Oct 3, 2015

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Husbands & Wives
Father & Mother
Sons & Daughters

Equality and difference willed by God
"It is not good for man to be alone," we hear God thinking to himself. "I will make him a suitable partner". Only when Eve is presented, does Adam say “At last!  Why?

He finally recognized that, even though he was a completed man in himself, in body and soul, there was something missing. Only in the context of Eve, the woman, can Adam the man know that he is fully alive, fully human. Only in the context of the man Adam does the woman Eve know herself to be fully alive, fully human.

Why? The creation of man as recounted in the bible tells us that God created humanity in His own image - male and female He created them. (cf. Gen.1:27)  

“Each for the other” – “A unity in two”
Why does the difference between male and female matter?

Working in his laboratory of creation and biology, one can say that God has sculptured and designed the human body in its natural form in such a way when a baby is born the doctor or the nurse will enthusiastically declare, “It’s a boy! It’s a girl!”  You can tell by looking!

For each one of us here, as difficult as it is to imagine, our parents were once babies. Your mother was a little baby girl - your father, was once a little baby boy! Why do I bring this up?

To remind us that the purpose of being a baby boy or baby girl is not to remain a baby. Within the safe environment and strength of a family, we are called into adulthood, mentored along the way by father and mother to arrive one day into adulthood. God has made us male and female for for this reason.

The First Reading provides the answer when the inspired writer of the Scriptures reminds us, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh”. In other words, a boy becomes a man so that he can leave home and become a father. A girl becomes a woman so that she can leave home and become a mother.

But not so fast! Notice that the Sacred Scriptures tell us that a man leaves his father and mother to cling, not simply to a woman or to any woman, but to “his wife”.  God introduces us to the sacred language of marriage. God defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, of a husband to his wife in order to be a mother and father – family!

Marriage in the Lord
Now we must talk about, what the law of the land, calls divorce.  Christ reminds us in today's Gospel (Mark 10:2-16), that in the language of God concerning marriage, there can not be the possibility of divorce. If one has entered a true marriage, divorce is not possible.  Marriage is God’s language to describe his relationship with us. And when a man and a woman enter into that precise sacred language of marriage as defined by God's faithfulness, nothing on the face of this earth can redefine it or tear it apart.  

This is not the simple theological language of Church law. It is the law of God's faithful love which Christ himself embodies and fulfills. By his words and actions, Christ defines and clarifies the nature of this sacred and permanent relationship we call marriage.

Is there an indication that Christ was ever married?  Yes! From the cross Christ the Bridegroom gave his life completely and without holding back anything – he gave his life to his Bride – the Holy Church and continues to do so through the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Even though we have been unfaithful, Christ the Bridegroom has and always is faithful. He will never take back the ring! In good times, in bad times, in sickness or in health, for richer, for poorer, he is always faithful, even until death, death on a cross.  And we must always and likewise be imitators of Christ in every way. If you are married in Christ, and you are configured by his grace to become like him, it is unimaginable that Christ would ever divorce himself from his commitment.

It is for this reason that it is often a tragedy when the language of divorce threatens the unity of a true marriage and the harmony of a family.  It goes without saying, that preparation for marriage is crucially important and can never be entered into casually or impulsively, or as a matter of convenience. There were many times when Christ could have given his life for the sake of our salvation. There were times when others tried to force him to make the sacrifice. He never, rushed down the aisle. Nor did he avoid it. He chose his hour and his day, after much, much prayer, preparation, and soul-searching so that he could do so freely.

Safeguarding the dignity of marriage
Today, the sacredness and the dignity of marriage is being attacked, not simply by outside pressure groups and political activists but also from within. This can easily happen when the relationship with the workplace, the shopping mall, the gym, the internet and social media becomes more important and more time consuming than the relationship between a husband and wife.

The Gift of Time
We often think that time is our own to do what we want. Alternatively, we often can think that time is our enemy and we have to get as much done with the little time we have. No. Time is a gift to be shared first and foremost with spouse, family and loved ones.  But when you allow yourself or your children to spend more time in front of a computer or on a smartphone and less time in the three dimensional world of real color and true relationships, memories of real time together, defining moments that cannot be captured in digital, can easily be passed by unnoticed and forgotten. Children have the natural right and need to have a mother and a father who take time and are present to them.

