Category: Daily Homily

Instruction: Homily for Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Instruction. Today’s reading from the book of Sirach, provides us with instructions on how to live. It is addressed from a father to his son, but indeed it can apply to all of us, in any circumstance. These are the types of instructions that deal with wisdom, and purpose, and direction. These are the types of instructions that go far beyond what kind of job you should get, or should you buy this house for that house. These are the instructions that will cause someone to live a life of deep fulfillment.

For these instructions are much more about quality, and not quantity. These instructions deal not with what can be counted, but rather with what counts. These instructions deal not with external accolades and tangible rewards, but the in tangible reward of a life well lived. Because these instructions deal with fulfilling the ultimate purpose for which someone is created.

We all know that human beings are unique, and in faith we understand that each human being is a unique expression of God, for human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. Unfortunately sin clouds this image of God. We do not show forth as clearly as we might, the holiness of God, because we sin and fail. It is for this reason that such instructions take on a special value and meaning for each one of us. For when we concern ourselves with the eternal the deep and meaningful, the quality of one’s life and not the quantity of one’s possessions we find true wisdom indeed.

Unbelief: Homily for Monday, February 20, 2017

Unbelief. In the midst of everything that happens in today’s world, it can be difficult to believe. First, there are the things that have always been difficult for people of faith. Such things as an innocent child who gets sick and dies. Or an inexplicable car accident or other type of accident which takes someone’s life to early. Perhaps there are those instances where a relationship fails, and we seek answers. Maybe the difficulty is simply that we cannot seem to believe in what we cannot see, or experience, or touch. There can be many challenges to belief.
That is true even for people who do believe. Such is what we witnessed in today’s gospel. A man brings his son in faith for a cure. But the disciples are incapable. The disciples simply cannot bring about a cure for this man’s son. And the scene seems more than a little chaotic. Not only is there the inability of the disciples for a cure, we hear that there are scribes arguing with a large crowd and the disciples. One can only imagine the depth of this argument in confronting something that is evil.
For anyone who has been involved in pastoral ministry, in trying to console those who grieve, it becomes clear that there is nothing more difficult, or at least few things more difficult, the parent who has a sick child, or a child who dies. It is in this vein that Jesus reminds us in the gospel that faith makes anything possible. But here’s the interesting line: I do believe, help my unbelief! In the midst of a difficult life even for people of faith, there is the recognition of the need for a closer relationship to God. Let us pray that God strengthens our faith as well.

Faith: Homily for Saturday, February 18, 2017

Faith. Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. It’s interesting that in today’s definition of faith, we have this understanding that faith is both something that has happened with evidence that has not been seen. We have hope, and faith means we have realized this hope, this thing that was hoped for. The evidence, involves things we’ve not yet seen. In our secular world, these conceived to be completely contradictory things. Hoping for what we cannot see.

Because it is so difficult, it is for that reason I think that the author of the letter to the Hebrews makes it a point to stress this faith. And the ways in which this faith has been so readily apparent in the lives of people who have gone before us. How many times does the author of the letter to the Hebrews begin sentences with the phrase by faith? By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than canes. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death by faith Noah who we heard about just this week warned about what yet was not seen built an ark. And these are just three examples.

It is by faith that Jesus has the experience of the transfiguration. It is by faith that the apostles can set out to proclaim this good news even in the midst of the persecution that was no different than that of Jesus. And it is by faith that we too can come to know Jesus and he profound and powerful way. Do you believe?

Cross: Homily for Friday, February 17, 2017

Cross. I don’t like the cross. In my heart of hearts, I’m a coward. I’m afraid. I find it hard sometimes to separate gaining the whole world, from gaining eternal life. I find it much too easy to be shortsighted. Seeing the immediate, the now, the things that seem so close and right in front of me, the things that bring immediate reward. I’m expecting a package from Amazon today. I’m really excited. But it’s not really something amazing, or tremendous. I doubt it will change my life. But I’m really excited.

But about the cross? I’m not so excited. I’m afraid. I don’t trust. I don’t trust Jesus, and I don’t trust God. Far too often, my focus is on myself, over what I can control, and over what I can do. And yet, during those breakthrough moments when I have been able to trust God the benefit has been far greater than anything I could’ve imagined. In those moments where I think back in my life and ask myself when has God never been there for me, I can say never. I can say that God has always been there for me. Despite my selfishness, God has always been generous.

So why do I have such a hard time embracing the cross? The cross of Jesus, change the entire world. When Jesus embraced the cross, and suffered death for you and me, salvation was open for all of us. Despite our sinfulness, holiness was possible. New life was given to us. Dear God, with whatever cross you give me today, help me to embrace it like your son. Give me the grace to say yes, to take up my cross, and follow you.

Follow: Homily for Thursday, February 16, 2017

Follow. Today’s gospel is a gospel about discipleship. It’s about following Jesus. But we don’t always do that. Ask yourself, whom do I follow? Because that is the question in today’s gospel. Jesus asks the disciples about his own identity. It is not because Jesus does not know who he is. Rather, it is because he wants the disciples to know who he is. And very quickly we learn it is with good reason that Jesus takes this time to teach about discipleship.

The first question is easy. People have a number of things to say about Jesus. But, even though Peter seems to get the right answer, he does not. But Peter’s mistaken answer is not simply about the mind. It is also about the heart. Peter thinks he is following Jesus when he gives them the help about not dying. But Peter is following himself. Peter is relying on his own reason, his own rationale, and deciding to follow himself. Peter knows better than Jesus.

This is what discipleship is all about. Discipleship is about deciding whether we are going to follow Jesus or something else. It is about deciding whether we give our lives over to Jesus and his way of life, or whether we stick to our own mind and our own little, small way of thinking. Who do you say that Jesus is?

