Category: Daily Homily

Wow: What if we did remove? Homily for Saturday, March 4, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Wow.  Just imagine if we did what God said.  Removing oppression, false accusation and malicious speech.  Bestowing bread on the hungry and satisfying the afflicted. Can you imagine what we could be, what the world would be like if we did these things?  Wow.

Yet, that is what Lent is all about.  It is about allowing God to transform us so that what is amazing is not doing the things we heard in Isaiah’s reading, but that it would be amazing that anyone chose NOT to do what we heard.  Lent is about doing something, really doing something so that we can have a deeper relationship with Jesus.  Not just focusing on going to Mass, or following the rules of the Church, but doing so because we have discovered in our relationship with Jesus that going to Mass and living the Christian life is very much the way in which our relationship with Jesus can come alive!

I remember reading a book by Matthew Kelly once where he referred to the question, “Will the world ever change?”  And the answer, if I remember it was, “Not if each one of us does.”  Because, whether we like it or not, the world changes with each of the choices we make.  Choose then, a deeper relationship with Christ, so that the world and everyone in it may receive its ultimate fulfillment.

Fasting: Why do we fast? Homily for Friday, March 3, 2017

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Readings for Today

Fasting.  Well, it is Friday after Ash Wednesday and it is time to fast.  Well, more accurately, it is time to abstain from meat.  Either way, you might be wondering why it is that we do this.  Why is it we fast from things?  And why do we make a decision to abstain from meat?

These questions are common.  And these questions are the opposite of what the world tells us.  We can be tempted to give in to materialism, to greed, to selfishness, to getting more and more stuff.  After all, he who dies with the most stuff wins, right?

And yet, when love is involved, we understand why we fast.  Sacrificing is done when it benefits someone we love.  Parents sacrifice for kids.  We exercise, fasting from sitting on the couch and getting lazy.  We do not always eat what we want so that we can be healthy.  But, do we consider the fasting that is demanded by holiness?  Do we seek the Lord’s way? Do we think about God’s place in our own lives?

Fasting helps us to become more aware of the presence of God.  When we give up something for a greater good and a greater purpose, it is easier to see what God wants from us.  It is easier to look around us and to see what God gives us.  By fasting, you open our eyes to God.

Choice: Life or Death, Blessing or Curse. Homily for Thursday, March 2, 2107

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Choice.  I am a fan of Servais Pinckaers, a Belgian Dominican priest who was a significant moral theologian of the last century.  Pinckaers helped to identify the ways in which humans can understand choice.  On the one hand, there is that choice which can be limited to this or that, a choice between two things.  This is what we might call today license, and what Pinckaers called a freedom from.  When freedom is understood as license, then anything that in any way restricts our choices is bad.  Often when a teen complains to parents, “Don’t tell me what to do” they say this because they do not like having their license to do whatever they please taken away.

The other type of freedom is what Pinckaers described as a freedom for.  In other words, choices are made not because it is something I want to do and you cannot stop me, but rather because I want to become someone.  In this understanding, I choose to tell the truth even when it is hard to do so because I want to be honest.  I choose to stop eating chocolate covered cherries by the boxful because I want to be healthy.  I exercise even when I feel like sitting on the couch because I want to be fit.

It is in this sense that we can understand the choice of the first reading.  “Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.”  When we first hear that question, we might ask ourselves who would possibly choose doom?  Who would possibly choose death?  And we would be right to wonder those things.  And yet, anyone who has seen a person suffer from an addiction knows that death and doom can be chosen.  Anyone who has watched someone seek to acquire an endless amount of money or material possessions, and to then be worried about it being taken away, so much so they never give it to anyone, knows how the death and doom that is greed can be chosen.

Death and doom are chosen when people only focus on doing whatever they want, not on what they can become.  Death and doom are chosen because “no one can tell me what to do.”  Life is chosen when we decide to become that person God has created us to be.

Direction: What do you want to do with your life? Homily for Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017

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Readings for Today

Direction.  Where are you going?  What are you doing?  What do you want to do with your life? You may not remember these lyrics from Twisted Sister’s song, “We’re not gonna take it”, but I think they provide an interesting thought at the start of Lent.  What is it that you want your life to be about?  What do you want to become?  What are you hoping for in life?

The readings today for Ash Wednesday help us to understand the path to happiness.  The path to happiness is one done first between God and oneself first.  We cannot be concerned about what others think.  Do not appear to be fasting.  Go to your room and pray in silence.  Be generous without seeking approval from others.  Why is there such emphasis in the gospel about silence and solitude? Because it is so easy to allow ourselves to seek happiness in a way that depends upon what others think about what we do.