The sacredness and dignity of marriage and family life is also degraded when unmarried couples move in together in an open-ended arrangement, sometimes with the silent approval of their own parents. Cohabitation is playing with fire. One may think that the heart is in the right place, but the body is vulnerable to unchastity and friendship with God easily becomes strained and superficial.

Marriage is not anti-creation. It is procreation.
Marriage is the sacred language of God, allowing a husband and wife to naturally participate in God’s continuous work of creation. Marriage is not anti-creation. It is procreation. Never be content to simply be a husband and a wife. Marriage always points towards cooperating with God in his work of creation, to be a mother and father. (And cooperating with God’s grace – to be a good mother and good father). Do not let the poison and sin of selfishness or fear hold back any part of you as you give yourself to your spouse in the sacred embrace of marriage. Trust God. For he would not allow life to be conceived if he did not have a plan for that life in his mind.  In the same breath as our Lord clarifies the marriage relationship (in the Gospel today), he then says, “Let the children come to me, do not prevent them”.  

Catholics entering into non-Catholic marriages
And now a final word about where one is married, before whom.  For Catholics, the language of what is holy and sacred in marriage is often communicated from within the context it is entered.
Consider everything Christ did for the sake of his Church, even to the point of sacrificing his very life on the cross for the sake of his Bride, giving us his Body and Blood, faithful to his promise to the very end. When a Catholic marries before the altar of God, this is the language of their commitment - it is united to Christ's language. But not so for a Catholic who instead opts for the standards and language of a man-made civil law contract which can be broken. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important that you talk to me (or your pastor) about what you need to do first in order to receive Holy Communion again. 

This is, indeed, a wake up call for every one of us.  We all risk profaning this most holy sacrament if we approach Holy Communion unworthily, unprepared or without thought of our life or lifestyle. St. Paul reminds us that we must examine our lives and lifestyles in the light of God's love, so as not to sin against the Body of Christ. And even though one may not be receiving Holy Communion for whatever reason, our life is never excluded from the reach of the Lamb of God who longs to enter under our roof, unworthy as we all are to receive him. Sometimes, we must wait for his word of mercy which comes when our soul is ready for healing.

Grace and Mercy are available
But thanks be to God there is always hope and comfort for us sinners. God’s grace and his mercy are always available to the repentant. There are continuous opportunities for Confession before each of our Sunday Masses, as well as asking advice about how one can easily enter into the sacred language of marriage. We are all in need of healing in our relationships, especially within the context of family life. But we should want with all our heart the language of our love for each other to be authentic, true and faithful to Christ and his Church but not simply because it is expected of us. We need God's help to so that our all our relationships can fully resonate with the life-giving and saving power of Him who is faithful forever and who always keeps his promises to us. Do not be afraid to ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of hope and courage. Never despair.

At this crucial time, let us pray in particular for our children and our young people that they will be inspired by the examples of heroic husbands and wives. May they learn from their example how to be kind and loving future fathers and mothers, not just for their own sake, but especially for the sake of future generations to come. May we all find a welcome and a place within the family home of Jesus in the company of Mary and Joseph.   

(Catechism of the Catholic Church 369-373, 1601-1605, 1612-1617, 1638 ff)

Sep 27, 2015

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

On September 12, 1960, John F. Kennedy, who would be the first Catholic President of the United States, declared in a major speech "I believe in an America ... where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope".

Fifty-five years later, Pope Francis was invited to Washington D.C. by its public officials who requested him and accepted from him instructions on public policy. Incredible! As few days ago, as he stood before congress, on the same platform used by presidents for their State of the Union address, the inscription above him read, “In God We Trust”. And as the Pope began his speech he pointed to an image on the wall facing him - that of Moses, the lawgiver. 

Addressing representatives of the three branches of the most powerful government in the world, he said, "Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face."

Powerful, heroic and as iconic as Moses was, sometimes we imagine that he did it all by himself – that he just led the way and the people simply followed him. However, the first reading this morning shows us a heavily burdened Moses, a man who knows that he cannot do everything the Lord asked of him by all by himself. He therefore shares with others that same Spirit of the Lord that he had first received. He shares his responsibility, to lead, to point the way to freedom.

