Fr. Jose Poch

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Tomb is Empty

I trust you had a wonderful and Christ-filled celebration of Easter, wherever you were worshipping. Days like these I am reminded of the many brothers and sisters who cannot worship out in the open and demonstrate their faith with Alleluias and feasting for fear of adversaries who seek to destroy them. I am reminded also of those who will not celebrate because they doubt the veracity of the resurrection account. On Easter Sunday  I presented the congregation with five irrefutable apologetic arguments for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

THE WITNESS OF THE WOMEN - If you had wanted to start a world religion in a highly patriarchal world, you wouldn’t  make up stories about all the male disciples abandoning Jesus, and present the women as being the chief witnesses particularly when the witness of women was considered suspect by most in the first-century world.

THE STORY OF JESUS – Considering the Jewish culture of the early disciples was a culture of honor and shame, and one in which crucifixion was considered a curse by the very Jewish Law, the story about a crucified and risen man being the Savior of the world wouldn’t have been told unless it was believed to be historically true.

THE BODY WAS GONE – all that the enemies of Jesus, Jewish or Roman, had to do was present the dead body of Jesus, scars and all, but they didn’t because they couldn’t. There was no dead body.

THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE DISCIPLES – deserters became martyrs, deniers became confessors, the fearful became courageous, uneducated men became preachers, women risked being laughed out of court. They were convinced that God’s YES to life in the case of Jesus was louder than death’s NO.

PAUL HIMSELF - Paul sought the believers with the express purpose of persecuting them. But no sooner did he have an encounter with the risen Lord than he became one of the greatest if not the greatest evangelist of Jesus’ resurrection.

Are these arguments convincing enough for you and for those with whom you share the Gospel? Are there other proofs of Jesus’ resurrection that speaks to you even louder? What convinced you that Jesus indeed rose from the dead? More importantly, what difference does it make to your life? Do you feel the necessity to share the implications of Jesus’ resurrection with others? Why or why not?

Let’s blog.

Monday, April 18, 2011


     Words can't begin to fully express this past Sunday's awe-inspiring service. Did you enjoy the celebration of Palm Sunday? How did you feel coming into our church waving palm branches and singing Hosannas? Were you able to enter into Christ’s mind as He entered into the Holy City of Jerusalem riding on a donkey?

     The city of Jerusalem must have been teeming with crowds gearing for the Passover celebration. Jewish families or just the men and their 12-years-old-and-above sons were coming from all over the world. Every place where someone could stay was fast filling up. Preparations for the Friday evening killing of the lamb, roasting and eating were being made. Those who sold animals and the money changers were at their trade at the entrance of the Temple. The priests were getting ready and planning all the Temple festivities, including the sacrificing of all the lambs that would be brought to them on Friday afternoon. While the Zealots and other subversives were planning attacks and interruptions, the observant Roman soldiers armed to their teeth were ready to squash any sign of revolt. And in the middle of all of this Jesus enters the city riding on a donkey, clearly visible above those who were on foot around Him.
     What comes to your mind as you envision this scene? What is your response to Jesus' humility, meekness, peacefulness, steadfastness and courage that was unfazed? Can you imitate our Lord in His character (see Philippians 2 also)?
     And then what can you say about the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ as Matthew narrated it to us? Wasn't that a moving portrayal? Could you relate with Matthew, the other disciples and the many others who received his account of the events of Good Friday, when the Lamb of God was sacrificed? How will you tell the story of these event to your friends today?
     Did this Palm Sunday celebration prepare you for a truly Holy Week? How will your week be different because of what you witnessed? Who will you invite to church this week and to our Easter celebration?
     Let's blog!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Believe to See

            Most of us have experienced the pain and the sorrow of the loss of a dear one to death. Some of us have gone through this with the loss of a parent or both parents (as in my case), even perhaps the loss of a brother or sister or another very close relative or a dear friend. The sense of loss can at times be overwhelming. Everyone deals with grieving differently, for some it takes a very long time to come to terms with the loss. In some cultures they wear black for at least the first year, then move to gray, and later to white; and some never wear another color again. In some cultures family members shave their heads, while others have church masses on the first anniversary. How have you dealt with grief in the past? Do you currently have some unresolved grief that is actually causing you a constant sense of loss and pain? What are you planning to do about it? Some grieving is healthy but some clearly is not.
            In chapter 11 of the Gospel of John, we see a family going through the grief of losing a brother, Lazarus. We don’t know what illness overtook him, we just know that from the time the news of Lazarus' illness came to Jesus to the time he died only two days had passed. What was Martha’s and Mary’s faith like? What difference did it make in their grieving process? Clearly Martha had faith in the resurrection from the dead (but in the last days). What about her statement of faith in Jesus in verse 27? And yet she clearly falls short of the kind of faith that Jesus expects her to have, because she objected to the stone being removed from the entrance. Clearly she did not expect Jesus to resurrect Lazarus right there and then. Can you relate to her kind of faith or even a similar statement of faith as hers? In what way does your faith fall short today? Do you truly know Jesus for who He is - the Resurrection and the Life? What does this mean to you? What about the statement in verse 40, do you need to see in order to believe or do you believe first and then see the glory of God?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"I am He"

I am inviting you today to read the Gospel of John, chapter 9:1-38. This is the only story in all Scripture, both Old and New Testament where a person born blind is healed. The event takes place in the Temple of Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus encounters at one of the gates of the Temple, possibly begging for alms, a blind man. A very colorful and courageous individual who dares to confront the Jewish authorities over his testimony of who Jesus was and what He had done. He is healed and for the first time in all of his life he gets to see the world around him, his parents, his friends, his hands, his feet, the Temple, in fact everything. He also gets to experience persecution. In fact he might be the first person that experiences persecution on account of Jesus in the New Testament, to the point of excommunication. But also in the process he receives more sight than many who could see.

I could have approached this sermon from many angles, for example “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People” (9:1-3), or “How the Man Gradually Received Jesus” (from encountering the man Jesus, to acknowledging Him as a prophet, and finally as Lord) or “Jesus The Light of the World” (9:5), possibly you could see more sermon topics in the story. I chose the words of the blind man in 9:9 to focus my attention “I Am He.”

You see, I think all of us can say those very same words, “I am he/she” the one who has been touched by Jesus, the one who has been healed by Jesus, the one who has received sight, salvation, forgiveness, the one who received help from Jesus at a difficult time in life, the one who has been comforted by faith in Jesus, the one who today knows peace, hope and a future because of Jesus. His testimony begins with what Jesus had done to and for him. Where does your testimony begin? Where were you without Jesus? What was your condition before knowing Jesus?

How has Jesus touched your life? Today, in what way are you different because of Jesus coming into your life? Do you see life differently because Jesus gave you new eyes? Who do you know that needs to hear your testimony? Do you have a testimony ready to be shared quickly, less than 4 minutes long? When was the last time you shared your testimony with someone else? What stops you from telling others what Jesus has done for you and Who He is to you?

I invite you to think upon these things and let us dialogue.