It is easier to ignore others if we are surrounded by people we like who do the same.  It is easier to join the “rat race” to wealth when we are in a culture that values such pursuits.  It is easier to seek illicit pleasures like pornography when we are behind the safety of a computer screen, convincing ourselves that “everyone does this” and that since I am behind a screen and not with someone else it does not harm anyone.  It is easy to cast aside other people as “other” when I do not know immigrants, or refugees, or Muslims, or Democrats or Republicans, or blacks, or whites or hispanics.  It is easier to avoid confronting myself if I keep myself so busy I never have to embrace silence in a noisy world.

The first reading also provides us with the guidance about the purpose of Lent too.  Lent is first about an invitation.  The prophet Joel says, “return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning.”  Why should we do this? For God is “gracious and merciful . . . slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.”  Regardless of what choices we have made in life, there can be forgiveness from God for the repentant heart.  We can heal brokenness we have caused.  We can heal actions that have used others.

But do not wait.  As Saint Paul reminds us, salvation is offered today.  “Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.”

Gifts: What do you bring to the Lord? Homily for Tuesday, February 28, 2017

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Readings for Today

Gifts.  By focusing on gifts, one might think I have the seasons confused.  Are we preparing for Christmas? Is this Advent we are on the verge of entering? No.  Today’s first reading is really about what we can give to God.  Again these readings are so wonderful as we approach Lent.  How is it we can do more of what God wants us to give Him?

Listen to all these good things.  Works of charity.  Giving alms.  Refraining from evil.  Avoiding injustice.  A generous spirit.  These are wonderful acts.  These are great gifts to God for all He has done for us.  And most wonderful for us, God gives us far more than we can ever give Him.  God is never outdone in generosity.

This is what the Apostles learn in the gospel.  Just as the book of Sirach says a gift to God is returned seven-fold, so too will the apostles be so rewarded.  For the sacrifices they have made, the rewards will be great.  But these gifts will not be without hardship.  These gifts will not be without persecution.  These gifts will require the willingness of the apostles to suffer in the name of Jesus.

What is it you will give to God? What is it God wants you to do? What riches do you have to share with God, and the people of God?  And in what ways have you not given the gifts, or used them, or done something about them? Now is the time.  This is the acceptable hour.  Your salvation is near at hand.

Sin: Hating what God Hates, Homily for Monday, February 27, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Sin. God hates sin.  Do we? We do not often think, at least I don’t, of God hating.  But God does hate.  God does sometimes detest.  And what God hates, what God detests, is always the same.  God hates sin. God detests sin.  Fortunately for us, God does not, however, hate the sinner.  God does not detest the sinner.  And God offers to the sinner a way back.  God hates sin, but loves repentence.  God hates sin, but loves the sinner.

Today’s first reading is a wonderful reminder of this.  To the penitent God provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope and has chosen for them the lot of truth.  As we are ready to begin Lent this week, how grateful we should be that God provides to us a way back.  God wants us to return to him.  In fact, this is what we are told to do.  Return to him and give up sin, pray to the LORD and make your offenses few. Turn again to the Most High and away from your sin, hate intensely what he loathes, and know the justice and judgments of God,
Stand firm in the way set before you, in prayer to the Most High God.  This is the perfect time to do so.

This is the perfect time to do so, for today is the day of salvation.  Lent is that time where we seek to be transformed, to change, to become a new creation in Christ.  It is the time when we turn back to God.  But giving up sin, the ultimate goal of Lent and the Christian life, is just the beginning, as we learn in today’s gospel.  Keeping the commandments of God is one thing.  Filling our souls with God and God’s priorities is quite another.

This is what the young man seeking more from Jesus learns.  This man has kept the commandments of God.  This man has really been faithful.  But, that is not enough.  He is not allowing God to fill his life, but rather his many possessions.  As a result, spiritual growth is stunted.  He is not able to give all to Christ.  And neither am I.  I too hang on to too many things that take me away from God.  If you wish to be perfect, surrender to God and seek the way of holiness.  Lent is the perfect time to start.

Human: Homily for Saturday, February 25, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Human. I am not sure we fully appreciate what it means to be human. I do not think we focus on humans being created in the image and likeness of God. Today’s first reading from the Book of Sirach serves as a good reminder of what it means. Hear again some of the words of Sirach about humanity. God “endows [humans] with a strength of his own.” Humans “power over all things else on earth.” Consider the wonders of our creation. “He created for them counsel, and a tongue and eyes and ears, and an inventive heart, and filled them with the discipline of understanding.” “With wisdom he fills their heart; good and evil he shows them.”