But this Spirit of God cannot be “contained”, “captured” like a Genie in a bottle. The Spirit of God is a free spirit. Moses is alerted to the fact that the Spirit of God has been given to some people who never filled out the application form or went to the proper theological schools! Moses, on hearing this, doesn’t try to jump in and control the Holy Spirit. He only wishes that the same Spirit would spill over into the whole community and stir all of them up to give God glory.

In the Gospel we have just heard, our Blessed Lord who is the New Moses of the New Testament, encounters a similar event. He receives reports from his apostles that there are individuals outside their circle, using his name to cast out demons. The Lord does not send his private security team to rein them in for questioning over the copyright of his divine name. Our Lord rejoices that the Kingdom of God is, in some manner, being extended and manifested.

What does this say about us? There is always the temptation to wait for someone like the pope to take the initiative and lead the way. Of course we value inspiration, but we should never become complacent, waiting for the right moment that never comes. It is always now. Now is the day of salvation. This is the day the Lord has made.

So, do not be afraid to go into the battlefield - which is often the workplace, the classroom, even the local store or even the long commute home. Do not be afraid to show that you too have the Spirit of God. And in that gentle Spirit, not just with words that can make headlines, but also with actions sown quietly in the rich soil of daily life, allow that same Spirit to guide you to inspire others. This is what our own new local saint, St. Junipero Serra did, as he walked through our parish along El Camino Real.  His statue representing California, along with Saint Damien of Molokai representing Hawaii, both standing in the US Capitol Building is a testimony that the fabric of our nation was strengthened by future saints who came here from distant lands.

Unknown to many, in the chamber of the House of Representatives in the U.S. Capitol, where Pope Francis addressed congress, alongside the image of Moses and of the same quality of marble and workmanship, there is actually the images of two popes, Pope Innocent III and Pope Gregory IX. I doubt even John F. Kennedy, when giving a State of the Union address, took much notice of those two popes looking down upon him and our elected representatives!  Maybe, it was because they were just stone portraits, cold, silent and aloof.  Maybe, that’s why it takes, what they call the "charm" of Pope Francis - to "talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch". But we would call it the gift of the Spirit of the Lord.

May the Mother of the Lord, help us to understand the Spirit that allows her to always rejoice in God our Savior and so filled with that same Spirit, we too might see the face of God in all our brothers and sisters, made in his image and likeness (Magnificat).

Sep 19, 2015

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

On Wednesday, September 23rd, the season of summer will come to a close - the fall will officially begin.  Even with the arrival of cooler and darker mornings and longer shadows in the evenings, I get the sense that summer does not want to be put in it's box. Maybe, because it knows that it is, like a child, time to bed, it's not leaving without a heated protest (and we felt that last week).  And I'm sure that in the coming months of the fall, and even during the winter, with what we call the Santa Ana winds, the summer we thought was sleeping quietly, wakes up every so often and blows hot air at us.     

So, why do I bring this up?  It is because, the church calendar is very much in tune with the seasons.  Because the natural only makes sense when we see it in its relationship with the supernatural, our soul also senses changing patterns in our environment and surroundings. So, as we anticipate the the Last Rites and death of summer, the Church gives us today's selection of Scriptures for the Mass, so that we can meditate on how prepared we are to face the cold darkness - in all it forms, both visible and invisible. 

As if to assess our "war-readiness", today's Entrance Antiphon spoke of crying out to the Lord in distress, in tribulation. The first reading from the Book of Wisdom has us meditate on the enemy's dark strategy. Psalm 54 comes from the anguish of a heart that fears betrayal. The Second Reading from St. James explores the internal origin of wars and conflicts. And the Gospel has Christ predicting his death and his resurrection.  But rather than issuing us with armor to go to the front lines or a defense strategy to prevent the fall, Our Lord presents us with a child - a child shall be our standard bearer. And then he embraces this little child in his arms? What does this mean?

