rejoice and be Glad: The Call to Holiness in Today’s World.” In this wonderful little book, the Pope challenges every Christian to live out their baptismal call to holiness, and he gives very practical advice to do so.

Pope Francis points out that the call to holiness comes to us in our own uniquely gifted lives. That this call is for everyone, each in his or her own way. Our response to this call of the Lord will look different in its specific details from Fr. Rother’s response, but what will be the same is love will be the driving force.

So, the Pope says:
For those who are married love one another as Christ loves the Church.
For those who work, do so with integrity and skill in service of others.
For those who are parents and grandparents, take up your responsibility to teach your children the ways of the faith. F
or those in authority, live out this vocation not by making your power felt but by seeking the common good.

Whatever our station in life, young or old, single or married, we are invited to share the life and love of Christ we receive at the Eucharist.

Fed by the Lord of Life, we become living bread for a world hungering for God.

To learn more about Blessed Stanley Rother’s life, the cause for his canonization, or the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine being built in his honor, visit

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

July 15, 2018

Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi


Amaziah, chaplain at the national cathedral in Bethel, has a lot to lose if the reforms of Amos are adopted. That is why Amaziah wants Amos out of there, and he wants him quiet.

Amaziah sees religion in “civil” terms, existing to promote loyalty to the status quo, the royal house, and to nationalism. As chaplain in the royal sanctuary, Amaziah’s job is to keep things smooth and nice so that the government will remain stable and in control.

Amaziah asks no questions, and he never rocks the boat. He apparently never reflects much on the fact that the worship in that place had deteriorated into people simply going through the motions in order to satisfy their religious obligations.

Enter Amos, vine dresser and shepherd, a no-body from no-where, disturbing things, and making it difficult to conduct business as usual. Business as usual in northern Israel means a prosperous economy built on taking advantage of the poor, and Amos rocks the boat by pointing out this injustice.

Enter Jesus, carpenter and itinerant preacher, a no-body from the no-where town of Nazareth, disturbing things and making it difficult to conduct business as usual.

Enter the disciples of Jesus, not just those twelve, but you and me, if we’re worthy of the company. Just ordinary folks from no place in particular, who because we might dare to take our Baptism seriously, are not going to conduct business as usual. For our baptism calls us to participate with Jesus in his prophetic role to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable

If we get the picture here, the status quo is in trouble, unless we’re part of the picture and find our future in business as usual like Amaziah.

The Gospel in which we are formed suggests that poverty, dependence on the hospitality of others, and a sense of urgency mark the Christian enterprise. But too often in the status quo, “poverty” is something we avoid, dependence on others is looked upon as a failure, and the only urgency we really feel is to protect ourselves and our stash of this world’s goods. What Jesus proposes for his disciples is total trust and dependence upon God, a radical departure from the attitude of successful competition, which tricks us into thinking that what we have we have earned, when in truth, everything we have is pure gift from God.

Paul reminds the Ephesians and us that in Christ Jesus, we have been given everything—every blessing, an abundance of graces — such is the generosity of our God. In Christ, we know that there is always enough to go around and thus no need to hoard.

Sent by Christ to preach repentance, we know there is always space to spare, always time to give, always bread to break, and always treasure to share. We walk lightly, unburdened by the insatiable need to acquire and accumulate.

Thus, we disciples are instructed to take nothing. All that we have to give is what we have received from Jesus Christ. These are qualities which cannot be contained in a sack or a money belt.

Remember, Jesus placed his confidence in that rag-tag group he had called away from fishing boats and tax tables, from everything familiar and comfortable. There was no evidence at all that they would be capable of doing what he asked, but he sends them and they go. It should be noted that he sent them all, not just some of them. He sent proud Peter and doubting Thomas, and even one who would later betray him.

We are left to decide whether we are outside this story looking in, or whether we too are being sent. If Jesus sends us out in his name, then he must know we have what it takes to do what he asks. It all begins with following his teaching and his example to place our total trust and complete dependence in God our Father.

We are challenged by these readings to look at our missionary endeavor seriously. To examine how much we might be like Amaziah, set in our way, secure with things the way they are, and satisfied with business as usual.

Repentance, a change of mind and heart, is serious business. In fact, it’s not an option for the disciples of Jesus.

If repentance is the focus of the mission, then business as usual, which continues to take advantage of the helpless and the poor, which incarcerates more women and minorities than we want to admit, is in trouble. If repentance is the focus of the mission, then business as usual, which tolerates racism and finds entertaining the ridicule of those who are different, is in trouble. If repentance is the focus of the mission, then business as usual which insists upon vengeance while calling it “justice”, which continues to kill the unborn and treat pet animals better than our greatest treasure, the elderly, is in serious trouble.