Awesome: Homily for Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Awesome. Think of Noah for a moment. Can you imagine the excitement of seeing dry land? Being surrounded by water for so long, and finally seeing the familiarity of dryland. Wow! The promise was true. God is faithful. God did not give up on the people who had sinned.

But what is interesting is what Noah does. When he first encounters the dry land he doesn’t run around to get all excited. He doesn’t immediately move onto whatever new life he is now going to be able to experience because there is no more flood. He does not start to rebuild. No. Noah gives thanks to God. And this is the sign of hope. In spite of all of the wickedness and all of the evil, that has been present on the earth, there’s hope because of Noah’s faith. Noah has seen what God can do, is faithful to the promise, and God does marvelous things.

If Noah gets excited about his ability to see dryland after seeing water for so long, imagine the blind man in today’s gospel. He can see. Not just dry land where he used to see water. No, he can see light where he once saw darkness. This is not a story simply about a man who recovers physical sight. This is a man who recovers the sight of faith. He can see. In both the first reading and in the gospel people are able to see not just physical things but much more importantly there able to see God. Pray that God will open your eyes so that you may see.

Wickedness: Homily for Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Wickedness. There are moments where you just want to give up. Things are too difficult, Life is too hard, you just can’t feel like you can go on. All in all, you just want to give up. To be sure, there are moments in our life where we just feel completely overwhelmed. And, this is somewhat normal from time to time. Life is hard. It’s difficult. And so it’s not unusual that we come to certain moments in our life, where we feel that left to our own energy and actions, we simply can’t be successful.

It could be easy, to put God in a similar place in today’s reading. He certainly seems at first glance, to be overwhelmed, fed up, ready to give up. Fortunately, God is not a human being. God is more. God is divine. God is eternal. God is constantly pouring out love to help humanity to understand what it means to follow him. And so in the midst of all of this wickedness, in the midst of all of the sin, when a mere mortal could be tempted to give up, God calls Noah.

It is no secret, nor great theological statement that sin angers God. And so it is not beyond the pale for the divine God to express anger at the sins of the people. But what is unique to the divine God is God’s constant ability to pour forth a new covenant. Today, the covenant will be extended to Noah. There’s a covenant given later to Abraham. There is a covenant that will be given to Moses. There’s a covenant that will be given through David. And when humanity does not accept fully and totally all of these covenants, God sent his only son. Human beings might be tempted to give up. But God never gives up on those who seek his new life, his forgiveness, his mercy and his love.

Halfhearted: Homily for Monday, February 13, 2017

Halfhearted. Have you ever wondered why’s loss, or laziness, is a sin? Today’s reading from the book of Genesis about Cain and Abel might give us some reason for that we might understand it. At first glance, it seems that Cain and Abel have done what God is asked of them. They both have given him a gift. But looking deeper, we see that while Abel has made a great sacrifice giving God the best, Cain has just given God, whatever. It hasn’t been the best. It hasn’t been with his full heart and his full commitment. Cain has been halfhearted.

We can be tempted to do the same thing in our spiritual lives. We can look around the world in which we live, and say we haven’t really done things that are all that bad, really. But Jesus reminds us in today’s gospel, that it’s not simply looking for the easy way. Or, it’s not faith because we’ve seen concrete things so miraculous that any reasonable person would’ve accepted them. Rather, it is about faith.

And faith means, that we have to give our all to God. We have to work as much as we can, to turn everything over to God. We can’t simply be halfhearted. We have to be all in, we have to give God our best, we have to surrender our hearts so that we might live in his.

Heart: Homily for Sunday, February 12, 2017

Heart. Sometimes we can get caught in our own lives, with the idea that following the letter of the law is enough. We don’t break any laws. We certainly haven’t killed, or committed adultery. That means that everything is good with God, right? These readings remind us that the law is not simply focused on a desire to make sure we do the right things. The law is really focused, unchanging our hearts in such a way that we reflect God’s holiness. It’s interesting that when Moses struck the rock twice, when he was only told to strike the rock ones, it was not that he disobeyed the commandment per se. Rather, it was that he did not manifest the holiness of God to the people.

That really is the point of today’s readings. There are these commandments that have been given to us to help us to see and understand what it means to follow God. But as Jesus reminds us in the gospel, it is most about changing our hearts, our attitudes, everything. It’s not enough just not to kill. We should not get angry. It’s not enough to be faithful in marriage. We should not let lust control our lives.

In everything that we do, it is first and foremost about whether or not God has a place in our heart. Really, about whether God has the most important place in our heart. And so today’s readings, are not just about following the law, but more importantly about following Jesus.

Newton: Homily for Saturday, February 11, 2017

Newton. You may remember Sir Isaac Newton, the famous physicist who developed a series of laws related to the natural world. In some ways, his laws help us to understand today’s readings. One law that he mentioned, in particular, was that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And what that meant was when we pushed against something, for example, we would feel something pushing against us. It was a rather simple way of trying to explain how the world worked and what we experienced which is a lot of what science is about.

In today’s readings I think this basic idea helps us to understand what things are about. So when we look at the first reading for example, we can see that because they rejected God, Adam and Eve now have all of these really difficult things to deal with. When we look at the gospel, however, we see that when we are challenged to accept Jesus when we hear a word that seems to us to give fulfillment and new life there is in this rejection there is in this opposite action. Rather, there is this basic idea that Jesus longs to draw us into a relationship with himself.

And so, today’s readings help us to understand that Jesus longs to feed us when we’re hungry. Jesus longs to fill us when we’re empty. Jesus longs to do things for us and on behalf of us and with us that are beyond our wildest imaginations and dreams. And so today, recognize, that when it comes to the action of Jesus the only reaction is to be drawn closer to a relationship with him.

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