If the Almighty God who created the immense universe out of nothing and filled it with so much, in all its splendor and all its terrifying and most beautiful complexity - If God, to whom the whole cosmos is but a speck of dust, became smaller still and allowed himself to be vulnerable, not afraid even to be mothered by a young girl, God asks us too, do not be afraid of becoming little. And as if to assure us even more, Christ places his arms around the little child. Allow Christ to protect you. If God who is unimaginably bigger than the whole universe can humble himself to become a man, can we not humble ourselves to be like a little child - his little child? 

The humility of God is his greatest strength. Our humility before the strength of God is his greatest gift to us. 

Back to the language of nature.  To paraphrase St. Augustine:  “Consider a tree: how as it grows, it must reach down deep into the earth so that it might shoot forth upwards. It anchors its roots deep in the ground so that it may reach the heavens.  Is it not from its humility (hidden from public view) that the tree can rise to great heights?  Without humility, there is no growth. Without deep and secure roots, yes, you might rise tall, but you easily collapse in the winter storm.”

The autumn will now teach the summer that if it is to see the springtime, it must step aside, be humble and even die to itself. May we not be afraid to do likewise, being held secure within the strong arms of the Lord.

Sep 12, 2015

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Gospel according to Mark was written at a time when early Roman Christians were being arrested and tortured. Many of them suffered horrifying deaths, many of them were brutally crucified  or thrown into cages to be ripped apart by lions and wild beasts.   Think, if you would, of the cruelties inflicted upon our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, those sadistic videos of hostages in orange jumpsuits being publicly executed for the whole world to see. With something like this going on in the background, the early Christians would listen to the same words of Christ we hear today, 

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,

take up his cross, and follow me. "

Think about it. At the time of Christ, the cross was a reminder of what happened when you antagonized the authorities.  You were publicly crucified to death.  The image of a cross was the reminder of a death sentence. Who goes into the battle field handing the enemy the means to crucify them? Would we not prefer to go to the front lines waving our swords and ploughing down anyone who stood in our way?

How does the Enemy in fact defeat us? The enemy wants us to separate Christ from his Cross. It's the old trick of divide and conquer. It's when the devil pits one against the other. For example -   

1.  We place value on freedom, respect, on being tolerant, looking after the stranger, looking out for the poor. And this is commendable.
2.  We also place value on hard work, on making sacrifices, on long hours, on physical endurance, fighting against the odds, investing in our future, and often times at great personal cost. These are noble qualities indeed.

We are at our best when these two values meet each other, cooperate together, value each other, rather than being pitted against each other. A household divided against itself can not stand (Mark 3:25).

How does this translate into our Christian discipleship? We cannot be a disciple of Christ without carrying the Cross. Christ will never allow himself to be separated or detached from it. 

But when the Enemy gets into our mind, that's what can easily happen. 

We are either tempted to take Christ without his cross. Or we are tempted to take the cross, without Christ.

When we are tempted to embrace Christ without his Cross, we can keep him all nice and beautiful, not a hair out of place - no pain, no suffering, no discipline, no sacrifice. He becomes a gentle teacher. The substitute teacher! A Christ without his cross, a Christian without embracing their own Cross, is weak, soft and nonessential.  

When we are tempted to embrace the Cross without Christ, our pride will tell us we have all the strength we need to carry it ourselves. Why do we need Christ or God's grace, when we can be self-made,  superheroes who can lift the cross up high and and threaten to drop it on the heads of our enemies.  We could even snatch Christ's Cross from him, recycle it, use it for profit, sell it for parts.  

In the words of a third century North African saint, St. Cyprian of Carthage, before he was beheaded on the shores of the Mediterranean by a politically driven lynch mob, some of them former disciples, he asked “how can anyone think themselves a Christian when they are afraid or ashamed to live as a Christian? How can a Christian hope to be with Christ in heaven someday, when they are embarrassed or afraid to belong to Christ and his Church on earth this very day?”

Let us ask our Blessed Mother for a share in her Good Friday strength. It allowed her not only to courageously stand beside the Cross of her Son. At the same time, she fully opened her immaculate heart to the grace of God's sacrificial love for all of humanity. May we, with God's grace, do likewise.