What Amos the prophet and Paul the apostle and Mark the evangelist propose to us is that remaining true to our identity and our mission in this life means rocking the boat, unsettling what is settled, and leaving nothing in us or around us untouched by the Gospel.

The biggest and most obvious of social, political, and economic issues cannot remain unquestioned and untouched by disciples sent in the name of Jesus.

The most personal, relational, and spiritual issues cannot remain unreformed and unmoved by those of us who carry the Gospel message.

Christ longs to take possession of us in and through this Eucharist.

So that we might be sent forth in his name as his glad and faithful people, allowing the Gospel to inform and influence all that we say and do.

Then kindness and truth will embrace, and justice and peace will kiss.

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

July 8, 2018

Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi


The people of Jesus’ hometown think they know him, because they know a lot about him. They know he is a carpenter. They know his family. They know the house where he grew up.

But they don’t know him. They know things about Him, but they do not know who he is. There is a huge difference between actually knowing someone—their hopes, dreams, their life story—and knowing certain facts about them.

Because they have an image of who Jesus is in their minds, they cannot accept the real person standing before them. Jesus could only do a few healings there, which the local folks would surely point to as proof that this hometown boy is not what he’s cracked up to be. See how easily this judgment of another becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The people of Nazareth have, in their hard-heartedness, rejected Jesus.

They ask questions about Jesus, such as, “Where did he get all this?,” when they should instead be asking soul-searching questions about themselves. Such as: Why am I closed off to him? Why am I slamming the door in his face? Why am I so obstinate of heart?

What happens in Nazareth happens daily, over and over and over again. One person thinks they know who another person is because they know things about that person. Or one group believes they know what another group is like because they know things about that group. In this kind of pre-judging, hearts are hardened, minds are closed, and people rejected.

It happens to us as Catholics in a state where we are very much in the minority and members of other religious denominations think they know us because they’ve heard things about what we “believe”, although most of that information is false. Like, “You Catholics worship statues.” Or, “You don’t know anything about the Bible.” Or, “You Catholics can do whatever you want and then just go ‘confess’ it to a priest.”

But this kind of pre-judging also happens in today’s fear-driven climate about protecting our borders. It happens when people reject immigrants or refugees without ever getting to know them, without every coming to know their stories or why they would risk their lives just to come to our southern border.

It also happens daily in politics, when Republicans reject Democrats and Democrats reject Republicans without folks from either party listening to and coming to know those of the other party. This is the reason our nation is so polarized today.

After all, what does polarization require? Two poles. By that I do not mean two people or groups of people disagree with each other. That is actually what democracy requires. What polarization requires is two people or two groups of people who disagree, each of whom believes that the other is entirely at fault and is politically irredeemable, or even worse, thinking the other person or politically party is morally irredeemable.

Pope Francis sees all of this clearly for what it is. The phenomena involved in polarization reflect a deeper spiritual crisis today, within you and within me. That is why the most important thing Pope Francis has ever said about politics or other things that divide us is: “I am a sinner.”

The 1st question he was asked in his very first interview, was: “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” To which the pope replied: “I am a sinner, constantly in need of God’s mercy.”

I suggest this is where we should start the reform of our politics and of our nation, by recognizing our individual complicity in the sin of polarization, by what we have done and by what we have failed to do, and by asking for the grace to change. Today everyone seems to zoom in and focus only on the “difference” of the other person. We can begin the conversation by focusing on what we share in common, rather than on our differences.

Back in the early 1970’s a potluck dinner group was formed in Ardmore, Oklahoma called “Let’s Talk.” This group was a response to the race-riots of the late 1960’s. This group brought together African-Americans and Anglo-Americans of different religious denominations to share a monthly meal together, to share conversation, and to hear a speaker on an important topic of the day.

My mom and dad were part of this group of black and white people interested in getting to know each other, which meant by default, so were my brothers and sisters and I. I still remember the good food and playing together with other kids, who I had never known before.

My mom had me memorize Dr. Martin Luther Kings’ famous “I Have a Dream” speech for the 4-H speech contest, and then when Gloria, one of the African-American members of the Let’s Talk group found out I knew Dr. King’s speech, she had me give it in front of the group. I still remember as a 10-year giving that speech in front of that group of adults.

More than anything Jesus spoke about was a dream he had, and this Dream was called “The Kingdom of God” where all people could live in peace with each other and rejoice in God’s goodness and love.

Jesus was all about bringing people together, even people very different from each other. Why else would he call Simon the Zealot and Matthew to be his apostles? Simon belonged to a political party which advocated the violent overthrow of the Roman occupiers and Matthew, the tax collector, who collected taxes from his own people for the Romans.

Jesus ate with sinners and gave his life so that we human beings would finally see that there is only one race, and that is the human race, and that there is only one Father of us all.