We often think that being human is a reality that excuses our sinfulness. Well, we might say, I’m only human. But in reality, being human is when we show forth in great wonder and power the image of God. Rather than being something that is an excuse for being less than perfect, the truth is that when we sin we are less than human. When we are human, it is then that we are most alive, most reflective of the image and likeness of God. We are most like God when we are human, because when we are human we are what God has made us to be.

It was Saint Irenaeus who said that a human fully alive was the glory of God. In today’s reading, Sirach reminds us of the same thing. And so today, be fully alive. Be a reflection of the glory of God. Do the things that humans were meant to do. Be like God in all you say and do.

Relationship: Homily for Friday, February 24, 2017

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Relationship. This is such a complicated reality. It is complex. We have so many different types of relationships. Some are easy. For example, there is the person we might see at the supermarket. We do not really know them well, but they are a comfort to us when we see them. They bring a sense of familiarity. There are other relationships that are more intimate. There are friends, though even here they are not all the same. We have close friends and not so close friends. There are friends we are quite close to and friends we are not as close to in life. There are loyal friends that are always there for us, and not so loyal friends who run at the first sign of difficulty.

The first reading outlines these relationships. it describes well what types of relationships there are, and the consequences of each type of friendship. The reading provides an important bit of advice, however. Real friendships take time. Real friendships take work. Real friendships have ups and downs, but when they flourish, they are wonderful indeed. They are sturdy shelters against the storms of life.

Yet when powerful friendships and relationships break down, it is most painful. There simply is not an easy way to put it. There are not many pains as deep as the pain of divorce. In my life as a priest, it seems that more often people mix up the challenges and difficulties of life with a relationship that needs to end. The first reading reminds us that friendships, relationships need to be tested so that the foundation they rest upon is solid.

There is no authentic friendship that does not arise from the friendship and relationship with God. Just as there is work to gain trust in a friendship or a relationship, so too there is work in our relationship with God. This is not because it depends upon us, but the work is to make ourselves available for a relationship, a friendship with God. Because there is no foundation stronger than God.

Opposites: Homily for Thursday, February 23, 2017

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Opposites. The readings for daily Masses are usually simply sequential. What that means is that the first reading starts with a book, and the whole book of the bible is divided up into sections read each day. The same is true of the gospel. Unless there is a special day, in which case readings are special as well, there is no inherent connection between the first reading and the gospel. Despite this, there are moments where the readings seem to compliment each other in an interesting way.

Today’s readings do not provide so much a compliment as they do a contrast. The first reading outlines a way of life that I must say I find tempting. Power. Riches. Security. These basic values can become illusive idols in our lives. The gospel stresses the small. A cup of water given to a disciple. A concern with holiness more than with success. A focus on eternal life more so than this life. The contrasts are dramatic.

The question is clear: In whom do we trust? Is it in our own efforts, our own strength, in promises that offer guarantees, even though there is no such thing? Or, do we trust in God, whose gifts are not always as tangible but whose promise to us is much more sure? This is the powerful question.

Yet, again and again in the gospels, Jesus challenges us to be attentive to the poor, the marginalized, the outcast. It is not our own earthly security that matters, but our heavenly security resting in God. It is not about powerful relationships in this life but in the most powerful relationship with God. Both readings offer a different way to go about life. Trust in self, or trust in God. Choose well.

Authority: Homily for Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Authority. Today, we celebrate the feast of the chair of St. Peter. And what this means for us, is that today’s feast gives us an invitation to think about the structure of our church. The way in which our church is organized and put together so that we can have some certainty about what it means to believe.
Because important organizations in our lives have structure, they have rules. When we look at the United States for example, we have a Constitution that guides us and helps us to understand what it is we can and cannot do. Games have certain rules that are necessary for the game to be fair. And the church is no different. The church too, has rules, that help it to guide people in the proper way to live in fidelity to the Lord Jesus.
Such as what we celebrate today. When Peter is asked for his statement of faith about the Lord Jesus, the foundation of the church is set in motion by Jesus himself. Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the chosen one by God to save the world, is the beginning of the foundation of Peter’s leadership in Christ. And because of this steadfast statement of faith in Jesus the Messiah, Peter is given special authority to guide the church. Peter is given the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
This structure helps us to have certitude about what the Lord Jesus teaches and how it is that we are supposed to live these teachings in our lives. With deep faith in God let us pray for the Pope and for the bishops, that they might be faithful in their roles of leadership. And let us pray for each one of us, that guided by the Holy Spirit and the teachings of the church and the Lord Jesus himself we might become faithful followers of Jesus.

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