Sep 5, 2015

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark VII 31-37

Signos de la Alianza. El pueblo elegido recibe de Dios signos y símbolos distintivos que marcan su vida litúrgica: no son ya solamente celebraciones de ciclos cósmicos y de acontecimientos sociales, sino signos de la Alianza, símbolos de las grandes acciones de Dios en favor de su pueblo. CCC1150

Signos asumidos por Cristo. En su predicación, el Señor Jesús se sirve con frecuencia de los signos de la Creación para dar a conocer los misterios el Reino de Dios (cf. Lc 8,10). CCC1151

Desde Pentecostés, el Espíritu Santo realiza la santificación a través de los signos sacramentales de su Iglesia. CCC1152

Words are very important to God. His word is creative - “Let there be Light” In a way, the darkness heard God’s Word. And there was Light!   Beginning in Genesis, we read that God’s Word creates the world out of nothing. Throughout the Old Testament accounts of the interaction of God and his people, God speaks. The People listen. They respond to his words. “Speak Lord, your servant is listening”. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts”.  Hearing God’s word is very important.  

But God’s words are not necessary spoken in a language of vocabulary, grammar and written characters.  At a certain point in history, his language to us changed. In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” In “other words”, rather than sending us a book from heaven, faxing or text messaging us, or a voice blasting from the clouds, the Word of God became “translated” into the flesh and blood Jesus.  I’m not saying that Jesus became a mouthpiece of God. No. Jesus himself, through every fiber of his body, his soul, his heart, his mind, even at the very first moment of conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary, even without uttering a single word or sound, Jesus is himself the language of God, (in 3D, in living color).  

If God is communicating to us in a new language that goes beyond the written or spoken words that come from his mouth, is there not therefore a new way of hearing for us who look to Him?

As if to illustrate this point, there are two dimensions going on in what we have read or listened to in the gospel text tonight. In the common language of words and storytelling we read or hear about a deaf man who can not speak properly, who is taken away by Christ and healed. In the three dimensional world, the Lord physically sticks his finger into the deaf man’s ears, and then the Lord wipes the deaf man’s mouth with his own spital. Our Lord the releases and big roar and, in his native language of Aramaic shouts out “Be opened!”

Now, it’s all very dramatic. Do you not think that Christ could have healed the man without going through all this drama? Yes, of course.  But we need drama.  We need poetry. We need art. We need ritual. We need liturgy.  God communicates to us through our senses, through touch, through smell, through color, through stuff.  Is this not what we call in church language, liturgy - liturgical language? We use outwards signs to communicate the reality of invisible grace that speaks to, simply the senses - what we do and how we do it in this context, speaks to our soul.

So if our soul is tuned into this wavelength of communication with the divine, the language of Christ in the Gospel makes sense, in a new way. Like the man in the Gospel, we come before the Lord unable to hear God speaking to us. Sometimes we try so hard to figure out what God is telling us.  We have ears, but we can not hear him!  Sometimes we want to be able to defend our faith and to explain clearly what we believe and why, but our fear and our nervousness send us stuttering or biting our lips. We have mouths but we cannot speak.  This is what happens when we want physical results alone.  

Unfortunately, I could be the most polished speaker and the greatest listener, but after reflecting on the actions of Christ in the gospel tonight, if do not ask God to touch my ears - the ears of my soul… if I do not ask God to wipe my mouth with his own spit so his words will come out from the depth of my soul and not simply mine, if I do not learn how to hear and speak this new language, then indeed I am but superficial.

There are not many words recorded by Our Blessed Mother in the the Gospel. The most words that have come down to us from her, are not from a speech, but from a song. If we were there when she sang this song in her native Aramaic language, at first, we probably would not have understood the words from her mouth. But at a deeper level, if we were listening from the depths of our being, we would hear her soul speaking of the glory of God and her spirit rejoicing with words of praise.  May we too learn how to hear God speak to us, resonate from within our soul and respond in ways that speak louder than any word, except, of course, that Word that became Flesh and dwelt among us - Christ our savior.

Aug 30, 2015

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Mk 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
As we try to understand our relationship with the world around us, we will naturally begin from a point of reference that "makes sense", literally.  But Our Lord reminds us that we should not judge the world or our relationships only on exteriors or appearances.
Our Catholic Catechism tells us “To attribute the efficacy [value] of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition. “(ccc 2111)

Superstition comes from fear. When we do not trust that God has our best interests at heart, when we are afraid that that he not do what we demand of him (!), or because of our impatience and nervousness, many people will "attempt" to manipulate particular prayers and even abuse religious signs or spiritualities in an attempt to push their own agenda through, or to try to control the outcome of an event. This is driven by fear and control.
The Gospel is a call to faith, to trust – to have faith in our heavenly Father who we have no reason to fear.  There is no justifiable reason why we should look to anything else to guide us, or to superstitious rituals to bring us “good luck”. To do so would imply that God does not listen to our prayers. But be does, for this reason Jesus told us to call God “Father”. He does and always answers them, but maybe not the way we want him to. When we do not get things our own way or think that we deserve what is good because we worked for it, the Gospel of Jesus Christ urges us to examine our motives for the way we live our lives.
Jesus came to free us from fear, to give us the strength to see the Commandments, how to live a morally upright life, as a gift from God. The Ten Commandments, even though they may challenge they way we live, are given to us, not as burden to live under, but as gift to secure and protect our freedom and that of our neighbor.
The Christian accepts this moral code of life and living, not out of fear of punishment, but out of love and respect of our heavenly Father. And so, our motives for prayer, for acts of charity, the way we express our hopes and wishes to God, must come from an attitude of trust and not fear, even though we do not necessary see the big picture.

And our course, our Blessed Mother Mary shows us discipleship without fear, with tender love and total trust, especially when faced with the crucified body of her Son. She trusted that God would be victorious even though at that time she could not see or predict the events of the future. Let us pray for the gift of her patience and for a greater trust to allow, in our hearts, God's plan to gently unfold in its own proper time.

Aug 22, 2015

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6:60-69

We note from the Gospel today, that many of Jesus’ disciples turned away from him, abandoned him, not because they misunderstood his language – they understood him perfectly. Instead, they could not accept his words when he told them that his flesh and blood were real food and drink that they must actually consume if they were to have eternal life.

If they understood Jesus to be speaking symbolically, figuratively, they would not have left him in such great numbers, numbers so great that Jesus reacts strongly, turning to Peter and the apostles asking them if they too wanted to go.

St. Peter may not have had the intellectual “smarts” to explain how bread would be turned into the sacramental heavenly Body of Christ. Instead, in his wonderful peasant faith, infused with God's grace, he knew to trust in the standard of heaven, not earth - that for God all things are possible and that the words of Jesus were not the words of a mere holy man talking about holy bread. These were the words of God himself, providing the means for his disciples to be fed by his very life giving body and blood.

What is to become of the bread and wine during our celebration of the Mass is one of the truly unique, and indeed, astonishing teachings of our Catholic faith, passed down to us from Christ and the apostles. That the bread and wine of the Mass can truly become the substance of Christ’s heavenly body and blood is so astonishingly a part of our faith that we could not even make something like this up, even if we tried!

Is this teaching hard? Yes it is! But this is the language of Jesus - these are his words, not mine or yours. He has the words of eternal life - I don't. We do not write the text book! We can reflect upon his words, we can use adjectives to explain them. And sometimes, we just can't! Christ speaks to us in terms of the standard of heaven, not earth. Our Faith is never on our own terms. It is always on his. That's what we mean when we talk about the scandal of the cross!  St. Paul understood this when he said, "We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1 Cor. 1.23) Sometimes we just can't get our head around it. We need the peasant faith of the fisherman, open to God's grace. 

As St. Peter reminds us, all we have is Jesus; there is no one else we can turn to for eternal life. We do not turn to philosophers for eternal life, nor to theologians and definitely not to politicians or celebrities! Only Christ. Let us listen to his words and be prompted by his Spirit to believe what he says is true and life-giving.  

Again, this is a message of hope - God’s love and mercy is always greater than our own highest expectations, more than we can ever imagine or ever dream off - and for us on this side of heaven, God's love and mercy for the sinner who he wants to feed with his very own life, is surely the most hardest teaching for us to truly comprehend.